- A hero -
If you’d ask different people what it is that makes a person a hero, you’d receive innumerable responses and depictions of a noble soul. Does the armor, the sword and shield make the hero? The bright and gleaming image of a knight in uniform stands out boldly in the mind, no doubt, but I’d never believed that to be the true form of a hero.
Beyond the armor, beyond the scars and skin, a hero has a heart ablaze. The kind of heart willing to throw itself into danger for the sake of others to take their burdens upon themselves and suffer the weight and agony it brings whether through gritted teeth, sweat falling from the brow or even a pleasant smile on their face. If the question of what a hero is fell to me to answer, I’d tell you just what I’ve always believed my entire life.
A hero has a steadfast heart beating for others in their chest.
The truest and most pure form of a hero would be the one that sacrifices everything so that others could live a life filled with joy and comfort. Their dreams come true. From offering the clothes off their backs to serving that very noble heart that beats in their chest to others on a silver platter. Even if they’d only receive scorn and rejection, spittle on the face. Being a hero is the ultimate sacrifice of self. Everything one is from their body for all of its scars and wounds to the soul bearing the history of one.
I’d witnessed that spirit with my own eyes and knew from that day forward that I had met a true hero. From those life changing moments I’d desired with all of my body, heart and soul to become a hero myself just like the one I’d come to know. So I’d departed on my journey to reach for the stars I watched glitter before me.
Day after day I’d studied, trained, savored the sensations of the sweat that fell from my brow as I’d dared to dream. Step by step I drew closer to the day it would all come together and collide like radiant stars before my very eyes. To the day where that sun now rested above my head and shone its light to my future.
✩ ✩ ✩
In the sweltering heat, in the focus of countless watchful eyes, I stood. Sword in hand, my opponent facing against me. We were both fatigued from our intense clash. Bated breath, staring each other down with eyes even sharper than our blades. All of my training, every single year of hard work now weighed in the balance for this final struggle I felt – I knew – was coming. The last hurrah.
He let loose his war cry as he raised his sword high above his head and began into a ferocious sprint as a lion charging for its prey. My victory flashed before my eyes the moment he began his foolhardy attempt to best me. I fortified my stance, poised my sword in line with the earth as he tore towards me. Bringing a wrathful strike, I thrust my own skyward and deflected his blade, using his momentum to repel him. The advantage returned to my hand.
Lashing to his opened body, my strike came close yet he was a stubborn one as I'd come to understand. His own sword barely defended him as our matched steel sung brightly through the air. A sweep to his right and a small deflection followed through in a motion as swift as the wind. Our metal flashed in a hot war as the final cards fell to the table.
It had been 2 hours of combat with little rest.
It was now or never.
It was time to end this.
As he swiftly flicked his sword high, I caught the impact with my hilt and pushed him back while I’d taken my own distance.
“Still trying to fight the inevitable? You've done well, knight, but it's time you’d given the title to the true hero!” My opponent spoke and spun his sword in his hand while his eyes watched me like a viper ready to strike.
“You've been a truly worthy opponent. I'd say that you might be the most challenging match I've had in my life. I agree. It's time that this ended, sir. Let's see to it that this struggle ends.”
Bringing his sword firm beside his head, he gave one last shout of might. I could tell that this was going to be his most powerful attack.
I could tell that my time for victory had arrived.
All the wrath he had left in his body came bursting out at blinding speed to ravage my defense.
Or so he'd dreamed.
Twisting my sword to reverse hand and placing it before my body, his blade slammed against it. He had become mine to control. Sliding his strike off of my body and past my left shoulder, his confident stance fractured to bits. He was rendered vulnerable. At last the perfect opening was mine without contest.
Diffusing the momentum of his attack through my body, I let it carry me as my heel spun on the earth and my sword became one with the summer breeze. The gale carried me back to face my challenger and I blazed forward into his exposed back. Its flat face crushed him to be prone upon the dust of the earth. My shoe pressed against against his back to lock him in his failure and the tip of my metal found his neck to secure my victory.
The battle had been won.
All of the coliseum raised into an uproar of excitement. The numerous voices mixed into a melody which soothed all the aches and fatigue which weighed down me. It gave a soft tough to the stinging I’d felt through my chest. It was music to my ears. A congratulations for my lifelong dream having become my reality.
I’d offered to my opponent my hand to raise himself. He’d hesitated and his face flashed a bitter snarl. But he choked that down. When he faced me with the honor of a knight, he grasped onto me firmly and rose to his feet. I gave his hand a firm shake before speaking to him one final time.
“You fought well, sir. Thank you for your amazing competition. I promise you that I will serve our kingdom with all of my heart, body and soul. With everything I am, have been and ever will be. The tale of the Celestial Knight continues under the name of Khiron. Knight of Celestia.”