All content is (c) copyright 2006 Caryn LeMur

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


THE LAST DAYS
OF A MAN
NAMED FIGHTER

A Chronicle
Of FadingEarth





19.  ED~B

"You look disturbed, good Fighter,” said the Lion,
as the song of the giant grew more and more
distant.

"I am tired,” said Fighter.

"Yes, you are tired," said the Lion, "But you are
also tempted to become jealous, because I am
generous."

"Yes,” replied Fighter, softly, "I confess to that
temptation.  But then..."

"But then what, good Fighter?"  asked the Lion,
continuing softly, "But then what?  To the man that
confesses his weakness, I am willing to give much.  
You are confessing, therefore, be bold and ask."

"Lion," said Fighter, "my long years of battle for
you, have taught me that jealousy is a snare and a
trap.  So I refuse that sin.  But...,” Fighter paused,
and then said, "I do indeed long for that kind of
power."

“That power is so small, for the one that is
departing us, only knows prayer.  He has not yet
learned mercy.” Replied the Lion.

Fighter was silent.  Mercy had been mentioned
more in the last few days, than ever before.  But,
he thought, I must refuse to be merciful to my own
self.  It is not right that I need the Lion’s mercy.

"Good Fighter," replied the Lion, "Soon you will
have greater power than even the giant.  Meet me
at the base of the eighth mountain of the
Gauntlet.  But for now, you must go home.  I
perceive that you must first visit your Table of
Hope."

And with those cryptic instructions, the Lion turned
his head towards a portal that had appeared,
stepped forward through it, and vanished.

"Yes, Lion,” said Fighter to no one in particular, “I
am tired.  I will go home.  Some time spent with my
dream-doves will encourage me, and then, yes
then, I will be ready to enter into the eighth
mountain."

And Fighter turned down the trail that would bring
him home.





20.  Y~TH

Fighter reached the door of his home, and entered
in.  His wife greeted him with a kiss, and he
enjoyed the freshness of her love.

"I am tired,” he said, "please allow me to go the
room to rest."

His wife smiled and laughed.  She said a word or
two and then walked away.  

"How much I once loved that smile," thought
Fighter.  "But now, I am of a different tribe.  And I
have fought so many times, and always alone.  
Always alone."

Fighter recalled the words to a popular drinking
song, one he had heard while drinking DarkFire:  
'Loneliness eats like acid, etching scars upon the
mirror of our love.  The brilliance is gone; love
shines no more.  Drink and forget, drink and
forget....’

"Our love is forever scarred,” thought Fighter, as
he trudged up the stairs to the resting room.  "Its
brilliance is forever gone.

In the room, Fighter looked slowly at the two large
beds -- the love-bed and the sleeper.  Whenever
one desired intimacy, he or she would retire and
sleep upon the love-bed, as a gesture to their
partner.  Fighter smiled at the thoughts of all the
enjoyment he and the women had shared upon
that bed.  But then he realized that it had been
many days since he had lain upon it, hoping for his
wife to join him.

"Indeed," said Fighter, speaking softly as if to the
bed, "I do not lay upon you, for I so seldom now
desire her."

"She is your enemy...,” whispered a voice from the
ether.

"Be gone!" said Fighter, "You are not welcome
here!"

"She deserted you many times...,” whispered
another voice from a dark corner.

"Return to the pit!" said Fighter.  "All such
shadows, I bind you now!"  And both voices could
say no more.

"Good," thought Fighter.  "Now then, I came here,
not to rest, but to visit my hidden room wherein lies
my Table of Hope... and my precious dream-
doves."

And with that, Fighter closed his eyes, and a door
known only to him appeared.  He stepped forward,
and pulled on the handle.

But the door would not open.

"What is this?" said Fighter.  And he pulled upon
the handle again, only harder.  The door moved
but the breadth of a thumb and finger, and when
he released the handle, it snapped shut upon him.

"To me!" Fighter said, clapping his hands together,
and his prayer-sword immediately appeared in his
hands.

In a smooth movement, Fighter pulled upon the
handle of the door with his left hand, and, as soon
as the door opened but the width of a man's foot,
his right hand swung the sword through the gap.  
A few leaves and twisted orange-colored branches
fell to the ground.

"What is this...?" he said.

And then the door swung open.

"No!" screamed out Fighter, as he faced thousands
of twisted orange branches.  On every branch
were thorns and eyes that looked in every
direction; on the corner of every eye were jagged
green leaves, and on every leaf was written the
accounts of every deed his wife had every done
against him, imagined or real.

"My dream-doves!" yelled Fighter, "Where are
they?"  And then he began to swing his sword.

But the branches that he struck, immediately re-
grew.  And every branch his arms brushed against
tore at his skin.

"May the Lion curse you!" shouted Fighter, as he
stared at the scratched lines of red blood forming
on his forearms above the wrist-guards.  "I will not
yield!"  

And he began to force his way into the room and
swung his sword all the more furiously.  Hit after
hit, his blade cut through the twisted branches; but
jagged cut after cut continued to be etched upon
his forearms.

The branches that fell to the floor quickly had
death glaze over their eyes; but the eyes that
remained looked back towards the roots of bitter
memories, and recalled yet another wrong done by
the woman.  The eyes then squeezed themselves
shut until a tear of blood formed, and nurtured by
the red liquid, from the corner of the eye would
grow another leaf, with the history of the woman's
wrongs written upon it.

Fighter continued cursing and swinging his sword.

“I will not yield!”  he shouted.

The poison within the thorns began to work into
the flesh of Fighter.  His arms became heavy, his
shoulders began to ache, and then finally, his
hands, holding his prayer-sword, began to cramp
-- each finger began to pull away from the handle
of his sword.

“I will not... I must not... yield,”  Fighter said, as if
speaking to his own hands.  But he could do
nothing to force his fingers forward.

"No...,” he moaned, "No, not this...."  He took a
step back, and the sword slipped between his
fingers, and fell useless to the floor.  His arms
ached from the poison, and his head began to
pound from its effect.

"My strength," moaned Fighter, "where is my
strength...?"  The weight of his own breastplate
became unbearable; his body began to stagger like
a battle-weary and sleep-deprived soldier.  And
then, slumping to one knee, then to the other, he
slowly crumbled to the floor, as if he were a
wooden puppet in toy-armor being lowered by
unseen stings.

On the floor, he closed his eyes.  But then, he
sensed it… a shape – a shape that was long and
slender, yet built with great perverted power.  

And then, he felt it:  the tingling of vibrations as the
movement of hard scrapping scales slid across the
floor of his hidden room.  

And then, he heard it:  a voice.  A voice that was
sweet and gentle, yet hissing all the same.

"Bitterness," hissed the voice, "precious…
bitterness... how quicks ... it grows."  And the air in
the hidden room suddenly became cold, like the
skin on a dead man, and a shivering sensation
tingled the back of Fighter's neck.





21.  E~RE

Fighter said nothing, as the horror of what the
plant truly was, began to grip him.

"Precious," hissed the voice, "very precious....   
You wants … small roots… but small
mans…bitterness … becomes … death trees."

The voice laughed, but not in joy, but rather like
the death rattles that are shook slowly,
methodically, and in rhythm as diseased men are
buried.

"Yes …" hissed the voice, "Bitterness... grows...
becomes... death trees….  And nows… I, the
givers… of deaths… I ... comes... too."

The shape became more real, the scrapping noise
grew thicker, and the death-breath sound of a
dying man parted the fabric of the air within the
hidden room.  Glistening with scales of rock-crystal
made to look like diamonds, the Serpent emerged
from the blackness of the pit.

"Yes...,” hissed the Serpent, "How you’s… likes
this… my bitterness?"

Fighter said nothing as he saw the Serpent
emerge.  His mind could scarcely operate.  The
poison of bitterness was causing his arms to ache,
his head to pound, and his body to begin to shake.

The Serpent smiled and scrapped across the floor
to the legs of Fighter.

Fighter could not move -- he could not speak.  The
Serpent smiled again, and simply began to coil his
mass around the body of Fighter.

"Soons…," said the Serpent slowly, "Soons…, I
squeezes... I squeezes you’s... and you’s…
becomes… consumes… with bitterness."

The scales of the Serpent began to glisten red as
their sharp edges dug into Fighter's skin through
his trousers.  But Fighter, now completely
paralyzed from the poison of bitterness, could not
move at all.

"Soons…," said the Serpent, "Soons…, your
frames… your fleshes… it lives … but … your
hopes… they all’s… dies ...forevers...."

Fighter's body began to shake more and more as
the coils of the Serpent tightened around him.

"Goods…," hissed the Serpent, "So … goods….  
This vessels…of yours… it shatters ... shatters
soon ....  Your frames ... of simple fleshes... cannot
exists …without hopes.…”

The Serpent continued to coil, “Soon... simple
fleshes... soons... I breaks … you downs....
soons…, you collapses."

Fighter's head rolled back; the Serpent's body now
circled about his legs, waist, and chest.  Fighter
could hardly breathe.  The simple thought of even
praying was suddenly too much of a burden to
bear.  He began to shake even more uncontrollably.

"Goods…, so very goods... this is,” hissed the
Serpent, "So very goods...  for fleshes… for
fleshes to sees … to sees no hopes....  Nows..., I
breaks you’s … I breaks you’s downs… downs to
nothingness...."

Fighter looked towards the door that had led to his
hidden room.  There, on the Table of Hope, was
the root -- not a small twisted orange root, but a
pulsating, living thing that had covered over the
table so completely, that nothing else could have
been placed on the table top.  

Next to the covered table, Fighter could make out
the cage that had held the last of his dream-doves
-- it was now torn open and covered with twisted
vines.  Impaled upon large thorns were the last
two of his dream-doves – one limp and lifeless and
the other shaking with its wings impaled.

"You likes... this canvass ... of deaths...?" said the
Serpent, "Alls… is deads … all feathers... all deads
..... becauses... of you’s...."

And the Serpent laughed, "You fleshes … you
puts… your hopes ...  in dreams… yes?  Nows...,
your dreams... all dead… Nows..., you haves... no
hopes."

The Serpent's coiling was complete, even up to the
shoulders of Fighter.  And the Serpent lifted his
scaled head and stared down at the drained face
of Fighter.  "Little mans... weak fleshes… let
breakdowns... consume you...."

Fighter’s body now shook uncontrollably, tears
came to his eyes at the least thought of resistance;
even the simplest movement was overwhelmed by
the presence of the Serpent.

Fighter closed his eyes and searched within himself
-- he wanted to collapse, for he knew that it would
somehow release him from all burdens.  All he
needed to do was to somehow give himself
permission to give up all hope.

And hope?  Fighter knew he had no hope – for the
Serpent had told him so, and the poison of
bitterness, the exhaustion of a useless fight, these
combined to somehow make the Serpent's words
seemed true… inarguably true… even as real as
the Lion’s own words often seemed.

And so Fighter looked inside himself for
permission… permission to breakdown… to be
consumed… to be overcome.  Fighter’s heart
looked for permission to collapse, but a thought… a
simple thought… one so old… from the days of his
youth… even from his Elfin days … returned to
him:  'for yet will I trust him'.

Such a simple thought -- it was like a ray of small
pure light showing the exit out of a cave of
darkness.  Fighter opened his eyes and looked into
the face of the Serpent, now inches from his own
face.  

“Yes?…”  hissed the Serpent, “Yes…, what says…
you… little fleshes…?”

Fighter barely spoke, his lips but forming the
words:  "I … will… yet… trust… Him."

The air erupted!  It parted!  And the Lion entered
the room!

He roared and snarled revealing his teeth!  The
Serpent began to uncoil!

The Lion leaped through the air!  And sank his
fangs into the lower neck of the Serpent!

The Serpent screamed, hissed, and struck back at
the Lion, sinking his own dagger-teeth into the
Lion's left paw!

The Lion released his strangle-hold on the
Serpent's neck, and roared out, "Golgotha!" and
lifted his right paw high into the air – only to bring it
down full force upon the head of the Serpent!

The head of the Serpent crushed open, like a dry
and hollow melon, and out of its skull swarmed flies.

The room was silent.  The Lion looked about -- to
the left and then to the right.  He then looked
upward, slowly lifting his red-stained left paw, as if
to heaven.  And then, as if having gained a silent
permission, he spoke:  "Good Fighter, this blood I
have given freely and it is for your healing.  Will you
accept it?"

Fighter could hardly move his lips from the poison
within his body.  He was still trembling within the
remains of the coiled Serpent.  Fighter thought the
word "yes" and tried to mouth the sound.

The Lion smiled, "I hear your heart, good Fighter."  
And the Lion held his paw over the body of Fighter.

A drop of the Lion's blood touched the portion of
the Serpent's body that was still coiled around
Fighter, and the crystal-rock diamond scales
became gray-dust coals -- the Serpent's body
crumbled into ashes, as if it had been burned years
ago in some great lake of fire.

A second drop of blood touched the body of
Fighter, and each wound began to close on its
own, his shaking slowed and then stopped; his
blurred vision began to clear; the pounding within
his head ceased.  Fighter's strength returned.  And
in moments, not measured by time, but measured
by increasing hope, he slowly arose from the floor.

The Lion spoke softly, "I have healed you, good
Fighter.  But only you can destroy this death tree.  
You know what you must do."

"I do know,” said Fighter.  "I was a fool…."

"You were deceived, as well, my Fighter,” said the
Lion.  "I forgive you."

Fighter's strength fully returned, and he stood
before the Lion.  "I was," he said, "a fool to use
prayer, where prayer does little good."

The Lion said nothing; he merely waited.

Fighter straightened himself.  And then he spoke to
the death tree these words:  "In the name of the
Lion, I forgive my wife."

The plant began to shake.

"I will recall her sins no more!" said Fighter.

At this statement, every eye upon the tree glazed
over in death.

"I will look upon her as clothed by the Lion's love!"

At this, every leaf curled up and shriveled.

"I forgive her completely!" said Fighter, with even
more strength, "As the Lion has forgiven me!"

The plant began to shrink back, to shake, it's
leaves fell to the ground.  It's roots retracted from
the edges of the table and its vines fell from every
wall.  Soon, there was nothing but a small twisted
orange root laying upon the table, with two
crumpled dream-doves by it.

"Peace," said the Lion, "Peace I give unto you."

"Peace I accept," said Fighter, "And peace I give to
my wife."

“Mercy,” said the Lion, “I give to you in
abundance.”

“Mercy, I accept,” said Fighter, “And mercy I give
to my wife.”

And at that, the orange root erupted into flame,
and burned until nothing was left -- not even ashes
remained.






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

Chapters 19 through 21