i don't vouch for any of the merit of the following, fwiw

Cabbage man, you are backed into a corner, as you knew you would be, as is everyone.

It was always just a trade, one you wished you were better at, wished you had the knack for, but the one you inherited.

You were small when cabbages were given to you as your sole birthright; you were given the knowledge of how to cultivate these vegetables, how to sell these vegetables. Birth allowed you one weapon to fight off time and metabolism, hateful tax collectors each, and you had to learn to fight with it. You sweat, ugly and sore, a child to learn from a soil more interested in the payment - head of cabbage for seed and sweat - than teaching you how to wield this weapon. This soil gave you your weapon, but it's truly lunacy to expect dirt to show you how to fight - isn't it just dirt? It can't talk, let alone understand agricultural practice. This seems obvious, doesn't it? Why would you talk like it could possibly be a teacher?

It was in repetition - in plucking tens of thousands of heads from your stupid, inanimate teacher who is not a teacher - you learned how to make more graceful your movements in the Dance Macabre, keep the inevitable at a reach where your mobility can slow its advance. You alone learned this - you alone hawked your lazy, dead teacher's fruit, hundreds at a time to the people who wanted to eat. You learned faster here, with the benefit of instructors who talked to you. They helped you much more, denying you shelter until you knew the right steps and parries - and they taught you which steps were wrong immediately. They taught you faster than time could devour you - this saved you.

It was decades of this lonesome dance. Parry and retreat, it was - parry and retreat, parry and retreat, parry and retreat, decades on end. Truly, decades of nothing but this. You learned from your stupid teacher, which was dirt, and your talkative teacher, who deprived you of less forty years after you started your dance than it did at the start. Your movements became graceful and routine, and joy and art was born in steps that became routine. You slowed the advance quite a bit, you impressive cabbage salesman, you, and made your retreat beautiful.

But you aren't fencing, cabbage salesman, you're selling cabbages. Fencing, as a sport, can't be thrown from the stone bridge, its cart cannot be destroyed, spoiling it, fencing can't be destroyed by an anarchist king and his airbender friend - but your cabbages were, weren't they? Time and again, they were broken. They were seized and destroyed, star-crossed cabbage man, your sole birthright a recurring gag.

You came to love this, though, didn't you, beautiful cabbage boy? Always full of surprises, weren't you? Your birthright was a craft you had no choice but to accept, and you bought it at the cost of the decades your teachers took from you. 'My cabbages!' the laughing onlookers would say of the ashes of those years.

And you smiled, didn't you, enigma of a cabbageman? You re-enacted those moments when an entire year's sustenance was taken from you, right? People remembered for years the story of the unfortunate cabbage clown, whose cabbages were destroyed in perfect accordance with the rule of three. Years after your cabbages stopped being destroyed by a grand design that delighted at your suffering, you grew your crops, and had them festively destroyed by an avatar lookalike, didn't you? What a performance! What splendid entertainment! Laughter at the expense of your many taxes paid to your hundreds of seasons. You paid that price gladly. If you could survive like this, you would give up that old life gladly.

How many performances you put on, cabbage man. How many smiles you put on faces. You brought joy to the world, you played that joke time and again, and they kept laughing.

People remembered this as long as you lived, didn't they cabbage salesman? They smiled every time. But that with each crop the avatar destroyed for their entertainment, for the performance, those smiles became faded more, became grayer, as did you, cabbage man. You'd give everything you were for that smile, wouldn't you, cabbage man, but with each year, people became less entertained by this sacrifice of sustenance to slapstick. The joy you brought was fixed to one time, and you were not trained to change with the changing tastes of the public. You were trained to raise cabbages. The soil changes much more slowly and much less painfully.

You stumbled into your moment, cabbage man, and you'd concede this before you said anything else. You got terribly lucky, cabbage man. You stubmled into one brief moment when your unique abilities were put to the fore. But it was a moment, and it was fate that put you there. THere was nothing about you in particular that brought the joy - it might have been any cabbage man. It might have been anyone who brought those smiles. You are not uniquely suited to bring smiles, cabbage man - you are uniquely suited to plant cabbage seeds, find the proper soil, watch the rains, fertilize and till the fields, harvest the cabbage, and beg the public to pay you for something that will keep them alive.

If you brought anyone joy, cabbage man, it was by accident.

It was no surprise, cabbage man, that you could give it up. You were taken by metal, and you took metal as your new weapon to stave off the years. Let everyone marvel at the Cabbage Corporation, cabbage man. It's impressive, isn't it, the Business Skill it took to assemble this company. Impressive, isn't it, the ability required to engineer metal and engines?

You reach a wall. You have parried well, cabbage man, and you have parried and retreated for decades with an art and dance that everyone marvels at. Your legacy is etched in sheet metal around the entire world. Everyone knows your story; everyone knows who you were. The weapon you grew up with is not the one you fought with, in the end, and you are praised for your versatility, acumen, and intellect. You have been backed into the corner by that morbid usher. You can retreat no more. You understand this.

You greet that final tax collector, cabbage man. It does not smile. But you expected that.

I'm sorry.