In the last month I had to deal with a great injustice, but I have also been given a great honor. I will never forget this last month. Let’s start from the beginning.
The annual tournament, which is held in a different city each year, is being held in my village this year. Every fifty years we have the honor of organizing such a big event. It’s a privilege you get to experience only once in your lifetime.
I don’t even know how long I was waiting for this moment. That is the reason why I was training so hard this entire time. I fantasized a lot about winning, and that thought was sometimes the only thing that kept me together.
It’s the first time I get to experience this euphoria. A lot of people have gathered to hear the opening words of the organizers. The village has been celebrating for months until this moment, that is why it is in such a festive atmosphere. All the cottages are decorated, each to its capabilities.
Wine and bread can be found on several places – a gift from the royal family for this event. Even though sparse it is overly needed for the poor.
I can’t see anything even though I am tall for my age. What brings restlessness in me is what I have heard the villagers talking about. They fear the Dark Knight, who brings terror and destruction into the villages where the tournament Knighthood is held.
Now it’s our turn.
What little we had was taken from us as taxes, all to finance the king’s plan of a new war. We don’t know what is left for the Dark Knight to take.
From what I managed to hear, there will be given an opportunity for the young ones to participate as well, as more of an exhibition against the champion. It’s all more of a game for the mases than for power and respect. The first rule of knighthood is that honor is most important, so the battle is of bigger importance than it looks like at first.
This could be the chance I have been waiting for all my life. I want to be like my brother. I remember him beating rivals twice his size.
As I approach to ask, my dreams are destroyed. They won’t let me participate. The leader says that the ring is no place for a fifteen-year-old boy. He does not believe in my capabilities, in my determination or talent.
This is not the end, but merely the beginning.
A little more than a week later, a lot of surprises have occurred. A lot of the famous, well known knights have been falling round after round to a young knight, a new face in the circle. I wish I could have heard his name.
I really want to hear what my brother has to say about this. I can’t seem to find him these last few days. I hope no harm has been inflicted upon him. However nice he may be towards others, he has never been one to decline wine when offered to him. That is the source of all his troubles.
With each day I train harder and harder, in order to convince our leader that I am ready to participate in the exhibition.
But at the end of our training session, our leader announces someone else for that exhibition – a boy I have never seen before.
I feel like an arrow has been shot through my heart and I break like I am made of glass. All the things I knew about life, about me, has been denied. I don’t know how things could possibly get any worse.
It got worse!
That boy is just big on talk it seems. He speaks of himself in third person, using so many superlatives, like he is the king. I don’t know where did he get this attitude from. That is not how we are trained. He possesses three of the four traits I despise in other humans, and so it didn’t take long for him to start annoying me.
The only reason he comes every day is to share the “good news” while the rest of us a practicing our skills in the spirit of true knighthood.
At one point he probably realized that I want to take his spot. I try to ignore his existence. The first mistake he made was getting up in my face, the second one is that he obviously does not understand how warnings work. He didn’t have the chance to make a third. Before he even gets the opportunity to say something clever, I knock him down with one punch. He falls to the ground like he doesn’t weight anything.
He is supposed to be representing US? I am beginning to question the decision our leader makes, and I really hate him for making me question my loyalty to him. He was on the ground until our leader came/
He gives me the look that says that I might as well buried myself ten feet under the ground. What was I thinking? That is not how a knight acts. I have brought disgrace upon myself.
I have to admit, that was worth the additional training I had to do after. That’s what they call “getting into real trouble”.
It is true that a knight would act out like that, and with doing so I have proven the opposite of what I was trying to prove in the beginning.
Maybe our leader is right, I am not ready for this yet. I needed this to awake me, because my judgement was clouded with my large desire to prove myself.
Those are not values a knight should chase after. All that is left for me to do is trying and keep that animal instinct in me intact.
The leader asks for me to come to the dragon stable and I don’t know why. My punishment is still on, and so I figure that he has some dirty work in store for me
I have never been that close to a dragon before, but I know enough about them not to be afraid. Besides, this are just the little ones.
There are just a few of them, in different colors and sizes. I stumble upon a particularly cute one, and for a second I forget that he will be responsible for destroying our enemy’s in just a few years.
Our leader waits for me at the very end, near a dragon I don’t know much about
– You wanted to see me? – I ask.
– Yes. I want to talk to you – he gives me the deadliest stare I have ever seen – but first, put your hand on the head of this dragon.
– Just do it, don’t question it.
My hand trembles from the thought that it could be bitten off. As I get closer to him, I pray to everything that’s holly that he is a vegetarian. The moment my hand touches his scales, a weird feeling comes over me, something I haven’t felt before in my life.
– That is what I thought.
– What? What did you think?
– You see; this dragon senses the energy of people. Those who have good energy, like you and me, feel that special… something that you can’t quite describe. But those who are a pure heart feel what you have just felt, right there.
– What does that mean exactly?
– That means that you are going to be the one who is going to participate in tomorrows’ exhibition.
– Really? – I look at him with disbelief.
I didn’t know what else to say from the excitement. Even though I screwed up, I got rewarded. What a weird twist. Who would have thought that I am of pure heart?
– What are you waiting for? Go! Get ready! – he says – Tomorrow is a big day. Make me proud.
For the first time in a long time, I leave happy and fulfilled.
What they have failed to mention is that the Dark Knight scheduled his visit for the day that was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I am beginning to think that I am just a scape goat.
I am mortified. Never in my life have I felt such a wave of panic, and I didn’t step out in front of the crowd yet. I used to think I lived for the applause, the way that the crowd cheers and screams for me. I don’t want that anymore.
In the moment I am stepping out of our cottage, a wave of bad energy runs through me, and that is the moment I realize that something is going to go terribly wrong.
I go towards the town center. I can already feel the mases gathering to watch my demise.
I am the first one to arrive. I put on my armor as fast as I could, to hide my nerves from their eyes.
They didn’t inform me who is going to be my opponent and I haven’t been following the tournament for a while now. My opponent doesn’t know anything about me either, so that’s good I guess.
I see someone trying to cut through the masses. I know him better than I have thought. We are brothers after all.
He looks at me like he doesn’t know me. He is ready to attack me with his long silver sword. In that brief moment of carelessness, I almost forget to dodge.
Doesn’t he not remember who I am? Like he is possessed, he is not usually so ruthless. He can’t be doing this for the amusement of others
When I look into his eyes, I don’t see him, I see an empty shell. That is when I realize- he has been possessed by the Dark Knight.
I don’t know what to do. I can’t go against him, but I have to so that the Dark Knight leaves his body. After a few blows, my brother falls to the ground, like he wasn’t expecting them.
In that moment the Dark Knight leaves his body, irritated that I am putting up such a fight. I don’t know what have I done to deserve this honor.
He is a lot bigger and darker than I have imagined. He blocks the sunlight, which is weird in itself. I thought that light moves through ghosts.
In total helplessness I just stick up my sword in hope that he will slip on air and fall on it, that he will bleed all of his nonexistent blood and just vanish.
The citizens have become speechless. Most ran away from fear of being next, while my heart is pumping like it’s going to jump out of my body.
He starts racing towards me. The sound of his horse is of a stampede.
As he moves closer, I watch in total disbelief as his spirit is slowly being sucked into my sword. A mere second later, he is no more, he vanishes. I then notice that is says Laden’s sword on the handle. I know exactly what that means
Shortly after they proclaimed me a hero. I was remembered as the kid who beat the Dark Knight. They will tell stories about me, even though I can’t say I care that much. That is one memory I will never forget.