I stood at one end of a great hall from out of Greco-Roman folklore. The ceiling of the hall was all sapphire and came to a crest at the top. All along the walls were small alcoves, each with a torch on the wall illuminating the marble statues of Zeus and Poseidon, Mars and Apollo. At the end of the great room in which I stood, a massive statue of Venus stood behind me. At the other end of the hall, He slouched against a much smaller statue of Hera.
From the brass scabbard that hung from my belt and tied around my calf I pulled my sword. A gold leaf branch entwined around my hand and the hilt and came up to the blade. A 3-foot-long, double-sided blade that was broad and thick and came to a razor-sharp tip. He had slung a frayed rope around His sack cloth garment and from the rope hung His weapon. Where my sword was all elegance and craftsmanship, His was short, rusty and jagged. But no less lethal. I paced steadily towards the center of the hall and He mirrored my action. I stopped as we were a few feet each other.
“So?” He said and drank wine from a bottle in a pale brown sleeve.
“A truce,” I said. He immediately erupted in His rasping cackle, spewing wine all over His chest.
“Now, now, friend. You know that that isn’t going to happen,” He said and ran the back of His hand over His beard. I remained steady, but crossed my hand over to the sword and pulled it a few inches from the scabbard. Engraved at the base of the blade were names. The names of every friend and enemy, every girlfriend and mentor, every relative and nemesis I had had in my life written in Western calligraphy. He drank from His bottle again and didn’t touch His blade. He knew He didn’t have to.
“Please,” I said. “I’m without a battle to fight, nowhere to swing my sword. Without goal, without purpose, I’m wandering. I just need you to back off for awhile until I get my footing again.”
His lips curled back in a sinister scowl and He spoke through clenched jaws as His hand curled around the pommel of His sword. “And I’m telling you that’s precisely what I need. Boredom makes for a powerful ally when dealing with peons like you.”
In a flash, I drew my sword and brought it down hard. Anticipating, he brought his blade up and our weapons clashed and held in front of our noses. Both grunting as we struggled to force the other to his knees, I looked Him directly in the eyes. He glared back. Pushing our gridlock back towards me, He began pushing me into a kneeling position. I changed tactics and somersaulted past Him and came up on His other side. When I turned, sword at the ready, He had taken to one knee and held His blade to Kilgore’s neck.
“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt him,” He said as He dragged the jagged blade along the white patch of fur among the black on Kilgore’s neck. “It’s you I want. He would just be a parting gift,” He said and released the dog who flocked to me. Kilgore shook off His grip and sat at my feet. Meanwhile, He slid His blade back behind the rope belt and picked up His bottle. Our eyes met and I shot Him a look so crippling, so shriveling that He cowered.
“I am stronger than you, and I will end you if you push me too far, the look said.
“I make no promises. None,” He said, but then slunk back in the direction of the end of the hall. As He slowly vanished, I knew I wouldn’t see Him again for at least a little while.
“C’mon, K-Man,” as I sheathed my sword. “Let’s get you back to your Elysian fields. There’s other dogs I need you to show the ropes. Sort of friends of friends.”