The End of Insouciance

I envisage two main plot devices for this story. Firstly the 'epiphany' whereby the main character Konrad is forced to change his beliefs about humanity and himself. Secondly the 'leap of faith' whereby a character is forced to place his or her trust in someone out of sheer faith in that person's ability to do what is right.

I am a monster. This is not an apology nor is it a boast. I am neither ashamed of myself, nor am I particularly proud; such vanity does not become me, though by nature I am far from humble. It is simply a statement of fact.

I am a monster. And it is right that I should be.

Humankind needs monsters, whether it wishes for them or not; the beast which prowls the woods, or broods in its castle, the formless shadow in the dark alley at midnight, the nameless, faceless fiend lurking beneath the bed or skulking in the damp corners of the dingy cellar, the things you know cannot there but always, Oh! always haunt your dreams. The tingling at the back of the neck, the sudden urge to run, the dread of turning round, the reluctance to stare too long into the mirror, the knot in the pit of the stomach. The inexplicable feeling.

All of these, and a myriad other abominations, fill humanity with dread and fear and loathing, but they are comforting none-the-less. For without the monsters, the fiends, the creatures, humanity would have none but itself to blame for the horrors of this world. And humans are simply not ready to accept that such atrocities can possibly be a facet of themselves, however often it is proven to be so.

I have seen the evils of humanity; wallowed in them, perpetrated them, revered them, nurtured them. Throughout all history I have gloried in the horror of it all. And always I have been the monster. I have sacked Rome with the Visigoths, burned great libraries, trampled empires and rained fire on the guilty and innocent alike. I have overthrown great houses, stolen innocence and absolved old age. Kings have knelt before me, hands outstretched in supplication whilst commoners defied me, their proud faces held high, eyes burning with hatred. I am the silent blade that flashes in the night, the dreadful report of the firearm, the hand that smothers, the fist that crushes. I am the teeth that rend and tear, the lips drinking from the flowing wound. I am the grand obscenity. I am death, the destroyer of worlds.

Ever has it been so and ever shall it be. Or so I imagined.

In his Poetics, Aristotle proposed that every story should be composed of three parts: a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning should not be dependant on anything which precedes it in the context of the story; the end should not lead to anything unsolved and the middle should join these two parts together. In essence the plot must be a whole.

Life, I assure you, is seldom so simple and for the purposes of my story here, I beg your leave to begin in the middle. In Venice actually, in the Autumn of 1499, during the Second Italian War. It is there that I first met Francesca, that I first felt the passing of my insouciance.

The End

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