The Kingdom of Self

She grew up in a magical world, with wizards and heroes. This was a place where it was decreed one person could change the world, that goodness was held in high regard by all, and that evil was only in the hearts of evil people. One where a band of plucky heroes was all that was needed to create change, that change was good, and that her allies always had the best interests of goodness and equality in their hearts.

The past was the past, and therefore unimportant. What mattered were colors and shapes and sounds, magic and imagery, as the things of today which excited her and reinforced the notion of her special nature and righteous innocence. Fantasy was reality and history was fiction. How much easier the world was to understand if not through the glasses worn by the favorite characters of the books she loved.

The world turns, and she grew older, and she for the first time noticed cracks in the walls in the childhood home inside her mind. Why wasn't this world which she was sold the one that existed when she grew up? The world was not filled with secret wizards, superior heroes, and plucky rebels who fought against all odds to defeat evil. The sides of good and evil were not so well defined. Those who profess good, why, they seemed not so good when the facts came out years later.

Why would they do this? For money or fame?

Say it isn't so.

She is the side of good! She must believe this. To say otherwise is lies! The Fair Princess does not steal from the kingdom's coffers, and the Good Prince does not sit down with the Evil Wizard to talk about donations to the Good King's immoral war, waged in secret and under the cloak of night with assassins and thieves.

Those who speak otherwise are liars, evil, and wicked of heart and deed. There are no cracks in the walls of her beliefs. If she must, she would rather hang a curtain or move a shelf in front of them and forget the cracks in the wall were even there.

And the cracks grow longer with each passing day. Those who defend each side grow more violent and divided. What is seen as a truth is in fact, a weapon. The narrative is a constant battle of whose words are spoken the loudest. She cannot hear, nor speak, because the din of discourse is so loud.

Arguments are not settled by discussion in these days, but by saturation and volume.

And then as sure as the sun rises, good turns on good, or rather the world finds out about the goings on behind the castle gate. The cracks spread and the narrative shatters. The laundry is dirty and hung for all to see, and the war to control the narrative intensifies. Both sides pay gold for opposing town criers to shout the loudest over each other in this crowded village square. Pamphlets are secretly handed out, by both sides, saying the vilest things about this king or that queen. Some are handed out just to make the blood boil, paid for by jokers and fools.

In the old days, her mother would have brought her to the Church of Light every week to build that defensive foundation of faith, brick by brick. She would have had defenses versus a life lived in the doldrums, and the North Star in which to follow to lead her to happiness and a content life. She replaces the religion of many with the religion of one, and while she may find a god in herself, she also finds this god to be lonely and afraid when confronted by an angry and uncertain world.

She finds that gods don't live in mirrors, but in hearts.

Her world is breaking down. Cracks appear in the glass of the mirror in which she sees herself as certain as the wrinkles of old age deepen in the lines of her face. With no love in her heart all she feels is anger.

She must find someone to direct this anger at, be it the Kindly Duke or the Benevolent Countess, someone must take the blame for the fantasy not being the reality. Even misplaced anger is stronger than admitting the world which hath been built in her mind was a kingdom or castles and ideals built on sand. History does not matter because it never happened.

Of course, it isn't her fault, for that was all she was taught - this fantastic world where each man a hero, and through that power godhood is achieved in deed and heart. She retreats back to simpler times where the truths that gave her comfort lie as truths between the pages of books. Distraction suffices instead of solving problems. The next book of wizards and warlocks was coming out! Did you see the new cartoon picture book? How she feels special when she retreats back into her childhood places. How the world revolves around her heroes and ideals. How her view of things is one which has more to do with the constructs of fantasy than the messy realities of history. Good must always win, and good shall always be good.

And what is good is what she defines it to be.

Her side. Her people. Her ideals.

Embodied within the fiction of a narrative she creates to find a place of peace in her mind.

Let's ignore those assassins and thieves her kingdom paid for, shall we? Her side was right, at the time, and we cannot question the Good King's judgement. He is being attacked. Evil must be to blame for the breakdown between how she sees the world and how it really is.

She must pull enemies out of thin air where none have existed before, to place blame upon them for reasons both valid and not. She tells stories of Black Knights and Evil Warlocks, and telling the good people around her these are the ones responsible for her woes and the shattering of her world. That the Good King's woes are created not by his own failings, but by fictional others who wish to do more harm to the narrative of righteousness and the good beliefs in her heart.

Black hearts seek the solace of dark fables. Somewhere in this world there are those who say, "So she fears warlocks? Then I am a warlock. This gives me power over her kind. And the more she speaks of me, the stronger I get and the more who shall rally by my side. We should thank her for her fear, hatred, and blame she gives us so freely - for to us, this is power."

And the enemy she fears she creates through the fiction in her mind. A lie repeated enough becomes the truth. An imaginary monster feared enough becomes real. And if evil does not rise to meet her fears, she shall let her fears turn to hatred, forge her words into weapons, and create the enemy she fears through stabbing hatred into the hearts of others.

Others are sacrificing love on the altar of hate, so why shouldn't she? If for no more reason than to further her side and view of the world.

She can't look into the mirror anymore, not in these days. In her mind she secretly wishes for that childhood room, with the shelf of books and fables where good was always good, evil was always evil, and the world was a much simpler place. Why wasn't she taught about this place, this world where history seeds hatred, where the motivations of kings and queens is much more complex, and where the yellow gleam of gold blinds us to good judgement and civic responsibility?

And a town crier shouts outside her room the evil warlocks are amassing an army out in the woods outside of town. They shall be coming for us here, soon. It is time to arm herself and prepare for war.

She lies there on her bed and in that room of her childhood dreams, staring at the cracks in the ceiling and wondering why.