H. L. Dowless
In the month of April, when the leaves begin to spring from their wooden sepulchers, and the rains fall from the loft of high heaven above, so geared the mighty warrior, Sebastian Oswald for mortal combat. It had been four long days since the heavy white glove of his adversary had struck him across his face, which was frozen in shock. It had been four long days now since he had sworn the sacred oath, that he would die for his honors' sake.
There was not a man alive who could strike the mighty Oswald and walk away without a fight. So he told the man to meet him by the fork at Katsle Creek, and it was agreed that they should publicize a decree in the town of Catlerbury, so that the multitudes would have the opportunity to witness the great battle for honors' sake. Not only should it be posted upon the eve of every public building, as it was agreed upon, but at high noon the voice of the town crier should carry the glorious news to every lusting ear.
For four long days every lip had whispered the great news, and that news had been spread into three adjacent towns, and by the eve of the second day had been carried throughout simultaneously by their criers as well, and on farther still. For four long days now Sebastian had neither shown his face in public nor seen but a shimmering glimpse of the light of day.
On the very day of the challenge he had entered deep into the forests' heart to seek the wisdom of the prophet, Ziegle, who dwelt in the belly of the great mount, Froid. By all mortal men he had been utterly despised, so that no mortal man knew of his wisdom but a small chosen few. The great prophet even called them "one in two," for they had endured the same jeering remarks in regard to their bodily contortions, but the masses had underestimated the wealth of power stored within the faith of their minds, and in that of their fathers as well.
When he had entered into the sacred cave, the old man hugged him, saying repeatedly, "My dear brother, behold I have heard! Is it true that you have vowed to die in your honor's sake, oh one of such a young mind and rash a heart?"
"It is true, oh chosen one, 'tis true, and I shall die if I need, but I have an unwavering faith in my skill with the sword and knife, and likewise in the power of prayer."
The old man reached upward with a tawny, shriveled, trembling hand, placing it upon the hot cheek of the great warrior. "So your decree shall be, young one. So your words have been sworn to oath."
The old man slowly bowed before the great warrior. "I am truly honored that you have chosen me to be your mentor."
The old man then stood, saying, "Come now, we shall plead to the Almighty for his assistance."
Down a well trodden footpath the two traveled, and upon the outer edge of the forest which sloped upward into the jagged edge of a cliff, stood an ancient castle cut from the very stones below by unknown hands. It was here that the clouds hung perpetually low, so low that they touched the very summit of the cliff, causing moisture to continually bead upon the smooth stone walls of the old fort. The climate allowed huge swells of undergrowth to consume the castle to such an extent that it was concealed from view at a distance, either on land or by sea. Even so, any mortal who entered into the area over which the somber clouds hung was consumed by a mounting, inexplicable fear, and it mattered not whether the arrival was by land or by sea. So endlessly dark was the place that for ages men had forbidden all mortals to enter out of respect for the spirits who dwelt therein.
It was here that the two chosen ones had entered and they walked into the weapons chamber, where a great store of weapons lay for use by any wise enough to seek their knowledge.
The old man placed his trembling right hand upon the shoulder of the youth. "It was here, so I have been told by the Almighty, that the great Terralizel came to pray before slaying the black dragon that the evil magician, Ozzymoddor, released from the earth's belly, to slay the sons of men. Behold, the seraphim have shown me proof that the Almighty's words were true, my son, for in the chamber where ye shall reside until that fateful day, lay the bones of the dragon's head and the sword upon the wall that he used to slay the evil beast. Now which weapon shall ye use to manifest your endeavors, my son?"
The mighty warrior neither spoke nor signaled by bodily motion as to which weapon he sought to use, but the old man stood patient and silent until the hours had passed and the warrior's pledge of allegiance had been spoken.
"I pledge my allegiance to the sword of the great Terralizel, my lord."
The old man neither spoke nor moved, but gazed upon the wall of weapons as though consumed in a hexing trance. "Very well then, my brother, but you must know that the great Terralizel was also a great judge in the knowledge of good and evil, and upon his very death his spirit chose to dwell amid the iron of his weapon, so that it might charm and bedazzle the sons of men for all eternity."
"I believe the words that you have spoken are true, my lord, but since he was a great warrior and so am I, then why should not truly great warriors adhere to the same bond of power?"
The old man hugged the young man, then gazed upward into his eyes saying, "You have chosen your words well my son. Such words betray a wisdom of which the great Terralizel would have been proud. Allow me to retrieve the weapon of choice!"
So the old man disappeared, and in an hour he returned with the sacred weapon of choice, and when the candles had been lit the orange light danced a gay sparkling dance upon the shrouded blade, and the dance made the young man's heart race in a arrhythmical fashion that caused him to neither fear pain nor even death himself.
"My son, the Almighty has given this weapon to you, and I have cast the rune stones following my prayer over the weapon, and the runes have spelled K-I-N-G-O-F-C-A-T. I shall cast them again to see if the Almighty holds true to his word."
The old man suddenly cast the stones high into the air, and when they had fallen they held true to their word. The young man neither gasped nor betrayed any emotion, for he knew that he had been predestined by Almighty God at the very foundation of the earth's formation.
So the old man seized him upon his left arm, leading him deep into the belly of the ancient castle, until they came to a room at the base of a narrow cylindrical tower which appeared seven fathoms high, ending at a window positioned from the direction that the sound of sea came in. The walls of the room were two fathoms high, and upon the floor near the side facing the sea sat the skull of the black dragon. So great was the dragon's skull that the young man stepped inside where he lay the sword across the dragon's jaw, praying to the Almighty for strength and wisdom to make the prophesy manifest into unswerving reality.
For four long days he had fasted and prayed continuously, and suddenly he had noticed that the perpetual darkness of the tower had transformed into the shining light of day. He fell upon the stones in thanks to the Almighty for filling the place with his glory. For three more days he continued to fast and pray, and upon the dawn of the seventh he ceased his prayer and arose. For it was upon this day that the interior of the tower shown brighter than the light of day, and the great warrior was filled with joy that the Almighty had heard his prayer.
So he arose, walking back into the chamber of weapons where a huge banquet feast had been prepared for him in his honor. When he was fully nourished he arose from his seat, standing solid as granite while the old man retrieved his armor, piece by glorious piece, saying a prayer over each one as he placed it upon him from the head down. When he had been fully donned, the old man led him into the foyer of the ancient castle where a white stallion had been saddled for him. He was filled with the joy of Almighty God as he took his place upon the stallion's back.
And away he rode through the forest toward the fork of Katsle Creek, and when he arrived a huge murmuring multitude had gathered in glorious tribunal honor to his adversary. It was upon this mount that the entire nation had gathered to bear witness to the great battle for honor's sake. He paused a single league from his armored adversary, and when he paused the entire multitude rang out in great waves of laughter, pointing to him as they cried, "Death to the peasant rogue who dares to fight with weapons that greatly show the weight of the ages, and he is so slow in wit that he neither has the ambition to wash the grit nor pick the burrs from his broken pony's back!"
His statue remained solid as a mountain of granite, and he spoke not nor faltered in spirit.
His adversary cast back his head, wailing with laughter, pointing to him yelling, "Halt ye now, thou stupid rogue, before I render thy useless body to the dust of the earth, and thy soul into the belly of hell!"
The wailing cry of the multitudes rose so loud that every ear upon the face of the entire earth beheld it's jeer, and many among the masses mocked him in the manner in which he managed to move himself forward, screaming, "Death to the duck man! Death to the duck man! Death to the duck man!"
Still he stood even more solid, until he became more solid than the high granite mountains. Some warriors even said that he became so solid that the very stars above revolved around him instead of the earth itself.
"Speak now in thy defense, ye fool, if indeed ye possess the wit to do so," screamed his pointing adversary.
He remained silent, both he and his stallion remained motionless, poised for eternal combat or death.
"Let them, hail the victor," screamed his adversary, holding high a crimson cloth.
"All hail the King! All hail the king! Hail the King," chanted the multitudes.
And the sound of their chant rose higher than any hail that ever poured forth from the lips of men. The beasts of the field fled the scene, for the power in the voice of the multitudes pushed them into the ends of all the earth.
So they fell before his adversary, caressing his armor with their lips, and great hosts of women pledged their bodies unto him when the blanket of the night saw him victorious. Every one, both great and small, cast their life's wealth of jewels upon his adversary as they chanted their hail to his almighty greatness.
Still Sebastian remained steadfast in his poise, and neither waned in his faith nor did he falter in spirit, but continued to solidify in the grace of God Almighty.
The overseers then came forth, donned in hooded sable robes, each with crossbows in hand, and each taking his stance behind each of the dueling men. Then the master chairman came forth, raising his hands high. "I hereby declare that the commencement has now honorably begun, with great multitudes and representatives from every nation upon the face of the entire earth to bear witness! Do we have any comment from the multitudes?"
Four men then stepped forward, each with a trembling robed girl by his side. "We wish to pledge our virgin daughters and our entire life savings to the honor of the king," they publicly stated.
And they cast great hoards of jewels at the feet of the king, and they removed the waist bands of their daughter's robes so that the robes fell in such a way to expose the nude bodies of the girls for the king's present taking, if he so desired.
And as the king indulged in his gifts of precious gems and blushing flesh, the chanting cheers of the multitude rose higher and higher, until the crowd declared him to be greater than any god in heaven or on earth. The multitude receded from the king, and after he had repositioned himself upon his midnight stallion, the Master Chairman again raised his hands high. "Do we have any further comments from the multitude?"
And the multitude screamed, "Death to the duck man! Death to the duck man! Death to the duck man!"
Upon him they cast forth rotten eggs and the half rotten bodies of rats and mice, and the dung of both man and beast, until the great stench below caused huge buzzards to circle high above. Again the Mater Chairman raised high his hands. "Do we have any comment from the king?"
"I neither prayed nor fasted, for such is a wasted effort on such a vanity as the duck man, so insufficiently poised yonder," spoke the king. "I challenge him to even dream of pitting a flea's effort against such a great lion as I! Re-crown the victor king of all Catlerbury!"
"All hail the victorious king! All hail the victorious king! All hail the victorious king," chanted the multitudes.
Again the Master Chairman raised high his hands. The multitude then grew silent as the dead. "Do we have any comment from the adversary?"
His countenance remained solid as granite as his mouth spoke the sacred words. "I wish to dedicate my effort to the honor of my greatest supporters and my worst enemy, for both shall lead me into infinite glory!"
And the crowd booed, casting forth great quantities of vile substances upon his person, screaming, "Death to the duck man! Death to the duck man!"
Again the Master Chairman raised high his hands, saying, "Officially let the tournament begin! The first of whom shall be thrown from his mount, then his adversary shall meet him on equal terms."
Great drum rolls raised high the ebb of anticipation.....
".....and the fight shall be....'till death!"
Sebastian drew the sacred sword of Terralizel, raising it high until a single beam of sunlight pierced the dark hanging clouds above, glinting, blinding the sons of men who gathered about to witness the duel.
In accordance to the decree, the king drew his sword, rushing forward to the hailing cheers of the multitude, toward the now charging Sebastian. The swords clashed, the multitudes screamed amid the ringing crash of the sacred steel. "Kill the duck man! Kill the duck man! Kill the duck man!"
Quickly as a racing buck Sebastian reared his charging stallion again, rushing the king from behind, then punching him with an iron plated fist from his midnight stallion's back, causing him to fall upon the damp earth below. There the king lay still upon his side, and when the mighty Sebastian approached him, he struck forth with his sword, casting the sword of Terralizel from the hands of Sebastian.
But from high heaven above protruded that single glint of glorious light, streaming forth from the polished metal of his face plate, and into the eyes of the king. The great Sebastian now lay hands upon the hilt of his sword, driving the now staggering king backward into the midst of the multitude. The pair halted, then the king swung to the right side. Sebastian suddenly blocked and forced him to move to the left side, then he suddenly struck like a flash of lightening to the right side, slashing the armor of the king and severing the king's head from its resting place upon his neck.
Sebastian then reached down, seizing the severed head by the flowing golden hair, casting it high into the great multitude who now rushed backward in consuming terror. Many among the multitude took their own lives upon that very spot. The very earth beneath their feet commenced to tremble, breaking open and spewing huge shafts of fire from it's belly.
The great and mighty Sebastian Oswald strode proudly forward, now donned in the king's royal array, now taking his rightful seat upon the throne of Catlerbury, with the queen of his bosom and her honor fully restored, now seating herself by his side.
"What message have ye, oh Majesty, for the new kingdom at thy command?" spoke his bowing personal servitor.
He gazed blankly upon the fleeing multitudes below through his window from whence he now sat, his eyes neither blinking nor his mouth trembling. In the shimmering distance he envisioned deep rivers of flowing blood. His ears beheld the voice of Almighty God commanding him to purge the land of all evil inhabitants, populating the land instead with righteous men. His nose beheld the sweet stench of burning flesh as high leaping flames consumed the corpses of hundreds and thousands of thousands. As the smoke settled amid the loft of high heaven above, both he and Almighty God eased backward in their throne, relaxed now that his great achievement had climaxed in the name of all that is holy.
"Let the will of the Almighty be done," spoke he unto his servitor. "All evil shall pass on this day, and the land shall flow with righteousness hence forth for evermore. Carry this word even into the very ends of the earth."
H. L. Dowless is an international ESL instructor. He has been a writer for over thirty years.