1. The Kingdom Beyond the Ridge – The Knight and the Message
by Eric Liang
Image Credits to Paul M. Robinson
It was starting to become morning. I’ve been walking for 3 hours nonstop after I had fled from the enemy’s castle. I finally arrived at the great ridge that divides the enemy territory from the kingdom in which I serve. Just about a mile’s more worth of walking, and I’ll be safe from the hands of the enemies. I dare not look back because the enemy might be right behind me, ready to attack. I continued to walk. The night clouds began to fade away as the sun rose from behind the ridge where my kingdom lies. I was almost out of breath, but my life was at stake. I have to deliver this important message to my king. The enemy kingdom was planning a large scale surprise attack on the midnight of winter, which is two weeks from today.
Slowly, I struggled to walk the remaining mile. I was exhausted, tired, breathing heavily, and barely conscious. At one point, I fell on my knees, wanting to give up, but couldn’t. The importance of this message was too crucial, too great of a weight to give up on. And so, with all my remaining strength, I kept walking. Pretty soon, the gentle rays of the morning sun covered the entire landscape, and behind me, were the dark clouds that remained from the night. As the distance between me and friendly territory gradually decreased, my heart slowly filled with joy and the more I fell due to the lack of strength to continue on. The only thing that is keeping me going now is my loyalty, honor, and pride as a knight for my king, King Eldenberg.
Soon, I heard a faint war cry from behind. I began to panic as I heard the enemy troops from behind closing in on me. I kept quiet, and continued on, this time trying to run, but failed to do so. The main entrance to the grand city was just about a quarter mile ahead, and surely, I will be saved. By now, I have lost all strength to walk, and I fell on my knees. I crawled. I tried my best to ignore the pain that covered my entire aching body. Without warning, I suddenly felt a sharp and stinging pain on the calf of my left leg. An arrow pierced through my flesh. I wanted to scream, but couldn’t. All I could do was to keep crawling if I wanted to live. Luckily, I was surrounded by some semi-tall grass so I was safe from a direct hit for the meantime. Now at this point, you might be wondering, why is such a knight without any armor? Because I had lost my horse during my infiltration into the enemy castle, and in order to successfully escape, I had to lighten my load. The chances of surviving are a lot higher without armor than with armor, because either way, it’s risky but my best bet would be without.
I clenched my teeth and continued to crawl as quickly as I could. It was like running a marathon, except if I lose, I lose my life. So losing is not an option. As I got closer and closer to the main entrance, more and more arrows struck the ground near the path I took. One arrow managed to miss my head by a margin. Another only grazed my left ear. So far, I was lucky enough to make it this far. As soon as that thought came into my mind, an arrow struck my left arm. Again, I wanted to scream, but couldn’t. Since my body was aching, the pain wasn’t as painful as it would’ve been so I withstood it and continued to crawl with both my hands and legs. As a knight, my king and his kingdom are more important than my life. It is my duty to protect them, along with the citizens of the land.
Finally, after a long and desperate struggle to return, I reached a point where the guards at the main entrance was able to see my figure on the ground. I tried my best to wave my hand, only for it to rise about the length of a sword’s hilt’s distance off the ground. Quickly, one of them ran towards me, while the other stayed on guard. I believe his name was Squire Charles, one of the best of all squires that served our kingdom to this day. He helped me off the ground and carried me back to the kingdom, but just as he did that, two arrows struck my back. This time, being unable to withstand the pain, I finally let out a cry, and tears flowed from my eyes. I felt the taste of salty sweat and dirt. Without hesitation, the other guard quickly ran over to me and Charles with a shield to help us return back to the kingdom. Finally, my vision blurred and everything became black.
To be continued…