Under the dimmed night sky, there is little ability to see the stars. Yet in the dark forests of the world, Solomon Rhodes finds ways to light his fire.
It’s before such a fire that he sits cross-legged in front of. A large stone is his throne, rough and course.
“For many lives of men and angels have I walked this rebellious rock. It has taken that long for an understanding to arrive of fate, choice, and great lie of humanity.”
Under a guise of internal reflection, Solomon begins to speak out loud, his voice gruff yet peaceful.
“It was only at the breaking point of a normal man, the moment between life and death, that it came to me. I realized, through the screaming of my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me. Or free to forgive them. Free to love them, to loath them. You might call it insignificant. After all, who could look upon their own murderer and wish them forgiveness. Yet in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And its within that freedom that you realize the bondage of judgment placed upon us by the world is nothing more than a lie, the pinnacle of human achievement.”
With those words, he bows his head for a moment, the hints of a smile tugging at the corners of his bearded mouth.
“So it is with you, Sharkman. Or the Shark. Or Axel the Shark, even. In the blink of an eye that constitutes your existence, I have watched you waste that freedom. What remains of the jovial bus driver you once were? What happened to the Kid’s Champion? Yet even in your crusade against those who would darken the halls of justice, you find yourself time and time again slowly eroding the man you say you are into the facsimile of greater men.”
Rhodes looks up into the sky, looking deep for answers.
“Yet it comes as no surprise to me that you do this. For humans need fantasies to make life bearable. It’s not the Kevlar suit that you cover your body in. It’s not the mask of penance and atonement that you wear. No, Axel, you live in the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape. Where tooth fairies, Santa Claus, and the Easter bunny all reside. From our very beginnings, we are surrounded by a temple of lies. One that only grows to our very end.”
The Dragon clenches his fists and runs his destroyed knuckles over the unfinished stone beneath him.
“Justice. Mercy. Duty. Honor. What are they, really? Take the universe around you, grind it down to the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve, and show me one atom of justice. One molecule of mercy. Yet you act as if there is some ideal order in the world, as if there is some rightness that you can judge those around you, condemning those that do not fit your ideal. You use your freedom to perpetuate the great lie around you, acting as if you are something better than those around you.”
Solomon stands to his feet and looks out to the great beyond.
“And now you stand over ignored piles of ash and bone, remnants of your broken judgment. If you call yourself good, then I am evil. No longer will I allow you to stand upon the top of your judging wheel, waging war against those who do not fit into your lie. Because the Dragon did not come to turn the wheel. The Dragon comes to break the wheel. You offer only lies and broken promises. The Dragon does not promise. He delivers. And in this case, the lie will be given the freedom it deserves.”
His next words are spoken into the night sky. For all who would come to hear.
“Fire and Blood.”
With a smile on his face, Solomon kneels down once again and closes his eyes in silent contemplation.