12-Minute Tales – Marcus the Magnificent, Part IX

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII

Marcus sat before the old man as the kindling burned, creating little warmth in the darkened hut. Marcus felt a sting of nostalgia, yet everything seemed strange, almost distorted.

“It’s an honor sir ta have such a great man in my home, let me tell ya.I ain’t worthy, no sir.”

“Um…thanks. But this was–I mean, I was actually hoping to find the previous owners.”

“Aye! Are ya on another adventure!”

“Um, sure? Anyway, their names are ‘Ma’ and ‘Pa’ and–”

“Ah! In all my 80-some years I’ve finally gets to be a part of something! Please sir, how can I aid you?”

“Well, as I’ve said, I was hoping you would happen to know the previous owners of this farm.”

“Ah, this farm. Lemme tell ya, things haven’t been growin’ so good.”

“Um, OK.”

“It’s as if the plants don’t wanna grow. They’re black and brittle. Say…maybe you can help me.”

“Um, look. I’m sorry to bother you. But I really need to know where my parents have gone.”

The old man smiled. “Aye, I think I know where they may be.”

“Really?” Marcus said. “Oh, that’s great! Please, tell me where they are.”

“Of course, but…my crops. If you help me with my crops first then I will help ya…what do you say?”

Marcus didn’t know what to say. His eye twitched. His face turned red. The old man squinted. “Ya okay sir?”

“Why can’t someone do something for me, for once?”

“Wha–?” But before he knew it, the old man was on the ground, pain flashing across his skull. Marcus the Magnificent stood over him, silhouetted against the fire. The great hero who has slain many a beast. The old man cowered. “Please sir…please…”

Marcus watched as the old man feebly raised his hand. Marcus’ fists unfurled. His senses were finally coming back to him. “I’m…I’m sorry.” And he ran out the door into the cold, cold night.

For many years the legend of Marcus the Magnificent was known on the lips of many men and women across the land. From the poorest of the poor to the high-born, everyone spoke highly of what was possibly the greatest adventurer. Even the old man in his final years would gloat about how the grand champion nearly destroyed him though no one believed him. “Aye, he would never hurt an innocent. And plus, why would Marcus waste time with the likes of you, a mere mortal?” they would say and the old man died with no one believing that the greatest moment of his life had ever occurred.

However even the brightest of legends fade, and Marcus’s was no exception. No one knew exactly what happened to Marcus. Last anyone heard he was on a “final quest” to find two elderly farmers. Whether or not he found them no one can say. But in his wake, the Age of Adventure flourished. Children everywhere were inspired to risk their lives needlessly after hearing of Marcus’s conquests. But soon, as those children grew old and their children’s children grew old, Marcus’s name was forgotten. Lost in the pages of some dusty old tome. But, his spirit lives on as the light settles upon the land and and makes battle with the dark. Marcus the Magnificent. Here’s to you.

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