Continued from the previous post, here.
ℑt was not long before the two men–one clad in a green so dark it was nearly black, the other, following behind, in mail and–happened across one of the many villages that dotted Logres. There was no shortage of such places, small gatherings of farmers centered around a water-driven mill and a small chapel, with perhaps one or two craftspeople in the mix and occasional visits from itinerant traders or knights going about their lords’ business. It was for the last that the men were taken–and rightly, for though they were both afoot, the mail-clad man was clearly a knight, and the green-clad seemed somehow…greater. Certainly, they attracted attention; the children of the village stopped and stared, as had the farmers in their fields and the craftsmen in their shops, and the village priest–a rotund young man in plain robes–came out of the chapel to greet them, saying “God’s peace on you!” as they drew near.
The green-clad man gave a small snort of laughter at the welcome, but he nonetheless advanced. “Thank you for the kind words, Brother. And how fare you on this day?”
“Well, God be praised! We were worried when we saw so many men ride through, all in armor and shining, but they passed us by with little comment. They drank the beer that we had, and they ate of what food we had, and many of them heard Mass with me. Never, indeed, have I preached to so many at once, but they were reverential–even as the knights should be! And I see that you have such a man with you, too! How went the work to which you were bound, Sir Knight?”
The mail-clad man, hearing himself addressed, started a bit. “It went otherwise than might be hoped, Father.”
The green-clad man interjected. “He was struck and struck back, although neither he nor his foe slew the other. And I healed him of his wound.”
The priest smiled. “Then it is a good thing you have done for the kingdom, strengthening the knights that they might do as they are sworn! And you, Sir Knight, must do much to repay the debt you owe to the man who has saved you! For is it not in such a way that knights are bound, to give to them from whom they receive? I have never heard that the knights of Logres who would be of good worship act otherwise.”
The mail-clad man bowed his head. “It is as you say, Father. And I pray you will bless me, that I may the more fully walk with the Lord in doing so.”
“Of course, Sir Knight!” Then the priest made the knight to follow him into the chapel, and he made him to kneel. And when he had knelt and stood his sword before him, placing his hands upon it and bowing his head, the priest did pray mightily, calling for the Lord Jesus to watch over his steps and guide his hand, that he could in due time repay that he owed and would need no rest from it. And all this the green-clad man heard, and he smiled in his heart, for he knew that the priest could not but speak truly–and more than he could know.
When the priest had finished and the mail-clad man had stood again, the green-clad man suggested that they eat. The priest agreed to this, and he hosted them in his own small parsonage, where there was much of ale and much of good brown bread, and there was butter and honey to spread upon it. And when the priest had given thanks and the mail-clad man, and they had supped, then the priest asked the other two whither they were bound. “For I have seen no knights save you return, and I cannot help but think that there are not so many roads back to the throne as that, that the knights may have gone another way than that from which they came.”
The mail-clad man began to answer, but the green-clad one stopped him, saying “Neither he nor I saw how all departed, but it is the case that we saw many leave the fields of battle, and they left by the dolorous way. They may well sit in feasts and glory, but they do not in the halls that they left before coming here.”
The priest bowed his head. “Then I shall pray for their souls, and my congregation shall do the same, and by our prayers perhaps we will ease their times in purgation and speed their entry into the greatest halls where the greatest king sits.”
The mail-clad man said “God send it so,” and the priest nodded thereto. And the next morning, after they had slept and the mail-clad man had heard Mass–“Where is your green-clad companion?” “I know not, God help me.”–the man in green and the man in mail bade the priest and the village and its people farewell. “For methinks matters will be much changed in days to come, with so many now gone away that once were here. Look that you be ready for the changes that will come,” said the green-clad man.
“Can you not stay here?” asked the priest. “For if things will be as you say they will, then a fighting man of faith would find much to do, and a healer would have a home and happy.”
The mail-clad man looked to the green-clad, and the latter said “That may not be, for we must be elsewhere. Or I must away, and the knight must with me–as you yourself said and blessed him that he might do the more fully and strongly.”
“So I did, so I did. And since you will not stay, then to you I say, God be with you and make both straight and easy the paths before you, now and in all the days of your lives!”
“Thank you, Father,” said the mail-clad man, and he followed the green-clad man away from the village, walking towards the rising sun.
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