Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

Ten: You Only Live Twice

10. You Only Live Twice, Nancy Sinatra. This is a great late-sixties song, and points for including a bit of far Eastern sound to go with the Japanese theme of the movie. The original version was apparently much more heavy with Oriental sound and was performed by Julie Rogers, but the producers said, “This isn’t working,” and they searched for a replacement. Frank Sinatra was tapped to sing it, but he recommended Nancy, who had just had a #1 hit with “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” The result, after a lot of different takes (Nancy was a nervous 26-year-old), was one of the most popular themes, covered by a number of different artists (including Coldplay). But it’s number ten on my list.

Fiction: You Only Live Twice

Vilnus had worked in the blacksmith’s all his life. He’d made shoes for the horses of a dozen knights and had mended one blade, for Sir Kilhain (may he rest in peace). The heat of the forge which had so intimidated him as a seven-year-old boy now comforted him; sometimes he slept in front of it.

Sure, there was the occasional disruption in his life, like the time the water sprites had driven all the townsfolk out of New Marsham and they’d had to hire the Seven Blessed Monks to drive the demons out. Getting the town back had been worth the gold, even the extra they’d paid for the loss of three of the Blessed Monks. And there’d been the time the witch had lain a curse on the town so that every mother’s milk turned sour. They’d had to pay three wandering mages to fight the witch before one finally destroyed her.

Still, Vilnus knew towns that lived in the constant fear of dragons, towns that had found themselves on the fronts of terrible wars between unknowable combatants who fought with vapor and shadow, towns that had been renamed Hero’s Rest and Last Quest for all the heroes who’d fallen attempting to defend the towns from their plight. All in all, New Marsham was a quiet town, with disruptions only every few years. Many of its oldest inhabitants died of old age, as Vilnus himself hoped to.

Not before he and his beloved Rilla gave birth to their child (the wise woman assured them it would be a daughter) and one or two more. When Vilnus took over the smithy from old Weyland, he would want his son to apprentice with him. He looked forward to the quiet, anonymous years ahead with contentment.



A hand shook his shoulder. “Sir Vilnus, sir!”

Vilnus opened his eyes to the round red cheeks and earnest gaze of the apprentice smith. “Sir, your horse’s shoes are ready, sir.”

The tall youth shook the dream from his lean features and stood. “Thank you…what was your name again?”

“Oh,” the apprentice said. “My name is not important, sir. It’s Weyland.”

“Of course. And your wife is Flora, and your first child is due soon.”

Weyland beamed. “So good of you to remember, sir. It is an honor to have the slayer of Frostblood and the savior of Lichthall here in our humble town.”

“Well,” Vilnus said, “someone must deal with this barrow-wight that’s been stealing your children, eh?”

“Aye.” Weyland looked away. “And you’ve a Holy Cross on your sword. I know you’ll fare better than the others.”

Perhaps he might; but if he did, then he would fall next year, or the year after. All heroes knew they had to make their name before their death, and Vilnus had been lucky so far. He would have no child to carry on his legacy, no woman to hold him at night, but his name would be known throughout the land, and his death would be mourned by many.

Vilnus said good-bye to Weyland and mounted his horse, then rode in the direction of the monster, because that is what heroes did.

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