The Littlest Knight
The Littlest Knight
By Shirley Scurlock
Book Excerpt – Littlest King -
The odor of time worn treasures lingered in the air of Cartingham Castle as Duane walked through the entrance toward the king’s chamber. The ceilings seemed to be as hig
Soon he will be called before the king, and they will dress him in all his fine armor!Like a dream he played back the first time he climbed onto a horse. He lost his footing and fell to the ground. The young man wouldn’t give up though. He grabbed hold of the stirrups and pulled himself to his feet. Grabbing the horse’s mane with one hand and the saddle with the other, Duane dragged his broken body to the saddle. Duane’s lame leg and weak arm couldn't stop him unless he gave up, and he wasn't going to!
The townsmen were sure he’d come to an untimely death. The dark headed boy was slender and weak. He walked with a definite limp and an arm that was numb and hard to use! The fact that his father and brothers were knights before him – was merely an accident of birth. No one in this city expected him to walk in their footsteps.
The town searched far and wide for someone to defeat the troll, but their search was futile! No one in his right mind would go out to that battle. Everyone could hear the sound of screaming men throughout the woods! The swamp became the tomb of everyone who dared an attempt. The swamp smelled like death, especially on very hot days. The stench invaded the air, smelling like petrified flesh! It was dark and mossy- drowning in weeds and withered trees! In the morning – the sun could barely shine through, because the dark forest blocked the light of day. So many of the young people Duane grew up with were leaving town. There was no hope of saving the town or it's people.
The city folks couldn't trust anyone different or disabled. No one wanted to encourage him in his dreams of knighthood except Theopolis. He taught him to believe in his dreams. He was wise enough to see beyond a young man’s disability – to the possibilities inside him! Theopolis was the wise man of Taporea, who took the time to be a friend to Duane. Theopolis often told Duane: “the laughter of the entire world can not keep you from your destiny unless you give up!” “You are as strong as you are determined to be!”
Duane believed it and never gave up! He trained in the armor his father left behind. He wore it to run. He slept and ate in it. He practiced climbing onto his horse and wielding his sword. Over and over again he tried and failed. He practiced until that right arm became strong. It was the most rewarding and the most painful time of his life. Every fall became a lesson and every triumph became ability. He molded himself into a knight in spite of the pain, because he had to be more than quick and more than cunning! He had to surpass every knight who had come before him! He had to be better just to make the cut.....
Duane’s heart swelled with pride every time he touched his fathers sword. He often dreamt of the battles he would fight and the victories he would win. His imagination took him beyond his inabilities! He wasn’t lame or slow in his dreams. He ran like the deer and hunted like the lion. His hands were sure and his feet were strong! In these dreams he was cunning like the fox and nothing could defeat him. In his dreams he vanquished the dark troll and became the king’s champion. But dreams are not reality - they disappear with the morning and the morning always comes!
The morning after his training was complete; he set out to find the dark troll. Duane had no way of knowing that the troll lived on fear - He ate it like Sunday dinner! Unless Duane could control his own fear - his chances of winning were nil! The most difficult giant he would ever overcome was his own overwhelming fear. The next was the pain in his leg and arm that demanded he resign himself to disability! It took sheer determination to force him out of bed and challenge him to greatness!
A momentary stop at the entrance of the dark forest gave him time to bow his head and ask for help. He drew his bright sword and proceeded toward the center. The troll must have heard the swooshing sound of the sword beating the air as it cut back the thick brier wall blocking his way. The thick darkness was depressing and the fear of inability attacked his mind. Indescribable sounds that came from deep inside the forest only proved to him that his fears were founded! He didn't quit - he readied his sword for battle; and rode quickly into the glen where he heard the sounds of screaming people. Suddenly, the trees shot forth little black birds, like pellets high into the sky. Startled, Duane leaned back in the saddle bringing his sword forward, and franticly cutting back and forth as he rode! Fighting back the fear - he cut at every obstacle that would keep him from the trolls den.
In the dense wooded area Duane saw little black birds resting on the dry wasted limbs. The strange birds made a screaming sound that brought a smile to Duane’s face.
“Could this be the cries we’ve heard for years, he wondered?”
The birds were dark brown with a tint of red amongst the feathers. They were tiny like a pellet and when they fly, they look like beads strung across the sky!
With a strange sense of relief Duane continued on into the forest. The thick greenery being hewn down cleared the glen and opened the horizon so he could see bright rays of sun shining through the trees. He saw: green grass, brightly colored flowers, and tiny creatures running underfoot. Finally Duane found the troll. He bent down to peek inside the tiny dwelling and couldn’t believe what he saw. The troll sat on a toad stool chewing a straw. He was sharpening a nail and smiling an angry smile.
Duane was so surprised he fell back laughing. The troll didn't think it was funny and he jumped up yelling and ready to fight.
He shouted at Duane “Do you know who I am?” “Aren’t you afraid?” “Do you know my name?”
Duane replied through his laughter: “Yes I’ve heard of you. But now I know the stories aren’t true.” “You’re just a mite, a tiny small thing. What about you should have made me afraid?”
With a sigh of relief Duane rode back to town. With his sword in his sheath and riding his steed, pride suddenly fills up all the empty places in his heart. He is not the child he once was, but he is a man, in line to be king.
The steward calling out his name brought him back to the bright table in the long hallway. The dreams of his childhood and the struggles he’s overcome culminate to make this moment fabulous! The newest knight of the round-table could actually become king one day.
by Shirley Scurlock