Victorious

summit

© Sue Vincent

Casworon stood at the summit, his booted feet planted on the flagstone, his back, torn crimson cape over tarnished and broken chain mail, pressed against the ancient wall. The battle had been won, but at a terrible cost. The field below was littered with the dead of his foe, Jusveer, King of Zedrov, but so was it with his own dead, except for Arabel. His beloved Queen and wife had been taken during the conflict, by agents of Asluitania who were supposedly neutral.

Now that he had won the right to Jusveer’s lands and retained possession of his own, they would likely hold Arabel to random. No, Asluitania would not be interested in ruling these lands, but they would demand a yearly tribute in gold, oil, and spices. Casworon would have to sign a binding decree to pay annually after his Queen’s return. Plus, even if they had mistreated her, he could seek no vengeance against their ruler, Erembour, the sinister Shadowmaster, such was the nature of agreements with evil.

The Warrior King gazed out over the vastness of the western ocean, pining for his love as the distant barge, just at the horizon, carried her away to dark lands.

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When Masculinity Isn’t “Toxic”

chivalry

Image found at CNN – Photo credit unavailable

I’m about two-thirds through my read of the Superversive Press anthology To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity, which I plan to review both on my blog and on Amazon. I’ve already written about my anticipation of this volume and authored a review of The Last Hunt, which was Richard Paolinelli’s contribution.

Last night before going to bed, I read the Campus Reform article, Researchers say masculinity training ‘ignores human nature’ written by Toni Airaksinen, and I was amazed at how the themes of her missive and the anthology converged.

Apparently, there’s something on university campuses today called “masculinity training,” which is designed to purge male students of their ‘toxic’ masculinity. In fact, a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is calling for ‘toxic masculinity’ training in kindergarten.

However, as cited in Airaksinen’s article:

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Warriors and the Sons of Warriors

the american flag

“People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” -attributed to George Orwell

His name is Derek Johnson and he’s a disabled, homeless drunk living in an alley that stinks of piss. He’s also a Marine and a Vietnam vet. The three punks thought it was funny, but I sure as hell didn’t. The old man was still passed out when they found him. Drunks most times get rolled for what little they’ve got, which isn’t much, or sometimes a truly sick bastard will pour gasoline on them, and think they’re doing the world a favor by torching a “warmonger” to death.

This time, they only took his prosthetic foot.

I can’t sleep. I can never sleep, well, almost never. When the insomnia monster is clawing at my brain, I walk. Who cares if it’s 2 a.m. or whenever. This time, it was just after dawn. I saw them running out of the alley, laughing like hyenas on coke and carrying something. On a hunch, I looked where they’d been and found him. He was barely conscious and cussing up a storm. I saw the stump where his foot used to be and I saw the words “Semper Fi” tattooed on his forearm. That’s all I needed to know.

“Stay here, brother. I’ll be back.” I touched his shoulder hoping he’d think it was reassuring.

“Stay here? You fuckin’ nuts? I ain’t got no foot. Where the hell would I go?”

I didn’t answer. I just turned away. If I were in his place, I’d probably have said the same thing or worse.

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