The Tale of Lazyboy
Once upon a time, there was a young girl. Her family was poor, and she had no choice but to marry young to the man her father selected for her, the owner of a tavern. It wasn’t a happy marriage, and her husband died when she was still young and childless.
So when she found a baby boy washed up on the beach near her tavern not long after her husband’s death, she thought her prayers had been answered, and she told everyone that it was her own son, and that they simply hadn’t noticed she was pregnant because she was so slender. They didn’t really believe her, of course, but they were too polite to say so.
At first, she was very happy with her new son.
That didn’t last long.
She expected him to start doing chores around the tavern as soon as he was able to walk and talk. But he kept expecting his mother to love him and cuddle him and treat him like a son instead of like a servant.
By the time he was five, she called him by his name so rarely that she had almost forgotten he had a name, and by the time he was fifteen, the tavern’s patrons tended to call him Lazyboy if they called him anything at all.
Lazyboy wasn’t much more than eighteen when he thought he had found a way out of that miserable tavern at long last, but all that had happened was that he got a dunking in the sea near the astronomer’s tower, and then had a long, wet slog home again. And then he got a long lecture from his foster mother for getting his clothes all wet, as though he’d done it on purpose.
In the end, Lazyboy was only able to get away from his unhappy home the way most other young men his age were: the king went to war with a neighboring kingdom, and all the young men got called up to serve in the army if they were able. Lazyboy didn’t want to kill anyone, but he didn’t see that he had any choice, and anything had to be better than staying where he was!
The war was horrible, as wars always are, but at least it was a short one, as few wars are. In fact, it had taken longer for the army to march to the battleground than it had for them to be horribly massacred there.
Once the slaughter was over, the survivors had only to march back—on their own pace!—to be free to return to their lives. And Lazyboy was in no hurry to return to that awful tavern, so he decided to take “the scenic route”…
…which meant that instead of returning to his own kingdom, he went deeper into the kingdom his army had utterly failed to invade. Read the rest of this entry →