The Dagger and The Daffodil - A Play by Kennian
Runner-Up for November 2021
A haze of swirling colors frames an large oval in the center of the stage, through which you see what appears to be a memory. A young merian girl meanders down the city streets, running ahead a few dozens steps until her father calls for her to come back. She turns and races to his side. A tall merian, he towers over all others in the scene and wears a suit of armor that is pocked and dented from years of battle, but still lovingly polished.
In a whisper, glancing at a cutpurse in a dark corner, A young merian girl says, "Papa, we need to help these people. They've been overcome by darkness."
Voicing a strong warning, a merian clad in armor says, "The only way to help those who choose this life is to end it for them, lest they drag others down with them. You know this, child."
In a whisper, a young merian girl says, "There are other ways. I know there are."
Although the oval remains, it flickers vibrantly to another scene. The same girl and the same warrior, although perhaps a couple of years older, are standing in a large council room across a table from a known enemy.
A merian clad in armor says, "You will repent, or you will die. The choice is yours."
The enemy smirks and then spits at the feet of the warrior. The young girl tries to cling to her father's arm, begging him to show mercy and use words to persuade the enemy instead of violence. However, her grip isn't tight enough and the warrior easily slips his sword through the chest of the enemy, causing him to crumple to the ground.
A merian clad in armor says, "The sword convinces, child. Words are useless. You must walk the path of the warrior."
A young merian girl says, "My footsteps follow the path of the Light. Of Lady Raziela and Love."
Within the swirling frame of memories the scene flickers brightly and transforms, showing a montage of the young merian child growing up over the years. She stands in front of crowds delivering sermons and lectures, attempting to convert people to the Light. Standing always at the back of the crowd, a young merian boy looks on. As they both age, his look of curiosity grows to a look of love and the two become inseparable. You witness visions of them feeding the vagrants throughout the Basin and leading orphans to shelter, together leading the charge against evil.
Transforming one last time, the oval of memories changes to scenes of the merian warrior charging across battlefields. The loud clash of swords striking against armor rings out from the hazy mist. The cries of the fallen echo before the scene falls quiet once again.
In a sudden puff of mist the oval disappears from view on the stage, leaving behind a view of the merian, now all grown up, with her father sitting across from her at a table in a quaint home. Trinkets adorn shelves throughout along with several paintings of a beautiful merian woman, assumed to be her beloved mother before her death. Greying hair falls along his shoulders, indicating the passing of several years.
With a gentle sigh, a young merian girl says, "But papa, it's -working-. We gain a few followers every year! People want to walk in the Light. They just need to be taught how."
A greying merian warrior says, "After all these years, you still think you will change the world a follower or two at a time. The -only- way this world will be purged of darkness and evil is by executing the will of Lord Methrenton. It is a mercy that I perform by ending their suffering. Some day, you will understand."
A young merian girl says, "You should come to the service some time, papa. You will see. Words are just as powerful as the sword."
Suddenly the sound of shouting can be heard from just outside the cottage. The beating of hooves announces the arrival of soldiers from an enemy nation, coming to attack while the villagers have their guard down.
The merian warrior and his daughter spring into action and rush out the door. She heads toward the wounded to aide them while he draws his sword and runs headlong into the fray. The young woman tends to the injured but frequently pull her gaze away to scan the battle, looking for both her father and her love.
A young merian girl's face freezes in shock as she sees the man she grew up with and gave her heart to lying not far from her. His features still, the pale of his dead body a stark contrast to the crimson blood surrounding him. She darts over to his side and confirms her worst fear. She will walk through the world alone. As tears fill her eyes a different feeling fills her soul. A rage she had never experienced before. She stands and begins to scramble, tripping over the bodies of fallen villagers, desperately searching for her father.
After a long search A young merian girl finds him. His leg has been badly wounded and his breathing is shallow. She struggles to lift him and carries his limp body to hide behind their ransacked home.
Several weeks pass as the girl tends to her father and mourns the loss of her love, all the while trying to combat the rage growing within her soul. One day, she approaches her father to seek out his wisdom on justice.
In a weak whisper, a greying merian warrior says, "I told you, my dear one. Sermons fall on deaf ears. Power is what they seek. Even attacking the innocent and unarmed is not beneath them."
With a hollow tone, a young merian girl says, "I see that now, father. You were right. But I will have my revenge. You will teach me how."
Sitting at a table in the quaint homestead a greying merian warrior looks down at his leg and frowns at the spreading infection. "I have taught you all I can, child. It's time for you to take the teachings of Lord Methrenton and carve out your own path."
A vengeful merian woman says, "But how, father? How can I defeat them?"
A greying merian warrior says, "Lower their morale. Kill their leader.. in front of them. They will not expect an attack in broad daylight. They wear heavy armor that doesn't allow them to move quickly. Be nimble. Take the upper hand. Kill anyone who stands in your way. Kill them all. No evil may be allowed to persist."
Drawing her father's sword from it's framing on the wall, a vengeful merian woman says, "They will wish they hadn't touched either of you. None will live. You will be proud."
A vengeful merian woman takes one last glance back at her home before turning to leave. She sighs softly and lets her last tear drop fall as she crosses the threshold. As she enters the world anew she stares at the horizon, beginning to make her way toward the enemy encampment.
Back at the homestead, in a soft prayer, a greying merian warrior says, "May Lady Terenia guide your hand, my dearest girl."
Bored and curious a greying merian warrior picks up some of his daughter's sermon books and flips through the pages, a smirk crossing his face as he reads her gentle words. He shakes his head and tosses the book to the side. "Silly child" he whispers lovingly.
Far away from her father a vengeful merian woman pants for breath as she crosses the last mile toward her targets. She ducks down behind a tree to rest. Focused and calm, she stays for several hours. As the sun reaches it's apex she stands. She leans against the side of the tree, gripping the handle of the sword tightly and staring in the direction of the encampment. Her lips curl up in a grin that has no hint of warmth to be found. "I hope you are ready" she whispers as a quiet warning, whether to herself or her enemies you cannot be sure.
Sitting in his familiar chair at home a greying merian warrior welcomes a small group of neighbors as they come with food and good wishes for his speedy recovery. "Please, stay" he whispers, longing for company to ease his loneliness. "Sit" he offers as he pushes a chair out with his good leg for the guests.
As they comply, he glances sidelong at his daughter's book of sermons that he has been keeping close to him. His eyes moving back to the visitors he says with a chuckle, "Would you like to hear the most silly thing?" They nod with curious smiles. He reaches over to pull the book nearer to him. As he flips it open he begins to read aloud, "Thank you for joining me. Today we will discuss Lady Raziela and what mercy means to the Light." He continues on, his words delivered with both love and skepticism.
A vengeful merian woman gathers her breath and takes long strides forward. As her confidence increases, so does her pace until she is at a sprint toward her foes. Holding her sword out ahead of her, she crosses into the camp. A burst of speed propels her forward as she plunges her sword deep into the chest of the first enemy she sees.
Speaking quietly to the large gathering that has joined to hear the sermons a greying merian warrior begins "My friends. My daughter has written about love. About how to demonstrate compassion and how even the most wicked can be turned to the Light if we are passionate enough to never give up. Today, I will deliver her sermon on protecting our home as fervently as we attempt to expand our domain. Please take your seats and make yourselves comfortable as we begin." As the guests find a comfortable place to sit or learn, the warrior speaks his daughter's words. This time, there is no skepticism left to be found. His conviction in the sentiment rings clearly through the room as his eyes shine with new found purpose.
Running through the enemy camp a vengeful merian woman leaps high into the air, landing on an enemy soldier and knocking him to the ground. She presses the full force of her weight on his chest as she glares at him, sword held at his throat. "Where is your captain? Who do you answer to?" As the soldier weakly points toward a tent not far down the path, she slips her sword through his throat, granting him a quick death for his honesty. She makes her way toward the tent, curious as to why the leader hasn't stirred from his hiding spot at the commotion. "Some valiant commander he is," she thinks to herself as she slinks up the path.
A vengeful merian woman flings open the flaps of the tent and charges inside, only to stop quickly when she is met by the commander staring back at her, sword held at the ready. "You've been waiting for me, I see. But didn't concern yourself with the slaughter of your followers? I didn't suspect even you could be that evil." The enemy only smiles as he raises his weapon to point at the merian woman's chest. He takes a step forward, daring her to stop him. She thrusts her sword forward, pursuing the violent battle that ensues.
A vengeful merian woman ducks and dodges oncoming blows, parrying those she can. Finally, she lands a tactful strike that nearly severs her opponent's leg. She smirks at the irony as she remembers the look of her father's festering wound before she left to seek her revenge. "I bet that hurts, doesn't it? Justice can be difficult sometimes" she whispers. As she moves to end his suffering she says with a clear but menacing tone, "You were given the chance to repent. You were given the chance to walk in the Light and feel the love and comfort it provides. You chose this path and it is a mercy I grant you to ensure you no longer get to travel upon it." She drives her sword deep into her enemy's chest, finally exacting her revenge.
A vengeful merian woman slumps over in exhaustion. Having cleared the enemy camp and dispatched it's leader she drags herself to her feet, her bloody clothes leaving a bright red trail behind her as she makes her way home.
A greying merian warrior looks out over today's gathering of visitors. Having grown larger every day, they now pack together tightly in the small home, spilling out into the street causing him to speak loudly and more clearly so that all may hear his child's words of compassion.
A greying merian warrior says, "My friends. It has taken me so much time to understand. In all things there is a balance. Justice may be served in different ways, but should often be done after careful consideration and with a strong strategy."
A greying merian warrior stops short and catches his breath as the bloodied form of his daughter pushes through the doorway, but stands in the back, curious to hear the speech her father is giving. Voice breaking only for a moment, he continues, "There are many ways to bring the lost to the Light. I have sent many to their redemption at the end of my sword, and I do not regret doing so for sometimes the best mercy to be shown is that of a swift death. But, my daughter has taught me.. has taught all of us through her sermons.. that there are other avenues. Like the shining of the stars floats gently downward to land on us mortals in the night, so can our words float down upon those in darkness to lift them toward the Light. Go forth and shine upon those around you. Guide them with words, with deeds, or with force."
A vengeful merian woman drops her sword slowly to the floor as she listens quietly, remembering that which she used to preach what feels like many decades ago. Pushing forward to the front, she turns to face the crowd and whispers, "I have much to catch up on with my father. May you all be blessed by the Light."
A vengeful merian woman turns to her father with a look of confusion. "You told me my words were useless.. and then you steal them from me" she accuses.
A greying merian warrior says, "You've returned to me. I knew you would."
A greying merian warrior watches his daughter with a look that radiates joy and affection as she returns his gaze with confusion and anger. "It took me a long time to understand. People kept coming.. checking on my injury. Patiently waiting for me to leave this world and satisfy their morbid curiosity. I read them your words. I don't know why I picked that book up. But they stayed to listen. And then more came. And more."
A vengeful merian woman's face remains twisted in anger as she listens. Instead of responding she merely waves her hand, prompting her father to continue.
With a sigh, a greying merian warrior says, "There is more to life than bloodshed. I realize that now. Important battles are fought on all fronts. You.. were right all along.. at least partially."
A vengeful merian woman says, "You let me believe I only had one option. You let me believe I was of lesser value because I didn't hold a sword. You sent me off to fight an army by myself. All because of your belief in Lord Methrenton's teachings. And now.. you say it's wrong? How dare you. How DARE you!"
A greying merian warrior pulls his daughter into a forced tight hug, the first that he's shared with her since she was a baby. Close to her ear, he whispers, "Come. I want to show you something." He reaches down to take her hand as he releases the embrace and pulls her out the door.
Weary but curious a vengeful merian woman follows along behind her father. As they walk to the path to the Holy Land of Celestia she sees Lady Elohora in the distance and a soft smile crosses her face. Her body suddenly feels stronger and more alive. She willingly follows along beside her father, gripping his hand tightly. A greying merian warrior says, "Balance is the key, my dearest girl. Balance.. shall we begin our next lesson? I'm ready to learn."