Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Story 237: Ready Player Two

"Well, he shouldn't have been kicking chickens. Those belong to old man Greery, and the last thing that poor old bastard needs is someone brutalizing his livestock."
Nobody responds, they're all just staring at the corpse. The chosen one. I'm so fired. "Look, just... think about if it had been literally anyone else. A strange man comes into our town and starts punting our poultry all over, you absolutely would have asked me to detain him. I'm the town guard, that's my entire job description! And then, and then he starts swinging this massive sword at me -"
"You mean the legendary sword of Holy Light?" the mayor asks.
"Um. I suppose?"
"The one that we've got no less than four murals of? That one?"
I think I see where this is going. "You know, I'm not really a big art lover..."
"The one that you maybe should have recognized as the emblem of the ONE TRUE HERO SENT TO DELIVER US FROM LORD BLOODWORM?"
The yelling seems unnecessary. I'm standing right here. "Okay well yes, but when it's coming right at your face it's hard to take a minute and compare it to the murals, you know?"

Farmer Richards scoffs. Actually scoffs! "You don't look like you've got a scratch on you, boy."
Well he's not wrong. It was the first thing I noticed after killing the... ugh, the chosen one.
The mayor nods. "Yes, that's because he was never in any danger. The sword of Holy Light only kills those with evil in their hearts, not incompetence and stupidity."
"Okay first of all ouch. That's... that's really harsh. I was doing my job. Second, that just proves I'm not evil and it was an honest mistake. And third, I still want to know why he was laying boot to old man Greery's chickens!"
"Who cares!" farmer Richards yells, "It's hero stuff. Why, he came onto my farm the other day and smashed most of my pottery. You'll notice I didn't kill him for it."
There's a murmuring in the crowd, now. Jean, the brewmistress, raises a hand. "Hang on. He came to my shop, as well. Drank some beer without paying, and smashed all the empty barrels."
Carol the weaver nods. "Came right into my house. Didn't knock or announce himself, just dug through my cabinets. He took my last rupee, as well as the apple I was going to have with lunch."
More and more are nodding and whispering.

The mayor finally calls for silence. "Everyone! Okay, it seems the chosen one was exhibiting a lot of... strange and seemingly un-heroic behavior. That's rather beside the point now, however. we need to deal with the fact that captain enthusiasm here murdered him."
"Manslaughter, at the worst."
"Shut up."
"Yessir."
The townsfolk start yelling out suggestions. It starts with calls for my execution, but soon it becomes clear that nobody really wants to admit that our town had anything to do with this. They're talking about covering it up.
"I mean," Carol says, "hero-ing is dangerous work. Who's to say he didn't get eaten by a giant spider?"
"I have a spot we can bury him," Farmer Richards volunteers, "and the guard as well if we're still executing him."
The mayor is considering it. "Hmm. Yes, it would be bad for tourism indeed. Well, let's move the body for now. The fewer people see this the better."
A few people grab the body and start dragging it away. The mayor tries to pick up the sword, but his hand passes right through it. Everyone freezes.
"Hey everyone, the mayor isn't worthy to lift the sword!" someone in the back yells.
"I know that was you, Errol! I'd like to see you do better!"

One by one the townsfolk try, but nobody can do more than make it wiggle. Finally there's nobody left but me. Might as well...

The cold metal seems to send energy up into my arms. For a moment the skies part and allow a glimpse into a universe beyond my understanding, filled with radiant beings singing.
"Oh, shit." the mayor says. There's a general grumbling from the crowd that seems to agree. At least I guess I'm not going to get executed.