Image courtesy of Kim Kincaid
Image courtesy of David A. Cherry
A grizzled Weapons Master walked into a bar, situated in the middle of a forest through which no one but he would ever travel.
The man’s face was obscured by a heavy hood, and a thick scarf was wound about the lower half of his face, obscuring his vision (but looking mighty intimidating). Strapped to his back were two scabbarded swords, crossed in an X, a longbow, a shortbow, two daggers, and a heavy quarterstaff. At his belt was another curved sword, two dirks, a long knife and what looked like a tree branch with a knobby end. Sticking out from the tops of boots were two more daggers and some throwing knives. He held a metal-capped staff in his hands. Carrying that much metal, it was amazing he could stand up, let alone walk.
The only person in the bar is a slender, fiery haired man–the barkeep.
“Hey! Aren’t you…?” said the grizzled warrior.
“Who? Me?” The man behind the bar was wiping down a mug, drying it just as he had with the hundreds of others lined primly behind the counter.
“Yes, you. You’re him, aren’t you?”
“Who?” said the bartender.
“Him,” the man gave the bartender a sly look, like one stranger may give another when they share a secret.
“The Kingkiller. Him.”
“I certainly don’t know who you mean, sir. Would you like a drink?”
The grizzled man tried a different approach. “My name is Garet Jax. And who are you?”
“A simple bartender. Would you like a drink?” he repeated.
“Yes. An ale. Your cheapest. Not much work for my like in these parts.”
The bartender drew a mug of watered ale and left a hearty head of white foam. He passed the drink across the counter. The man in black lifted the beer to his shrouded face. After three attempts, he put the mug (still full) down, defeated.
“Your shroud, sir. Perhaps you should remove it. Also, it is not raining in here, your hood can come down.”
The man in black pulled down his scarf and lowered his hood. He was ugly, with a nose broken more than once. Scars crisscrossed his face. “You’re him. I know you are. Look at your hair. I know you’re him. Kvothe.”
The bartender grunted. “No.”
“Oh, I get it,” he said, with the wink of an eye. “You’re not him. You’re just a bartender.”
“First, what is your name?” asked the bartender.
“Garet Jax. I told you already.”
“No, your true name.”
“My true name?” the man in black growled.
“Yes. Yes, your true name. We all have them. Perhaps it is a nickname, one you know but no one else remembers,” said the barkeep.
“Oh!” Garet Jax’s voice lightened. “Well my ma’ always called me…” and here he said something that was seemingly unpronounceable, but sounded like the wind whispering through a thistlebush on a chill spring morning. A smile touched his grey eyes. The grizzled warrior, defeater of Jachyras and Krakens and commander of armies, lost himself in reminiscences of his mother.
“Yes. Yes, that will do,” said the fiery-haired man.
“And that is important… why?” asked the Weapons Master.
Kvothe spoke Garet Jax’s true name, and the warrior died. His body melted away like a handful of wet sand dropped in a fast flowing river.
The barkeep went back to scrubbing his endless supply of ale mugs and listening to the three parts of silence.
Predicted Winner: Kvothe
(Kvothe is a character from Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind; Garet Jax is a character from Terry Brooks’s Shannara series)