Lloyd

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No one can doubt that Lloyd is truly the manliest of all men, the most manly man ever born. If you looked up the word “man” in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of Lloyd’s incredible chest hair. Lloyd was adventuring before you were even born, and he’s seen things that would make lesser men(everyone except Lloyd) implode in sheer terror. His manliness is a blessing to all those who look upon him, and he gives it freely to those who ask.

On this particular day, Lloyd found himself on an expedition up Mt. Zanlis, one of the highest peaks in the Black Riage, in the hopes of confirming a rumor that had been circulating among the pilgrims of the Wandering Walk. Despite his unparalleled manliness, Lloyd was still inexperienced in mountain-climbing, and so decided to adventure with two others: Barden, a rugged mountaineer with years of survival expertise, and Pollen, a wide-eyed young man, who hoped to learn more about the world.

As they started their ascent, it became painfully obvious that Pollen was completely unprepared for the journey ahead. His supplies would sustain him little more than a day, and and his equipment was cheap and low-quality, not fit for a climb up the side of a building, much less a mountain. Despite being given several opportunities to assist him, Lloyd was not interested in making sure that the young man survived their expedition, deciding instead to let him pay for his own mistakes. Barden, however, did his best to assist the him, at least as much as he could while still ensuring his own success.

After several days of climbing, the group had managed to reach the harshest part of Mt. Zanlis, with razor-sharp shards of ice being whipped around by 80-mile-an-hour winds, and a massive storm quickly approaching the summit. Despite the need for urgency, Pollen was on his last legs. While climbing a sheer vertical cliff face, Pollen’s arms and legs gave out, and he found himself saved only by the rope connecting him and Lloyd. Pulling out a knife, Lloyd called out to the young man, “Nothing personal, kid. Maybe you’ll be manlier in the next life.” As he was about to cut the rope, Lloyd could barely hear a voice above him over the howling winds. “You know, that’s what I think of you too.”

The idea that someone could possibly look down on his legendary manliness was completely unheard of, but at that moment, Lloyd’s perception of himself was completely shattered. He put his knife away and climbed down to a barely-moving Pollen, shielding him from from the wind. As the two of them progressed up the mountain, Lloyd encouraged Pollen by telling him tales of men who had accomplished great feats of heroism, and overcome their weaknesses to achieve something no one thought they could. As they finally reached the top of the cliff face, Pollen was frozen stiff, but alive. He spent the night with Lloyd, under the pretense of combining their body heat to survive the bitter cold.

That morning, both Pollen and Lloyd were changed men. Lloyd had learned that standing alone atop of mountain of manliness was a lonely life indeed, and that building up those around him would be more effective than facing his problems on his own. Pollen had learned that the warm embrace of another who truly understood him was worth any trial, and that he would need to replace his cowardice with courage if he wanted to find his place in the world. As they prepared for the final day ahead, Lloyd and Pollen knew that they would both make it to the top, no matter what.

Ink-black clouds and the crashing sound of thunder surrounding them now, Barden, Lloyd, and Pollen struggled through the storm to make their way to the summit. The end of their arduous journey in sight, they summoned the last of their strength and moved forward while lighting strikes sent the snow around them rumbling down the mountain in massive sheets. As Barden made it over the final cliff wall, he began pulling hard on the rope while exclaiming, “Hurry up! You’ve got to see this for yourself!” Lloyd rushed up to the top, but the climax of his journey was not met with an answer to the many mysteries of Mt. Zanlis, but with a blinding flash of light and a searing pain that traveled the length of his entire body, as lightning struck him and rendered him unconscious.

When he next awoke, Pollen and Barden were nowhere to be seen, and he lay alone in the cold snow without the slightest idea of where on the mountain he was. His clothes in tatters, his body aching, and his equipment burnt black, Lloyd began his descent, hoping to find a trace of civilization.

Lloyd

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