Eat or Be Eaten
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By every definition, Theron Desmod appeared to be banal in every facet of his appearance. With his average height, build, and weight, Theron was utterly unremarkable to look at. Even his face didn't inspire a passerby's notice. Faded-brown, straight hair adorned his scalp and dull-black eyes were affixed to his angular face. The only thing meriting originality would be the feint paleness furnishing his olive-tinted skin. Since appearances are oft treated as mirrors to someone's character, one would naturally expect Theron to be a man of undisputed insipidness. However, such a person would be incredulously surprised if they were to look underneath his skin for a terrible monster lay underneath it. So dear reader, follow along as I illustrate the madness of such an (un)ordinary man.

Before discussing Theron's life, context must be supplied for many of the events yet to be described. Nine years before Theron's birth, the nation of I'valix had continued to expand outwards as an unopposed power. Since I'valix was governed by the rich in an oligarchical format, the acclimation of drowning in wealth and greed was paramount to having a successful life. One of the more prominent members of the government, a genteel man named Chalre Ghent, was the prime embodiment of the avaricious mindset. Ghent's abode was embellished in blinding gold and decadent tapestries with maids and servants inhabiting every room of the household. Ghent, sensing more riches to be had in a forest south of the main capital, sent off a portion of the military to acquire the land. In doing so, the military made contact with another group of individuals they had not known prior: the Fae. Being unaware of what the Fae were, Ghent's military immediately called for the unknown force to retreat or face forced displacement.

In this moment of heated escalation, the Fae were afraid and confused. What seemed like hundreds of men appeared from nowhere in their well-traveled lands and each was yelling foreign words. The hunter-gatherer society of Fae were unaccustomed to any other forms of civilization and knew that in life, it was kill or be killed. Overwhelmed by anxiety, a panicked Fae loosed their arrow into the neck of an approaching human and an audible scream was heard throughout the land. Upon seeing the first arrow let loose, the Fae's anxiety turned to adrenaline and instinct hardened by battle. The conflict continued to rise as the Fae began to fire volley after volley into the soldiers' pulpy flesh before any got a chance to assess the situation. The scent of blood began to permeate the area and human soldiers retreated in utter fear despite having the advantage of numbers and superior weaponry. Those who stayed behind to fight were soon overpowered by the Fae's guerrilla tactics and either became another corpse in the forest of bloodshed or retreated to preserve their life for another day. On that day, both sides lost; the humans losing an uncountable number of men who would never again return to their families and the Fae becoming hated and feared by the rest of civilized society. At the time, the Fae considered themselves victorious, yet that feeling wouldn't last for much longer. The people of I'valix were terrified of this news and demanded that the government eliminate this foreign threat.

With all of the context established, it is time to explain Theron's story. Theron was born into destitution in the advanced city of Klaron along with his fraternal twin. Their father was never a figure in their life and their mother was rarely one. Contrasting to their father, Teresa Desmod took on long hours to pay off her debts and provide for her boys. That said, the twins never spent much time with her. Instead, they were more interested in playing nearby the army encampments since they could always find leftover scraps of food decorating the ground. Even though the boys were chased out several times by the troops encamped there, they kept on returning since the embarrassment of being caught was far better than the debilitating stabbing of knives on the inside of their stomachs they felt whenever starved. The only other time when the children ate was during school hours, and even still the rations were meager at best. However, when you're starved to the point where death feels as if it might be better than living, you don't complain about how much food there is. In fact, it was during school when the legends of the Fae grew. Little kids, being as they are, exaggerated the truth to grand proportions and painted the Fae as malignant beasts capable of destroying cities in a single second. Of course, that was not even close to the truth, but kids believe what they wish to. Nonetheless, the Desmod twins continued throughout life, barely living and hurting throughout all of it.

It was when Theron turned fifteen that he decided to drop out of school and join the military. He reasoned that there would be loads of food available for him to eat if he worked directly for the government, so he snuck out to the closest barracks without telling his mother. His twin happened to stay in school to further his education in hopes of developing a future career (a decision that would eventually pay off, albeit with much pain and struggle). Back to Theron, he was initially turned down from the military due to his lackluster physique, a problem greatly attributed to his life of malnutrition. Nonetheless, the teenager's determined focus made it hard for him to accept defeat.

The next day, Theron returned to the barracks and once more emphatically pleaded with the station captain to let him at least try out for the military. Humoring the youth's resolve, the captain allowed Theron to attempt basic training alongside the younger adults recently recruited into the militia. As expected, Theron lagged heavily behind and lacked the discipline the other recruits shared. While the captain was preparing his speech on how Theron should pursue a life further in academia rather than in the military, Theron went to eat a full lunch (with the rest of the troops) for the first time in years. He indulged in a full day's worth of food rather than a meal's worth and the other recruits looked on him with great interest. He ingested slow-cooked and savory meats, tart yet energizing berries, unleavened bread that broke apart easily upon meeting the saliva in his mouth, and tender lamb spiced with a variety of seasonings. For the first time in his life, Theron felt at ease. At that moment, he knew that he must be accepted into the military at any cost; Theron would never succumb to hunger again.

And so, after lunch, Theron doubled down on his resoluteness. Surprising everyone, the teenager began to keep pace with the rest of the troops despite the noticeable differences in build amongst them. When the captain viewed the youth's newfound stamina, he decided to nix his former denial and instead take a chance on the boy. At the end of the day, Theron was utterly drenched in mud and the sweat of himself and those who muddled in strife alongside him. Once the training came to a close, the captain called over Theron and told him that he could come back the next day to continue training if he wanted to. Suffice to say, Theron had the most happiness of his life that day and marched back to the slums with a smile brimming across his face. When he arrived home, his twin and mother (arriving home early from work) were filled with worry over what Theron had done, although the notion of freely being able to eat calmed both of their nerves. The matter happened to die down overnight and Theron returned for basic training the next day. This cycle of worry and Theron heading to training the next day repeated for quite some time until Theron finally graduated and became officially accepted into the I'valixian military under the command of a stern fellow named Leomund Osstol. The day before Theron officially went to his new position in the army, he returned home ecstatic. He had just found out the day prior that he was the youngest recruit to ever be drafted into the army (at the age of sixteen). His eyes were full of bright hope and youthful vigor, alighting with eagerness at the thought to prove himself in the greater aspect of the world. He had a quick conversation with his twin and set off for the world at large.

Now dear reader, you must be wondering by now, "If Theron was in pure destitution and had no way to eat, how in the world did he not die of thirst?" Well, that brings us to the next area of interest in this grand tale. You see, Klaron, although not the capital of I'valix, was a grand hub of technological and economic potential. The greatest minds gathered there to discuss the nature of every conceivable concept from theoretical sciences to the formation of new languages. One of the greatest wonders of the city would be the Fount Terminus, a grand fountain artificially created in the middle of the city. From the central pillar, several carved flowers protrude outwards and jut out various streams of water that coalesce into an embellished pool below. Miraculously, this water continued to stay fresh and clean, no matter what filth would seemingly enter it. While many thought it to be a work of magic, the "magic" of the cleansed water was due to a water filtration and purification system.

Before Theron was accepted into the military, he and his twin would head to the Fount Terminus every day after school before going to the barracks to scrounge for food. It was here that they bonded over their struggles of life. Although the daggers cut ever further into their stomachs, so long as the two had their thirsts quenched, they could speak for hours. Although, that was when they were still children. Now, the two were adults and their interests had divided. When Theron had turned eighteen, he returned to Klaron and alerted his brother to meet him in the promise of grand news. Theron summoned his brother to the Fount Terminus and immediately the twin was taken aback in shock. The gaunt figure of his brother had filled to an average (if slightly muscular) build. The shimmering spark of hope in Theron's eyes had dimmed to a pale hollowness. Although he was smiling, Theron's face seemed to be a porcelain mask that had cracked and splintered. The once genuine smile that adorned his face had been replaced by a forced imitation. Although this person was the same, their personality changed dramatically. Indeed, Theron was fed by I'valix and thus was a tamed beast. Any personality once belonging to Theron now belonged to the wishes of I'valix.

Now, the two brothers first got to talking in minor pleasantries such as how each was faring, what new friendships they've formed, and what recent ventures they've gotten up to. Theron allowed his brother to answer first, and then answered himself, although Theron answered quite impatiently as if he had much more important matters to get to. In tune with his attitude, Theron quickly transitioned into the main reason why he had called his brother to the Fount after answering: his efforts in the military brought about a promotion into an exclusive hunting program, the Droghard. Theron's twin was interested in this revelation since he had never heard about the Droghard. Theron elaborated saying that it was a new program being instilled by the I'valixian government to go out and end the Fae nuisance. Theron exclaimed that it had been long enough that the people of I'valix had been living in fear of these foreign threats and that it's about time that the humans retake what's rightfully theirs. Fearing the stories they rumored over as children, the twin begged Theron to step down from duty, though these pleas had fallen on deaf ears as the soldier had already made up his mind. The warrior reasoned that the army life was good; he was always fed, he made many friends, and he found a renewed sense of purpose living for the cause of I'valix. He had worked hard to get where he was and no words his brother said would steer him away from his newfound purpose. The people of I'valix demanded revenge for the forest massacre from years prior so Theron demanded it too: nothing would sway his course.


A Quick Aside From Your Author: Revenge is a stupid concept. Again, I'll say it: revenge is stupid. Revenge is simply a justification to commit a slight of equal or greater magnitude against a party who has slighted you or another in the past. In committing your act of vengeance, you in turn leave behind victims that may wish to enact vengeance. Because you wished to "get even", now somebody wishes to "get even". As such, the cycle of revenge continues to perpetuate until somebody else decides to take the high road and end their part in it. The worst part is that once vengeance is accomplished, there's nothing to be further gained. Sure, you obtain satisfaction after doing whatever it was that you wanted to do, but that satisfaction will eventually end. That's it. Revenge — for the most part — just ends in a paltry time of feeling pleased. Take your author as an example: when I lost my hand, did I feel the need to take revenge against those who caused it to happen? The answer is no, I did not. Instead, I plied my time in adapting to my new situation. Instead of fantasizing about methods in which I could avenge myself, I put into action plans to make my situation easier to handle. Thus, revenge would have just wasted my time. As such, I'll reiterate my aforementioned phrase to the point where even a person with immense brain damage could contrive its importance: revenge is stupid, utterly and entirely. That said, the stupidity of an action doesn't stop people from doing it. After all, humans act on emotions rather than logic even when they ought not to.


The day after Theron's arrival, a conglomeration of men from the I'valix military also appeared in Klaron gathering around the Fount Terminus. Each's face was like a mask painted in the hue of joviality, although none seemed to imitate the true color of joy. The gathered men were in uniform with a full display of the various meddles and badges they've achieved. The hubrises of the men were visible in the air as Theron took his place alongside them donning his splintered mask. As the men assembled around the fountain, a crowd began to form around them in awaiting anticipation. As the crowd continued to amass, a lone figure stepped out from the masked men: Leomund Osstol. Addressing the swarm of people gathered in front of them, the steely Leomund told the crowd this:

"Gracious people of Klaron, I realize that many of you are confused as to why the I'valixian army has congregated here today. I assure you, nothing is wrong. In fact, we'll be departing come tomorrow's dawn. However, know this: the men you see here have volunteered their lives so that you all may live in comforting peace and wellness. In about three days, these men shall go and end the Fae scourge that has plagued I'valix for far too long! I'm sure you've all heard about the Fae massacre of years past? Well, we shall finally obtain our vengeance against them and avenge the innocent soldiers who were murdered by their hands! Not a single Fae menace shall escape their due justice! I, alongside the men to my sides, will make sure of that. Each and every one of these valorous soldiers have been overseen by myself personally, so rest assured that their capabilities far exceed their eagerness. If you need to call upon us, our group of Fae hunters has been named the Droghard. If you have any information of a rogue Fae in the surrounding proximity, please do alert one of us. Klaron's magistrates will be more than acceptable to report to if you cannot find a Droghard hunter nearby. Together, we shall eliminate each and every Fae we come across to ensure a safer future for all!"

Upon the stalwart's conclusion, the surrounding crowd exploded into a cacophony of applause. The decorated Droghard basked in the attention with Theron, in particular, enjoying the publicity the most. As the town brightened upon the thought of eliminating the Fae from existence, the few Fae that overheard the speech slinked further into the shadows.

As you probably already guessed, the Fae are not exactly the beasts humans imagined them as. In actuality, only three predominant things separate the Fae from other humans (which were not known at this time). Firstly, Fae cannot tell a direct lie. However, they can spin the truth and mislead to bypass that weakness. Secondly, Fae live exceedingly longer than humans. In fact, one year for Fae equates to about ten years for a human. Finally, Fae weaken in the presence of certain metals. More specifically, Fae become extremely exhausted when near the trigger metal and rarely survive being struck with a weapon made out of it. As far as your author knows, these metals are pure iron, cobalt, and nickel.

Back to the main point, some Fae had traveled to human settlements for various reasons known only to them after the forest massacre. Some visited to learn who was invading their lands. Others came into a human society attempting to end as many human lives as possible only to be struck with surprise at learning that most of them were non-hostile civilians. These select Fae acclimated themselves to the language and customs of the humans and could be confused as natives to the lands they immigrated to. Since Fae and humans look virtually the same, nobody could tell that Fae had intermingled into their society. As such, when the stalwart Leomund had finished his declaration of genocide against the Fae, many Fae became panicked. And so, many of them retreated to their homelands to warn of the oncoming dangers, although not much of anything resulted from it. After all, why would the previous victors have anything to fear about if the humans posed such little challenge the first time they invaded? As it would turn out, the hubris of Fae would result in their downfall. However, let's cut back to Theron in this declaration. With a brimming smile of accomplishment on his face, this would go down as Theron's second happiest day of all time: the day he was admired by others for adhering to the will of I'valix.

That night, Theron, his twin, and their mother had one final feast at the barrack's encampment where the masked soldier introduced his family to the stern Leomund, several other Droghard soldiers, and his new attitude. You see, military life shaped a great deal of Theron's personality. He was praised for success and punished for failure, no longer being rewarded by the presence of survival and punished by the pain of internal daggers. In Theron's mind, he had fought for survival and won his right to live it. He was free from destitution and it was all thanks to the merciful I'valixian military for allowing him to succeed. Why shouldn't he repay the thing that freed him from suffering?

Conversely, Theron's twin believed his brother to be the main driving force behind his actions, not I'valix. A brother with such determination would surely be motivated by his own beliefs to propel him further, no? Why would somebody with such a driving passion operate on anything but their own morals? As it would turn out, Theron was a mixed case. Although he believed he was performing his actions per his own beliefs, he was operating in the beliefs of I'valix. Hence, Theron thought he still had his own will when he had actually given it up a long time ago.

Now dear reader, your author is unfortunately quite ill-informed on the events taking place during Theron's reign as a Droghard. After all, Theron didn't share much about his experiences, and the entire inner workings of the operation became quiet from the government. However, what I believe had happened is that the Droghard finally saw what it was that they were hunting. As aforementioned, the Fae resembled humans through and through. Imagine if the Droghard were to report to the public with humanoid-looking corpses of a sentient race. People would be disgusted with themselves that they believed other human-esque figures were monsters. A sympathetic outcry would arise and people would start protesting the hunting of such a race. The whole thing would be a bureaucratic nightmare concerning the military.

Even more, it would raise questions such as: if the massacre was carried out by another sentient race, why did they attack in the first place? Clearly, the people heading that operation such as Ghent would be hesitant to answer such questions. After all, the answer of, "I invaded populated land causing interracial sociopolitical conflict to occur," is not an answer a person wants to give. Thus, a body of a hunted Fae would never be shown to the public. In fact, I reason those who proclaimed to see a slain Fae were secretly just paid off by the government to give the illusion of a successful operation.

I would also assume that during this time, Theron was told by his superiors that he should suppress any sympathy he had for the Fae. Perhaps something along the lines of, "Sympathy equals weakness, and the people of I'valix would brand you a traitor for your cowardice. So what if the Fae can think and feel? The security of I'valix is paramount above all. In this world, it's eat or be eaten, so take your portion before the Fae can take theirs."

To the appearance of the public, the operation was a success. Hundreds of Fae were dying by the week-load (an amount most likely exaggerated) because of the Droghard's actions. Spirits were high and people began mass publications about the Droghard's work much to the government's chagrin. Even Theron gave an interview once about his actions. In it, nothing much was said besides hollow pleasantries. However, one thing was certain among the populace: the Fae were beasts that needed putting down.

You might be wondering why no Fae came forward to disperse these allegations. Well, simply put, they were afraid. Already, there were few to little Fae who knew how to speak the language of the humans. Of that small amount, they knew that their entire race was being hated by humanity for simply existing. Furthermore, the Fae were depicted as beasts, not humanoid figures. Why should anybody believe a seemingly human entity claiming to be a monstrous Fae? Can the Fae shapeshift? Do humans need to worry about Fae infiltrating the military, the government, or our basic lives if they can blend in so seamlessly? Suffice to say, the Fae were afraid, so the killings continued onwards.

We now jump to a time when Theron was twenty-two years of age. Theron had continued in his line of work as a Droghard and amassed quite a favorable reputation. Unfortunately, during this time, Theron received a letter. The letter was from his twin stating how their mother had just recently passed on from the world. Grief-stricken, Theron rushed home to Klaron where the funeral procession was being held. As it happens, Theron arrived on time for the event and looked over his mother's corpse. Her's was not a natural death for she had been stabbed directly in the heart. Personally, I hold the opinion that Teresa Desmod committed suicide. A single stab wound placed directly upon the heart is much easier to land by self-infliction than it is to land from a foreign attacker. Teresa also was not the most mentally stable of people. A life of starvation, poverty, and uncleanliness would make any person mad.

Meanwhile, Theron concluded in his mind that revenge was being taken against him in the form of his mother's death. To his belief, a Fae had killed his mother to avenge those he's slain on his career of being a Droghard. Even now, nobody really knows what killed Teresa. However, from that day onwards, Theron had resolved his will to kill any Fae he came across. He no longer held a reason why he should retain a shred of mercy against them. In figurative, he began to eat before the Fae could take any food away from him again. As such, this day was Theron's second-worst day: the day he threw aside the notion of sympathy so that he could achieve his revenge; the day that Theron's sparks of hope thoroughly faded from his porcelain-clad face.

And now dear reader, we come to the defining point of the story: the point where a human becomes a monstrosity. After the death of his mother, Theron vowed he would never let the Fae kill another person so long as he breathed. He failed almost instantly. About a month after the passing of his mother, the valiant Leomund had been shot through by four arrows (two in his stomach, one in his arm, and the fatal arrow in his eye). Admittedly, other Droghard soldiers had died to Fae before then, although none impacted Theron quite as much as Leomund's death. Presumably, this was because Leomund might have been a father-type figure for Theron, although it could also have been just that Theron respected the stalwart to his very end.

Regardless, Theron was visibly disturbed. Instead of donning his mask, his true emotions displayed across his face for the first time in years. He became restless and oftentimes wouldn't eat to scout for more Fae in the vicinity. In a short time, Theron eventually became the leader of the Droghard and the most renowned hunter out of the group. He was loved and admired throughout I'valix, yet he wasn't content. Sure, he was operating under the will of I'valix and was adored for it, but he didn't have much time for rejoicing. A moment spent being happy would be a moment of distraction: a moment where a Fae could escape from his clutches and possibly kill him.

As time progressed, Theron began to starve himself to hunt most effectively. Why would somebody so determined eat when planning for every eventuality would be more effective for killing the Fae? For the first time in years, the daggers returned to re-cut familiar wounds. Due to the intensity of which Theron was fasting, his accumulated muscle mass began to fade away. Day and night, Theron thought about Fae, how best to kill them, and ways not to let those close to him die. Even before this, Theron was a person of few to little words. However, Theron now rarely spoke unless communicating various strategies and issuing reports. He became blind to all else and could rarely focus on anything not related to Fae. Theron was hungry, and thus he consumed the radicalized food of I'valix.

However, Theron's time in the Droghard would soon be ending come the arrival of his twenty-fifth birthday. Two months, two weeks, and five days after Theron's date of birth, a courageous person announced themselves to the world: Lyira Arutae. Arutae was a pale-skinned woman who primarily spent her time in the schooling district of Klaron. She was well-respected among her colleagues and was thought to have one of the best "human" minds around. The only problem was that she was a Fae. You see, she happened to immigrate to I'valix shortly after the forest massacre to track down the remaining humans that had escaped. However, the town she arrived in was utterly peaceful in nature and welcomed her into their society. The people of Ghrast taught Arutae how to speak their language and she was soon just like a native speaker. Arutae then proceeded to emigrate around I'valix and eventually settled in Klaron. That said, she was the first Fae to work up her courage and make her presence known to the human population.

As one would expect, nobody believed that such a woman was a Fae at first. When she kept insisting on it, people began to turn to worry that the beastly Fae had taken control of Arutae's body. However, many other Fae began to reveal themselves at the same time as Arutae. Perhaps it was a coordinated plan, maybe many Fae just obtained the courage to speak out after somebody else had tried, or possibly Fae were just tired of being portrayed as monsters. For whatever reason, these strings of Fae claims spread like wildfire around I'valix. Of course, the government had to clear up this "new" matter diplomatically, so they held public conferences with people claiming to be Fae. Those claiming to be Fae were discriminated against by a majority of the people of I'valix and were assaulted on many occasions.

However, that all began to stop when a major question was asked amongst the populace: "What exactly does a regular Fae look like if all known Fae are inhabiting humans' bodies?" Of those claiming to have seen a Fae, a multitude of different answers were given. In turn, the people of I'valix began to doubt that the Fae were feral beasts as no account would match up with another's recounting. Where one person saw a Fae with green skin, sharp teeth, and wings, another saw a Fae as a blob of ooze with hundreds of malformed arms sticking out of it. Suffice to say, the general appearance of what a Fae looked like didn't match up across multiple people's accounts. As such, people began to demand the Droghard bring back the corpses of the Fae they've slain to see whether Fae were monsters, "humans", or something in between.

Transitioning over to Theron's ventures in the forests, he received an official missive one hazy morning demanding that he return to Klaron with a few corpses of Fae immediately. Somewhat confused by this letter, Theron complied with the order, although did so with great reluctance. After all, a trip back to Klaron would only delay his planned hunting expeditions. It also didn't help that Theron had no clue about the recent events concerning Arutae and others. Even when others had tried contacting the Droghard to report about the Fae occurrences, they couldn't be reached due to how far Theron relocated his men into the forest. As such, Theron decided to bring as many corpses as he could back to Klaron because, as far as he knew, everybody loved the Droghard and the death of the vile Fae.

So, Theron and many of his fellow Droghard departed for Klaron that night. Upon arriving at the grand city, Theron announced his presence to the villagers with expectant hubris. However, the denizens didn't return with respectful and loving gazes as they once did. Instead, they look onwards past Theron: at the corpses. News quickly spread that the Fae corpses that returned were fellow humanoids instead of beasts. Upon that realization, many began to accept the fact that the Fae were sentient beings instead of mindless abominations. Thus, their hatred of the Fae slowly turned to the Droghard for massacring such a race. The situation was so bad that several members of the government had to step in to calm down the chaos.

Theron, immensely confused by this newfound hatred towards him, had gone out in search of his brother to explain what exactly had happened. Unfortunately, his twin wasn't in Klaron at the time and would only be able to return in a week. Desperate for an explanation, he asked anyone he could find for answers, but it was to no avail. All the people he asked either shied away or insulted him with such terms as murderer, monster, beast, and more. It took a day of ample discussion amongst I'valix's leaders (the Council Magnant), several Fae (including Arutae), and other high-ranking officials before they reached a verdict on how best to proceed given the "newfound" evidence.

From the outside, Theron looked like just another person, however, he had the blood of hundreds upon him. He had been acting in the palm of I'valix for so long, and when Theron finally needed help the most, I'valix abandoned him. He still had a faint shred of sympathy for the people of I'valix: for the people who turned their back to him. Although, no sympathy remained for the Fae, or any of their seemingly now plentiful supporters.

He must have thought, "Why are people despising me when I've afforded them every service? I've followed my orders for the people of I'valix, so why must I be castigated? Why are they supporting the Fae? They're utter monsters and I'm a hero! Why are people supporting monsters such as them?!"

As Theron took his fifth anxious pace around the Fount Terminus (an unusual habit for somebody so normally stoic), he received another missive to immediately come to a closed-off government building on the outskirts of town: the Concord Isell. There, he was to present his case of why he was innocent to the Council Magnant. Of course, Theron still hadn't been told of what crime he was accused of, nor why anybody was hating him. His cool-headed demeanor was replaced with boiling anger and doubts that interjected his mind like a tugging rope. Mere days earlier, he thought that he was loved throughout the land, and now he was being tried for a crime he did not know of. Nonetheless, Theron was determined to see this out. After all, he thought that this might just be a big misunderstanding or an instance of Fae trickery.

So, Theron donned his once-deserted mask and headed to the Concord Isell. Upon arriving there, he saw many of the decadently dressed and respected leaders he had served for years standing around the perimeter of the building. Upon them seeing Theron, they invited him indoors and pointed to a table for him to sit down at. The leaders took seats at a distant table, all of which facing Theron. Already planted at the table the Council sat at were several other people whom Theron didn't recognize. These unrecognized beings were actually Fae the Council brought in to be officiants to the trial. Their sole purpose for being there was to testify against Theron.

Following this moment, much has been exaggerated or falsely reported. Per my duty, I try to get the most accurate truth across given the outlets of information I've acquired. As such, the concluding events may deviate from what actually occurred on that day since the presented information has been stitched together from multiple different accounts.

As the Council Magnant sat, Theron grew increasingly suspicious of the other members he was not familiar with. Quite foolishly, nobody had thought to take away the soldier's weaponry, so Theron was instinctively clenching his holstered crossbow in case of danger. Accounts vary as to whether there were any guards posted around or in the facility, but the most alleged account details that guards were only posted outside of the building, so that's the version of the story we'll go with.

As everyone had become settled, one of the I'valixian leaders (most presumably Ghent) announced to Theron something along these lines:

"Theron Stor Desmod, you have been accused of spearheading a group of genocidal murderers determined to erase the presence of a sentient race. Furthermore, you have disguised these killings to the public by utilizing the legends of the Fae's poor reputation to get away with your genocide. Had you been operating under pure intent, you would have stopped your killings as soon as you looked upon the first corpse and realized that the Fae could have been fellow humans! However, you continued to kill in droves and deceive the general public as evidenced by the sheer amount of corpses you brought back two days ago!"

The utter disbelief Theron's face held must have been blatantly palpable even through his shattered mask. He was in such disbelief that he could only stutter as the I'valixian leaders continued their rhetoric.

When the leader asked, "How do you plead," I can only imagine that Theron realized the situation he was in: he was the scapegoat so that the Council wouldn't have to deal with any repercussions. He would be painted as the monster of the whole situation when those who issued his orders in the first place would be off the hook. For all his life, he had been fed by I'valix and in return, he ends up with condemnation.

In that instant, Theron must have let rage consume him entirely. He shouted out that he was operating on the Council's orders and that it should be them who should be brought to justice. He argued that he didn't know the Fae were a sentient race and that he believed they only disguised themselves as humans.

It must have been in this argument when Theron began to grasp the fact that he had murdered hundreds of innocent people because of the Council's orders. He cursed vehemently and forsook the Council's pleas to calm down. Indeed, this was Theron's worst day: the day where he understood that he was the true monster.

That said, the Council still feigned ignorance of Theron's claims and incessantly assured the Fae in attendance that they had no clue of the true nature of the genocide. Regardless, tensions were at a boiling point and Theron's mask cracked under the pressure. In truth, Theron himself couldn't withstand the constant accusation of other's mistakes, the hatred from all who once loved and respected him, and the blatant betrayal by the Council. So, in a moment of heated pressure, Theron unholstered and loaded his crossbow with the speed of lightning. Into the crowd of Council members and Fae, he fired true and hit Ghent square in the middle of the forehead, killing him instantly.

Bolstered by nerves, Theron quickly reloaded his crossbow as the remaining people in the room began screaming and ducking for cover. Surprisingly, the guards outside must not have heard such screams in the chaos for they hadn't entered. Other reports claim that Theron paid off the guards to not enter the building if they heard screams, although that would mean Theron had planned to begin killing before he was even aware that he was being scapegoated. Unless he had some premonition before entering the building, it seems unlikely that Theron would have concocted a plan to turn on the masters who had fed him for so long. Regardless, utter panic soon followed.

Even though the Council members and other surrounding Fae tried to hide from Theron, there wasn't much room to hide in the first place. Thus, the rogue hunter continued to loose arrows laced in iron tips against the members in the room as they tried to escape. It didn't even matter if anybody in that room was truly innocent. To Theron, if he was going to be the scapegoat to all, he will get his vengeance in one way or another. To that end, he must have believed that the Fae whom he was not accustomed to also were out to slight him. So, in that room alone, Theron happened to kill four more people (three Fae and one human), injure two (both human), and officially become the monster he was going to be portrayed as. Included in that casualty list was Lyira Arutae, the first known Fae.

After the others had managed to escape, the guards (now finally rushing to the scene) swarmed the building to apprehend Theron by any means. However, Theron happened to escape the building too (although presumably in a different way than the other survivors). Now by all means a monster, Theron's thumping heart had calmed after the surge of adrenaline also died down. And just like that, he continued walking to the Fount Terminus as if nothing had happened.

Indeed, of those who saw the rogue figure, he looked completely normal on the outside. Because, by every definition, Theron Desmod appeared to be banal in every facet of his appearance. His body, forged through strife and pain, looked utterly unremarkable to look at. Not even his blood-stained hands inspired a passerby's notice. Tarnished hair adorned his scalp and eyes that refuse to glow with hope were affixed to his angular face. The only thing meriting originality would be the feint paleness of dried blood furnishing his olive-tinted skin. Since appearances are oft treated as mirrors to someone's character, one would naturally expect Theron to be a man of undisputed monstrosity, for that's exactly what such a person would see if they were to look underneath his skin. A monster created by love, loyalty, and betrayal. So dear reader, follow along as I conclude the madness of such a fascinating beast.

With the guards closely behind him, Theron continued to stride towards the Fount Terminus. There, he was met with horrid gazes deserving of the murderer he was. Walking into the Fount, he waited for the guards to arrive in his periphery. When they finally appeared, he looked over at the soldiers and remembered that he was once one of them. Obedient, non-questioning, and loyal. And so, Theron, full of false courage, shouted across Klaron this:

"You all have painted me to be a monstrosity despite me risking my life so that you may all exist happily. However, I am no monster! I a-am… No, I was a compliant fool! I just listened to whatever I was demanded to do and never disobeyed. And I'm not anybody's slave anymore! Not the Council's. Not the army's. I am free!" And so, preparing his crossbow, Theron notched an arrow and aimed his bow at his heart.

His death was immediate.

Before the guards could even wade in the Fount's water, Theron lolled in a pool of his own blood. The entire crowd was frozen in hysteria, panic, and terror. All who saw such an event were traumatized, although those who were traumatized the most were the Fae and Council members that had escaped with their lives minutes prior. Needless to say, the Fount Terminus was never truly purified again. Any respect or love for Theron was lost that day, and the remaining members of the Droghard became almost unanimously hated. A few of the remaining Droghard also committed suicide the following days proceeding Theron's departure from this world.

Many still debate why Theron killed himself in such a fashion. Some speculate that Theron knew he was going to be executed as the scapegoat and decided to take death into his own hands. Others theorize that Theron wished for his message to be heard and remembered by the other soldiers and townsfolk so that they wouldn't fall into the hands of the Council as he had. But personally, I believe it was for a mixture of both reasons. Regardless of the reason, one thing's for certain: Theron no longer was tied to I'valix's will.

But with all of that said, Theron's story has finally come to a close. In the aftermath of it all, it was purported that hundreds of innocent Fae, adults and children alike, died at Theron's hands alone. Of those injured but not killed outright, all miraculously survived. In a remembrance to those who died, the Concord Isell also has been officially renamed as Fae's Hallow, and a statue of Arutae was created outside of the building. Also important to note, is that Ghent (alongside the other Council leaders who died by Theron) became victims exonerated from the blame of the whole Fae massacre. Grand monuments were erected for their honor and they still receive frequent visitation even until this day.

Regardless, the unfortunate tale of Theron still deserves to be told in its entirety. Perhaps it will thrive among the populace who are looking for an answer as to why somebody would commit such genocide and murder. Perhaps it will be smothered by those who believe that the tale of a monster shouldn't be told. Regardless, this is the end of Theron's tale.

However, you might have one question still left in your mind. "What happened to the twin brother upon finding out what events befell Theron?" Well, dear reader, the brother happened to write out this entire tale for you to read. You see, I wrote this to give the people of I'valix (and those even further beyond I'valix's borders) a different viewpoint of my brother that wouldn't normally be thought of: that he was a victim of circumstance instead of a person born as a sadistic killer. If I were to stamp my name in the writing of this piece, I feel as if it would have detracted from my brother's struggles. Thus, I mentioned myself simply as "Theron's twin". Thinking back on the past, I wish I could have been around more for him. Perhaps I could have dissuaded him away from joining the army. Perhaps I could have gotten him to reject being a part of the Droghard. Perhaps I could have explained precisely what was happening to him so he didn't feel abandoned in his final moments. I think back and lament theoretical decisions that I could have changed, but no matter how often I do so, I can't change what's already been inscribed in the pages of history. All I can hope is that I can accurately convey the truth to all who read this so that they may learn from this event. After all, only through truth can we achieve absolute understanding. Through absolute understanding, we can learn anything we wish. And so, this tale of Theron's plight finally concludes. I must thank you dear reader for joining me on this ride, and until we meet again.

— Zacharias E. Desmod

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