Disclaimer: I was cleaning up some really old boxes of stuff and I came across this story that I wrote sometime during 1984 and thought it would be fun to share it. Whilst transcribing it from the stained, wrinkled and – sigh – dot matrix printed paper it was on I did do a tad bit of editing, but not much as I wanted it to come across as written. Boy, have I come a long way. 🙂
The new day dawns cold and clear. The first rays of sunshine explode in magnificent radiance off the morning dew, sprinkled generously over the trampled grass.
The knight takes no notice of the beauty which surrounds him. He has been awake for hours now and he is ready. As he mounts his horse, his mind wanders back over the morning’s early hours, to when he was first awakened by his squire.
He rose and washed, the cold water shocking but also refreshing. Then, with his squire’s help, he began to prepare for the day.
Each piece of his armour was donned with great care, double checked for fit and security. His squire has spent over an hour the night before sharpening and polishing his sword. Now, in the first rays of this new day’s sun, it shone as though it glowed from within.
Together he and his squire made their way to the stables to prepare his war horse. Again each piece of armour was double checked as it was applied. The knight collects his thoughts and digging his heels into the sides of his mount they leave the stables. The squire has spent many hours polishing both sets of armour over the last week and both horse and rider shine like gods as the morning light hits them.
As he passes through the large camp no one speaks to him. No one shouts a blessing or wishes him luck. No one wishes to lock their gaze with his, not even for an instant. This silent rejection pains him, deeply.
As he passes the final tent before leaving camp an old woman slowly stands up from the fire in front of it and approaches him. He halts his mount and waits, wordlessly. Waving a hand, he dismisses his squire.
As she slowly makes her way to him he looks down upon her and sees her face, ravaged by time and aged by grief, but somehow still shining with an inner strength. There is sorrow in her old eyes and it pains him to see it.
She arrives beside him, reaches up and places a gnarled hand on his leg.
“Today is not your day to die, my son,” she says.
Reaching down he gently touches the back of her hand.
“Mother,” is his reply.
He straightens and rides away, out of the camp and to the appointed place.
After a short time he comes to the clearing where he will fight for his honour. It is a carefully chosen spot, exactly halfway between the camps of warring armies, nestled in a small valley. He halts his mount on his side of the clearing and waits. He is early, as he always is.
His wait is not long. In only a few minutes his foe appears. It is a young man, barely out of his teens. He rides a skinny old nag and caries a rusty and battered sword in his hand. He is wearing a patchwork of different types of armour that have obviously been plundered from the dead off the battlefield. Yet despite all this his determination shines brightly in his face and he holds himself proudly in his saddle.
Too young, the knight thinks, he does not even have proper armour.
What has it done for me, all this fighting over my honour? I am an outcast in my own camp! No one dares speak to me or look at me for fear of somehow damaging my honour and incurring my wrath. This obsession with my honour has caused me to neglect even my own mother!
He grimaces at the thought of causing his mother pain.
I am alone.
He looks across the clearing at his young foe and draws his sword, the blade flashing in the sun.
“ENOUGH!” he shouts.
He drops his sword into the wet grass, turns, and rides away.