The Crimson Knight
“In the name of the Raven! Ben! Are you alright?”
I just happen to be fine, save the acrid smell of smoking hairs courtesy of the dragon brood outside. Ben is short for Benicious Hhand, the moniker given by my parents before leaving me orphaned during a goblin raid ten years ago. That voice yelling inside the Church of One Eye is my only friend, Luke Deppon. His parents took my sister, Aria, and I in after the raid. Luke and I agree: the only reason his parents were so forthcoming is because we got into trouble together long before the goblins came to town. We now continue the tradition on a regular basis.
Today I stand before the priests of Maylyn for reasons not of my own doing. Our village is under attack by the great dragon Veshinti and her newest horde. Veshinti means “unforgiving” in the tongue of our Elders; and in that at least, they are correct. Veshinti brings her youngest brood into Bevlum for their first true feeding. The Elders claim the dragon’s reason is simple, baby dragons are not yet adept at flying, and humans are easy prey. Not ten minutes ago, one of them set my hair on fire, so I disagree- baby dragons fly just fine.
Nobody knows why Veshinti showed up eight years ago, or from where she arrived. The reason seventeen people are currently crowding into the small village temple today lacks logic, but remains proven. Veshinti never attacks the Temple of Maylyn. The Elders tell us this is because the great dragon fears the wrath of our god. I find the story superstitious; Veshinti fears nothing, certainly no invisible deity! Still, the fact remains that we have always been safe in the temple during her attacks.
Luke reaches me and shoves a small object into my hands, “Here you go. You’ve always been a bit clumsy; and today you drop this. Your father would never forgive you, even if you‘re running from dragons.”
He’s right about my clumsiness; and looking down, I see the one treasure I own in this world. My paintbrush, given by my famous father so long ago. The great artist, Arnellus Hhand, once the most sought out man in our village; and now this is the only physical memory I have of my father.
Ignoring the angry tears at mention of my father, whom I blame for my mother’s death, I give Luke a hug, “Thanks,” is all I can manage while my emotions remain too strong for classification…or maturity.
The double doors of the temple slam open; and everyone turns to see the most recent survivor of Veshinti’s wrath. The noonday sun burns into unprepared eyes as a silhouette steps inside. One of the doors close; and I see a blood-red cloak with a hood covering the mysterious figure. Three swords adorn a wide, strong back, their hilts shining in the remaining light. The depiction of Maylyn’s Eye stares from the side of the man’s hood. The plink of armor hitting stone echoes through the crowd with every step.
Amazing! One of the famed Crimson Knights, here? Had he known Veshinti would be coming? Is Veshinti already slain? A roar outside answers the latter question. No book nor painting gives justice to the majesty of the man before us. Such men do not appear unless Called by Maylyn herself. Veshinti must be his purpose in Bevlum!
The Elders hold that all Crimson Knights are chosen by Maylyn herself. It is assumed her Knights must bear the tenets set forth by the Goddess, and few ever find her glory. Maylyn grafts fortuitous Knights with part of her own divinity. There is no lore detailing everything Maylyn demands of these men, only stories of the Crimson Knights’ continuous campaigns against evil.
“Carghen?” the priest behind me asks absurdly into the absolute silence.
No! Don’t bring his attention over here!
“Yes. I come for someone; and I fear I’ve no time to slay your beast. You’ll be safe in here, as well you know, until Veshinti leaves.”
Oh by the Raven! The Crimson Knight is coming towards Luke and me! Who is he here for? I try getting my emotions under control, listening to the methodical plink…plink…plink, as it grows close. Carghen’s frame gets ever larger as he approaches; and then with a final plink…his leg stops right next to mine. My own legs become incapable of even twitching.“Are you Benicious Hhand, boy?” the Knight stares into the deepest pools of my soul, I’d swear it on the Raven‘s name.