The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part Four
Tales and Heroes
Tamal the Shadow Uni felt a thermal under his wings and
spread them wider, allowing the rising heat to carry him further aloft. He was
a very handsome Uni, pure black with eyes green as summer grass. Ever since
he was a colt he had trained to become a knight, for that was what his father
and mother both wanted him to be. He had learned how to use his hooves as weapons,
how to use his wings to dodge, and how to attack airborne or earth-bound enemies
from both air and ground. He had learned how to use his sword of a horn, and
when to use it. Learning all this before he even became a squire, Tamal was
an intimidating knight.
Except that there was one problem. From colthood
to being made squire, Tamal had learned nothing but combat. He loved the art
of battle, but he had no heart for true knighthood. He was arrogant and did
not truly follow the laws of chivalry. But the late king, King Skarl V, had
dubbed him a knight. Not for chivalry, by which all knights should live, but
because Tamal was an excellent warrior.
He kicked out with his long and slender legs,
thinking of one with a dream to become a knight. He had heard of the young Avari
one day when speaking with other knights, of how the girl wanted to become a
knight. It had intrigued him at first, for he had never heard of such a thing.
When he and Aleron had gone to find the young Lupe, they had found just what
the Knights had said: a female that wanted to be a knight. At first, he was
amazed. Then he began talking with Aleron, and soon the whole thing seemed like
Still, he didn't feel right just to leave the
poor Lupe without a knight to call her master. He and Aleron both had taken
her as a squire, though they always hinted that she would never become a knight.
He had once done that for her own good. Females were more prone to scream and
back away, to be weak. She would never become a knight, for none would let her.
Over the years his reasons for teasing her had changed from ironic helping to
rude and mocking jokes. He and Aleron were now stating outright to her that
she would never be a knight… and yet, she continued to perform her chores, and
to dream for something she could never have.
It had become a joke. All knew, even she knew,
that she would never be a knight. She still did everything. He and Aleron would
laugh about that almost every day. Gradually their feelings for her had become
mocking. And still she persisted. What would she do after this winter, when
she was too old to be a squire and had no other trade?
It was her actions last night that had set his
mind anew. He realized that he hated her, for she had something he never had:
the heart of a true knight. She was even a good warrior! He was only a warrior,
no great heart. He hated her for it. Last knight just showed to him that she
was more a knight than he was. For though she did not carry the title, she had
the heart, and it was the heart that truly mattered.
When the demon had come he knew immediately that
his hooves would be bloodied that night. He did not think of anything else.
Yet, the demon had surrendered. Not once did he think of chivalry. The creature
was a bit of filth that had to be taken away. He had reared up to strike the
demon a merciful blow to the head, one that would kill him immediately. And
suddenly, a flash of blue and black fur leapt in front of him to protect the
demon. Stunned, Tamal had back away, listening to the defender's words in amazement.
For what Avari had done last night, she had shown
herself a true knight, and Tamal a fraud. And he hated her for it.
The fact that the demon had brought plans for
Meridell's destruction set his heart ablaze. A demon, become a hero? Hah! Such
was unheard of, just like the female knight. And yet, Avari had shown that there
might be a female knight. Could it mean that there could be a hero in a demon?
He kicked out again, neighing angrily. The neigh
was muffled by the fact that he had clamped in his mouth the plans for Meridell's
destruction. Female knights and hero demons, what was the world coming to?
He dived for the castle below him, folding his
wings against his body. His mind was already decided. He did not care if he
lied, for no one would ever know but Aleron. Avari and the demon had gone on
a fool's mission and would probably never return. No one would know the truth.
He unfurled his wings and came to a halt with
a thunderclap, flapping once or twice before landing on the stone ground. He
ignored other knights as he made his way through the castle, going straight
for the king with the plans and his lie.
No demon would take the glory. No demon would
be the hero. No girl would be a knight. He knocked a few times on the door with
"Who is it?" the voice of the king said.
"Tamal, the knight," he said through the papers.
"Back already? Come in."
Tamal allowed himself inside, dropping the rolls
of parchment on a desk. The room around him was massive, but he didn't look
around. He looked to Skarl, and said, "These are maps that plan the destruction
of Meridell. Yet they are all a lie. Last night a demon came. Avari the squire
was killed. We avenged her and killed the demon. Afterwards, we found these
papers on him. My king, they are obviously a lie. The demon was probably coming
to show you these so you would defend yourself against an attack like this.
Then they would attack some other way. You see the Citadel's plan?"
"Yes," the king muttered, looking over the papers.
"Very good, Tamal. You do not have to go back to the Citadel now. You will be
honored for your works."
Tamal nodded and left. Inside he did not feel
wrong for the lie he had just given the king. He did not have a heart of chivalry.
He replayed his speech over and over in his mind, grinning at his ingeniousness.
Most favorite were the words:
"Avari the squire was killed."
Avari cast sidelong
glances at her companion, trying to see past his stony exterior. Though last
night the dark minion had shown true honesty in his eyes and speech, it was
the only thing of himself he had given. Since then, he refused to speak of anything
else, and she could not see past the wall he had placed in his eyes.
He was a handsome thing. She had seen a Darigan
Lupe once, the day her village was raided. That one had been ugly, with a pelt
of unruly dark-purple fur and blackish spots. He looked like a troll. This minion,
however, was so much different. His fur was not unruly and thick, but sleek
and smooth. He was jet black, except for his beautiful crimson eyes. His wings
were silvery bones with colossal flaps of skin stretched between that were big
enough to carry his large form through the air. He was lean and strong, and
his powerful legs carried him swiftly by her side.
She knew little of him. He was the Darigan Prince,
at least until Darigan himself returned. His parents, like hers, had been killed.
He had found Blake's plans to destroy Meridell, and had decided to warn them.
He was brave, in her opinion.
"You said last night," Raatri stated quietly,
suddenly. His deep, yet gentle, voice rumbled in his throat like an earthquake.
"That your story was a long one. I believe that we will be walking for quite
a while, so why don't you begin? I will tell you mine once you are finished."
She nodded. "To start, I must go back to my puppyhood.
My father was a knight, a true knight, who wanted me to follow in his ways…"
"And so, for my saving
you, I have put my already low outlook as a knight even lower. But don't mind,"
she said, seeing the look on his face. "I was probably not going to become a
knight anyway. Females can't become knights, for such a thing is unheard of.
They are too weak, they will falter, they just aren't brave enough." She smiled
ruefully. "If I had been born a boy, I would have been dubbed a knight two winters
ago. But, I am female, and weak."
"I don't believe that you are weak," he said.
"After all, out of the three Meridellians that I met, who was the only one that
came to my rescue once I had surrendered? Any female can become a knight, Avari,
if they have the right heart. There were only two knights in name last night,
and yet it was the squire that showed mercy."
"You're sweet, Raatri. I'm not really a squire,
remember. Come this winter, I won't even hold that. I'm not quite sure what
I'll do after that."
"Once I fulfill my destiny, I'm not sure what
I'll do either," he said. "Demons aren't well liked."
"You'll find your place. How about you tell me
of yourself now?"
He nodded. "My story, too, starts when I was
but a pup, though the oldest in a litter of six. When I was just barely old
enough to remember, Blake came, and called the royal family to him…"
"So now I am stuck.
I can't go to Meridell: your two friends' actions last night are just an example.
I can't go back to the Citadel, at least while Blake rules there. I'm hoping
that the children I told you about hide themselves."
"Tell me about these children a bit more."
He chuckled. "For the past few years I have been
scouting for young minions that valued some of the same things as me: demons
who really wanted to be good, who wanted Blake gone and the peace re-established.
I found some. I have been training them for the day when Darigan returns and
we are allowed to intermingle with Meridellians once more. Even if it doesn't
happen in this lifetime, they might pass it on to their children, and so on.
If Darigan were to return, they would be the first to join his side, right after
She smiled. "You seem to want to be the hero."
He grinned ruefully. "I want Darigan to return.
When this mess is all over, if it ends, I would like to come into Meridell and
see what things you have there. Each night for as long as I can remember I have
gazed out my window to the villages below, and wished that I could come and
join you. As for a hero? How can a demon be a hero? If I were born a Meridellian,
I might have become a knight; but I am a minion. Minions, demons… I am one of
them. I can never be a hero."
She smiled, shaking her head. "And you said that
a female can't be a knight… unless she has the right heart."
To be continued...