@GAMECAMILLER except that sadistic entity that started the battle. sometimes their only goal is chaos and taking anything they can from you.
you start at the beginning, weak, but resourceful. along the way, you pick up more skills and powers and break through barriers you couldn't breach before. you pick up the pace, face greater demons and greater evils. with each battle, you grow more weary yet more determined than before to keep going. you start to doubt the purpose of your struggles, but something inside compels you forward, through the mire, one foot in front of the other. each step grows heavier with the weight of the world chipping away at your shoulders. and just when you think you can't take anymore...
the boss fight.
deep down you knew it was around the corner, but you can't help feeling surprised. all the signs were there: the calm corridor to the quiet room, the lack of lesser evils to push through, but a thickness in the air that slowly chokes your breath away. and yet, there it is, staring you in the face, knocking the wind out of you. it can smell your fear; you can't hide it, and even if it weren't so palpable, it shows in your eyes.
and that is what the boss is counting on. it's counting on you to crumble under the weight of the world and your own fears. it's counting on you to give up and walk away because you know there's nothing you can do to stop it from doing what it's designed to do: consume you.
yet there is something the boss doesn't know: though you are battle weary, beaten and bruised, morally bashed and your heart is in pieces down by your stomach, you STILL will fight. there is no such thing as giving up in the face of such evil, even if it means your own demise. and so you stand your ground, pick up your best weapon and charge headfirst into the malestrom.
the boss certainly didn't count on that. and as it cries its last, futile cries for help from its minions which never come, it whithers under the dead weight of its OWN ego. and for the first time in a long while you laugh because you see surprise on ITS face. better yet, defeat.
with the boss defeated, the battle is over. but the war for your own life wages on, even though you don't see it yet. as you walk away from the room, you breathe a little easier. the minions part a path for you--they know you can take care of evil now--and you can see the sunlight breaking through the opening of the lair. and you emerge victorious.
but noone told you what would happen should you win. as determined as you were, you didn't see an end to the battle. you figured even if you won, it would take your body and soul to oblivion to do it. but yet, you are still here. you are alive, breathing. you can taste, smell, hear, see and feel every piece of air, grain of dirt and damp corridor you walk through.
something is missing. it's your heart, your purpose. somewhere along the way, through the dungeons and murky pathways you lost your footing, your friends got in over their heads and left you, and everything you cared about was swept further away with each step towards your final confrontation.
and so you head home, pondering what the meaning of "home" really is, because you know that nothing you care about is there. in fact, you're not sure if there IS anything you care about anymore. you were so consumed by the oncoming battles that you lost track of who YOU were, what good you could do in the world besides rid it of this one evil.
then it hits you.
the evil won.
it consumed you, who you were before all this, leaving you with not quite nothing, but close enough. you lost your identity and your hope. people tell you to believe in a happy ending, but when it comes, how happy is it really? in time, this will all fade away, but what will be left in its place?
this is what they don't tell you about a hero's ending.
i think you might know how all-consuming these kinds of battles can be, in real life or in games. i was truly inspired by the many battles of my own life, but what got to me was the sheer awesomeness of the metroid prime ending. samus is done with her job and, if you beat the game with certain stats, she takes her helmet off. she's not some teen angster, she looks mature--but even moreso, she looks tired. it's about the whole, "ok... what now?" thought after the dust has cleared. how do you get back on with your life? what does normal mean anymore when everything you loved has changed or is gone? how do you let go of both the horrors AND the triumphs of your past? i don't think most people really know what it's like to go up against true evil; it will always take something of you with it when you send it to hell.
interesting take, I enjoyed it! That would make an interesting plot thread - even when you win, you lose. I'm one of those people who don't necessarily like the Hollywood ending - I'd probably enjoy the ending to the Mass Effect series if I ever played the games, despite all the fan backlash floating around out there. This sort of underlying plot gives the hero more character, instead of the usual, flat "pure and good intentions" no matter what that can do no wrong. That's exactly the sort of dynamic that makes being a bad guy more fun, because there's hidden agendas, unseen internal struggles - it's just more dynamic and therefore more interesting. Put that on the hero without turning him in a whiny 17 year old with an outrageous hairstyle. Not necessarily an Anti-Hero like Kratos or Kain - Batman is a perfect example, really.