The final Orkling Powerlord lay dead at Graxon the Mighty’s feat, and he stood, panting with the effort but still alert. He knew what had to come next. And he was ready for it.
The sound of sarcastic clapping echoed off the walls of Deathchill Valley.
“Oh, very good, brave warrior. ” sneered Belkor. “I guess brute strength and ignorance have finally paid off for you. It’s a shame I have to kill you now. I have had such fun tormenting you over these last months. But alas, it is time for your final lesson in the futility of your concept of ‘good’. And I am afraid you won’t live long enough to receive a grade!”
“Spare me your pointless drivel, you mincing medicant!” growled Graxon as he stalked across the battlefield. “You have no more underlings to cower behind. Now you must face me and the righteous wrath of all who have suffered from your cruel enslavement. ”
“Oh, cry me a river. Most of the people around here lead pointless, stupid lives before I showed up. At least I gave their lives a greater purpose. ”
“Yeah, to serve and worship you!” spat Graxon.
“Exactly… I can’t think of a better purpose than that. ” The two men were now nose to nose. “So this is it, warrior. ”
Graxon nodded. “The final battle. ”
“The one that will decide the fate of all Etheria!”
“The ultimate battle of good versus evil!”
“So let the battle… COMMENCE!”
Both men powered up their most powerful attacks, and Graxon used his to…. knock Belkor’s helmet off.
“I knew it, I knew it!” said Graxon. “You’re really m…. oh. ”
Belkor blinked as his eyes adjusted to the increased illumination. “What? I’m really what?”
Graxon looked down, and sheepishly said “I thought you were going to be…. you know…. me. ”
Belkor laughed a little. “You? What makes you think I’d be you? ”
Graxon scuffed his toe back and forth, still looking down. “Well… you know… the whole hero’s journey thing. The toughest enemy a hero will ever face is himself. All hero’s journey’s are really journeys of self-discovery. You go to the farthest mile just to return home to yourself. The whole psychomachia thing. ”
“Sounds like you’re been reading too much Joseph Campbell. Well, as you can see, I am clearly not you, so if we could just… ”
“We’ll get to that. I’m still processing this. So my greatest enemy is just some stranger?”
“Oh, it has to all be about you, right? Anyhow, I am not a stranger. Look upon me and see me as I truly am… then reach back into your past and you will find my true identity. ”
Belkor’s armor and weapons disappeared, and he stood before Graxon in his true form : a short, thickly built person with a potbelly, a beetle brow, and thick rimless glasses.
Graxon stroked his chin thoughtfully as he gazed upon his mortal nemesis, eyebrows knitted in fierce concentration. This dragged on for second after second, until finally the great hero relaxed. “I’m sorry. I’m drawing a complete blank.”
Belkor stamped his foot in frustration. “You mean you really don’t remember me? When last you saw me, I was surmounted by an eagle and a dragon. ”
“I’m not really into furry porn…. ”
“You fool, it’s a riddle! The eagle and the dragon! Doesn’t that ring a bell?”
Graxon thought some more. “That college pub with the deep fried haggis?”
“NO!” said Belkor. “The eagle and the dragon! They were on a crest of arms!”
Graxon hmmmed. “Oh… I remember! They were on the coat of arms of my junior high, Pennington Middle School. Our football team was the Dragons and our basketball team was the Eagles. ”
“Yes! Exactly! Lord almighty, the boy can learn. ” The seconds ticked by. “WELL?”
“Well what?” said Graxon.
“So now you know who I am!”
“Uh….sorta. You… taught me algebra?”
“NO! Look, if you don’t know, don’t guess. I sat in front of you in History! We used to talk about Battlehawks! ”
“Oh yeah, I remember you! You were that chubby kid who liked Blue Hawk over the clearly superior in every way Red Hawk. ”
“Bulltshit! Blue Hawk was awesome! He could bring water to a desert. He could calm the most fiery of tempers with a touch of his hand, and bring serenity and peace to the most troubled village with a wave of his wing. One of his feathers could cure all injuries and diseases! He was SUPER AWESOME!”
“Yeah, if by super awesome, you being super GAY!”
“HE WAS NOT…. wait a minute, aren’t YOU gay?”
“Well yeah, but not… look, we’re getting off topic here. How can you be my arch-nemesis? I barely even remember you!”
“Ah, but I remember YOU!”
“What has that got to do with anything?”
“It has everything to do with everything, because you see…. this is not your dream… it’s mine!”
Graxon looked at Belkor blankly. “You’re kidding. ”
“No I’m not kidding! Like I keep trying to tell you, not everything is about you! This is MY dream, MY hero’s journey, and MY psychomachia. You’re just here to represent everything I hate in the world. ”
“Well that’s weird. ” said Graxon. “Wait… does that mean you’re evil? ”
“Uh… well, in a certain way, I guess…. ”
“Oh, there’s no two ways about it! If I am just a figment of your imagination, and I am very clearly the hero, and you are SUPER clearly the villain, that must mean that, deep down, you think of yourself as evil. Wow, dude. I guess this really is YOUR journey of self-discovery. You think you’re evil!”
“Well, I mean… it could still be your.. ”
“Nope! I already thought you were kind of a dick. This is clearly your dream. Wow, dude. Wow. I never met someone who thought they were evil before. ”
“I would rather not talk about it right now.
“Hey, suit yourself. ”
An uncomfortable silence fell over the two men, unbroken until Graxon said “So… do you still want to fight, or… ”
“No… I’m good. It all seems pretty pointless now. ”
“Yeah. ” said Graxon. “So what happens now?”
“I don’t know. We wait for me to wake up, I guess. ”
Another long silence. Then The Mighty Graxon spoke. “Red Hawk could shoot shoot burning lightning from his fingertips. ”
“Oh fuck off. ”
“I’m just saying…. lightning…. that was ON FIRE. ”
“That doesn’t even make any sense. How can lightning be on fire?”
“Dude, relax, it’s just a cartoon. ”
“IT IS NOT JUST A…. ” Belkor sighed. “It really is just a cartoon, isn’t it?”
“Yup. ” said Graxon. “Maybe that’s the real lesson to be learned here today. ”
“I hope not. ” said Belkor. ” Because I find it very depressing. ”
“More than the evil thing?”
“Yeah… just a little. ”
Just then, the sun broke through the clouds, and shone upon the land of Etheria for the first time since the beginning of Belkor’s long and terrible reign.
“Well I think that’s the ending… listen, Graxon, I know you’re just a figment of my imagination, but I still want to thank… ”
But Graxon wasn’t there any more. “Oh…. right. ”
And then, Lord Venomous Belkor, The Dragon-Breaker, Ruler of All Nine Realms of Etheria and Captor of the Emperor’s Ghost, Conqueror of Heaven And Hell, woke up, took a shower, got dressed, and went to work.