by Randy D. Ellefson
Part 1 appears|
in this issue.
For every contestant, imagination is critical to success not only in the games, but in life itself, for an inspired flight of fancy can still the tongue of any evildoer who dares cast aspersion on one’s character. While most of the contests display this imagination, none tests it more purely than the Controlled Improvisation.
Here there is no physical feature from which to cue, no array of subjects spread before one like a buffet of tasty morsels. No, in this event, a simple subject is announced by the judges and the contestant is given five minutes to respond as he or she wishes. The more this resembles the later free soliloquy in style, presentation, content, form, and passion, the higher the score. A contestant able to draw forth a solid tirade will do very well here.
After a brief intermission, the games resume with a time-tested favorite: Character Assassination, the importance of which cannot be overstated. To successfully cast aspersion on another’s character neatly eliminates that person’s credibility, achieving a twofold purpose.
First, once bad character has been suggested, all subsequent accusations are more readily accepted as fact. This in turn smoothes the path to victory and provides a calmer repose from which to strike further into the soul of one’s opponent.
Secondly, any retaliatory remarks by the target are suspected of being born of an ulterior motive to salvage their standing. After all, someone with bad character will say anything, especially untruths, so any words spoken in their own defense may be more casually disregarded. Despite any claims to the contrary, it is universally accepted that all are guilty until proven innocent, and the best and most highly scored slights are ones that cannot be easily disproven.
The esteem in which devotees are held is an important aspect of survival, for it not only provides a sense of superiority that buoys a champion during the ravages of life, but it can ward off many would-be assailants. Marksmanship is therefore key in choosing an opponent who cannot skillfully fight back; otherwise one risks losing standing instead of gaining it. Currying favor with others of like mind is one reason top practitioners often berate companions.
In this event, five individuals stand chatting together behind a curtain that suddenly drops, whereupon the contestant must quickly decide who the best target is. Due to the heavy social component here, deciding who is least favored by the others is key to a good yield, for the most esteem is gained when others delight in the victim’s vilification. It should be noted that the best choice is often the most popular individual, for jealousy is a wicked time bomb skillfully detonated by a true champion.
Adding to the challenge is a decoy that will have something off about its appearance that more skilled contestants will notice. This could be a glint of steel in the eyes, indifferent or aggressive body language, or some mysterious quality suggestive of a willingness to do combat: all signs it is no easy target.
Persécution de la résistance
Since keeping one’s cool in the face of adversity is the mark of a champion, this contest tests the participant’s ability to withstand insults from former champions. Some have argued that those with little stamina should receive the highest points, but this view has not withstood scrutiny.
The premise is that the contestants who give in to their building rage and retaliate early will eliminate unnecessary suffering and inhibit further attacks. While this is indeed valuable, it leaves such practitioners with precious little fire power with which to fight, exactly because they have not stored it for higher combustion.
Further, emotion has fueled their tirade, which will therefore not be rendered with the surgical skill of a true champion. This relatively weakened position leaves them vulnerable to more rational attacks from targets potentially unimpressed by their Accusation Hurl, for example. They also sacrifice the opportunity to draw their intended victim out into the open with a false show of meekness, and then assault the comparatively defenseless target with even greater force.
Studies show that, in addition to having greater capacity for cruelly offending people, those who wait to retort also reach a noticeably higher level of martyrdom, which gives the contestant a nearly superhuman ferociousness that no rational victim can withstand.
Despite the terrible toll this contest takes on the participants, it does nothing to deter them from their own assaults, as they are trained professionals with a lifetime of experience, and it is their nature to be hypocrites.
The High Horse Jump
To condescend while berating an opponent adds the weight of damnation to one’s accusations, conclusion jumps, and other nefarious posturing, which can in turn cause such outrage among witnesses that they sputter with indignation, unable to form a coherent argument. Beyond these practical concerns is the sheer pleasure of the self-congratulatory suckling at the teat of self-delusion, nurturing one’s esteem with pure fallacy.
This sanctimonious pretentiousness is tested in the High Horse Jump, which begins when the contestant is vilified with a single, despicable character flaw. From this initial inspiration, those contestants who preach most snootily when answering the charge are rewarded for their self-righteous indignation. For ease of assessment, all participants stand accused of the same trait and are barred from hearing another contestant’s retort.
The free soliloquy is the final and most beloved event of the games. It features a lone contestant mounting a dais upon which sits a stool for his or her convenience. There is no time limit, though five minutes is considered short, ten quite fine, and fifteen somewhat pretentious. The contestant begins speaking whenever ready, on whatever subject of woe desired, and hopes to inflame the passions of the audience. It is here that contestants win the hearts of people everywhere.
Standard ploys include heavy emotion, cursing, crying, appeals for universal love, gestures, and the full collapse, though the latter has been done so frequently as to have become a joke, even a sign of insincerity. Outlandish, sweeping images abound, as do flights of fancy and philosophical and religious themes.
The contestant’s ability to weave a tapestry of epic suffering boiling over into self-righteous fire, and the impending annihilation of all who stand in opposition to their innate goodness, is a feat that generally inspires all within hearing range to a vengeful blood thirst that, if done as the great masters of old truly could, can cause riots and general wenching and pillaging that will leave the countryside scoured and barren for generations to come.
Of course, the most famous soliloquy, of a grandeur of which other contestants can only dream, is the beloved “I, Martyr,” delivered by none other than Mileos the Pure-Hearted, the founder and all-time champion of these games. A portion of this famous soliloquy here follows:
I, martyr, champion to a cause upheld only by my lonesome self, do weep. For I have felt the sting of my dreams shattering upon the cruel truths of life, like a ship tossed about on a stormy sea and dashed upon the rocks, its cargo of cherished hopes forever lost. Plundered by villains most foul and pitiless, the treasure chest of my purest imaginings lies an empty ruin before me, its luster tarnished to dull blackness. Naught remains within but a broken heart, which doth long with tender yearning for thy compassionate embrace.
Marooned in a barren wasteland of goodness, deprived of attention, my heart cries for love. And is this what I receive? Do my gentle entreaties meet with sympathy and nurturing? Are my wounds healed by soothing words? Are my hot tears wiped away, my heaving bosom calmed, my cries to God answered? When blinding pain parts my reason in twain, and I am laid low by misfortune, does a dove of peace alight upon my shoulder and sing of wondrous joys of which I have yet to partake, thus giving me precious hope for the future? Does the light of heaven part the darkness that rages around me, within me?
No! The compassion and love that are mine by birthright are stolen from me! As if in generosity do I watch them fly from me on wings of freedom, in the talons of vultures, of ravens, of scavengers come to pick me clean, to rend my flesh with claw and beak, to feed upon my pain and suffering as though I were tossed like so much carrion for their nourishment, as though my fate was at hand, my days of glory over, my nights of passion at an end, my death toll sounded.
I have been crushed beneath the heel of amusement, my outstretched hand severed, my cries mocked and repeated amidst the howls of laughter, carried away on the wind to where none would care, leaving me blasted and broken amidst the ruin that was me. Fear not, I was told as a child, for in your hour of need we shall be there. And silly me, I assumed this was meant to comfort me.
But now I know differently. You are here to torment me. And for that, you will suffer...
Following this famous speech, the crowd roared to life and raced from the stadium, cutting a swath of destruction miles wide. The town was razed as if the Black Death had come once more, for none ever dared live there again, lest they suffer the cries of his hot words on the fierce wind and suffer the madness known only to those of the very same disposition.
It became a place of silent reflection, a tomb to hope, dreams, and peace, where forever more there shall be naught but tidings of grief, melancholy, and emptiness. And while such darkness is surely to be shunned, it is the outraged rampage that above all must be feared.
Let the innocent fly upon the winds
and the wicked be cast down for their sins.
— The Champions’ Creed
Copyright © 2009 by Randy D. Ellefson