He crawled into the field leaving a trail of blood along the golden wheat. He knew the wound in his side would not kill him, but he felt weak. His armor weighed him down and his arms could no longer move. He collapsed and struggled to breathe. His mind raced with thoughts of remorse and anger. He pounded the ground and cried out to the empty plains around him.
Once he got his bearings again he loosened his armor and left it lying in the dirt behind him while he continued forward. The wind rustled the wheat around him forming it into waves. The man could no longer hold himself and lost all his strength. He laid there praying for death, but knowing it might not come he wept.
He rolled over and gazed into the sky. It was bright blue with only a couple of clouds in sight. His thoughts turned to his life before and his misery worsened.
Footsteps could be heard nearby. His sword was still sheathed and he tried to reach for it. His strength failed him and he was unable to draw it. “There’s a man here!” yelled a young boy near him, “He’s hurt papa!”
“John, get away from him!” yelled an older man,
“Obey me son,”
The older gentleman knelt down next to him as the young man backed away.
“He doesn’t look like a raider, but we can’t be too careful,”
“Papa! I found his armor, he’s a knight!”
“Or maybe he killed a knight and stole his armor,”
“No way papa, no one can kill the Knights of Korryn,”
“Run and get your mother John and one of the other servants to help me carry him,”
“Now child, get!”
“Yes papa,” said John as he ran back the way he had come.
“Mama! Mama! We found a knight in the field!” John yelled as he approached the farmhouse. “He needs our help!”
“What are you yelling about child?” asked the mother as she appeared in the doorway,
“We found a knight, he’s hurt, father said to fetch you and one of the other servants,”
“We’ll have to hurry then, get Jacob and show him where to go,”
“Yes mama,” John then ran for the servant’s quarters.
When the man awoke, he did not recognize his surroundings. He was indoors and staring at a firm ceiling of lumber. He noticed he was draped with a blanket and wearing only his drawers. He looked around and saw he was on a simple bed that felt unusually soft. He pushed himself up on his elbows. Upon examination, he realized he was in a small hut with little decoration. His clothing and armor were in the corner and looked washed and polished.
He tried to focus on what he last remembered. He lifted the blanket and noticed the wound on his side was stitched up neatly with no sign of infection. He wondered where he was and tried to sit on the edge of the bedding. His body was exhausted and he groaned as he slid his legs over the bedside.
A man with dark skin then entered the room. “No, you must rest,” he said,
“Where am I?”
“You are on my master’s farm, now rest,” the servant pushed him back into the bed and pulled the blanket up to his neck,
“I would like to speak with your master,”
“I will tell him, but he is in the field where I must return soon, I have brought food, but do not sit up as you must heal.” The servant placed a small table next to the bed and a loaf of bread upon the table. The man laid back on the strange bedding and stared at the ceiling. He closed his eyes and again drifted off.
When he woke again it was dark. He looked around the room once more and noticed the bread was gone. He figured it was so it wouldn’t go to waste. His throat felt dry and scratchy. He looked around and saw a bucket with a cloth cover and a ladle just underneath him. He removed the cloth cover and lifted the ladle. The satisfying slosh of water was a relief and he drank gulping down scoopfuls at a time.
He dropped the ladle back and again went to sit up. It was less painful this time. He put his feet on the cold wooden floor and felt surprised. He was expecting dirt. He looked down and saw oak wood flooring. Opposite him in the room was the servant he’d seen earlier sleeping with nothing but a rolled-up blanket under his head as a pillow.
He stood up and went for his clothing. Once dressed he opened the door and again to his surprise instead of leading directly outside he found a main room of a large cabin. He’d never seen a servant’s quarters with such luxurious spaces.
He moved to the outer door and finally was able to exit into the cool air. He was at a small farm with a main house, servant’s quarters and a barn. He didn’t see any storage houses however only adding to the mystery of the place.
“Hold there,” said a man’s voice down the path, “Identify yourself!”
A man in leather armor approached and noticed the stranger was unarmed. “Oh, it’s you sir knight, my apologies we’ve had raiders in the area recently,”
“What kind of farm is this?”
“What do you mean?”
“I see no storage houses for grain, slaves have their own cabins for quarters and then there’s you, a guard for a peasant farm?”
“Don’t let the lack of buildings fool you, Master Morrick has the largest fields in the province, he is simply humble enough not to boast of it. And you’ll find no slaves here sir, all of us are paid well for our service to him. You should return to your quarters.”
“How long have I been asleep?”
“Two days sir,”
“Then if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to stay out here, fresh air might do me well,”
“If you insist sir, but I’d caution you not to lurk about, one of the other guards might mistake you for a trespasser,”
The guard turned to continue his patrol while the stranger walked in the opposite direction. He found a woodcutter’s stump and sat upon it. His soul wracked with grief. He then knelt in the dirt and in silence offered a long prayer asking for the torment to end. When he was finished, he noticed a man standing near him.
“I’ve not known many knights to be pious,” he said,
“Not many are, but when nothing of this world can bring relief to my sorrows, a quiet prayer is the only thing I can do,”
“Are you a follower of The Church?”
“I am not, I’ve seen too many wicked men use the name of the Church for their own advantage and what truth can be spoken through the mouths of corrupt men?”
“But you do believe in the Almighty?”
“I do, though I’m sure he is most displeased by me,”
“You are a stranger to me and should not be troubled by the tribulations of a sinner,”
“I am also the man who pulled you from my field half-dead, gave you food and water from my farm to nurse you back to health, whose wife cleaned and stitched your wound, and whose servant gave you a bed with no thought of his own comfort,”
“You’re Morrick? Master of this place?” he asked and turned to face the elderly man,
“Your hospitality is well met, I shall have the king know of your kindness towards me, he shall reward you,”
“There is no need, I have never turned down a stranger, especially one with whom our good king holds such high esteem.”
The stranger turned his face away in shame.
“You have many troubles my friend, that is easy to see, but come, eat and we shall talk some more.”
The stranger was uneasy, but followed Morrick into the main house to join him in a midnight feast.