The Way of the PaladinWarrior long and true

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The Way of the PaladinWarrior long and true

Postby Dirt » Sun May 21, 2017 2:09 pm

"True friends revisited in battles yet to be told"

An old knight, battle-worn and weary leaned thankfully against the remains of an old abbey, itself battle-torn, bludgeoned and beaten into near-destruction by a king misguided by mystics malign, perpetrators of what became historically named "The Great Dissolution," blind to the faith of those from an island across the Celtic Sea. Actually, now, it was the little monastery which buttressed the old knight dressed in armor scraped and battered by clubs and mace and swords forged in gold. An arrow still stuck deep into his shoulder torn as blood dripped upon the dirt and weed. Beside him stood his loyal, milk-white mare mud-spattered and lean, nibbling gingerly the sweet dandelions and pink lilacs still growing at the foundation of the old abbey. Its walls were broken, its window-glass shattered, tiny pieces of ancient stories of devotion, honor, history, truth, and grace scattered like forgotten seeds in the tall grass and the broken bits of limestone. The old knight pondered what future there was and whispered something inaudible to his horse who perked up her slender ears and shook her sun-bleached crest and withers as if knowing their fate had already unfolded.
In the distance, upon a trail far less traveled than the armies that marched, their boot-steps still echoing ominously, mightily, another knight came into view who wore the cross of the Paladin, the Cross of the Consecration emblazoned in silver upon his broad chest of cloth, his armor hanging from the side of his good steed, tethered to its saddle with his long sword, both shining in the dawning sunlight.
Their movement was slow, a near walk not a march, yet, there seemed a purpose, a determination in their vision not yet told. The old knight paid little attention, though he saw them approaching silently, his weapons leashed, his helmet he held firmly in his left hand, his right hand tenderly upon the reins of his palomino mare, blazing orange like the sun, itself, having risen in the high noon sky, like the Glory of a God near-forgotten in this war of want and hate.
Within a short breath of time, like the wind of the rime and the sea nearby, the valiant paladin rode up to the old knight, still leaning forlornly upon the broken wall of the old abbey, beneath the rose window now empty of its flower. Both stood silently, looking at the landscape plain and brown, trees burnt, tall weeds smashed into the ground, scattered wildflowers gave the only color of pinks and purples, yellows and reds. Some songbirds were singing as if glad for the interval of thrashing swords and the wails of the dying knights who fought for nothing more than to return to their homes.
Finally, the respectful, steadfast paladin unsaddled himself from his loyal steed and grasped from his saddle-bag a leather pouch lined with wool, reached forward his strong arm to offer its contents to the old, weary, haggard knight. He removed his nicked and near-crushed copper helmet and set it softly upon the broken cornerstone of the abbey, resembling now like an old tree-stump with its roots bare and visible above the weeds and dirt and broken pieces of glass from the windows now vacant of history and life. The old knight gently took the pouch from the paladin and drank long its contents, his thirst of days without nothing but the spit of his tar and blood.
"Ah, tis good. Not water but wine. Thank ye kindly for your generosity. My name is Erdith from the Isle of Iona. Who might thee be?"
The paladin noble and knighted by the king of France, himself, for he wore draped around his thick neck the Medal of the Crusaders, the Legion of the Hospitalers given only by the king of France and no other. His great-grandfather had been born on the trail of the first crusaders in the Hungarian plain, like a shallow hollow made and molded by the grand Carpathian Mountains. The paladin spoke softly like a summer wind at sunset, "I am called Sir Vale from the valley of Loire. My wife is there. My daughter, too. her name is Joan, in french it is Jeanne. I yearn to return to them, to my home, to the love of my life, the joy of my soul when I look upon her vision."
The old knight, already more alive than he had been in a fortnight, raised his arm, returning the pouch to the paladin and respectfully voiced, "Here's to the end of this awful, worthless strife and to all the good knights who battled bravely and died no less vainly than their lives of honor bold and loyalty true."
"Amen. À Dieu et aux anges," spoke the paladin, who, then, sat upon a huge rock. His horse began grazing, too, her long nose nestling in the dandelions and the lilacs gold and blue.
Then, after a moment of meditative silence, the noble paladin asked in a friendly, almost humorous manner, "Are you going to take that arrow out of your arm or leave it stuck in there like some sort of war momento?" He smiled in a kind-hearted way. His eyes sparkled like stars.
The old knight groaned and grinned off-handedly as if he had forgotten the arrow was still there, lodged deeply into the shoulder of his bloody left arm. "The damn Saxon soldier shot me as he was running off into the woods. Had i a bow i would have cut him down and thanked ol' St. Columba for the chance." He laughed and winced as he shifted his lanky, still agile frame, his armour stained in blood and mud.
Suddenly, like a swift wind from off the coast of Cornwall, the devout and brave paladin moved like a panther, gripped hard on the arrow, and with one, quick pull withdrew the arrow from the old knight's arm and tossed it away in a bramble bush. He, then, took a white linen-cloth from within his saddlebag and tied it tightly, gently around the bleeding wound of the old knight's arm.
"Are you some kind of medic, too?" laughed the old knight looking up into the deep-set eyes of the paladin and warrior.
"Back in the valley where I husbanded a humble farm, sometimes I mended a lame or sick farm animals d'un voisin, brought a few piglets, calves, and foals into the world, and sadly buried a few, too. I felt somehow honor-bound for I knew mes amis were too grief-stricken to do it on their own."
"The worst part of being a so-called knight is to bury a friend, a brother-in-arms. Their weight seems like a mountain, a tall pine now divine," replied the old knight as he finally stood. His height was grand like the one, lone statue still adorning the empty abbey now: six and half feet tall he stood, two hundred centimeters from boot to helm and when he outspread his long arms he seemed like a great sea gull ready to launch into the air and sea swept up, too, into the air.
"Mais oui, le désespoir n'est pas comparable," responded respectfully the silver armored and black-clothed paladin, the plainly sewn Consecration Cross -- given but to very few in the faith of the french and the four century old paladin crusaders there -- shone like the sun glorious and bold but colored in blood and humility as well.
"What did you say?" asked the old knight, his forehead deeply wrinkled like rows of a plowed field, once filled with timothy grass, now furrowed with barley and wheat seed just planted.
"But yes, despair beyond compare," offered the paladin, his mouth firmly formed, his eyes gently cast off into the landscape as if remembering far too many times his long, strong sword -- forged in silver and steel and the magic of an unnamed mage -- became a shovel, a duty born of honor true.
Off in the near distance, lightning flashed. It lit the dusky land of ashen trees, of still-burning tiny homes scattered here and there, now cinders of peat and hemlock. Crows and great hawks circled overhead, marking the land beneath them like reapers of a different kind. The lightning turned the bleak, sombre landscape into a golden aura of aerie strangeness, like a herald of further troubled times when death loomed large and life withered frail, spent.
The still-grazing horses looked up into the flashing air of bright, white light as if surprised and puzzled for a moment. Then, they lowered their long, strong muzzles and nibbled again in the dandelions and lilacs, food from Flora meant only for the innocent ones, the loyal ones, the peaceful ones who knew the harmony and wisdom of the earth.
"Let's walk to the north. There's a hamlet not far from here. Nightfall is near and the storm as well. Our horses could use some warm shelter, i do not doubt," spoke the old knight in a knowing but respectful way to the valiant paladin, even though he was perhaps twenty years his elder. But he learned from many places, many battles of might unmajestic that knowledge and goodness and grace and honor was something God-given, not bought or sold or stolen or forged upon any anvil.
Thunder struck like a huge dragon up high in the dark sky. Then flashes of lightning criss-crossed the sky, eerie and earth-shaking the thunder so mighty as if thrusting the bolts of lightning like huge, long spears into the ashen, bloody landscape and the old abbey broken and empty, save for the wildflowers and the tall, lone statue, her wings half-broken, her flowing gown of white stone smeared in blood and the tears of the soft rain now falling like the soothing brush of a mother's hand upon her daughter sad and silent.
The old knight and the good paladin walked up a gentle hill, pulling gingerly their horses along who tenderly whinnied, shook their manes proud to carry these two courageous warriors as different as night and day, as a willow and a maple, as a shepherd dog and a great Dane. But there they walked, quietly, their tattered and torn boots sifting through the dirt and mud and the ashes falling with the rain. Somehow, they seemed connected, now, two brothers-in-arms simply wishing to return to their homes.
The rain was falling harder now, creating deep puddles in the wagon-wheel furrows. It tried to cleanse the air of ash and the ghastly smell of burning flesh, some of the dead bodies hanging crucified upon hurried-built crosses of wood, some of their limp, lifeless hands and feet nailed harshly, horribly with rusted iron pins, some whose legs and feet dangled in the air, and others who were hanged upside-down, their blackened, bloody eyes wide-open as scavenger vultures pecked mercilessly at their colorless skin.
Finally, it was the old knight who broke the silence of their quiet walk, both left to thoughts more pleasant, more peaceful, perhaps, of their homes, the old knight and his books which were his comforting life, the good paladin and his children and wife. "How do you handle being called Sir Vale?"
The valorous paladin of honor and humility turned his head slightly to look at his new-found traveling companion. "Not very well," intoned the paladin as he softly laughed. [A response that would be echoed five hundred years later by another knightly "paladin:" a baseball giant named Mickey Mantle, a baseball king of the New York Yankees, when he would be asked 'How do you handle your name?'] "But I keep it mainly for the sake of my father and his father and his father. They were the ones who carried the cross. They were the ones whose swords blazed like these lightning bolts tonight. I simply try to carry it on." He smiled gently, already fond of this old knight who seemed not to have a care in the world, most certainly not of himself. "What about you? You're a knight. Isn't your appointed name Sir Erdith?"
The old knight laughed, then, touched lightly the wrapped linen cloth around his wound. The blood had finally stopped flowing. "A long time ago i shed that ignoble title like sheepskin in the Springtime."
The good paladin softly slapped the other shoulder of the old knight as the lit torch-lights of the a tiny hamlet glowed and flickered in the dark, raining night. Behind these pathmakers from two quite different places, of two very different frames of bone and muscle, of two definitely different minds of thought, knowledge, wisdom. Yet, somehow, in some way their souls and spirits seemed the same, as if fate or faith had drawn them together to pave a more fortunate, hopeful path than where they had traveled and where they were going. Behind them, their two steeds, loyal to the core, shook their long crested withers, muzzles and manes, as if feeling the comfort, the friendship-budding voices of their knighted masters and whinnied tenderly like songbirds of the night.

End of the Intro. "The Way of the PaladinWarrior long and true"

Re: The Way of the PaladinWarrior long and true

Postby Dirt » Mon May 29, 2017 12:12 pm

"True friends revisited: In battles yet to be told"
The First Chapter

After the noble paladin warrior and the old knight had secured their two strong and loyal steeds, two bold and brave animals who carried these two guardians of faith and freedom -- a very weighty and often burdensome task as well as treacherous and painful, for these two horses also carried upon their flesh and flanks, the scars of battles across the lands from Jerusalem to Timbukto to Edinburgh and Nuremberg, etched into their strong bodies like carvings upon a fortress wall that crossed the northern marshland of Briton from the Irish Sea to the North Sea.
The hostler there who worked the stable had already placed the two horses in two small stalls, set before them two bales of sweet-scented hay, two large pales of water, and was brushing down their tired and sweat-stained frames, when the paladin and knight set four coins upon the hostler's simple wood table with a candle, a pipe, and a tall mug of barley ale. Then, they walked across the short distance to the inn -- a path of dirt and timothy grass whose seeds had blown from a nearby field unfurrowed of grain but thick as a Norseman's blanket, the sage-grass tall and wide as if the sea-waves had found their way from the sand and shore and the cliffs and the hinterlands, across the hedgerows and the plains of old Caerleon.
The good paladin and the old knight entered the humble inn of stone and peat and wood and moss, a hodgepodge of nature's sheltering substances, a mysterious kind of providence given like woodcutters and wood-gatherers chopping and carrying the Winter's supply of need. Half a dozen round, simple but strong wood tables were set about inside the inn with three or four wooden chairs at each. Upon the stone walls were blankets of wool and beasts of the wood once hunted.
A huge fireplace was ensconced in the back wall of this large room of the inn and nearby stood an elderly gentleman white-haired, white-beared, wearing a white shirt and dark woolen pants and knee-high boots made of sheep's hair. Scattered about the room were ten or twelve men who all looked like local farmers and merchants of this tiny hamlet, for they wore no armour nor carried any weapon and talked quietly amongst each other at each round table in a kind, rough manner: that manner of etiquette bestowed upon those whose schooling ended about the same time they could carry a bushel of hay, saddle a horse, tether a plow to a cow and push it along a timothy row, planting seeds of corn and barley behind them. In other words, they were a might more authentic than many of the statesmen and entrepreneurs that both the good paladin and old knight had encountered as mercenaries for kings and queens and chieftains and tzars in their sixty years of service given in blood and sacrifice.
"Good evening, soldiers," firmly, fearlessly spoke the innkeeper but with a clear tone of genuine friendship. "I have good and hot lamb stew on the hearth here and thick bread just made this morning."
"We'll take two of each and thank thee kindly," voiced the good paladin as the old knight grunted and groaned sitting down at one of the empty tables. The innkeeper promptly served them two large bowls of the stew, having set upon each a thick, large slice of dark rye bread with its scent of sweet-mint morning when its harvest time in this particular part of Cornish country.
"You fightin' for the King or the Church?" asked humbly the innkeeper as he placed two tall mugs of barley ale on their table, too, and in the same sweep of his hands gathered the two coins the paladin warrior and the old knight had set upon the table.
"This time, for the Church. But it seems a bit hopeless. I seem always to be behind the King's men who leave behind burning abbeys, burning monasteries, burning homes, dead farm animals, and good people hanging, dying for the crows," sadly said the paladin. "The picture ain't pretty," the good warrior then paused as he began to thankfully eat the hot stew.
"Never is," spoke the old knight finally as if at long last able to relax, to lift his cold, haggard boots upon an empty chair. It seemed to the old knight as he sighed long and deep that his boots were forever enlocked on his feet, that metal and cloth and flesh had become one. But it was the life he had chosen although after so many years and so many battles, he had begun to wonder its value and worth and whether he had accomplished anything at all. His long, enduring war-motto had been: 'All battles are lost when one soldier dies.' Often, he dreamed his fate he saw, carried out in far too many ways.
While the good paladin and the old knight -- two warriors who had seen too many deaths in too many places for too many years, their battle scars worn like tattoos of sailors whose ports were painted in colorful inks to express the impress of where they had been -- silently and slowly and gratefully ate their lamp stew with potatoes and carrots and onions and beans, the ten or twelve townspeople murmuring quietly amongst themselves would also glance the way where the two soldiers sat, not so much curious or questioning but rather with a knowing kind of respect and even admiration for these good citizens of this tiny farm village knew their lives were naught one they would want. And they also knew it was only a matter of time before their village was pillaged and their children orphaned far too soon.
When the good and valiant paladin spooned from the wooden bowl the last tasty morsels of the stew, he took a long drink from the tall, wooden mug, then, spoke with a reverence seldom heard.
"I remember one time about ten years ago my army and I were riding towards the old Crac in eastern Palestine. It was the Summer and the hot wind and the dust from the desert cut through our covered faces like fiery knives thrown by the Huns of the Slovakiland. Suddenly, we heard this loud thundering sound like endless drums as big as mountains. Then, we saw this huge cloud of red dust bearing down upon us and behind it a hundred horses stampeding our way for some unknown reason. Between my men and I and this stampeding, rampaging roar of thundering hooves of wild horses, a boy -- he couldn't have been more than four or five years old -- was innocently sitting in the sand of the desert with a bucket of water building something out the mud he was making. He didn't seem to even notice or hear this on-coming surge, this avalanche of stampeding horses heading his way and ours. But the wildhorses were getting closer. Their thunderous sound louder, more ominous, more threatening. In a matter of minutes they would be upon this little boy just playing in the sand with his bucket of water.
Then, one of my men -- his name was Thomas of Millstown and he was only nineteen years old but a good archer with an eye of a hawk -- decided he was going to ride out to the boy before these hundred and more wildhorses roared through the boy like he wasn't even there. Thomas kicked his stallion into high gear and it leapt like a leopard towards the little boy who seemed still unaware of his danger. Well, it was a race between a horde of wildhorses horses from hell and a dumb paladinwarrior more honorable than I. Thomas won the race, saved the boy, but, alas, Thomas lost his life. He had dismounted from his horse to grab the little boy and get him out of the path of this wave of thundering power of the wildhorses stampeding. When Thomas went back to re-mount his stallion, the stampeding horses cut through him and his loyal steed and he and his horse disappeared in that cloud of might and roaring horses moving like the desert wind itself.
For some unknown reason the stampeding horses, then, suddenly veered off their impending path, almost a forty-five degree angle in the opposite direction of where the little boy now stood, now crying and calling for his mother and father. Thomas was smashed and so bloody and torn, he was nearly unrecognizable even to us. We buried him there in the sand as deeply as we could with his long bow, his quiver of arrows, his Paladin armour, and his true goodness and honor. I found a couple of branches of a withered tree, one of those so-called oak trees of the that part of the world, made a cross, stuck it firmly into the sand, and placed his helmet of silver and black upon it and leaning against it one of his arrows. We softly, sadly spoke the same Psalm we prayed for all our fallen paladins and warriors of loyalty, respect, and honor.
When we reached the old Crac -- setting alone in that vast, godless desert of sand and endless wind and nights so cold our campfires offered not much more than flickering light like tiny fireflies whirling in wonder and dismay -- we remembered Thomas of Millstown more deserving of his life, his loyalty, his valiant deed to save that young, little boy. We sang the old songs of the very first Paladins who rode in the very first Crusade. We drank a toast to his gallantry, his nobility, his courageous and honorable life taken from us too quickly. We asked the Lord Almighty to BE his staff and rod for in life good Thomas of Millstown feared nothing nor even questioned his life for another."

End of the first chapter: The Way of the PaladinWarrior long and true

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