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A World Divided - the award-winning novel by JJ "Wedge of Cheese" Treadway


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#1 15 February 2012 - 03:36 AM

If you snoose, you loose
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Noxid was rather preoccupied as he strolled alone down the mountain path that led back to his home. He usually avoided taking this route home, because there was an oddly sloped section, and he was terrified of slipping off of it and falling to his death in the canyon below. Today, however, there had been a group of women blocking his usual path. Noxid, of course, knew all about the dangers of females. Nothing was more strongly emphasized by the village Elders than the selfish, cruel, and sadistic nature of women. So when he saw a group of them in his way, he jumped in fright and hurried off to find another way home, hoping none of them had seen him.

It wasn't until he was a good way along the mountain path that he remembered why he usually avoided it. Too late now, he thought. Wouldn't it be just great if, by trying to avoid the perceived danger of the women, he put himself in greater danger by falling off the path? After all, he knew for certain that the mountain path was dangerous; he had seen people fall off of it with his own eyes three times in his life, but, as for the women, all he knew about them was what the Elders had taught him. What was to say that the Elders weren't wrong? But no, the Elders were very wise and learned men, and surely they knew what was best.

Just as he thought this, however, something nagged at the back of Noxid's mind. There had been times in the past when he had been given reason to believe that the Elders might not be as wise as they seemed to be. In particular, there was one time when he had become curious about a peculiarity he noticed in the population of the villagers. At the time, Noxid had been 12 years old, and yet, of the 150 or so other villagers, only one was younger than him, by a little over a year. There were occasionally deaths in the village, typically 2 or 3 each year, but it had been over 10 years since anyone had been born. The village population was slowly dwindling, and, if the pattern continued, the village would eventually die entirely. When he had raised his concerns with one of the Elders, the Elder became very angry with him, had him publicly whipped for his insolence, and strictly forbade him from any further "meddling". Why would they be so angry about something as innocuous as wondering about the lack of birth in the village? Were they hiding something?

Suddenly, Noxid was jolted back to the present as the silence was split by a terrified scream. As he rounded the corner, he was horrified to see that there was a girl of about his own age dangling off the edge of the path, just barely managing to cling to a protruding rock. She seemed to have slipped off the very part of the path that Noxid himself was so afraid of falling off of. Noxid hesitated. Part of him wanted to rush to the girl's aid and save her, yet another part of him held him back. He could hear the voices of the village Elders in his mind. Never trust women under any circumstance. They will deceive you, gain your trust, all the while plotting against you. Your suffering is their pleasure. For all he knew, the girl could just be trying to lure him into saving her, only to throw him off the mountain instead, then go home and boast to her friends about it afterward. But no, this girl had never wronged him, while the Elders were secretive tyrants who suppressed even the most innocent questions, and yet he was willing to trust them over the girl? Suddenly, disgusted with himself for having considered letting her die, Noxid ran to the edge of the path, grabbed the girl's hands, and heaved her up to safety with a strength he didn't know he had.

She stared, open-mouthed, at him with an expression of mingled shock, fear, and confusion.

"You... you saved me..." she whispered. Noxid said nothing. "But... you're... a boy, and... you saved me?"

"Yes."

There was a few seconds' silence. Then, suddenly, she broke down in tears and threw her arms around him, choking out the words, "Thank you... I never imagined... thought I was dead... I just... you... oh..." between sobs. Noxid wasn't quite sure what reaction he had expected from her, but it certainly wasn't this. He also hadn't expected the brief spasm of excited joy that went through him at the feel of her embrace. As she released him, he felt as confused as she had looked a few moments prior, as his mind struggled to accept what his senses were telling him.

"You... you mean that... you're actually, erm... grateful?" he said, suddenly aware of how silly this probably sounded to her.

She stopped crying and furrowed her brow. "Grateful?" she said, "You just saved my life; of course I'm grateful! Why wouldn't I be grateful?"

"Well... um... it's just that..."

"What is it?"

He looked at her sheepishly. "I've been taught my whole life that women are evil, soulless savages. That they are cruel and deceitful and incapable of compassion. And yet, here you are before me, so sweet and sincere, and just so... human. A huge amount of everything I know has just been completely overturned in less than a minute," but as he was saying it, a nasty thought occurred to him. Had what he knew, or thought he knew, really been completely overturned? The Elders had taught him that, although women were many bad things, one thing they were not was stupid. They were capable of concocting elaborate schemes to torment their male victims even after earning their trust completely. Was it not possible that, even now, after that passionate display of gratitude, the girl was secretly plotting against him?

"Really?" she said. "Funny, that sounds almost exactly like what I've been taught about men by the Seers of my village."

"Interesting..." said Noxid, his concerns slowly being overtaken by curiosity. If the girl was to be trusted, then she would seem to be in a situation similar to his. Now that he thought about it, Noxid realized that the few women he'd encountered seemed surprisingly bashful, given their alleged zealous hostility toward men. In fact, this was the first time in his life that he had held a conversation with one. If the Elders were right, wouldn't it make more sense for the women to be constantly trying to attack him or lure him into some trap, rather than avoiding him? His worries were not completely assuaged, but the truth of the Elders' teachings seemed to him to be getting less and less likely.

"I don't think I've introduced myself," he said to her, relaxing a bit. "I'm Noxid. What's your name?"

"Ryuuoutan."

He held out his hand to shake hers, but she didn't seem to understand the gesture.

"What are you doing?" she said, frowning at him.

Now his curiosity was really going into overdrive. It suddenly struck him how silly he had been in assuming that all societies of the world must abide by the same customs and norms as his own. As Ryuuoutan sat there looking at him, he realized there was a whole different world out there just waiting to be discovered - her world.

"It's a handshake," he said. "It's how we greet each other in my village."

Hesitating, she imitated his gesture, closing her hand around his at the same time he did, and smiling faintly when he shook it.

"I don't know how I can ever thank you for saving me," she said.

"Well... it just occurred to me how much I don't know about you and the other women. Maybe you could... I dunno, show me how you live and stuff?"

"I'd love to, but that's an awfully broad request. I'm not sure I'd know where to begin."

"Hmmm..." he thought for a moment, "I guess you could maybe show me what you do with your friends for fun. Like, in my village, my friends and I play games like four-square, dodge ball, and soccer. Do you play any games like that?"

"I've never heard of any of those games - maybe you can show me some later - but yes, we do play games."

"Great! We can play some soccer after you show me your games; it's tons of fun. But first, let's get off this blasted mountain."

"You don't have to tell me twice!" she said, shuddering slightly.

She led him back the way he had come along the mountain pass. As he followed in silence, he realized that, in his perpetual fear of women, he had never taken the time to look at a woman properly, but this one, at least, was quite a sight to see. She walked with a strange lightness - a slight bounce and lilt that was just enough to exude a sense of carefree happiness, but not so much as to seem unnatural or silly. Her dark brown hair shone in the sunlight as it danced around her neck and shoulders.

"Noxid?" she said.

"Yes?"

"Sorry if this is a weird question, but I was just wondering... why did you save me? Given everything you'd been told your whole life about women being evil, I mean."

"Well... to tell you the truth, I almost didn't," he said, "but in that moment when you were hanging off the edge of the path, you were just so helpless and scared and alone... it seemed absurd to think that you could be plotting something malicious against me, especially when the village Elders - the people who taught me to hate women - are, well... let's just say they're not exactly great role models of goodness and kindness."

"That's still kind of amazing though. In that moment, just like that, you decided to go against what your culture had taught you."

"I guess I've always sort of hoped that the Elders might be wrong about women. Even though I didn't believe they were wrong, a part of me desperately wanted them to be wrong. I'm awfully glad I did save you. It seems as though, in your case at least, they were wrong."

She smiled sweetly at him, and he was once again struck by her beauty. Her deep blue eyes sparkled and seemed to pour warmth into his very soul. "I'm glad you saved me too," she said playfully.

They had arrived at a large field. Ryuuoutan paused to think for a moment before speaking. "Well, let's see... there was this game I played with some friends a few days ago where we taught each other to do magic and then-"

"Wait, hold up," said Noxid, "are you telling me women are capable of doing MAGIC!?"

"Well, of course we don't actually do magic. It's just pretend - just part of the game."
Noxid wasn't quite sure what to make of this, so he remained silent, trusting that she would explain more fully what she meant.

"So anyway, we learned to do magic and then we... well, I don't want to give too much away; that ruins the fun!"

This only confused Noxid further. "I still don't quite understand. What's the object of this game?"

"The object?" she said, frowning slightly. "How do you mean?"

"Well, like, what are we trying to accomplish while playing?"

She shrugged. "We make it up as we go along; that's part of the fun. Now, let me teach you some magic."

Noxid still wasn't even sure what she meant by this, but decided there was no use arguing and to let her lead on. She then took on a very tall posture, turned her head up sightly, looked around with expression of the utmost haughtiness on her face, and spoke in a deliberate, dignified, and gutteral voice quite unlike her own, saying, "So, young master Noxid, you wish to begin a study of the most noble discipline - the magical arts."

There was a brief awkward silence before Noxid realized she was asking him a question, and said hastily, "I... um, yes, I suppose I do... right."

She narrowed her eyes. "One must not approach this subject without sincerity. As my apprentice, you will be faced with perils to terrify the noblest of warriors. See that you are prepared."

Noxid was beginning to doubt whether this was a game he really wanted to play, but Ryuuoutan took no notice of his nervousness, and continued to speak.

"The first ability you must master is the ability to channel the various energies of the world through your body. We shall begin with the energy of healing. Imagine a feeling of wholeness and completeness in your body - a sort of general vitality and well-being." She paused for a moment to let him do this. "Once you've let that feeling fill your entire body, gather it all together and push it all to the tips of your fingers."

Noxid concentrated very hard trying to do this for several seconds as Ryuuoutan occasionally murmured words of encouragement. Eventually, she excitedly pointed at his hands and said, "Aha, you've done it, young master! Behold the pulsating pink glow at your fingertips!"

Noxid looked down at his hands, which were, as far he could tell, quite as devoid of a pulsating pink glow as they had ever been. "I don't see anything," he said.

Ryuuoutan dropped her mystical airs and said in a voice of forced patience, "Noxid, it's a game. I told you we're not actually doing magic. You have to use your imagination. Make up the story as you go. That's what makes it fun!"

This was a rather odd concept for him, but he thought he was beginning to understand. Ryuuoutan resumed her haughty, mystical character and said, "So! Let us now see how well you put this power to use!" and with that, she drew an imaginary knife from somewhere on her person and made a slashing motion across his arm, startling him.

"Use the power!" she said. "Bring the energy to your fingers as you did before!"

Noxid repeated the act of trying to draw vital energy to his fingertips, and drew them across the place on his arm where she had made the slashing motion. He put a look of amazement on his face and said, "The wound! It's healing!"

Ryuuoutan laughed, and said, in her normal voice, "Now you're getting the hang of it! Just gotta use your imagination."

Noxid gradually became more and more at ease with this imaginative game playing method. It was quite unlike any game he had ever played before, and yet he enjoyed it tremendously. Together they wove an elaborate mystical adventure for themselves, delving into the deepest and most dangerous realms of the supernatural. They were comrades in arms - slaying monsters, overthrowing tyrants, discovering new secrets of the magical arts, and selflessly risking their lives to rescue each other from the clutches of evil. They worked together to forge an empire of peace and prosperity, having to fight and conquer the very essence of evil itself in the end. When it was all over, there were once again just two young friends laughing and playing and enjoying each other's company.

"See?" said Ryuuoutan, "you do have an imagination, and quite an amazing one at that! You just needed to learn how to let it out."

Noxid laughed. "Wow, I can't remember the last time I had that much fun with a game!"

"Well, now it's your turn to show me how to have fun," she said. "What was that game you mentioned earlier called? Soccer or something?"

"Yep, it's called soccer, but it's probably going to seem really anticlimactic after all that."

Ryuuoutan just smiled expectantly at him.

"Well, okay, I'll show how it's done," he said, and picked a grapefruit off a nearby tree on the edge of the field.

"This will be our ball," he said. "I try to get it to go between those two trees on that end of the field, and you try to get it to go between those two trees on the opposite end of the field. The only rule is that you can't touch it with your hands."

It took Ryuuoutan a while to get used to the idea that they were competing against each other, rather than working together, but, once she got the hang of it, she was a fierce competitor. They played for a long time - at least as long as they had played Ryuuoutan's fantasy game. The sun was starting to set, they were both sweaty and tired, but neither of them wanted to stop. Eventually, Noxid was running to make a goal with Ryuuoutan in hot pursuit, and she tackled him to the ground. They were too tired to get up, so they just lay there on the ground, breathing heavily and gazing into each other's smiling faces. Noxid felt once again that inexplicable rush of joy at the feel of her body against his own. They lay there for a long time before Ryuuoutan got up and said, "It's getting late - I should be going home now."

"Yeah, me too," said Noxid.

"I said so much fun today, Noxid. We need to do this again!"

"Definitely! Tomorrow, same place?"

"Tomorrow, same place," she agreed.

They held each other's gaze for a few more moments. Then she ran toward him and they embraced tightly, holding each other for what felt like hours. Noxid savored the feeling of the gradual rise and fall of her back under his hands as she breathed, whispering his name every once in a while. When they finally came apart, still holding each other's hands, she said softly, "Thanks again for saving me," and turned and walked off into the sunset.

Noxid went back home, feeling happier than he could ever remember feeling. Not only had he been almost entirely liberated from his culturally engrained fear and hatred of women, but he had formed a deeper and closer friendship with one than he ever would have dared to hope. He had only known Ryuuoutan for a day, and yet he already felt more tightly knit to her than to any of his male friends in the village. The rest of the evening passed in a blur, his mind filled with fleeting images and sensations - the warmth of Ryuuoutan's body against his own, her pure, joyful smile as she lay on top of him, the way her deep blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight.

He lay awake in bed that night, unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling, but not really seeing it. All he could see was that heavenly pair of eyes, perfectly framed in Ryuuoutan's face, gazing down at him with such profound tenderness. He so yearned to be with her again. He wanted it more than anything in the world, and yet the Elders were so strict about curfew, he didn't want to risk getting in trouble. Besides, he wasn't even sure where she lived, and he would see her again tomorrow. This thought didn't comfort him as much as he thought it should have, and he lay awake for more than an hour, never able to fully master the desire to go out and look for her. Eventually, he decided he had no choice but to try. Even getting caught or being unable to find her would be preferable to just lying there, consumed by hopeless longing.

Having made up his mind, Noxid quietly got out of bed, slipped out of his house, and left the village undetected. It had been a long time since he'd been outdoors this late, and he'd forgotten what it was like to stand in the profound stillness of the night. The trees, bushes, and flowers, diminished in brightness but not in beauty, were illuminated entirely differently by the full moon than by the daytime sun, causing the world to be transformed, but still familiar, just as Noxid's life was by meeting Ryuuoutan. As he walked onward, the soft yet unwavering glow of the moon seemed to whisper her name to him, as though it - indeed, as though the very cosmos - yearned to bring the two of them closer together.

After several minutes, he arrived at what could only be the women's village. His heart quickened. She was surely very close now, and yet it would be difficult to find which of the many houses was hers without disturbing anyone else. Silent as a shadow, he crept up to the nearest house and peeked over the windowsill. Someone was inside, but it was not Ryuuoutan. He did this with several more houses, but with no success. Some of the houses were too dark to see into at all. He was beginning to get discouraged, when a sign of movement a ways down the river that ran next to the village caught his eye. Curiously, he approached this disturbance. As he got nearer, he saw a pile of clothes near the river, and a person with her back to him bathing in the river.

His heart stopped. Could it be her? He was too far away to tell for sure, but this person was certainly beautiful enough to be Ryuuoutan. Her shoulders had the same smoothly carved shape, even more wonderfully highlighted in the moonlight, and her hair the same dark brown shine. If it really was Ryuuoutan, he somehow felt that, if she were naked, it would only be appropriate for him to be as well, so that they would be equals. To his surprise, he found that he was not at all abashed as he stepped out of his own clothes and slowly walked nearer to the river. He was close enough now to realize that it really was Ryuuoutan. Just as he realized this, she spoke, her voice like a symphony to him, saying, "Hello, Noxid. I've been thinking about you. I knew you would come."

Then, very slowly, she turned to face him, and at last Noxid looked into those eyes that he'd been so longing for, seeing in them a look of such fierce joy and adoration that his knees weakened, and he fell to the ground, gasping for breath but never taking his eyes off hers. She reached out a hand to him, and he crawled closer, lowering his face gently into her waiting hand. He closed his eyes, enjoying the simple sweetness of her touch, moving ever so slowly closer to her. He put a hand on her neck and met her eyes. They seemed to draw him in with a kind of mystical gravity. When their faces were as close as they could be without touching, they both spoke at the same time, saying, "I love you."

Noxid saw his feeling of joyful surprise mirrored in her face. They looked at each other in wonder for a long time before a mischievious grin crossed Ryuuoutan's face, and she turned and dove into the water. He could see the outline of her supple form beneath the surface. Then, suddenly, she shot upwards, bursting from the surface in front of him, showering him with water, and, for the first time, giving him a clear view of her bare torso. For a brief moment, he marveled at the splendor of her body - its exquisite curvature, the rippling muscles, the plump, ripe breasts - before she threw her arms around him, locked her mouth on to his, and pulled him underwater with her.

The few seconds they spent underwater felt like an eternity. Noxid was both unsure of what was happening and overwhelmed with love and joy, and yet his mind felt strangely clear, as though he knew exactly what to do. Indeed, his body seemed to be acting almost of its own accord. His hands grasped her waist, they both drew each other nearer, and his legs intertwined with hers. When they broke the surface, she had him pinned against the bank of the river, and was looking at him with a ferocity that both terrified and exhilarated him. Their bodies flowed over each other in a pattern of movements both revoltingly rugged and magnificently elegant - a pulse so visceral, Noxid now thought he understood why it had seemed to him earlier that the very cosmos had been urging him together with the girl he loved so dearly. They were its heartbeat. This dance of love they were performing was the heartbeat, the life force, of the universe itself. Was this why the Elders and Seers worked so hard to turn men and women against each other? To deprive them - to deprive the world - of this great joy?

Their movements became faster and more intricate - rolling, twisting, squeezing. Moans and screams escaped their mouths. Surely there was no greater happiness than this - the highest and most beautiful of all art forms - to share such an intimate bond with another human being and to know that you were bringing them the same joy - to momentarily become the heartbeat of all creation. Noxid felt vast waves of love for Ryuuoutan washing over him as tears dripped from both pairs of eyes, merging on their faces and flowing to join the river. As their pulse became gradually faster and faster, Noxid felt Ryuuoutan's muscles tensing, as well as his own. The speed and intensity of their rhythm increased together, as though they were one being, neither outdoing the other. Eventually, when they could go no further, their bodies convulsed wildly, and Noxid's head fell back against the riverbank, a profound relaxation and release coming over him. He felt Ryuuoutan's muscles slacken under his touch as her body collapsed against his.

For a long time, they gazed into each others eyes, breathing heavily but not speaking, for no words could express the love they both felt now. They had found in each other the great secret so jealously guarded by the Elders and Seers. The seeds of unity had finally been sown in their divided world.
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#2 15 February 2012 - 03:55 AM

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That was beautiful. I am being serious here. You're a great writer.

I hope it becomes a major motion picture in the foreseeable future.

Autism levels have reached critical mass

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#3 15 February 2012 - 03:58 AM

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.... *blinks*
.... *reads again*
.... Noxid?
.... Wasn't there a Stargate SG1 episode like this?
.... *reads again*
.... *saves copy... for later*

#4 15 February 2012 - 04:10 AM

ayy lmao
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why cheese
why
why





Spoiler


#5 15 February 2012 - 10:26 AM

Kanpachi Offline
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Really good ^_^

#6 15 February 2012 - 11:09 AM

Regular Member
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why cheese
why
why





Spoiler

Ok, I'm not the only one getting 2nd degree burn on my eyes from reading this... phew.
"When people are idiots, I happen."
-HD McG.

#7 15 February 2012 - 02:17 PM

If you snoose, you loose
"Heavy swords for sale. Suitable for most RPG Protagonists. Apply now!"
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Ok, I'm not the only one getting 2nd degree burn on my eyes from reading this... phew.


Pfft, you can't complain, you don't know who Ryuuoutan is. Or do you?

Also, fab, your avatar is quite fitting of your response.
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#8 15 February 2012 - 03:40 PM

Kanpachi Offline
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I didnt read the last bit though because i guessed what was in it :p

#9 15 February 2012 - 04:39 PM

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The best valentine's day gift I have ever gotten
I approve of this thread

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drugs r 4 thugs

like me

stay in school


#10 15 February 2012 - 05:39 PM

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Pfft, you can't complain, you don't know who Ryuuoutan is. Or do you?

Also, fab, your avatar is quite fitting of your response.

No, but I certainly know that there's no Ryuuoutan in Cave story. :p
"When people are idiots, I happen."
-HD McG.



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