Four Words

> For the judges who see me as NA, fear not! I have posted it on my OCE account at last. [Here](http://boards.oce.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/contest-fan-fiction/b4UIhfWy-four-words) it is! **_One._** “Do you know why you are here?” Three words too long. Why are you here? Much better. Seven words, no. Eight might have even been acceptable: a multiple of four. I scowl in the darkness; blink four times. They can see my face, bowed as it is, but I cannot see theirs. The floor is cold stone, wet with dank, green water. I am knelt before them, two monks on either side of me; no doubt paid into silence. The water seeps through the plebeian cloth of my uniform. Another four blinks, four deep breaths. I smile for the audience, five in the shadows. A quintet. Beneath the smile, I weep. “Why are you smiling?” Ah, much better. Four words, an excellently delivered line. I can work with that. “My dear countryman, you remind me how little our culture has advanced.” Twelve words, three sets of four. Not ideal, but under the circumstances, it will do. Another voice speaks in the darkness, female, a soprano. Sing for me, darling. I cringe. Not now. “Sing for me!” She screamed, and her body hit the floor. I tried to stand still, like he told me, to watch. I was the audience in this performance. But I flinched, and he turned. Lightning flashed. “You think you’re safe, boy? Like Khada thought he was?” “No, Father.” “No, Father,” he mocked. “You are such a disappiontment.” He leered down at me, and a hand was raised. I crumpled to the floor as well beside her. The world returns in a swirl of grey and black. The woman’s words are muddled, a haze. They reach my ear as if from underwater. I cock my head. “Care to repeat that?” Four. “Directly after your arrest by Master Kusho and his apprentices, Noxus invaded.” I sneer. “Those of that nation mistake loudness for import. A war with them would most likely be an impressive production, though it would lack…...soul.” Twenty-four. A third voice chuckles. “Indeed, Demon.” The female voice continues. “Ionia has been in chaos.” “As it always has.” “You will remain quiet while we address you.” “Art cannot be silenced.” A fourth voice clears its throat, impossibly deep. Much too gravelly to be a suitable baritone, but it might make a suitable bass. “Perhaps not. But you can, Demon. You are but one man. Men, despite their immense variations, are all mortal. Those who accept this accept the inherent truth of life: that it must eventually end.” -------------------------------------------------------- **_Two._** Beneath the afternoon sun, he threw the rock into the pond, and it skipped three times before sinking. He handed me one and I threw, but it skipped four times. He grinned broadly, a mirror of my own face. “Nice one, Kenji.” He brushed a lock of golden hair out of his face, turning to look at me. “What do you want to be when you grow up? When you finally get out into the world?” I thought for a moment. “You know me, Khada. I’ve always loved the stage.” He cupped at his breast and holds a hand aloft. “The weft and weave of fate guides thee on thine accursed path!” I chuckled. “You’re full of it.” He shrugged. “I don’t even know where I got that from. I think I heard Magga talking about it, you know, that girl from the traveling troupe. Orpheus Mechanics, whatever they were called.” “_Orphellum Mechanicals_,” I corrected him. “Yeah, they were pretty good.” I looked out over the water, which reflected against the afternoon sun. It was getting dark, the yellow circle grazing against the mountains in the horizon. “What about you? What do you want to be when you grow up?” “To be honest? I don’t know.” He sighed, rolling his head, and picked at the grass. “I’ve never understood it.” “Understood what?” “Like, growing up, in general. Life. People are born, and most of the time childhood doesn’t have expectations. You just exist, and you’re…….happy, sort of. But with age comes the eventual responsibility, and it feels like the world is set up so that people who can’t keep up get left behind. If you don’t know exactly who you are and what you want to be, where and when you want to be it, then life just passes you by, and that’s it. Your chance is done, and you can’t reverse it. Life happens too fast, Kenji. Sometimes you just don’t get to appreciate how beautiful it can be.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **_Three._** I consider the fourth voice’s line in my head. “Excellently worded, although your delivery leaves much to be desired. Can we work on that again? After me, and this time-” A fifth voice interrupts me. Twenty-one words. Three short, or perhaps one too many. I scowl. “Demon, we have no time for your silly theatrics. The Cabal has gathered here to offer you a job. And yet you insist on wasting our time.” “Art requires a certain subtlety. You lack it.” A finger reaches up to my collarbone, and I trace it, four times. My eyebrow is twitching, but I cannot stop it after the fourth. Five times. Six. Seven. Eight. I clench my teeth as tears fall from my eyes, but my hands are twitching too violently to brush them away. My whole body is. Nine. Ten. Eleven. “Is he…..crying?” the female voice asks. “My work evokes emotion,” I stammer. “Do not fear a natural response, dear countrymen.” Twelve. Thirteen. Why won’t it stop? No, please. “No, stop it, please!” My leg, my face, my body was on fire. I laid there on the ground, clutching at it in agony, my father’s metal cane beside me. Blood trickled down from my brow, several teeth missing, one of my eyes swollen shut, but yet still I found the strength to call out. “Please, please, stop it.” Khada was limp by now, but Father continued to crouch over him. His hands moved almost too fast for me to see, but I could hear every scream, each awful, wet thud as fist strikes broken, bloody flesh. I screamed too, crying, begging Father to kill me instead. After a while, Khada stopped screaming, and his body slid to the floor. Father sat back against the wall, regarding me out of the corner of his black, soulless eyes. He smiled, breathing heavily, wiping his bloody hands on his white shirt. They stained it red. He held up four fingers, running his tongue over his teeth.. Mother cried in the corner, her legs bent grotesquely, screams of agony unseparable from screams of anguish. My face pressed against the hard floor, tears and blood collecting into a pool. Father leered at me. “What? Four words, boy. All he had to do was say four words. Besides, I think he looks prettier like that anyway, don’t you? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.” ____________________________________________ **_Four._** All five voices snicker. “The great Khada Jhin, weeping,” the fifth voice says. Its ingratiating nasality irks me, and I yearn to silence it. “What is the nature of this job, countrymen?” It is the first voice that responds. “We free you from Tuula, and you work for us, eliminating threats to Ionian…..order. Namely, the Wuju masters that have siezed power from the chaos wrought by this war. Back to your old, um, _profession_, but totally anynymous. From the shadows.” One, two, three, four. Two, two, three, four. Quick breaths, four at a time. “I accept your offer.” The fifth voice responds almost instantaneously. “Excellent. You will get started at once.” The monks haul me up. One hands me an exquisitely carved gun, gold and ivory, beautiful. I consider it in my hands. A quick intake of breath. I try to take three more. Too late. “You going to kill me, then?” Mother had been dead for several years. Father was old, withered, he looked up at me from the floor. Age and disease had stolen his legs, but his eyes had not changed at all; black voids. But I had. Years working on stage, lifting equipment, painting, strutting, and dancing had honed me. I was taller, stronger, more beautiful. I am as exquisite as the art that I produce. I crouched down, and our eyes met. “No, Father. I will make you more beautiful.” He scowled as the bullet went between his eyes, his head lolling to his shoulder. I stood, and cleaned the gun. Four times, only ever four. The fifth voice gasps as the bullet enters his body, and though I do not see it, I hear his body fall to the floor with a splash. The other four scramble back deeper in the shadows, and the two monks jump on me, pressing me to the ground. The gun falls from my fingers, clattering against the floor, but I do not care. As the monks drag me away, and the four remaining Cabal members curse at me from the shadows, I laugh, eyes squinted shut so that they cannot see I am crying, too.
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