Meeting with Destiny
As Arthus approached the small camp, he felt a knot twist in his stomach. He stopped for a moment just before reaching the tent in front of him. Then having mastered himself once more, he looked straight ahead and let himself in without further hesitation.
There it was; the face he had not seen in thirty years smiled at him from the corner of a mug. The tent contained a small table and seats for two. It was well-lit, and smelled of fine ale. Arthus could see his old friend had already started without him.
Red-faced and smiling, the figure behind the table stood up and quietly gazed at Arthus for a moment before extending his arm. "Good to see you again old man."
"I see you have not changed, Davien," Arthus said, grabbing his friend's arm. "You're still the same fat, drunk bastard you always were."
"Aye, I bet I still have more women too," Davien said as they both sat down laughing.
The two sat in silence for a few moments, regarding each other with quiet nostalgia. Arthus studied the man in front of him carefully; looking for signs of anger or even hate. But he found none, and he was saddened. He almost wished he had found it. It would have made it all easier to bear.
"Fate is a strange thing, old friend. Look where it has brought us," Arthus said, filling a mug in front of him.
"Aye, and all along I thought I would die old and frail, in the arms of a beautiful girl," Davien said, drinking deep from his mug.
"Well, neither of us is dead yet. Although some lad's broadsword almost made quick work of me today, weren't for a timely parry."
Davien seemed to identify with this and began to chuckle. "Aye, we're not the men we used to be. Fine wine and beautiful women have made us soft, and slowed our wits. As much as I appreciate the luxuries of kingship, Arthus, I must admit that the affairs of the throne do not interest me as they once did."
"You miss the battlefield?"
"No, no, it's much too late for that. Now I just want to be left alone, to tend to my horses and grow old in peace. I am tired, Arthus, and this wretched war does not help ease my burden; one that you too must no doubt bear"
"We all must," Arthus replied, gazing down into his mug.
"Let us not concern ourselves with these matters for now, friend Arthus. Let us drink and speak of old times," Davien said.
And so the two drank and spoke late into the night. They spoke of green fields, of childhood love, of boyish adventure, of rivers and mountains, and of careless times. They spoke of friendship, and they spoke of the ill hand of fate.
As ancient memories came flooding back, Arthus began to wonder how this had come to be. The gods have a dark sense of humour indeed. What man can hope to create his own destiny if fate plays such tricks on him? He had always thought himself a strong man, in charge of his own reality. But often he looked at the invisible forces that had pushed him from one unpleasant circumstance to another, and he questioned his own free will. And he often grew weary of such thoughts and brushed them aside.
Now Arthus could see that his friend was quiet, and he felt they had danced around it for too long.