The Marble Castle – Part I: here
One of the few other things I enjoy the most is heading back home from Frank’s late in the evening. The air has never been this fresh for that long this season. Walking feels like flying and it almost feels as if the head separates from your body and makes you feel as light as a feather. The trees are covered with the carpet of friendly gloom and dusted off with a sprinkle of fading sun rays that lamp the way towards my house. I always take the same way back home but during this season, it always feels different and special and I take my time to become closer to nature, inhale as much of the “freshly baked” Spring leaves as I can and gather some berries on the way. The forest is vast, breathing with happiness of being finally awake after a long winter that sucked the life out of the plants. I could not help but feel the same joy.
I open the door wide and invite the house to take in the fresh forest air inside. I proceed with taking off my thin-light armour and putting it peace by peace on a thick wooden table. That pretty much concludes my day as everyday has been a routine for me.
All the knights had been placed off their duties every since the battle of crusaders came to an end and our services were put on indefinite hold. The high king found new servants to himself and since the kingdom had not been endangered for almost a year, some of us travelled into far kingdoms in search of new kings to serve for while others remained closed off from the society or blending in the local life in kingdom. Those who decided to remain isolated continued receiving their stack of gold from the king as a life-bound agreement for protecting their king and people. I can only imagine what they could be doing now but from what I gathered from others, their lives are of mere “live from one day to another”. Those are the ones that lost their “knight discipline” and are simply feeding off their livelihood deposits. The latter do the same jobs as the civilians and live peaceful lives. I, however, decided to live a disciplined life. Although I live in a place a bit afar from the kingdom, I still visit friendly town folk and interact with the newcomers (mainly those who visit Frank’s popular establishment).
I still have faith in knights and believe that there once again will be a need for us in the kingdom. This is something that only time will show but for now, I am remain confident in my past trainings and my strength routine keeps me in good spirit. Although, I do notice that my muscles crumble under the weight of the armour – Frank’s generous brew does come with side effects after all.
It had not been particularly quite during the past year, I ought to be honest. Some of the knights felt the bloodlust spirit chasing them, not mentioning the ones who could not live in peaceful times. I’d heard from Frank multiple times that some of the us (although, only rumours are being spread at Frank’s, who catches them like fat mosquitoes) attempted to start riots within the kingdom for the quench of blood and in order to resume their service to their king. Luckily, the king was smart enough to foresee that and put those riots down fairly easily – the town folk had too much passion for his deeds and they trusted him too.
Other knights attempted to “spread the fake fire” within other kingdoms in order to put our king under a threat. I am not particularly familiar as to how they tried that but their attempts were certainly in vain and kings from fellow kingdoms were able to put down the riots in the same fashion. Word of a single knight to another king bears no authority and so any threats were rapidly squished. It is unfortunate that those granted with power of a knight became reckless, bloodlusted shamans only to seek battles and death of others. The ones who could not bear the freedom that they fought for their people turned to the very East to become “death-seekers” – those are the ones who sell themselves to fight in wars that are bound to be lost.
I am still a believer that faith in the knights is yet to be restored but I have to admit it – we’re on the verge of becoming a myth and characters of fantasy books, such as the kids are so used to reading nowadays. You can see a spark in their eyes when the knights march – they want to aspire to be one one day. To be the man with principles, honour, glory and capable of protecting its people and the king. Our reputation does not allow me to come back to the kingdom and make it feel like in the old days – some either despise us (because of the reckless behaviour of my fellow knights) or see no more purpose in our existence since it’s been almost a year without a war. There still remain (quite a few) folks who remember us for our bravery and passion to do good and protect from the bad. May be, one day…
I wake up to a loud knock on my window – I must have fallen asleep while writing my diary notes. I try to make out a person out of the dark figure standing by window but cannot seem too – it feels quite early for my eyes to open wide. I stand up, tilting from side to side (with my stomach still catching up with the brew) and slowly pace towards the door. I don’t recall anyone knocking on my door for quite sometime. This can only mean that there must be someone from the kingdom with either good or bad news. I open the door wide and cover my face with the hand – the sun’s rays almost blind me. There, by the trees, I see two horses – a vassal sitting on one and a young man, looking as if he were a jester (judging by his outfit), standing by his.
“Good morning, noble one”, said the youngling, piercing my ears with his high-pitched voice. “An order from the king has come. His majesty is summoning all knights, who once swore to protect his kingdom until their final day. You’re invited to the kingdom tomorrow afternoon to reclaim your fine reputation, good deeds and pure intentions for the people of our kingdom. The task that awaits you and the rest of the knights is under no disclosure until the king speaks the word. Should you decide to decide not to visit the kingdom to hear the king’s words, your land possessions may be revoked”.
The young lad folded the scroll back and stood silently for a few moments, looking away from me and to the vassal.
“What say you, knight?” he said, his voice sounding a pitch louder now.
“It shall be my honour,” I concluded, smiling brightly at them both.