A Tactics Ogre Metanarrative

After saving the world from my adoptive sister’s dead father – who in traveling through the gates of hell was transformed into an evil ogre wizard – and placing her on the throne, where she rightfully belongs, putting an end to decades of war and creating a peace said to last 1000 years, I was given the ability to travel through time.

There was a girl I thought I loved, who died in the war. I knew, from the whispers of the Gods at gamefaqs.com, that I could bring her back to life and have her join my forces forever, but only if I went back to the beginning of the war and participated in a massacre of my own people. Knowing I had the strength to do this – and crucially, the power to return to this time in the wink of a murderer’s eye – I did go back.

I massacred my people with paradoxically clean hands, as another knight drew his blade for me. My sister grimaced, but stayed at my side. “Without you I would have nobody,” she said. My love backed away slowly, stuck around chiding me as the people around us died. “You are as bad as our enemies – a dog of the Duke’s – an abomination, an idiot, an ogre!” I could hear her clearly over the cries of the dying.

The Duke’s gambit was half-successful. The false flag did unite our people behind our army, but the people we fought against did not flag or falter, hearing the massacre was a ruse. Still, we fought a losing war. On my next campaign we came across my love again, being led to the gallows. I discovered then she was of half-blood, disdained by both countries – saved her life, offered her refuge – and she ran from me.

The knight who served as my sword-hand begged me to assassinate this Duke, who no longer had the trust of the people, and take his seat. Believing there was no other way, I acquiesced, and together we stormed our own fortress. In the Duke’s quarters, the knight drew his sword and once again absolved me of my duty. When it was done, he turned the sword on me, revealing his true ambitions – but I was better than him, at least with my daggers.

Once again he had absolved me, saved me. He gave me someone to blame not only for the violence done, but for the intelligence which guided it. I could, with some reasoning, transform from the butcher of my people into their hero. It was so tempting then to think of myself as that hero – traveled through time to save a handful of lives, to begin again a long and losing war… but privately I knew I was an ogre, and I could see with perfect clarity the ogre blood of my sister, how she would steady my hands when they flinched before an innocent throat…

Could I return to the world as it had been before, with her upon the throne? Surely she was no worse than I, was only guilty of the exact same crimes as I was, and we both acted for the cause of love… Yet, I could no longer stand to look at her. We had drifted apart in the first war, my duty jilting her devotion – but this second time, as we spoke the same lines, separated at the same moment – this time, the fault was entirely mine.

I thought of my love, and her mingled blood. At the heart of the war were two thoughts – First, that we were better than our enemy. Second, that we were exactly the same as them. Without believing both of these, we could not win against them, and we could not forgive them. That, I think, is why there will always be another war. She, of mingled blood, was my superior. Yet she owes me her life – as do thousands of others who were never, in any timeline, saved by her.

But I was able to save her. And she did come to forgive me at last, when she had no other option. She came to me so her sword-hand wouldn’t rot away on a farm, and only because the rest of the entire world had decided to turn her away. It was technically her decision, and I hid behind that technicality the same way I hid behind that dead traitor’s steel.

Unfortunately, I know the truth. This life is only a game – and as long as that game continues, the killing must as well. There will be love, there will be nuance, there will be justifications without end. In the end, there will be an ogre on the throne – and that ogre will rule over a thousand years of peace. But I will be elsewhere.

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