The Parable of the Good Cimmerian

by Jason Rolfe

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On one occasion, an expert in the law chose to test the Old King. “Old one,” he asked, “What must I do to gain Crom’s affection?”

“What is written in your books?” the Old King asked.

The expert in the law responded, “It is best to avoid doing anything that would draw Crom’s attention as the god brings down only trouble and doom.”

“You have answered wisely,” the Old King replied. “Avoid Crom and you may live.”

But the expert in the law wanted to justify himself, so he asked the Old King, “But how do I bring the wrath of Crom down upon my enemies without first winning his favour?”

In reply, the Old King said: A certain man was going down from The Border Kingdoms to Nemedia, and he fell among robbers who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance, a Stygian wizard of great power was going down that way. When he saw the poor man, he passed by him on the other side of the road. In the same way, a self-styled queen of the Black Coast also, when she came upon the poor man, passed by on the far side of the street. But a certain Cimmerian, as he travelled, came upon the beaten figure. When he saw him, the Cimmerian said, “By Crom!” Moved by compassion and a fierce sense of justice, the Cimmerian bound up the poor man’s wounds. He gently placed the injured man on his own animal and brought him to an inn.

On the next day, when he departed, he took out two gold coins, and gave them to the innkeeper saying, “Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.”

The man then went in search of the robbers. He found them in a nearby village and attacked them with his great sword. When the last of these robbers lay dying at his feet, the Cimmerian laughed and said, “Now you have felt the bite of justice. You should not have beaten and robbed that poor man.”

“Poor man!” the dying thief cried out. “He stole from my brother, that man there, whose head you cleaved in two with your great broadsword. He took my brother’s life savings, murdered his family, and burned his house to the ground! We only sought justice!”

Enraged at having been played for a fool, the Cimmerian returned to the inn where he had left the badly beaten man, but the man, having regained his strength, had robbed and killed the innkeeper and fled to Nemedia never to be seen again.

“Which of these people earned the wrath of Crom?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who showed mercy – the Cimmerian.”

The Old King smiled. “Crom does not heed prayers and he despises weakness. Go, and may Crom curse and smite you should you ignore the truth of this tale.”