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The Hanged Man
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Gabriel Ang
FAN EDITORIALIST



Is there no other way?

Whenever people get stuck in a rut, they always ask themselves if there is, indeed, another way out. Man is a very inventive and abstract creature, capable of thinking up the most audacious and even ludicrous of plans to find a way around their problems. This sometimes involves a spark of brilliance or a shining knight on a white horse. Sometimes it comes from inside, sometimes from others, sometimes even from the least expected of places. We tend to hope beyond hope that the path before us isn't the only path to travel, so we constantly look for other ways to travel. People aren't merely content with the only choice in front of them; they will almost always look for new options, other ways of doing things, in order to get the job done. This is because the usual first choice doesn't always feel like the best choice, or it involves too much sacrifice or excess effort to achieve. This is why people will never be satisfied with just "one way."

But what if there is, indeed, no other way? What if the only choice is for the Man to be Hanged, if only to achieve something greater than the man himself?

The Hanged Man does not, as some would think, symbolize the fatalistic viewpoint of simply giving up because there was no other way. No, because this man has chosen to hang himself for the greater good, a sacrifice to achieve something so great that a physical existence pales in comparison. He is prepared to hang himself not because there is no other way, but precisely because this way is the best way possible, even if it meant losing things in the process.

Are the Fool and his friends ready for such a sacrifice? At one point in their journey they will find themselves facing a decision so dire and desperate that there is almost no time to think and no other options left available. The Fool would often seek in desperation of another way, to find a way that would need less of a human cost. Even then, sometimes the only choice is the choice in front of you, and for the greater good, this choice must be taken. Even if it causes pain. Even if it causes sadness. Even if it costs a sacrifice.

In his dream he sees her. In his dream the Flower Girl speaks to his troubled heart, trying to ease his pain and confusion. In this dream she tells her that she forgives him for what he did, and that they should leave everything to her. He is confused by her words, now that he had given the Black Materia to the very person who should not be in possession of it. She says that she has found a way to stop the Black Materia's power, but she must do it alone, in a place only she and her ancestors know. She runs off into the distance and she speaks parting words to him as he tries in vain to chase her. She disappears, and here the white haired swordsman appears to him again, saying cryptic words about this Flower Girl. It is here he awakens beside his friends, confused, but determined to follower their comrade and the secret she possesses.

They all agree that Luca Blight is a monster; a beast of tremendous power that even whole battalions could barely put him down. In the previous battle they suffered so many dead and wounded at the hands of the Highland prince and his elite soldiers. As they plan their next defensive strategy, they receive a secret letter detailing Luca Blight's plans to launch a secret night raid on the castle in hopes of defeating them quickly. In light of this revelation, their army's strategist plans a risky move of laying an ambush led by their leader and his best men. They realize this is a serious risk. If it is a trap, they could easily lose their leader and his best soldiers, and even if it is true there's no saying if they can even defeat Luca Blight. A choice must be made, and the choice their leader makes is to ambush him. Here he will lay his life on the line against the land's best warrior, to defeat him, and hopefully bring peace back again.

While the Fool comes to realize that fate is not set in stone, sometimes there is only one true road in the multitude of paths that lie in front of him. This road may entail a great sacrifice from him or from those close to him, and for the greater good such a price may need to be paid. In many cases it may end up being a sacrifice that changes the entire landscape of the Fool's tale, and it is here we need to question whether in the end, was it all really worth it? Was this sacrifice worth everything that had transpired up until now? Can the Fool move on after giving up this much?

Perhaps it can be said that such an event, such a sacrifice, could be a mind-shattering, life changing one. Perhaps it is, when Death comes.




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