Xenophobe the Great … A Warrior’s Tale

KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK.

Silence.

KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK.

Sounds of movement. Sounds of objects shuffling. The distinct clinking of arms being readied is heard. A spy-hole opens and a deep, gravelly voice grumbles, “Go away.”

“Sir, I am from ‘Warrior of Fortune’ Magazine. You agreed to an interview for this month’s cover story.”

living in a cave

A watery, bloodshot eye appears in the spy-hole. After a brief pause, the gruff voice speaks again. “Not from you. You have red hair.” The spy-hole slams shut, and no amount of knocking gets his attention back.

With a bemused look, the reporter shrugs in defeat and heads back to the office.

The next day, a brunette heads up to the door and knocks. Shuffle, shuffle, clink, clink, spy-hole sliding open and the suspicious eye appears. “You here for the interview?” says the voice.

The reporter replies with his fluid, rich accent, “Yes indeed sir, if you are ready today?”

Once again a disappointing reply: “Not from you. You ain’t from around here.” Defenses are closed down again.

The following day THREE reporters show up. They are all locals, as typical as possible to the norms of the region. They all approach the door. As previously agreed upon by the three, the comely female among them does the talking. She knocks, and the greeting process begins anew. The eye takes all three in. A few terse question appears to satisfy the eye that are all from  ‘around here’. The sounds of several locks being open is heard, and finally the large door slowly, creakily, opens.

The rough eye is partnered with an even rougher eye … one with a distinct scar attached. They are part of a solid, scraggly face that is further attached to a rather hulking,  equally solid body that would definitely give any potential aggressor pause. “Come in. Come in.” He seems almost friendly now, especially after getting a better look at the female reporter. He emulates a welcoming gesture (as much as his hulking mass can), and the guests enter at last.

He gives them a quick tour of his home. It is rather spartan. The only ‘decorations’ are various forms of armor and arms, obviously both functional and well cared for. His larder is well stocked … so well stocked that he appears ready to live out a siege lasting years if there is a need. He then leads them out to the ‘garden’, essentially a walled in courtyard open to the sky. There are various vegetables and herbs growing, but it lacks the general comfort associated with a garden. There is a table with several chairs around it, which are soon filled.

The interview truly begins. One gentleman takes notes, the other is busy drawing a portrait for the article. The questions are simple at first … a little about his upbringing and training, the general story of his becoming the famed hero his reputation claims him to be. His new found geniality holds strong, until he notices the note taker. He pauses in the middle of an answer, and in a suddenly chilly voice asks, “Are you left-handed? If so, you must leave. Now.” Our intrepid reporters all pause, equally startled. The air becomes thick with tension.

With a well placed wink to his fellows, the note taker breaks the silence. “Of course not sir. I have injured my right hand, and am forced to use my other hand. This IS my livelihood after all. Fortunately only I have to read my notes.” The warrior eyes him a bit suspiciously for a moment, then grunts, and returns to his friendlier mode, indicating that they could continue.

“You were saying that you learned most of your fighting skills on the standard monster slaying adventures. Is it true that you managed to slay a fully grown fire drake single-handed?”

He looks a little uncomfortable for a moment, then laughs almost sheepishly. “I was VERY lucky that day. I might not have beat that tough bugger if he hadn’t a’ slipped at just the right time.” He goes into the details of the battle, jumping up to reenact certain key moments. Styluses scribble away as the reporters exchange humored looks. Soon he settles back down.

“Now for the important question.” He looks wary. “Tell us about the battle for Elvenhame. The stories have it that if it were not for you, the Trolls would have taken the Eastern wall, and the city would have been totally lost. The battle was only won thanks to your efforts, ensuring that our alliance with the elves is now stronger than ever before.” His wariness grows darker again, approaching disgust. He starts to say something, then thinks better of it. Dangerous thoughts pass behind the rugged face. Another false start at speech.

Finally, “Let’s just say I hate Trolls even more than I hate Elves. I almost wish that I never answered THAT call to arms!” Another uncomfortable silence grows.

The three reporters look at each other, nonplussed. For a moment the interview seems to stall, but then, as if a silent thought had been shared, a new question is asked. “Seriously, though, tell us how you did it? You are a big man, but compared to a Troll? And there was a whole ARMY of them! Details man!!” The darkness in his face lifts, and he once again animatedly describes the battle in all its horror and glory. This goes on for a bit, as he seems to relish the destruction he managed to cause his perceived enemies. A few more safely vapid questions, and the interview is over. He escorts the crew back to the entrance, his camaraderie showing strain as farewells are exchanged. He seems almost happy as he firmly shuts the door on their departure. Locks are locked, and the air of solid defensiveness is once again felt.

Upon return to the office, the boss wants to know if they are successful. The consensus: a good story, one definitely worth printing. But he might not be the hero we are looking for. Maybe someone else for the cover story? Legend is not always what it seems.

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