First, Finest and Last

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Re: First, Finest and Last

Post by Jolstraer »

First. Finest. Last.
There had been a scant number of times in his recollection where he’d heard the game played by his co-conspirators within the Black and Red. It only broke out long after the common folk had all gone home, after the Langstons had locked up the front and even the newer, less-blooded of the colors had retreated of to their beds or nightly errands as the case may be. The mix of folk was different each time, and it led to no retold stories. Usually he liked only to listen; settle back with an old pipe at the edge of candlelight to enjoy a precious pinch of pipeweed from the old fields up North. He’d settle back and let the mixture help soothe away old aches and let his mind wander down the path of so many tales untold.

“Wot ‘bout you, auld boy? Surely the big man’s got ay list of ‘is oan, eh?”

Silver-tongued as ever, perhaps the big man had indeed hit that crucial mix of thoughts and smoke, drink and friends and comfort that he called home. He was always proud to stand behind them all and be that assurance that whatever they said was meant, and being the quiet one suited him fine. But there were moments, very rare moments like this, when he was glad to be asked to say a word.

“First. Fines’. Las’,” he began, and it was as every veteran ear seemed to perk up a bit to hear. He carefully set his pipe down on the holder put out for him at the table, and drained the last pull of his lambic before setting the mug down with a soft thump.

“Me mother alweys said if’n ay wos tae dae any ay thin’ in life, big ‘er small, tae dae ‘et wit’ ay fill ‘eart. First lesson ‘ee taught me, an’ last ‘ee left us all wit’. Yeh see, Da took ay troll axe tae ‘is gut, wey back. First siege ay Lordaeron, ‘et wos. She’d be damned if’n she’d sit in tha dark wen tha time came tha Horde broke tha walls. Sae she joomped ‘et tha firs’ chance tae be swingin’ ‘er ‘ammer ‘et tha Orcs once we wos conscripted. Dae sae wit’ ay full ‘eart, she’d sae, any time she wos tryin’ tae teach me tae hold ay hammer, ‘er work ay bellows, mend ay thin’. She’d alweys been o’tha mindset tae, bein’ ay biggest Tiresian gal me Da had e’er seen, tae swingin’ tha biggest feckin’ hammer an’ bashin’ Orcs wit ‘et.. Cannae e’er ferget ‘at.”

Someone had filled his mug, so he took a sip before continuing on as if nothing.

“Ay learnt wot ay crushed head soun’ed like ‘et fourteen. Ma was ay damn big bitch o’ay wumman, an’ she mean’ tae use ay damn big bitch o’ay ‘ammer ta e keep tha soldiers armed an’ mean. Tha siege wos ay bitch oan supplies, an’ ‘ere wos none tae be ‘ad wen ay an’ me brothers wos conscripted tae fight ‘et tha gates. Nae, ay had a fuckin’ pitchfork. But wen ‘et squealin’ green bastard held ma’s haid oop fer ay trophy…well, she wosnae gonnay need ‘et nae. An’ ay damn sure wanted tha biggest thin’ ay could heave oop o’er me haid. Sae ‘ere ay came up behind ‘im an’ flattened him tae tha height o’ay wee bastard gnome.

“’Et wos easy, ‘en. Why tha fook wuild ay come ta think ‘is bastard’d had any form ay thought in ‘is grubby face, eh? He wosnae man, sae he wosnae worth keepin’ alive. Tha nex’ one – an’ tha nex’ – dinnae gie killin’ me no mind. Well, I dinnae ‘ave tae gie ‘em eithah.”

He paused, thinking they’d let him off the hook from telling on, but something in the eyes of his closest friends kept him on. No, you need to tell them everything. Rules of the game, lad.

“’Ere wos ay inn – tha Crown an’ Sword – near Brill. Darrahs maun remember ‘et, fer certain. Annawey. Wen we did all tha shiny paradin’ aboot after tha Orcs groveled at Blackrock, walkin ayround like oor cods were all ‘et took tae fend tha orcs off. But ‘ere, raight outside Brill, ay saw ‘er. Bein’ young an’ alive, ay ken say ay did her no right by ‘er father tha’ first naigh’, but Dranna wos thaw un tae sugges’ tha hayloft o’er tha stables. Mooch as ay’d talk ay big prick ayroun’ tha comp’neh, me heart alweys ‘ad told me tae wait till tha good Laight said ‘et wos right tae be tryin’ tae start me lineage. Ay wos gonna settle doen first, then dae tha fallin’ in love. That naight in Brill, wen Dranna’s dress came doen, ay learned tha Laight’s timin’ is muir informal ‘en ay priests had tol’ oos.”

That garnered some chuckles. Someone had refilled his mug, and he took a moment to wet his gravelly throat. He’d probably strung twice as many words together in the night thus far than most of them had heard him utter in his whole time being their shield companion.

“Miahala Sha’hal was finest by far,” he began, and some muted, regretful looks nodded around the table. “Fire in tha most unlikely ay places. Ay deep understandin’ o’those around yeh, tae tha point of feelin’ ‘ere pain, is tha sharpest weapon tae hold fer ‘em wen ‘ey finally come fer yeh. Passion beyond fiery sheets, she’s who really taught me tae faight. Bein’ ay friend ay killin’s fine an’ all, but common as dirt in any ay man. Nae, she taught me to faight, to find somethin’ worth endurin’ ay worst ay things, fer no other reason than aycause that thin’ must survive. She taught me how tae faight ghosts tha shackled me tae ay bottle. She taught me losin’ an’ winnin’. She taught me yeh ken still git oop tae faight e’en after yeh’ve been beaten by ‘et.”

He picked up his pipe and took a puff to keep the cinders alive, and to have another heady rush of comfort through him. He tapped the stem against his teeth as he considered.

“Me finest death wos…me oan, ay suppose.” That got an eyeroll or two from those that hadn’t lived through the tale, but just rapt listening from those who had. “No tae say ay dinnae deserve ‘et, ‘et tha time. Oor ay hadnae set meself oan ‘et’s path from ay start. In retrospect, ay had, an’ tha death gave maunin’ tae me again. Purpose. Nae, tha day ay tried tae kill Kalaallexin wos ay day me darkest heart finally died. ‘Ere’s Laight an’ ‘ere’s Shadah, see? An’ despite wun tryin’ tae kill tha othah, ‘ere exists ay place where both ken mingle. But ‘et’s got nae room fer tha purest ‘eart, nor for tha blackest soul. Certainly no fer tha twae t’gethah. Sae ay had tae roll oan o’er an’ expunge ‘et dark part o’me, tae kill ‘et ‘en an ‘ere.”

He nodded oncely as if that was that, but leaned forward and cupped his chin thoughtfully, becoming rapt in his own telling of things and mirroring a similar rapture in his compatriots.

“Kalaallexin. Finest Love.” His good eye flicked over the rest of them. “We’ll nae be goin’ oan aybout ‘at.”
A coarse laugh was shared amongst them all, but his was forced, as his reasons were not as full of humor as they thought.

“As tae tha lasts, well, ‘et maun come as ay surprise. Ser Bittertongue.” He raised his hand in a gesture and smile to the aforementioned at the table. “Bricu taught me ‘ere’s Hope, alweys ‘ere after anythin’ we did. ‘Ee taught me ‘et nae matta our enemies, ‘ere maun still be love for you found in them. ‘Ee taught me humiliteh. An’ ‘ee taught me ‘ere’s muir’n ten ways tae be a cunt tae tha ‘raight’ people.”

“Last blood ay spilt wos ‘et o’ay draggony. Draggonkid?” The others leapt in with their misheard pronunciations. ”Drakkonid? No, tha las’ doesnae make se—” the discourse began, “—och, fine. Drakkonid’s tha raight term. Shite almighty. But tha last wun ay killed had ay greater mind ‘en me. He had ay cause, an’ believed ‘ee wos raight, just as ay b’lieved ‘ee wos wrong. Bein’ me, ay bellowed. Bein’ ay dragonkid –SHUT OOP- ‘ee yelled louder. Ay killed ‘im, raight ‘en an’ ‘ere, and after tha’…ay stopped. Ay couldnae see tha sense o’et. ‘Ow mooch is enou’? Tha onleh wey tha road ends is wit’ me dyin’ if ay dae nothin’ but this in b’tween. Ay need…other thin’s in wot time ay got left.”

“My last love…well, tha’s got tae be ‘er, innit. ‘Cause she was tha first. Nae, no like tha’ yeh dafty. She was tha first tae make me think, tha first tae let me re-find ‘me’. She wos tha finest, from tha fire an’ heat ay felt in her sheets, tha willingness tae show me how tae make ‘er feel, tha wey she loved me mind. She’s ay last, tha final o’ay three tha’ will see me tae me deathbed, an’ be aymong them oan my lips as ay smile awey me last. An’ she’ll be the las’.”
"I left my home where the dead never rose
But the streets of gold i've yet to find
And at the end of the day all you can do is pray
Without hope well you might as well be blind, yeah be blind
Tomorrow comes a day too soon"
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