Side By Side

What about side by side with a friend? <br /> Aye, I could do that. <br /> <br /> What more can I say<br /> of the one thing yet unknown<br /> to me? This time<br /> I think he'll win. <br /> And here I am<br /> side by side with you<br /> and if it is to be<br /> as someday it must<br /> then surely there are <br /> worse ways to die. <br /> Better than to wither <br /> away with cold age<br /> in a shivering bed<br /> crumbling and blurred<br /> or to succumb to the fury<br /> of ravaging disease<br /> that seeks to level <br /> all vestiges of character<br /> with the relentless shafts<br /> of pain and madness<br /> or to fall into the pits<br /> of senseless accident<br /> or folly. Aye, if Death <br /> must come, and so it must,<br /> to all who be mortal<br /> and some who are not<br /> then there are worse ways<br /> than to fall fighting <br /> side by side with a friend<br /> I can do that. <br /> <br /> True, I'll never know<br /> the joys of wife and fireside<br /> of watching the bairns<br /> roll and laugh on the hearth<br /> while the bread bakes sweetly<br /> and the rain falls unheeded<br /> on the golden thatch<br /> and the panes of round windows;<br /> such is not for the likes of me.<br /> But, so be it. I laugh <br /> at the face Death shows me now; <br /> warrior that I am, thinks he <br /> that he can stare me down?<br /> Let him do his worst! <br /> I spit at him.<br /> I bite my thumb. I sneer!<br /> Which is not to say<br /> I face him without fear<br /> and mortal trepidation<br /> not merely of the spear<br /> that skewers me through<br /> or the axe that hews<br /> the flesh off my bones<br /> like the bark from a tree<br /> or the fire that may roast me<br /> as a pheasant on a spit;<br /> but also of the unknown<br /> that already looms above<br /> as a purple shapeless cloud<br /> with all blackness behind. <br /> <br /> I'll not lie and say<br /> I face these things without<br /> a qualm, without regret<br /> without a secret wish<br /> to plead for more time.<br /> I say only that there be<br /> worse ways, if one must die<br /> than this, knowing<br /> the fate of the entire world<br /> lies in my keeping, as a golden<br /> lock of hair, and I<br /> have been chosen to stand<br /> side by side with friends.<br /> I was born for this. I wish <br /> only that I might know<br /> what is to come after, and <br /> if I shall revel in the prospect<br /> of endless peace and light<br /> or if I shall secretly long<br /> for the savor of smoke and blood<br /> that I have known here.<br /> But I should not wonder;<br /> I should only rejoice<br /> in the knowledge<br /> that if I must die<br /> then I will fall side by side<br /> with companions who have moved in<br /> their arms and hearts linked<br /> irrevocably with mine.<br /> Very well, I shall rejoice<br /> if I must.<br /> This I can do! <br /> <br /> So...what are we waiting for?<br /> <br />
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