"That Creeping Doubt" by T.K. Wade (As told by Petalweight the bard.)
Through the dark fog that life so callously forces upon me, I perceive a dark dread amongst some who cross my ever changing path. No monster known to us threatens their life, but only that their own fears sours their countenance. “Fear of what?” you ask Petalweight. Aye! But this is a fear that one’s life shall not amount to more than spilt salt and so scattered carelessly by a stray wind!
It is a creeping doubt that plagues these rodents from morn until dusk, and it leads to sorrows untold. Indeed, untold, for they are kept away from the surface for a time. The spirit reeks of fetid decay, and there are those that may sense it, but the true horror is that of the sufferer. A dreadful life, he leads. He walks the common path of life–day by day, action by action–never missing a moment of routine. It is dull. It is plain. It is nothing. But you must understand, my dear listeners, that he desires a greater deal than he is obtaining. Would that you might help him, do ye think that he would be saved?! Listen on.
This rodent–vexed by his inability to gain a birthright that seemingly should be his to take–slowly drops into the realm of madness. Could you reckon him just so if you had seen him? Likely not! But perhaps you see that shift in his eyes, that sudden change of demeanor, that odd… little… tic. It is a tic born of grief. The man swiftly losing his mind, for he does not believe in anything henceforth.
Listeners, this tale is a possibility, but nay, it is not an absolute. A man who has no hope shall contend with such things in his own way. But there are those souls who shall release their minds for happier dreams in order to avoid a bleak reality. As for me, I shall not succumb! I am Petalweight, and I have chosen my path without any hope at all! Were there not those who would see me dead?! Tell me what such creeping doubt should do to others, but not to me!
I have faced such horrors and–by Mersis–survived them! I have seen the mediocre and have not witnessed their failings to be my own! I have traveled from city to city and sang to you all because it is what I love! For these reasons, I am great!
But as for the man whose mind is all but gone, it was he who let his soul slip. It is his eternal failing, but I cannot help but look at him… and wonder. I wonder what would have been, if the great Petalweight had been there to speak before the end. To those of you who still have the capacity for belief, these are the words of Petalweight, and within these words, may there be the inspiration that you seek!
Rodents: In Petalweight's world, all people are rodents. He, personally, is a jerboa.
Mersis: The goddess of mercy and compassion.