A street sweeper from the inner city of Caliet left his home in the middle of the night and walked through the cobbled streets shivering under a starless sky. He didn’t feel comfortable enough to look for his cape as his wife berated him yet again, and so he walked immediately through the door with a barrage of chastisement ringing in his ears behind him.
It wasn’t him that she hated, it was their poverty; he knew that. There was the bringing up of their two sons and little money to begin with but to be married to a street sweeper was a point of ridicule.
Eloch sighed deeply, he was only thirty four, fit, strong and able bodied but he could only get employment that only the crippled or simple ended up doing.
His meanderings took him to the park in the center of the city where a life-sized marble statue of him was erected and the unveiling was performed by the king himself and from what he had heard it would soon be removed to take its place in the Hall of Heroes. He looked down at the base of it to read his own name on the plaque and remembered the events of the last week.
He had rescued children who were abducted by slavers to be sold to the sand natives of Dabal B’aque but the statue was not given to him for that. It was for the many lies he had told about his heroics; heroics that never happened in a war he had never been to.
All he wanted was to have a story to tell like Farren, ‘the hero of the Saleem Pass’ but his lies got out of hand and this was the end result. As he reflected on this it began to suddenly teem with rain making him all the more cold and imperceptibly more miserable.
“Good evening, Eloch,” Sounded a voice from behind.
The street sweeper turned to see Farren standing in the drizzle with only his face and grey beard protruding from under the hood of his cape made of homespun wool.
Eloch nodded uncomfortably, grateful that such a great man could not see his tears in the rain.
“I have never been there.” Eloch blurted. “I have never been to the mercenary wars of Dabal B’aque or any campaign.”
“You think you are telling me something I do not know? All the veterans knew you had never seen a battle.”
“Aye, we knew. A man who has truly seen action never speaks of it but you were telling anyone that wanted to hear. Many of us believe that you would not know which end of a sword to hold if you were given three choices.”
Eloch chuckled ironically to himself.
“So this is to be my lot then is it? I am to return to a loveless home with a wife that hates me and then one day die in the gutter at the end of a broom without respect. The worst part is that I am known for the lies I have told and now people either scorn me or laugh at me.”
Farren smiled at the street sweeper warmly, reminding him of his father.
“No one laughs at you lad.” He said gently. “I know what you did at the docks, we all do. Down at the Dogs Head tavern you are esteemed as the hero you sought to be.”
As the rain picked up Farren removed his cloak and wrapped it around the shoulders of the street sweeper.
“There is no need to feel any guilt over the statue. You are truly a hero. It is simply a matter of you were given your reward first then earned it later.”
“Eloch…Eloch!” called a frantic sounding female voice.
Both men knew it was the wife of the street sweeper.
Farren cocked an eyebrow in her direction and gave a broader smile.
“Why not go home and warm up to that pretty wife of yours?” he suggested.
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