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The beginning

If you are suddenly summoned to another world, an alternate reality with magic that bends the laws of physics and a fantasy world filled with infinite potential, what kind of choice would you make?

It’s either A, you want to find a way home. Home has such deep rooted place in each and every single person whether they are human, beast or demon. Home is such ordinary thing, mundane and boring, yet one could only appreciate such mundane when they are away from it. Home is more than just a house, it was a warmth place, a place to cherish, a place to love.

It could be B, you want to stay there, in such fantastic world where magic exists. You can tear the laws of physic down to the knee. You can run away from such a shitty place that was your mundane everyday life. You can experience and discover many enjoyable things in a new world.

Me? I have yet to make my choice. I’m deferring it just for a little bit longer. Soon, I keep telling myself, soon. So, what kind of choice should I make? I ask. You tell me. This is my story.

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I am in another world, totally in another world. How do I know it? Let’s backtrack an hour.

For some reason, a truck driver lost the control of his truck and slammed it right into the pedestrian area where I was. I was jogging, yes, simply jogging to keep my body in shape. Junk foods did me bad, Fast food tastes great and they are convenient.

However, my friends, I tell you, they are the fruits of devil. The tastier and cheaper and more convenient they are, the more expensive the price you have to pay, not monetary. Anyway, due to the stress from work and my laziness, I could not bring myself to cook at home, not when my girlfriend was away for her business trip.

And when she came back, she told me that she would dump me, like immediately if I am not cutting at least 10 kg in two weeks.

I groveled on the ground begging her to reconsider but she would not give in. I took a good look at reflection through her makeup mirror and yeah, I told myself, I should cut down at least 10kg as soon as possible. There is not a chance in hell I want to hug that moving and wobbling blob of fat.

Therefore, I exercised every day. I applied sick leave and took a break from work, knowing that I have yet missed a single day from work the last three years and solely focus on getting myself slimmer.

My girlfriend prohibited me from any kind of junk food since, she did calorie counting and watched over my diet. She was the only motivation for me to get back in shape… But my dear girlfriend, aren’t you too harsh on me? 10kg in two weeks? Is that even possible?

While I don’t think that she would actually do that, but she’s my girlfriend, I know her better than most. She will definitely do that. But our breakup would probably last for another week or two, three at best, and I would fall right back at the hell of fast food due to stress of being away from her.

Hang on, this is not a story about a man, weight loss, fast-food and his girlfriend, we are way off the track here. What is this story about? Oh, a truck slammed toward my direction. It was that instant, I could feel time decelerate and many things flashed through my eyes. I wasn’t sure if it was the lantern effect that people see flashback as they approached death.

However, of all the thing that could possibly appear inside my head, it was about the guilty pleasure kind of fiction that I secretly enjoy. You know, the kind that people would be sent to another world and that truck are the messenger of the Gods of the other-world. In those fictions, every time the protagonist got hit by a truck, he or she will be sent to another world, sometimes as a baby, sometimes as a hero with great destiny.

I thought, that wasn’t bad. If this truck is what I think it is, I can say goodbye to this shitty world, Hasta La Vista, baby. No more overtime and low pay, no more shitty working environment where your customer demanded the crap out of your products and refused to pay the full amount they agreed in the contract, goodbye my shitty media career, viva new life where I can become the chosen one.

However, in that instant, my beautiful, so very beautiful girlfriend appears. She appeared right at the very end of my flashback. And I thought, nope, big nope, CAPITAL BIG NOPE. The only thing I could tell truck-san, the messenger of the gods of another alternate reality, “Not today,” I said as I sidestepped, running away from truck-san. And I did, truck-san failed to send me to another world that day.

Hang on, I know what you must be thinking right now. How did I get myself into another world if it wasn’t truck-san?

After rescuing the truck driver out of his overturned truck with the help of nearby passengers and people, I escaped from the scene. Why? First, I didn’t want to be held back by the police.

I knew that I didn’t do anything wrong or commit any crime. However, I spent my childhood running from one place to another with my shitty dad who was a small-time drug dealer. It has become a reflex for me ever since. I was wired like that since I was but a child.

Police equals nope, BIG CAPITAL NOPE. Anyway, my small-time drug dealing father and police is not related to how I was sent to another world, we can forget about them. Dad was in jail and I ran from police.

Still, how did I get into another world? I feel like I should move forward. Let’s move the clock forward to five minute before I found myself in another world.

I believed that I was special, an extraordinary man with extraordinary destiny. How did I come to that conclusion despite being a normal man who tried his best to not be dumped by his beautiful lover? Well, because, aside from truck-san, other messengers of the otherworld gods did came for me. They were knife-kun, explosion-san, and even the great shining magic circle-sama. It could not be a coincidence when that many of the messengers and summoners appeared and tried to recruit you to the list of Isekai heroes on a same day.

The thing was… knife-kun didn’t fare very well. In modern day Vietnam, what is the chance that I would run into a drug addict, high on crack and walking on the pedestrian with a butcher knife in his hand? Our eyes met in an instance and immediately I knew I had to run. I ran and that high-on-crack drug addict chased after me with his knife.

This was when I would tell you a secret. There were three things in my life that I take great pride in. First, it was my beautiful lover. Two, it was my work ethic. Three, it was my quick legs that I used to run away from police ever since I was small. I could put up another 10 kg of fat inside my waist and still outrun that high-on-crack drug addict.

Explosion-san didn’t do well either. This is Vietnam, modern day Vietnam. This is not America where freedom meant gunfire, explosions and Michael Bay. As I was on my way home, decided that I had enough of meeting those messengers and summoners. I ran across a blacksmith who was doing his normal and everyday work with a special item at his workshop. This should be where I tell you that Vietnamese people are the bravest of all people in the world. You may disagree and tell me that it’s favoritism and my sense of patriotism at work here, but you should listen to what I say. In my humble opinion, I believe that the bravest of people in the world are Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese and the Papua New Guinean tribe. With the exception of Vietnamese people, I could not put the other three into a ranking system.

First, Indian, when people talk about Indian, I thought of Mahatma Gandhi, I believe that this man Mahatma Gandhi, his followers, and his supporters are the kind of people with the biggest balls in the world.

Why? It takes great balls to not using violence and bloodshed to combat violence and bloodshed. My drug dealing father repeatedly told me so. If someone who is bigger and taller and stronger than you came and bullied you, perhaps they even came with their lackeys, there is one thing that you must do in that situation to prove your courage, which is to not use violence against the bullies; my father said and I quoted.

He told me that even if I won and beat the crap out of ten kids of twice my size, I would not be hailed in the Bible like Davis who defeated a giant.

My father told me that the only true courage is the kind of courage to not use force and violence against people around you and that true courage lay in running. He told me that by running, I don’t have to hurt people and at the same time they could not hurt me.

His words became my guiding compass ever since and I believed that my father must be the bravest man in the world since he always ran from polices, local gangsters, drug lords and thugs. He could became a legend by hurting them with his small, skinny body and his quick wit but he chose otherwise. He ran to protect those people from pain, to protect himself and me.

When people talk about the Japanese, I thought about the Samurai and their code of Bushido. When I was small, around 12, dad brought home an old TV. He was junk diving and somehow found one that could work among the throwaway items of rich people. I was excited, very excited when he brought that thing home. There was one channel that I would love to watch, it was Discovery channel.

Don’t even ask how my dad caught that channel without subscribing to a TV’s package, I’m quite sure that it’s illegal. Back then, it was good, a channel for real documentary programs not the kind that ran fake shark documentaries and fake Ghostbuster documentary nowadays.

I remembered watching a series explaining about Japanese culture and the samurai. They stuck in my mind for a long time. As a kid I wanted nothing more than to become a samurai and dedicated my entire life to understand the way of the sword and to uphold the Code of Bushido.

An acquaintance of my father who often visit us to give my father drugs to sell would always laugh about that, about my dream to become a samurai, he laughed and he bought me a katana, a real katana during one of his visit.

I thought that was the coolest thing ever. That katana, it has the sharpest blade I had ever seen in my life.

He told me that if I want to become a samurai, I must first understand the way of the katana, that I must become great at using katana. Also, the way of the samurai lay in serving. To be a samurai, one must learn how to serve. The man told me to train hard with that katana, and served the region drug lord when I grew up.

I happily made a pinky promise with him and started to practice swinging my katana every single day, even in my sleep. That’s where I got my work ethic. I trained very hard every day, the same way the samurai do.

However, not long after that, dad told me that I don’t understand anything about the Samurai, their honor, their way of living and even their code of Bushido. This coming from my father who has not watched a single episode of that great Japanese culture series, of course, I told him that he was the one who understood nothing. Thus, we had our argument, we fought verbally. Dad said that the true courage lay in running away and not in a sword. As for I, I argued that it might be true that the true courage lay in running away and that it was true for ourselves thus far.

However, Discovery praised the samurai for the bravery and their skills with the sword, therefore, it must be true as well. I argued with my dad for a great length until we both reach a compromise. Dad told me that if I really love being a samurai and really admire their code of Bushido, he will support me. I was happy but he told me that he had one condition, and that I must learn to serve a lord properly.

He told me instead of serving the region drug lord like I intended I should first learn how to serve dad first. Think of it as your training, he said and I quoted.

It was that moment dad became my Daimyo and I became his faithful samurai. As for my katana, it was confiscated until I completed my basic samurai training which was … the way of serving my master.

However, nothing changed in our mundane everyday life. Dad still sold drugs and I still went to “school” per usual. Now, you may think why I used “school” instead of school? Why the double bracket? Well, as if dad could afford to pay for my education and even he could, we ran from place to place, we didn’t stay at a fix location for too long. I was his only home and he was the only home I knew.

While I can’t experience to the so call compulsory education system, I got to enjoy the free education system in Vietnam. But, with a quick googling, you will discover that there is absolutely no free education in Vietnam. The kind of school I went to were pagodas, convents and orphan houses where I could learn how to write and read, how to do math, how basic science worked, how Buddha inspired people to do good, how Jesus died so everyone could live free of sins. I was raised and taught in the houses of Jesus and Buddha just like that.

While I was learning to become Dad’s samurai, he learned how to become my Daimyo. He watched that exploring Japanese culture series when it aired and re-aired. After believing that he has fully understood how to behave like a Daimyo, he finally gave me my first task as a samurai in training.

There was a local competition for children. Children of 15 or younger could attend this competition and write a piece of essay or poem of any topic. The winners of the competition will receive a mountain bike for the first place, a Lego toy package for the second place and a discount voucher of 1,000,000 VND for school related items as the third place.

Dad told me to participate in that competition, that was the easy part. However, he told me that I must get the third place, not the first or second and nothing below third place, now this, my friends, this was the difficult part.

I asked dad, why , why can’t I go for the first and second place? Why third? A mountain bike would be the third coolest thing I have ever had, after my katana and Discovery, of course. A Lego toy package would be equally cool as well, TV said that kid would become smarter if they play Lego.

However, dad told me that mountain bike was the stuff for cowards, real man run with his legs and Lego, they are toys for children, not a worthy item for a samurai in training such as myself. And instead of spending my time playing toys, I should learn how to become a proper samurai. That discount voucher of 1,000,000 VND for school related items would benefit my samurai training more than any other items, dad said and I quoted.

I became silent and admired my dad for such a wise and great Daimyo he was. However, after thinking for a while, I asked

“Dad if I really got the first place in that competition and you would sell that mountain bike and used it as a fund for my samurai training, shouldn’t it be much better? That mountain bike worth as much as a shitload of 7,000,000VND, seven times of that third place voucher. If we do the math, we should go for the first place.”

Dad went deep into his thought and once he’s done, he rubbed my head, telling me that I was the greatest samurai in training in the world. Thus, he made his final verdict.

“Go for the first place my young Padawan,”

“Yes, all as you will, my lord,” I replied, getting theatrical, not without asking him, “What is a Padawan dad?”

“It is another word for samurai-in-training,” he explained.

Since that day, I worked toward getting that first place in that local competition. It’s hard to write a good essay. In the convents, the nuns gave me similar exercises and I really struggled because I have no idea what to write for an essay. She would suggest some topics for me to write such as describing your dog, describing your mom or describing your dream. I had neither a dog nor a mom so I could not do either of them. As for my dream, I don’t really have one.

I suffered the same problem when the monks at the pagoda gave me the same exercise. I didn’t know what to write so I wrote whatever I could, basically bullshitting. The monks would read, smiled and told me that those essays weren’t good. They told me that I must be truthful and honest with myself to be able to do this exercise right.

I thought deeply of the wise words of my teachers and what kind of topic I should write for the competition. After thinking for many days, I knew my path.

Back then, I had no dream, but this moment, I had a dream. I begun to write as soon as that idea sparked within my little head. I poured my everything into writing that essay.

I had a dream. That dream was to be the greatest samurai in the Vietnam, to serve my dad and made him to be the greatest drug dealers in the entire nation. No, dad always told me to be ambitious. The greatest drug dealer was no good. If that was the case, we would still move from one place to another, dad would still ran away from dealing with small time thugs and drug dealers. He would still out there around the hottest hours of the day trying to sell his stuffs or worked until very late in the alleys. He would get himself beat up once in a while.

Thus, being the greatest drug dealer would not be good enough. If I will be the greatest samurai in Vietnam, I must make my dad the greatest drug lord in the entire nation. If he became a drug lord, he would be able to spend more time with me. If he became a drug lord, dad would not return home so late at night and he would not have to run anymore, his lackeys would do the running since they’re the one on the street to do the selling job. We would probably run once in a while, knowing that “the only true courage lay in running” which was dad’s motto.

I transformed my dream into words and I wrote the essay with tears of inspiration brimming in my eyes. I kept that essay a secret, dreaming that I would let dad read it after I triumphed the competition. I wrote that essay believing that surely it would get the first place.

You know what? It didn’t. The day the judges announced the winners for that competition, I waited and waited but they didn’t announce my name. I did not get any prize, not first, not second, not third, and not even consolation prize.

I returned home, a defeated and failed Padawan, I reported to my dad.

He didn’t look dejected or disappointed. He accepted the news calmly like a noble lord would and finally made his verdict.

“You have failed me, your master. You have dishonored yourself and your way of samurai. However, there is still a way for you to redeem yourself,”

“What is it, dad?” I asked

“Harakiri,” he replied and I ran away from home for two days, proving to him that his words were the words of wisdom and that true courage lay in running. Since then, I denounced myself from any further samurai training. I came to a conclusion that samurai, and the code of Bushido wasn’t my kind of things. It’s too hard. I don’t have the courage like the Japanese samurai to commit seppuku.

Now, where was I? Oh right, I’m still trying to make my point about the bravest people in the world. Well, the Papua New Guinean tribe, I believe that if I was a child of that tribe, I will remain a child forever until the day I died. No further argument on that, it looked extremely painful, making your body into that of a crocodile.

Now, about the Vietnamese being the bravest people in the world. What? You were expecting something to prove my point about the Papua New Guinean tribe people? You were expecting another backstory about me and my dad? No, no, big No. just look at them, at the ritual on how a child could become an adult within that tribe and you will come to the same conclusion as I would.

Now, about the Vietnamese being the bravest people in the world, this time for real. But before I could get into that, I must first tell you the story of how that blacksmith I saw on the way home reminded me again that the Vietnamese people are the bravest people in the world.

I saw the smith using his saw and working on a special item in his workplace… and that special item happened to be a bomb. Now, when I said bomb, I didn’t mean the kind of manmade bomb you see in film like “Wanted” or the TNT used for construction. When I said bomb, I meant the kind of freedom and liberty that America spread across Vietnam during the Vietnam War, unexploded freedom and liberty.

I watched in horror as the blacksmith nonchalantly using his handsaw to slowly cut that bomb in his workshop. Un-fucking-believable!!! I used to think that it was the kind of stuff you would see in news of how a poor Vietnamese family would stumble across a piece of American unexploded freedom and liberty in their home yard. They would initial think about report it to the authority but rethink about it. They would think about dismantling the bomb on their own and made profit out of the material of that bomb.

That happened not once, not twice and certainly not thrice on news. And here he’s, the kind of brave man who I only heard in the news. I can’t even bring myself to image what kind of gut it took for these people to do that, using a freaking handsaw to dismantle bombs. Each millimeter they made with their handsaw would drive them nearer to death himself. And the kind of bombs that the America rained with the B52 bombers. Those bombs, they weren’t small. They were a huge chunk of freedom and liberty.

Anyway, I watched the blacksmith using his hand saw to calmly cut that bomb in his workshop and I screamed at him to stop.

The smith gently turned at me, smiling, his face drenched in sweat.

“Don’t worry. It’s nothing dangerous,” he said.

“Đụ má,” I swore and tried really hard to stop the guy, “Stop doing that,” because obviously the guy was still calmly cutting the bomb as he talked to me, “Do you want to die?”

“Don’t worry. This is the third bomb I dismantle in this year. My neighbor unearthed it this morning and I convinced him to sell it to me.”

I stared hard at the absurdity before me. And asked, “Was you a sapper in the Vietnam war?”

“Heck no,” the smith replied, still cutting the bomb as he talked.

I ran as fast as I could, repeating my life motto that true courage lay in running. I ran and I heard the Earth shook behind me. I would not turn back to look. I ran before the arrival of polices and authorities.

Okay where was I? Oh, right, shining magic circle sama. It was shining magic circle sama that did me in just when I finally relaxed at home and took a shower. Shining magic circle sama appeared right beneath me as I took a shower and before I even had a chance to do anything.

I’m in another world, wet and buck naked.

 

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ducpika

  • place to place
  • Duke pika

Bio: I am just an unspectacular author among many. I’m just an unspectacular Vietnamese man, whose commandment over his motherland writing is so piss poor that he has to write his book in English. Sometimes, I pretend that I am not such a sad and unspectacular creature. But, because I am such an unspectacular being, rather than introducing myself and bores everyone to death, please allow me to entertain you with a story instead.

A teacher and a dear friend of mine kept telling me this sentence like a broken radio for the last seven or eight years, "Every story, no matter how strange, deserve a fair chance to be told."

Eight years, it took me that long to find the courage to sit down and wrote "The King of Desires" for real. I'm fine with writing all manner of terrible fanfictions and short stories, and spreading the horror that is my terrible writing all over the webs. But "The King of Desires" could not come out in the same manner. I have made drafts and gathered materials for "The King of Desires" for almost a decade. Yet, I was unable to share "The King of Desires" with everyone as readily as my other terrible creations. There is always something very different and personal about this piece.

THE END

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