Take the Black

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I get stones thrown at my fan­tasy nerd cred all the time. I’m not sure where it comes from, but it rankles.

This is because reading fan­tasy has always been more than a hobby for me. My mom fig­ured that fan­tasy novels and comic books were a phase that would pass once I grew up. It never did.

I am who I am because I was reared on fan­tasy novels and comic books. I learned valor at the feet of Wolverine, cun­ning from Loki, patri­o­tism from Cap­tain America. I looked to Taran to walk me through the trials of ado­les­cence. I dreamed of being the guy who bested Red Sonja and got her to give up her oath. I watched Elric cope with lone­li­ness. I saw Thomas Covenant atone for past mis­takes. I noted Ender beating impos­sible odds.

That these people aren’t real doesn’t matter. I am who I am because of them.

On my com­mis­sioning day, I raised my right hand and repeated after Admiral Acton:

I do solemnly swear that I will sup­port and defend the Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States against all ene­mies, for­eign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and alle­giance to the same; that I take this oblig­a­tion freely, without any mental reser­va­tion or pur­pose of eva­sion; and that I will well and faith­fully dis­charge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. 

But even as my mouth moved, my heart shouted out other words, words that will be familiar to most of you:

Hear my words and bear wit­ness to my vow. Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no chil­dren. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the dark­ness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

Words are wind, some would say. There are false knights aplenty. Even crows turn their cloaks. But Stannis had Davos, and the Win­ter­fell had Ned.

And you, my fellow dorks, have me.

  • Anne-Mhairi Simpson

    Dorksville feels much safer now.