Challenge #01044-B312: Self-Aware Adventurer

Because I am here...

...I can protect my friends.


Because I am here...

... my friends must fight. -- Anon Guest

There's usually two reasons why the prophecy only names the Chosen One. Neither of them are very good. Either they didn't make friends during their epic quest... or their friends fell by the wayside.

Claire refused to let her friends die for her.

She did everything she could to protect them. To help them survive the battles that the Scourge sent their way. Dreading the day that she was too late, too slow, too busy, too distracted.

Her friends knew the risks. They helped comfort her in the nights, or in the still moments between challenges.

Claire knew she'd never have made it on her own. And yet... knowing her friends were at risk wherever they went was another millstone on her soul. And sending them anywhere for their own protection was a strategy that guaranteed that protected place would be the next one the Scourge attacked.

They had all read or heard enough chronicles to know how the enemy thought. They all knew what would happen if they left her side, just as much as they knew the dangers in staying.

The towns they liberated on the way grew their own tactics against the Scourge. In the end, the mighty army of thralls were fighting against a thousand guerrilla armies and resistance agents. All of whom were winning by cutting down the armies with a thousand small blades.

They didn't just steal supplies from the Scourge's army stores. They stole from the stores and placed the fruits of their thievery inside the tents of any competent officer they took offense to. Getting caught for theft from the Scourge stores was an automatic death sentence.

Those pressed into service of the Scourge balanced on the knife's edge of incompetence. Stupid enough to slow down, sabotage, or generally make any task last three times longer than it should have, at four times the cost. But not stupid enough to get killed for it.

By the time Claire reached the Scourge's keep... There wasn't much of a fighting force left. And those who the Scourge had attempted to discourage, were following with a mighty, homemade army.

It was a rout.

In the end, Claire delivered the coup de grace by beheading the evil behind the throne. The one who had made the Scourge possible. Those who believed in him were met with a similar fate.

And the others... were made to rebuild what they had destroyed.

Prisoners freed. Prophecy fulfilled. And friends... intact, for the most part. The scourge had not touched them.

She consulted Calibrese, the Mage, during the celebrations. "The prophecy said I'd do all those things... but... lots of other people did it. I just..."

"Advised them?" Calibrese smirked. She had let her hair down for the party, and it fell over the balcony like a flag. "Like many who read prophecies, you read over them. Not through them. They never said you would do all those things. They said you would cause them. A very significant difference that many Chosen Ones never see."

"Just like all that 'he' stuff in the old texts, right?"

Calibrese laughed. "The eyes of men rarely see beyond their own pizzle, and the hands of men write that which concerns men. Now artists... artists will draw whatever they please and damn the consequences. That's why I put more faith in art than in words."

That's why the old Mage had taken them on that side trip through the ancient ruins. Where bas-relief friezes in granite still stood. And depicted a Chosen One with breasts. It was to show Claire that words weren't the beginning and the end.

"The carvings still didn't look like me."

"Of course not. That wasn't the point."

Claire started to giggle. Arguments with Calibrese always wound around like a handful of worms.

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