Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"The Archer"

The archer stood alone in the wood. He had known this day would come, but he hadn't expected it would come so soon, or for this reason. He had been so careful, had taken dozens of precautions, had layered contingency upon contingency.

All were undone.

He stood alone by choice. Others would have come, but he would not allow it. Not for this.

Those who counted him their leader had always followed blindly, their loyalty freely given in exchange for rescue from their oppressors. He was their savior, both physically and figuratively. Not only had he provided them food and shelter, he had given them purpose. They were prepared to die for him for the loyalty thus inspired. This he could not allow and stay true to his principles.

Those who counted him their friend had followed out of trust. His friendship had been proven time and again, his planning and foresight tested and found sufficient for their common cause. These were prepared to risk life and limb for his happiness, for they knew he would do the same for them. This also he could not allow. It was not in his nature to ask for help when that help would benefit him alone. It was a contradiction. He would give that help freely for another – had done so many times – but even so, to ask was not in his character, and he would not change.

He could hire others to fight this battle. God knew his enemy had done so from the start, was doing so even now. What mattered the loss of the life of one who valued life as naught but coinage to be fought for and won? Life was of infinite more worth than mere coinage. What was money, after all, but a way to manipulate through the baser qualities of greed and selfishness? He had used this to his advantage, enraging his enemy as he took what was his and then simply gave it away. No. To rely on the hired thug was to be no better than those he opposed. He could not and remain himself.

And so, the archer stood alone in the wood. Stood for his principles. Stood for love.

"This is your final chance, rogue. Come forth now or we will kill her, lady of the court notwithstanding."

The archer stepped forward, his bow held low, his head held high.

"Stay your hand, Sheriff. I am here."

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