I’ve been busy with other things, so it’s been awhile since I was in the Archive, but the fourth Tuesday of last month was chilly and gray with hints of rain later on. A perfect opportunity to probe some lesser-known parts of the Archive.
I was exploring section 325-GA when I came across a pair of small scrolls, tucked onto a bottom shelf in a dark corner, forgotten even by the Archive’s standards. Upon investigating, I found they were ancient, yet in remarkable condition, preserved as if by a spell.
Since everything in the Archive is worth further examination, I took them to a nearby table with better lighting, and unrolled them, paper protesting like a man groaning after being awoken from a long slumber.
The parchments were nearly identical, each with a bold title written in flowing script:
—The Code of Heroes
—The Code of Villains
I read through the lists, intrigued by the concept of a universal code directing the actions of heroes and villains, no matter their era or expertise. As with anything, there are exceptions to these codes of conduct, but for the most part, they were accurate in depicting the behaviors and choices of the heroes and villains we see all the time.
Pretty good, considering they were penned millennia ago.
We’ll get to the villains next time. For your reading pleasure today, I present to you The Code of Heroes.
The Code of Heroes
Date: Long before you were born
Location: A place intimately near yet immeasurably far
We, the defenders of justice, honor, and nobility—in most ages and histories known as heroes—hereby commit to writing the code of conduct that suits our station and dignified pursuits.
For the sake of our noble heritage, we ask that all prospective heroes from henceforth adhere to these following principles:
Article 1: Seek to place the needs of others before yourself, forgoing personal comforts, even if those comforts are reasonable.
Article 2: As long as you are able, protect those nearest to you from becoming endangered by your actions. Preferable methods include wearing a mask, restricting your activities to the cover of night, refusing to tell someone your secrets, and pushing the love of your life away with the excuse “I’m doing this to protect you.”
Article 3: Refuse to run from danger, even if logic dictates it as the best course of action.
Article 4: Never defeat your enemy before the end of the story. In most instances, it’s best if you suffer temporary setbacks along the way.
Article 5: Always make a good show in your hand-to-hand combats, giving as well as taking blows in a realistic way. Note that while not always required, the preferred method is to defeat your opponents.
Also note that fights should last longer than reasonable.
Also also note that unless you’re fighting fewer than three opponents at once, or someone of exceptional skills, or a string of opponents in rapid succession, you might be going about it the wrong way.
Article 6: If possible, remain unmarried so the significant love interest in the story can win your heart and vice versa.
Article 7: If in doubt, seek wise counsel from the gruff companion inevitably accompanying you.
Article 8: Become accustomed to taking your shirt off in the presence of others, and for the sake of the pride of heroes everywhere, ensure that your muscles are large and sculpted.
Article 9: Maintain a healthy balance of positive traits and character flaws, thereby enabling people to relate to you at a deeper level.
Article 10: Be willing to break the rules for the “greater good.”
Article 11: Remain humble but confident in all your dealings, with a dose of ignorance for the sake of the villains.
Article 12: Cultivate a thorough expertise in weapons, technology, high-speed chases, long journeys, martial arts, explosives, and other necessary skills needed to compete in today’s crowded marketplace.
Article 13: Study up on appropriately witty, sarcastic, profound, knowledgeable, indignant, and heroic phrases for all situations.
Article 14: While willingness to sacrifice your life is a commendable characteristic, do your utmost to stay alive, as that is always the desirable course of action.
Adhere to these principles as best as you are able, and you will thrive in your heroic pursuits.
The Committee of Heroic Affairs Department
Next time, I’ll share The Code of Villains. That one is equal parts fascinating and hilarious.
What did you think of the Code of Heroes? Please share your thoughts in the comments.