All content is (c) copyright 2006 Caryn LeMur

***************************************


THE LAST DAYS
OF A MAN
NAMED FIGHTER

A Chronicle
Of FadingEarth






13.  ~WOR

Fighter was within the hidden room and sat at the
Table of Hope, alone.

He sat on a chair.  There was one other chair
within the hidden room, and it was empty.

He gently held the body of a dream-dove -- its
wings hung limp, its neck twisted awkwardly to one
side.

He could hear his wife singing softly in the other
room the words to the song, “All Glory to the Lion.”

“All glory to the Lion, all praise to the one...”  The
words drifted through the small room where
Fighter sat.

“All glory,” said Fighter, “all glory for this?”  He
stroked the head of the dream-dove; its neck
feathers were soft and comforting, but its eyes
tightly closed, clenched shut in death.

“Who gives us golden moments, by the light of his
one...”  The next words of the song had reached
Fighter’s ears.

“Is this yet another ‘golden moment’?” asked
Fighter to himself.  But there was no answer.  Only
silence… only cold silence and the flicker of the
candle upon the table.

“Sent to conquer all, sent to conquer all....”  The
words of the chorus drifted into the room.

Fighter placed the first two fingers of his right hand
upon his lips, and then touched the dove with those
same fingers.  “How I wish I could give you life
with but a kiss,” he said.  “How I wish you, my
dream-dove, would live again.”  But the body of
the dream-dove simply rolled about in his hand like
a small feathered sack of sand.

Fighter wanted to cry, but he could not – not this
time, not here.  And so he sat.

“How I wish,” said Fighter, “That someone could
comfort me. “  He paused.  “But if I invite my
woman – the very woman that the Lion gave to me
– she will release the DreamKiller.  And to watch
the DreamKiller devour even the remnant of one of
my dream-doves, is more than I can stand.”

Fighter walked over to the golden cage that was
near the Table of Hope.  “Look,” he said, still
speaking to himself, “almost all my doves are
asleep forever.  Some died like this one, on their
own.  Others were silenced forever by the
DreamKiller.  Still others have escaped and flown
away, only to be captured by another tribesman.  
Indeed, how much it hurt to see another succeed
with the same dream-dove that flew out of my
reach.”

Fighter opened the door to the cage, and gently
laid down the dream-dove by the bodies of others.  
“Only two dream-doves yet live,” he said.  “May
the Lion preserve them.  They are all I have.”

And Fighter closed the door to the cage, and sat
back down upon his chair.  

The other chair near the table sat empty.

“Bitter,” whispered a voice.  Fighter heard it, but
did not reply.

“Bitter ... and bitterness..,” hissed the same voice.

“Yes,” Fighter said softly to himself.  “I am bitter.”

“Bitterness,” hissed the voice, “is goods ... it
grows... can heals... so sads… those wounds... and
scars....”

Fighter thought of the scar upon his chest.  It was
true that it hurt -- it hurt now.  But he had
managed to ignore it.  Until now.

“Bitterness,” hissed the voice, “Its woods... is
thicks ... and strongs... it is.  It keeps... the
womans... aways.   If womans... if comes... she
sees... last doves... last doves.  And when... she
comes…” the voice continued to hiss, “she says...
‘share dreams’... but thens... she lets ....
DreamKillers loose....”

Fighter heard the words clearly.  He wanted to not
hear them, but the shear truth of the words held
him enchained by the thought.

“Bitterness,” hissed the voice, “Precious... is
bitterness... it helps... to saves... your dreams....”

Fighter continued to sit and say nothing.  His scar
hurt.  The image of trusting his wife with his last
two dream-doves depressed him even further.

“Not lots... just littles... little bitterness... you
needs,” hissed the voice.  “A roots... a single
roots... is alls... you needs.”

“Bitterness,” mouthed Fighter, thinking the word
over in his mind.

“Precious… bitterness...,” hissed the voice.

Fighter was silent for a moment, and then he
slapped the table, “Done!” he said, out loud to the
voice.  And at that, a small orange root shaped like
a twisted carrot appeared at the center of the
Table of Hope.

“Your dreams... your doves... so safes... now, so
safes...,” hissed the voice, “Bitterness... is
goods....”

Silence covered the hidden room.  And then the
voice hissed, “The womans... her DreamKillers,
yes?... they cannots… cannots touches... whats...
it cannots... finds.  Bitterness... precious
bitterness… it hides... your precious.... dream-
doves....”

There was an odd sense of coldness in the air –
almost like the skin on a dead man – and the skin
on Fighter’s shoulders and neck tingled back in
response.  But Fighter chose to ignore those
feelings.

“Let bitterness... much grows..., good fighters…,”
softly cooed the hissing voice.  “Let bitterness...
much grows....”.

Out of the corner of his eye, Fighter thought he
saw a shadow flickering… a long slender shadow,
but one that radiated great perverted power.

“Enough… enough… I am indeed bitter… I shall go
now,” was all that Fighter could say.  And he
stumbled out of the hidden room leaving the small
root behind atop the Table of Hope.

The long slender shadow reached over, and
touched the orange twisted root.





14.  LD,~

The next day, when Fighter was walking the
mountain trails, the Lion appeared to walk beside
him.

“May I join you, good Fighter?” asked the Lion.

“Who am I to say no to you?” replied Fighter.

For a few moments they walked in silence.

“You sound tense,” replied the Lion softly.  But
Fighter did not reply.

“Tell me,” said the Lion, “How is your scar?”

“I do not wish to discuss that,” replied Fighter.  But
the truth was that the scar ached with every step.

“Very well,” replied the Lion.  “But I thought it best
to join you.”

“Do what you wish,” replied Fighter, “Are you not
the Lion?”

And both walked together in silence for several
more moments.  But then the moments stretched
into minutes, and the minutes into hours.  Neither
spoke.

Finally, the Lion stopped walking.

“Blood,” said the Lion.  “Look upon the ground,
Fighter.”

It was indeed blood.  Fighter could easily make out
the drops of wet-red upon the dirt and stone.  

“Good,” said Fighter, “I am in the mood to fight.  
Send me against them!”

“Indeed, you are in a mood to fight even those
that love you,” replied the Lion.  And then he
continued, “However, a tribesman has been
wounded – this is his blood.  And those that
wounded him are not of my kingdom forever.”

“Then send me!” demanded Fighter, shaking his
fist at the Lion.

“Fighter,” continued the Lion, “You shall find them
around the corner of the trail – I have foreseen
that they draw the tribesman into the cave.  Go
quickly, my Fighter!  Go now!”

Fighter clapped his hands together, and the sword
appeared.  He looked at the blade and smiled…
then he began to run ahead.  

The Lion called out, “The Breastplate!  Do not
remove it!  Be forewarned!”  But Fighter, if he
heard the Lion at all, did not reply.

The Lion looked towards the heavens, and softly
spoke, “His anger is already great, and feeds from
the root -- and it is only a day old!”

But a voice came out of the clouds, sounding like
thunder, “I will not be mocked.  He must reap what
he has sown.”

But Fighter did not hear the words; he thought that
it had only thundered.

And Fighter reached the corner of the trail, turned,
and then saw two robed figures dragging the body
of a young man, perhaps a boy, towards a cave.

“Leeches!” shouted Fighter, “Turn!”

The two figures dropped the body of the youth,
and one walked delicately – like a woman --
towards Fighter, while the other turned about
stiffly.

“The ‘boy’ does not wish you here!” said the first
leech, pulling back its hood and revealing the face
of a black spider.

“Be gone!  Be gone!”  Said the second leech,
waving stumps of arms hidden with his robe.  “To
stand against us is to suffer for nothing!  For
nothing!” The hood hiding his face slipped back and
revealed the face of an owl.

But Fighter stood his ground, and pointed the
sword at the tribesman’s body.  “By the Lion!” he
shouted, “I choose to stand in the gap!”  And at
that moment, a thorn wall appeared and covered
the tribesman’s body like a sphere.

“So be it, then, let us fight…” said the first leech in
a seductive and female voice.  And then the robe
that covered the leech’s body dropped  -- revealing
the body of a black spider… webbing of white
came from the spider-leech’s mouth and covered
her own body… and then the webbing tore, and
the nude body of a human woman was revealed.  
But her head was still the blackened head of a
spider – and venom dripped from her fangs.  

“Remember me!” shouted the disrobed and naked
leech, “Am I not reflection the unbridled lust you
once craved?”  And then the leech lifted her
breasts, one in each delicate hand – the breasts
were large and rounded.  The spider-leech’s
woman-voice laughed out, “Come to me Fighter,
come!  Place these within your hands and mouth.  
Let me bite you once again!”

But the second leech softly spoke, “And remember
how I, yes, how I supplied you darkness?  No one
knew who you were, no one knew.  You could hide
within my night, yes, my night, and enjoy my
companion’s gift to you.”

“Lust, I offer you...pleasure without pain...,”
chanted the fist leech, stepping slowly forward,
moving its human hips seductively.

“No one will ever know .... your pleasure will affect
no one else ...,” cooed the second leech with a
hollow voice.  And then, out of his mouth poured
darkness, and it engulfed the trail, the leeches, and
Fighter.

“You think me blinded by simple lies?” said Fighter,
“You forget that I still remember the years you
kept me in a cave!”  And even in the darkness, he
began to swing his sword, calling out, “I will not
abandon my brother!”

“Your prayer-sword will not work here...,” sweetly
lied the first leech, “Remember how much you
once loved my venom!”  And in the darkness,
Fighter swore he felt the hands of the leech
suddenly caress his lower body.  

“I offer you pleasure without limitation….” dripped
the words from the fangs of the leech.  And in the
darkness, Fighter could hear the dripping of the
venom landing upon the ground but a half-step in
front of him.  “Let me come closer to you...
pleasure… all the pleasure you lust for ... can ... be
... yours...”  

And then Fighter felt the hot breath coming from
the mouth of the spider-leech, and the smell of the
venom was like rich flowers in summer’s heavy
evening air.  He stopped swinging his sword and
shivered in anticipation as the venom slid between
his neck and breastplate.  

The heat of the leech’s breath smothered his lips,
“Release the sword, and my body shall be yours. . .
all yours ... all yours for every pleasure you have
craved....”

Fighter lowered his sword.

“Good,” cooed the leech, “Let me remove your
breastplate, and then your naked chest can rub
against my breasts...”  And with her two arms, she
began to loosen the leather shoulder straps that
held his breastplate.

“Yes...,” she said, as the breastplate slid to the
ground.  “Now we can be as one....”

“No one,” whispered out the owl leech, “No one,
good Fighter, will ever know.  You are hidden, yes
hidden, within my darkness.”

“Hidden...,” mumbled Fighter, “...in darkness....”  
He could feel the fangs being pressed against his
throat, “... no one will know...”  

He could smell the sweet breath,

“By the Lion….,” said Fighter,

He could feel the soft breasts against his chest
sliding on the dripping venom,

“By the Lion,” said Fighter,

He could feel his loins aching for pleasure.  The
leech whispered in his ear, “Lust without
restraint… lust without love… pure lust…. harsh
lust… demanding… taking… stealing… all that …
lust wishes… no asking the other… only taking….”

But Fighter also thought he heard the very faint
sounds of paws – lion paws on dusty trails –
coming closer.

“By the Lion,” said Fighter, “You lie!”  And he thrust
his left free hand instinctively forward, and
grasped the neck of the spider-leech, squeezing
his thumb into her partially-human pink skinned
throat.

“Even if there is darkness to hide within,” shouted
Fighter, “will not the Lion see it?  I give no mercy to
myself!  I give no mercy to you!”

And Fighter swung the sword up into the belly of
the spider-leech.  Her body suddenly convulsed
and pulled back.  “Taste the ‘venom’ then, of my
weapon!” hissed Fighter into the darkness.

“What is happening?” called out the owl leech, “I
do not hear the moans of pleasure mixed with
death.”

“Nor shall you!” shouted Fighter, withdrawing his
sword from the belly of the spider-leech.

And at that, the owl leech closed his mouth, and
the darkness vanished.  He stiffly began to walk
towards the cave, tottering awkwardly.

“Do not depart so quickly, my friend!” shouted
Fighter.  But the owl leech screamed out an
incantation, and his clothing vanished, revealing
the body and the folded wings of a vulture – only
with an owl’s head.  He lunged for the opening of
the cave, spreading his large black wings in flight.

“Take this with you – a gift of the Lion!” shouted
Fighter, hurling his sword like a lance.  It cut
through the air, and then through the black
feathers of the owl leech’s back.  The leech
dropped to the dusty ground, dead.

Fighter clapped his hands together, and the sword
reappeared between them.  He turned towards
the body of the spider-leech.  

She lay upon the ground, bleeding heavily from her
stomach, and beginning to shake in her death
throes.  Fighter forced himself to watch:  her
beautiful legs began to twist into the shapes of two
carved dead men, her curvaceous and inviting
lower body became black like the dirt of a freshly
dug grave, and her breasts shrank back into her
body, turning stone gray and hardening into rock --
the shape of a rough and lumpish double grave
stone.

As she coughed the last of her life, Fighter picked
up his breastplate, and strapped the metal back
onto his shoulders.  He turned, and the last of the
spider-leech’s venom was burning acid, writing
upon her own chest, now a grave stone of rock, in
ancient script, “Lust without restraint - None but
the dead dwell here.”

While Fighter was still standing, with his eyes
viewing the dead spider-leech, the Lion
approached Fighter.  “Why?” asked the Lion.  “Did
you let the spider-leech come so close to you?”

“Because of the memories of pleasure,” replied
Fighter, adjusting his breastplate, “And because of
the memories of darkness.”

“And why,” asked the Lion, “Did you finally refuse
her fangs?”

“Because of the memories of pain.” replied
Fighter.  “Yes... because of the memories of pain…
and a certain sound that I thought I heard.”  And
neither said anything more.





15.  BUT~

The young man's body, within the sphere of
thorns, again quivered and shook.  In a delirium,
his body rolled toward the thorned wall, his arm
thrashed to the side, and slammed against the
thorns.  Fresh lines of blood appeared.

"We have waited three days,” said Fighter,
watching the occasional thrashing of the young
man.  "Three days!  And he has not yet released
the fever."

"That is why I have not yet removed the
protection,” replied the Lion sitting beside the
thorn sphere.

"You pick a difficult way to protect your fighters,”
said Fighter, shaking his head and walking about.

"It is not difficult, but it is my way,” replied the
Lion.  "You invoked the protection, but he must
release the fever in order for the thorns to go."

"And what if he refuses to release the fever?"
asked Fighter.

"You yourself know the answer," replied the Lion.  
He turned his immense head toward the young
man, and looked through the twisted thorns at a
swollen red infection -- its open sores pocketed
some of the youth's left shoulder.

The Lion spoke, "If any fighter refuses to release
the fever, then I am forced to hedge him in with
thorns.  It is better that he bleed on my thorns,
than be consumed by the Serpent."

"But you forget," said Fighter, "that the fever gives
the greatest of dreams.  Men have held on to the
fever for weeks at a time.  The reality of the
thorn's pain may or may not awaken him!"

"All true," said the Lion, “All true, good Fighter.  
When a man loves his dreams more than my
reality, he is slow to release the fever."

Both paused and said nothing for a time.  Then
finally, Fighter spoke.

"He is a fool,” said Fighter.

"He is,” replied the Lion.  "But weren't you also?"

Fighter paused.  The Lion, he thought, at times is
blunt.

"True," said Fighter.  "I retained the right to the
fever for many years.  I refused to release it.  I
admit that.  But he is a fool.  He is younger than
me, and has many years that he could fight.  I have
less than half a life-time left.  Why does he not see
that?"

"Because you were blessed by the Healer, when
he opened your eyes to see the shortness of life,”
replied the Lion.  "That is why you see!  That is
why the dreams no longer mean anything to you --
you were touched by the Healer!  The Fighter that
sees his life is but the morning's mist, is blessed."

"Perhaps," joked Fighter, "I should be touched by
him again."

"Why do you say that?" asked the Lion.

"My scar is beginning to burn and ache,” replied
Fighter.

"That is because the spider-leech's venom touched
it,” replied the Lion.  "And you are right that you
need the Healer.  Shall I call for him?"

"No,” said Fighter.  "Do not call him.  The scar is
part of me.  I may have relinquished the right to
the fever, but I refuse to ever release my right to
my scar.  I give myself no mercy."

"Then you are still," replied the Lion softly, "a fool.”

And then the Lion continued, "Consider this, my
good fighter:  you are free to fight, because you
ran the ‘seven of eight hills’ of the Gauntlet, and
because I called you by the name of Fighter.  But
you are not totally free."  

The Lion paused and looked at the youth within the
sphere of thorns.  "This young man is also of the
tribe of Fighter, for I have called him by that name
and he dared to hear my voice.  He has run but the
first two hills of the Guantlet, and has stumbled
many times.  But I have forgiven that.”

The Lion continued, “His eyes have not been
touched by the Healer, for he is still too frightened
of my reality.  And so, my heart breaks for him.  
But what you say, Fighter, is an even deeper grief
to me."

"In what way?" asked Fighter.  "Am I not free to
fight for you?  Have I not walked seven of the
eight hills?  Indeed, I would have run the Gauntlet
to the top of the eighth hill, but I was forbidden by
your own deputies!"

The Lion turned his head and looked at Fighter
with his golden eyes.  "If a man does not give me
his scars," replied the Lion calmly, "Then he is
forever forbidden to run the last of the Gauntlet --
he cannot enter even the lowest part of the eighth
hill."

Fighter stared hard at the eyes of the Lion, but the
Lion's eyes showed tears beginning to form.

"Listen to me," continued the Lion.  "You refused
to yield your right to the fever for many years.  
Yet, when you finally called for the Healer, he
came.  And he searched out the deep roots of the
fever within your mind -- and for you, he knew the
cure.  That is why he showed you the shortness of
your life."

Fighter sighed, and turned away from the Lion's
face.  Looking into the distance, Fighter spoke, as if
remembering some ancient battle-pain.  "Once my
eyes were opened," said Fighter, "That is, once I
saw the shortness of my life, I had, absolutely had,
to release the fever.  I could not have lived with
myself, if I spent all my remaining days in dreams."

"And so," said the Lion moving closer to Fighter's
field of vision, “you trusted the Healer for one
cure, but you will not trust him for another -- the
healing of your scar?"

"I do trust the Healer," replied Fighter, turning to
face the Lion.  "I trust him very much.  But some
part of me begs me, bribes me, even applauds me
that I should never give up my scar.  It is my right
to wear it.  It is somehow part of my significance.  I
will show my own self no mercy!"

"You have said more truth than you realize,”
replied the Lion.  "Much more truth... than you
even comprehend.  Because my way is ‘mercy’,
and you cannot even comprehend my way."

And the Lion turned away from Fighter and moved
his lips, as if pleading with an unseen friend.  
Fighter, though unable to see the Lion's face, could
see the tears of the Lion striking the dry ground,
and Fighter hung his head in shame.






(c) copyright 2006 Caryn LeMur
The Last Days of a Man Named Fighter

Chapters 13 through 15