Erich The Clearsighted

I don’t really know why I’m here. I don’t really know why they chose me. What I do know is that there’s a job to do, they chose me to do it, so I’m going to get it done. Maybe that’s why they chose me, it’s not like I don’t deserve it, but moreover, who else is going to do it?

I remember when I first joined the Knights of the Last Stand, days not so far in my past. We were on a mission, a group of us, sent out by the Lieutenant to go infiltrate a goblin lair and make sure those pests stayed away from my home town of Tharovace. So here we are, marching in formation through the old forest, clunking along as loud as can be, so I start making my armor clink to a little rhythm. The guy next to me, an old friend of mine, starts laughing and doing the same thing. Next thing I know, the whole group is clinking in rhythm to my own little beat, and laughing all the time. Needless to say, the Sarge wasn’t too happy about all of this. He calls me out to the front, stopping everyone to listen to him ream me.

“So you think you’re funny, do you son? You won’t be so funny when you’re lying dead on the floor, a goblin arrow through your throat, a goblin that you didn’t hear because you were too busy making music with your armor. Oh, and if that doesn’t bother you, maybe the view of your buddy over there lying in a pool of his own blood because you drew attention to us will paint a better picture.”

My retort comes effortlessly. “—Or maybe that staff that you’ve got so far up your arse will finally dislodge and you can have a little bit of fun out here. These boys, all of us, we’re going to fight, we’re going to die. The fight will come whether we make noise or not, and we all know it. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take my mind off of it for just a little bit until we’re facing the little beasts down, than walk somberly to my death, thank you. Of course, if you don’t mind being a walking statue, then go ahead, be bored until you die, but not me.” My fellow Knights fell totally silent, waiting to see what the Sergeant would do to me for my lip.

“So you want to have a little fun, do you? Alright son, you can have your fun. How’s this sound for fun? You take any that’ll go with you and you go clear out the goblins, me and the rest will wait here, appreciating our lives, maybe even singing about it, until you get back. No? Didn’t think so. Now fall back in, and stay quiet, or I’ll have your rank.”

Once again, I couldn't let the matter go. “So you’ll ignore your duties, and make me do your work? What a great leader you are, remind me to follow you into battle, or on second thought, how about not. Do you boys want to follow this bastard into battle?”

Silence.

I pressed it even further. “Do you want to walk in front of this coward, shielding him from harm, doing all his work while he stays in the back, doing nothing but taking all the glory?”

Murmurs.

“No, I don’t and you don’t. I’m going to get rid of the goblins, if you want to fight along side me, then come along, or you can serve as fodder for the Sergeant’s reputation, your choice.”

Silence.

I turned around, and started on my way. At first I only heard silence behind me, but soon the telltale rattle of people running in armor to catch me up. I turned back to see the Sergeant glaring at me, with two or three out of our original ten at his side. He called out something about a demotion, but it didn’t matter anymore. If he was the future of the Knights of the Last Stand, then I didn’t want to be a Knight, I would serve Heironeous in my own way.

I laughed as Kev, my old friend came running up next to me. He smiled and clapped me on the back, and the rest fell in behind me, we were kings of the world. It was hilarious, marching through the woods. We marched, calling out to the goblins, challenging them to assault us head on, daring them to shoot us from the shadows. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea, though, calling out challenges to the goblins…

So, here we are, walking through the woods, when an arrow thuds into a tree right next to me. All I can say is that whatever god made goblins have horrible aim, I owe them my life. Well, the merriment ceased immediately, and the warriors arose in each of us. We had trained the whole of our adult lives for this, and the warrior comes quickly when you let it. The men were magnificent that day, you should have seen it, their swords moved like lightning, their armor held as if blessed by St. Cuthbert. We walked away that day, every single one of us, though afterwards we counted at least double our number of dead goblins.

You should’ve seen the look on the Sergeant’s face when we all came back, unscathed. He even doubted that we fought the goblins, until he saw the blood on all our armor and swords. They threw us a party when we got back, and that Sergeant actually got demoted for failure to comply with orders. Yeah, I got a laugh out of that. Some officer came up to me that night, during the party, and he asked me why I deliberately put my “fellows” at risk like that. I told him what I told my friends in the field, that I wasn’t going to fight for someone or something I didn’t believe in, that the Knights needed to live life for living’s sake, instead of going through the motions, while doing them for the good of everyone else, but forgetting ourselves while at it. I told that officer, that night, I told him that I fight for everyone on this plane who wants to live in peace, myself included. I fight for the happiness of everyone, everyone, so why should I forget myself?

I guess he liked what he heard, and they all liked what I had to say, because I got promoted, and kept getting promoted. Now, I’m a member of the Council of Nine, and I try to make sure that I keep in mind the happiness of all the Knights not just the importance of protecting this plane. Like I said earlier, I don’t know why they chose me, but they did, and I’m going to do what I have to, and that’s all there is to it.

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