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Bad Luck Charm, part five

November 14, 2010

           Arrows flew in both directions, before the steel of our blades met upon that road.  I don’t know about the accuracy of Elis, but I never saw anyone draw faster, his hand was a blur betwixt the quiver and the gut.   The weird thing ain’t Elis, but the Soul Cursed.  The king’s archers loosed their shafts and to a man, every single one of’ them shot at, and most of them hit, the Soul Cursed.  He didn’t even hit the ground, before he was dead.
          We were on ‘em then.  Lo’an, screaming like a frost giant in the desert, cleaving through the foe with his great blade, blood ‘n bone flyin’ everywhere. Whisper’s in back of them, cuttin’ them down from behind.  Let me make somethin’ real clear, honor is somethin’ ye leave on the tourney ground, if it’s yer life or their’s I’ll choose theirs every time and I’ll take whatever advantage I can get too.  I don’t go lookin’ for fights, but when they come to me I don’t mess around bein’ all polite and such.  I kill the other man as quick as I can.
          Ye don’t think in battle either.  Plenty of time for introspection afterwards, either way.  Ye just fight, but ye remember things after – like Dolor.  I never saw a halfman fight before and they have a distinct advantage over tall ones.  Sure we got the reach on ‘em, but soon as they’re inside that reach, a long weapon does ye no good.  They’re a smaller target too, with good access to areas we ain’t used to protectin’ from that direction.
          Course, men without their legs can still get at ye, so ye make sure their dead before movin’ on.
          It ain’ long before the rest of the kingsmen are fleein’ and Elis is givin’ them the shaft.  Didn’t feel bad about that either.  Last thing I want is all the royal forces comin’ down on us. 
          So there we are, bleedin’ here and there, with only the Soul Cursed as a casualty.  We patch up quickly.  There’s a couple of nasty wounds that Fargyle heals.  That’s a sight I won’t forget anytime.  See a healer shares the pain of the wounded, I don’t know why, but that’s the way of it.  There’s probably more healers out there than we know, but they do it once and decide not to do it ever again.  Fargyle went through it a lot.  Seen him reattach limbs and I don’t blame the healers that hide.  I may not like Fargyle, I even fear him, but I respect the man.  Made ye wonder why he did it.  What was driving a man to suffer that way? 
         When its done and the awkward silence gets to be too much, there’s a brief discussion about burin’ the Soul Cursed and the prince is actually for it, but Fargyle disagrees.  “It is only a vessel.”  In some sense, that’s true for all of us, but for the Soul Cursed it has a more immediate meanin’.
         Ye figure out quick how things are in these situations, because the prince don’t like it but he agrees and we leave him and the king’s men out in the elements to be eaten by the birds ‘n vermin. 
         Now, ye’d think that the others would be upset about the luck of the Soul Cursed.  That looked like bad luck, no matter how ye viewed it.  They didn’t though, it was just another strange event around the Soul Cursed.  Twas one of the reasons they kept him around.  Bad things happened to him first.  Kind of like everyone and everythin’ was his bad luck charm.  Or mayhap he was a good luck charm for everyone else, never quite got the way of it with him.  Kind of confusin’ at first, because yer thinkin’ he’s dead, but I’m gettin’ ahead of meself.
         We were barely round the bend in the road when we come upon one of the Scalymen from south of the Sarian Desert way beyond the sand swirls of the drylands.  The thing was a little over half me height, with scales the color leather.  Ye expect green, or somethin’ shiny, but they weren’t.  The creature was carryin’ a rather large pouch and smokin’ a pipe.
        It smiled as we approached, though the scaly ones don’t have much else in terms of facial expressions.  He took the pipe out and I saw all three rows of teeth.  Its yellow eyes watched us and I got the sense it was friendly and not the least bit wary.
        Everyone nodded to him in greetin’and he got up off the small rock he was sittin’ on, knocked the tobacco out of the pipe before tuckin’ inta his pouch and joined us. 
        Fargyle just asked, “What do you go by?”
       “You wouldn’t understand my birth name, but my clan name essentially translates to ‘Seeker of the Ultimate Destiny of All Things ’ so you can call me Seeker if you like.”
        Expected him to lisp, didn’t ya?  To sort of sound like a serpent.  We’ll that’s one of those preconceived ideas that ain’t true. Kind of like the name we give ‘em: Scalymen.  From what he told me they don’t have men and women the way we do.  Seems kind of a lonely way to be, but then Seeker once told me tis far lonelier with someone than not sometimes.
        So Fargyle nods to the Scalyman.  “It’s an appropriate, if not necessarily a good name.”
        Seeker hissed.  Later I learned it was his way of expressin’ amusement, but it sounded hostile the first time I heard it.  “Obeying the laws of nature is more than a good thing.”
        Fargyle didn’t answer, but I can see Lo’an’s amusement.
        I say to Lo’an.  “I didn’t know a scaly man was one of the peers.”
        Lo’an grins. “He’s the Soul Cursed.”
        “But he just died!  Yer sayin’ he’s the same person?”
        “Vhat?  No he’s the same soul in a new body.”
        “Just poof, a new body?”
        Lo’an laughs uproarously.  “No.  He grew up like everyvun does.  Vell, like a scalyman does this time around.”
        “He’s been reborn in the past?”
        The northman grins.  “Vhat’s time to a soul?”  Which got me thinkin’ upon Seeker’s name, which I realized was morbid.  Which led to its implications. ‘All Things’ means everything – Even gods and souls.
         I know souls are immortal, but immortal ain’t the same as eternal.  People find comfort in knowin’ part of them go on, but mayhap that’s not always the case.  Seeker didn’t want to go on.  Aint’ for me to say.  Seeker wanted to stop being reborn.
        Ye have a lot of time on the road to consider things from all sides, and even the inside sometimes and ye think of things ye’d rather not, is all I’m sayin’.
        So after a moment I say, “Couldn’t he just warn a past self?”
       “Vell, he says a past death doesn’t matter to his present incarnation, he’s not the same person and he vouldn’t vant to know vhen he was going to die in the present incarnation, it vould only make it vorse.”
       “But he could prevent it!”
       Lo’an shrugged.  “Maybe, maybe not.  He’s a bit of a fatalist.  He’s died several times vhile vith Fargyle.  He remembers everything from before.”
       I think ‘bout that for a while.  Like I said, ye think to much on the road.  Once ye know of the bad luck charms, ye think they must have done somethin’ to deserve this punishment.  Maybe a past life.  But see, Seeker showed me that ye might be carryin’ the same soul, but he’s a different person, different likes, dislikes and desires each time, he just carries the memories of the times before.  So if yer a different person without memories of a time before, like Talf, then why should ye be punished for somethin’ someone else did?  It don’t make sense.  It ain’ fair as any honest man would see it.
       Anyway, at the time somethin’ else really struck me.  “With Fargyle?  Don’t ye mean with the prince?”
      Lo’an snorts.  “Ve’re all vith the vizard.  It’s the prince’s quest.”  Things aren’t always the way they’re told, especially when royalty was involved.  Things get skewed in a more socially acceptable way.  It wasn’t the prince’s peers that I had joined, but Fargyle’s.
      “Even Whisper?  he doesn’t seem to like Fargyle.”
      “No one does.”

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