The Way It Always Has
A collection of all the Sands of IRON Comment short stories and lore entries, all in one easily referenceable place.
This wasn’t the way this was supposed to go. The Guildmaster had heard the old stories, of when Heroes say goodbye to their partners. Heartfelt goodbyes said through tears as the Hero fades back to their world. Though nothing happens quite right here anymore.
“We don’t deserve that ending,” The Charmander partner looks off the edge of the sheer face of Mt. Monolithe, “We haven’t changed the future.” The Guildmaster tried to hold his tongue. They had this argument many times. Though he could feel this would be the last.
“We ended the slave trade, Anders,” The Guildmaster had to point out.
“And yet there are slaves, still. Nobles bound their bastards to service, and anyone with money can indenture someone with no chance of them ever being free.” Anders turns to the Guildmaster, “Your committee failed.”
“They are making positive change, even if it’s slow!” The Guildmaster protested.
“And how many people will suffer waiting for that change. How long will it take for the wheel of slow justice to grind down this world's edges,” Anders takes small steps, beginning to circle the Guildmaster slowly. “How long until that wheel breaks...”
“Anders, if you are going to hurt people in search of change, you know I’ll have to stop you…” The Guildmaster peers over the cliffs edge down at the world, unable to look his partner in the eye.
“Those people raped you, tortured you, killed off most of our guild, and you will still weep for them?” Anders gets close to the Guildmaster when he says this.
“Yes… We won’t win by sinking down to their level,” The Guildmaster responds.
Anders is silent for a while, before letting out a deep troubled breath, “The Dreamers were right, an outsider can’t fix this world,” he speaks slowly, measured. “The world you want to see is one the people here can’t even imagine. We’ve been conditioned to stand by while atrocities are being committed, and never raise our voice. And yet you think we can help and politic our way into a better world. How do you expect people to speak out, if their voices have been taken from them?"
“Just come home with me,” The Guildmaster put his head on his partner's shoulder, “We can change the future together, with friendship and kindness...”
There was silence for a while, first broken by the sound of Anders' sobs. Then again it was broken when Anders spoke, through tears, “You're a naive fool, Sebastian...” And before a heavy heart could hold back forward action. The Guildmaster was pushed off the cliff. His screams died quickly. Things fall faster off of Mt. Monolithe, after all. Anders couldn’t even hear the thud.
The future would be changed the way it always has. Forged in Iron and Blood…
The civilized world takes its shape from the powerful whims of Noble desire. It is no surprise that certain cruel social mores exist to remove consequence itself, from many Nobles favourite pastime. Because to something as high as Nobility, that is all a bastard is. A messy consequence that one might twist until it becomes productive.
The practice of Pruning, (named such because it keeps hereditary trees proper.) Started like most civilized things; with the Iron King. Someone who sired his own share of illegitimate children. The practice was used to “Protect the sanctity of true Noble lines.” All illegitimate Noble children were to be castrated to prevent them from making their own dynasties and challenging the line. They would be given the lowest rank in society (Citizen status) and be sent into the world.
After the slave trade was ended, however, Nobles began keeping their bastards closer to the family. A Guild run committee prevents even the most powerful Nobles from owning slaves. So the Nobility found a workaround. Many Pruned now spend their lives as servants to their Noble families. A perfectly legal practice. After all, no committee exists to prevent cruelty to one’s own kin…
On the day that his slave trade was dismantled, the infamous noble slaver known as “The Blossom” made an apology speech. The gathered crowd of Citizens and Guild members watched in silence. Some eat the apology, falling for the Noble’s rehearsed speech about folly and mercy. Others stand stone faced. It makes no difference to The Blossom. He hides a smirk as he speaks. He knows this is the extent of his punishment.
The two that brought down The Blossom’s trade were not present at his speech. They were in their office, having an argument they’ve had many times.
“So he just gets to apologize and go free after all the lives he ruined?” The riolu partner says to the oshawott Guildmaster.
“His trade is done, and we have his ledger. The committee can start working through it and freeing the slaves that were already traded.” The Guildmaster tried his best to keep a level tone, “Things are better now, Riley.”
“And what about the ones that died under him huh, should they not have some kind of justice?” Riley asks the Guildmaster.
“We are doing all we can to make things better. What do you suggest we do, barge in there and beat him up?”
“I think we would need to do more than beat him up,” Riley says darkly.
“And what would that accomplish, besides marking us as criminals and taking away the voice we do good with?” The Guildmaster speaks with a sort of cold righteousness. “There will always be people like The Blossom, killing one wouldn’t do anything. What’s the point of justice if we don’t live in a better world tomorrow?”
Riley seemed angered by the Guildmasters words, “You know you sound like you’re on their side, Sebastian. By trying to work by these nobles laws, you enable their evils too. You know this is why Anders left you-”
“Get out...” The Guildmaster said through a furrowed brow and clenched fist. Riley had crossed a line, she decided to at least save her grace and left the room without a word.
The Guildmaster put his head in his hands shutting his eyes tight, “This is how we fix the world,” he mutters to himself, “Slowly, through process...”
I once made a promise to never use Iron.
Iron is brutal, horrible.
It destroyed our world,
Plunging it into conquest and domination.
How could the world be mended by something that was never good?
Why would I break my promise?
I spoke my words and they were taken away,
My friends spoke, and again, away.
How can the voice of change be heard if it isn’t allowed to be spoken?
Politics is a luxury,
And those in luxury rarely make change.
That broken promise is the Wallbreakers symbol.
We need Iron, and the world needs us.
Alike the broken wall,
Not because we are good, but because we are necessary!
“I learned there are 3 different types of advantage. Each one trivializes the last...” The Flygon said to his guest sitting across from him. His guest gave him a nod for him to continue. The Flygon had to think way back to remember his first lesson, before he even took the name Igon.
“There were more dimensions to a fight than type advantage,” He remembered what his mentor told him. He was born as a guild member, which meant his life was focused on honing his combat capability. Both physically and strategically. His mentor told him about “stats,” an assigned value used to determine superiority between different species. “High defense or low offense can trivialize type advantages, and these can change at any moment. Don’t even think about mud slapping a rock type in a sandstorm.”
While Igon did have to memorize the stats of nearly every species known to the world in his youth, he never thought about what a system like that actually meant back then. It was so fitting that the Guilds created a system in which to judge every single person's combat potential before they even met them. To the Guilds, the only measure of someone's worth as a person, was their ability to fight.
All that combat knowledge seemed to be wasted, after his mentor taught him about the second type of advantage. It was his mentor's final lesson, when their life ended at the end of a spear. All of that knowledge and experience ended in a single thrust.
“When Iron enters the picture. Type advantage, stats, it all doesn’t matter. It’s a fight on two completely different levels. If you hit someone with a strong enough move, they faint. If you are hit with Iron, you die.” Igon finishes, taking a pause as his guest reaches into his cloak.
“We won’t be fighting on different levels,” the guest says sliding an Iron dagger across the table. Igon takes the dagger looking intently at it as he speaks.
“I haven’t told you about the third advantage yet…” It was the last guild mission he ever did, when he learned about the final advantage. It was commissioned by the Noble family of Drywell. A group of Savages had set up a commune outside of a Mystery Dungeon nearby. Their orders were clear, end the commune and send the Savages back into the maze.
His rescue team, as naive as they were. Thought a compromise might be reached, and returned with a peace treaty and trade agreement. The Nobles of Drywell let his guild taste victory for a moment, sending a delegation to the peace talks at the commune. A delegation who during the talks, drew Iron and ended the lives of nearly every person in the commune before his Guild fought them back. Igon returned home to find a disbanded guild, and his hovel in flames. And just like that, the life he always knew was over.
“Even if you win the fight. They’ll take away your ability to live a life after,” The Flygon said to the Charmander across from him. “Make no mistake. This third advantage. Those Walls you say you want to tear down. It will destroy the lives of every single person who joins your movement.”
The Flygon slides the dagger back across the table, “I’m sorry Anders, that’s a no from me.”
Stories have a power most never notice. Children find hope in stories when they are scared, and when they grow older, it defines what they can imagine the world to be. Unfortunately for us there is only one story that has ever been told.
You know the tale. An outsider comes, they fix everything, and then they leave.
Of course other things happen in life, quarrels between mons. Heroism of smaller scale. But those stories aren’t what our society chooses to tell. Only ones about a human, a partner, and a goodbye.
Why would this be the case? Well consider what it means that children are told that our world can only be saved by an outsider. That we never had the strength to fix it ourselves. Consider what it means when a hero leaves. How it marks the end of change, and the beginning of a new “perfect” stagnant world.
Of course I am not saying we should let humans stay, we should all be familiar with what the last one did after he refused to leave. And most people are familiar as well, with how he died. How I murdered him.
And for once there was a new story being told…
If that is what it takes for people to talk, so be it. Kill the guilty, string them up on the walls they treasure so much. When we are finished, They will talk about a new kind of myth.