Sometime between the haze of night and day something remarkable washed up near our village by the sea. The first to see it was young Ian Marsh who somehow managed to drag his sleepy parents to the nearest window. From the Marsh family, the news spread from neighbor to neighbor until nearly the entire town found itself braving the bitter winter morning air toward the peculiar sight farther up the coast. The tremendous size of the object left us speechless until we saw what was standing next to it.
“Who are you?” Marlon the smith called out, his voice cracked with both chill and fear.
The man stood in stunning polished sapphire armor, not like the armor worn by the emperor’s men, but armor like the knights wore in our elder’s stories. He stood proudly, like a knight should, his arms crossed in front of him, his sword plunged deep in the sand next to him. He looked at the crowd gathered in front of him, but did not respond to our onslaught of questions we hurled at him immediately.
“Why are you here?” Our friend Edmund called out.
The knight’s eyes shifted back and forth from the faces that were starting to scowl at him. Those eyes revealed a bit of annoyance at how he was greeted by our town until he was forced to close them. We expected an outburst of anger when he opened them again. We were disappointed. Instead, the knight countered with a question of his own.
“Where is your civic leader?” he asked. We looked among ourselves, unsure of what he meant. “Where is the one who reports to the emperor himself.”
Still, it took us a moment to realize who he was talking about. The schriver someone suggested and we agreed it was the closest position we had in our tiny village. We searched among those who had gathered on the beach, but the man was not to be found. It was agreed that one of us should rush back to the village to retrieve him, but no one was too excited about making the short trip in the icy fog. Finally, one of the youngest among us took it upon herself to return to the village for the sake of getting some answers to the odd scene. By the time she returned, the sky was drenching us for our sloth.
“What is this?” The schriver said as he slipped into the muddy sand of the beach.
“Do you not recognize me?” The knight asked from behind his rounded helmet. “Do you not understand what is happening in front of you.”
We traded glances with each other but did not find the answer. The knight shook his head and retrieved his sword from the sand.
“Are you so distracted by your banal lives,” he said as he studied the hilt of his sword.
He walked over to the large gray blob of flesh that lay sprawled out on the beach behind him. He raised the silver weapon into the air and brought down on the pile of flesh. His sword sliced through the blob and a piece of meat dropped at the knight’s boots. He picked it up and threw it at the crowd. We took a collective step back as the stench of the sliver of flesh attacked our senses even through the rain.
“Do you see now?” He spread his arms out wide. “I have slain Leviathan!”
The crowd began to murmur to each other. Of course, we understood what he was suggesting, but even the youngest of us couldn’t understand why he was suggesting it. Many of the men started to investigate the carcass that the knight had indicated was the legendary beast. The woman chatted among themselves and tried to keep each other warm. The children started to play, acting out what might have been the fight between knight and beast. The oldest among us angrily started to walk back to the village.
“How does a knight slay a sea creature?” one of us asked, the ones who wanted to know more about the knight. “Can you breathe underwater?”
“Of course not,” the knight said, returning his sword to its scabbard. “I fought him on a ship.”
“I don’t see a ship?” another asked.
“The beast sunk it during our fight.” The knight reached down and picked up a flat stone and threw it out into the ocean. Many of the children immediately imitated the knight by throwing stones of their own. “I floated on the creature’s carcass after I killed it.”
“Do you expect us to believe this?” the schriver asked. Many in the crowd responded in agreement.
“No, noble scribe.” The reached out and took the man by the collar. “I expect you to deliver a message to the emperor for me.”
The schriver pulled away from the knight and again fell into the mud. “I would not dare to waste his excellency’s time with wild stories.”
“Then send him this gift along with this message.” The knight removed a leather sack that was tied to his belt and tossed into the lap of the schriver. “That he has been relieved of his burden of rule.”
A hush settled over the crowd in reaction to the knight’s treacherous words. The schriver gasped when he looked into the leather sack and dropped it on the ground. The crowd repeated his gasp when a large eye the size of platter slipped out. An echo of the same question sounded from the crowd.
“That is the eye of the Behemoth.” The Knight had turned his back on the crowd, his eyes searching somewhere up the coast. “Now are your eyes opened?”
“Why are you doing this?” someone asked.
The knight turned around suddenly. “I am the Endbringer.” He looked down at the schriver, who returned his gaze with a look of dread. “I am the promised Knight of Ragnarok.”
“This man is insane,” one of the village leaders spoke up. The rest of the crowd shouted their agreement and the man was visibly empowered by it. He approached the knight, standing as straight as he could he was still a much shorter and looked him in the eyes. “We would appreciate it if you leave us in peace.”
“Peace?” The knight said as if the word was foreign to him. He tried to make eye contact with some of the other villagers, but they turned away from. Then, he pointed inland toward the west. “I march west for Memphis and the Tower of Nimrod to continue my judgements.” He turned his head back to the crowd but continued to point. “Is there any amongst you who would follow me.”
The crowd grew silent as the sky rumbled above our heads and the rain started to pound harder. The children’s parents called out to them and collected them in their arms and started for the village. The schriver nervously slid the monstrous eye into the leather sack and ran towards the village with it in his arms. The village sized crowd slowly left together in small groups until there were only four of us left standing in front of the knight.
We were the young men of the village. Friends who had been waiting for something or someone to save us from our boring existence, from our burden of a workers legacy. We glanced at each other, the doubt clear in our eyes. Some of our parents called out to us to follow them, but none of us dared to look back or we all would have returned to them out of guilt. Instead, we nodded to each other in silent agreement to see this through, a last chance for adventure.
“Excellent,” the knight said. He spread out his hands as if he was expecting us to embrace him. “We have much to do ahead of us.”
He turned around and started his determined walk towards the west. We reluctantly followed him, unsure of what we had just gotten ourselves into. The rain fell so hard from the sky that we could hardly see in front of us, but we were used to it. We were all sons of fishermen.