Closure for The Cryptic King: Zara [Final Chapter: At the Garden] {{champion:82}} Mordekaiser's muses play an ode to the king on his road to ruin. I can hear... something? They play a song for you, awaiting your return. The king treads across barren land. Staggering in his movements. His life crumbling before him. Is this the curse set before me? Is this the weight of my previous burdens? No, it is both. Pieces of his majesty break away from his body, chipping away little by little, as he walks the path to ruin. Yet still, I must go. I made a- Zara falls the first time. His broken leg finally gave in. Why am I so weak? Walking through the depths of the sea was easier than this. That is not true. You were always weak. A pitiful soul that managed to make it this far. This time she is no longer with you. That is not true. This is my promise... I will keep it. Zara pushes the ground with his left arm. His left leg has died, right arm nonexistent. Exerting enough force with his right leg, Zara manages to stand on one leg, unbalanced. This is no good. I'm content with crawling. No, you must get up. As Zara lays his body down, his arm is prodded with dull antlers. Zara grabbed hold of an antler as he lifted himself back up from the ground. Staring at the ethereal animal, he could not help but think. A ghost deer? Here? Yes, all life on this land was plagued by death. Yet even in death, they still await his majesty's presence. Zara wraps an arm around the dead deer as a crutch to support him on his journey. I can't let you take all the weight of my sins. This is a burden I must bear. Though it gladdens me to have someone to share the burden. As Zara clings to the deer to walk. He thinks of the mountainside. The giant rock which towers above while walking amidst the trees that surround it. Climbing through the grass and dead leaves in his dreams, as he walks upon dead leaves today. The tree was right. I truly did take my toll on nature. Reflecting upon his negligence, his gaze comes across a green leaf. Looking beyond the ground and toward their destination, he bears witness to a miracle. The land is alive, the trees are still alive... No, they are coming back to life. So this is where- Zara looks at the living deer, transformed from the ghost of its former self to its former self. Grass was now at his footsteps as Zara walked into the living land. He observed the grass stretching outward, resurrecting the dead lands slowly. Despite the life that surrounded him, Zara continued to crumble in his wake. If my life's culmination is this, I am content. This truly is a place of serenity. Energy slipped away from Zara as his arm slipped from the deer's back. Zara fell a second time. Soft... Why is it soft? This is too fluffy to be grass. It's... sheep? Ewe caught Zara as he fell, cushioning his descent. You couldn't even look the ewe in the eyes as its enormous fleece covered them completely. I wonder if I'm dreaming- No, that can't be. This pain is too real to be a fantasy. This forest is too glorious to be a nightmare. I'm sorry for troubling you ewe. There is someplace I need to be. Zara thanks ewe as he climbs up from out of her wool. He continues on his journey to the sacred tree. Unfortunately, with his spirit long worn out, he could not even see the tree before him. Physically driven by his liege, ewe/deer, and spiritually driven by his lingering connection to the sword. I've grown numb. I can no longer feel the wind nor smell the flowers. My deer? Where are you ewe? I sense my sword, but where is the tree? I don't see- No, I can't see- Zara descends a third time. Stumbling backwards he fell into the light's embrace that he was urged toward. He did not make a sound when he collapsed. His head was caught by a light sensation instead. Is that ewe? Deer? Ah... I see. It's you dear. I've finally found you my love. I have so much I want to say... but I cannot hear my own voice. I don't know if these words can reach you. Though if you can hear the meager words of your idiot husband, I must apologize. If you are still here, you must have waited a long time. Your lonely husband came to a land of life to find you, yet it was I who left you behind. I have caused a lot of trouble while you were gone, not only here, but many other places. Our kingdom is no more, but I am satisfied with what was left behind. A marvelous city split in two. One that took upon my idea of perseverance. The other that took upon your ideal of progress. It's not perfect... but it is real. I have done too much wrong. I have ruined too many things. My legacy is perhaps that of a king of ruination: the man who ruins nations. I truly am a clown: a mere joke. There is only one thing I wanted, and that is not forgiveness. It is redemption. Yet for all that I have done, this sacrifice was the only true good I have done for this world. A borrowed power, given back to the land. Though, the pessimist I am, I don't even know how far this garden of life will stretch. This is not Yggdrasil after all, just a shallow imitation. It seems that for all the power I had, I always fall short in my tasks of redemption--always acting in the realm of insufficiency. This is not what I would have done, while I was truly alive... No, I may have at the end of my life. Even so, I am content with my failure. Nothing can be perfect. I can feel it now, the only thing I can feel is the lives of the sword. These lives are singing a tune of life to revitalize this deceased land. I understand now, why I can't feel the sacred tree. My sword is the sacred tree, even if both physically exist, they have become one in the same. One cup that overflows. The rivers that fall from the mountains as the clouds give them their blessing to nourish the lands in which the river flows. That is mana, a different state of life itself. I am glad I've left behind this magnificent monument. I may be talking to myself now, but I'll find you soon. I know you are beyond that sacred light which envelops me now. You've waited long enough. Don't worry my love, I'm home. As Zara's body fades entirely, he reaches his right hand toward the light and the light reaches back. Rest in peace, O Cryptic King. ---- > You all have come this far, thank you for reading the final chapter of Zara's second life: At the Garden. You may be reading this while the story is still in progress. I apologize for the lack of context and heck, the very existence of this chapter is a spoiler in itself. However, I discarded the notion of publishing chapters in chronological order. Knowing this to be the final chapter of Zara's second life makes it incredibly easy to publish it with just a title saying it's the last one. > The reason why I decided to discard the idea of publishing chronologically is because I actually am more comfortable writing chapters without a respect to time. Since I have the idea of the entire story already laid out in my head, the actual issue is the transitional chapters that are necessary to move from one setting to the next. Many of the significant chapters I already know will occur can be written independently due to the fact that I already have an idea of what characters will be used and the events that must occur. > Once I figure out what chapter number to place on it, I'll publish the chapter right away. While this runs the risk of having not enough chapters to transition to these chapters, I'm going to take that risk over waiting several months to publish or, even worse, write anything at all. > That being said, I'm abandoning the notion of keeping this spoiler free. As I said multiple times, I personally never really cared for it. Though I know many others do, I'm sure it is much more annoying for absolutely no progress to be made in the story at all. > Focusing on this chapter itself, I had a bit of trouble deciding the mood for this final chapter. I finally decided to not make this chapter a sad one and leave it as a humble one. To give people an insight into my philosophy on emotions, I believe every emotion is merely a combination of 4 emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. Though to mathematically represent this, there are actually 3 axes that can be made with the 6 hybrid combinations of these emotions due to how they directly contradict each other. 1. Frustration/Thrill for perspective. 2. Excitement/Despair for activity. 3. Relief/Anxiety for comfort. > Thus every possible emotion is a single point on a 3 dimensional space. Tying this into the chapter, I found that the emotion the mood that simply must be depicted is submission, which is a combination of relief and despair. Zara is dying after all, he needs to submit to the inevitability. However, what could go either way is the emotion of perspective. > The three moods I could have set for this chapter would be submission, sadness, or humility. I could let Zara be frustrated at his unsatisfactory performance in life. I could let Zara look back lovingly at his good memories. Why not both? Well the issue is that Zara can't think of good memories, his guilt prevents him from doing so. Though leaving him ticked off leaves a bitter taste for the last chapter. So I decided to make an epiphany. > An epiphany in essence is the grand embodiment of thrill, a surge of clarity. Finally realizing that his actions have some good attached to them opens up a world of possibilities in his mind. It's the moment where his disappointment becomes admiration and his bitterness becomes enlightenment. Thus, I decided to not try too hard to make this a tearjerker and focus on this realization. > I used this theme song because I absolutely loved this song when I finished the final singularity in Fate/Grand Order. In the game, this song was used to denote a character who made a momentous loving sacrifice. The chapter that should come directly before this one gives context as to what exactly Zara's sacrifice is. This idea prevails throughout Zara's most iconic moments in this new life and is a significant part of the theme I built for him. > No quotations are used in this chapter, because no words were spoken in this chapter. However, Zara was not thinking to himself the entire time. Thank you for sticking around to the very end of Zara's lifetime. I hope this story is an epic worthy of The Ruined King's name. {{sticker:sona-playing}} _**Arc 1: Our King Returns**_ 1. [A Distant Memory]( _**Arc 2: Method to the Madness**_ 9. [Dawn upon Zaun]( _**Arc 3: A Reason to Remember**_ 30. [No More]( 31. **At the Garden** Ep1. [Reminiscence](

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