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The real world of life and death
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By Thomas Fenner

Thomas Fenner

Life is pointless. That single thought escaped my hazy fuzz of a mind as I walk down the cobblestone, excuse for a street littered with slowly disintegrating bodies. Walking seems to be impossible so the knights dragged me purposefully by angry red welts which were a result of the earlier beating. These were frequent but this was particularly brutal in its intensity. This is because I dishonoured myself by running from a baron when he pronounced me a knight. Usually I am not a coward but I despise knights. It would be my worst nightmare if I had to be a knight. A thought suddenly struck me, why would a baron want me as a knight? My appearance was normal, jet black hair (dyed with ink), deeply tanned by farm work and jobs which bishops or priests have commissioned me to do in the sun and also I'm very fit from training constantly and beating younger children for ignorance and craziness. My feelings are complicated, disdain for the feudal system and knights, determination to do anything, having no worry for death and the unknown illness which I have which will most likely kill me, all sided with a growing madness. Also the news about a new crusade will explain my position.

Under my feet the cobblestone turns into grass which turns into cool, smooth cut limestone. Sky is replaced with decorated ceilings dotted with diamond chandeliers. On my left was a knight who obviously hates me, has no intention of hiding it and takes great pleasure in beating me. He has bloated, pudgy cheeks, an upturned nose and blubbery lips forever set in a horrible scowl. All of them bark something then leave me in a bare room stripped of all life's necessities, the only window was tiny and used for human wastes violating the rooms air with a pungent odour. On the far side of the room is a dull slab of stone which had my entire soul stripped away and replaced with the intricately carved word in Latin. Knight.

2 months later.

Pain. Two knights are beating me for breaking a precious sword when sparring with the training master. One knight is that squat man who has made my life like that of someone being tortured for these past months since leaving the castle. Desert surrounding us only made the beating worse, shoving grit into my nose, ears and mouth. Racking pain shoots through my spine as my back is twisted into an awkward position. Eventually the fight stops and the men leave,sparing me time to rest then run back across to rearm with a rapier and a shield then jump on the last horse remaining, a runt. Now it begins.

Already men have lined up like stones ready to be hurled into battle. A strange thought enters my mind. Death in this barren landscape would be better then public execution. Suddenly the withering runt kneeled over and started to shake uncontrollably. Pity welled up inside me as my earlier thought about death rushed back into my hazy mind. Slowly, my rapier edged towards the animals visible ribcage and put it out of its misery. ‘Charge!’ a voice bellowed to all the knights. What! My head flipped up just in time to see hooves galloping away sending sand and grit everywhere. To my humiliation the squat man was on the back line holding up a side which forced a blood feud between our families.Some thing snapped and I ran up to the man, somehow keeping up with his horse on its charge of death.

Previously abandoned desert was now filled with clumsy bodies layered with armour batting each other to the death. Each sun ray were bricks slamming into each man. Clouds were completely non existent and looked as if someone had poured blue ink all over it. Knights roars and hooves crunching sand filled the air.This part of the desert looked like a valley with sand dunes rising up all around the battle. Fueled with revenge for the blood feud I didn’t notice the axe swinging towards my head. When it was a foot away I brought up my rapier and beheaded the axe and the owner. My first kill. Good. A new weapon was needed so the rapier was dropped and the axe was my new weapon. Instantly the axe was brought under a mans chin, snapping his head back and breaking his neck. Second kill. Instantly another man was behind me and I swung the balls of my feet smashing him in the chest throwing him backwards into a path of a sword which now protrudes from his bloody neck. Third.

Half a suns trip across the sky later there was a pile of bodies around me and a proud feeling inside me. There is an itch in my nose and I reach up only to feel a bony nub. A man behind me murmurs and I swing around to see the squat man with a smirking face. Rage boils inside me and my axe is placed on his chest drawing blood, saying the only Latin word I know, "Dead." His face pales and his knees buckle. Turning away my legs walk for me concentrating on what just happened. Everything passes in a blur after that, thanks for saving lives, weapons, and presentation of a new horse.

Night. Second battle. The war leaders put me at the front of the army after the presentation of my new skill in battle. At my request the squat man was next to me, shivering and not making eye contact. A fire arrow shoots through the air and lands a couple foot lengths away from my steed. They have archers! Another dozen light up the night sky revealing our surroundings, grassy plains, small hills and trees like dwarves, small and staying small. The fire arrows land among our soldiers killing and mortally injuring, then ‘Charge!’ Everyone runs forward shouting various phrases filling the air with oaths and swears. When we hit the first layer of soldiers everything slows. My axe kills two people instantly. Seventy eighth. Fists are as dangerous as swords, I think as I punch somebody's chest, breaking various ribs. Yet another man runs towards me holding a long sword, I grab his ear then pull, trying to bring him to the ground. It comes off. For the first time I look at my attacker. He’s a young boy younger then me and that split second of distraction is all it takes for another man to knock me to the ground.

3 days later.

No one has come to save me. No one. It is night again and the man who has doomed me is leading me towards a block with a sword bearer standing on it. The young boy who lost an ear died quite a while ago. I was forced to watch him with his convulsions and withering, I will die disturbed. After he died the man had pointed at the body then me, making it clear that I was to die. Now I’m standing on the block with another he man, he asks me something with the word name in it, so I guess it means ‘What’s your name?’ I don’t know I think, but I say one of the only Latin words I know, ‘Knight.’ He nods grimly then lets the executioner swing down the sword.

Life is pointless.



Brian Falkner Books