No Better Way
In the faint yellow glow of his only oil lamp, The Forgotten One applied the last of the bandages to his face. Totally enveloped in the wrappings, he took up his axe. He clenched his teeth in agony as the pain in his chest spasmed. Roaring defiantly, The Forgotten One straightened, forcing the pain from his being. After taking a few deep breaths, he stepped through the door of the abandoned morgue that had been his home for decades. The Forgotten One immediately straightened at the sight of smiling faces in the main thoroughfare. They followed him, up the street, gathering in numbers as he trod the leagues needed to the main square. Some cheered for him as he walked; others shouted encouragement.
He sweated profusely in the mid morning sun, suppressing the urge to vomit, yet strode boldly on, as if he were a man in his prime. The streets of the main road parted to reveal even greater multitudes. People suddenly turned their heads, splitting to either side, allowing an escort of the Blue River Guard through. They saluted, drawing their axes across their chests, as the king and queen waded through their ranks.
“Olleton,” he said to the Nusallean monarch.
“You do not have to do this, my friend; we will find another champion,” the king blurted.
The Forgotten One’s eyes rolled above the heads of the crowd. The Vindavian champion stood chest high above any Nusallean head, and as heavy set as a bull. He watched for a moment, as the giant south-man spun the tip of his sword on the flagstones between his feet.
“Why do men call you “Olleton the Wise?” he asked, good naturedly. “I must defeat him. If
I do not; the Vindavians will forever be our masters.”
Olleton’s hand shot out, grabbing hold of his arm.
“Granted, I have seen you cast men aside with your hands like they were straw, but you were sixty when I first became king. You must be in your late sixties by now!”
“Seventy one,” corrected The Forgotten One. “And I will slay him like any other.”
“But you could be killed,” Olleton whimpered.
“Jesus died out of love for others.”
“But He rose again,” Olleton hissed in frustration.
“True enough; but can you think of a better way for a man to die in the twilight of his years.”
The Forgotten One’s gaze shifted to his queen. She stared, wide eyed in shock; tears spilling freely from unblinking eyes. Gathering her in his free arm, he embraced her, resting his head on top of hers for a moment. When he broke from her, she retained the same broken stare.
“Goodbye, Andessa. I have always loved you as a daughter.”
What was left of her composure began to break away to open sobbing as he left her side. The multitudes parted to allow him through to the square. The Vindavian champion, known as Druth, strode forth to meet him, scraping the tip of his sword from left to right across the flagstones to signify that he was ready.
“Today your life ends, Nusallean,” he growled menacingly.
The Forgotten One’s words to Olleton drifted back to him; can you think of a better way for a man to die in the twilight of his years?
He spun the long hafted axe over his wrist fluidly, then stretched skyward, with the weapon aloft. The market place thundered with the shouts of thousands of Nusallean voices. The Forgotten One grinned behind his bandages as he set the axe-head to the street and scraped across.
“No; I cannot think of a better way,” he muttered to himself as Druth came at him in a semi-crouch.
The shouts of the crowd abruptly abated as The Forgotten One twisted the axe swiftly in his hand and swung…
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