I know I’m not always the most vocal member of this post-apocalyptic warrior clan, but I have to speak up. Last week I tried to do something new. While everyone else was busy sharpening their spears and sacrificing captives to appease the summer gods, I added a very tasteful human skull mask to my outfit.
I was more excited than I’ve been in four, maybe even five moons. I didn’t think anything held me back. No government, no legal structure, no socially-defined system of collective morals. Nothing, except my own friends.
Imagine my surprise when my appearance at the last Feast of The Fire Mother was met with laughs. Hurtful, spiteful chuckles from my closest confidants. I would have expected it from Bone-Thrasher or Keeta, Exterminator of Men, but from Dirge the Colossus? Some wounds cut deeper than our bone-knives.
I didn’t have to make waves. I could have worn the same blood-stained rags and horse-leather pants as everyone. A little beetle-blood war paint under my eyes and call it a day, right? No. Not for this newfound spirit-moon warrior. Can’t a death raider have a little pomp and circumstance?
The looks on some of your faces, you would have assumed I was a Dream-Scorcher from the Salt Flats (as if!).
What does it say about us, as a post-apocalyptic society, that we mock free-thinkers? Did we mock the first person to keep our captives alive while using their flesh for food? No. We applauded the ingenuity and then had a delicious dinner of roasted triceps.
Doesn’t anyone else feel a little…plain…when they pillage the survivors by the ruined nuclear silo? I don’t know how anyone else was raised, but my father taught me the most important thing is to make an impression. Then to leave no survivors.
The fall of society doesn’t mean we’re blind (except for The Forsaken Ones; the radiation left them quite, quite blind).
I mean, honestly, this was worse than my first flaying of a war prisoner, seven moons ago, when — of course — I forgot my ceremonial knife. Idiot! But that shame doesn’t hold a single earwax candle to the looks on your faces when I wore the skull mask. Sure, my vision wasn’t great behind the human bone, but the mockery was obvious.
Maybe I don’t belong in this clan anymore. Maybe I’ll join the Mountain People, or try and shack up with a Bog Woman. Do I love the idea of feeding every third child to the gaping, swampy maw of The Devourer? No, but at least I can be me.
Am I a hero? That’s not for me to decide. It’s for Shirvan the All-Seeing to decide at my judgement day after I die on the field of battle. But in the meantime, how about a little less laughter?
And one day in the future, long after the trees can finally grow again in The Barrens and water isn’t poison, you’ll look back at me and know I was right. It may be hard to see because, after all, you’ll be looking through a skull mask.
Rohan the Glamorous