All content is (c) copyright 2006 Caryn LeMur
THE LAST DAYS
OF A MAN
Fighter continued to stand within the throne room.
He adjusted his breastplate, which he suddenly
realized had been partially undone.
The Lion watched Fighter awkwardly handling the
leather straps that held the metal breastplate.
“You drank DarkFire with another woman,” said
the Lion, now sitting by the throne. “Why?”
“It seemed good to have company when drinking,”
replied Fighter, now fumbling with the straps – not
because of the earlier drunkenness. He paused
and simply sat down upon the stones. The living
stones rose up to form a bench for him to sit upon.
“Tell me something, Lion,” said Fighter, undoing
the straps upon his shoulder. “Does your presence
always sober one so quickly?”
“It does,” replied the Lion, “but my presence only
sobers, it does not condemn.”
Fighter took a deep breath. He slipped the
breastplate down, and then laid it across his lap,
studying the leather straps where they inserted
into the back of the metal.
Both Fighter and Lion were silent for a few
moments. Fighter leaned forward, lost in the
tangle that his straps had somehow become – only
his cloth tunic with its padded shoulders covered
his upper frame. Yet not all of his chest was
covered, for in the style that was popular among
the Fighters, his tunic had a large diamond-shaped
hole cut in the center, exposing half of each
pectoral. A large white-jagged scar lay directly
above his heart.
The Lion looked at the scar, and then spoke again,
“You drank DarkFire with another woman -- but
what of the woman that I gave to you in your
Fighter did not reply. The Lion waited for an
answer, but none came. Fighter finished
untangling the straps that had held his breast-
The Lion then continued, somewhat louder, “You
can indeed drink DarkFire and forget the pain. You
can indeed hate your wife for refusing to control
the DreamKiller. You can do all these things.”
“I know that I can,” replied Fighter flatly. “What
you say I already know.”
“Indeed, you do know it.” replied the Lion.
The Lion paused, and looked again at the scar on
the chest of Fighter. “Tell me, Fighter, when one is
wounded, what must the Healer do?”
“The Healer must heal the wound,” came the reply.
“And how does he do such a thing?”
“By one of two ways that I have seen,” replied
Fighter. “Either by salve or by heated steel.”
“You are correct,” replied the Lion. “Either the
wounded must accept the salve or the hot steel.
The first heals over time, the second heals quickly,
but leaves a great scar.”
“Why do you tell me this?” shouted Fighter. “Do I
not already know all this? Look upon my chest,
above my heart -- surely you see the scar left by
the heated steel. I no longer even let myself feel in
that part of my life! Your Healer failed! He should
not have allowed such a scar!” Fighter stood up,
and began to quickly put the breastplate back onto
“The Healer did what he must do,” replied the
Lion. “He had no choice -- unless the wound is
attended to, a fighter will die. And thus, the Healer
attended to your wound.”
“And he allowed such a scar? Some days it pains
me; most often I allow it no feeling! You dare to
call that healing?” shouted Fighter, adjusting the
“It is healing,” replied the Lion, “but never forget
that you have the scar only because you refused
Several days passed since the conversation in the
throne room concerning DarkFire, and Fighter was
behind his own home, a simple stone and wood
structure, attending to his roses.
A portal opened and shimmered, and the Lion
“Ah,” said the Lion, “I see you are enjoying the
“Indeed, Lion, you know that I enjoy these very
much,” replied Fighter. “Few things in all this fine
city give me so much pure pleasure.”
The Lion watched Fighter studying the leaves of
one of his rose bushes. And the Lion noticed the
glimmer of the metal guards on the wrists of
“Yet here, in the garden,” spoke out the Lion, “You
wear some of your armor?”
“I wear no armor here,” replied Fighter.
“Tell me, then” said the Lion. “What is upon your
Fighter replied, “It is the copper guards.”
“And why do you wear them?” asked the Lion.
“You well know the answer,” replied Fighter. “All
Fighters wear whatever guards they must, in order
to show no weakness to the enemy.”
“To show no weakness?” asked the Lion, “or to
hide vulnerability? There is a difference.”
“There is no difference.” Replied Fighter tersely.
“If an enemy sees a weakness or a vulnerability,
he will attack it.”
“But,” said the Lion, “When a friend sees a hidden
vulnerability revealed, they will help strengthen
you. And one day, you will no longer need the
Fighter paused. “You know,” said Fighter, “that I
have no friends.”
“You have said it well,” replied the Lion.
And both sat within the garden for some time,
On yet another day, on a high hill overlooking one
of the many valleys of FadingEarth, Fighter and the
Lion sat down together.
“Come,” said the Lion, “It is time to teach you.”
“There are four tribes within the FadingEarth, each
with its own markings. They are the Nons, whose
marking is their own image upon their bellies; the
Elfin, who’s marking is a picture of their burrows to
the left of their hearts; and the Fighters, who wear
the symbol of the sword and scales upon their right
forearm. Do you understand this?” asked the Lion.
“I understand,” replied Fighter, somewhat irritated
at the simple lesson, for many that knew the Lion
also knew those three tribes by name.
“Good,” replied the Lion, “I shall continue, for
there is more to learn than just the names.”
Fighter was silent, and bit concerned that the Lion
had guessed his thoughts so easily.
The Lion continued, “The Nons fear commitment
and loss of self. Though they have entered
FadingEarth, they are forever hungry for more.”
“For more of what?” asked Fighter.
“For more that their eyes have seen, their tongues
have tasted, their loins have lusted for,” replied
“And the Elfin,” continued the Lion, “Live for the
safety and security of their burrows. They
continuously patch and repair their tunnels,
forever watching for the next collapse. They live
for dirt and mud.”
“They are disgusting,” said Fighter, turning his
head and spiting.
The Lion grinned, his white fangs showing. “You
were once Elfin, yourself, Fighter.”
“And I was disgusting,” Fighter replied. “How I
hated the Elfin that I was -- forever digging for
more. Lion, I tell you the truth, I found not
“But some Elfin,” continued the Lion, “do find what
they search for. They build their walls with dirt or
mud. If anything threatens their burrow, they
retreat. Indeed, some will fight to the death to
protect their dirt and mud.”
Fighter replied, “The dirt I found was dry; the mud
I found was insufficient. Is it no wonder I begged
you for a new name? Is it no wonder that I
begged you, years ago, to accept me into the third
“Fighter,” replied the Lion, “It was I who guided
you to dry dirt. It was I who forbid your mud to
Fighter paused, and then said, “Yes. I know.” He
paused again, as if searching for words to describe
the painful memories of finding only dry dirt and no
mud, but no words came. Finally, Fighter spoke.
“Yes,” repeated Fighter, “I know it was you that
was behind all that pain.”
The Lion waited for a moment, the breezes of the
hilltop overlooking the valley seemed to move the
grasses underneath his golden frame, as if the
very grass bowed to the Lion.
“Have you ever forgiven me?” asked the Lion.
“No,” came the answer.
And then, only silence.
The Lion waited.
The Fighter swallowed hard. Words almost came
to him – words to tell the Lion how badly he had
been wounded as one of the Elfin. Words to state
– no, to shout – his anger. But he dismissed the
thoughts as quickly as possible – after all, a good
fighter must feel no pain.
The Lion watched the face of Fighter. He
whispered, “An honest heart is better than a
“No.” softly replied Fighter.
And then again, silence.
(c) copyright 2006 Caryn LeMur
|The Last Days of a Man Named Fighter
Chapters 4 through 6