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The Withered Knight

By Therius Tale All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Drama

Chapter 1

“The sun is by far the end!” the crazed old man screamed out.

The old shivering husk of a man stared at the by passers, clawing his way forward, digging his shriveled fingers in to the burning sand. His arms shaking at the strain of hauling his elderly body forward, dragging along the burning golden sand. Even in the shadows, the sand was merciless.

The wickerwork above the alley wasn’t covering enough for the elderly fool, forcing him to crawl his way, reaching towards the parts of the market which were covered by the heavy canvas. Slithering himself as well as he can by his age, scraping his body along rough walls. The marks dug deep into his flesh if he passed small uncovered nails and branches.

He stopped behind a cart of treated lumber, his chest heaving for fresh air. His Hands slides slowly over the lumber as he watches the market place, and the life thriving around, ogling over the boards of faraway oaken wood at the sight of fresh food and various goods he once owned the likes of himself.

Quickly, he duck behind the cart of lumber, cowering as his ears caught the words and shouts of what he first thought was a gang of thieves, they couldn’t be guards at least – too young, he muttered.

Rushing out from a cart covered in the liveliest colors of silk and cotton, two kids came running, both swinging their wooden swords, acting out their hero of choice – some far away hero, he muttered. His eyes observed the two kids skipping along the sands, swinging the swords and make fake hits and dodges.

The elder crawled under the cart in a small incident of panic, images flashing across his eyes, cupping his ears till the kids have run off to another side of the market.

Once a mighty knight, he was a crusader of the holy order, protector of the holy lands till the events turned against him. His lands re-taken by the Saracens, his home torched and burnt to the ground, he was left to walk the desert. The screams of his people rung through his mind, still does.

His eyes blinked open, starring part the cartwheel, the kids had run off playing in another section of the market. Just able to see their swords sing above a far away stall.

His fingers dug in to the sand once more, crumbling the surface as he crawled out slowly; he was enjoying this part of the sand. Someone might have left water here during the day and it had sunk in to the sand a little, cooling it just under the surface which itself had dried out and created a small lit.

Calmly his eyes wandered over the market for a right opportunity then sadly they wandered down his chest, his silken shirt; the last remnant of his Knighthood. Padding it lightly, he at least attempted to keep the collar somewhat clean, fingers brushing over the embroidery; revealing his insignia and symbols from under the loose dirt.

The Saracen warlord had permitted his life to continue, by the price of not having a life of status. His death was traded with his riches, the king would not approve of this. Abandoning the cause of the holy crusade just to stay alive long enough to perish in the dirt of a secluded market, not even for your king, but your own wretched hide.

Among the stalls he could just spot the local gang of boys, a little group of thieves they were, but also vultures. They set forth to attack the ones they dared, taking what they wanted or needed but only the ones they knew they could keep at bay. Right now, they were eyeing the butcher – Hope he chops off your hands, he muttered to himself as he crawled along the other side of the market.

His toes dug painfully in to the dirt as he curved his body closer to the table of the stall, reaching out to increase his reach, taking hold of a firm melon – praise the light, he muttered. His hand withdrew faster than he would have expected, holding the stolen melon to his chest as he would proceed to crawl under the lumber cart again. Market day was always the best day for him, he didn’t have to break too many laws by stealing a piece of fruit, unlike having to trespass to another’s land, bring possible harm or danger just for a meal.

He managed to retreat to his temporary hide out, a lumber cart of what he could almost convince himself to believe to be, English oak. He enjoyed the softness of the boards, sliding his fingers over the surface; to enjoy the smooth non-polished grain, these were properly looted from another crusader’s land. He allowed his grasp to release of the boards, sliding his hand with him under the cart.

With a wide smile of bad or almost lacking teeth, he spun the melon a few times in to the sand, nesting it firmly to work on. And by working in, it was a chore to get food without any tools in possession.

“Forgive me, lord, for this is in the name of survival and life” he sighed out deeply.

A small tear escaped from his right eye as he slowly pulled over the leather strap around his neck, hanging in the heavy end was a silver cross, a little longer than the common crosses; this was made by his squire once in the day. His shriveled fingers grasped firmly around the cross, shaking lightly as he raises his hand above his head. With a swift strike towards the melon, the long end of the cross dug deep in to the hard surface of the watermelon, almost making the juices flow out clear.

His blue eyes wide as he bows forward, suckling the cold juices of the watermelon into his mouth – lord be praised for this gift, he sputtered out attempting to suck out more of the juices.

Wiggling his cross around violently didn’t only reveal more of the fruits juices, it also revealed what was within, the red cure of refreshing fruit meat. Firmly gripping at the edge of the punctured hole, he would rip open the firm green shell of the melon. Gazing within the red fruity inside, he dug his fingers in to the fruits core, feasting on this lovely chance of a good meal.

After filling his mouth a few times, he notices the guards doing their round, a clear warning that he had to retrieve in to his dark alley. Scooting along the burning sand as he cups the melon under his right arm, balancing with his left arm, away towards his wickerwork covered hideout.

His feet just pass through the ragged cloth in time for the guards to not be able to notice him, allowing another safe day to have passed. Allowing the old man to once more seek rest within the comfort of his dump, the only memories he held left.

With an unsteady hand, he would softly pad his 2-handed sword as if a sign of respect – I shall return to greatness my kind, he muttered out quietly. His fingers trailing over the scarred steel, the dull blade was all that was left of his existence before this hell of a hole. Settling himself back in to a pile hay.

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