This is my complete translation of the Prologue of Dies irae – Amantes amentes. I did this purely for practice. Since the Japanese in this is bastard hard (probably on par with Muramasa), I wanted to challenge myself and see how well I’d do. Also, I apologize in advance for potential typos and the like. (Note: Additional Dies irae translations can be found in the “Translation” menu above.)
But first, the opening speech. This was originally posted in a separate blog post, but I decided to include it here as well, since it’s actually part of the Prologue.
What if I told you that one’s entire life had been decided by fate?
That every single one of your actions, from the minute to the monumental, stems not from your own choices, but had already been decided upon?
That life being a journey of limitless possibilities is but an illusion, and no matter how fiercely man struggles, he stands at the mercy of a long-established path?
The wealthy shall know their riches,
The needy shall starve on the streets,
The wicked shall be wicked, the righteous just.
The beautiful, the hideous,
The strong, the frail,
The fortunate and the miserable…
The victors and the defeated.
What if I told you that all such things had been carved into stone eons before, not allowing for any divergence?
If so, then sinners have nothing to answer for, and saints have no true virtue to their name.
What if I told you that not a single action is carried out of one’s own volition, but had been decided long ago?
That we are merely being drifted along in the ocean of time?
I ask of you – do you feel content with such a world?
A world in which power is merely given, not earned – would you willingly bend the knee to a throne built upon such falsities?
A universe where the sinless have-nots are opressed and downtrodden – would you allow such a world to exist?
Never, I say. Never!
Those who, in possession of such knowledge, can still laugh joyfully, oblivious of what it means to be truly alive are but slaves, the lowest of the low, hardly deserving to be called human beings.
Nothing dampens the spirit like the stale wine of an unearned victory.
Nothing is more unbearable than bitter defeat against the chains of destiny.
Should ceaslessly repeating this farce, this slander of the highest order be the fate of mankind… very well, if such is the case, I, shall struggle against those chains with all my might.
I shall walk this road to its utmost conclusion, and, at the distant place I can call my finale, compose an opera that sings only my name
And so, I require your aid, my dear ladies and gentlemen. You, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the massacred – you who once were as brethren. You were born to be defeated, to be massacred till the end of times. Should you curse that fate of yours – then come and stand at my side as comrades.
If a hundred battles yield no victory, you should fight a thousand.
If a thousand battles yield no victory, you should fight ten thousand.
Vow to struggle for an eternity, ceaslessly, till the light of victory finally shines upon you.
Any that has the strength to do this, shall be permitted to become a means to that end, a member of this “Arte”.
All in order to claim eternal victory.
The mane of the beast, each and every strand of it, shall be from your flesh and blood. You have my blessing.
Although we, as well as “he”, at this very moment, might still be bound by that miserable shackle…
Let us believe that the decision we are about to make truly holds a meaning…
That one day, we can break free from this endlessly repeating cycle.
My dear ladies and gentlemen. Defeated souls of the present age. I await your answer:
Will you rise to battle?
Dies irae ~Amantes amentes~
1945, May 1st. Berlin, Germany. 0:27 AM.
The final stage of the Second World War was the manifestation of total war itself.
No, the term “carnage” would be more appropriate.
Outmanned and worn down, Berlin stood in complete isolation, slipping towards the crevice of annihilation. The near fifty thousand troops marching under the banner of the Red Army had already surrounded the capital, making escape virtually impossible.
Guns roar and mingle with screams in an incessant rhapsody of death as the city and its people are torn down and massacred.
Bloodshed. Carnage. All in order to eradicate the enemies of this world: both the young and the old, men and women alike.
Justice, revenge, love, peace, oppression, liberty, equality – the slogan makes little difference. A prime example of man acting in command of a higher cause, only to shed his skin and reveal a daemon; there is hardly a place on this earth where such cruelty fails to manifest.
Indeed… for example, in this very city as well.
A blinding light flashes, followed by a roaring explosion of fire and steel.
The fierce bombardment propels a few corpses still retaining their human form and lands them on the pavement as mere chunks of flesh.
“To hell with these bastards!”
Surrounded by jeers, a man ducks out of the trenches with Panzerfaust in hand. Protected by the covering fire of a 32-round Schmeisser rifle, he crawls on until coming within the appropriate firing distance. He rises to his knees and takes aim, then presses the switch on his weapon, propelling its tip towards the enemy.
The projectile makes its way to the enemy tank -at a speed that the naked eye can easily follow- and takes it in the flank.
Its armor is dissolved through the Neumann effect, and a a torrent of liquefied metal and thousand degree flame engulf and tear the tank to shreds.
The man discards his Panzerfaust and, backed by comrades from behind, proceeds to eliminate all remaining foes with his Mauser.
Such is war – allowing for no idle thoughts within its chaos. Only slaughter, murder, bloodshed. No man would keep his sanity in this hell.
Those who wish to survive shall become raging beasts.
Never look back. Revel in pure insanity. Make your blood boil.
Within this flaming wasteland of gunplay, soldiers continue their murderous dance like it was a divine tenet to be followed.
Of course, this was all mere child’s play – soldiers against soldiers, handheld rifles against pistols. No matter how fiercely they fought on this battlefield, the outcome of this war would not change, its scales would hardly sway an inch.
The Third Reich has crumbled, the ambitions of its visionary leader lost in the flames of war. What remained on this tattered battlefield were the shaken remnants of the defeated, and the mob of the victors, flocking like vultures to the smell of decaying flesh.
Certain death. Inescapable defeat. Resistance is merely for one’s own satisfaction, completely without meaning, with no hope of salvation. Going beyond mere despair, to the point of appearing ridiculous; an utter farce. And yet…
“Kill them! Kill them! Kill them all!”
…my heart beats still.
…my hand grips steel.
As long as there are enemies to kill, I will not stop. For it is my sworn duty.
If there exists even one thing to justify this hellfire, be it sheer insanity itself, that alone would be a blessing in disguise. Honor and glory debased and disgraced, worth less than piss – and still, human life remains the cheapest currency.
This is reality.
“Is this… all that’s left of us?”
After cleaning up all leftover foes and regrouping with his comrades, it dawned upon the man that there were only three of them left standing, himself included. The company tasked with protecting this block was completely annihilated. The situation was anything but promising, and still more enemies were on their way.
“What about our Panzerfausts?”
“The one you used just now was the last one, Hauptfeldwebel. This is the end for us… the war is lost.”
The young man flashes a bitter smile as he hands over his Schmeisser to the other. The older man glares at him, but fails to find the words to reproach him.
The war is lost. Indeed… that is the bitter truth of it. Berlin has fallen, our comrades massacred, and us, soon to join them.
“Well, it’s not that it matters at this point. Would be nice if we could at least go out with a bang, though… there’s hardly anywhere to flee, either.”
“Your name, soldier.”
“Joachim Brauner. And yourself, sir?”
“Walter Gerlitz. I’d rather not die among men whose names I don’t even know. You there!”
The Hauptfeldwebel, Walter Gerlitz, directed his gaze at another in their company, a young boy who had been keeping silent.
The boy, failing to hide his bewilderment, was even younger than Joachim, barely in his teens. If Walter had a son, he would be about the same age.
“Marco Schmitt, sir.”
Walter was about to ask what a mere kid was doing out here, but he had to stop himself from uttering the words. It was a foolish question, and besides, the enemy would not hold their fire, not even against children. The reason for it was very clear: they were the bitter enemies of the Red Army, the despised members of the Schutzstaffel. Even if they were to capitulate, the Soviets were in no mood to take any prisoners. And so, their only option is to fight to the death.
Walter was certain that Joachim was ready to give his life for the Fatherland. This boy, on the other hand…
Marco: “What will become of Berlin… no, of Germany, after the war is over…?”
M: “And what of our friends and families…?”
Joachim “Who cares about any of that. The victors will declare us inhuman monsters, and reign down their hypocritical judgment. What a joke.”
Joachim, who’s been leaning until now, turned around and spat bitter words at the boy.
Joa “I had a mother and a sister back in Dresden… until the bombings. Not a single trace was left of them. So we are the monsters here? What sort of sick joke is that? We were merely fighting to protect our Fatherland. And yet, these bastards…”
He will never surrender. And yet, even if he gives his life in this fight, the outcome of the war had already been decided. Nothing will change that, nor does he have the power to do so. And so, our Fatherland, our descendants…
A single company of soldiers can do nothing to bend the terrible cogs of war. He curses that reality.
Marco merely listened to his monologue in silence.
Joa “So if I have nothing else left, at least–”
Several rifle shots echo from the side. Walter and Marco just barely manage to duck into cover, but Joachim is not so fortunate: his head is shot clean off by the first shots, followed by an entire volley of bullets being unloaded into his chest.
“For fuck’s sake…!”
Before collapsing onto the ground, Joachim’s body danced with bizarre convulsion due to the force of the machine gun fire. Such were the final moments of the young man who mere moments before decided to fight till the bitter end.
This is reality.
This is war.
There are no heroes, no messiah to save us; only men dying like insects.
And yet, if wrath or despair overcomes the soul at such sights, it only hastens one’s own fall into the jaws of death.
War allows for no idle thoughts within its chaos. Duty is everything.
“Schmitt! Answer me, Schmitt!”
As Walter rolled into the safety of a ruined building, he used his remaining strength to shout the name of his one remaining comrade. His answer was…
…yet another flash, followed by a fiery explosion.
The upper half of the young boy’s body was thrown at Walter’s feet. The cramped space was heavy with the stench of blood and scorched intestines. Walter could do nothing but drop to his knees before this vast sea of blood.
Marco: “Haupt…fel…dwebel… Forgive me… for not being of more use…”
Overcome by the shocking spectacle of the dying boy, Walter took his hand without thinking.
Marco: “I… don’t want to die… If I die here… then what have we been fighting for… all this time…?”
Marco: “Sir, please, tell me… are we monsters…? Berlin, and Germany…”
Walter: “You mustn’t talk!”
As the gunfire continues still, a brand new tank rolls onto the battlefield. Marco Schmitt is beyond help. Not even God can save him now. And so, Walter should be out there with gun in hand, not in here, clasping the hand of a dying soldier; his ears should be drunk not on the sentimental final words of a boy, but the screams of his enemies. He knows that – more than anyone.
Marco “Is this punishment… for our sins? I know there is no pride in war and murder… but, but we…”
Joachim, Marco and Walter, as well as the majority of German soldiers all took up arms merely to protect their Fatherland and loved ones. “Is that a sin?” – asks the dying boy in a tattered voice. Walter, too, would have liked to pose that question to the heavens above.
Walter “It probably is.”
And yet, after mere seconds of doubt, Walter answered curtly.
Walter: “Waging war is no sin – losing a war is.”
Such is the way of the world. A cruel, bitter truth.
Ah, Lord Father who art in Heaven – I…
Marco “I see… I’d like to… win our next one, then…”
Walter “We shall, Marco Schmitt. We shall.”
Marco Schmitt breathed his last in Walter’s arms as the man gazed up at the heavens. His smile in death, albeit tainted with blood and mud, was innocent, boyish.
A smile crept onto Walter’s face.
Walter: “We will claim the next victory. If not, then the next one, or the one after that, even if we are doomed to repeat this outcome a million times…”
The ramblings of a lunatic beset by the armies of death. Nay, never!
Walter took up his Mauser, checked its magazine and charged out of the ruined building, into the open.
He unconsciously lets out a battle cry, with a voice so loud it could ruin his throat. Will he meet the same fate as Joachim, gunned down… or a death similar to Marco’s? It hardly mattered anymore. He will die a miserable death befitting a miserable war like this.
Such things alone filled his mind, drowning out all other thoughts of his future prospects.
“Pater Noster qui in caelis es sanctificetur nomen tuum”
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
“Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domie et lux perpetua luceat eis”
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may everlasting light shine upon them.
It was his soldier’s intuition that forced Walter to reflexively take shelter.
(A dude now lands on the ground like a meteor.)
His vision is drowned out by a blinding white light and an explosion so fierce it dwarfed all previous bombardments, and made Walter earnestly wonder if the world itself had erupted. He realized this explosion was no result of mere war-mongering soldiers.
What in the world… has happened?
The city he had staked his life to protect has transformed into a scorched wasteland.
Is this a sick joke?
Although it took a while for Walter to regain his vision and hearing, he completely and utterly failed to make sense of what had just transpired. Only one thing was clear – that the corpses of both his enemies and comrades were blasted far into the distance.
No bombing raid could inflict such immense damage. Although he himself was saved from immediate death, he did so not without receiving a number of deep wounds.
A piece of steel and concrete blasted in his direction by the explosion completely pierced the side of his stomach, finally emerging from his back. The hand that once held his Schmeisser was blown off from the elbow; he was bleeding from several wounds, with many a fractured bone. His incessant, bloody vomit told him that he had also suffered severe internal damage.
He would not make it.
Walter: “Fuck… fuck, fuck!”
While raging at nothing in particular, Walter, still struggling to breathe, once again heard the voice from before.
“Exaudi orationen meam”
Hear my prayer, O Lord.
“Ad te omnis caro veniet”
To You all flesh shall come.
“Convertere anima mea in requiem tuam, quia Dominus benefect tibi”
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.
It was a requiem sung in a beautiful voice to appease the fallen; resembling a divine choir, yet pregnant with something of the opposite end of the spectrum. Yet the scorn soaking into the voice was all too evident. Only the coming of the apocalypse would urge a soul to claim this voice to be that of an angel.
Its tone sung the voices of the dead with scorn, ridicule, mockery, finding utmost pleasure in corrupting all remnants of dignity they possessed; the voice of a destroyer intoxicated by mayhem.
A jet black mind of pure malice, far beyond that of any mere human, living or dead.
“Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domie et lux perpetua luceateis”
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may everlasting light shine upon them.
And so, stepping onto the vast rubble of debris, the destroyer appeared, humming his daemonic requiem.
It was a young boy, lacking in years even in comparison to Marco, with a face so delicate that a careless glance could easily mistake it for the features of a woman.
A single look at the boy gave Walter the shivers. Although he had lost a great amount of blood, the chill dancing up his spine was for another reason: the sheer enmity and bane radiating from the boy’s visage.
And yet for Walter, the most dreadful thing was the fact that he knew this face. There lives no man who experienced the eastern front and still failed to take notice of his name; the name of a beast possessing an insatiable hunger, his aberrant mind ruled by inhuman madness; his eyes blue, his locks silver.
Twin guns resting in his hands, engraved with a Wolfsangel.
There’s no mistaking it. He would never forget the face of the boy who was thought to have died three years before…
Eastern Front Assault Corps, Special Unit Leader — SS Major Wolfgang Schleiber.
An unchained beast slaughtering both enemies and allies, the silver daemon that met his end during a purge. How could he be standing here…?
Schleiber: “Ah, if it isn’t Walter Gerlitz. I remember you from the Einsatzgruppen. You doing well?”
Hardly the words one would throw at a dying comrade, especially one whose death was most likely the result of Schleiber’s own bravado. The boy flashing an innocently devilish smile in front of Walter was no doubt the very same person he remembered. And yet, his armband bore not the swastika, but a different symbol altogether, almost as if he was no comrade at all…
Walter: “Why… are you here…?”
Sch: “Hm? Do I need a reason? I’m here because I’m a soldier, much like yourself. War is our profession, murder our currency.”
The boy uttered the words in a joking tone as he surveyed the land. What followed was nothing short of unnatural.
Like a fog, or a haze, erupted multiple shimmering, opaque forms in his vicinity. At the very same time, Walter’s senses were assaulted by low moans that made him want to cover his ears. Those were the cries of the cursed fallen, suffering and lamenting even in eternal un-death; their endless wailing causing even the seething hot air to chill.
They were the spirits of the dead. Among their swirling mass, Walter felt like he could almost make out the faces of Marco and Joachim, as well as the end towards which they were spiraling – straight into Schleiber’s Totenkopf eyepatch.
He is devouring the very souls of those he had slain.
Walter could not decide whether he should be mad or terrified when faced with such a repulsive, out-of-this-world spectacle. He longed for the repose of dementia.
Schleiber: “Well then, my dear Hauptfeldwebel. Time for me to take off. How about you?”
Schleiber, shaking his head like a person who’s had his fill, posed such a vague question to Walter. He was breathing his last: not in any condition to spill blood like a soldier should.
Schleiber: “Oh? You hunger for more? Kill a hundred of them and the outcome of the war will still not change. But that is hardly reason enough to sit there doing nothing.”
Schleiber “Look around you – look at your Berlin! Is this the end of our glorious empire, foretold to stand strong for a thousand years? Who would be seriously content with this?”
Schleiber: “No one~”
Walter threw a piercing glance at the thinly smiling boy.
Indeed. No one in their right mind would be content with such an outcome.
I had friends to call my own. A family to go home to. A woman to love.
I loved this country.
All that became tainted due to our defeat; dishonor that no centuries shall wash clean.
Schleiber: “Unforgivable… right? Those repugnant low-lives tore down our walls and trampled upon our great capital, killed our men, raped our women, hanged our elders!”
Schleiber: “My dear Hauptfeldwebel, Walter Gerlitz, sworn and loyal blade of the German army. I ask of you – what do *you* desire?”
The amount of blood bubbling forth from Walter’s mouth made speech difficult, but his feelings were set.
Joachim, who vowed to fight till the bitter end; Marco, who wished for victory. His dreams, as well as his own…
The boy standing before him was unmistakably from the fold of the devil. But such things mattered little at this point. I…
…want to emerge victorious!
Victory, honor and glory for the Fatherland. To bring peace for those that have fallen: friends, family, and those yet unborn.
Above all else, his soul cried but one phrase.
Schleiber: “Sieg Heil! That is correct, Hauptfeldwebel. What wonderful display of will and bravery! You deserve the honor to become “his” flesh and blood.”
Schleiber: “This war will never end. We will not let it. We will repeat it again and again and again and again!”
Grant us victory.
Schleiber: “Let us journey together, to our infinite battlefield… till victory is in our hands.”
We shall claim victory in the next war; if not, in the one after that; hundreds and thousands and millions of battles repeating over and over again till this outcome can finally be toppled.
Schleiber thrust his gun in Walter’s direction, the sparkle of his soul about to be extinguished.
“Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domie et lux perpetua luceateis”
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may everlasting light shine upon them.
A requiem of scorn to appease the fallen, pregnant with malicious intent. And yet, Walter thought it beautiful, like the song of an angel…
Ahh… so this is the apocalypse.
I shall join the ranks of those set to destroy the world – to the Legion of the Wicked; as one single strand of the beast’s mane.
Schleiber: “Ahaha… hahahahaha…!!”
The boy faces the heavens as his laughter reverberates in the air, his locks toyed with by the wind. The soul of Walter Gerlitz was sucked into the beast’s maddened eye, and disappeared forever.
At the same time, at another place, yet another nightmare was in the making.
An entire battalion of at least a dozen tanks fails to bring down a single man. Or rather, an entire battalion of tanks is being destroyed by a single man.
In the center of this supernatural maelstrom stands a hero blacker than the darkest of nights. Under his peerless uniform stretches a body of steel trained to the utmost limit. A perfect fusion of ancient sorcery and rampant military prowess.
The man carried no blades or knives – he was completely unarmed.
Using nothing but his fists, he crushes armor like it was made from the thinnest of papers.
A display of inhuman strength.
“He’s… he’s a monster…”
Aye, ’tis a monster – a man-sized fortress. No matter how one looks at him, the man was a beast exceeding the boundaries of mere mortals.
“Fire at will…!”
This fortress of a man has yet to evade a single one of the attacks aimed at him. Even after receiving countless bullets and tank shells, his body remains unscathed. However, that was only natural. For everyone knew who he was: the hero believed to have died a year before.
And what is dead may never die.
The man lets out a deep sigh. His overflowing will melts the surrounding rubble to mere toxic waste, and blasts it afar as the air itself boils. His tight muscles expand to their extreme, as if longing for release. A hammer of steel; a single strike of tremendous destructive force – there exists no material in this universe that wouldn’t cripple below its weight. The energies concentrated in the fortress’ fists create refraction, causing his very visage to distort.
Just as the man was about to unleash destruction… due to some influence or another, his fierce heat dispersed once again, almost as if something had ruined his mood. Perhaps he thought the panicking soldiers, having lost their morale, were barely even worth killing.
Did those soldiers miraculously escape from the jaws of death?
“Was gleicht wohl auf Erden dem Jagervergnugen”
“What in this world could surpass the thrill of the hunt?”
The song of the cruel huntress fills the night with energy. A scorching wave of pure flame catches the soldiers, burning them to cinders. It is no natural eruption, its destructive force far exceeding the power of Molotov cocktails or tank fire; an explosion reminiscent of the concentration of the sheer power of strategic arms in any given location. In the traces of the raging tyranny that reformed the very terrain itself, trapped within an area now a sea of fire, echo the otherworldly moans of pure agony. The soldiers, assailed by instantaneous fire, evaporate without leaving a trace, the hate-filled screams of their souls still rising in the night air. A phenomenon not unlike the one conjured up by Schleiber.
Woman: “What a bore. How brittle and weak. They were the souls of weaklings, barely even fit to be devoured.”
It is uncertain for how long the woman had been standing back to back with the jet black hero, her tone grim and without joy, her visage deep crimson, her swaying hair the color of fresh blood and hellfire. Her charming features are given a certain gruesome quality by the severe burn marks spotting the left side of her face.
Woman: “What’s on your mind, hero? Having a problem?”
Gracefully toying with her cigar, the woman posed the question to the man at her back. No answer is heard.
Woman: “Well, whatever. At least this creates a balance when compared to that trigger-happy Schleiber. I couldn’t care less about the honor of the warrior, but make sure to remember this. The Soviets must have their way with this place. Overindulgence and inaction are sins of equal value, as I very much hope you realize. By the way… don’t tell me you were holding back? Once your chains are off, you cannot help but annihilate anything and everything in sight, correct? If so, know this – I am of the same mindset.”
The crimson woman’s monologue could easily be mistaken for the ravings of a lunatic. The fact they she could potentially destroy the entire Red Army surrounding Berlin on a whim was beyond the workings of a sane mind.
Woman: “His Excellency the Führer has passed away recently. The dreamer as well as the preacher will be right along as well. And this city shall fall, taking countless brethren and citizens along with it. As a sacrifice, it is a indeed a suitable catalyst befitting those longing for the Ark of the Covenant. Even in the face of the millions of foes slaughtered and sacrificed, kinsmen, loved ones, the lives of the handful few enjoy supremacy. Such is human nature. Does it torment you as well? Hmpf, it matters not. Agony is yet another form of offering.
The man finally parted his lips.
Man: “Where is Mercurius?”
Woman: “What business do you have with him?”
Silence, once again. The man fails to answer. The woman narrowed her eyes, her gaze heavy with suspicion, followed by a sigh of amazement.
Woman: “Refusing to answer once again? What a bother. Silent men are true enigmas. Don’t tell me you’re planning to fight him? I’m telling you right now it’s no use. He can’t be killed. Well… I suppose, in a way, it wouldn’t be hard. But he is our superior, and a sworn friend to our leader. If you harbor any intention to rebel, I would advise you to forget it right this instant.”
Man: “I have no such ambitions.”
Woman: “Of course not. You could never hatch a plan in that thick skull of yours. Let me answer your previous question, though.”
She lifted her head to look up at the sky.
“The two leaders of our Black Round Table are inseparable, like siblings. As such, his whereabouts should be obvious. Take a good look over there.”
Up in the Berlin sky, tainted by blood and fire. Taking form using the fires of the capital, a tremendous swastika appears. At the towering spire in its center stands a man.
“Attention, men and women of Berlin! Our great lord, monarch of destruction, graces you with his message! Listen to his exalted words in silence!”
As if controlled by sorcery, the booming voice echoed in the ears of all living men in the city of Berlin. At that very moment, all soldiers ceased their fighting, all infants dried up their tears and all elders stopped in their tracks in a state of ecstasy. Each and every soul in the city, as if possessed, lifted his gaze towards a certain point up in the sky.
The sky, tainted by blood and fire in a city boiling as a witch’s pot. The Berlin himmel.
On the very day the Tausendjähriges Reich crumbled to dust, a devil of blinding light descended from the heavens.
His locks like a floating mane, golden in color. The gaze of the supreme ruler overseeing the universe from up above, equally golden.
It was the gold of splendor, of brilliance surpassing creation itself; beauty mingling with heavy solemnity — yet at the very same time, beastly in hue. A being outside the realm of humanity, denied existence by sane minds; king of the hateful light. At his side, a man fickle and twisting as the darkest of shadows. His aged youth glimmering in the plain, vague colors of the recluse. A yin to his yang. The two of them, excelling in power all those gazing up at their visage: demigods among mere warlocks, titans among mere men.
Number I and Number XIII of the Black Round Table – The Knights Templar of the Holy Lance: the Longinus Dreizehn Orden, its leader and vice-commander.
“Brothers and sisters!”
Gazing down at Berlin -no, the entire world-, the man of gold began his speech.
“What if I told you that your entire life had been decided by fate? That victors were born for glory; that the defeated live only to serve? You live your life as it had been decided in advance, always reaching the same finale, unable to diverge, no matter what happens. What if I told you that the universe was woven from such a cruel fabric?
“If such is truly the case, then hard work, negligence, hopes and dreams and prayers are equally and completely without meaning. What if I told you that the grace of the divines, as well as the wrath of the heavens… had already been carved into stone eons before? All of you sinless lot, labeled as the devil’s offspring, were born only to be destroyed, to be downtrodden, to be raped and killed and annihilated. Nothing more… and nothing less. Such is the nature of this detestable cycle — this ghetto.
“Death brings no release, merely revival, another cycle, another beginning – the beginning of your defeats, your losses, your pain and anguish. As such, even at the end of all things, you have nothing but eternal suffering and defeat waiting for you, merely because you were born to shoulder that very fate. Nothing more, and nothing less. Do you not find this abominable? Do you not wish to turn the tables?”
His grim proclamation reached all souls residing in Berlin.
Nothing awaits you but eternal suffering, eternal defeat. As if it was the trumpet of the final judgment, his hopelessly powerful proclamation soaked into the hearts of all who listened.
He possesses otherworldly charisma, making use of the critical situation at hand to carry out this coercive manipulation; hardly could it be called a rarity, and yet, considering the scope of all mankind, it is nothing short of abnormal. Equal to dragons and magical beasts from legends of old, his voice carried a tremendously powerful magical quality that penetrated the hearts and minds of all that listened; a juggernaut of a voice causing the weak to faint, the ordinary to tremble in fear or listen in fascination.
In a word: inhuman.
The golden beast. The jet black prince. The hateful light. The monarch of destruction. Every single word that left his lips was soaked deep in sorcery.
He gives the command.
“If you agree… then fight.”
If you wish to turn the tables on life, shackled by misfortune, then offer your very soul. If the chains of destiny satisfy you not…
If you long to wash your names clean of the stigma of the defeated…
“Rise to battle at my side.”
Take the pen and sign the pact with blood. Therein lies the devil’s temptation.
The golden monarch looked down at the people crawling below him, and voiced a question.
“What do you desire?”
The answer is all too evident.
Victory for our nation.
Sieg Heil Viktoria.
“You have my consent.”
To conjure the words of Doctor Faust, his features reflected the uncanny equilibrium of a genuine smile and a grotesque sneer. Mephistopheles, king of the hateful light. The name of the wicked fiend that can grant man’s every wish in exchange for his living soul.
“If such is your desire… then enlist in my Legion.”
The very moment that absolute declaration left his lips, the unthinkable happened. All men with gun in hand took it to their mouths. All those wielding blades thrust it deep into their own chests. Those with nothing left plunged themselves into the hellfire still raging around them.
Guns roared, steel drank blood, men plunged to their death – all committing suicide without exception. Hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands rushed to their deaths with abnormal desperation, all drawing closer to the man of gold – an insatiable holocaust engulfing the entire capital. Most likely, this is not the first time. He has sated his appetites with millions of souls before.
Were these the final touches to complete that daemonic ritual? Countless civilians and soldiers, all in reverence, all in devotion, longing for a savior, a redeemer, a messiah; all of them… their blood spilt on the sacrificial altar.
In all its grimness, all its cruelty, all its terror, it was…
Other man: “How truly tragic. The very people that revere you, the ones you are supposed to protect, are dying one after the other by your hands. And you observe it all with grief, with joy, transforming their essence to fuel your own power. My dear friend; the one and only fiend in this universe who is worthy of my respect. Allow me a question – how will you proceed?”
That shade of a man, silently standing by the side of his golden comrade up until now, spoke to form a question.
Other man: “What is it you desire?”
Golden man: “A foolish question, truly. The destruction and transcendence of that law. Was it not you who showed me the way to this path? Alas, I do have a more personal reason in mind.”
“And that would be…?”
“It concerns the one that birthed the laws of this world.”
“I see. In other words…”
God. Or the Devil.
“It fills me with utmost joy to have gained such an exquisite “pupil”. Only you truly understand Ewigkeit. There is none other like you. Ah, how splendid. No matter how many times I experience it, I will never tire of this moment. ‘Tis also my one and only regret.”
“Is it time, Karl?”
“Indeed. Let us leave that name behind. We shall meet again, I’m certain. Even if it takes half a century, the Orient’s Shambhala shall be completed. My agent will be there, so you can supply your underlings with ample entertainment. Tonight’s pact made your soul more powerful than ever. The creation of the Ark had also been successful. There is little reason to remain “here” any longer till the Day of Wrath. There is also the matter of Christof to deal with… For the sake of guaranteed success, I would recommend having a number of them accompany you.”
“That had been my intention all along. I shall take Samiel, Schlieber and Berlichingen.”
“Very well. A perfect choice indeed. Or should I say… those three are the ones guaranteed to follow you.”
Looking down upon the hell stretching below their gaze, they exchanged words with the tone of thoughtful chess players. The two of them – they truly are as siblings. If one had to name the strongest common point connecting them, it would be their deeply farsighted, philosophical disposition. No tragedy, no comedy, no creation under the sun would move them. Their laughter was no mere sneer, their actions not merely the result of a frozen heart; rather, they were worn down by Time itself, radiating the uncanny aura of Methuselah.
Gazing up at the two of them were roughly ten others in military uniform, standing completely unscathed within the the decaying capital of agony that was Berlin. They were the fangs of the golden beast, acting on his command: and among them, the three once mentioned further surpassed the rest.
The crimson woman had tears of joy trickling down her face: in response to the honor of being chosen by her golden commander, her loyalty grew fiercer than ever.
The silver-haired boy responded coldly, lamenting the end of his carnage. For the moment, however, he vowed to do the best he could.
The black giant stood silent, oblivious of all else, his gaze sinking deep into the eyes of the shade.
“Worry not. Your wish will be granted. You needn’t glare at me like that.”
Finding pleasure in the cold gaze that made his hairs stand as if jolted by electricity, the shade turned his attention once again to his golden brother.
“And now we part ways, my dear golden fiend. Let us pray for our mutual success by the time we meet once again.”
“Nay. I vow to succeed, no matter what. Remaining a mere spectator yields no results. ‘Tis a vile habit of yours, Karl.”
“It is as you say. Let us make our vow, then.”
Tonight, in the final hours of the Totenkopf Empire that named the world its foe, within this country famed for its sheer technological prowess, a dark and aberrant ritual was carried out. Whether it truly happened or not remained the talk of many for decades to come.
These elected few, the divine übermensch… and the countless treasures they plundered that night. To which corners of the earth they disappeared to, if they truly existed at all, remains an unsolved mystery.
And now we plunge to the present day.
2006, November 29. Mt. Fuji. Aokigahara – Sea of Trees. 3:27 AM.
The field is surrounded on one side by crimson flames. A sudden windy torrent emerging from a nearby cave mows down and ignites several trees in the vicinity. This place is a crevice on the fabric of space: like the meshes of a net, it exists as a meeting point of the Earth’s ley lines.
A lone man appears, wearing rosary and cassock, signaling his status as a holy member of the clergy. Indeed, if he truly is a servant of God, the meek smile dancing on his lips comes as no surprise.
And yet, could a man appearing in a place like this, at a time like this, emerging from a fiery inferno, be called a holy man?
Kneeling before him in servitude was a young woman of jet black hair. Her skin color and features clearly identify her as a native of this land. Without the slightest change on her complexion, she utters words of respect towards the man.
Woman: “Pardon my rudeness, Valeria Trifa, Lord of the Divine Vessel, representative of the Lord Commander himself. I acted upon my own desire in summoning you here. Do I need to introduce myself?”
Valeria: “That will not be necessary. I remember you very well, Leonhart. You were but a child when you took Kircheisen’s place. You have grown to be beautiful… and powerful.”
Woman: “I am not worthy of such praise.”
Nearby, within the mass of trees, a disagreeable moan, or rather a scream, could be heard: no doubt the souls of all men and women that took their own lives within this forest. The young woman paid no heed to their coiling visage; the priest, in contrast, inhaled them all with affection, making them his own.
A blasphemous scene; an affront to all that is just – identical to the events of Berlin 61 years prior. Indeed, this is no doubt a continuation of what started that night. A priest with a voice that sings each word; before him, a young woman offering nothing but humble phrases.
They exchange a few words concerning a number of things – that the priest journeyed from the other face of the Earth through its ley lines, and that it was the woman who twisted the initial route and led him here. An apology for such vulgarity. The actions to be taken. Certain necessities. An explanation as to why the priest cannot possibly journey “there”. None of them important. None of them need be discussed here.
There is but one thing that must be uttered. One crucial point.
Valeria: “Well then. Shall we continue on with our holy crusade?”
That one critical question.
They have waited and made preparations for long years, and it is now time to announce the fierce, supreme performance they shall proceed to enact on the stage of this world.
Let the curtains rise on our Grand Guignol.
Carnage, bloodshed, massacre till no more is left.
Violate, conquer and consecrate.
Victory for our nation.
Leonhart: “God’s will be done. Meine Ehre heißt Treue.”
They shall repeat it as many times as it takes, be it millions or trillions, till there is no reason left to count… they shall keep on fighting. They have sworn to do so, and will carry it out accordingly.
The young woman utters the slogan of their holy crusade; her words are met by the priest’s own blessings.
And so, on this night, in this place… the very Legion that vowed to destroy the entire world was thus assembled.
At that time, however, not a soul knew of its existence.
This is the end of the Prologue, after which the game’s opening plays:
Additional info for the curious: