The Long and Winding Road
Oliver Klossner's hidden other self, witnessed in his dreamscape
I am a shadow… the TRUE self…
While I have been present in the mind of Oliver Klossner since at least the massacre that shattered his peaceful existence and led him to emerge into the human world, I most truly began to acquire form and density when the man was in Albemarle. Though he had doubts before then, as just about any kobold who tries to integrate with surface society will have, it was there that he started to truly doubt himself… that the face he had put up to the world, unshakably right in his role as a former officer of the law, began to crumble. What most got my attention, however… was in Marigold, his feeble attempt at rejecting his inner violence, claiming he could try to become something better and claiming to the therapist that he really wanted to know the truth and could talk it out… when that’s not at all what he’s really thinking! He had violence and revenge first and foremost in his mind ALL of those times and he was just trying to rebuild his own false righteousness!
I know his thoughts too well. After all, I am him, and he is me. There is no separating us.
My suspicions were confirmed when, after yet another disastrous encounter, he hauled off and immediately shanked the man who sent him on that mission. On the one hand, it did lead to discovering a rather horrific truth about who he had dealt with… but I did not care as much about that. In trying to build himself back up, he had merely achieved what I would call a negative restoration… a restoration that had just crumbled to bits, again, faster than before.
He had fallen right back into the pattern of violence I’d known him for. Somehow, I knew… it was time for me to intervene.
I did not care as much about the color of dragon he was most like (though that concern had been festering since before his outward persona first crumbled), his handling of the balor flowers (which he uprooted fully, the proper method of harvesting them), or his handling of money (which, when he first grabbed it, he let slip between his fingers… as for dragons, the feeling of a hoard is a full sensation). I cared more about what he did to Gauthier… bruised, bloodied. The violence… two and a half hours of violence on a single gnome, and still no answers – in fact, only one truth in the whole endeavor. It sure felt good in the moment… but was ultimately a waste of time.
As I understand it, most people, when faced with revelations like mine, would reject the notion and act childish. With him, he made the connection before I said it: Everything comes back to violence. I had to press this further, of course. After all, violence is getting the answers in the end, isn’t it? Does anything else matter? Revenge… what I need… what I DESERVE! Talking it out? That was one single fluke! The only answer is violence! It started everything… and will end everything. He knew there was no way out of it… and after a little feeble attempt at protest, he let me in. He merged with me, as it were.
Shortly after our encounter, I could feel his links to the world coming into focus, to perhaps give him another answer besides my own:
-Xanthus was perhaps the mightiest of these bonds. I mean, you’re talking about someone with enough inner strength to call upon a mighty creature that even so much resembles the legends Oliver knows.
-Catherine was not any sort of divine type, but still represents the faith and inspiration needed to keep going on… a star by which dreams can be followed.
-Chethrou is an inaccessible link now, but some of his presence still lingers… just not enough to call upon him in the dream. At one point he may have been like the morning sun, but since his passing he has been increasingly relegated to an internal light, a hermit within Oliver’s own soul.
-Keidraan has the extreme confidence to get through any situation, riding through danger upon a chariot of belief that things will turn out all right.
- is seemingly the most staunchly authoritarian of this particular party… and yet, there is an underpinning that he seriously cares. I wouldn’t think being an emperor led to any sort of sympathy, but there he is.
-Eupraxia is admittedly something of an angel of destruction and nature, but in the way she handles the undead, there is also something of the hanged man in her personality… that aspect of sacrifice and a recognition of needing to let go.
-Vaunders had not answered that call to action, but I could still feel a certain link that was lingering. She somewhat manifests as many of his old insecurities, his old fears, and his old safeguards in his mind… the tower upon which his false face had been built, and in truth? The one to truly collapse it to the ground, even as she fled to resolve her own problems.
-Reagan, the one called in Vaunders’ stead and the newest of his companions. This link was by far the weakest, but also represented a rare feeling… a voice espousing temperance rather than the unbalancing excessive force I represent. Part of me, by all accounts, should hate her… but for a reason I’ll get to later, I can’t.
Oliver himself then had a chance… a chance to decide what he thought was justice… by being faced with the object of his vendetta. In the face of it… he asked her why, and when she said it was fun, he rejected her as an empty shell, both disgusting and pitiable, an even darker road than he had traveled himself. That was quite the triumph… a triumph that saw his metaphorical change become a physical one.
He had faced himself.
Do not mistake my motive in all of this. If he doesn’t spill the whole thing, he’s just going to keep hurting, and possibly even die… taking me with him. The rejection he made when faced with his nemesis… his angst in front of the whole party… even so much as his acceptance that violence has been his only answer to this point… they were the real satisfaction. Breaking him down to nothing so that he can restore himself, build that entity that helps him be true without colliding with the boundaries of society… that was my main purpose in ruining him. He must accept his faults to truly become everything he needs for the trials ahead, to awaken the dragon within. He must accept me without becoming me… said restraint being the temperant feeling that I got from Reagan’s influence… and when it came down to it, he did. He must continue to remain aware of me, of his dark side, however… or else he will lose touch again.
But when he faces the meanest threats… I think it will be time to intervene on a more personal level. He has the power of the dragons and I know how to unlock its secrets… and as soon as his body can handle them I plan to show him. If his life is in danger, I will need to be more direct about my control….