Damsel in Distress
The White Knight dreamt of a cold dream. He was lying flat on the ocean surface drifting away from the shore. He looked at the grey sky and watch the rain pouring. Raindrops fell to his armor and seeped inside that he can feel its cold liquid. He knows he was dreaming but then a part of him interprets it as a memory.
A memory of being human.
A memory before the Great War.
The dream stopped when he heard a trumpet. He woke up and saw birds chirping on his helmet and tapping their beaks on to it. The knight brushed them away. He's lying on his bear coat and in a warm green meadow almost near a tree. Its shadow moved to the side just away from him, indicating the passing of time. "Two hours." He said to himself. "I've slept for two hours. That's new."
He sat up and stretched his arms. His armor rattled as he moves. The knight gets up and continue his long walk. However, he was approached by a little boy in his white shirt and brown pants, carrying what's suppose to be a golden trumpet. "You're the White Knight, right?"
The boy literally talks to the man inside a white armor.
The knight answered. "Yes. What do you want, boy?"
"I need your help. There's this woman. She's in trouble."
"A damsel in distress." The knight said it with a bored tone. He has been saving people, mostly women, for twelve years. It is like his job now. He even questioned everyone if there's also a knight or man out there who's brave enough to climb a tower just to save a trapped maiden. But then he remembered his duty as a knight. He must do his job. "Take me to her, young man."
The boy smiled, knowing he got a knight to help him.
The knight followed the boy to a small town of Howl where people seemed so stern looking at each other. Not a single smile in sight.
Except for the boy.
"She's right here." He said to the knight. He led him to the town hall where people were gathered, chanting the same sentence.
The White Knight lost the boy but he did led him to the damsel in distress. He went into the crowd and see what's the commotion about. There he saw a woman in a red dress being restrained on top a pyre by the town guards. The knight then heard what the townspeople were yelling. "BURN THE WITCH! BURN THE WITCH!" The town's mayor was standing outside his hall, having a good view of the burning.
The woman in red yelled back at them. "I'm not a witch! I don't do witchcraft!"
Then one of the townspeople said what he has witnessed. "This witch turned her tea hot... without using fire!" People were shocked to hear it and continued their chant.
"It is not witchcraft!" She said.
Then another townspeople witnessed one of her 'dark magics'. "She can light up her little house without can candles or lanterns! No fireplace. But still her house is fully lit!" The crowd gasped and some whispered "Witchcraft."
"It's not witchcraft! It's not magic!" The woman said. "I'm not a witch."
Unfortunately, the people doesn't listen to her. They just want her to be burned alive. The White Knight felt like he needs to do something. He raised his hand and waved at the red woman. "Then what are you?"
Everybody went silent and turned to the towering White Knight. They were amazed by his height and his shining armor that they did not expect in the first place. It could be his bear coat covering him. They noticed his detailed horned helmet and faceplate. They stepped back away from him so he can be seen. The red woman looked at him, surprised by his presence. She mouthed the word "HELP" to him.
"You claimed that you're not a witch. So... what are you?"
"I'm human. Not a witch." She said with a sincere but distressed tone. "Please, help me."
The knight sighed and then approached the town's mayor. "Excuse me, sir. Do you have a warrant for this execution?"
"Excuse me?" The mayor was puzzled by his question. "Warrant?"
"Yes. An execution warrant from the king."
"I... uh..." The man stuttered. "I don't have it here."
"Let me see it."
"It's in my office."
"Show it to me."
But the mayor then brushes off the topic. "It doesn't matter. She's a witch! She must be burned."
The knight climbed up toward the mayor and grabbed his shoulder. He squeezed it tight a little bit so the mayor can feel the pain. "Show me the warrant."
"I don't have it."
"If you don't have it, then release her."
The knight squeezed his shoulder a bit more. "Can't or won't?"
The townspeople started to whisper to each other, talking about the knight's actions.
The knight ignored their remarks and talked to the mayor again. "No warrant. No executions. Let her go."
The mayor let the red woman go but asked the knight to take her away from town. Her presence just bring distress to the townspeople. The White Knight agreed to it and took the woman with him.
The red woman is a nobody. She doesn't have a house, money and any family or friends. She's all alone. The knight guessed she's a war orphan, wondering around looking for a place to stay. It must be harsh to spend 12 years being alone.
"You're lucky I was there." The knight said, noticing she not yet thanked him. "No rewards for the White Knight? Just a simple thank you is enough."
She remained silent and continued walking with him towards the town's gate. She just wanted to leave the horrible place and away from horrible people.
The knight just kept quiet and talked no more.
Once they got out of town, the knight stopped and talked to her. "What happened back there?"
"I don't know." She said.
"They mentioned you did those things."
"Everything are lies. I don't even have a house. I cannot afford tea. I don't have anything!" She said. "Except for this red dress."
"Looks good in you." The knight commented.
The knight continued walking and she followed him. The woman has nowhere to go but to follow the man who saved her. The knight then told her about his journey. "I'm going to the next town. But it's going to be far away. Are you up to that?"
She nodded with her arms crossing but not sure of her decision. "Do knights ride horses?"
He laughed. "Not all knight can ride horses. Heck, not all can afford one. You know how much horses are today?"
The woman shook her head.
"Well, the price will make your jaw drop. That's for sure."
Then the woman changed the topic and asked her. "What's your name, sir knight? I would like to know the name of my rescuer."
He answered. "Gregory of River Town. You, milady?"
The knight liked that name. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Cybele. I hope you'll enjoy this journey."
"I won't be around for long." Cybele feel uncertain of it. She doesn't like to be accompanied by a total stranger even though he saved her. She just joined him just for the trip to the next town. Once they got there, they can go their separate ways. She hoped at the next town will be less violent.
Gregory then remembered how he got to the town of Howl. "Cybele, do you happen to know a boy with a trumpet?"
She answered with a confused look. "No."