In an indeterminate time there was a small kingdom known simply as Resignation, in which there lived a rather unremarkable knight known as Sir Angst. Sir Angst was known throughout the land for his long-winded rants on just how and in what way existence is completely and utterly meaningless, a trait which sometimes alienated him from the rest of the townsfolk. That was alright by him, though, for their opinions were meaningless to him. Unlike the peasant folk who lived their lives in blissful ignorance of the evils of the world, Angst had experienced true suffering in his life. How pleasant and simple their lives must be, Angst often thought to himself, contentedly oblivious of the fact that pain exists and that they and their loved ones would eventually die. The indifferent Sir Angst knew better. Life wouldn’t pull any of its tricks on him, no sir.
One day Sir Angst came upon a rather un-repulsive maiden in the town square. She was apparently running errands for her mother, executing her duty in that rather pathetic manner that is the mark of those still enslaved to affection. Angst had long ago given up on the value of most forms of social discourse; nevertheless there was something special about this girl, a sort of ampleness in certain areas of her figure that caused him to lust after her with his loins. Had the not-unattractive woman seen the not-ignoble Sir Angst staring at her she might have blushed, but through some combination of poor lighting and Sir Angst’s not-unknown sullen character, she did not notice him at all. In fact when standing outside one of the shops he looked like a rather skinny broom with curly-bristles, and as anyone knows a curly-bristled broom is no good at all, so to be fair it is understandable that she overlooked him. Sir Angst struggled within the fiery smithy of his soul for some grand mark of eloquence that would distinguish him as a man of noble character, sophistication, and graceful manners. Not that he believed any of that mattered, but his loins you see were really quite insistent this time of day. No more calculation, Angst thought to himself, now is the time for valor, for action:
“Ey! ’Ave yoo done somethin’ with your hair?”
At first the maiden seemed shocked, for she had never encountered a talking broom before! Then she realized that even an enchanted broom was incapable of speech (this involved some strange sort of alchemy involving black magic and something known by the Necromancers simply as vokhalkhords), and that therefore she was either spoken to by an extremely tall boy or a very emaciated man. Then she saw the armor which adorned his nearly two-dimensional frame,and realized that she was speaking with a member of the nobility. Part of the weight of the entire kingdom rested upon his teeny-tiny shoulders, so sharply defined that they looked as though they might lacerate a very thin piece of paper. She greeted him, as was the Resignation custom in regard to the nobility, with a shrug of the shoulders completed with a resounding “Meh.” The not-entirely-impure mind of Sir Angst finally had a chance to really examine her, and found that overall she was really quite ample in certain key areas.
Say something you moron, Sir Angst would have said to himself if thought processes really were similar to internal monologue.
“I say, what do you, ummmmmmmmm, well, that is, you see…what is it that you do, exactly?” The maiden looked upon him with a mix of fascination, terror and regret.
“Well, sir, you see, I, well I…umm…I suppose that I well…I’m a girl you see, and there are certain imaginal limits set by the gen—”
“Fire in the hole!” a guardsman shouted, his cry punctuated by an explosion.
Poor fool, what kind of merciful God would allow such a thing to happen? I wonder if I can seize his house? Once again, these are the kinds of questions the indifferent Sir Angst would have asked himself if discursive thought was in any way similar to internal monologue.
A rather largish looking imp approached Sir Angst at a not-unhasty pace, his eyes struck by a sort of terrifying fatalism.
“You must come quickly sire! The enemy doth make assault, they have almost breached the fourth wall!”
A look of apathetic concern washed across the not-unpatriotic Sir Angst’s countenance, and he realized with a rather passionless sense of obligation that he must once again perform his duty.
“You’ll have to excuse me, my dear, I have some rather pressing pants I must attend to.”
And with a not-undramatic flourish he started heading in the direction of the fourth wall, when a sudden realization appeared unpleasantly to his conscious mind, a fact which caused him to not-so-suddenly turn around.
“BUSINESS! I meant rather pressing BUSINESS to attend to! I did not mean to imply that I had to attend to anything on or around my trousers!”
The woman looked upon Sir Angst with a sort of crazy half-smile that he thought was flirtatious in nature but was in fact the result of confusion and a slowly increasing sense of terror in her soul. What could he possibly attend to regarding his trousers that he would think that I should be so offended? Alice thought of this to herself, being the only peasant in the land so gifted in the art of simplicity that she only ever thought in terms of internal monologue. She left him with a not-unaffectionate shrug and headed home to her mother’s cottage. With that, Sir Angst marched toward the scene of the battle.
Sir Angst had never been in an actual battle, having served seven campaigns as the Steward of Scholarly Warfare,. Soldiers, however, had since become rather scarce due to their rather pesky tendency to die in the middle of battle. Oh, how he had cherished those days, engaging in a mortal combat of the mind in every library and lecture hall from one end of this giant island to the other. Many rulers liked to claim that wars were won through men with swords, but the not-dumb Sir Angst was a clever sort, and he knew better. Only a brute conquers by force with the sword, a truly wise warrior wins over the spirit of his foes by persuasion using his wits alone. So far he had fought in over a hundred of these intellectual battles, or debates as the common folk preferred to call them. So far he had not gained a single visible convert to his cause, but he always came away thinking that he had clarified his positions on certain issues, making it at least a moral victory. Besides, Sir Angst would argue to anyone unfortunate enough to listen, one never knows how many people changed their minds once they got home and read the pamphlets and assorted literature which he distributed at every event. Despite the challenges that his position and authority posed to him, he found it an almost not-unpleasant experience. If he had had the capacity for joy, it would have become active during those times. But he didn’t, and therefore his life proceeded as it always did, with a sort of dull serenity that most modern medical practitioners classify as a low-level vegetative state.
Battle, however, appeared to be the opposite of not-unpleasant. Indeed, the not-illiterate Sir Angst would classify it as even “not-not-unpleasant”, or unpleasant as the common folk say. Sir Angst had never before feared death or any mortal danger, but that was perhaps because these things seem very non-threatening from a certain distance. Here it was different. Here every cell of his mortal appendage seemed to recoil from the sight he was witnessing. He stirred up a certain courage within his soul, however, and found the strength to march forward to the front of the defenses. He had previously argued that wars were nothing more than extended metaphors for man’s horror in the face of his own mortality, and he had already proven on the battlefield of the mind that no force on earth could withstand the rationality of his arguments. Five indeterminate moments later, however, there would prove to be an exception to this rule, as it turns out that spears are really quite an effective answer to any argument, rational or otherwise. As he was carried off of the battle ramparts by a giraffe-necked squire, he taunted the enemy with his few remaining conscious breaths about equality of peoples and the sacred obligation of a kingdom to preserve the sovereign freedom of the individual. As he was blacking out, Angst thought to himself about how persuasive and eloquent he must have sounded then, although if the enemy soldiers noticed it they gave no indication as such. It’s a pity that he didn’t bring his pamphlets with him. It would’ve given those poor souls something to contemplate over when they get home. He then began to lose consciousness.
Sir Angst regained consciousness in a not-unpleasant inn a few miles from where the battle took place. He looked down and saw that his side was bandaged and for some foolish reason decided to poke at it, which caused a white-hot sensation of pain to arise in him.
“Damn, metaphors hurt,” he said to no one in particular.
A rather not-tall man was seen near his room. Sir Angst realized that he must be some sort of complimentary valet. “Tell me, my good elf, where in the world am I?”
The man looked upon him with a look approaching disdain. “Oh I see, because I’m a little person and I wear small clothes you automatically assume that I’m an elf?”
“I’m so sorry…I didn’t that you were a midg—”
At this point the teeny-tiny man leapt upon Sir Angst’s teeny-tiny back, suddenly producing a teeny-tiny straight-razor and holding it to the teeny-tiny and rather perturbed neck of Sir Angst whilst holding him in a teeny-tiny unbreakable headlock.
“Try and call me a midget again arsehole, I dare you to try again!”
Sir Angst was at a loss for words, insofar as the razor was so deep against his neck that he feared he would literally pop a vein in his attempt at protest. At this moment Alice appeared, in a state of utter shock at the events that she perceived before her.
“Get off of him Matthieu! Get off of him this instant, he’s got amnesia!”
The knight, after recovering his wits, wanted to raise a protest against the last part of that statement. He was not aware of any symptoms of amnesia, and even if he was amnesiac how could he possibly have exemplified such symptoms while he was unconscious?
“I don’t have amnesia! I am perfectly aware of who I am!”
She smiled that crazy half-smile again, and responded, “I know you know, but it’s useful to assume that you are.”
Sir Angst was a bit taken aback by this statement, insofar as he could find no obviously useful consequences of assuming that a casual stranger cannot remember who he is. “Why is it useful if it’s not true?”
“It’s got nothing to do with truth. It has everything to do with pacing!”
Sir Angst was beginning to think that the spear might have taken a bit of his brain along on its way through his side.
At this point Alice blushed a small bit, and she began looking down at the floor nervously.
“Well, you see, sir, I, well…um, I couldn’t help but notice you admiring me in the market, and, you see…I’d really like to get know you more before I gain such, um, personal examinations from you.”
She paused a moment to view Angst’s reaction, and when it grew calmer she proceeded with her next suggestion.
“Well, sir, I would like to get to know you, but I don’t know any of your history. I may be a bit plain, sir, but I can’t afford to be foolish besides. I do have these flashback potions, they will allow us a brief window into the past. I do think you are a good person, sir, I really do.”
At this Sir Angst felt a teeny-tiny ounce of humanity within his smaller-than-average heart. He almost smiled, and decided to grant her reasonable request.
“I am more than willing to share anything of my past with you, but please no flashbacks.”
“Why not, sir?”
“Because flashbacks are for amateurs who wish to spoon-feed their audiences with the blatantly obvious rather than tell a compelling story filled with people who are interesting and relatable. I will instead take you to the person who raised me when I was a young boy. She will answer any and all questions you may have.”
And with a not-untender extension of his hand he led her out of the inn, on the road to the outskirts of town to meet Sir Angst’s nurse.