The warrior was defeated, his battle was lost. He fell down on his knees, his armor clashing harshly, his breath coming in loud gasps as he bent over his stomach in pain. The stone had won. He had used his best weapons, and had executed his best moves. But all the tall wall of gray stone had to do, was sit there. It loomed menacingly over the warrior, gloating in its success. It seemed to rumble the words, “You lose.”
The warrior weakly threw his sword, so useless against the rock’s natural defense, at the victor’s feet, as was customary. The stone made no move to retrieve it. There was no need to. The stone seemed to be mocking him. As if he wasn’t even a worthy enough opponent to have his weapons taken away.
“Well,” cried the warrior, “you win! Do with me as you see fit. I will die an honorable death.”
The stone considered his pathetic words. But then, in the end, it rejected the idea of killing the mere human. The warrior saw that the stone was not going to kill him, and his angry defiance gave way to relief. Obviously, he would not be permitted to leave. He would be made a slave. Or be fed to the lions, whichever the rock preferred. So the warrior hopefully bowed to the rock again, to show his willingness to cooperate. He waited for the stone to give him a command, to tell him where to go or what to do to make himself useful. But the rock was silent still.
The warrior trembled at the great power of the stone and his sudden realization: It didn’t need to give commands. It was too high for that. So the warrior quickly scrambled to his feet, and moved out of the way of the majestic rock, so he wouldn’t be in the way. He stood behind the stone, and off to the side, waiting for its bidding.
Hours passed, and still the stone made no command. The warrior supposed this was his initial punishment, for ever daring to challenge the exalted one: waiting. The stone sat serenely still, musing about what demeaning task to make the warrior attempt, while the warrior stood, trying to guess what plans it was making.
Then the stone decided that the warrior would be his slave, in case it ever needed something done. The warrior would wait by his side, until the day came that he would have a command for him. And so the warrior waited, for hours and hours.
The warrior, after his initial gratitude for being kept alive, started to feel angry and discontented, as all slaves with nothing to do eventually become. He formed plans in his head about how to escape from the clutches of his evil stone master. He considered sneaking off , but there was no way to escape the hulking presence of the stone, as he could be seen for miles and miles across the flat land. He could try to kill the stone again, with his sword. But he knew that the stone was the superior swordsman, and surely outmatched him on pure brute strength.
Then later that day, a messenger came riding up to the stone’s kingdom on a horse. The messenger was one of the warrior’s men. The warrior shouted to warn him of the great stone and its power, but the messenger paid no heed, and continued riding up to the rock. Fortunately, the stone calmly let its enemy approach, and waited for what he had to say.
“Sir, what is going on?” the messenger asked in confusion. “Did the stone beat you?”
“Yes, yes it did.” The warrior hung his head in shame.
The stone puffed its chest up, and glared at the messenger, expressing that it wanted the messenger to get on with his message.
“Yes, yes,” stammered the messenger, intimidated by the enormity and the anger of the stone. “Well sir, the general just wanted me to give you this piece of parchment here, in case you ever come back, stone permitting, of course… It’s just a list of etiquette rules, for when we must dine with royalty and whatnot…”
The stone started in shock, shrinking back unconsciously. Before it could collect itself, the warrior realized what was going on. He slowly reached for the parchment from the messenger, and studied it in awe.
Paper. Of course! The warrior, as if in a trance, bent over and picked up his sword from the rock’s feet. He stabbed the sword through the parchment, as the rock looked on in horror and bewilderment. With the papered sword, the warrior slashed at the hulking stone once, then twice, then a third time. The noble stone, a shocked look forever etched on its face, fell dead and lifeless before the warrior.
And so the warrior rode home triumphantly, knowing he would always remember his one epic battle where paper beat rock.
Kelly Swimmer lives in Indiana, and doesn’t have anything witty to say here.