Dull Swords

Dull Swords
by Miles H. Rost
(Part III of the Warrior Series)

(For parts I and II, please visit Unstoppable God, Invincible and Ambushed By Myself at their respective links

I had a long recovery after being beaten up and subsequently healed. Morgan, our leader, had taken the time to look at my sword and the armor that was carried off of me after I arrived back at the camp. He relayed a message to Brian, a message that would inspire a lot of worry and challenge. This was all in the space of a few days before the big Gathering that we were going to be attending.

“Hey!” Brian said to me, as I slowly started jogging around the camp, “We just got done with your assessment of your equipment.”

“What did you find?” I asked back, not looking at anything but the path in front of me.

“I don’t know what happened, but your equipment hasn’t been maintained very well. Has it not been given the proper upkeep?”

I just shrugged as I continued to jog. Brian put a hand on my shoulder, giving me the indication to stop.

“You don’t have to worry if you say yes.”

I stopped, and turned to face him at underneath a large oak tree. He continued to speak, as I looked at him.

“We get people in our camps all the time with equipment that’s falling apart. They try to take in battle, and they get thoroughly knocked around because of this. You, my brother, are not the only one who has to deal with severely corroded gear.”

I looked up at Brian and just couldn’t take it much more. I sat down at the base of the tree and the tears started flowing from my eyes.

“I’ve had that equipment for 18 years,” I cried out, “I’ve not had to use it much except in the last few months, when I joined with your crew.”

“That’s okay, brother. We’re not here to condemn you. As I said, everyone’s got corrosion on their armor. The difference is, are you going to work to repair your equipment, or will you be working to get new equipment. If you’re needing new equipment, do not be surprised that you will be able to get it. We walk by faith, and not by sight.”

After I told him that I would talk to him a little bit later, I just sat at the bottom of that tree and cried my eyes out. All of that frustration from being knocked around, and all of the pain of knowing I could not battle because I was exposed without armor, it flowed out like a raging river.

As I had dinner at the camp, Morgan sat down next to me. He looked out over the camp, over his army of warriors, then looked at me.

“You know, what’s happened to you is going to make you a stronger man. To fight heartily, it takes strong leadership,” he said, with a stern yet comforting edge to his voice, “With leadership and the coverage of our camp, you’ll be able to do a lot more. But you gotta listen, and you need to get in with our Father.”

I started in on the training the following morning. I spent all day trying to swing my dirty and pitted long sword, to spend time developing the skill. It kept slipping out of my hand after a while. I was so rusty, I couldn’t even understand how I could have withstood all of those Legion those weeks back.

I felt frustrated with each day of practice, each day where I kept losing my sword and losing all of my focus. The week was just incredibly hard, with attack after attack on my own confidence. I could feel many parts of it falling like a crumbling brick wall.

After one of my day long practice sessions, I sat in my tent silently. How could I get myself ready for the upcoming Gathering when I was so lost about everything. I heard a scratch at my tent, and looked up to see Brian poke his head in.

“Hey, are you okay?”

“Come on in. I’m really having a tough time today, to be honest. I just can’t seem to do my work, well or otherwise. I’m just concerned about a few things.”

He took a seat next to me, folded his legs, and put his hands under his bearded chin..

“So, tell me about it.”

“I feel like all this stuff with my equipment has just eroded me down. I mean, how am I to do the fighting against the enemies like I’m supposed to do if I still have all this corrosion on my work?”

“Well, soldier, you need to just remember that our assessment of your equipment just gives us an idea of what needs to be repaired. And we have a session of repair for you to experience coming soon.”

“Session of repair?”

“Yeah. See, we have an attachment with what we use for offense and defense. It’s a part of us, and just because it gets tarnished or corroded, it doesn’t mean it’s unfixable. In fact, if things get done right, it could be made as good as new.”

“Will this happen before the Gathering?”

“I’m not totally sure, but I have a feeling it will be done soon. In the meantime, I think you need to get some sleep. You need to rest as much as you can.”

I looked over at him, and gave a small sigh.

“Do you think the corrosion was affecting some of my other skills, as well?”

“I think lately, no. You were pretty good at the river battle. You just need to be mindful of where it starts, and how to take care of it before it gets too bad.”

I nodded, and I prepared my face for bed.

“Brian, thank you for being a great friend.”

“Don’t sweat it. I’m also your sergeant, so I have to make sure my people are well taken care of.”

The gathering of people would happen in two days. I needed to get my heart ready.

 

Advertisements

Limelight

by Miles Rost

“Seems like the only thing I get recognized for around here is my screwups.”

To no one in particular, John Barrett uttered words that came from the deepest part of his heart. A bassist for the band Stickyfeet, he was the guy who kept the band going when the lead singer or the two guitarists had their fits and their temper tantrums. Sometimes things went well when they went off the rails. Other times, like this day, he was on the receiving end of blame for lousy concern ticket numbers coming out of the mouth of their manager, Buck Waignwright.

“Hey! You need to keep the other guys up and working. Our ticket sales went through the crapper for the last 4 shows!”

John just rolled his eyes as Buck railed him up and down for not doing the role of being the brother’s keeper.

“It’s not my fault Izzy and Travis get plastered before the concert and can’t keep themselves sitting up. I try to pour the coffee down their throats and keep my basslines neat, but I can’t do everything.”

“Well, maybe you should try just a little bit harder.”

“Or you could hire a roadie whose job would be to keep them from going into the sauce.”

Buck laughed, and coughed, then laughed some more.

“We have 5 dates left for the tour. Once that’s done, we’re going to do some re-evaluating. You better be ready, cause you might just have a place on the chopping block.”

John stood, flipped him off, then left.

He got in his car and drove to his “let off steam” spot, high above the city. He could see the people below, like ants they scurried about.

He sat for a long time, talking to no one in particular, but letting off steam.

“I’ve had to deal with all this crap for nearly 6 years,” he said, to the trees and the shrubs overlooking the city, “It’s easy to say what I did wrong and what I did right. I have never had a chance to truly go out and do something of my own.”

He looked up at the sky, laying on the hood of his car, watching clouds pass by quickly.

Maybe the road is not easy, and maybe the prize is small. But after all these years of waiting, I’m gonna show them all. Somehow, someway, I will be able to show Buck, Izzy, and the rest of them that they need someone else to hold their hands.”

“That’s a pretty big pronouncement, John. How do you think you’ll do it?”

John turned over on the hood. He looked down at a pair of shiny black cowboy boots, a pair of long legs squeezed into a pair of jeans, a flannel shirt tied in the front, showing just enough to get a man interested, and finally a face that he would recognize from a long time back.

“So, how did you find me, Miss Eliza Chapman?”

“I knew this place from a long time ago, when you weren’t much of a bass player and more of an introspective poet.”

“Those days are long gone. Apparently, I’m only support staff now.”

Eliza chuckled.

“So, I guess this means you’re not interested in maybe joining a band as a lead man?”

John’s eyes perked up a bit, though he tried to hide it with indifference.

“Who’s looking?”

“Bright Star just lost their bassist and their lead singer. They need to fill both, but they are looking at changing their styles. I figured that you’re probably getting tired of being Izzy Larkin’s personal belch-boy, so I mentioned your name. They seem like they may be interested.”

John looked at her, and invited her up onto the hood of the car.

“Looking out at the city, what do you see?”

“I see a rich environment of people and potentially awesome shows.”

John smiled, as he looked out.

I can hear the roar of a distant crowd. They are waiting for me, they’re shouting out loud. I want to entertain people, give them the ability to forget their problems for a 2-3 hour show. They can’t do that when I have to clean up after Izzy and the others.”

She looked out as well, and nodded.

“Bright Star fired the lead singer for doing too many drugs. They want a straight edge for this next one.”

John looked at her and smiled.

“You’re the manager for them, right?”

“Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

“I have 5 dates left to play, then I can be free to do what I want.”

“Gives us time to practice, it looks like. We’re going into the studio in about a month to cut the next record. Think you’d be up for moving some of your songs over?”

“Move? No way. I’ll create some new stuff. After these 5 days, I want a clean start. It’s the finality. Get the deal in writing, and we’ll work.”

“How about a preliminary agreement?”

“In what way?”

“The old fashioned way. Sealed with a kiss.”

John chuckled, until he was rolled over onto by Eliza. And given a big kiss.

“I ain’t gonna change my mind, Eliza. But understand, I’m now in business with you. No relationship stuff.”

Eliza smiled, as she sat up on the edge of the car. John looked out at the city, and smiled.

After all the years of waiting, I’m going to show them all.