Hope's Journey synopsis

Hope’s Journey

The story opens with Hope desiring to escape the emptiness of her life. Far from home she is caught in a maelstrom (which we later discover she threw herself into) in which she will surely perish. Abruptly fearful, she yells out to be saved, and the maelstrom itself (one of many deities) responds with scorn. Hope begs release from her predicament, claiming to know of the Maelstrom’s eviction from the world of man and promising to slight the enemy responsible in return for her release. The Maelstrom agrees, but conditionally – it informs Hope that it has already taken her mortality but can return it. It then gives her the means with which to perform her quest – the Beast – which Hope finds terrifying.

Borne upon the back of the Beast, Hope journeys across the face of the world in order to find a way to strike at a deity called the Grove. The fruit of the Grove is perilous to attain but has bestowed upon mankind great gifts. It has also banished the Maelstrom to the fringes of existence. Only an element known as Flame can defy it.

Over the course of the quest Hope and the Beast form a tight bond. She sees beauty in its form and wonder in its actions and begins to understand that although the creature is fearsome for its viciousness, it is just as fearful for its weaknesses – but these only serve to drive it harder.

In the presence of Flame, however, the Beast is changed. It becomes tame and subservient, which Hope finds distressing. Gone is the savage beauty, the fragile strength and freedom. There is just a tool. Wavering in her resolve, Hope is granted a vision by the Maelstrom: the Grove left to its own devices, twisted and strangled by foliage; ignorant to the decline, people mindlessly play games around it; beneath them all lays the corpse of the Beast. The Maelstrom urges the destruction of the Grove to prevent this coming to pass.

Sufficiently prompted, Hope forges on and finally stands beneath the Grove and presses the Flame against it. The Grove resists but is slowly consumed. Hope witnesses a great horde of people gather around to watch the destruction and is horrified to see those who protest are silenced. People once sheltered by the Grove, now bathed in the Flame, blindly enjoy the subjugation of the very thing that had provided them with so much.

Hope searches desperately for the Beast, wanting only to escape, but finds it shackled and inert. The Beast tells Hope that the Flame has given it certainty and the people conviction, but neither will have freedom. On the horizon she sees the Maelstrom. Hope then climbs the Grove even as it burns and battles the Flame. She halts its progress only when the Beast urges others to aid her. In the end the Grove is left sitting in a bed of embers. The nearby Maelstrom brushes the scorched but alive wood and the Grove shows early signs of new growth, tempered by the ashes.

Beneath the Grove Hope finds the Beast, which insists she return to the Maelstrom. Hope agrees, sure she has angered the Maelstrom but no longer fearful.

Back in the Maelstrom, the deity is satisfied with the result. Hope asks for the return of her mortality. The Maelstrom replies that she has had it beside her throughout her journey, and confronted with the Beast’s welfare she found balance. Upon asking what happens next, Hope is told that the deity cannot undo what she has done. When she threw herself into the Maelstrom there could be no return to life. She could only live on as a conviction, an idea to enact the change for others which in life she craved for herself.

Hope and the Beast sink into the Maelstrom.

John Valentich

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