After the blackness of a rainy night, the golden star rose on the horizon, spreading her radiance in every direction.
She was sleeping soundly and calmly like a little child beneath a tree. This time, her ugly face half was no more. It returned to what it was once. Now, she was no different than a charming young princess with silver grey hair. The warmth coming from the sun actually did surprise her and made her wake up abruptly.
“Ehh.. It’s the sun. But this is… strange. Why am I not affected by it? And… why is my head not hurting me anymore when I’m without the mask covering my accursed face?” She touched her face to see that it was smooth and silky. “This can’t be?!” She shouted surprisingly. Besides, she saw the giant headless corpse of Perun evaporating into nothingness. That void purplish dark substance that reeked from his body was instantly disappearing under the rays of sunlight.
“I can’t remember a thing after that Immortal Prince beheaded Perun. Where did he go?” Spoke the Huntress to herself.
Under the mist that swirled thicker than the threads of silk, the Huntress stepped on. She was feeling strangely as if her sensations had returned to her. Before, she would never feel warmth or cold. Now, she was sensing every kind of refreshment and emotion.
She saw Melvim in a lesser human-sized form, tending to what was once the mighty dragon of Veles that fused together with Boran to fight Perun not so long ago.
“We were waiting for you.” Said the prince after sensing her coming.
The Huntress was however more concerned by the state of the dragon who lost most of his body as it turned all into glowing mist that was dancing around them and only its main serpentine head remained.
A familiar voice spoke from the colossus head:
“I see you have restored some of your humanity.”
“Ehh? What?” The Huntress was surprised hearing that. Humanity? She never felt related to this word at all since decades.
“That’s to be expected from the chosen of the Witch. Each Immortal had its own perk and without a doubt you were blessed by the best of them, Undead Slayer.” Said Melvim.
“But… Who is this dragon exactly? Isn’t he a mindless beast of that Immortal Veles?” She wondered.
“ Oh, that’s rude of you! I’m so sad! You did not know me yet?! I’m Boran!” Yelled miserably that voice coming from within the skull of the dragon that lost its flesh already.
“That Sun Knight?! Oh, so you were able to control the beast from within. This… this is insane! You must be a very powerful necromancer to able to do such a feat. I can’t imagine that you escaped my mystic vision without being far stronger than me.” Boasted the Huntress.
“It might not be the case. It’s far more complicated than that.” Said Melvim.
“Now, Huntress, since I will be parting soon, I have to tell you my little story.” A jade emerald spirit emerged from the skull and it was indeed the manifestation of the Sun Knight Boran.
“I’m not a necromancer, an undead, a lich or an Immortal or anything else. I’m just a ghost, a phantom who had very specific circumstances that allowed it to materialize efficiently and gain an enormous consciousness that was not supposed to be held by a phantom.” Said Boran.
The Huntress was extremely shocked after hearing that and said:
“But I should have known that!? How could you ?!”
The Spirit answered:
“As I said, I had very special circumstances. It was a miracle that I was able to carry the will and the memories of the person I embodied. He was the brother of Persolis the noble who was trying to summon Perun. The two were among the very few survivors of Dazbog that was destroyed by King Triglav and his Immortal; as you can see, it became a tale of revenge. They fostered hopes of reviving the legacy of the Bringer of Culture, Dazbog, by reforming the tribe and turning it into a kingdom of its own at the expense of the current kingdom of Crodon.”
“Raymon became acquainted with the Mad Wizard Elymas and learnt all forms of dark sorceries and necromancies as well as his white magic that was used by him to hide his true nature. Boran frowned upon the new path his brother chose and decided to abandon him. He believed that restoring the tribe must be through just and honorable ways and so he left his brother thinking that he did succumb to temptation and corruption. Eventually, he died alone and in a horrible way and in his last hour, he wished if he could have done better in life; If he did not abandon his brother and if he did not give up his hope; maybe it would have been different… He then had one final desire: to free his brother from the darkness that engulfed his heart.”
“ Thus I was born; this nameless phantom that haunted the night. I was like all my siblings; a mindless being of the night created from the pain and the blood of those who died in the most miserable ways. The dying wishes of Boran became my very essence and I used them to exist until now. Phantoms don’t last for long but I was able to do all thanks to Boran’s heart.”
Melvim was lowering his head while the Huntress was speechless.
“I expect the real Boran to be so glad right now. Not only we freed him from his terrible curse but we put his sense back into his mind in the last moments of his life. If you did not notice, I never expected Death Brand to be able to weaken the Thunderer that much. It was without a doubt a weapon capable of harming the Immortals but I’m not the true master of the blade and so its potential was not revealed at all. It was Persolis who weakened the Thunderer from within and because of that he fell. Perun was wondering for the whole time why he was falling apart with every passing second and it was too late for him to realize that the “fate” he consumed was the one who destroyed his own.” Explained Melvim.
“Unbelievable.” Said the Huntress while being thundertruck.
“I wanted to thank you, kind huntress. You might not look like it but you have a heart of gold. Preserve it and keep living until the last breath. Make sure that your death won’t go in vain and that it will be so meaningful. Do whatever must be done and fulfill what you believe in. Give it all of what you got. Die for it.” Said Boran’s phantom.
“Yes, I will do.” Answered the Huntress.
“Now, back to you, Mr Immortal, I hope that you succeed in your journey. Without a doubt, you’re going to save the kingdom. Even though I’m no soul, I will be praying that you reach the end of your journey, fulfilled.” Added the ghost.
“Thank you, honorable ghost. It has been an honor fighting by your side.” Said Melvim.
“Perhaps it’s the time for me to leave. I must say that it has been fun. I never expected it to end in a cool way. I… I thought there were never happy endings to begin with but the two of you proved me wrong hehehehe. Ahh…my energy is fading… I have one last wish; don’t forget Boran and his brother no matter what. Please hold their memories within your heart… I beg of you, honorable souls!” the ghost was sobbing as he faded into inexistence.
It disappeared. No reaction was coming from the Immortal or the Huntress at first but then… the woman kneeled to the ground and one tear appeared from her left eye.
“Is this what they call sadness?” She said.
The Huntress was trying to suppress her tears but she failed to do. So she cried at her utmost.
After a moment, the Huntress was seen lying down at a tree gazing at the clear blue sky.
“Winter is over.” Said Melvim as he approached the Huntress.
“Why are you still here? Do you still have business with me?” She said.
“Yes, maybe. What are you going to do from now on? You saw by yourself the fallacy of the legend about the book of the dead and every other necromantic book out there.” Asked Melvim.
“ I have nothing in mind really.” Said the Huntress.
“Ah before I tell you about an offer, may I have my pawn’s head back?” Said Melvim.
“Your pawn’s what?! What are you talking about?” Said the Huntress with mockery.
“You ripped off his head two days ago because you thought he was an Undead while he was just a pawn of a failure like myself.” Said Melvim.
“Don’t tell me… it’s that young blacksmith?! But what if I return the skull; he must be dead already.” She said.
“Not yet. If we waste any more time, that might be the case. Just give the skull already.” He said.
“And what if I don’t, geez, the boy will die and I will have to search for another pawn after the great time I spent with him.” Said Melvim.
“So you want me to help complete your own agenda. Aren’t you a bit selfish? You warned us about the threat of the Immortals and how they want to destroy humanity and yet who knows what plan you have.” Said the rogue coldly.
“It’s all for the sake of Mankind.” Said Melvim.
“But you’re using an innocent human. Isn’t it too much?” She said.
“I know. But I had no other choice. I barely found a new candidate after fifty years and I don’t want to waste one more set of fifty years searching again.” Melvim’s speech became more frustrated.
“I won’t give it. It’s a fine material to make a new weapon for my needs, unless you have the money for it.” She said.
“Then how about a duel?” He said.
The Huntress stood up as she was surprised by his proposition.
“I never thought you were brave enough to propose that. Fine then, the one who gets disarmed loses. Magic or Mystery is prohibited.”
“It’s a deal.”
The Huntress was confident from winning because of the revelations she got. She was blessed by the power of a benevolent Immortal, the Witch. She was able to make a choice and so to decide her fate on her own.
Melvim was calm however wielding his Death Brand. “She’s absolutely a weapon master. Her poise and her grace are almost without a match. It’s of course because of the one who told her how to fight in the first place…” Thought the Immortal.
The duel ended in one strike. The Knight was capable of winning with just one move that seemed so familiar to her. It consisted of deflecting her weapon and countering simultaneously. In fact, It was a prof of swordsmanship.
“You…” She muttered, “how do you know that move?”
“What did bother you about losing to such one technique?” He answered.
“Did you know someone by the name of Scirvir?” She asked.
The Immortal was silent for a moment but then replied:
“I knew you were going to bring up that name.” Answered the knight.
“Then you know him!” She shouted.
“Yes. He was after all my previous pawn.” He said.
The Huntress became suddenly mad and thrusted the Immortal using her glaive with a blinding speed.
“I see now… I see why I did suffer back then… it was because of you.” Uttered the Huntress angrily.
“Guhh… remember that this is not my real body. If you’re going to finish me off for real, you have to find my own tomb. But aside from that, it was Scirvir who accepted to be my pawn. He was truly the kind teacher you knew. And because of him, I knew a lot about you and I discovered that you were chosen by the Witch. So forgive me.” Apologized Melvim.
The woman released him from her grip and summoned her magical bag that she used to stock her “treasures”. She took out the skull of Zoran and threw it at the knight.
“Take it and be gone from my sight.” She said.
“Thank You. Now Zoran can truly resume his true journey. I still have one last request.” He said kindly.
“You still have the stomach to annoy me, coward prince?” She replied.
“Will you be the teacher of Zoran? No matter how I try to approach him, he refuses my assistance. He’s unaware of his new duty toward himself and toward the world. Would you be his guide?” Asked the prince.
“And why would I accept your request?!” Yelled the Huntress nervously.
“You are not going to do it not for my own sake but for the sake of the world. Zoran is supposed to be the Ultimate Hero that will restore the legacy of the three and repel the ancient evil that doomed my kingdom long ago. There’s only one fate missing, the Sun Hero Dazbog. For now, we acquired the fate of the Thunderer with your help and long ago we obtained that of Svarog the Forge Hero. As it appears to you, the Fate of the Witch is intertwined with that of the Ultimate Hero.” Answered Melvim.
“So you’re saying that I must help you because it is a part of my fate! Quit this blasphemy! I did not choose to do that and I’m the only one who has to decide on her own what to do with her own destiny!” Yelled the Huntress.
“You surely have a golden heart, Frida. I’m sure it will never allow you to abandon this world.” Replied the headless knight.
Thank you for everyone who gave this story a chance. I hope you have enjoyed it!
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How to Build an Authentic Life
Warning: This is an 11-minute read article. So grab a coffee, tea, or whatever you fancy and sit down 😉 If you don’t have time, you can bookmark it for later. With that aside, let’s begin!
Four years ago, I was stuck.
I was living like shit. Eating, sleeping, studying, and repeating. I barely had a life outside of high school.
I was lazy, unhealthy, and a little overweight. I had Moobs (short for man boobs — add that to your dictionary) and felt anxious in my body.
I was also very lonely. Despite knowing a lot of people thanks to my extroverted nature, I barely had any real friends.
I would go out sometimes but with people I didn’t really like nor trust, hating every moment of it because I knew I deserved better. I blamed luck for not bringing me the perfect friends with whom I could share my highs and lows.
Being a person who enjoys social interactions, I never had problems making friends. However, I didn’t know how to build real connections with the “friends” that I made. And that left me surrounded by people yet alone.
I also suffered from a poor self-image. I envied those who achieved great things in their lives and wished if I can be like them.
I knew there was something wrong. I knew I needed to do something because loneliness was eating me alive and my weight was decreasing my lifespan.
Saying goodbye to my old people and entering a whole new world called college was not helping me in any way too.
Someday while browsing the net, I came across Mark Manson’s blog (before he became a best-selling author). That was when everything changed.
Mark empathizes that the way to live an authentic life and build meaningful relationships is through this special quality called “vulnerability”.
He defines vulnerability as the act of expressing oneself with its imperfection openly and unapologetically. It’s the state of being your true self and living according to what is right to you, without shame or fear of being judged.
That’s when I became interested in this vulnerability thing. I decided that I need to give it a try. I had nothing to lose anyway.
Fast forward to today, I can confidently say that vulnerability has completely changed my life:
- My confidence has increased tremendously. I’m no longer afraid to be myself and stand for what I believe in.
- I’m no longer in a rush to prove myself to others. I’m taking my time achieving my own goals at my own pace.
- I’m more active than ever. I lost weight, built some muscle and feel much more confident in my body.
- I have made some cool friends who believe in me, keep me company, and constantly push me outside my comfort zone.
- I can openly express myself without feeling ashamed of anything (the fact that I’m writing this article is proof). I no longer hide from my emotions and weaknesses. I learned to embrace them and accept them as a part of being a human.
- I learned to go after what I want boldly and unapologetically.
- I’m actively experimenting with myself and trying everything that sparks my interest.
In a nutshell, I’m living an honest and authentic life that is according to what I think is right. Not to other people’s definition of what is right.
A lot of things have happened in the last 3 years. There was a lot of struggles and painful periods, but I pushed through them and grew stronger as a result.
But enough talking about me, there is something more important we need to discuss.
The Life We Didn’t Choose
Most of us go through our lives taking the road of safety and convention. Doing exactly as what we are told by figures we consider to be superior like parents, teachers, society…etc.
We play the safe game and never question whether we really like it or not.
If I give you a ball and tell you to shoot it as far as you can. Then pick it up, go back to the starting position and shoot it again. You’ll do it a few times, maybe you’ll spend an hour on it if you’re persistent (and have no life). Eventually, you’ll grow bored and go home.
If, however, I give you a ball and ask you to come up with a game on your own. You create the rules. Go ahead and be creative and make your own ball game. Then invite your friends for a match.
I bet all my savings that even if your friends disliked this game, you will never grow bored of it because it’s a game you created with your own rules. Your own authentic creation.
That’s exactly the same thing with life. If we live a life that was handed to us by others and which we didn’t choose, we will never feel fulfilled and we’ll start hating ourselves for it.
We’ll start to think we’re failures because we don’t win at the game we were given. We’ll try hard to succeed, only to realize that we don’t even want to.
For instance, I used to think that success is all about achieving academic excellence. Being brought up by parents who finished their education and worked hard to bring food to our table has influenced their thinking about success and mine as a consequence.
It was until I finally decided to question my old life that I really did see the fault in this thinking. I respect everyone’s view and I believe that education is important for the development of a well-balanced individual. But I dare say that after high school, it becomes merely a way to get a job and doesn’t offer much growth.
Anyways, the point is if we still measure ourselves to a life we didn’t choose, we’ll never feel like we can be successful. And even if we do succeed, it will be a short-lived dopamine high before we start questioning if that was even worth it in the first place.
It’s time we turn the tables on the game we were handed and decide to create our own game rules instead.
And that is only possible through vulnerability.
On Being Vulnerable
According to Google, vulnerability is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Since we no longer live in caves, we are interested in the “being exposed to emotional attack” part here.
You see, questioning the safe way and deciding to create your own is hard. It’s so hard actually that you’ll suffer a lot from criticism, rejection, judgment and even self-doubt.
Being vulnerable means that you understand this and are willing to pay the price to get to where you want.
Let me repeat that again, vulnerability is being okay with getting rejected, ridiculed, judged, and in some cases, accused of madness.
Anything in life that is worth doing involves being exposed to emotional pain.
Standing up for yourself leaves you exposed to ridicule and judgment.
Asking your crush out leaves you exposed to rejection and heartbreak.
Sharing your secrets and feelings with your friends leaves you exposed to envy and disloyalty.
All those are painful emotions. But the acts are worth it.
If you don’t stand up for what you believe, you’ll be a doormat and will never get the respect you want.
If you don’t ask your crush out, you’ll waste a lot of time fantasizing about someone who may or may not reciprocate your feelings.
If you don’t share yourself with your friends, they’ll never trust you enough to become your real buddies (a secret I learned the hard way).
All those are vulnerable acts because you are ‘exposed’ to emotional pain every time you do them.
The more worthwhile the act is, the more vulnerable it will leave you, thus the greater the exposed pain and potential for growth.
More worthwhile = More vulnerable = Greater pain = Greater growth
So, how can vulnerability help you create an authentic life?
Any authentic life involves around doing activities that are authentic to the person involved. By their nature, authentic acts are vulnerable acts because they require that you risk embarrassing yourself and looking stupid to others every time you do them.
To put it in a simple framework, an authentic life consists of 3 main areas:
Let’s go through each one of them in more details.
It’s literally anything that makes you unique and differentiates you from the masses.
Your hobbies, the clothes you wear, the food you eat, your music taste, whether you watch Game of Thrones or Chernobyl, your favorite sport, your job/study field, your ambitions and dreams, your opinions about the world, your philosophy, the friends you hang out with, the books you read, your volunteering experience, …etc.
If you have little to no care for the above things (apart from the GOT or Chernobyl thing which you don’t need to care about — I don’t), then you really got some work to do.
What are your hobbies? Photography? Guitar? Maybe rock climbing? How about camping? Take your time to explore various activities. The possibilities are endless.
If you think there is some area that needs improvement in your lifestyle, start searching for ways to improve it. Use the internet to your advantage (Quick fact: do you know that you can use the internet to browse websites other than FB/Instagram/Youtube? Trust me, a lot of people don’t know that).
Remember that those things are vulnerable because you’re challenging yourself to grow and learn more about the world around you. You’re cultivating new opinions, challenging your own limiting beliefs and replacing them with healthy alternatives.
This is where you’ll actually build your vulnerability muscle (aka courage).
This area includes activities that get you out of your comfort zone and expose you to great emotional pain.
It may include:
- Asking your crush out (and accepting her/his response graciously and moving on rather than wasting time in fantasy).
- Cutting off bad relationships and toxic people
- Forcing yourself to socialize more and meet new people
- Joining a gym and embarrassing your way out of the badly-designed machines (currently happening to me)
- Taking leadership roles within your club/organization/job…etc
- Exploring a new career/study field
- Starting a business (if that’s what you’re into)
- Talking in front of a group of people
Basically, it’s about going boldly after what you want.
Remember that your vulnerability/courage muscle is just like a real muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. So start small and keep gradually challenging yourself and exploring your limits.
I promise you, by regularly training your courage muscle, things that once felt impossible to do will slowly start to become less and less intimidating.
Here comes the hardest part of all the three.
What do I mean by Authentic Communication?
Have you ever felt so self-conscious when talking to someone that you start to stutter or in an attempt to not embarrass yourself by saying something stupid, you don’t say anything at all?
It sucks. We all have experienced that. Especially when talking to a person we admire or secretly crush on, it can intensify and become real torture! You start to question where has your personality been when you needed it the most or why are you such a failure you can’t talk properly to the person in front of you?
On the other hand, have you ever experienced having a spontaneous conversation with someone that words just flew out naturally without you caring about a thing? You know, when you felt completely present and your head was minding its own business and not nagging at you in the background? You joked, teased, played, and expressed yourself authentically when you were in this state.
What is the difference between the two scenarios? It’s how you think about the situation.
In the first scenario, you were putting the other person on a pedestal and you worried if you can’t impress him/her. You started to see the conversation in a logical way using your brain to tell you what’s the next best thing to say/do in order to come closer to your goal of making a good impression and avoid getting rejected.
In the second scenario, you let your creative side take care of everything. You didn’t worry about “conquering the conversation” or “scoring points” because you didn’t see it in a logical way. You didn’t worry about getting rejected or saying something weird. You were just being yourself, saying what’s on your mind even if it may expose you to getting rejected (again, being vulnerable).
Ironically, this would actually make you leave a far better impression than you would if you take it logically.
You see, human relationships are based on emotions. How you make people feel is far more important than ‘what you bring to the table’. There is a reason why a comedian has more followers and fans than, say, a scientist.
Emotions aren’t logical. They are to be felt and not to be processed. Thus it doesn’t make any sense to try to build real life-long relationships through braining your way to people’s hearts.
The only way to attract new relationships and nurture existing ones is through emotions.
You elicit emotions in other people by truly expressing yourself, openly, unashamedly.
By becoming spontaneous and uninhibited, you open doors to amazing conversations that would never occur if you tried to plan your words.
Showing who you are, exposed, uninhibited, is the only way to truly change your relationships and life in general.
By becoming good at expressing your emotions, you learn how to elicit emotions in the people of your life and strengthen your relationships as a result. That’s Authentic Communication.
Now, how do you express yourself authentically?
Again, by accepting that rejection, ridicule, and judgment are inevitable.
You know the classic truth “Not everyone will like you”. I’d like to take it further and add “And that’s okay!” to it.
Transitioning from a people-pleaser who is always agreeable to someone who is unpretentious and says what’s on his mind is hard at first. Because you’ve got to give up on the need to be liked by everyone. No one, apart from little cute babies, is adored by everyone. You got to shove this fact into your damn skull and learn to live with it.
But it’s not bad, really. When you express yourself fully and without inhibitions, you indirectly say to the world “I’m an amazing person, as unique as a unicorn. Take me or leave me, I’m fine anyways.” This will result in one of these two scenarios:
- Some people will dislike you (inevitable)
- A lot of people will love you so damn much
Instead of being a people pleaser and end up on a third scenario where “no one loves you nor dislikes you”, you’re setting yourself to meet your own people, those who are proud to be with you and enjoy your company to the fullest.
I am glad I made the effort to find my people. I made some enemies along the way but again, the result is worth the price.
So be a unique guy/girl, say weird things, ask stupid questions, ask deep questions, tease and be playful with others. You’ll filter those who are so boring to appreciate your uniqueness and keep those who will love you until the end.
If you’re reading this, that means that you made it through this long text, Thank you very much!!
As we’ve seen, the path towards building an authentic life is through putting yourself into situations that leave you vulnerable to emotional pain.
Living an authentic life requires that you work on the three major areas: Authentic Lifestyle, Authentic Action, and Authentic Communications.
Keep in mind that the point here is not to to be perfect in all the three, but to strike a balance between them.
In the end, choosing to go against the current and design your own game rules is difficult. Not everybody is ready for it.
Nevertheless, I hope I encouraged you to take a deeper look at your current life and see if it lacks your personal touch. If that’s the case, boy, you got some work to do!
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