The Hedge Knight
A long time ago, there was a battle on a grassy field. Knights and squires, common folk and servants alike lay down their lives upon the grass. I myself sustained many wounds that day. I wandered the field aimlessly, barely conscious. Dragging my sword behind me, I wandered to a lone tree,to rest for a time, to gather my strength. Who’s side I had fought on, I couldn’t recall.It had been another battle, another day for a poor hedge knight to ply his trade, weaving my sword in a bloody tapestry.
I sat down in a heap, most of my armor long since discarded or broken. My shield had splintered in the first charge from an ax mans wild swing. My sword, my grandfathers sword before me, rested on the ground beside me. It had lost its edge to the many blows dealt and turned aside. How it had not shattered on that mercenaries skullcap, ill never know.
I thought of my life, my dreams long forgotten. So much loss, my family, my fathers burial. Not for him the cold mausoleum of my ancestors but a lonely plot on a hill. A tear spilt onto my cheek.How could he let it all go! it mattered little now, they were all gone, and i lay bleeding from a deep wound in my belly. A gift from a dead man.I smiled. A veteran of more than a score of battles laid low by a peasants spear thrust. If only they could have seen it. So thirsty! Where was my horse? I just need to find him, my water-sack is in the saddle. I just need to rest a while longer, gather my….strength.
I woke as if in a dream.it was dark now, the sun long since retreating in the horizon. The tree, the bloody field, everything, gone. Gone. I climbed to my feet, the wound in my stomach was closed, the pain had vanished. Reaching for my sword, I found i couldn’t lift it. My hand seemed to pass through it as if ethereal. No matter, what use was a blunted blade.I began to walk, to where I didn’t know. A feeling of loneliness overtook me. I had been alone my whole life, the scared boy hiding from his brothers, always tormenting and haunting my every breath. Why so suddenly did I feel this emptiness. Where was everyone?
As I walked I came upon a richly dressed man, wearing gold and jewels from head to toe, surpassing the greatest of Kings. Even his shoes seemed to sparkle with diamonds and his robe glittered with jewels. He smiled at me. I asked him “My lord, what is your name?” His smile widened ” I am fortune Sir Knight” he said “I seem to be lost my lord, will you show me the way”? ” I cannot Sir Knight, it is your path to wander”.
Disparity threatened to overtake me, sinking into me,but long had I become resilient to disappointments.My life had been rife with them. Why did mother leave me alone with them, those monsters always at my heels? It wasn’t fair.
I wandered a bit further down the narrow road. I came upon an enchanting maiden.Her hair was shimmering even in the dark night, her smile beaming brightly. All except her eyes, so empty, so lost. I said ” My lady, may I have your name? “Yes, Sir Knight, my name is Beauty” she said. “Will you accompany me my lady, the road is dark and I can’t find my way” I asked.” I cannot Sir knight, it is your path to wander”.
I walked away, heart heavy as the day I was spurned by the crofters daughter. Courtney I think her name was, I couldn’t recall. How could she be seen with a squire who’s family had sunken so low? The memory burned into me, the shame only a dejected heart knows.
Continuing on, I came upon a traveling merchants wagon. He was from the Far East, his robes were plain but well made. His turban tightly bound, a wickedly curved dagger at his side. Looking at his wares, trinkets, bobbles, figurines of a thousand deities I had never seen nor imagined.I finally caught his eye, he had been busy polishing an old oil lamp. He smiled expectantly. ” Good merchant, may I have your name?” I am Possessions, Sir Knight”. he replied. ” I seem to be lost sayyid, will you show me the way”? I asked. “I cannot sir Knight, it is your path to wander”.
I began to despair. Everything in my life had seemed to slip from my grasp. All my friends,long dead or back turned. My old warhorse had finally collapsed under me in the last battle, his heart giving out. I had nothing to show from a life of war and banquets but a body crisscrossed with scars.
I walk on, my heart heavy. So many regrets. I should have married the merchant princes daughter. I stole her heart and kisses like a thief in the night. I couldn’t be tied down I had told her, there was too much world to see. Leaving her that last time,she had said goodbye with a tearful smile. I had rode off, never to return. She had slipped a letter into my pocket. In it she confessed her undying love and final farewell.I heard she married a rich lord and had many sons. I smiled at the thought, it’s what she deserved.
Finally I came upon a small boy sitting on a tree stump, fiddling with a toy sword. He was dressed in a plain tunic, with no adornments. Walking toward him he looked up, smiling. “Boy, what is your name”? I asked. ” My name is Good deeds, sir knight”he said. “Will you accompany me boy, the road is dark and I am lost” I asked. “Yes, I will follow you sir knight, as I always have”. Said the boy.
We walked together, down the dark road. I looked down at my bare feet, laughing. I had given my shoes to a blind layman. I had passed him in the street, his walking stick rapping about, prodding the way for its master. His shoes were all but rotted from the many miles only a pilgrim knows.Stopping him, I gave him my cowhide boots I had bought recently
Though the path seemed endless,I was content.we passed many people, of all races and cultures but didn’t stop.Finally after what seemed an age, we came upon a large hall. It was made of strong oak with solid rock foundation, a lordly hall, fit for worthy men. I stopped for a moment, staring at the high arches and intricate carvings in the wood. I began to move on. The boy ran to me, took hold of my hand and pointed at the hall. The door opened wide. Long forgotten faces, loved ones, friends, the blind beggar, the merchants daughter, my lost love,My father. All smiling warmly. Tears spilled to my cheeks.Tugging my arm,the boy looked up. ” Come Sir knight, they have been waiting for you”.