“I just wanted to tell you, I’ve always found you to be an inspiration,” said Arturo.

“I’m not a bloody muse,” replied Nicyes. “What are you on about?” He snorted. “Is this about yesterday, you wanted to apologize to your comrade-in-arts Alquis but couldn’t bring yourself to it? Now you’re practicing on me?”

“Er, yes and no,” said Arturo. “Despite being colleagues, Alquis and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on matters like these. I could be said to favor a more direct approach. Which is why I’m here to apologize to you.”

Nicyes shook his head. “What do you want?”

“I want to apologize for not giving your plan of attack my full attention when we discussed matters yesterday. Instead I used your suggestion as an opportunity to attack Alquis before I considered the full range of possibilities.” Arturo raised his hands as though in surrender. “I want nothing but to offer my apologies and give you my support.”

“Does this have a point?”

“I want you to know you have my backing in our plan to dispatch the beast before warding the island.”

“You said ‘our plan’ is to dispatch the beast?” Nicyes crossed his arms. “That means, between the lot of us, we have the support of, now let me think about this — you. You support this plan. Your plan.”

Arturo placed a hand on Nicyes’s shoulder and shook his head as if in sorrow. “I spend so much time studying the kings and heroes of old that I sometimes forget to honor the heroes of the now.” He made a sweeping gesture away from Nicyes with his free hand, to indicate to the town. “I can scarcely think of a better way to make you a hero in the eyes of these people, and so much better that you, the originator of the plan, be the one to carry out the deed!”

Nicyes raised an eyebrow. “What should I care about these people? Once we’re rid of the beast, we’ll move on to the next mission for the Order and the next town. Nothing we do here will have any impact there.”

“Ah, I believe you are mistaken there.” Arturo took his hand from Nicyes’s shoulder and gestured emphatically, miming as he spoke. “People talk, Nicyes. And people, not unlike me, record historical events. The things we do here will be spoken about everywhere we go — the greater the heroism, the greater the stories! Imagine being greeted with a hero’s banquet in the next city!”

Nicyes laughed and clapped Arturo hard enough on the shoulder that the shorter man winced. “That’s a good one, Arturo. And I’d have to be stupid not to pass up such an opportunity for glory.” His eyes narrowed. “I’d also be stupid to go it alone, as you suggest. I’d much prefer to be a living legend, than a dead one, like Achilles.”

“Now hear this,” Nicyes continued. “I will go out there and face down that creature, but I’m going to wait until Alquis has something for me so I don’t get eaten or drowned or blotted out like he was talking about, primordial darkness and such. Once we have all that in order, I’ll be the hero you’re looking for — it’s going to be on my terms.”