Heads & Tales 2021: HUM 243


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Foreword


The Tale of Nimsay
Polkadedot
The Hungry Man and Squirrel
A Tale of Just Desserts
Earthly Tallies
The Ocean and the Cliffside
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Between Two Kingdoms
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The Demon’s Trials

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Mark




The Demon’s Trials

-
Vincent Wang, ChE’22

Art by Hannah Wu, A’22

Long ago, the Scorpio family was prophesied to have a child named Arky that would face three trials with each trial testing a different part of his being. Many centuries had passed with the family straying away from the name Arky to stop the prophecy from occurring. As a result, without the occurrence of any sort of incident, the prophecy had been forgotten. Eventually a child was given the name Arky and the prophecy was set into motion.

The Scorpio family was a lower class family that lived in the countryside. The day Arky was born was far from normal, as it was also the day of the magic festival. The family, caught up in the joyous occasion, expected only good fortune to befall the child, but what the family didn’t know was that Arky would have to face three trials.

Three years after Arky was born, his village was attacked by demons. The villagers were able to hold off the attack; however, many lives were lost. Arky and his family were able to make it out alive, but one of the demons that attacked the village attached itself to Arky. The demon was unable to take over Arky’s mind, body and soul because the child lacked a weakness, so it decided to inhabit the space around Arky until the time was right to strike. Unfortunately, no one knew that the demon was attached to Arky. Lurking around Arky and staying hidden from the world, the demon followed Arky for the next 10 years. The demon couldn’t make any rash movements or else it would be discovered. Therefore, during the 10 years the demon hid itself, Arky’s life proceeded like any other with a few exceptions. Arky attended school in the countryside but he excelled at everything with very little effort. The instructors had no idea what to teach him, so they set him aside and let him study independently. He read many books to further expand his knowledge and used the training room to practice what he had learned. His thirst for knowledge led him to read books of higher and higher difficulty. By the time Arky became 13, he thought he could overcome any obstacle as he had learned magic stronger than any of his instructors. Arky began to partake in competitions and won many with ease. These victories slowly added to his overconfidence. The demon following Arky through his life finally found an opportunity to take over Arky’s body. Overconfidence became Arky’s weakness and by breaking away that layer of confidence Arky will be left open to an attack on his mind, body and soul. Arky did not know of the strength of a demon and was about to experience a defeat by one that would change his life.

One day, while Arky was in his school’s training room, out of thin air, the demon appeared before Arky. A battle broke out between the two. He believed that with his ability he could put down a demon without a problem. Arky fired spells one after another but all the demon had to do was wave his hand, and Arky’s spells were deflected. Slowly, Arky began to realize that the demon was much stronger than the opponents he had previously faced. Still, his overconfidence made him believe that he was going to emerge victorious. Eventually though, Arky realized that the demon was toying with him, so as a last effort Arky used the strongest spell he knew. However, the attack still had no effect on the demon.

In shock at the overwhelming strength of the demon, Arky's shell of overconfidence was broken and he was unable to fend off the attack of the demon. The demon attacked three parts of him at once: mind, body, and soul. Arky went immediately unconscious and hit the floor with a thump. The instructors, having heard the firing of different spells continuously, thought something was off and headed to the training room. When they arrived, they saw that the training room was destroyed, and found Arky all beat up and unconscious near the center of the room. They figured that there had been a battle, and rushed Arky to the school’s nurses office.

The nurse saw that Arky’s body was covered in scratches and quickly applied some first aid healing magic. Upon a closer look, the nurse realized that Arky’s body was slowly deteriorating and quickly applied some extra healing magic to slow the deterioration of the body. Arky was then transported to the town clinic for further treatment. Having heard the news, Arky’s parents showed up to see what had happened for themselves. They were filled in with the situation and tried to get Arky to wake up; however, there was no sign of Arky waking up. At this point, all three trials had already begun. The first he would actually face was that of the mind.

Arky was shrouded in darkness looking around for anything he could recognize. Something, anything, and yet there was nothing in sight. Arky heard a murmur. ‘W-What? W-Who’s there?’ he asked with a tremble in his voice. Slowly, the unknown voice grew louder until eventually he realized it was his own voice. ‘You are alone. No one is coming for you. It is the end’ it said. It kept repeating these words over and over again. With every repetition, Arky’s body became colder. He began to picture his family looking disappointed, leaving him on his room floor because he did not listen. He started to lose hope and began to think that no one cared for him. Suddenly he felt a warm touch on his right hand and instantly he began to cry. He remembered this warmth. The touch of his mother: warm and kind. She was watching over him, and he realized in that instant that he was never alone and he had to keep living for those around him. The darkness started to fade and light began to flood into his eyes. He had overcome the first trial and the Demon had lost his holding of Arky’s mind.

Arky had finally awoken. The first thing he saw was his mom by his side asleep holding his hand. He shed a tear of joy and smiled. He was happy that he chose to live. He slowly tries to move his hand out of his mother’s so that he could get up without waking her, but at the first movement of his hand, she wakes up. She looks at him and realizes he is finally awake. She hugs him tightly and cries. Arky, moved by his mom’s emotions, hugs her back and cries with her. Eventually, they wipe their tears and Arky’s mom goes to call the doctor.

The doctor enters the room and explains the situation to Arky. He had been asleep for a month and his body had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer walk. Arky couldn’t believe what he had heard. He felt like he was in that darkness for only a few minutes. He checked the date and it truly was a month later. Believing in the strength of his body, he tries to get up from his bed. He became light headed and instantly fell back on his bed. His legs were weak, unable to support the weight of his body and he had no energy. He couldn’t believe it. The doctor left the room to let Arky process the situation and with that the second trial began.

Arky, with a devastated look on his face, started to cry again. These were no longer tears of joy. Once again, his mom gently took hold of his hand and he started to calm down. Arky knew he had to rebuild his body, but it was difficult to do alone; however, he was not alone. He had his mom with him and she was willing to help him all the way.

Arky ate all that he could to replenish his energy and started to take steps toward walking again. His first step was to stand. His mom stood with him making sure he didn’t fall, and supported him until he was able to stand by himself. After being able to stand for a few minutes, he started to walk around the room. His mom held his hand and slowly directed where he was walking. At first, his legs shook with every step, but soon enough he was able to walk slowly without a problem. With every step he took, Arky pushed back the demon. Slowly but surely, he gained strength and energy. Eventually, he could walk like he used to and the demon was expelled from his physical body. With his regained strength, Arky was able to leave the town clinic.

When he arrived home, Arky was greeted with smiles from his family. He was glad to be home. Unfortunately, he was unable to leave the house due to his still weak body. Though he could walk, he did not have the strength he used to have. He stayed at home doing whatever it was he wanted but still he felt empty inside. One night he had a nightmare. The demon he had summoned appeared before him once again and said ‘Your soul is still mine.’ With that the third and final trial began.

Arky woke in a sweat and tried to figure out what had happened. ‘Was everything he had faced in the past few months because of the demon? Was there more to be done?’ he thought to himself. At that moment, Arky figured out why he felt so empty inside. The demon had taken over his identity and erased it. He knew he was Arky, and yet he didn’t know who Arky was. He tried to recreate the Arky everyone knew and loved. He did what he could to please everyone, but it didn’t feel right. He felt lost in the world and unable to find meaning in his life. He lived for others, but didn’t know what it was that he wanted to do. Days passed as he thought about what he should do to fill in the emptiness. He tried all sorts of activities that the old Arky was said to have loved. Overall, the activities had no effect on the emptiness he felt.

As a last resort, Arky tried new activities. He found what he loved and what he didn’t like. His old thirst for knowledge was there but it was different. It was more concentrated toward his interests. Slowly, the emptiness that Arky had felt was replaced with a new sense of identity. He started to become his true self rather than fake being the old Arky. The demon lost his hold on Arky as he found a new sense of self. He did what he wanted and not what others expected. He was true to himself and finally understood that he couldn’t force himself to become what he wasn’t.

The demon was finally fully expelled from Arky’s body. He felt a huge weight lifted off of his shoulders. With that, Arky was able to return to normal everyday life as the new him.

This tale is in progress.


Mark