Nightmares or The road to redemption.
The road was long and devilish. The tiles of the road glowed in the moonlight. In the distance there was the slow clip clop of a horse's hooves. Then the knight and his steed came into view. The knight had white armour on. It had once shone but now time had tarnished and bent it. He was feeling the drag of time and the weariness of age. He was tired of life. The road he travelled on was long and hard but he had some hope that it would end and he would get his life back. He stopped at the side of the road and decided he would rest here for the night.
The next day the white knight continued on his journey. As he travelled the bright sun beat down on him and his horse. The knight tried not to think about anything but the road to redemption forces your mind to think about your sins and about all of your bad memories. So he had to ride in despair and sorrow at all of his mistakes he remembered. In the middle of the day the heat finally got to the knight. He got off his horse and sank down onto the road. He did not know how long he had stayed like this but before he knew it somebody was beside him helping back up. Through the heat haze the white knight saw a young man staring at him. The young man was dressed shabbily he was walking along with a small donkey on a rope.
"Are you alright?" The young man asked. The knight made no reply.
"You might want to take your armour off. It's all cracked and it might collapse if you wear it any longer." He suggested.
The knight obliged and managed to take his helmet off. His wizened face stared out at the world with tired eyes.
"Who are you?" The knight asked. His voice was crackled and hoarse.
"My name's Ethan Thwaite. And this is Ethel." He gestured to the donkey, "She is the only thing I have in the world."
"Where are you from? And where are you bound for good sir?" The knight asked.
"I'm from the small village of Achetia. As to where I am bound I do not know. Wherever this road takes me I will go for this is the road to redemption and I have a reason to be here." Ethan replied with a long, hard sigh.
"But who are you? Surely you must have a reason to be here too?" Ethan inquired.
"I am Sir Bastian, knight of the white king's court in Pontal. But I am no longer worthy of that title." The knight told Ethan with a hint of deep sorrow in his voice.
"Well Sir Bastian why don't you continue your journey with me? The road is long and I'm sure would enjoy my company." Ethan suggested with a smile. Sir Bastian silently agreed and they set out along the road again.
They continued the journey in sombre silence. Nothing stopped their trains of thought. But when the weather decided to take a turn for the worse and started to rain heavily the two camped out by the side of the road for the rest of the night.
"So why are you on the road to redemption Ethan? You seem such a happy, carefree man." The white knight asked as he slid his visor back up. It was always dropping down unexpectedly and it was getting quite annoying.
"You have good eyes to spot my happy and rambunctious spirit but behind that is a blackened soul. I have done a terrible misdeed." Ethan told Sir Bastian.
"I have also done a terrible misdeed. It has cost me my honour, my livelihood and worst of all it has cost me the love of my life." The white knight started to quietly sob. Thick tears rolled down onto his face and then onto his armour.
"Damn you don't you cry. You'll rust your armour. To distract you from your woe I'll tell you how I got onto the road to redemption and maybe that will drain my sorrow too." And so Ethan told his tale…
Ethan had a good life. He had a loving wife Tiffany and two lively children Dominic and Patricia. Life couldn't have been better. His family never had any money troubles and there were never any domestic troubles. This kind of peace couldn't last forever. And it didn't. Ethan went to the tavern an awful lot. He didn't drink as he was allergic to most forms of alcohol but he did have a problem with women. Lots of young, beautiful women hung around the bar and Ethan couldn't stop himself. One day he got caught kissing one of the women from outside the tavern and his wife, Tiffany was so enraged at him that she threw him out of the house and took all of his money. He only just managed to get Ethel the donkey. Then he just made his way from county to county trying to make some money to try and get by. As he was travelling he managed to find his way onto the road to redemption and he knew that if he kept travelling he would be cleared of his sin and maybe, just maybe, his wife would forgive him and take him back…
"That is a most interesting story Ethan and I can feel your pain. We should get some rest. We have a long journey ahead of us. I will reveal my sin tomorrow." The knight told him.
Ethan nodded and they both slept for most of that night.
In the middle of the night Sir Bastian woke up suddenly gasping in shock. Shortly after Ethan suddenly woke up too in a cold sweat.
"Are you alright?" Ethan whispered. In the silent night it sounded like he'd shouted it.
"I'm fine. What's wrong with you?" The knight mumbled in reply, trying to regain his noble composure.
"I just had a terrible nightmare. My wife was shouting at me and crying at the same time. I had a choice. Choose between the hundreds of young women or my faithful wife. It scared me half to death." Ethan told the knight.
"Well try not to think about it for now and try to go back to sleep." The knight neglected to tell Ethan that he had had a nightmare too. His had been a lot worse. It was of that fateful day, of all of the laughing faces and especially the face of Lady Fatira. He could feel the scorn and the shame deeper than he ever had before. All this passed his mind in an instant. Leaving his thoughts behind the knight went back to sleep.
When they both awoke the sun shone bright with the new morning. Immediately the knight was up and busy packing up all of the supplies.
"Come on Ethan! We have a long journey ahead of us and the sooner we get started the sooner we get finished. Come on!" The knight urged.
"What time is it?" Ethan moaned.
"I do not know nor do I care. Now. Come on!" The knight replied.
Reluctantly Ethan got up and started packing up his things and strapping them onto Ethel. Then they continued their journey on the road.
The pair said nothing to each other as they travelled along.
"I'd like to tell you my tale now." Sir Bastian said to Ethan. Then he began…
When he was younger Sir Bastian had once been a lowly squire but he had worked extremely hard and made his family proud by becoming a knight of the white king. As the years went by the knight got stronger and his abilities grew. Soon he was the toast of the court. Everyone loved him. All of the ladies at court were running after him. Well, not all of them. Lady Fatira didn't want anything to do with the knights. As the months went by Sir Bastian became more and more love-struck. He tried everything to win her affection. Nothing worked until; one day he painted a magnificent portrait of her and told her that that was how he saw her. She fell in love with him and all was well. But over the years Sir Bastian grew lazy and he ended up not adding to his fame. One day a brand new knight, Sir Pettigrew came to court. He challenged Sir Bastian to a duel. Sir Bastian couldn't refuse. Before he knew it Sir Pettigrew had defeated him. He had been lazy in combat and he had been beaten. He was the laughing stock of the court. Worst of all his love Lady Fatira gave up on him for another knight and so he went away from the court in shame. Then he found his way onto the road to redemption…
"Wow. I can't believe what you've been through." Ethan said, shocked.
"It's ruined my life." Sir Bastian grumbled. He looked up from the road and saw a small church at the side of the road.
"We've made it. We need to go into that church. Come on!" The knight cried out with pure glee. He dismounted form his horse and ran towards the church. Ethan ran after him. They burst into the holy building. Priests and monks looked at them in shock.
"We need to speak with Father Crispin at once. It is an extremely urgent matter." Sir Bastian declared. A small, slightly portly monk in robes tottered towards them.
"I will take you to Father Crispin, the ancient healer of sins." The monk said quietly. He then led them through the church, past confession booths and rows of empty pews to a small door. The monk knocked on the door.
"Enter." A curt voice said from inside. The monk opened the door and led them into the room. Inside the room it was dark and the many candles that were lit didn't provide much light. Ancient and dusty books were strewn all over the shelves, the desk and there were a couple open at certain pages on the floor. An old man wearing long, heavy robes was sitting at the desk turning the pages of one of the books. He turned when the two of them entered.
"Are you Father Crispin?" Sir Bastian asked.
"Yes, what do you want? I'm a very busy man." He told them in a very croaky and gruff voice.
"Father we are here because we have sinned great sins. I have heard that you are the only one who can help us. We have been travelling on the road to redemption for some time now and we don't want to stay on the road forever. Will you help us?" Sir Bastian pleaded.
"How have you sinned?" Father Crispin asked with some sense of curiosity.
"I have neglected my wife and loving children for other women." Ethan told him.
"I have been lazy and it has cost me my honour and my lady." The white knight said with a deep look of shame on his face.
"I see. Well I can take some sins away permanently but it will cost you dear." Father Crispin told them. Then he got up and began to scour the room until he found a specific book. He blew the thick dust off the cover and then flicked the book open to a certain page. This page was blank.
"Write your sins and they will be forgiven." Father Crispin told them.
"Are these books filled with people's sins?" Ethan asked filled with wonder and curiosity.
"Yes. These are the product of generations of sinners. But God has forgiven them as he always does." Father Crispin sighed and handed the quill over to Sir Bastian.
He nodded and began to write his story. They all stood in silence as the white knight dictated his tale. When he had finished he put down the quill pen and turned to Father Crispin.
"It is done." He said simply.
The white knight gave the quill to Ethan and he began to write. When he was finished writing he passed the quill to Father Crispin and asked: "Now what do we do?"
"Now you each do a task to gain forgiveness from the people you have sinned against. Ethan, my son, you will have to go back to your beloved family and do the fatherly duty which you have neglected so suddenly." Father Crispin told Ethan.
"And what about me, good priest?" The white knight asked.
"For you it will be harder to gain forgiveness as the lady you have mentioned has, in fact, been deceased for some time now. She has been buried in this church graveyard for 3 years. But to regain your honour you will need to go on a quest that will restore your valour." Father Crispin told the white knight. The solemnity of his voice seeped into the room.
The knight stared at the priest trying to take in this sudden shock.
"The lady I have loved, nay adored all these years has passed into the black hand of death and I will never see her again." He mumbled.
"Please try to refrain from exploding in anguish and concentrate on what I have to say as it is of the most importance. Somewhere all the evil in this world is gathering and the Lord has told me that only you can defeat it. That is your calling. Go now with my blessing." Father Crispin urged. The two men thanked the priest for his kindness and walked out of the church to their steeds.
"This is where we go our separate ways." Ethan pointed out.
"Yes. It has been good travelling with you Ethan." The knight replied with a smile.
"But where will you go now? Where does your calling take you?" Ethan asked.
"Honestly I do not know." The knight said as he got on his horse, "But I will know it when I get too it. I feel relieved Ethan. Finally I can do something noble again."
Sir Bastian turned his horse north. He turned to Ethan and said: "This may be the last time I will see you again. Before I go I would like to say that after all we've been through together I am happy to call you my friend. Now I must away! Goodbye Ethan Thwaite!" He said.
Then he rode off into the oncoming twilight. Ethan smiled and walked his donkey back to his village. It turned out it wasn't too far from the road which was a small mercy. On his arrival back home he gained forgiveness from his wife and lived a prosperous life. But he never saw or heard from Sir Bastian ever again…