Points of Departure, Chapter 7

Continued from the previous chapter, here.

đť”—he mail-clad man did not see the green-clad man he was tasked to follow for the remainder of that day. Nor yet did he see the Lady Maelis, nor still the woman with whom he had lain the night before. But he did do as he had been bidden, abstaining from food and drink while the sun shone and offering prayers at noon and dusk, and the next day saw him rise before the sun so that he could eat and, at dawn, pray as he had been bidden. It was not long afterwards that he again saw the green-clad man, who bade him gather his things and make ready to depart. “For we have yet a long way to go,” he said,
“and much to do, and we cannot wait here overlong and think that we will go and do as needs.”

The mail-clad man did as he was bidden, and within the hour, he and the green-clad man rode out. They took remounts with them, as well as much to make their travels easier, and the green-clad man said that the Lady Maelis had given them him in exchange for services rendered to her. When the mail-clad man asked what sort of services he had offered, the green-clad man smiled. “Did you not know that I am a healer of many afflictions? And there were several that beset the Lady Maelis, of which she is now relieved. It is good, for I think that her lord husband, Sir Gwion, will not return from that battle whither he rode. She will need her strength in the times to come.”

“Are you then a seer, too?” The mail-clad man brought his horse up alongside the green-clad man’s. “For it returns to my mind that you thanked me for my part in ending Logres–if it is indeed ended, of which I see no sign as yet. And I cannot think that any would delight in such a thing who were not of ill intent.”

“It matters little whether you can think so or not, Sir Knight. You are obliged to me, charged by your faith to follow that obligation whither it will lead you. So even if I am a man of ill intent, you cannot but aid me–or would you be known as recreant and craven, unable or unwilling to do that you say you will do? For it can be known that under the shield of gules, on a bend argent a baton gules wavy, there is only fear and unworth. Or it can be known that such a shield stands for endurance in duty, however painful it might be–if painful it is. For when did I say such a thing to you, that you would rebuke me for it now?”

“On that very day when the adder did bite me and–”

“And I healed you, giving you back your life that you otherwise would have lost. And you staggered from poison and swooned. Will you trust a memory, then, that comes from such a time? Will you rebuke me that I saved you? Will you upbraid me that I have seen to your care and lodging no less than mine since? Will you be so ungrateful as this? Is this the valor to which you are sworn and the courtesy? Is this the way in which you would have served your king?”

Such was the wrath of the green-clad man and so pointed his words that the mail-clad man fell to silence. He knew that it was as the green-clad man had said, that what he recalled was from when he swooned and was ill, and he knew that men in fever and afflicted sometimes saw what was not there and heard what was not said. He knew, too, that he did have his life again because the green-clad man had healed him, and he was ashamed to have spoke as he did. And after a time, he said so to the green-clad man, asking his forgiveness for the transgression against him.

The green-clad man smiled and said gently “Many things I am, but a priest is not one of them. I cannot absolution offer, and I do not know that you can take on more penance. For I have seen that you drink but little, and that only water, and that you do not eat as we ride–and you did when we were together before. I will not ask for what you atone, for it is of no moment to me so long as it does not prevent you from doing that you are charged to do. See only that you do as you ought, and all will be well between us–but know that if you repent overmuch of the gifts of life and health I have given you, they can be withdrawn.”

The mail-clad man bowed his head and let his horse fall behind, and the two rode for some time in silence. But before the end of the day, they came upon a monastery, and there was a place for travelers to stay and leave what they would for the brothers cloistered within. There was writing upon the wall beside its door, which the green-clad man read:” From before dusk to after dawn, the door will open stand. But between dawn and dusk the door is shut off from the land. Stay then in peace throughout the night, but in the day, pass on. We, the brothers, tend the house when visitors are gone.”

He turned to the mail-clad man then and said “The night draws near, and the door is open. We may as well pass the night under roof and be on our way again tomorrow. For, as I have said, we are far from where we must be to do that we must do, but I think not that you will do so well to wander in the darkness as in the light of day.”

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