Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Sack Knight, part 1

The army of the kingdom of Fair Alora was large and respectable, containing a grand total of forty-five knights. Each of these men was as honorable and valiant as any knight could be, and each was seen as a truly valuable asset to the army and the kingdom as a whole. But the most iconic and notable of these men were the ten who made up the king’s personal guard. These were the men charged with defending the king personally, placing the life and welfare of the king before all else. They never left the king’s side, and at night they slept on the floor of his bed chamber. They were Elgon, Arwinn, Rothgar, Cecil, Ivan, Riven, Leron, Elric, and Ignatius.
            Out of these ten men, Ignatius was the one who most reflected the characteristics of a knight and a good man. He was the king’s bravest and most willing knight, and therefore the king’s most valued. At meals he sat next to the king at the head of the table, and at night he slept directly beside the king’s bed. The king had officially named Ignatius as his sole heir, and was undoubtedly certain that he would make a great king someday. To the citizens of the kingdom, Ignatius was known for his kindness and his constant desire to perform good deeds. The citizens all loved him dearly, and when he passed by they would salute and cheer and bow more intensely than they did for any other knight. They would invite him to take part in their activities and their merrymaking, and he would accept without hesitation or question.
            Ignatius himself couldn’t stand being given all these kindnesses and privileges. He hated his place at the king’s table and his place at the king’s bedside, he winced when he was saluted or cheered at, and when invited to take part in merrymaking he kept quiet and out of sight. Most of all, he hated being named the king’s heir, as he felt that Fair Alora was surely doomed if he was next in line for the throne. Ignatius did not feel that he was worthy of any of this treatment; in fact, Ignatius felt that he was the worst knight of the Aloran army. Regardless of how heroic and noble his deeds were, he didn’t feel that they did anything to change this; they were only done out of what he saw as pure necessity. Of course he had gone to the front of the line when the palace had been ransacked by bandits, and of course he went straight for the bandits’ leader. He had to, because the grunts would fall out of order and be dealt with much more easily with their leader gone. He didn’t see why slaying the bandit leader made him a hero. It was just what he had to do.
            And what was so heroic about rescuing a child who had broken her leg out in the middle of the forest? She had been alone, and she would’ve had no help if he hadn’t been there. He had to do something, even if it meant carrying her all the way into town on his back, with no horse. He didn’t see why this was worth cheering on. He just did what he knew had to be done.
            So despite these deeds and more besides, Ignatius felt that he was nothing but a failure of a knight and a man. He didn’t feel he deserved the cheering, the privileges, or the kindnesses of others, and he felt nothing but guilt for being given things he didn’t deserve. At night, he would lie at the king’s bedside and cry. This was a great annoyance to the other knights.
            “Aw, Ignatius, shut up!” Elric shouted one night when Ignatius had been sobbing more intensely and uncontrollably than usual.
            “I can’t!” cried Ignatius. “All I can think about every night is how I’m only a failure who gets so many wonderful things that he doesn’t deserve a bit of! If you were a failure like me, you would cry every night too!”
            “For heaven’s sake, Ignatius,” Elric said, “if you don’t think you deserve them, then why do you take them? Why don’t you just throw on some rags and go live like a peasant, if that’s what you think you deserve!”
            Ignatius sniffed loudly. “Well,” he said, “perhaps you’re right. Perhaps I really should be a peasant!”
            So that night, Ignatius left the king’s chamber. He searched his entire wardrobe for the ugliest and most downtrodden rags he could find. When he found nothing but the satins and brocades given to him by the king, he decided that he would go around in a potato sack from the kitchen instead.
            So he made his way to the kitchen, dressed himself in one of the old potato sacks, and left the palace.  

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