(For Vendanna's Hellabad writing contest)

 

Here find select passages from the great Signamancer Dontyou Illegiblieri's masterwork, the Titanic Sitcom. This epic work is bound in three volumes(Hellabad, Box, and City) and covers the author's metaphorical journey through the afterlife (guided by the famous Rhyme-a-mancer Verge) to pursue his beloved, Betty Rice. Rare indeed is the library that contains all three volume. Of the three, the Titans saw fit to pop more libraries with the first volume, Hellabad.

* * *

Canto V: Those who betray their duty for love.

...I was met with the sound of great crashing and thuds, and dolesome notes filled the air. As we entered a grand chamber, large enough to fit five city hexes within it, I saw thousands of units, all flying here and there, thrown from place to place. Each one had a thick rope, as black and strong as iron, tied about their waists. All around them were the trappings of life: houses, comfortable beds, walls to guard, farms to manage, and monstrous enemies to fight. Yet when any of these poor units tried to attend to any of them they found the cord around their waist would draw suddenly tight, and they would be dragged or flung away, flying through the air or bouncing along the ground. I watched one stabber try to fight a foe, a heavy unit with bright red skin, rippling muscles, and two sharp horns sprouting above a cruel and hairy face. He stabbed but the blow fell short as the rope about his waist yanked him away until he slammed against a wall and fell out of my sight. A knight near me desperately clung to a bed, seeking rest, but her grip could not withstand the force of the cord and she was drug screaming away. Thus it was all about, every unit staying at a post for no longer than the span of a breath before they were pulled struggling away. And as they went the monstrous heavies delighted to stab and hack at them as they passed, laughing with glee whenever they scored a hit.

Verge spoke, his voice steady and unwavering. “Here are those who spurned their duty because of love. In life they had a choice, and could have resisted the threads of Date-a-mancy that bind us together. Instead they allowed their love to control them and take them away from their proper place. Now in death they no longer have the power to resist: they are bound by cords they cannot break, and are drug by them to places they do not wish to go.”

My face fell downcast to see the torment before me. “Surely the Titans cannot condemn those who follow the love they placed in our hearts?”

Verge shook his head. “They are not condemned for love, but following only love and not the many strings which pull on us all: strings of duty, loyalty, honor, and friendship, as well as love. But do not think the Titans unmerciful: these here are punished far less than those you will meet below. They betrayed their duty in exchange for something worthy, love, and for that the Titans have spared them the worst blows...”

* * *

Canto VII: Those who could have done something, yet did nothing

...Verge continued. “The Titans popped each of us with three potencies: Erf, Life, and Motion. Those who saw what needed to be done and failed to do it have denied the Motion the Titans granted them, and so here the Titans have taken that gift away.”

As we strode through the grim forest I could find no place to avert my eyes where I would not see the mournful faces of the croaked carved by Titanic hands into every tree trunk. Their branches were like arms sprouting many hands, and their bark was soft as skin. I could hardly hear my guide over the cawing of the Wavens who, as a mighty and insatiable flock of ferals, picked the trees clean of all leaves, and stripped the trunks of bark, leaving bright red stripes behind. The wind that blowed through that grim forest seemed to wail with grief and agony, but each individual tree was deathly still...

* * *

Canto XII: Those violent and cruel to their comrades and allies

...soon I realized the broad river hex before us was filled not with water but with boiling oil, and what I had mistook in the dark for posts or reeds were instead men and women, standing and shaking in the burning liquid. As I drew close one of them waded towards shore, his hands stretching towards me in supplication. Before he took two steps great tentacles rose from the surface and drug him down below the bubbling mire.

“Here stand, in constant pain from heat, those who were violent and wantonly cruel to their own units. In life they made sport of beating their underlings, and now in death they must suffer the Titans own cruelty, just as those in their command suffered theirs. Yet they have this respite their victims did not: they know their punishment is just.”

“Are all who try to leave dragged far below?”

“Aye, any who leaves their appointed spot is disciplined for a time. See how those nearest on the shore stand only up to their knees in oil, yet those farther out are up to their shoulders? Each is appointed a depth to stand, in proportion to the pain they meted out in life. At the center of the river the cruelest are up to their eyebrows, and the worst ever popped are at the very center, chained to the bottom. There lies, among others, the Duke of Sod, who made a policy of never bedding an underling without leaving her incapacitated...”

* * *

Canto XXVI: Malicious counselors

“...for though courtiers and advisers have not the combat stat of Warlords or soldiers, the Titans give them the wits to serve their ruler and advise him well. Yet some think their wits were made to serve themselves above the side. Here is the fate of all those who twisted the truth and advised their sovereign maliciously to advance their own purposes at the expense of the side.”

Before me the great horde, dressed in rags, fought among themselves in great argument and confusion. The sharp rocks they trod on wounded their feet, yet they wore their sandals on their hands, and many stared at the sun until blind. Fearsome heavies trod among them, slashing them and flinging them to and fro with their mighty blows. Some tried to fight back, but held their swords by the blade, or donned their helmets backwards so that they were blind. Others fled, but to no avail: they would cover themselves with sheets or hide their heads in a bucket, confident in their escape until the foe struck them down. The wits the Titans have given them had been utterly confused, and all seemed to find the common things in life a frustrating puzzle...

* * *

Canto XXXII: Regicides

...there I found many, of stern and regal Signamancy, sitting on the iron thrones that lined each side of the unending hallway. Their wrists and ankles were pierced with steel bolts, which fixed them to their seats. Under each throne a fire blazed, stoked by Pokedeamons who occasionally took leave from their work to bite and claw at those seated. Though they writhed in pain from the heat of the iron thrones, I could see that each one was also afflicted in a unique way: one was stabbed through with a spear, another had an axe embedded in his skull. My guide explained:

“Each was an heir who thought it wise to ensure his ascension to the throne with his own hands. They suffer the wounds they inflicted on their rightful rulers, and now must sit perpetually on the thrones they so coveted...”

* * *

Canto XXXV: The Black Pit

...yet despite all the halls of horrors I had seen, and the many levels of Hellabad that I had traversed, here, at the bottom, was a chamber that struck me to the heart and set me quivering with fear. Fear of what I knew not: for beyond the doorway was nothing but utter blackness, like a sea of ink. There was no sound, no light, not even the smallest breath of wind from that dark portal. I turned to my guide in the hope that understanding would free me from fear.

“What is this place? Who is tormented here?”

“This is the deepest pit of Hellabad, and home to those who croak themselves. Not in sacrifice: for those who sacrifice their lives for their sides and their Duty aspire to the City of Heroes. Nor those who sacrifice themselves for their friends or lovers. Nor even those who croak to spite their enemies and frustrate their purposes. Here is the tomb of all those who would kill themselves for no reason but their own, for no purpose but to end themselves. Here they are sent, and here they stay, in utter darkness. It is a void without sensation, and endless pit with no bottom.”

I stepped back in horror. “You mean to say those unhappy souls who, no doubt from tragedy and woe, find life too harsh a burden to endure? They face this horrid fate, lower down and worse yet than those of traitors, fools, and cowards? The Titans are just: how can this be?”

Verge only frowned. “The Titans made this world for us, and us for this world. It is a crafted work of art: a book to be read to the end, a puzzle to be solved, a challenge to be overcome. The Titan's great game, and us it's players. All who suffer in the halls above us twisted the game to their own purpose, and suffer for their folly. Yet they all played the game: they loved themselves, or drink, or power, more than their duty, yet they did love something, and for this they avoid the pit. Those who dwell here loved nothing: nothing at all. If they had loved even a single bird, a single feather, they would have remained above rather than leave it. Yet despite all the marvels the Titans have carefully crafted for us, they considered none of them worthy of living for. They refused to play the game. They would rather die than accept the Titan's gifts. So the Titans place them here: they rejected all creation, and so here they experience nothingness. They have got their wish.”

“Harsh punishment still. No doubt many here croaked themselves from grief!”

“And many above us croaked their rulers out of anger, or twisted counsel out of pride, or tormented their fellows out of madness. Emotion has never been an excuse for crime. The whole Erf shakes in anger at their refusal to participate in Life. For remember what is written in the Book of Canon: Though the game go not thy way, thou must not ragequit...”

 

(NOTE: User was awarded 25 shmuckers for this post.)

 

Comments

    • zbeeblebrox

      Hey, Jude Escargot would still occupy the bottom in this version, given he also hung himself (although there's no Titanic version of Jesus I'm aware of, so maybe that's too on the nose).

      That said, this makes me wonder what Dontyou Forgetaboutmi's conception of Lucifer is. I can only imagine, since he's frozen at the center of the pit, that he's considered the ultimate outcast. Because what's cooler than being cool? Ice cold.

      • Bandaid

        Powerful, well written piece of fiction.

        If it was actally canon, the Titans would be even more in need of deicide. Or titancide rather.

        • Tripoteur Ventripotent

          That's a common theme in mythology... gods are nearly always over-the-top evil for some reason.

          • barwhack

            I don't like the Titans. I hope Hamster can break their game.

            • Crivens

              That's so sad! =' (

              Dolefully, this work of fiction may spur the mind to remember this proverb (which I just made up):

              "No matter how bad the story in which you find yourself may be, remember: it could be verse."


              In recognition of your skillfully constructed composition, I offer a round of applause, in tribute:

              "Wo, wo, wo" you bode,
              Grimly, and unseen:
              Barely, barely, barely, barely,
              Life is but a string.