TO BE ESTEEMED
I am Togullen, chronicler to the king of Nusalle, “Olleton the Wise.” It was he who charged me with writing the tales of Nusalle’s champions.
I scribe this tale to the testimony of “Iloku,” the second greatest man of the blade that I have ever known, but alas, he was to be a bitter disappointment to his parents, having to leave Barrandia to make a life for himself in the city.
It was a decade later that I met him for the first time. Being adverse to work, he was penniless, wearing the same rags for years but he had a curious wit, which allured me. His only income during this time was the con games he played, entertaining small crowds with tricks of the sword.
The times I shared with this young man were special but not without incident.
He had newly become a Christian when he went mad in a tavern one eve. I could well understand his reasons; it was because he had his father’s name to live up to...
‘He thinks he is another Barrand!’ jeered one drinker.
‘No!’ shouted Iloku, leaping to a chair, drawing his sword. ‘I am Moses and I have come to deliver unto you, the Ten Commandments!’ he yelled, slamming the blade into a long table of drinkers.
In a heartbeat, it was said that the inn was alive with swords from every man present.
A Vindavian swordsman lunged for him with blade extended.
‘The first commandment,’ began Iloku, ‘is thou shalt not overextend yourself or thou shalt wear a pommel in the head,’ he said, striking his temple.
Another rushed at him, roaring. Iloku kicked a fallen chair into his path, tripping him headlong into the flat of his sword.
‘The second commandment is thou shalt watch where you are going.’
A twin-handled pitcher of wine flew in his direction. With a blur of motion the point of his sword, lanced through one of the handles. Tilting the blade upward, Iloku allowed the pitcher to slide down his sword to the hilt where he drank from it.
‘The third is thou shalt have a drink,’ he said, flinging the pitcher off the end of his sword into one of the brawlers.
According to the charges laid against him, Iloku got to the eighth commandment before he was arrested by the watch. It was I who came to the city’s prison to pay his fine…
‘Why did you do it?’ I asked him.
Dropping his head, he shrugged lamely.
‘So it was about your father again.’
‘You can never understand what it is like to have to live up to a name like his.’
‘Then it is time you made your own name!’ I said angrily.
For the first time, I saw the light go out of his eyes at my angered outburst. He once said to me that I was what his father should have been.
‘There is only one thing you should concentrate on. As our Lord says in Proverbs 22:1...A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
When you are born in this world, you have nothing, not even a name, but when you die, it is all you take with you. What will yours be worth when you are buried? What will men say of you, Iloku?’ and then I walked away from him, alas as disappointed with him as his father. I thought that it would be the last time I would see the young Nusallean, but I was wrong.
I watched him duel a Yactanese man with two curved slashing swords in the confines of his embassy where diplomatic immunity didn’t allow the king to interfere.
With thousands of others, I saw him toy with the ex-body guard to his emperor before despatching him and then leaving for the docks…
‘To whence will you go?’ I asked him.
Iloku shrugged with a grin.
‘I will find out when I get there.’
‘You are not coming back, are you?’
‘No…but I will see you in Heaven,’ he said walking toward the gangplank.
I watched them pull the plank up behind him saying, thank you Lord, for I knew that the swordsman had concentrated on what mattered.
Aye, he would forever be a ragged beggar, but people would say that he could make them laugh and that the heart beneath belonged to man of virtue.
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