Curtis was rich, but he was not happy. He had wanted wealth and fame, but he had only gotten the wealth. Instead of being famous, he had become infamous.
Whenever he strutted through a town with his rich clothes on and sword swinging by his side, hoping for some villagers to gaze at him at least a little enviously, he only got hard glares and people whispering behind his back.
“That’s Curtis Thyme, the low down skunk who hit his friend after he yielded in the monthly tournaments. He doesn’t deserve those clothes and those riches!”
With the growing insults pounding in his ears, Curtis grew unhappier by the day. Finally, he could stand it no longer.
I’m going to Tyler to ask him to forgive me. All I want is those words, and then I won’t care about what everybody else thinks. Curtis thought, and quickly throwing off his rich clothes, he dressed in his old ones, the garb of a knight. Then, wrapping his belt around his waist, walked to the door of his quarters, and quickly began the walk to the house of Tyler.
Reaching it, he hesitated before rapping sharply on the door with his knuckles. There was a few moments of silence, and then the door was opened from the inside.
Tyler stood in the doorway, squinting his eyes from the harsh light of the sun. He smiled immediately when he saw Curtis.
“Curtis! Come on in.” Tyler opened the door wider, and Curtis, confused by the friendly way his friend greeted him, slowly stepped in and entered. The two sat down, and Tyler quickly set down a tray of sweets on a table between them.
“How are you doing, friend?” Tyler grinned as he popped a sweet into his mouth.
Curtis took his own treat and nodded.
“I’m doing well, thank you.”
“What’s bothering you, friend?”
“I came …” Curtis began, taking a deep breath. “I came to ask you if you would forgive me for my horrible actions in the monthly tournaments. I’m truly sorry.”
Tyler looked at Curtis for a moment, and then looked away. He looked back again. Slowly, he nodded, and smiled sadly.
“You are already forgiven, Curtis! I forgave you the moment after you did it. Please don’t think about it anymore!”
“So we’re still friends?” Curtis asked.
Tyler leaned over the table and clasped Curtis’ hand, suddenly grinning from ear to ear.
“No matter what happens, Curtis, we will always be friends.”
“No matter what happens,” he agreed.
Curtis got up and thanked Tyler.
The two walked to the door and Tyler let Curtis out. Curtis walked home with his heart light. He felt good, better than he ever had before. Except for when he had won the tournament …
Curtis felt so good that he decided he would go for the next tournament and see if he could win more money, and perhaps this time, fame.
He trained hard, keeping fit and making his sword skills even better. He pushed his body to the limit. Once he was practicing several different swordsmen stances, when Tyler appeared, running with a grin on his face.
“Hey, Curtis! I was wondering if you wanted to go fishing with me. It’s a beautiful day.”
Curtis switched from one stance to another, swinging his sword expertly from his left side to the right. Sweat beaded his face as he concentrated on balancing.
“Not now, Tyler. Perhaps later. I’m training,” he replied, not even looking up as he twisted his feet and turned the maneuver into a quick crouch.
“Training for what?”
“The next monthly tournament. What else?”
Tyler stepped back, completely surprised.
“You’re doing that again? But Curtis, you don’t need more money! Why are you doing this? I want to be friends!”
Curtis finally looked up from his training and wiped his forehead.
“I will always need more money, Tyler,” he said. “And I admit it! Nothing else in the world better than that.”
Tyler lifted his hands to Curtis.
“Curtis …” he started to say, and then turned sadly away and began to walk.
Curtis took a step toward him and opened his mouth to call his best friend’s name, but then he shook his head, and continued training.
Two more rounds to go.
Just two more.
Curtis walked over to his leather canteen and tilting his head back, shook it to get the water out. Nothing came.
Drat! Curtis thought, and then shrugged. He didn’t need water. He was so anxious for the next two battles he probably couldn’t even swallow anyway.
Pulling on his helmet again, Curtis heard his name called, and he walked out into the arena. The crowd had grown some respect for the large young man, for he had bested some of the strongest knights in the tournament, and they did not boo when they saw he was the man that had hit his friend. They had forgotten about that, and only saw him as a skilled knight now. Instead, when he walked out into the light of the sun, they cheered wildly.
Curtis waved, happy and determined. Whenever he entered the arena, his anxiousness fell away, and there was nothing but his sword and his opponent.
The man he was fighting stepped out, and lowered his visor. The crowd cheered for him as well.
The two raced forward and began to exchange hard blows. Curtis was smashed hard across his shoulder with his opponent’s sword, and the man was given three points. Not enough to defeat him, but a good score.
A blow to the helmet or chest was the winning strike.
Anger boiled up in Curtis and spinning on his heel, struck out and gave his opponent a stunning smash across his ribs.
He was given three points as well. The anger died down. He was tied now. The two continued fighting hard. This man was good, Curtis had to admit. Even a challenge for him, but it wasn’t extremely hard to trick the man into becoming off balanced by a useless strike.
Curtis then lightly tapped him on the head. He had won the second to last round. The crowd cheered wildly.
Shaking hands with his defeated opponent, Curtis walked out from the arena. His thoughts turned to Tyler.
He hadn’t seen him all day.
Perhaps he didn’t want to come because he knew I was competing. Curtis thought with a pang of sadness, but then pushed it out of himself. He was not going to be sad because his friend hadn’t come. He only did it for the money and fame, not to please his friend.
The last fight started a few minutes later, and Curtis was up against another master of the sword. He fought hard and well, but Curtis was slowly forced back, back, back.
His opponent, quickly reversing his sword from a fake attack, scored five points with a blow to the arm and then another with a strike to Curtis’ side.
Curtis was angrier than he had ever been before that entire day of fighting. He had not trained so hard and come just to be defeated in the last round by some no name knight!
Curtis flew into a frenzy and began using all his best tricks. The knight deflected all of them – all but one.
Curtis did a quick maneuver, and when the knight moved to deflect the cut, Curtis switched his sword to his left hand, striking out on the other side of the knight. He thrust his sword straight toward the knight’s chest. It would be an automatic win. The crowd went wild, but just before Curtis’ sword struck the knight’s chest, the knight disappeared. He had fallen to one knee, and now struck upward at the off balance warrior.
The sword screamed upward, and Curtis knew he had only one escape. He leaped as high as he could, throwing himself forward. He went over the knight, and went into a roll. Leaping to his feet, the crowd gasping from the amazing maneuver, Curtis saw he still had his sword clutched tightly in one hand.
The other knight had got to his feet, but was off balance a little. Curtis struck before his opponent could recover, and blasted the sword from the man’s hands.
The knight stood before him, stunned, with his sword several feet away. Curtis drew his sword back to take the winning blow.
The crowd cheered wildly. For a moment Curtis glanced over, drawing in all of the happy and anxious faces. That’s when he saw Tyler.
His best friend stood in the crowd, cheering for him with a smile on his face, but a sad look in his eyes.
Something struck Curtis hard, a strong feeling of guilt. Curtis had asked Tyler for forgiveness, and then he had gone and was about to do the same thing he had asked forgiveness for. What kind of person was he? And even though Tyler disagreed strongly, he had come to cheer his best friend on anyway.
That was a true friend right there.
Curtis then knew what he was going to do.
Raising his sword, he let go of the handle, and caught the sword by the very tip. He offered the handle to his opponent, smiling and bowing slightly.
“I yield,” he said.
He didn’t want money any more, or fame. All he wanted was to be friends, and if that meant giving up his money and fame, he would do it.
The knight stared at Curtis for a long time, and then took the handle and bowed low.
“I accept,” he replied.
Tyler and Curtis strolled through their town. Curtis was happy. Happier than ever. Happier than he had been when he had won the tournament.
Many people nodded and smiled to Curtis, remembering him not as one who would strike his friend, but a man who could have won the tournament, but had given it up to another knight.
“Hey, Curtis!” People called out to him with a friendly wave.
He always waved back with a grin.
No longer did he wear his rich clothes either. They were gone, and Curtis had spit at them when he had thrown them into the trash.
“I don’t want riches anymore!” Curtis had said, and spinning on his heel, had walked off with a light heart.
Now he could spend time a friend, a true friend, since he had decided he wouldn’t participate in any more tournaments, and if he did some time, purely for fun.
“Well, friend,” Tyler said as they walked. “Looks like it’ll be a good day.”
Curtis nodded, watching as the sun slowly moved up in the sky, then he turned to his friend.
“How about we pack some lunch and go on down to the lake to fish?”
“Sounds like a plan!” he said, and the two strode off.
Short Story: Power of the Sword: Part 2
Caleb E King
Copyright © 2018 Caleb E King
All rights reserved.