The large market square from Tarna was hive of activity. Town traders erected their stands. The streets from the town gates to the market square were full of farmers from the vicinity. Although sometimes it appeared as if the square wasn’t big enough for so many people, everyone seemed to find a last small corner to trade their wares.
A handsome dark haired warrior was a witness to these scenes as he came up from the harbour. His sword was strapped to his backpack and his bundle, wrapped in a foxfur, hung from his shoulder. The foxtail swung jauntily with every step he took. He’d arrived on the last boat, and was on the way to his next mission. He didn’t rally want too stay for long, but he needes supplies, and so took the time to strall over the market square. If you had watched him closely you might’ve concluded that he had already fought in many wars, as now and again a scar was visible under his clothes. His purposeful stride seemed to suggest he knew his own worth, although something in his eyes and his posture seemed to be searching. Although it was still early delicious cooking odours filled the air. At one stall there was roast meat and vegetables, a little further on pudding, baked apples with cinnamon. He bought an apple an d strolled on.
At the back of the market square he found a recess, where an old storyteller sat. A throng of children and grown ups clusteres round him, intent on his every word. As the warrior passed the storyteller came to the end of his tale and a boy leapt to his feet and cried,“ When I’m grown up I’ll be a famous warrior. Everyone will admire me. Please, tell us a story about a great warrior and his famous battles, please !“
The storyteller gave him a thoughtful glance, noticed the interested gaze of the warrior, who stood at the entrance of the recess and replied. „I know a story about a famous warior. I could tell it to you, but there are two sides to this story, and you must hear both of them. He looked directly at the warrior as if to say ‘sit and listen’.
Hesitantly the warrior seated himself against the wall of the recess and reluctantly listened as the storyteller began...
„Far, far away to the south, in a distant land lived a boy like you,“ he began, with a glance at the boy, „who also wanted to be a great warrior. He thought of nothing else, and worked steadily to achieve his goal. His three or four friends supported him as best as they could. They trained with him, encouraged him when things went badly, and were always there for him. When he became of age he joined the Kings army and was soon sent to the next battle. The king was hungry for new lands an d needed many soldiers to fulfill his dreams. Ans so it came to pass that our young warrior, we’ll call him Arius, fought in many battles. But he was still just one soldier among many, and no one noticed him. One day however he finally had his chance to prove himself. His troop was split up into many smaller unit, and each were given a different task. His unit was to enter the enemy camp unseen and overpower the guards, and under his command this task was completed so well that he was promoted. At last he had been noticed !
So Arius was given task after task, and everything he did was crowned with success. His reputation grew, as did his wealth. Every promotion, every successful task earned him more riches and priviledges. The king won many new lands through his expertise, and rewarded him richly. Arius was allowed to sit in the kings presence and finally became one of his closest advisors. When the wars finally ended he was a famous man and everyone admired him and rejoiced when he passed.
Now Arius had finally achieved everything he wanted he looked foor someone to share it with. Before he had had no time for friends or family, he had a lot to catch up. After a while he found a beautiful woman and fell in love. He began to woo her. He sent her fragrant flowers from his garden, jewellry and choice sweetmeats. One evening he gathered all his courage and went to ask if she would be his wife.
As he went past a half open door he heard his name, which made him stop and listen. Inside, the maid of his beloved was talking to her friend, and what he heard caused him much pain.
Her mistress, said the maid, thought highly of Arius and would probably marry him, but only because he was one of tthe kings favourites, and her reputation would profit from the marriage. Also he was rich, and if he failed to return from the next, inevitable, war well then she want for nothing.
Arius had headr enough, and returned to his lodgings, sad and disappointed. To tell the truth, everyone hung on his every word just because he was the kings favourite. They all wanted to bask in his glory and his friendship with the king. Nobody wanted to know who he really was, they all wanted to use him to unprove their own positions.
But Arius wanted someone to love him for himself, not because of his reputation or his riches. He wanted someone who would still love him when all that was gone. But although he tried his hardest he could think of noone, in the Palace or the town who fitted this description. He didn’t even have any real friends, he decided. The men he know were either jealous of his position, or only used him to further their own ends of which he was ignorant. He suddenly realised how precarious his own position was, dependant on the kings goodwill. It was all to much, wasn’t his own man anymore. He had learnt the dark side of success.
„And what did he do ?“ interrupted the boy, „did he show them all what he thought of them ?“
The storyteller smiled gently at him, „ No just the opposite. He turned his back on the Army. When the nicht fell he packed his bundle and crept unseen out of the castle. The king would never have let him go, so long as Arius could be useful to him. Soon he was on the way home, just like earlier when he was a normal soldier. First he went to see his friends.
They were overjoyed to see him and it didn’t take long before he felt completely at home. Soon, though, he became restless and started his travels. But now he worked as a mercenary. In nthis way he could choose who he worked for, and only undertook missions whose purpose he agreed with. He changed his name, so no one would know who he really was, and called himself ‘The fox’ . The fox carried out many missions and soon had a reputation to match Arius, but hardly anyone knew who ‘the fox’ really was. He returned regularly to his friends and spent many happy hours with them. And all the time he looked for a woman with a humble and honest heart.“
Here the storyteller finished his story. The children looked a little puzzled, espesially the little boy who clearly wasn’t satisfied with the way it had ended. The had reached its zenith and much of the audience went to find food. The children hurried to their parents and the warrior too, made preparations to leave. Before he did though, he went over to the storyteller.
„Tell me, wheree did you hear this story ?“
The old man looked up. „ This story came to our Princess Ranya from a land far away. I had the honour of hearing it from her.“
He looked at the warrior seachingly. The warrior hesitated, as if he wanted to leave, then turned back once more to the old man.
„Did the warior in your story find a woman he could love ?“
The storyteller smiled back gently. „ He met many good women, who he could trust and who didn’t disappoint him, and sooner or later he’ll met the right one for him. Sometimes the answer to problem is so obvious that we overlook it.“
„I thank you“ answered the warrior an left the recess thoughtfully.
And so the warrior, at first still lost in his thoughts, then with purpose went to buy his supplies and to leyve the town for the South.
Blind courage even makes a fly immortal!