Sunday, August 6, 2017

The True Horror of Heroes of the Storm

     I'd say my life has become a living hell, but I've been to Hell, and this is worse.

     I don't know how long it's been since they took me. Years, at least. Maybe longer. Our memories fade as the battles blur together. We can't die, either. Well, we die, over and over and over again, but every time we're brought back to fight again. There's no escape.

     There I was, minding my own business, when suddenly I was plucked from my world. I found myself in this "Nexus", some sort of interdimensional battleground, ruled over by a pantheon of gods who want us to fight for their amusement, to settle bets, to be used as proxies in wars between each other. I've watched two of them squabble over the exact same piece of land for years uncounted now. I've fought on both sides of their conflict, destroying towers that simply rebuild themselves over and over. We've all fought on both sides, uncaring who ultimately wins, because we all know we'll be back to fight over it again before long. Sometimes the Nexus bleeds into these worlds, and we fight over pieces of them. I've watched an angel and a demon locked into a battle as eternal and pointless as anything we do, but still they fight on as well.

     Some of the other "heroes" here, I recognize. Other champions from my own world, some of whom I'm happy to fight alongside, some of whom I'd rather fight against, but none of us have any choice. Others are from other worlds entirely. Somehow our worlds are all linked through the Nexus, and the gods keep pulling more of us from each of these worlds to fight for them. I don't know how many more they'll pull into the Nexus until they're satisfied. Maybe they'll never stop.

     I've lost count of how many times I've died. Thousands, at least. Tens of thousands, maybe. Hundreds of thousands? Wouldn't surprise me. I've been stabbed, shot, burned, frozen, and hacked to death. I've been killed by giant cannonballs from the sky. Beaten to death by a 30-foot demon. Stepped on by a plant monster. I've even been slapped to death with a fish by a baby murloc. I've died by stepping on a biological land mine. Death has even come at the hands of the minions the gods create in never-ending waves to fight each other. Sometimes I envy the minions. They're not sentient, unaware that their purpose is to die for us. They just charge forward, always acting as if they're the first wave ever created, entirely dedicated to their purpose.

     Sometimes, I just can't take it any more, and I let them kill me, hoping it'll end. Every time I die, I think maybe, just maybe, this is the last time. This time, it'll be forever, and I can finally rest. But no, as the blackness takes me, I'm reborn again to keep fighting. The gods don't care if I'm willing or not, if I try or not, I won't be released. So I mount up and get back in the fight to die again.

     It's not that they even really punish us, outside of keeping us here for centuries against our will (though supposedly a few of us came here voluntarily for their own reasons, I just can't wrap my head around it). The rewards of victory is a short reprieve from the fighting, until we're chosen to fight again. There are towns, cities, and people that live here, going about their own lives, as if the battles we fight are the most ordinary things in the world. Sometimes they watch and cheer us on, though I wonder how much of that is just for show, like what we do.

     With more of us being pulled in, the reprieves between fighting sometimes gets longer. The favor of the gods waxes and wanes. Some of us are favored more, and get chosen more often, until their time becomes nothing but a blur of battle with no rest between. Then the favor falls from them, and they're allowed some modicum of rest.

     The weird thing is, none of us talk about all this. It's only discussion of the last battle, or the next, or hurling ourselves into whatever distractions we can find between the battles with reckless abandon. We were allowed to have a summer party, and so we all went full tilt into it, as if it would be the last thing we ever did. We grin and smile for the gods, desperate to have the distractions carry on just a little longer, just a little more time without battle.

     Uther is the most broken of all of us, I think. Not that you can tell by looking at him. From the outside, he looks like he's fully embraced the madness of this place, he's accepted it more than any of the rest of us. His enthusiasm for what we do is almost infectious at times. Almost. For a long time I didn't understand why he seemed so devoted to these games, but I've learned from others that he knows what fate awaits him once he leaves the Nexus. He's desperate for the battles to never end.

     They say, when they're done, we'll eventually be returned to the same instant we left, with no memories at all of our time here. When will that be? I can't say. I'm pretty sure it's already been centuries for most of us. We die and come back at the exact same age as when we started, so we're as unchanging as the battles we fight. Maybe the promise of returning us is just a lie meant to give us some vague comfort, some sense of motivation to fight as hard as we can. And we all believe it. Like so much else, we have no real choice. Believe the lie, or give in to the madness.

     And so we fight. We murder each other for the amusement of cruel gods. We tear down their fortresses and towers, destroy their cores, only for all of it to be rebuilt and the fight begun anew. We laugh and taunt each other as we do so, we dance and cheer. But as we fight, as we scream and roar with exultant triumph, I see the desperation in the eyes of everyone around me. Desperation for this living hell to end. But it won't. It never will.

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