I laughed at him then, cloaked in bravado as he was while standing amidst hastily arranged tables as hungry ears begged to be fed his rousing tale of heroic deed. Inwardly, of course, my pitying mirth was contained so as to not give offense- he was the King’s favored after all- so I allowed him his exaggeration to boost his fragile self-worth. A cloak is many things, but it is not armor, and thus easily pierced.
10,000 foe easily becomes less than a thousand; an irresistible sword becomes one of thoughtless slaughter.
We all have cloaks, of course, because it is a garment to conceal, whether from the cold, the rain, or from each other; some having more use than others. I have had many for I am of the Ill-bred, one of the users of deep and mysterious powers forbidden in the realm. One for the beggar, one for the merchant, one for the priest, one for the trusted advisor, and one for the man who sits in the corner drinking ale, listening to the boasts of a noble fool. Each hanging on hook, pulled down and replaced when I call for its use.
Laughing once again-to myself of course-I drain the last dregs and set my crock at ease, rising to leave as I have learned what I came to know. To the door I stride, to the fresh night air and the path I set before me.
“Sir, sir!” a voice calls to me.
I turn to see a young soldier with a garment in his hand. “Yes?” I inquire.
“It seems you have forgotten your cloak.”
I smile warmly at him. “Keep it, you will have more need of it than I.”