It was a full moon night.
Two men sat around a campfire. One wore the armor and sword of a warrior, the other the robes of a Buddhist monk.
The warrior, a lean and scowling man stared up at the moon, almost as if mesmerized by its light. He pulled his cloak, stained but serviceable close around him against the night chill, but made no move to draw closer to the fire.
His companion had much less of the serious demeanor of the warrior, but poked the fire once, cascading sparks. Seeing how little his friend was paying attention to him, he also looked up at the moon, and broke the silence.
"In a moonlit night,
piercing through the whole cosmos
the voice of one frog."
The warrior turned towards the monk. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"It's part of a famous poem," the monk said. "Once a monk was sitting in the latrine, thinking about the teaching his master had given him, and he heard a frog croak, and suddenly it all made sense. He had his enlightenment."
"In the latrine," the warrior said, not quite believing. "Monk, you're full of shit."
"I didn't make it up. I first read it in the monastery when I was a boy." He turned and looked at his companion. "You look like a man who's trying to make sense of things. I don't know what frogs will make it all make clear to you, but I’m sure they exist.."
"I was just thinking about today. We went off to stop a monster that was snatching children of one village, and go and find another village that soldiers had just about wiped out. Hell if I know which is worse, brat-eating monsters or brat-killing soldiers."
"I don't think you can say one is worse or better than the other," the monk said. "Evil actions are evil."
"That's what my woman says," the warrior replied. “You think we chased them far enough away?"
"Enough to let the survivors get away, I suspect." The monk scratched at the back of his neck, rattling his beads. "You did give them quite a show. They really seemed to think a dragon was coming."
"I learned a few tricks in my time,” the warrior said. “But they deserved more - like a real dragon instead of just smoking logs rolling down a hillside.”
“Perhaps,” the monk said. “It surprised me when you let what was left of the village have half the payment you got for killing the monster."
"Rumor to the contrary, I do understand the Buddha's teaching on compassion. Rich landowners profiting on the sweat of the poor are one thing. Hungry and traumatized women and children are something else." The warrior sighed. "It won't get them through to harvest, but if they're like most villages, they have some supplies hidden away for times like this, far from roving bands of bandits or soldiers."
“Perhaps,” said the monk.
“On the latrine?” The warrior moved closer to the fire. “I still say you are full of shit.”
“Maybe the poet was,” the monk said. “After all, he was in the latrine.”
“Go to sleep, Monk,” the warrior said, stretching out on the ground. “We have a long walk tomorrow.” But he couldn’t quite keep a little chuckle from escaping him as he pulled his cloak tight about him and closed his eyes.
A little piece of flash. A monk and a warrior discuss enlightenment and the cruelty of both monsters and human monsters.
I sort of saw the latrine joke coming, but I enjoyed this regardless. The characters work well together, even though there's not long to get to know them.
A wonderful piece of flash fiction. A "wow" from me. Perhaps I'm in the latrine. Thank you. Congratulations on the DLD.
Very nice! Good character work and theme in a very short piece.
Couldn't help but finish reading this. It draws you in as you read and is very well done. I do like the fact that warrior shows compassion as all too often warrior's are portrayed as mindless, uncaring brutes.
Thanks...Yeah, I don't normally portray warrior types that way...they, like everybody else, have a full slate of human reactions...
True, but 9 out of 10 times it seems that the stereotype for a warrior is uncaring and cold. Though I believe this maybe changing nowadays with stories where warriors learn that they are more caring and just tough on the exterior.