Shadow of Man
In the light of day a man goes about his work, and in so doing he casts a long shadow.
The shadow mimics his every action. After all, it is the shadow of the man. In fact, as the days pass and hours go by, the shadow takes every action the man takes. Every task, every motion, down to the last twitch of his limbs, the shadow performs it just as the man does.
Soon enough, the shadow has convinced himself that he is a man.
How could the shadow be wrong?
Does he not do everything the man does?
So then what, the shadow asks, separates it from a real man?
The shadow is no man, and despite it appearing to do what the man does, in truth, he only mimics the man he follows.
When the man goes to work, his shadow only watches.
When he eats and drinks, his shadow does neither.
And while the man tucks his children in at night, making sure they are safe and sound, the shadow only frightens them.
Because the children know, don’t they Manfredd?
They know that despite the shadow’s claims, it is not the man who protects them.
They know that the shadow is no hero.
I will not deny the similarities between us, Curze. We are as similar as a man and his shadow.
And yet, we are just as different.
I am merely a man. A man who saves.
You, on the other hand, are nothing more than a shadow of myself. You claim to be what I am, but you are not.
Children whisper your name.
They sing mine.
People do not fear me.
They thank me.
I need not hunt in the night and hide in the bleakest places of Arcadia.
I do my work in the light of day, and make the bleak places a little brighter.
My enemies do not die at the end of stakes and various barbaric atrocities.
My enemies face the justice they are due.
You say that death is justice.
But death is not justice. Death is easy.
Real justice never is.
Of course, you know these things to be true. But the shadow, in his arrogance and folly, believes himself to be a man anyway.
The shadow, so convinced that it’s a hero, doesn’t recognize itself for what it is.
So allow the man to reveal to his shadow its sad reality.
A hero does not allow children to believe they will die should they trespass in his realm. A hero does not murder in cold blood a man who seeks only a plant for a quick paycheque. A hero does not harm a woman simply to establish his dominance over an area. A hero does not hunt in the night, just to hide like a rat in the light.
Heroes do none of those things.
And a monster, Curze, is precisely what you are.
A monster who must be stopped.
And I’m going to stop you.
If not me, then who?