To live and die by the sword."*
I must admit when I left The Peaceful Kingdom, I was feeling a bit melancholy. I would miss that place, and had made many friends, and learned quite many lessons. My thoughts were still on the abundant landscape of the Earth Suit when I suddenly felt the wind pick up, a coldness cutting through the air, as if I'd stepped across an invisible threshold.
Besides the change in weather, I noted, as well, that the lush green of the Peaceful Kingdom had become a drab, dying countryside. I was startled by the contrast and suddenly became alert to my surroundings. I searched the low hills and the road ahead for other travelers which I was sure were nearby. As the road curved around a sharp bend, I stopped in my tracks. The road had ended and there, in the brown tufts of lifeless grasses, a burly older man blocked my way, planted right where the road petered out. The wind sent his cloak swirling around him. His arms were across his chest, with a sword clutched in one hand. He wore a helmet with the black feathers, possibly those of ravens, standing straight up toward the darkening sky. There were thunderheads behind this man, who seemed implacable in his stance.
I would have liked to turn and head back from where I had come, but I sensed it might end badly for me had I done that, though, to be honest, I wasn't sure it still would not. That he was a warrior I was sure of, but was he a lone wolf? A wolfshead?
Suddenly his voice cut the silence, "Will you fight?"
"Me?" I asked, trying to hide that I had gulped at the very thought.
"With me." He said, plainly, though still challengingly.
For a brief moment, I thought he was throwing down the gauntlet directly to me. But he'd said with him, hadn't he? To stand with him. "I have no weapons," I said, which should have been obvious enough by my, now, haphazard garb, a chaotic collection of bits and pieces I'd picked up along the way, adding to my once almost pristine happy harlequin outfit. I might have looked like a bum to the uninitiated eye.
"Aye, nor armor." he gestured with his sword. "But that can be fixed." A young man scurried up to stand next to this man, arms filled with all a warrior would need. The young man walked halfway to me and dropped the belongings to the ground, then turned and scurried back. "Say you'll fight, and it's all yours."
I wasn't even about to ask what the consequences of conscientious objections would be, and I knew that I had in some unofficial (or perhaps a more official way than I realized) made a pact to accept all that came my way, and to learn from it. Slowly I picked up the selection of chain mail, boots, and even a matching tunic to this warrior's: a blue midi tunic, with a white cloud pattern at the hem, and a scabbard and sword and helmet of my own.
Thus began my tour of duty with the Suit of Swords, and, as I found out, invited by the king himself.
*song for King of Swords: By The Sword by Slash