Over the years, as a seeker of knowledge of forgotten lore, I have heard many tales of heroism and adventure. One tale has stuck with me, and I wanted to share that story with you. I'll offer a short version of the tale, but you may want to be sitting down nonetheless.
It begins in ages past, in a world younger than our own, a world occupied by magic and dragons, a world shared by isolated tribes of people who either survived on superstition or else were wiped out by the chaotic forces which surrounded them. There lived a tribe of people in this time whose only goal was to live peacefully. They were a wise people who had learned to use the earth to grow food for themselves, yet because they tended to stay in one location to protect their farms, they found themselves as victims of many powerful forces which sought to bring chaos to their order.
There came a day that this tribe found themselves on the brink of starvation, for there was a mighty beast which had devoured all of their warriors. The people hid themselves in caves as the beast devoured their crops as well. Whenever they attempted to leave the caves, the beast would come to devour more of them. The only ones left were the ones who remained in the caves, for the beast was too great to fit into the openings. They remained in hiding for days.
A few brave people decided they must venture forth to find food else the tribe starve to death. Again they huddled close together, walking silently in fear that the beast was still near. Again the ground began to shake, and they heard the rumbling growl of the beast coming closer. This time, however, as the beast crushed the trees standing in its path and looked down at the meal it had stalked, a man appeared behind the cowering people.
None had seen where this man had come from, and it was obvious that none had ever seen him before. He stood head and shoulders taller than any man of their tribe, and he wielded a double bladed axe as broad as his own shoulders. This warrior ran past the people, and with a roaring battle cry, he charged directly at the beast with his axe held overhead. The people could only stare in awe as the beast roared in reply, lunging at the lone warrior. The warrior leaped high into the air and brought the axe down on the head of the beast, slaying it in one blow.
This warrior then rushed back to the people, and they cringed, not knowing what to expect. He dropped his axe and offered his hand to them, asking in their own language if they were unharmed. Amazed at what had just happened, the people brought this warrior back to the caves to speak with their elder.
This tribe had a sense of justice and retribution based on one's actions, so they were in a debt to this warrior for saving their lives from the beast. The elder had little left to offer, but he did offer the fine crafted goods his tribe used in their daily lives. The warrior smiled and shook his head, thanking them but saying he was not interested in those things. The elder felt he had no choice, and offered the last of his own family, his daughter, to repay the debt that the entire tribe was now in. The warrior again smiled and shook his head. He bowed to the elder, saying he was not worthy of such a gift, and asked only that he could remain for a time to regain his strength, for he had journeyed far to get there.
And so the warrior stayed with the tribe, and very soon he was treated as one of them. He was a humble man who introduced himself only as "Nate". When the farmers began to till the earth to plant new crops, Nate went before them with his gigantic axe and he struck the ground, making it soft and easy for them to work. As each season passed, he could be seen working in the fields with them, and when it came time to harvest, he feasted heartily and shared with them some of his experiences.
The people were uneasy when they learned that a voice with no origin told Nate things, even though that same voice told Nate to travel far to reach the place where he would slay a beast to save a tribe of good people. The story of the voice made no sense to them, and that was frightening to them. Nonetheless, they already loved the man and felt he was surely a lost kinsman of theirs, so they accepted his eccentricities and were happy.
Then the day came that Nate heard the voice again, and again it told him he must travel a great distance in order to stop a terrible disaster. This saddened Nate because he also loved the tribe he was with, for they were a good-hearted people like himself. But he knew that he must listen to this voice, for he knew there was no other who could perform this task. With downcast eyes Nate told the elder of what he must do. The elder cried softly, and told Nate that he had a dream. In that dream, he saw that Nate would journey to his death. He knew this day would come, but he also knew that he should do nothing to stop it.
It was a sad parting when Nate left the tribe, and he marched alone, following neither the rise nor the setting of the sun, but the one star in the sky that did not move was his guide. For weeks he walked alone, hunting wild game to sustain himself, and he clothed himelf in their furs as the land became steadily colder. The trees dwindled as the snow covered the ground, yet on he marched, seeking what the voice told him he must protect.
Nate could not recall how long he walked, and days were difficult to count as he found himself surrounded on all sides by a desolate field of ice with mountains in the far distance. At last he found what he sought in this field as an obelisk rose before him. Taller than any tree, this column of stone or metal was featureless, smooth on all sides, and Nate knew that this was the World Lever that the voice told him he must protect. The pivot point at which the world had turned, gigantic in size, yet the voice had told him the Lever must not be unbalanced. It must be protected. But proteced from what?
Looking around, Nate saw nothing but the ice and the mountains in the distance. Not knowing what else he could do, he sat at the base of the Lever and waited. No longer walking, the cold began to creep under his skin, so he got up and paced around the great column. When he grew tired he rested, and when he grew cold he walked again, and he became delirious and had no idea of how much time had passed.
Then he felt it. The ground vibrated. Then it shook and Nate thought he heard a low rumbling sound, deeper than the voice of any beast. Alarmed he began to scan the horizon, and then he saw it. A great rock was tumbling towards him, but it seemed to be moving so slowly. The ground shook more, and the rumbling sound grew louder, and as the rock seemingly grew larger, Nate began to realize that this boulder was far bigger than he had first thought. He watched bits of rock fall off of it as it struck the ice, and he saw that this boulder was greater than many hills he had seen, a single boulder almost the size of a mountain itself, and that it was tumbling towards the World Lever.
For the first time Nate hesitated in the face of fear. He felt it many times before, yet he had done what people called brave regardless of the fear that gripped him, and this time his veins felt like ice. But he knew what had to be done, and there was no one else who could do it.
Gripping his massive axe, Nate raised it high over his head as he mustered the strength to roar his battle cry in response to the growing roar of this tumbling mountain. Nate charged forward, determined to do everything in his power to stop this thing from destroying the World Lever and thus destroying the balance of the planet itself. The ground shook violently as he drew near, making it difficult to remain on his feet. He ran as hard as he could, leaped as high into the air as he could, and Nate struck that mountain boulder with the greatest force that man had yet mustered in this age.
And then the boulder continued its path, crushing Nate instantly beneath its weight.
And yet the force of that mighty blow combined with the girth of the man who was crushed beneath had altered the coarse of the giant boulder. The slight nudge turned its path, and it missed the World Lever by inches. The balance continued.
The origin of the voice was the only witness to this incredible act, and although it mourned the loss of this great and humble warrior, it understood that what happened had to be done. And I am sure we could all agree that it was better Nate than Lever.
*Goes to the bar to get another drink*