A Gallant Warrior
In a far-off land long ago, a king ruled over subjects whose many towns seemed to be under siege of terrible monstrosities. As was his want, for he was so connected with his serfs and commoners, he’d send out his most decorated warrior to handle the matter alone on the king’s personal behalf. The issues always appeared to have been settled and the knight assured he had triumphed against darkness and dread. Thus, the liege continued to mire himself in self-satisfaction.
Alas, there was but one specific area filled with those who were unwilling to accept the graciousness of the king’s interest. This village insisted that their “oppressor” was welcomed within their confines.
Finding such concepts foolhardy, the proud king sent his champion out to assess the situation. “By word!” exclaimed the king before sending his gallant warrior. “These mere peasants and unsavory sorts seek to dismiss my warm embrace upon thine bosom. I say to thee, knight of many victories over horrors throughout my land: Save these poor sods so as to return them to mine bountiful grace!”
And thus, the warrior was given his mission: Rescue the people of this particular town from their indulgent plight.
It was not an eve that befall the warrior within his travels when, upon stopping at an inn, he came across citizens of the said town. They spoke of the one they feared, yet respected; sacrificed for yet felt safe because of; had yet understood yet loved. They spoke highly of this creature they simply dubbed “Uni.”
The tales told in his midst perked the warrior’s ears up like a head of prey upon first move of their predator. He thought he’d welcome himself amongst their company. After all, a true fighter of high esteem must know his enemy before the hunt.
When inquiring them of this “Uni”, the townspeople spoke with widened eyes. The warrior himself couldn’t grasp how they could merely respond as one would a runaway cart speeding directly towards them about to flatten them into oblivion. “The ‘Uni’ is not to be inquired about. The ‘Uni’ just is.”
From there, they explained to the warrior, though it came off as mindless blathering to him, about what is to be done. The “Uni” need not be destroyed; far from such a horrid concept. The “Uni” must be satisfied.
“Ha, you poor, pathetic, unwashed minions to backwards ritualistic nostalgia. How I pity such mindlessness” scoffed the warrior. “I shall meet your ‘Uni’ and smite it to spare you all your ignorance.”
Despite the people of the area in question’s warnings, the warrior shushed them away and returned to the road. This town would not save itself. He and he alone may protect them from such childish rantings.
He then came to the land allotted and found it to be consistent with what the king had told him: A sorry state. People toiled and worked twice as hard not just to help themselves as well as one another, but to gain favor from this “Uni”. What exactly was the “Uni?”, none could say. According to some, it was a monster that fed on the children of those who didn’t offer a portion of their labor. To others, a helpful sprite that gave them a good harvest because of their devotion. Some elders were convinced it was a dragon that attacked all who came too close. Whatever they each imagined, one thing was certain: The “Uni” lived in the cave nearby.
“Forsooth!” the gallant battler proclaimed. “I shall spare you your fears and anxieties. I have battled many a troubled land’s traditions. I promise, yours will be no different. Many before you have thought demons or monsters robbed their homes, made off with their children, or destroyed their crops only to find such claims were nothing more than mere bandits or thieves. I have brought them all to justice and shall this “Uni.”
Such certainty through brave pledges were usually met with raucous cheers before. However, those in this specific town looked on with silent aghast. The warrior, with his right pointer finger still held high, sought for support and received nothing.
Ladies around him denounced his apparent “arrogance”; that he would be so sure of himself to think he’d destroy a being beyond his comprehension. Grown men questioned what made him think the “Uni” was just another band of brigands. The elders wagged their fingers for his blasphemy, the children cried, and even the animals, it seemed, snorted in response.
“Truly, none here could surely believe that a greater being, or even a creator would abandon his children to a depressing fate such as yours? My, the king himself is willing to grant amnesty for your treason. You are all that’s left from those who wished to govern themselves through a figment claimed a deity and they are far better for it.”
Again, the people within an earshot of the self-appointed savior booed in ways that went beyond mere noises. Some asked him politely to leave. Others weren’t so tactful. At that point, etiquette mattered not when the “Uni’s” appreciation was put into question. A villain such as this uncouth warrior sent by some distant king would anger the “Uni.”
“I was sent here to rescue you horridly simple people from your uncultured being. Surely, you should all realize how astoundingly lapsed your judgment is. A creature that feeds off the misery of many innocents as you all claim yourselves must be destroyed. Your sentiment for this rabble, or wild animal, is naught for civilized individuals. Accept your narrow-mindedness and allow me to reveal to you your misguided theories.”
Once more, the people grew angered. This visitor came to their homeland to denounce their beliefs in the “Uni”, who had both raised and razed their village. There have been instances throughout their history when the “Uni” was disregarded. All that came from the people’s lean towards such radical “progressive” ideals were barely heard from again. There is no magic or mystery: The “Uni” to them was real and thus should be treated as such.
As they continued to resist, the warrior maintained his boastful derision. “Such people shall not be convinced otherwise,” he chortled with delighted glee. “Believe what you must, but know that, once I find the source of your bane, you shall be returned in full to the king with great interest. Understand, you have brought his wrath upon yourselves. I promise my words will hold merit, and they will not be complimentary.”
The lone soldier rode onward to this cave they claimed the “Uni” lived as they waved their fists, or prayed to their mystical being for forgiveness from and towards him. At that point, he was already leaving the village so their words felt harmlessly as the leaves from the trees had upon his pauldrons. “Uni, bah!” he shouted amidst the near hostile natives behind him. “I shall show these halfwits.”
The warrior rode atop his steed knowing full well this “Uni” was simple legend. Those who chose to surrender common sense to this insanity would be proven childish. Their mentality was that of dreamers hedging bets on fairy tales; blind faith shall be crushed under the might of his sword and the harshness of reality behind it.
Through the thick of the woods outside the town, the lone knight rode. There, he came across a place for rest: A patch ideal for camping. He set up and slew some critters for decent eats. “That may be the brunt of my battles for this particular liberation” he mentioned to himself and his loyal horse.
As he sat idle, he noticed behavior amongst the animals within the woods change. They all appeared to turn at once to a specific area; their heads shooting up seemingly in unison. They sniffed then ran as quickly as they could away from, what the warrior could detect, was mere wind. “Bah, even the wildlife is skittish upon talk of a boogeyman” he thought aloud. Still, his own curiosity had been peeked. After all, it would be better for him to be done with this mission immediately. Had he rested for a night then carried on the morn following, he may be loathed to spend an extra moment with those nincompoops in the town. Last thing this sentient knight would want was interacting with them again when they learn of their folly.
He took up his weapon, mounted his companion, and approached the direction the alarming nothing came from. Only a few minutes later, the two came upon a cave. The opening seemed to be a gaping maw, but a harmless one. It looked to the warrior like a toothless mouth incapable of even catching gnats. “This is rather uninspiring a heralded hero such as myself” he again made known to himself and his stallion.
Unlike the warrior, his ridden beast of burden wasn’t too sure. The poor animal whined and whinnied beyond saving, even by the warrior’s even temperament and manner in handling such situations with his beloved pet. Away from the seemingly danger-free opening within the earth, the horse galloped.
With a sigh and a roll of his eyes, the warrior assessed the situation: He would venture this farce by his lonesome. The rest of the way inside, there wouldn’t be a horse to assist him. He’d have to take the moderate distance back to the town, his undeniable achievement in tow, on his feet. “Quite the mild punishment for such a triumph” he bragged to himself.
He carried a torch in his left hand high while his right stayed near the sheath to his side. He was prepared for a wolf or perhaps some sort of rabid smaller villain. Perhaps this was the disturbance the people spoke of or maybe something else. However, the evidence had laid itself upon his feet the further into the cave he ventured: All around the ground closer to the entrance was the remanence of sacrifices offered before. Skeletal portions of livestock or what’s left of something large gnawing on fruits from days long ago filled the area with a pungent odor. “Bah, what vile setting this is” the warrior commented with even greater resentment. For his king and country, he made this sacrifice. The lack of greater sense displayed in this scene was growing too much for him to bear. “All of this for absolutely nothing” the warrior again made known to his environment.
Deeper he went and still felt unmoved: No fear or hesitation for trampling on such sacred ground. It was noticeable in the torchlight that none dared wander this far. He was about to put an end to this wretched charade. The truth would be known and those fools in the town were going to have to feed themselves bitter crow when it was said and done.
Then, without warning, his torch blew out. There didn’t come off to be another soul of any merit within the cave aside from him, but now, that theory was growing less likely. He didn’t feel anything physical, but his warrior instinct began building the adrenaline rush inside of him. Battle was about to come his way. He could sense it and so, he readied his sword in preparation.
The knight, or fighter, or warrior, had been through many a battle. He had seen all and accomplished so much. There were legions that had succumbed to his might and those who witnessed his ability to prove the obvious misconception bowed to his greatness. Many would take advantage of poor folk like those in this meager town. The warrior was sent to crush their enemy as they would their ignorance. It was now time: Here was their “Uni”; here was their god.
His face then dropped immediately once the beast, or entity, he theorized common had been upon him. There hadn’t been breath; there hadn’t been movement; there hadn’t even been warning. Before the warrior could grab his sword and attack, whatever it was he made certain could be tracked had already gotten to him. He turned and looked into the eyes of that which he thought couldn’t be real. “It’s---not---possible” the gallant warrior lamented when he learned he had disturbed the “Uni”: This being he thought imaginary. For a moment, he had understood; for a moment he had learned the actual truth. Then, when that moment had passed him, he found peace.