REDEMPTION, WHERE ART THOU?
When ‘The Forgotten One’ first trod the cobbled stones of Caliet, he wore the uniform of the Blue River Guardsmen. Now the tunic looked threadbare and the arms and face beneath his horned helm were bandaged as the lepers did.
He strolled past some youths, ignoring them as they did no greater crime than tease a chained bull outside a butcher’s shop where nearby a young blind girl sat on the edge of the gutter. Even beneath her bandaged eyes, he could tell she was lovely to look upon and lecherous males would think to take advantage of her, except that they feared the bandaged Guardsman who could wield his long hafted double edged axe in one hand as easily as one might wield a cane.
“I know you…by the sound of your tread. What is your name?”
The Guardsman paused, knowing that the answer was sometimes hard to accept.
“Men call me, ‘The Forgotten One.”
“There is pain in your words but then these are hard times. That king Dehoran who sits upon our throne has made everyone’s life in Nusalle a misery. I wish our rightful king still ruled.”
“He is no better.”
“Has our previous king wronged you?”
“Aye.” He muttered dejectedly.
“Do you hate him?”
”With all my heart.”
“Would you kill him if you were able?” she asked, gauging the level of malice he felt.
“I had thought on that many a time, but there is much good for others that he could yet do so...no.” he finished, beginning to trudge away.
“If he is anything like you, then I must agree!” she called after him. “There is a lot of good in you, stranger!”
“Dekra always said that.” He muttered under his breath, not crediting the blind girl with the sharp hearing she possessed.
“Derkra!?...Are you him?”
“Your people cry out for you. Do you never hear them?”
“I am unworthy.” He trailed off. “What Nusalle needs is the likes of someone with a pure heart, like yourself.”
“You are mistaken, my king. I am as sinful as anyone else. Perhaps that is why I am blind.”
“Please, never say that.” Said the king gently.
The chain tore the restraining shackle from the wall, freeing the maddened bull to turn over a market stall and trample in the beggar’s direction. It buffeted the girl aside in its rage and continued on, unchecked.
The Forgotten One went to raise his axe only to have it knocked from his hand by one of the swinging horns and winded as it collected the champion of Nusalle in the midriff. It snorted marching him back, but the bull’s progress slowed abruptly as the ‘stubborn man’ took hold of the horns and attempted to push him the opposite way.
The Guardsman’s feet began to lose traction, resulting in him sliding backwards until his feet came to rest against a wall. His knee rose swiftly under the chin of the great beast, doing no more than to distract it.
It was enough however to roll clear and swoop up his axe. For the first time, he gripped it in both hands and brought the weapon down on the beast like a smith’s hammer. Its feet buckled beneath itself, to shudder then lie still.
“Are you hurt?” asked a weak voice.
The king ran to the injured girl’s side, kneeling in the gutter beside her.
“Oh you sweet child. The bull attacked you and all you can think of is my well being.” He lamented.
“I feel that I will soon pass from this world, my king. It gets harder to breathe with each breath. My only regret is that I cannot take your burden with me when I die. I am afraid that no man is able to do so.”
She smiled faintly as a thought entered her mind.
“Would it not be wonderful if someone were to come who could take the sins of everyone away with his death?”
The Forgotten One kissed her forehead.
“It would indeed be wonderful. I would run to such a man and fall at his feet if such a thing were possible.”
As the king spoke, he was unaware that the fair maid had already breathed her last. When he looked down at her still form, he sobbed like he did over his wife and child, fearing that the poor waif didn’t even have the comfort of hearing his words.
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