The Only Path To Courage.
Reynar and his father’s army were marching forward. He was only 18 years old, and this was to be his first battle. Alongside his brothers and his father, the Lord Paramount, he was to go to war. There was no guarantee that any of them would come back. There was no assurance that they would win. Their numbers were eclipsed by their adversary.
But he was a Spartan, and a Spartan was worth two men from any army in the world, or so it was said and instilled in him since birth. He used to ask his liege lords, “Why was this so?” They replied, “An army is no good if it is the power of the individual that drives them forward. It is the brotherhood between its men that wins them battles. The courage to die for one another, to lay down their swords to save their brothers in arms, and to fight till their last breath.”
He thought of this a lot. Courage. Deep down, Reynar was afraid—afraid that he might not come back to see his beloved mother and his people. He wanted to live. He felt that fear was the polar opposite of courage. He despised himself for it.
He looked around at his men. All of them knew what they were in for, but none of them feared it, or that was what he derived from their manners. He wondered, did his face show it? Fear? Yes, it did. A Spartan, afraid? He was bringing shame to his land.
But make no mistake: Reynar wanted to fight for his Kingdom, and if given the choice, he would not return. He wanted to fight with his brothers, his father, and his men. To seek out glory for his land, his people and to conquer all the lands east of Sparta.
But Reynar felt that he was betraying his men. Would the fear that gripped him render him unable to fight with the strength he was capable of? He was the prince, and if the prince showed fear, then the men would too. Reynar wanted reassurance. He needed his father. Yes, his father. The Spartan that all of Sparta respected and loved, a true force to be reckoned with.
His father was the greatest of them all, Brucerys I. Might he not be able to help his son? To conquer his fears. Reynar trusted his father more than any man in the world. Reynar aspired to be a man like his father. In his demeanour, the king appeared reserved and firm, yet beneath, he possessed a warmth and gentleness that touched the lives of those around him.
And so he went, searching for his father on the other side of the camp. Reynar saw him, sitting and discussing with his commanders. The king saw his son and read him easily. Something was disturbing his son. And Reynar had come to him for that very fact.
Brucerys immediately took leave of his commanders and told Reynar to walk with him.
“Why do you come here, my little prince? Is something bothering you?” Brucerys asked.
“I am not little anymore, father, for I am to battle with all of you now. I have grown. Yet you are right; a darkness grips me, and it puts me in doubt.” Reynar replied.
“Cease the feeling of doubt my son; every man who has doubted himself has anchored a rope to failure. Tell me, what is it that veils your thoughts?” “Fear.” Reynar replied.
Brucerys’ expression turned more serious. Reynar was right; his father would chide him for his fear; the worst had concealed the depths of his mind.
Brucerys calmly said, “What of it?” Reynar was startled; he felt he had not heard his father right, but it was true; Brucerys had scoffed at his fear.
“Son”, Brucerys continued, “do you think that we are all stones? Iron? No, we are their wielders. Their moulders. Are we gods? No, we are humans. And that is the divinity of life; everything is more beautiful. Why? Because we are mortal, we will die. The gods envy us, Reynar. You fear dying, but you do not realise that it makes you stronger. How can you fight with your men and for your men longer than possible? Evade your enemy’s attacks faster than possible without the most powerful impulse of your soul. The fear of death.”
Reynar was stunned, he was right to come to his father.
“Father, but isn’t fear the death of courage? Must I not be courageous for myself, my men?”
The great king stopped for a moment, he looked at his prince, the youth of Reynar’s face was evident, he would go through a lot more in his life than he had, and he would grow much more. The king smiled.
“Do you love your people?” He asked. Reynar replied, “More than my own life.”
“Then tell me, Reynar, is a mother who protects her child from a venomous snake not courageous? Yes. Do you think she is fearless? No. But her love for her child transcends her fear, and so must yours for your country, and I do not for a moment doubt that it doesn’t. Listen to me, child. Listen carefully. Draw strength from what I am about to tell you, that fear is not a sign of weakness but an invitation to unlock the depths of courage hidden within. To those who stand strong when fear casts its shade, this dedication is yours. Never let it fade. In the depths of unease, welcome the fear. Let it be your crusade. With unyielding steps, let your true valor be displayed. Remember, the only time a man can be courageous is when he is afraid.”
Reynar felt a star shining brightly within him, and he was proud of himself. Proud that he was on the right path. His father smiled, and so did he. Not another word was spoken, the prince had understood.
They walked back to their men, ready to fight, to rise above, and to overcome. Reynar repeated to himself, “The only time a man can be courageous is when he is afraid.”
Author: Mukund K, II- HEPyS