How does it feel when the tip of your sword pierces the throat of your enemy when the blood slowly crawls down your blade towards your hand. That thought passes through the mind of every young knight. Some lick their lips in anticipation, others hope that these thoughts will disappear. In the years in which I have trained knights for the horrors of the battlefield, there were three men who stood out from the rest. They taught me what a Knight should and shouldn’t be. This is their story.
Alexander was a man that had witnessed the horrors of life before ever setting foot on a battlefield. He felt the blood of his loved one in his hands before he could hold a sword. When I looked into his eyes they seemed empty but from time to time I could see a fire in them, a cold flame that was going to burn everyone that dared to stand in his way but early on I saw it wouldn’t stop burning until it had swallowed him as well. He never paid attention to the art of the sword and instead put his confidence in his body and natural strength.
When he didn’t disrupt the lessons he would drink himself to sleep in bars trying to suppress the flame in his eyes with alcohol and women while neglecting his mind, armor, and sword.
There was also August, a young man, and son of a successful farmer. He came to me because he had hope, too much for his own good. He hadn’t experienced any great tragedy in his life. He was a soft soul who aspired to the glory and legends of knights. It wasn’t a sense of motivation that was lacking in him but instead his unfounded righteousness that stood in his way.
Most of his time was dedicated to lecturing Alexander for his lack of interest in the training and his nightly behavior. But while he was well spoken and idealistic he would neglect his own training to preach how others should act He didn’t lack the idea of what a knight should be but he was hung up on the fantasy of the figure he aspired towards, while himself never taking the steps to become the person he wanted to be. His armor was always tidy and spotless which many admired for the wrong reasons.
The last man who I will never forget was Michael. He came to me seeking wisdom and strength. He was older than most students I took on. At first, I tried to convince him that at his age becoming a knight was something of a dream but when I spoke those words he looked at me and what I saw wasn’t the cold flame or the idealistic hope I witnessed in my other students, instead, I saw absolute resolve.
He came to me so he could participate in a coming war. The odds were against us and many families fled the country knowing the war could take their lives. Micheal had a family as well, a loving wife and two children. He trained himself in the art of the sword for hours every day, sharpening his blade after every dual. His armor was soon covered in scratches and sword marks. He endured hundreds of duals and his armor was evidence of that.
On the day on which we stood on the hill looking at the enemies troops I finally asked him why he didn’t flee with his family. Why he would risk his life in a battle in which the odds stood against him. That day I saw him smile, it was a smile that would have intimidated even death itself. He put his hand on my shoulder and spoke words I would never forget.
“If I run today my children will run tomorrow, if I don’t even try to defend my home and that of my ancestors what example do I set to my blood, to my neighbors. Don’t worry I will run before I die but before I dare to do that I have to fight and when they stand before my house with their swords drawn and I can protect my family even if it costs me my life. I will be able to look into my children’s eyes one last time and tell them… I tried.”
During the following battle, I witnessed how August ran from the battlefield after a single knight drew his sword on him shortly after his neck was pierced by an arrow, he died without scratching even a single enemy – but at least his armor was still spotless. Alexander with his strength took down many men but when the moment came to retreat so we could fight another day he ignored the command. The last time I saw him he was surrounded by enemy troops swinging two swords. The flame in his eyes had consumed him in the form of bloodlust. His laughter was carried by the wind for miles before it started to only carry silence.
Michael fought bravely and without a doubt was worth ten fighters. His mind was sharp during battle and his temperament was calm from the confidence in his abilities which he collected in his training and studies. He was willing to give his life for the battle but not without a gruesome fight. They say fear the man that has nothing to lose, but in those days I learned there is nothing more dangerous than a man that has everything to lose.
His smile and determined eyes haven’t faded in my mind. His will and spirit were the material out of which legends are made. His tales wherever he is right now. If dead or alive, his story will be passed on by me…will you do the same?
Author’s Afterword: This the first short story I was willing to publish on my blog. It’s very rough around the corners but I hope you enjoyed it for what it is. This story came about after I set myself the goal to write a little story every day. It was originally written in German but I translated it and polished it. I would love to get criticism and feedback of all kind, no matter how harsh they might be regarding this story so I can attempt to improve my writing.
Have a nice day and remember the simple lesson of the story. Heroes don’t become what they are by telling people who they are or want to be but by leading as an example of what they want the world to be. – Diverting Tales
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