With a flash of light and a clash of metal the Warrior flung himself into battle. Every enemy on the entire field of battle was his target. He recklessly threw himself around the desolate grasslands. He was fighting for the glory of the king.
He was a prideful warrior, though. At times he would fight for riches and for his own glory. But in his best of moments, his heart was set on the name and the renown of his king.
Suddenly, there was a devastating blow to his back. He careened forward, dirt grinding into his face mask. Frantically spinning around, he found himself cornered by the darkness. It drew closer. His time had come.
But as he closed his eyes, gritted his teeth, and braced himself for the final blow, there was sudden silence. He opened his eyes to find that a beautiful warrior with flowing blonde hair had saved him.
Several days they sat and visited while they cooked over a campfire and swam in a nearby stream. As they began to learn each other's heart, they covenanted to set out together on a quest for their king. His glory was there aim, no matter the fury of the darkness or the depths of the raging floodwaters.
Several days into their journey, they were walking through a barren wasteland. They began to hear a shuffling sound behind a nearby bush. As the Woman Warrior drew her sword to kill whatever evil stood behind it, a small brown bear came out licking honey off of it's paw.
"Hello. I didn't see you there. What are you doing?"
"The question is what are you doing little Bear. How did you get so far from civilization… out here in this desolation?”
"Uhhh... I guess I don't know. I was looking for some honey and then… Do you mind if I come with you?"
The Warriors laughed as they continued on their quest, small Bear in tow..
One day, as they were wandering through a woodland, they saw two red eyes peering out from the shadows. Out slinked a small leopard.
"I'm going to get you. Prepare yourself."
The Leopard attacked the Warrior. She scratched at his leg armor as hard as she could. It was immediately clear that she could do no damage. But she didn't care. The Warriors asked if she wanted to join their troop.
"I was doing fine on my own, but since you asked…"
After several days, a beautiful baby gazelle began to follow them. They marveled at her beauty. Never saying a word, she just quietly trod behind them.
Each night, after their day’s journey was complete, they would warm themselves by a small campfire, preparing food, enjoying the warmth, and telling stories. But as the fire died and the small followers were asleep, the darkness would creep further in. The warriors had to be extra vigilant.
Days turned into weeks and into months. Our little group on the quest began to feel like a family. There were bitter cold winds out of the mountains. There were dry warm breezes out of the grasslands. There were week long rainstorms that flooded all the creek beds and gullies. There was lightning, there were even occasional earthquakes. But the Warriors, Bear, Leopard, and Gazelle trod on.
One dreary morning the Warriors woke up and Gazelle was gone. There were screams and scrambling as the group frantically tried to find her. There was a trail in the long grass where one could see she had been dragged away. But there were no other clues as to where she could be. They searched for days, but eventually, with a deep sense of loss, they continued on.
Several days later, a piercing screech shattered the morning sky. As the travelers peered up into the bright morning sun, the silhouette of a small eagle could be made out. It flipped and flailed and barrel rolled its way to a perch on nearby dead tree.
“Hello! You guys look like fun, mind if I tag along?!”
And with that, Eagle with his boisterous and endearing way, was an inseparable part of their group.
They fought rain. They fought snow. They fought sun and heat.
As they were making their way up a steep and treacherous mountain pass, a large boulder broke loose up above. It tumbled down, smashing into the path with the ferocity of a giant's sledgehammer. It sent the Warrior careening off the ledge, armor clattering off the rocks. The Woman Warrior leapt after him. She gracefully skipped from rock to rock almost able to catch up.
But she could not. He impacted the rocks below with a thunderous crunch. She arrived seconds later. His armor was bent and bloodied. She stayed by his side for a moment, long enough to realize his leg was badly broken. She pointed down the path said," you have to meet up with us… just down that way." And she was off, back up the cliff to rejoin the others.
He laid there for what felt like days. He tried to stand and toppled back down. How could this have happened? He was on a quest serving the King. Why had his partner left him so suddenly?
Eventually he gathered enough strength to stand up. He tested his leg… and as he did, he immediately fell back over. He tested it over and over. And eventually he was able to stand on his good leg drag his bad one behind.
As he made his way down this lower path, his mind raced. Would he be able to protect his friends? Why hadn't the Woman Warrior even stayed with him for a moment after his accident? They needed each other, and there had been times that she had completely leaned on him. Who else could support him?
What would she think, of how he had been brought so low?? What would all his friends from his home town think? He was no longer the dashing young agile warrior with the splendid armor that he once was.
While consumed in his thoughts, he accidentally made his way into a bog. It was only a couple inches deep, so he wasn't alarmed and he kept on plodding ahead. But the soupy mess got deeper and deeper and soon… he couldn't make his way forward or back. For a moment, he was filled with fright. He had heard about how dangerous these bogs could be. But surprisingly, it seemed to take some of the weight off on his shattered leg. Without thinking, he laid on his back, closed his eyes, and tried to forget his tragic condition. He didn't notice (or didn't care) about the sludge seeping in between the joints of his armor. The putrid sulfur smell almost seemed to put him into a trance. Like a siren's call, the bog had drawn him in.
The shock of the rockslide on the upper path was still sharp in the travelers minds. The sight of the rocks smashing... the Warrior careening off the edge and the terrible crunching sound of his armor impacting the ground below was seared in their memories. Without his strong presence at night they all felt vulnerable. Without his trailblazing and words of encouragement their progress was slower. Without his stories and joking at night around the campfire their days seemed darker. But what could they do? They had no choice but to plod on. The woman felt ready to go under, but she would not give up on those most dependent on her.
"Just a few days more to the pass where the paths rejoin. We can make it until then guys!" Onward they marched as the jagged mountain terrain slowly gave way to hillier surroundings. They struggled on.
Finally, they found their way into a large opening. Massive house sized boulders littered the area. They quickly scoured the site, looking for any sign of the Warrior. After an afternoon's worth of looking, it was clear that he was not there and he had never been there. They decided to camp out and wait for him. It had to be any day, right? A couple at most.
The Woman Warrior made his absence into a minor inconvenience. A bump in the road. But inwardly she was dumbstruck. Where could he be? He had plenty of time to have gotten there, even with a broken leg, he could've drug it behind him and hobbled there.
The lower path was much shorter and much less hilly. She decided that she would wait one day, then backtrack for him.
The next day dragged on forever. At every sound the group would spin around and see if it was him coming. He never came. That night at their little campfire, she told the little ones about her plan and about what they might see the next day.
After they woke up and had a small bite to eat, they made their way back up the lower trail. After half a days easy journey, they came across a horrible smell. As they rounded a corner, a large, yellow green cesspool came into view. And right in the middle they saw a creature covered in the yellow-green goo. After a few more steps they realized it was their Warrior!
Eagle immediately flew off to help drag him to the edge. The Woman began to wade in after him. To their surprise, the Warrior would not let Eagle help him to the edge. Eagle swooped down again to grab him by the breast plate and to all of their shock… SWAT!!! The Warrior swatted at Eagle, sending him careening off into the bushes.
As she reached him in the middle of the bog, he began yelling at her, "Why did you come back for me?! I was going to meet you there in a day or two!"
"What do you mean!? It's been two weeks since your fall!"
"You've lost it! It wasn't nearly that long. It was one night at the most," he said as he began struggling to his feet, and then falling again. He had forgotten about his broken leg in his time there.
"Maybe you should just leave me," he murmured under his breath.
"I don't know what you've been doing here, but you're a mess, and we need you. Get up! I will help you."
The two began hobbling down the path, back towards the clearing from where she had come.
"Eagle!" shouted the Warrior, in a powerful yet compassionate tone, "Come here. How are you? I'm sorry if I hurt you."
"I'm fine! I just lost one feather in the bushes! It was a lousy feather anyway! Why wouldn't you let me help yoUUUU!?"
The Warrior lowered his gaze to the path below. "I don't know how time went so quickly," he mumbled under his breath. "I should've hurried back and met up with you guys."
"It's OK! Let's get on with it!" bellowed Eagle.
Over time, the Warrior's leg healed, and the Woman Warrior didn't have to help prop him up. He became strong in a fight again and eventually she learned to lean her weight against him in her times of need.
They pressed on, battling not for their glory, but for the glory of another.
Our obvious allegory could end here, but it does not. -----------
Over time, our heroine grew increasingly weary of the battle. She desperately loved her little group of travelers on their quest… but she longed for simpler times. She missed Gazelle and she continually wondered if he had done something wrong to lose her. She would go through long periods of quiet and withdrawal… a long dark night of the soul. Bear, Leopard, and Eagle would not notice. But Warrior, her partner on request, would have to carry her.
Often, other people that they would come across on their journey would not understand the weight that she seemed to take along with her. At one point, our travelers even came across the Woman Warrior's family. They spent several nights feasting and visiting around the fire. They brought hope and lightness to a sometimes dreary mission, but as they parted ways, a sadness came over the Woman Warrior. They did not seem to understand the gravity of her quest. She felt alone and not understood. The Warrior would carry her on. He was driven by a clarity of their goals and a fear of what would become of them if he became consumed with his own desires again.
Then, suddenly, our band of travelers would be in a fight against the Darkness and the Woman Warrior would be side-by-side with her partner, slashing and thrusting her sword adeptly and with purpose.... vanquishing foes. She had a great skill and a great calling… But she was wounded… just as much as he was. They were perfectly matched.
This was their fight. This was their journey. This was their quest