Northwest Kansas Today  Fall 2021 | Volume 3, Issue 2

Storyteller Dan Keding wrapped up the 2021 Kansas Storytelling Festival with a performance of a story he wrote, The Two Warriors. The story tells of two fighting men who chose to listen to each other instead of drawing their weapons.

The Two Warriors

By Dan Keding

Once, a long time ago, there was a war. Two armies came together, and they fought in battle from the time the sun came up until it began to set. At the end of this battle, there were only two warriors left – two enemies. And they were covered in blood and gore. Their swords red with blood, their shields were dented; their helmets were dented. They stood there, and they were so weary – the weariness that comes with too much killing. They could barely lift their swords to strike.

Then one man finally held his shield up and said, “Wait. It won’t do us any honor to keep fighting like this. I say we sleep here on the battlefield and rest, and tomorrow when the sun comes up again, we’ll finish this fight and only one of us will go home.” The other warrior agreed, and they took off their helmets, unstrapped their shields, and they took their swords and stuffed them into their scabbards. They lay down among their dead friends.

That weariness that comes with too much killing would not let them sleep. Finally one man said to the other, “Back home in my village I have a son, and he plays with a wooden sword, and when he grows up he wants to be like me.” There was silence in the night. Then the other warrior spoke. “Back in my village, I have a daughter, and they sing her songs and tell her stories so she’ll sleep. I look down at her and I can recognize the youth of my wife in her face.”

And the two men started to tell stories back and forth, back and forth: stories of their families, their villages, their people, the old stories they learned at their grandparents’ knees. All night long these two enemies told each other stories.

Then the sun began to rise, and they watched, and they stood. They put on their helmets; they strapped on their shields, and they pulled out their swords, now brown with the dried blood from the slaughter the day before. These two men stood there, and they looked deep into each other’s eyes. Without a word, they turned their backs to each other, and they both walked home.