“I don’t think you have ever really thought that through, Toot-Toot. But I have. And let me tell you who that teacher is. That teacher, somebody not covered in gold and magic, but in purpose and drive, is a god damned, mother fucking legend. A LEGEND I tell you. That teacher…is somebody who will live…forever. The warrior covered in God armor with the God sword and a harem of a thousand whores and a castle with streets paved with gold is forgotten a hundred years later…except to tomb robbers. The teacher…the teacher will be remembered for thousands of years. And their actions… their actions will live even longer. The founders of this new nation, the teachers, leaders, creators…they become immortal. Immortal in ways the ‘God warrior’ can only have wet dreams about.
“Toot-Toot, New Warrendale is your best chance to, not get rich, which is, I guess, still a possibility, but to become somebody! And, even if forgotten…which is most unlikely, your purpleness…to be a part of something greater than yourself. It’s a chance to make a million people’s lives better. Not better because you saved the world and they just get to keep on living, but better because they are free. And have decent clothing. And something more than a lean-to with no water or fire to live in. Better because they are not starving. Better because they are not considered parasites and would make better fertilizer than people. Better because they are respected, possibly even admired. And in some cases, maybe even feared. Better because they are no longer nothing and now have to be treated like somebody! Even if all the nations on the world rise up to stamp them out and kill them to the last man, woman and child…they die like persons… and not animals!
“I don’t think you have seen this before. I know Gilby hasn’t. I think Drelmadath does, but still doesn’t grasp the concept. Quarian at least sees the purpose…that’s why he is not here! Pavel…not even a thought. Theo…not his fight. And even the concept of a nation of freemen I think is a difficult concept for him to get his head around.
“Toot-Toot…this is a re-vo-lution, and we get to be part of it! In a hundred years, there will be new kings and old kings alike who will be jealous…of us! And more than Avondale, more than Whitefall which has already been over ran, more than anybody else in the world, New Warrendale…needs us. US! Really…all of us. But the rest of the team does not see that. They see a mission. A goal. From time to time. Sometimes they focus on that. Sometimes they just wander off on their own little tangents.
“You want to know why I am here. Now. Headed back to New Warrendale, whether alone or with you or with the team? Because they don’t get that! And they will wander like the lost in the wilderness for years before they fully understand the opportunity in front of them…but by then it will be too late. We came here to get aid from Bowerstone. We failed. I thought they could be motivated by a chance to make a difference. Theo already made promises I wasn’t willing to concede. And even then, it was ‘what’s in it for us.’ Freeing an entire clan of enslaved dwarfs? Didn’t mean a thing. Possible future solutions to heal the land you are poisoning to death right now? Would be hard pressed to care, because the land isn’t quite dead yet. Future business opportunities? They are just as happy to deal with genocidal Magderous right now. Magderous, who we have credible evidence, is slaying any dwarf in Queensland they can find. Not Bowerstone’s problem…as long as there is a profit to be made. Danu, I don’t know how they can be so blind with greed. They would give up all their future freedom, their free-will, their very souls, just for their weight in gold right now. It just never occurred to me that a race that is so long-lived could be so…short sighted. The only way their reluctance makes any sense is if they are afraid we will succeed. And hope we will fail. But don’t want to directly be a part of committing to making us fail…in case we do succeed. Bowerstone has gone, at least in my mind, from a possible patron, and hopefully long term, mutually beneficial ally…to a herd of cattle. A resource to be exploited as needed.
“We…or at least I…was over here to secure resources to make our survival more likely. ‘Our,’ meaning New Warrendale. But, that said, if I am being fully honest with myself, even I lost focus on the big picture. I should have gone immediately back to New Warrendale when Bowerstone failed. But…I let myself get distracted. I wanted to see Gilby’s bubble get popped and for her to be revealed as the courtesan that I thought she was. Yeah…sometimes I am witchy like that! Not particularly proud of it, but can own it. It’s not my worst quality! Sure, I justified it by saying it was an opportunity to see if we could get some resources from Avondale. As misguided as I thought Gilby was, I was pretty sure we could use her to get something useful from Avondale. Use her fairly. If New Warrendale survives, Avondale would reap it’s investment back many times over. And…I tried to convince myself that, ‘how difficult can it be to kick a small band of what you call kobolds out of Whitefall?’. You guys make them sound like just so much archer fodder. Then we could come back to Bowerstone with a debt to collect instead of just with hat in hand.
“But I was just kidding myself. Avoiding the hard truth. Bowerstone failed. I don’t really know how New Warrendale is going to survive in the short term without Bowerstone talent resources. I didn’t want to come back a failure. It seems like I have more failures since deciding to throw in with The Warrens than I have freckles. And I have a lot of freckles.
Toot-Toot started to tell her differently, but it was like she read his mind.
“Don’t!,” she cut him off before he could get a word out, “my stage right now. Just listen. I’ve finished almost nothing I have started since I escaped the Romans in Kelteberia. In fact, I don’t have a lot to show for my efforts and intentions since I left King Garb’s court to make contact in Kelteberia. New Warrendale is important to me. To me! But that is just me! It shouldn’t really be important to you just because it’s important to me. But…if ever the fate of New Warrendale becomes important to you, regardless of what I or anybody else thinks, then you will understand. You will understand that we, as individuals on this world, really are not important…except for how we can actually make the place better for others…for how we can make a difference! Most people, even many kings and queens, can go their entire lives without making a ripple in the world. We…we have a chance to be The Great Flood. Even if we are forgotten the moment we die, what we do will live on.
“And that is why I’m headed back. The team lacks focus on the end goal. We were starting to wander. Yes, Anlor may be the key to unraveling Avondale, which might be the patron needed to free Whitefall, which might be the carrot to entice Bowerstone…all of which might take years to accomplish. In the meantime, New Warrendale is starting to flounder. So …it’s time for me to go back. That’s why I’m here, right here, right now. And you are here…well…because I am here.”
She reached across to take his hand in hers, “and…make no mistake about it, while I was willing to go back to New Warrendale alone…and I think the team would be better off with your sword and your rage…I am so very grateful to have you with me. And it has nothing to do with your sword…or your rage…your martial prowess…or your musical aptitude with your ‘purple flute…’ I wish you had stayed with the team. Their chance of succeeding in weeks instead of months or years is better with you than without you. But I am glad you came with me…because I value your company. I know you struggle with your own, personal…short comings. But…you face them…and struggle with them. So many of us just turn a blind eye or actually embrace our short comings. But you…you are trying to…become better. To strive towards being the best Toot-Toot that you can be. Not just a mindless force of rage with a sword. And not just a Boom Boomer, either. Though…I think being a force of rage is important to you. And I think you are not going to give up on the Boom Boom. But you are working at making your rage…not mindless. And I believe you are thinking of better ways to become the Boom Boomer. And I see you work at learning patience. And I see you working at self control. And I see you working at thinking of others before yourself. I see you working at being a good Toot-Toot…”
She put the palm of her hand on his sternum, the tip of her index finger almost reaching the hollow of his throat, her eyes focused on the back of her hand. “And… I believe that if you keep working at becoming a better Toot-Toot, a Toot-Toot that sees beyond himself without having to try to see beyond himself, I believe that you can become a great Toot-Toot. An example to emulate. A beacon of hope. Proof that one can overcome the circumstances of their humble birth. Not a slave to what everyone else thinks is a part of his nature.” She raised her gaze to his face, “damn, Toot-Toot, you are going to have to wear a heavy, black robe with a hood and a veil just to keep from blinding others with your radiance!…And…” she flung her arms wide apart, lifted her head back so her face was pointing to the sky, eyes closed, “I will bask in your GLORY!” She dropped her had back down, bringing both arms in, right hand on the log at the edge of her kilt in front of her, the left hand resting on the right, squeezing her tiny breasts up against each other, looking him in the eye with that smile of hers that could light a dark room, white teeth flashing as she finished, “I might go blind…but it will…be…GLORIOUS!”
And then she was up and off the log in one sudden, fluid motion, back towards him, walking back towards the outskirts of Avondale to get to the road to Bowerstone to sail back to New Warrendale to make history. He scrambled after her. “Siobhan, wait!” Not ‘wait for me to catch up,’ but ‘wait, I have things I think I need to say.’
She turned so suddenly he almost ran into her. He opened his mouth to say something, but before the words came out, she wrapped her arms around his neck, buried her face into the side of his jaw, her chest pressed so tightly against his bare chest that he could feel the bindings she used to wrap around her breasts so she could run ‘with out ’em flapping in her face,’ as if her tiny breasts would ever bounce anywhere, and almost whispered, “thank you. Thank you for coming with me. I actually do do well on the road, on my own, and, while I may not need the physical protection, I am very grateful for the company. Your company.”
“Shhh. We are having a moment.”
Well…hell…how was he supposed to respond to that. He let his arms wrap around her waist and he felt her press into him even more. Somebody else, some other circumstance, this would be foreplay. But here, now, with Siobhan…it was something different. Something on that spiritual level that she would sometimes go off on. Feeling a spiritual connection through physical contact was something…new…different…and maybe good…maybe dangerous as hell. He let his arms squeeze just a little bit tighter. And felt strong. Protective. Not that she felt like she needed protection…but that she was letting him be protective of her. Letting him be protective of her. In that moment, giving up her…ability…need…desire …whatever word fit best, to protect herself, and let him protect her instead. Let him be the strong one. Gods. At that moment, she probably would have made a crippled poet feel like the world’s greatest swordsman. At that moment, she was giving up her strength. She was being the weak one. She was trusting him to be the strong one. And…at that moment…he did feel…STRONG! At that moment, he felt like he could single-handedly slay ancient dragons. At that moment, he knew he could slay ancient dragons. He could feel power flowing through him. No eroticism, despite her pressed tightly up against him from neck to thighs. No rage, not even a tingle, thought he felt he could slay armies. Just a protectiveness. And a realization of just how dangerous his love of her could be to him. She was probably going to get him killed.
“Toot..” she interrupted his reverie. “We got to get moving.” She started to gently push away from him. He held on, not quite ready to break the spell. She pushed a little more firmly…still gentle…but with insistence. He let her start to slide away…and started to say…something…something needed to be said. “No more words for now, Toot. Just think. Reflect. Let the thoughts and words ferment for awhile.”
She turned, but instead of immediately walking in front of him, took his hand in hers, and guided him to walk beside her. The trail was not that smooth, and walking hand-in-hand actually took effort. And their paces were different. And heights different. Yet, for the next several minutes, she did not let go of his hand. And even when she finally did, it had to be her, as he was not letting go first, she continued to walk next to him. In a silence that was both, a little disconcerting …things really needed to be said…and very comforting…nothing had to be said…at least not now. And Toot-Toot could feel it as they walked. A contentment not rarely experienced. And emotions and questions and thoughts colliding all over the place fighting for his attention. But as they walked, alone…together…he could feel him gaining control of his thought process. Putting his thoughts and feelings and questions and desires into some type of rational order. And…the more he thought about his thoughts, the more comfortable he began to feel about his thoughts and the more he began to feel in control of his thought. And it felt…good. Nice. Different. Something to talk about later.