What They All Want
Machiavella of Kingposrt

Chapter 2: Joren of Stone Mountain

So the other day, I got yelled at again by my knight-master Paxton. For a weak-looking guy he sure has a set of windpipes, I can tell you. He just kept going on and on about how I needed to have more chivalry. How I was so rude to everyone and I had a horrible attitude. Well, it's now a week later, and I'm still stewing. You'd think after nearly four years of putting up with that pansy that I'd be used to it. I guess I just have a nasty temper, not to mention a nasty personality. So what? If people don't like it, they can keep their mouths shut.

There are other reasons I'm pissed off. It's so silly. You'd think, with my being a noble and all, I'd have everything I want. Well that's just not the way it goes. Call me spoiled, call me what you will. But eight years after my choice to become a knight, I have come to realize that knighthood isn't what I want at all. Eight years ago, in my ten-year-old's mind, knighthood seemed all blood and guts and glory, and women swooning when I walked into a room. Now it seems I'd spend my life in dreary monotony as a knight, sitting on my high horse getting fat while I waited at some pair of city gates for burglars to show up so I could capture them, bring them before the Provost, and get my sack of gold. That's so damn boring. I'm bored to tears just thinking about it.

I mean, I'd have a nice, middle-sized estate, a quiet, dull wife, and a few annoying little brats running around. Maybe a couple of servants. A steak at every dinner with bread and ale on the side. A non-existent sex life. Doesn't this all seem terribly...AVERAGE to you? Well, I tell you, it seems that way to me. I'd be bored to death and getting wider at the middle every day and getting bits of food stuck in my graying beard like every other nasty noble. This is the most depressing future I can think of. Instead of praying to Mithros I'd be praying for the end of time.

Meanwhile my friend Vinson is becoming a degenerate. I'm so ashamed of him. I'm ashamed of myself for even knowing a guy like him. He's a male prostitute. That's just sad. The bastard's too lazy to find a trade and too chicken to steal for a living. Not a minute goes by when he isn't drunk or hung over. That kid is going to die early, I can tell.

But back to my story. You may be wondering why I'm worrying so much about the future. It all goes back to last week when old Pax was yelling at me, like I told you about before. He didn't just say the same old stuff as usual. He really hit me hard, to the core. HE was the one who planted these visions of errant knighthood in my hood, of dull anonymity. HE was the one who told me I'd get lazy and fat and live a horribly gray life, if I didn't get up off my ass, stop being rude to important people, and do something with my life. What he also said was that I had to train harder for knighthood. That is the LAST thing I want to do.

In fact, you'll never believe it, but I never want to fight again. I was this huge, jumped-up bully just four years ago. Me and my cronies, we practically ruled the pages. I seemed all tough and evil and emotionless on the outside, I'm sure, but inside? Don't laugh, but everytime I made someone bleed, I felt sick. Blood makes me nauseous. I'm not joking. The couple of times Pax and I helped fight in the Scanran wars that are still going on, I felt so sick I puked everytime I saw death. Everyone thought I had some sort of rare virus because I puked so much that I bled from my throat. I spent most of the time in the sick tents. It still didn't make me any better though, because everytime they brought in someone's mangled body I began vomiting again. I must sound completely pitiful to you.

So my concern is, what do I want to do, if I'm never going to get my knighthood? What do I want, if I don't want that? As pages, when we had academics as well as training, I wasn't so hot on those unless we were talking about some of the more recent wars in Tortall's history and the tactics they used. And Paxton has said many times that I have a great head for tactics. So maybe I want to help with battle tactics, when the king and his council get together and talk those sorts of things over. But there's still the problem of that fact that I'm incurable rude and sarcastic. And did I mention that I think King Jon is a completely nerveless cream puff? He's a total bastard. And he lets women fight. That's a big no-no.

Women really shouldn't fight-first of all, if the human race is going to survive, they're the ones who are going to make it happen. Men can't give birth, for Mithros' sake. And men have no nurturing instinct. Most of the men I know actually hate kids. I know I do, in any case. Second of all, women probably hate killing more than I do. That's saying a lot. That tomboy Mindelan is probably the biggest exception, but everyone I knew was pretty sure she had no emotions. And the Lioness is a joke. Lastly, women are weak by nature. Mindelan had to work double-time to keep up with us men. Women, like I said, are more nurturing than men-so isn't it fitting that they should stay at home and take care of all the household chores? My aversion to letting women fight is also what might keep me from getting a somewhat resepctable job outside of knighthood. Especially if more na•ve girls keep joining the Tortallan force.

Maybe you're going to say something like I'm a pessimist, and I'm lazy, and I just don't want to do anything. That could be very true. If I could, I would try to make a living off of criticizing people. It's what I do best. But unfortunately there are only a few comedians and court jesters, and they hardly make a living. When it comes to yearly income they probably make about as much as a prostitute, and that's zero. And what clear-minded noble would stoop to that level? My father would disown me, and the rest of my family would hate me too. I would be a disgrace to Stone Mountain, and that's a fact. Better to stick to a job like battle tactics. But what will I do about my 'horrible personality', as Paxton calls it? Nothing, I bet.

So is this really my fate? To be some errant knight and live a boring, fat life? I don't know. The thought scares me. I don't know where I'm going. My future is a cold, vast expanse of nothingness. Someone kill me now.

TO BE CONTINUED...