The Old Warrior

Image via Flickr by reynermedia

Image via Flickr by reynermedia

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: When you fight a war, war is always missing.

When you fight a war, war is always missing. Or at least, the war Rolf expected when he joined the army. Rolf snorted. His head had been filled with minstrels songs and his inner eye fixed on glory, gold, and women. It’d been a good dream…for about for about three minutes.

Almost as soon as his name was on the paper, the hell began. The army took his clothes and cut off all his hair to prevent lice. They gave him a sword and some stinking hide for armor and sent him to the front.

Grizzled now, red-eyed, shaggy, and long in the tooth, Rolf took another long swallow of ale and glared at his mug. His nose ran into his mustache, but he didn’t care. He’d had the shivers for three days, and a healer told him that drinking was the worst thing he could do for his condition. Rolf took another swallow.

Where was the war he’d been promised? The one he’d looked for his entire adult life? Rolf had seen seven boarder disputes, four nobles squabbles, and two legitimate, all-out, do-or-die wars and still he was looking.

“Cause you’re a damn fool,” Rolf growled at his mug. Because, somewhere in the back of his jaded heart, Rolf stilled longed for war.

Not the war of his youth. Rolf knew there was no glory in it, knew there was only rarely any gold, and he was too old to care much about the women. Even still, Rolf longed for the camaraderie of the army camp. He longed for the feeling of purpose, of doing something grand with his life. He longed for sacrifice.

Instead, Rolf sat in a dockside tavern and drank away the money he earned begging. Until a hand landed on his shoulder.

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