*I know, I know, it's a story, but it's really short and I'm not posting again until at least Monday, so if you have the time this weekend give it a read and let me know what you think. It's even kind of fitting for this weekend. Kinda. Like big picture-wise.
He had walked a short distance from the camp for a small measure of peace, only a few dozen paces from the nearest tents but far enough that the incessant talk was more murmur than anything else. The constant noise, well, that was camp life. Armies were noisy, but it was the talk that drove him to distraction. The endless talk of nothing. Bragging, tales, gossip and worst of all speculation. He did not like battle, but at least it would put an end to all the guessing and expert opinion. It wouldn't be as bad if he were amongst the officers, they weren't all fools. But that was not his fate. He had been cursed a giant. He stood at least two heads above even the tallest of his fellow soldiers and for that he was eternally cast the army's monster. It did not matter that he was more intelligent than any officer commanding him and (he doubted even his king could match wits with him) it did not matter that he had his letters, all that mattered was his size. He'd long ago given up searching for intelligent conversation among his "brothers," or conversation at all. Most treated him like a fool or a dangerous beast so that is what he gave them. Grunts and bestial screams made them happy so that us what they received.
The two hills they had set up camp between had been covered in beautiful purple flowers. Most had now been crushed but he had found an unmolested patch just outside the sentry lines and that was where he had spent the morning. Below him the sound of his squire returning to their tent interrupted his meditation. The boy had completed his errands and now bleated about the camp like a lost sheep. He did not bother answering. Someone would point him out in good time. Besides, it was too damned hot. The less movement the better.
As predicted, the boy found him soon enough. "Sir!" the squire panted as he ran up the hill, "I found a local who knew the name of these flowers."
"Lupine," he repeated, committing it to memory. He had removed some seed pods earlier and placed them in a small leather bag he now handed to the squire. Hopefully he would get the chance to plant them once the war was over. He had been admiring the flowers throughout their current campaign, but this had been the first time they had come close enough for him to collect a specimen.
"There's a stir at the front, sir. Some say they've finally found someone to challenge you,"the boy reported cheerfully. Finally, he thought. Maybe we can finally end this damn war. He did not understand why their foe continued in this pointless action. They had been beaten twice now and had their precious treasure taken, but on they fought. If they would just give up he could finally be free. His term of service was done with the completion of this campaign. Ten years was enough. He had made enough to provide a good home for the bride his family had chosen for him. A home and a comfortable life once he found work. He had long ago decided to follow his family and work the sea. No fools to suffer upon the waves, the fish did not speak. Afternoons alone untangling nets in the solitude of his own thoughts? He could think of little sweeter. A quiet life with a good woman and a house full of children, all he needed was for this fool's errand to run its course.
Sure enough, word eventually came back that the Israelites had chosen a warrior. He returned to his tent and enjoyed some wine and a quick bite while his squire prepared his armour. He was always chosen for single combat, his enormous size guaranteed it. He took no joy from it though, it was a necessary evil. In fact, when he first joined up he had been terrible. If it weren't for the terror he brought forth in his adversaries he should be long dead. As it was, he had plenty of opportunities to practice over the seasons. If he should never spill another man's blood he would be blessed.
First though, the show. After donning his leather and plate and choosing his favoured spear he made toward the front lines. They parted before him, chanting his name and screaming for blood. "Goliath! Goliath!" If they only knew how much he despised them in these moments. They were little more than animals, but he gave them what they wanted. He bellowed like an angry oxen and shook his mighty spear for all to see and they lapped it up. He felt the fool for it, but it garnered him extra food every night and a tent to himself, not that any save his squire would sleep near him. All the better, he thought.
When the final waves of screaming faces parted and he stood alone with his commanders he began to worry. Around him his fellow soldiers and officers scoffed at his opponent, laughing and slapping one another on the back in their mirth and merriment. Across the clearing between the two armies stood the Israelites and their champion. To say the man was small compared to him was a gross exaggeration. I could probably eat his body weight in one sitting, he thought. But while his Philistines derided the small man, Goliath knew the Israelites had chosen him for a reason. There were many warriors behind the man who would have made a better match, but instead they chose this little man to decide their nations fate in single combat. The soldier played the part of being frightened, but Goliath decided that was exactly what he was doing, playing a part. The fear in the man's face did not extend to his eyes. Those eyes were busy taking his opponents measure, were in fact, taking the winds measure as well as he noticed the man's attention flit from himself to the banners that waved above the Philistine lines. Sure enough, as the diminutive Israelite turned Goliath caught a glimpse of a sling hanging at the man's hip. Outwardly, the Philistine played his own part, but inside he was worried. While his reach with a spear was formidable, all his opponent needed to do was keep beyond it and pelt him with those damned stones. His own men might think the rocks would bounce from him, but he suffered no such delusions. A skilled man with a sling was every bit as deadly as he was with his giant size and strength.
He sighed. His die was cast. He turned his back on the little man and lifted his spear and shield high. They expected a show and a show they would receive. He gave them his best roar and then turned once more to face his enemy. He screamed all his best insults and stepped forward into the clearing. Why couldn't they have just given up?
*I wrote this on my iPod while at my sister's the last time we were visiting. The main reason it is so short.
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