Not What You Think

“Here’s your sword. A little bit of faith, and you’ll have all you need to make it work.”

Cal snatched the weapon from his fellow knight’s hand, sneering as he did so.

“It’s not faith that I need Arthen.  I need practicality. Effectiveness.  I’m not using this sword to display faith.  I’m using this sword because it’s sharp, and my enemy’s neck is soft.”  Cal’s eyes glowed.  “It’s always more difficult to execute a beheading with a dull blade, you know.”

Arthen cut his eyes at him.

“Our orders are to rescue the princess, before the catapults launch on all external outposts heralding the sweeping in of the army.  We are not to give in to the powers of the darkness that hold her spellbound even now as we speak.  Never forget where you come from- not even in vengeance.  You are of the light- so act like it.”

theContrast“My dear Arthen… that has always been the difference between us.  You are so occupied trying to live this elusive, life of faith when you should be applying your incredible mind to outwitting the enemy.  It doesn’t take faith to use a weapon- it takes discipline. Applied ambition.  And remember- even light casts a shadow.  Darkness is a part of everything that is good- if rescuing the princess means that I have to cut through a thousand soldiers, then I’ll bloody well do it. Faith is not part of this.”

“That’s because you don’t understand what faith is.”

Cal and Arthen stole down the moutainside under cover of the setting sun, and crept quietly to within a hundred yards of the outpost where the princess was locked up.  The dark Prince who had captured her was madly in love with her, and so- rather than cast her in one of his horrid cells- he confined her to a heavily guarded outpost on the edge of his kingdom.

“I don’t care what faith is. I could run you through with this sword right now- what would your faith bring you?  Nothing.  You would bleed and die just as any other.”

Only two guards were posted outside.  Cal frowned.  That must mean that the rest of the horde were scattered somewhere inside.  The outpost wasn’t huge.  Evidently this was promising to be quite unpleasant.  On the distant horizon, the smoldering sun burned its orange defiance as it slowly sank, and darkness began to take over everything visible.

“Are things really so black and white for you Cal?”

“I’m only interested in things that serve a purpose. This sword. This armor. These boots. Purpose.  Faith serves no purpose. Not even for you- I’ve been a better swordsman than you for the duration of our knighthood.  Faith is useless… even for the strongest believer.”

“You’re wrong, Cal.  Faith isn’t a super power.  It’s a bridge.  Between you and anything you want or aspire to be is a great chasm.  A huge
deficit of direct opposition.  And in order to cross it and get to the other side, you must have faith.”

“You’re saying that this thing I care nothing for, and basically don’t believe in, I actually have in abundance.  You’re delusional.”

“Maybe.  Maybe not.  Maybe your faith is not in the light, per se… but your faith IS in your concept of a higher strength.  Cut through a theSwordthousand soldiers?  That’s beyond any swordsman’s skill.  You MUST have faith that from somewhere within you will arise this- SOMETHING- to empower you to do it.  That your last breath won’t be your last breath.  That when you can’t go one more step, you’ll go a hundred.  That’s faith.”

“But you just said it wasn’t a super power.”

“It isn’t.  Faith isn’t a power, but all those with power have faith. Faith is a bridge- it gets you where you need to be, and does not form until you take a step. Sometimes it manifests as intelligence, strength, wisdom, sacrifice, power… no telling what bridge is required.”

Cal considered that for a moment.

“Also- your bridge is only as reliable as the greatness of what gives you your faith in the first place… Where do you draw your faith from Cal?”

“I’ll examine that, when next I find myself surrounded by peace.” He twirled his sword.  “But now dusk has fully fallen and it’s time for a little bloodshed.”

Arthen drew his sword as well.

“I couldn’t agree more.”

As one, they sprinted the short distance and dispatched the outer guards with lethal silence.  Arthen exhaled with adrenaline as he relieved the dead guard of his keys, and fit the right one into the door of the outpost.

“Pity you don’t care about faith though… you have to wait for peace.”

Arthen opened the door quietly.

“And you don’t?”

They both slipped inside.  Distracted by movement at the top of the stairs, they forgot to brace the door.  It clanged loudly behind them.  Immediately, enemy soldiers gathered at the top of the stairway.  Two arrows came whizzing down, which they slashed to bits with their blades.

“Nope!” Arthen replied to him as they each placed a foot on the bottom of the stairs. “Faith allows me to take my peace with me!”

Swords outstretched, they charged up the stairs and into the fray.

###

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