Anniversary Email 67

Please join me in wishing a happy 7 year anniversary to <NAME>! In celebration of your anniversary, please find the enclosed Choose Your Own Adventure Story.

You find yourself leaving your village for the first time. The elders of your small, but thriving community have asked you to seek out and stop the goblin menace. From your earliest days you recall hearing grim tales of when the goblins would come. Small, green skinned creatures that feed on human children and torture and maim all who stand in their way. You are armed with your trusty short sword and clad in a suit of chain mail cobbled together by Odan, the town blacksmith. It is not so much chain mail as it is bits of metal stuck together with wire and glue. Odan was never a very good blacksmith, you think to yourself as bits of the armor swing loose and fall to the ground. He only fell into the job because he likes playing with fire. Honestly, he strikes you as kind of dim. You would have made a better blacksmith. Even the mayor’s goat, Petunia, would have done a better job. You have lost track of the number of people injured using tools and weapons made by Odan. Heads of hammers swinging off and striking them in the face. At least your short sword is a family heirloom from a better era.

You are startled out of you reverie by a shrill voice calling out, “Who goes there?”

Looking ahead, you see a small goblin seated on a tree stump at the edge of the forest. He has a staff laying lazily across one shoulder and is idly smoking a corn cob pipe.

<To stab the goblin in the face, go to section A>
<To address the goblin, go to section B>

A.
You stab the goblin in the face with your trusty short sword. He screams, “Why have you done such a thing? We are a peaceful community of farmers, subjected to persecution and intolerance by the humans who inhabit this region! Oh, what a terrible fate has befallen me! Truly, this world is awash in villainy and darkness! I am glad I leave no heirs to suffer in this vile world! At least I die with my principles intact! Can you say the same?”

At least, he would have screamed that, but with a sword in his face it comes out more like, “Gah! Gurgle gurgle hack hack hack! Aargh!”

He falls to the ground, his tiny goblin legs twitching as his body shudders one final time. You return to your village to a hero’s welcome. Your friends and neighbors run into the forest, armed with pitchforks and torches, routing the remaining goblins and ensuring a life of safety and security for your human settlement. At least until a rival kingdom approaches in the depths of winter, stealing all of your food stores and valuables, leaving those they do not put to the sword to starve to death among the torched remains of your village.

B.

“I am <NAME>, last of my house, finest warrior in this realm!” you call out to the goblin. “To whom am I speaking?”

“I am Worm Mouth,” comes the reply, “of the goblin settlement ‘Forrest Village’, a village in this forest. We… are not a very creative group. What we are is a peaceful community devoted to the ideals of pacifism and growing organic, gluten free, sustainable crops. All are welcome, provided they walk the path of peace.”

<To stab the goblin in the face, go to section A>
<To explain to the goblin the weakness of pacifism in a feudal system ruled by might of the sword, go to section C>

C.

“Pacifism is an unsustainable ideology in the face of those capable of great violence,” you explain. “There are times when only violence or the threat of violence can prevent further harm to your people. When thousands might die in war to save millions.”

“Ah,” says Worm Mouth, “You argue that a morally objectionable action is justified provided it nets a positive outcome. Consequentialism. I would argue that nonviolent resistance can achieve the same ends.”

<To stab the goblin in the face, go to section A>
<To argue against the virtues of Dentology, go to section D>

D.

“Your belief system seems to place great faith in the idea that authority can be trusted,” you tell the goblin. “There are times when rules and duty are merely tools to perpetuate a corrupt and broken system. Further, you deal in absolutes, assuming that violence must always be wrong, when I have previously stated violence is merely a tool to drive a greater good. Sometimes some must suffer so others may prosper.”

Worm Mouth taps his pipe against the stump and replies, “To accept the use of violence in once situation makes it easier to use it in other, similar circumstances. On what grounds do you base your decision to be the adjudicator of when harm to another is called for? What gives you that right? Would you trade any of your beliefs provided you could achieve a net benefit?”

<To stab the goblin in the face, go to section A>
<To argue the virtues of moral relativism, go to section E>

E.

“No system of beliefs is superior to all others,” you tell the goblin. “There are times when flexibility is called for to defend yourself or others from the threat of harm. There are no universal moral values. Even murder can justified under the right circumstances.”

“It is better to die for the cause of peace and justice than to live as a hypocrite,” the goblin says. “My people have accepted the true path of harmony. You should join us.”

<To stab the goblin in the face, go to section A>
<To accept his offer, go to section F

F.

Taking the goblins tiny, proffered hand, you follow him back to his village. His people are happy and content, all working together to harvest their crop and ensure a serene, peaceful life. At least until the people of your village descend upon them with pitchforks and torches, slaughtering the goblins. They declare you a traitor and imprison you. With only the memory of your time among your goblin friends to sustain you, you slowly fade into madness.

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