Never to be Knighted
On all four, I checked my jaw if it was badly damaged. Nothing was badly hurt, it only felt a little loosened. Loosened by a punch from my instructor. He stroke me for blaming my troubles on my bow. I missed the seventy-five yard target. Already everyone else has moved on to the hundred yard targets. But, I just can't hit the bull-eyes so many times, I just can't hit the target five-times in a row, which was the task at hand. The task I needed to accomplish to advance.
Staring at the grass soft grass before me. I grip my bow and stood up. I take a deep breath and stood straight. I gazed deep into my instructor' eyes. He peers back angrily. A head taller than I, looking to be in his late twenty's. Light blond hair, it was very lengthy. And his blue eyes that always seemed to be angry at me for everything I do. A big and powerful man, I'm glad he is my instructor, not my enemy.
"Now, one more time Wade, try again!" He tried calm his voice, but I could still sense his frustration. For two weeks I been stuck at this range, as everybody else advanced ten days ago. Anyone would be frustrated. I sighed, and reached to my back and pulled out another arrow from my quiver. The last arrow in my quiver.
I glanced up at my instructor as I begin setting the arrow on the bow and I took aim. My eyes locked on the target. Seeing only two arrows landed, all others hit the ground short or just above the target, hitting the big red wood, as the archery range was surrounded by forest. Two arrows out of twelve I thought bitterly. I felt the wind, it came from the west. I adjusted the angle. Measuring the range, I slightly raised my aim. Slowly pulling back the arrow, slowly. "Slowly now, and breath calm," words my instructor knocked into me. I shut my eyes tightly. The string snapped out and the arrow took flight.
My instructor gasped in awe at what he witnessed. "A perfect shot..." Huh? What? I couldn't? As I opened my eyes, it was true. The color of my chosen fletcher was in the very center. I've done it, I thought as I closed my eyes. As I opened them slowly, I looked at the world in awe, as though as seeing the world for the first time. A clear blue sky, a bright sun, and lush trees all around us. I stood in triumph.
But a quick smack in the back of my head by my instructor brought my back to earth. "Now, go start on the hundred yard targets like the others, I don't doubt that they might be on the two hundred targets by now," He said as I rubbed the back my head. "And don't forget to get your quiver restocked by Brother Albert before you begin. We don't need another incident." I almost forgot, I wanted to forget. Soon after his words were said, he left. To where, I do not know. Where I am headed, to Brother Albert for more arrows. Which is back to the Abbey.
Walking through the lush forest of thick red woods, the brown beaten path I walked through. It was our first day on the range was when the incident happened. I was late, I slept in. So I hurried to range which is a few miles out from the Abbey. I made it on time when Brother Paul, our archery instructor, had just began the lesson. Half way through the lecture, he noticed I was without my quiver and arrows. And everyone burst out laughing. So he sent me back and I missed the rest of the lesson upon my return. But that's me, I always find a way to make a mess out of things.
It was a miracle I even was allowed to enter the famous Fran-de-Benard Abbey. Although I wasn't of noble heritage, I did have a wealthy grandfather. My only family, now he is living the rest of his days starving on the streets. Just so I would be admitted into the Holy Order to become a holy servant of God and a fierce warrior. We both know, this is the most prestigious honor for any commoner. Now when he goes to heaven, he will be proud to see every single descendant living a honorable life, to be someday... a Templar.
I joined at the age of eight, which is quite old for first-year students. First-year's age was at the earliest was five. Thank god my grandfather was a very wealthy man to sway the Grand Master to allow my entry. I spent the first three years studying the many teachings of the bible. Its always been so hard, everyone never seemed to warm up to me. I'm an outsider in the abbey, the only friends I have in the Abbey is Father Montcalm and Grand Master Rupert. Their words to me whenever I shall doubt myself, "You swore to the Almighty God the same vows as everyone else had done." And that holds true, even when I lay awake, trying to find rest.
I made the vows, I swore the vows of poverty, chastity, piety, and obedience to the Holy Order, to the Almighty, like everyone else. I swore my life to the Holy Order. Before the Cross, in front of everyone, inside the Chapel of Nine, is where I swore these vows. I knelt, I bowed in my thick brown robes. Still, no one accepts me. Now a fourth-year student of the Holy Order. But I am the only one in my class that's the oldest, and the only one that purchased entry. All others are of noble bloodlines. Father Montcalm, a very frail old man only tells me "It's not what in your blood that defines you, but what is in your heart that will make you who you are." I just hoped that everyone else knew that.
A very wise man, thankfully, he was a great friend of my grandfather. But try as I might, I could never make myself to best everyone, I only find myself behind everyone. As everyone is growing so rapidly, I forever crawl hopeless like a baby that's too stupid to learn to walk. And its one blunder after another, to learn the title of Templar seems to become further and further each passing day. To finally wear the white surcoat and the illustrious red cross emblemed on the chest. And finally be granted my sword, my double-edged long sword. But such items I'll never obtain with my dreaded clumsy self.
My hand push back my thick brown hair, I'm still a boy. But without the many leadership quality the other kids have. Even though I'm older, I am still smaller than the other fourth-years. And my brown robes are quite very big, they just don't fit. It is why I taste dirt quite often, in my frequent trips to the ground.
I struggle now to honor my marks as a perfected bowman. Doubting how good I'll do in how my staff skills will progress next summer. I'm worried Brother Paul will make recommendation for me just to become a priest, a chaplain, after seeing I'll never become a warrior, a knight, a Templar. But despite my poor skills, at the age of sixteen I'll still be taught how to wield a sword. By the means of using a wooden replica of a steel broadsword. I will still learn to fight, just will never see the frontlines, which pains me greatly.
I look up, relieved that I have finally reached the Abbey. Strangely, Brother Albert has been waiting on me, with a happy grin. He is a kind man, in his forty's, already has gray hairs and a gray mustaches. In his brown robes, as any sergeant or any member of the Holy Order would wear when in the Abbey. This is so strange, he has never waited for me, and always regarded me as clumsy. But I stopping just a few steps before the tall old man. He takes my quiver with such delight.
"So, Brother Paul has told me a perfect bull-eyes on the seventy-five targets, very impressive," his words hinted with such joy, "You surprise us all, Brother Wade. I do believe, other fourth-years haven't got a perfect bull-eyes at the range. I do believe this accomplishment is heading all the way up to Grand Master," My eyes grew wide, I gasp.
"What?" Not many great deeds are taken to Grand Master. "Surely, its not the big enough of an accomplishment." But Brother Albert only laughs.
"Haa ah, always humble Wade," Brother Albert wiping a tear of joy from his eyes. "You under estimate your abilities, Brother Wade. Belief can move mountains, have you not listened?" Yes I have listened, it wasn't just that easy. Staring down at my feet, feeling two firm hands are placed on my small shoulders. My quiver is quickly slide back on by Brother Albert. I look up to see Brother Albert peering at me.
Brother Albert looking deep inside me. "Brother Wade, don't let Lucifer make you think you are weak," He said. "You are strong! Believe that you are strong. It is why you are here, even Father Montcalm. His eyes see beyond your bodily form and into your great spirit. Its the only reason you wer—... Ahem, you better get going to the range before it gets dark, now go!" A quick shake by the shoulders and he turns away, going to have his early dinner no doubt.
After that brief talk, I could hope feel inspired as I darted back to the range. I felt boosted with energy, I decided to run the whole away back and hit those targets with brand new leaf. Well if Father Montcalm believes in me, I shouldn't let him down. My quiver bounced a lot as I ran, it felt heavier than usual. I stop, and sled off my quiver to take a look at it. I gaze with wide eyes, He packed me fifty arrows! All with my own fletcher color,the feather part of the arrow, I decided my fletcher would be blue. While everyone else was brown, black or red. I am the only one that picked blue. Different or special?
I arrive at the archery range and stay there until the evening. It passes almost without incident, after the little greetings by the others. They were all surprised I finally arrive at the hundred yards, as they reached the hundred-fifty yard targets, which was a short walk from the seventy-yard range. Laughing, saying I'll never reach this target, my arrows will fall short, and the only reason I was here, was because Brother Paul felt sorry for me. I let out a short chuckle, abruptly go silent as I take out an arrow from my quiver, set it on my bow and quickly take aim. I hear they're laughing still. Quickly picking out any of the ten targets, I pull back the arrow slowly, eyes locked on the target. "Slowly now, and breath calm," I shut my eyes tightly. For a moment, everything freezes. The string snapped out and the arrow took flight.
Sudden silence at what everyone witnessed. Enough said, everyone resumed to their training without even a word, muttering curses. Cursing a poor commoner of such heritage could never measure up to one of noble heritage. But today, a poor commoner has just bested a nobleman. Well if they were of noble heritage, they must know pride is a sin. If they hadn't made they're selves god-like to peasants, they wouldn't be feeling shame right about now. I chuckled once more.
As the sun began to set, Brother Paul came to escort us back to our chambers to have dinner, pray, and lastly sleep. It's only been two weeks, and I already realized the routine. Morning, we spend some hours in the Chapel praying, watched by Brother Gabriel. Afternoon is spent with studying of the bible and preachings from Brother Albert. And evenings are spent with warrior's training with Brother Paul. Then later a quick prayer, eat, and sleep.
In my bed I lay lightly sleeping, for hours I spend trying to sleep but I'm shoved awake. It's Brother Paul. "Brother Wade..." He whispers, afraid to wake the others. "Come with me." This is important, very important! I don't utter a word and quickly find my robes while Brother Paul is awaiting me outside. I finally join him. He begins walking down the corridors of the massive Abbey, I quickly follow him. Its so big, I'm glad I haven't gotten lost in it yet.
He doesn't say a word as we walk, his eyes remained locked on before. As I look up through my hood, so I may not recall the way we have came. As ordered, I stare down to my feet. Looking down at the red sink carpet, and my brown sandals. We walk down dozens of twists and turns. Down stairs, it seems we are going lower, deeper into the Abbey. Corridors and levels restricted to most fourth-years and even eight-years. Why am I getting such a privilege? But I don't not dare ask, head down, I order myself.
As we walk this one hallway, I notice there are rows and rows of guards. I counted almost fifty guarding in this one part of the Abbey alone. No other part of the Abbey was so protected. Not even Father Montcalm was so protected. We stop, I tilt my head up slightly to get a glimpse of a old, a very old heavy wooden door. This all must be the oldest part of the Abbey. Brother Paul ordered the two guards to stand a side. I could only imagine they are wearers of the red cross on the chest of their white surcoat. Why has he brought me here? Why all the secrecy? Why now?
The heavy doors slowly ajar. I feel the heat of my torches to light up this one room, it feels underground. "You may remove your hood, Brother Wade," I do as ordered. It was a massive chamber, a long stairway where a platform laid. The platform was so high, I wouldn't doubt, Brother Paul may touch the high ceiling standing on the platform. As we proceed forward. Along the walls were windows, on the windows were paints of many religious figures, Joesph, Mary, Abraham, Isaac, to name a few.
Proceeding up the stairway, higher and higher we go. Afraid that Brother Paul might push me to my sure death, I hope not. On the high platform at last, and there lay, the most well-crafted, wondrous sword I ever saw. The sword plunged into stone slot, specially made to fit the sword. On the pommel laid, a brilliant red gem. The gem was so brilliant, it might have kept this on chamber alone shining in light. What is this all about?
"Brother Wade, this is the sword of Fran de Benard himself," Brother Paul said. Those words took my breath away. "Wielded by him in the First Crusade, the Crusade to the Holy Lands. He bared this sword up until his death, when our enemies had beheaded him and took Holy Lands from us. Since then, we were incapable of recovering what was lost, the day he had fallen. But soon now, we'll be strong enough to take the Holy Lands our First Father had won for our sake."
I couldn't take my eyes off of the sword. "... W—why are you telling me this?"
"Father Montcalm and Grand Master Rupert believes that one day," Brother Paul turns to peer at me, "You will... lead us back to the Holy Lands."
"What? This can't be me," I begin to argue with my own instructor, "I am only a boy, not even of any royal or significant bloodline! Why me? Surely, there is another. Everybody else has more qualities of such an act..." Brother Paul has stroke me the second time. I fell inches from the edge of the platform. On all four, the second time my instructor has stroke me today.
"You will, this is... God's will, Brother Wade. Your vow demands you to accept this task, do you accept?"
I take a moment of thought, this must have something to do with what Brother Albert carelessly blurted out. "Yes, I accept," My vow is my honor, a man is nothing without his honor. My grandfather told me that.