Part Two: The Shaman’s Journey (Narrated by Vaevictus Asmadi)
“What cannot be persuaded with reason can be persuaded with a cannon.” –Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry
When the Shaman returned to the physical world he was possessed by his cause. He wasted no time communing with his animal spirit guide, Griselbrand, about getting him to the site, but the demon was deeply preoccupied with an online scrabble competition and would not commit. This did not deter the Shaman. He booked his flight with glassy eyes and grinning lips. He had two weeks before he set out, but there was not a moment of that time when he was not thinking about the war he was hungry to fight.
It was around this time that I found the Shaman practicing his villain-slaying ways at a local card shop. He was in a trance when he walked through the door, and there was no question that both his fire and his skill had returned. He dispatched the assembly of local villains with relative ease, never missing a beat or dropping a game during battle. He piloted his cannon with such skill that even his fallen enemies admired his work.
But this battle was not just practice. It was a precursory trial for the true battle in Jersey, and winning granted him a prestigious position of privilege. It would spare two helpless glory seekers from feeling his wrath at the start of the Grand Prix, and it would give him time to find his true enemy deep in the crowd. The war had begun. Much blood would be shed before it was over.
I caught up with him after the event and was fortunate enough to get an up close and personal look at his weapon. He had it tuned to perfection and sleeved for the Grand Prix. It looked like this:
The People’s Cannon (1 Land Charbelcher) by Shaman Benjamin Perry
We drank our share of mead as we discussed old battles and ancient ways. The Shaman was furious, but somehow his anger seemed laced with passion and a tinge of pleasure. He was plundering his own mind in search of answers to questions only he knew, and though the weight of the End of the World bore down on his shoulders, he stood taller and stronger than ever. There was no doubt that he needed this battle as much as it needed him.
The time passed with a flurry of worldly activity that felt trivial in the shadow of evil cast by the upcoming fight. He made it through the days with little idea of his presence within them, spending much of the time in the Void staring into the Abyss and memorizing the way it stared back. He insisted that this was the best way to prepare for what lurked ahead, on the threshold of fate itself, and my own penchant for impenetrable darkness made it hard to leave his side.
The morning of his flight was ushered in by the pounding of war drums echoing through the still air. I listened to them intently, vaguely recognizing their song, as I escorted the Shaman through the burning city to the distant Detroit Metro Airport. As we arrived at the terminal and parted ways, I watched the Shaman vanish into the desolation of early morning and realized the drums I thought I heard was his heartbeat and the echo of the blood flowing through his veins. He was a man possessed, and I admired his pursuit of justice.
Clad in black and carrying his lone travel bag, he slinked through the hallway, an unassuming hero amidst the drudgery of mankind. I felt confident that he was prepared and properly armed, knowing well that the arena where he would battle would be so obsessed with the newest and most ostentatious technology—as well as the tools to destroy it—that few would be prepared for the powerful relic of the old ways he brought to the fight. His cannon shared his hunger for freedom, and it knew nothing of the fear that keeps most mortals chained to their world of filth. They were headed into a foreign land together, a drunken vigilante and his cannon. They would save the world or perish in the flames that were set trying to do so.
There is another story that could be told of the day before the war and the adventures of the Shaman in the strange eastern sunshine. I have had the luxury of hearing many of those tales, but as they incriminate numerous parties, I will leave them untold. Perhaps they will be tales sung aloud in the distant future, or more likely they will remain locked away in the mind of those involved, something to cherish and be grateful no evidence exists to call them back from anywhere but hazy memory. The important part is that there were companions to the Shaman as he readied himself, enablers and co-conspirators of many faces and realms of origin, and they did more than they know to help ensure that the world survived the entropy that hinged on his actions.
Some would call the Shaman the villain of this tale, providing the Book of the Dead to the hands of those who would use it for greed, as well as disregarding the law on endless accounts on his journey to set things right. But translations and restorations are the work of creation, of artistic beauty, and just because a tool can be used as a weapon does not make the artisan the source of war. There is much in the triumph of Good over Evil that does not fall in favor of Law over Freedom. Rules are often the disguise of tyranny, and what is legal and what is right are often rather different. It is good for all who still live and breathe that the Shaman understands better than most of his kind. If not for his valor I may not be here to tell the tale, and you most certainly would not remain to read it.