The Adventures of Sir Richard, The Errant Knight,
his travels and adventures with his Horse, Courage, and his Elephant companion, Fred, as told in the letters between him and Lady Wynefrid from 1994 to 1996

In early December of 1994 Richard was finishing the editing of his first small tome of poetry, _The Errant Knight_. With his focus on such errantry and the turmoil surrounding his poetry, he wrote often to discuss life and love and quests and the Society for Creative Anachronism with his dear friend, Wynefrid. She often wrote back seriously, silly, and helped edit the book of poetry.

Richard asked how to thank her properly by putting a line in the acknowledgements for her contribution and ended up thanking her for being someone "who feasted me with good food and long talks".

Soon thereafter, Wyni sent along a silly email about jokes and Golfing. The day was the 14th of December, 1994 and the Subject of the email was "Some Silliness from Wyni". The title of the Golfing article forwarded was "Why ask Why?"

The last part of a rather ordinary response to that email included the following paragraph which began the long tale...


14 Dec 94
From Richard
Title: Re:Some Silliness from Wyni

Richard turned from the dark window and quietly cleared his throat once. Twice. Wyni looked up from her beading to see what was the matter. Tears were streaming down his face though he cried out not. He turned back to view the darkness outside. "Why?" was all he said. "Why?"


15 Dec 94
From Wyni
Title: In the Tower above the Castle

She found him that evening, in the tower high above the castle. Robin (McCai) had found him earlier that day standing at the window, and had built one of his large fires in the pit across from the stair. A platter of food in one hand and her sewing in the other, she stepped softly across the room, placed the platter on the table and sat next to the fire, skirts rustling against the stones.

They did not speak for the longest time. The only sound in the room was the crackle of the fire and the soft whoosh, whoosh of Wynefrid's needle as it passed in and out of the fabric.

After a time, he turned to her, tears streaming down his face.

"Why?" Richard asked simply, "Why?"

He stood there, expectant. She always knew just what to say, how to sooth his heart, how to make him hope. She was silent, only her needle spoke of the passage of time.

Would she answer? But why else would she come, but to speak to him. She stopped abruptly as if coming to some decision and laid the needlwork in her lap.

"You're angry, Richard," she said, her eyes looking past her, "angry as I have not seen you in many years. Angrier than I have seen you at anyone. And like all kind souls as yours, you've turned it inward and you are angry at youself. You think yourself a failure for all the things that have happened to you, and all the things that have not happened that you wished would. You think you can think it all through, rationalize it, quest it and then everything will fix itself.

"Well your wrong, Richard. You have not failed. You have perhaps made a few mistakes in judgement, but you have never failed. Because you have done your best with what has been given you, and although the world has not been kind to you in some ways, you have achieved much. You cannot control what other people think and act, and that is where you think you have the most say, the most power. Let it go, Richard, let her go.

"You've built up all this energy in the form of expectations and things just aren't going to happen that way. Hope, yes. Have faith, yes. But do not expect it to come just and so to you, and then if not you'll fight or quest for it. No, no, no, my friend. Now is not the time for that, it is winter, a time to prepare and be still at the same time.

" I know it is awkward, this preparing that is doing nothing. That you are used to things following a predictable path. You cannot dance because you have no lady. Why fight if you have not lady. I'm saying that for now then, don't. If these things remind you of her, even the poetry, then set them aside for now. Do other things, teach, counsel, just being here with us, they may not at first be as pleasant, but by throwing yourself into them for a time, you will regain your balance."

She smiled at him, wishing she could take away the pain, wondering if he heard a word she said.....


15 Dec 94
From Richard
Title: Re:In the Tower above the Castle

She smiled at him, wishing she could take away the pain, wondering if he heard a word she said.....

He turned away from her and tried to dry his tears with his sleeves. For a while he kept softly crying and then suddenly barked a short laugh.

"I cannot thank you with words, Wynefrid," said Richard as he turned his drying face toward the fire, "for words speak of understanding and I have none. But with your help I think I can begin to accept what is."

"It is true," he admitted in a quiet tone warming to the debate, "that I have been angry. Angry at my loss of family, of home, of love, of stability. And indeed I have blamed myself for all these losses, an act which only has meaning if indeed I had control over them."

"As if I had control over anything," he chuckled, "least of all myself."

"No," he said with a heavy sigh, "no, I have not failed. I have wakened. I have begun not to understand, but to see; not to control, but to feel. But know you that this is new and awkward to me and I feel like a gangling squire holding a sword for the first time. At times I don't know what to do and feel frustrated and lose faith that I can ever grow and accept and learn. Thank you for having faith in me."

"Indeed preparing is the work of winter," said Richard as he pulled his cape tighter against the chill and walked closer to the fire, "I have granted myself dispensation from sword practice for the month and allowed myself feasting and stories to warm me from the cold. I think I strive to finish my book so that I may put it behind me, for as with most tasks once taken, I cannot simply put it down and yet it is time for it to be gone from me."

"Though I can set these things aside and grant myself some comfort," he said smiling now, "I do not thing teaching or counselling is something that would be well done, though indeed The Crier is to soon carry words I have written on Chivalry, that art I study day and night."

"But," he said as he moved to kneel at Wynefrid's side, "being here with you, knowing the warmth of your hearth and heart, that will I do gladly."

And so saying he gently took her hand and bowing his head, gently kissed the ring of Lord Cai which reminded him of both his great friends. And smiling then, he rose and lifted the lute from the corner where it rested and began to strike a tune to entertain them through the darkest evening of the year.


Both writers delighted at the depth of their stories and talked often about writing more, but though some talk was made about writing new stories or joint stories, nothing beyond some character histories were shared until the Elephants showed up. Thrown in with a little Plato.


Richard quoting Socrates on the 14th:

Socrates: But if a man judges correctly which is the road though he has never been there and doesn't know it, will he not also guides others aright?

Meno: Yes, he will.

Socrates: And as long as he has a correct opinion on the points about which the other has knowledge, he will be just as good a guide, believing the truth but not knowing it.

Meno: Just as good.

Socrates: Therefore true opinion is as good a guide as knowledge for the purpose of acting rightly.

...the Road to Larissa is the road about which Socrates was speaking to Meno. For me to use the phrase "the road to Larissa" is to say I will act on belief even without knowing and trust to that. I've started walking the road to Larissa.


To which on the 15th, Wyni replied:

The road to Larissa is a great idea for a focus. Simple, straightforward, and really keeps the ideal in mind.

But for now, I think it is simply the road to Larissa for you, dear errant knight.


And then I slowly spiraled back into doubt and fear and worry. I took two steps down the road to Larissa and then one back. Yes I'm on the road, but...


I really feel like I'm on a road now and not circling so much anymore. Let me know if you think that's true too or if we're still stabbing at that same elephant.


Maybe not elephants, but a ballad was written to commemorate the journey:


One day a man came to Larissa
He walked the road away
And found his quest within the town
So there he's gonna stay.

He started out one sun bright morn
He walked the road away
To find the path to all he sought
So there he's gonna stay.

He asked the passerbys the way
He walked the road away
They all told him where lay the track
So there he's gonna stay.

He lit out through the dusty hills
He walked the road away
And wander through the piney woods
So there he's gonna stay.

He stopped and looked all about
He walked the road away
And wondered if they lied to him
So there he's gonna stay.

So headed back the silly man
He walked the road away
And thought he'd ask someone who knows
So there he's gonna stay.

And so at last he returned
He walked the road away
And asked another man the path
So there he's gonna stay.

Again he walked the self-same trail
He walked the road away
For every man had told the truth
So there he's gonna stay.

He stretch to spy the forest's end
He walked the road away
And strode straight into piney tree
So there he's gonna stay.

With knotted head and pained brow
He walked the road away
And stumbled into the next trunk
So there he's gonna stay.

At last he noticed if he stepped
He walked the road away
And looked before his feet he gained
So there he's gonna stay.

And slowly, slowly went he now
He walked the road away
But progress made toward where he went
So there he's gonna stay.

And one fine sunny springtime morn
He walked the road away
And found his quest within the town
So there he's gonna stay.


12 Apr 1995
From Wyni
Title: Upon a high hill....

She stood upon a high hill, looking over the valley she had just crossed. Her thoughts turned to him who had been her traveling companion and yet for more than a fortnight, had not seen nor spoken to him.

She wondered how he fared, what adventures he had been through and if his thoughts ever turned to her.

A raven dipped low in the sky to greet her. She nodded her reply and asked that he might take a message to him. A simple thought, just one to say hello and to let him know that she was thinking of him. The raven dipped his wings to her, tilted slightly, then getting his bearings again, lifted to the wind.

She watched him for a moment, blessed him with speed then turned again to the woods.


12 Apr 1995
From Richard
Title: Within sight of Larissa

He turned on weary feet to face Fred, who continued to block the view of the valley, "Fred, will you quit pushing for once and let me look back?"

Fred yawned.

Smiling while grumphing, he turned back toward Larissa, whose walls opened before him even now.

The desert had been a long and difficult journey. Fred had constantly proded and poked and cajoled and sat on Richard until at last they reached the far side. They both felt it a shame to have to have left B. Wil and Wyni so far away, but they also knew that this mysterious road they had to travel alone.

At times while camped in the desert they had cried for their loss of their friends and almost turned back not some few times, but drawing strength from the inspiration of their missing comrades, they pushed on to the lush woods and hills of the far side.

Upon reaching the hills, they discovered a long and wide lake. Taking a raft to the island in the center (Fred swam) they discovered a standing stone carved with one old verse:

"Over the Mountains of the Moon
Through the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride The Shade replied
If you seek for El Dorado"

And so gathering strength to make the brave assay, they pushed on across mountains higher than they thought possible to climb, through valleys dark and dread. Until at last, less than sixteen hours ago, they found themselves facing a wide road leading to a beautiful city.

He knew instinctively the name of the town. Larissa.

His heart leapt to both know the joy of the quest's end and the resolve and confidence in his success. Through patience and solitude, a path had been found. Now there was but to enter the city and do the necessary and joyous work of building a new home.

But as he stood on the road's edge, he wondered aloud to Fred about the fate of thier friends. His hope to find them when they entered the town, no doubt at the closest inn, and spend time telling the full tale. And to tell her how much he missed her and loved her. And to express his hope for being able to rejoin paths now that the way was found. To ask forgiveness for leaving the wider road and their companionship, even though it was necessary. And to hope she would forgive him.

As he started again for the open gates, he began to sing the song his lady-love had sirened him with. That tune which reminded them both so often of how much they had had to endure to find each other and how through trials and effort, they had found a way. Simple gifts.

'Tis a gift to be simple,
'tis a gift to be free,
'Tis a gift to come down where we want to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight
'Til by turning, turning we come round right.

And so singing, he passed within the gates and headed for the inn...


13 Apr 1995
From Wyni
Title: A long way from Larissa

The wren bobbed low over her head. Stopping, she waited as the wren alighted on a bush and listened closely as the wren related what the raven had found about Richard.

Will you go? Will you go? the wren chattered to her.

She laughed quietly as she dropped a few seeds in her hand to feed the young messenger. When the bird had eaten her fill, Wynifred glanced back to the valley now obscured partially by the wood. Setting her staff upon the earth, she stepped lightly upon the soft moss towards the heart of the wood. In the fog before her, a shape formed from the greyness. It was B. Will, not quite solid yet, but a pleading look played across his features. She stopped, considering and smiled as she shook her head. He disappeared into the mist again as she murmured her thoughts to the disappearing form while she walked on.

He would not recognize me if I went back now. I am not the same, and yet have been as I always have been. He has found Larissa and his lady. Let them build their home together and settle in. Then perhaps will I turn my sights there. Or better still, perhaps they will seek the Wood that is my home, for twas not the wide track I took, though B. Will had urged me so. No, I returned home for as I stood there wondering where my friend had gone, I realized that I had once again allowed my visage to change the needs of another and returned to my home to heal.

He asks forgiveness? There is none to be had, for there was no harm done by him. But I wonder, would he know me if he saw me thus?

She followed the stream to the Crone's place and settled in amongst the stones.

What's my next lesson, grandmother? she whispered as the dream took hold...


13 Apr 1995
From Richard
Title: My herald calls

The puzzled squire reined in his steed and listened to the spring rains gently rattling the leaves. He knew he had followed the directions correctly, but where was this place he was supposed to find. He had followed the stream until he reached these woods, but the old oak...oh, there it was, in the mist. How had he missed such a large tree, he wondered.

Dismounting, he walked over to the base of the massive oak. And sure enough, just like he had been bid by his knight, he took the scroll in its waxed leather case and placed it carefully in the yawning crack within the knarled trunk. He then stepped back and reaching into his pouch, withdrew the seeds his master had given him from his own hand.

With a disgruntled look of curiosity on his face, he tossed the seeds about. Then patting his steed, remounted and spun to ride away. As the squire rode back down the stream, behind him the birds began to gather to pick the best seeds from the baronial graineries. One winged messenger in particular noted the case within the tree.

Unto that most Honourable Lady, Wynefrid Sealbhach Colquohoun of Lyonsmarche in An Tir, on this thirteenth day of April in the reign of King Tjorkill and Queen Elowyn, does her humble admirer and friend, Baron Sir RIchard Fergus Fitzalan de Glymmere, Champion of Lyonsmarche, send hopeful greetings and good will.

Your Ladyship, after many trials and travails whose stories will become legend, I have found my way unto the town of Larissa. 'Tis true that in this path I have been blessed also with the delight of my lady and love. Even now we explore the town in hopes of finding a place where we might reside in strength and hope while we forage out to further adventures, growing together and practicing those lessons which you so kindly gave me by both example and words.

It is my sorrow that I had to travel this path alone and in doing so feel I have abandoned your kind friendship, something I would not risk for any lesser goal than my lady. I send through this my most heartfelt apology for my absence from you and beg that you receive me at Honour War so that I might make personal apology and tell you what tales of my quest that you might wish to know.

I, dear lady, wish to come to you and to ask you once more to take my hand and wish me well. I will need your friendship in the days ahead, and more than that, I want to be your friend again at most any cost.

In trying to think of what to say, I was pouring over my tomes of poetry and discovered this, which I was right pleased to see was as true as ever. I offer it a second time as I will in seven days hence offer my hand to you again as well.

When winter's cold has frozen fast apart You from me, robbing inspiration's art, Now causing plumes of ice upon my face Even as hoary frost benumbs in place Far, far away I hear your voice like bell Ring out to me and shatter bitter spell In warming tones to thaw my fingers stiff, Dissolving cold and causing voice to lift. See how the ink begins to run across Each page and now the words flow without loss All letters forming naught but highest praise Long reaching in their purpose, you amaze Beyond my belief such distance be won; However I can not ignore the sun. A bright and smiling countenance you show Choosing such words and deeds so that all know How worthy you are in so many ways. Confident in your self with eyes ablaze On many levels you with wisdom speak Like truest friend now gifting what I seek Quiet and yet with strength beyond my ken Unrolling Spring where Winter should have been One snow more I fear would have caused my death Hour, but shining comes the screen of light On writing desk where frigid sits this knight Until your kindness flowed and freed me from No less a horror than lonely serfdom.

So spring has for me unrolled and proven your wisdom right. I would tell you more of it and ask after you and your lord and your lands. But for now let us put aside further words on these matters until I can look into your eyes and you might see my bright countenance. At Honour War then, I shall come with my squires and men girded for war. And that evening, if you will grant me some of your precious time, I will try to make amends.

I will know you. I pray you will know me.

your humbled friend,

Richard Fergus Fitzalan
Baron and Knight
Champion of Lyonsmarche
le Chevalier sans sommeil


13 Apr 1995
From Wyni
Title: Re: My herald calls

She turned towards the raven as he dipped low over the stones, a leather case in his beak. Cooing softly, she coaxes the prize from his jaws, and stroking his head with one hand, she opens the scroll with the other.

She sighs heavily at what she reads, then tucks the parchement into one of the pockets of her dress.

To war! To war! caws the raven, bobbing near her head.

No, she thought to him, no wars for me so close to Bealtane. We shall have to meet another time, when he strong in his love, when I am strong in myself. Take him a dream, my friend, and tell him that my lord and I labor long in our fields, the winter has been hard on them. Cai perhaps will be at the Sergeants Tourney in Wastekeep, but only due to his bond with the Baroness. But we must wait until the Brunwulf Games when his Grace is in need of us. And then again perhaps in July if we are needed there at Coronation. Our lands call to us, they need us as they have ever and we have been lax in answering.

Tell him I miss him, and that I wish him well. That oft I pray for him and his happiness. Our time will come. But not at seventide.

With a gentle wave of her hand, she sent him hence then turned her mind to the Wood once more.


20 Apr 1995
From Richard
Title: The Horn Sounds

His steps echoed in the Wood as he moved toward the old oak. His steed, "Courage'", tied to a nearby tree, stood patiently and quiesent for once.

As he approached the venerable trunk, the grey color of which was left from winter's cold but turning browner with each day's sun, he whistled softly an old tune.

But this sacred home deserved the quiet of holy respect and as he reached the tree his voice ceased. Alone had he come, not to ask her to come to him, but to show his care and devotion in coming to her, to her home.

He removed a small silvered hunting horn from his belt and smiled. It had been too long used for the hunt and had heard many soundings the tales of which she knew in full. How he longed to tell her of his last hunt and his great luck and blessing therein. But now he placed the horn to his lips and blew a gentle blast.

Again he blew. And one third and last time.

And as the melody reverberated among the forest trees, he removed the trumpet from his lips and taking it in both strong hands broke it upon his knee. This horn, he thought, will never sound again and its last blast will be my call to her.

Then wrapping himself in his cape to protect himself from the gathering chill of early spring, he settled in at the base of the oak. He would wait her messenger to see if he would be granted audience. To see if he might be welcomed to her on his way to war. To see if he might come home...


21 Apr 1995
From Wyni
Title: Mi casa, su casa...

The senechal of Oakstone was near his wits end....First the mistress disappears for weeks on end and then she appears out of thin air, bustling the whole household about cleaning and preparing the manor for a guest, mumbling something about making sure there was room in stable for elephants if necessary. Elephants! She had just laughed and patted his arm, then off she was again to who knows where. You'd think I'd be used to their comings and goings, but sometimes.....


13 Sep 1995
From Richard
Title: Courage

Wandering alone through the castle wards, Sir Richard came upon the armory. There, in sad state, hung the shield, helm and breastplate which had once guarded him on his quest. He took the rusty helm, partially covered in moldly lentils, down from its peg and began to clean it. Then he donned his gambeson and strapped the breastplate back on over the old wound which still smarted from the most recent blow. And lastly, his shield whose arms, per pale Gules and Sable a Tower Argent and on a chief or, three mullets of eight points vert, were hidden under much dust.

Thus once more armored, he strode to the stables where he found his old warhorse, Courage. "Well boy," he said to the stallion, "looks like it's time to mount up and once more make the brave assay. I've never been one to give up on a quest."

And so saying, he led Courage to the yard and mounted armed cap a'pie. He rubbed his chest where the wound still smarted. Perhaps if he kept his armor on this time...

And thinking thoughts of quests and tournies, dreaming of hope, with prayers and relics to aid him, he rode off into the darkling woods once more.


13 Sep 1995
From Wyni
Title: Traef Sintar (Sintar Tower)

Bright sunshine fell through the panes of colored glass throwing shafts of blue, green and gold through the highest room of the Southwest tower of Sintar Keep.

Bent over her latest stiching project, she winced as the swift needle caught her finger. With a soft imprecation, she popped the finger into her mouth to be sure that her blood wouldn't mar the fabric. She wondered what it was she was thinking about just before she had pricked herself and remembered her friend, long on journey. Closing her eyes, she calmed herself, and taking a deep breath, set herself on the Inner Roads.

Her mind spun in familiar vertigo, as her spirit darted over the ever changing landscape. Her minds eye focused on a familiar pattern of light suspended above the hills and valleys, and followed it towards a narrow, dusty, yet familiar track. She saw him there, Courage lightly trotting northeasterly towards the deep woods. Her heart went out to him as a wave of pain washed up along the pattern to her. The vertigo returned, her answer given, and the walls of the tower returned to her sight.

Breathing deeply again, she spun a gold and blue ball of light between her hands, for both healing and wisdom, then with a quick flick of her right wrist, it changed into a butterfly of incredible beauty. Its wings softly opened and closed as it sat on her outstretched hand, the light catching the patterns of blue and gold along it span. Softly she whispered a prayer to it and kissed it gently, then taking it to the open window, bid it fly to the place she had seen Within.

As she watched it soar over the countryside, she fervently hoped that the gods would protect him, and bring him peace.


20 Sep 1995
From Richard
Title: shiubhailee

The cave was much darker than even the growing twilight. Sir Richard paused at the mouth as he tried to peer inside. Courage murmured as he chewed on the nearby grasses, and strained the lead to stay as far from the cave as he could.

Once before Richard had tried to enter the cave. Smiling, he remembered the sunny day last spring when he suddenly discovered himself trampling across the now dry grass which was then filled with flowers of all hues. Burdened by his armor he had stomped his way across the field, destroying the blossoms in his wake and wounding the glade itself by drawing steel and thrusting it, unknowingly, into the meadow's bosom.

His wry grin at the memory was tinged with the sadness of that destruction, but the rememberance went beyond that careless accident to the joy of understanding which had come to him from that mistake. Having discovered his error, he had removed his armor, piece by piece, and standing clothed in linens alone, set his sword aside and entered the cave.

That time, as the darkness engulfed him and fear welled up, he pulled his knife and searched with his hands as the cave grew narrower and the light faded.

His smile faded too as he rememberd the pain and terror of that attempt and its ultimate failure.

He chuckled and grinned again to think of the folly which now brought him here again, to once more try and enter the cave alone. But this time would be different. A failure maybe, he thought as he shrugged his shoulders, but a different type of failure this time. And who knows, his smile broadened, maybe not a failure at all.

So he removed his arm harness and his cuisses, leaving but his breastplate and gauntlets. His broadsword he set aside for a lighter blade, a stainless rapier. His hands held only his pilgrim's staff, simple, unstained wood ablaze with the heraldic colors of pilgrim's badges. And hanging from this wand, his water bottle wreathed in plaid.

His original thought had been to enter the cave again unarmored and without his sword, with just the stave. But upon reflection, he decided that it was not one skill that would get him through this maze, but the balanced use of all his skills. And so armed it was his hope to dwell within the cave, not to pass through it as though it were a path to fear, but rather a hermitage within which to rest. Time would come when the end would be found and the light at the other end would dawn upon him. This time, he had faith.

He glanced once more round the meadow whose edges were turning ablaze with the colors of autumn. His gaze lit on the Butterfly which had come to him of late and brought him a peaceful feeling that all would be well, in time.

Tightening his white belt, he walked forward into the dark, his chain and spurs softly jingling, he began "shiubhail e", the Paths of the Dead...


30 Sep 1995
From Richard
Title: Courage looked up...

Courage looked up from his grazing when he heard a rustling from the cave's mouth. He had long ago given up trying to understand why his rider seemed so unpredictable. Sometimes they would run for days and then stop only briefly and then gallop on again. Sometimes they would stay in one stable for months or even beside a small stream where his friend would put on the shining suit and erect his pavilion and wait for other knights to come by. When they did, Courage enjoyed being able to charge into combat, kicking and biting while his Ritter clanged about with this lance and sword. But it had been very nice to just graze in this clearing, though the air was turning nippy with the season changing.

What! Oh, that sound again. No doubt his chevalier coming out from that dark hole he had entered some weeks ago. No doubt he would cry and wail and speak to himself as they rode about the forest some more. He often quoted something he called "poetry". Courage often wondered if horses should be proud or dismayed that such people named themselves after chevals.

No sign of movement, just noise from the cave. No doubt another bird flying by with a scroll in its beak or some strange, wyrd wind which blew in from that distant tower. People. Never understand them.

Courage went back to chewing. Maybe today's big decision should be whether to wander down to the stream again to get a drink. Nah, not thirsty yet. But when he was, he would go down to drink.


4 Oct 1995
From Richard
Title: Noise

It was hardly past the break of day when Courage heard the steps of his knight's feet coming across the grass, echoing in the foggy morn.

Sir Richard calmly walked up to his stallion, Courage, and held out one hand to be nuzzled and patted his steed's neck with the other. Reaching down to the nearby saddle bags, he pulled out one of the recently ripened fall apples and fed it to Courage.

"Well boy," the somewhat haggard knight said, talking to his companion, "it's time to leave this place and move on again."

Courage was suddenly alive with the thought of leaving. While he had enjoyed the quiet and long grass of this meadow, his warhorse nature had begun to yearn for action. To hear the clash of arms and to fly down pathways, or to meander across strange countryside knowing that his rider would see to his horse's care even before his own.

The knight gathered his gear, which had been carefully piled before he entered the cave and saddled his mount. After storing his gear, he swun into the saddle and with a gentle prod of the Spurs of Caid, the pair practically leapt from the clearing down the shadowy path through the woods.

Le chevalier mourant (The Dying Knight) had once more cut himself down from the tree and rode forth as...Sir Richard could not think of his new nomme de guerre. How odd, he thought. Never before had he had any problems at all coming up with a suitable and unique sobriquet.

He had begun knighthood as le chevalier joyeaux, and passed through many other names, including le chevalier sans favor, le chevalier evec cour qui chant, le chevalier sans sommeil, and many others. But here he was, setting out on the greatest adventure of all and without a name.

He cast back to the final moment in the cave, when as he lay near death in that dark place, he had seen the glowing forms pass as a cross before his eyes. Such wonders he had grown accustomed to seeing as a believer in the wyrdness of life, but this time it was he who was cruxified and then arisen.

To this cross was a path upon which an Empress stood becoming, showing the way through discord. As he tried to approach, a grim knight bearing upon his shield a white rose and the number XIII. Only through Death, life; only through an end, the beginning. As the Black knight drew his sword, the Empress implored Sir Richard to try and understand, to open himself to the stroke which must come, to accept the blow for her sake, and thus ultimately for his own. The blow descended upon Richard's shoulder breaking through his paldron and breastplate, destroying his protection and releasing the flow of living blood within.

And then the blade and knight were gone and he stood beside the Lady who told him to trust what had come to pass and in time through openess and acceptance of his own vulnerabilty, to heal and live again.

Then came a man with Two Staves. A rich merchant, well to do in the world and no doubt Lord with dominions. Seeing the weak legs of Sir Richard, he gave him his second staff. The knight grew stronger and stood upright, sure of his ability now to continue the path. The lady then produced two cups and admonishing the knight to be Temperant, shared with him a toast.

"To the balance we must find to walk this path," she said and saying so drained her cup. Sir Richard drank too and found himself flowing with strong patience, to come or to go, to strike or to spare, to speak or to be silent.

The Two Cups reminded him of when he once shared table with a lady. When he thought he could nourish love and find inspiration therein. The image brought him sharply to focus on his past.

And as he turned to proceed down the path, he passed through Four upright Wands, marking the beginning of his venture. He knew now he could find success along this road in time if he could pace himself. Such balanced goals must surely succeed.

But his body was sore with aches and weak. He had a Devil of a time overcoming the desire to simply lay beside the road and sleep awhile. After all, he was tired and who was to say other than that he could do as he pleased. But he reminded himself that his goal was not so simple. Some nagging needs must be passed by if the true vision is to be found.

And as he debated this to himself, he found Three Coins upon the path. Pocketing them, he knew in time he would find a place to stay much better than the roadside. It was time to proceed and find the bridge into the city wherein he would find a new and better place to be.

And there beside the road was a stone, within which a single sword was thrust. He went to the sword and drew it from the stone with one pull. Now he was truly a Knight since he had a Sword again. The grip felt familiar and yet he knew he would find new skills in its use too.

So armed with Staff and Sword and bearing the Cup and Coin, he moved forward when suddenly from the sides of the path, Ten men all armed with Swords rushed upon him and overbore him, dragging him to ruin and piercing him in many places.

As the sadness overwhelmed him, he awoke in his cave with an intense feeling of release. He smiled. He knew now his time here was over. And so he walked out of the cave and across the foggy field...

Mounting up at last, he checked his sword which was close to hand an ever ready. Likewise his Marshal's baton hung on the saddle, to add its aid in need. His loving cup was in the bag behind along with the water bottle now filled with fresh water. And the soft jingle of a few pence in his pouch reminded him he had more resources than he remembered.

Yes, ruin might come to him, especially if he called it, but he also knew he would go down fighting for himself and in the end, that is all any of us can ever do.

His name would come in time...


16 Oct 1995
From Richard
Title: Holes

The chilly woods were overgrown with underbrush and tangled roots. Sir Richard had dismounted from Courage in order to lead his steed safely through the treacherous branches and uneven earth.

The knight had drawn his sword to cut clear a path through the weaving branches and ferns. It was nearing night and the forest was growing dark and drear with no sign of a good clearing in which to camp.

Without warning the forest bed beneath his feet gave way and the suddenly Sir Richard found himself flailing about, losing his sword, sliding down the embankment and into a dank pit between two large trees. Their roots had eaten away at the hillside and the ensuing hole was very deep.

When Richard came too Courage was nowhere to be seen nor heard. The rim of the hole was twice his height away and the walls were uneven and made of loose earth and pine needles. After a few feeble attempts to climb he gave up.

As he sat in the damp blackness, a voice bellowed out at him from above.

"I am le chevalier sans coeur. Who is it that seeks passage through my land."

"I, Sir Richard Fitzalan, le chevalier avec coeur qui chant, and I..."

He was cut off by the sound of a sword being drawn from its scabbard. In reflex he reached for his sword to find it lost in the fall. In recompense he drew his dagger. The glint of faint light off the large falchion of the dark knight above made Richard feel less than suitably armed.

"Yield to me," said the Knight without Heart, "and I will allow you to leave my woods the way you came."

"Never!" cried Richard, the Knight with the Heart which Sings, "I cannot attend my lady if I retreat. The only passage is through these lands."

"Then die, alone and forgotten in this place of misery and may your shade wander these lone woods endlessly," replied the black knight.

"Come at me then," spake Sir Richard, "and let us fight this as men should no matter how armed."

"Nay," replied the dark one, "I shall leave you to rot in your own filth, dying of a hundred wounds." And so saying he sheathed his sword and strung a bow of blackest wood. Drawing an arrow to full reach and aiming at his quarry who had no place to hide, the vile knight sent a shaft screaming down into his victim.

Richard winced as the arrow bit into the flesh of his left thigh. His opponent was right. There was nowhere to hide and no way out. Death was all that was left to him.

"Come and fight me like a man at least," Richard screamed! "Let me die with my honor and not like some wounded beast in a trap!"

"Oh no," replied his adversary, "you are without honor in my realm. No one is allowed to sing here. Unless you do homage to me and swear to forsake your singing heart you will stay here forever. And if you do swear then I will allow you a swift and merciful death, but that is all that is your due."

Richard, sitting now in the muck at the bottom of the hole, his leg wound bleeding profusely, dropped his dagger soundlessly to the muddy floor. There was no fighting this opponent let alone winning. The whine of another arrow rent the air but a split second before the barbed tip took him in the right shoulder, pinning him to the earth.

And the last thought that drifted through his mind before he lost consciousness was "for this I left my cave?". Perhaps he should accept the dark one's offer to at least allow him to live and return to the cave. At least that hole was dry and more comfortable, protective and healing where all he had here was darkness and pain.

Then the blackness engulfed his mind and he saw no more.

The moon was a bloody crescent when Richard woke in utter agony. He felt as if he were hovering in air but being pulled apart by the four winds. As consciousness returned, he discovered that while he was out he had been lifted out of the pit and now hung from four ropes, one tied to each limb, each pair being tied to one of the large trees on either side. The pit remained beneath him like a yawning, monsterous mouth ready to devour the blood that still dripped from his wounds.

"Where is your singing now, Sir Knight," taunted le chevalier san cour. "Why worry about giving up that which you do not have? Yield to me and live, fail to and die in everlasting torment. It matters not to me for my land will drink your blood or your soul either way."

Words were pointless here thought Sir Richard for once. There was no bargaining. No way out. No way through. No way to live. And in that moment when all is blackest, the knight did what anyone would do who came up against such odds. He passed out.


14 Dec 1995
From Richard
Title: Frost

Frost laced the windows of the stable wherein Sir Richard and his companion in errantry, Courage, were sheltered. The winter winds howled through the chinks in the wall boards and the chilly night lay thick upon the inn.

Pulling his cape closer about him, Richard smiled and coughed. His illness was little better for the hot soup he had gained from the inn's kitchen. At least he could lay in the hay and close his eyes for a brief time.

Music drifted heavily across the short space between the inn and the stable. "Wild Mountain Thyme" was the tune. Sir Richard smiled in rememberance of a wild celtic lass known in better days whose name, Heather, always reminded him of this song. Or was it the other way 'round? No matter.

With the lashing of another blast of cold air, the reclining knight shifted and grimaced. His illness did not bode well for his ability to continue and his journey would take more strength than ever he had had before. It was freeing for him to realize that perhaps at last his journey would end. Not in the triumph of High Summer spent in worshipful devotion to his love but in the hacking cough of a dying winter. He smiled. He had fought a good fight and had no regrets he hadn't learned from. If he must fight the last fight this was as good a place as any.

He closed his eyes in feverish sleep. And therein he dreamt of a flower in the snow. Green were its leaves and bright red its bud. A rose. He struggled through the snow. Ploughing a furrow straight toward the single bloom. And then he stopped. There was a second to the right. And a third to the left. And a dozen more all about him. The sun rose and set and the snow melted and returned. Twice the world spun about him.

In his dizziness he plucked one rose, only to find himself bleeding from the thorns. Throwing that one aside, he tried another; again to be pricked and bled. He stomped on the third. He drew his sword and hacked the fourth. He ignored the fifth. He then slowed his frenzy. He tried to dug up the sixth but it died. He tried again to pluck one, but again was torn and wounded. At least with this one he left whole and living as he withdrew his gentle, bleeding hand.

Sitting on the frozen ground, amid the beauty of the spring under the darkness of the moon, he cried. When would he ever learn to leave the garden be. To appreciate the gifts that exist around him even though none are ever his. Why was it than no flower was ever for him?

Richard woke coughing. The pale sun was reflecting off the snow outside. "Damn," he thought, "still alive to face another winter day. Well, no help for it then. I knew it was a long road when I started." He spat as he rose, trying to clear his lungs of fluid. Courage neighed his morning greeting. Sir Richard patted his horse in thanks, leaving a thin trace of blood on his coat. The knight then gathered his gear, prepared his steed, and leaning on his faithful companion, walked out onto the trail and once more into the dawn of another day.


17 Jan 1996
From Richard
Title: The River is Wide

The day was passing fair as Sir Richard rode up the wide boulevard. The sun was cold but still hanging in the southern sky. The roadway was wide and sure, lined with trees whose leafless branches were a stark reminder of the season.

The knight smiled as he reached into the bag tied to his saddle and pulled out an apple. This was obviously the right path. Two years now he had ridden on this quest (or was it three) and after brambles, caves, swamps, monsters, deserts and a myriad of other obstacles, at last the road had gone straight and true. This was his place.

But as the rider crested the small knoll through which the road ran, before him lay a river previously unseen.

"Whoa, Courage." Sir Richard said as he reined in his steed.

There before him was the strangest sight he'd seen in many a month. The largest elephant he'd ever seen!

What a sight! The wide road went directly ahead and down to the bank of the river, which was very broad and slow. No bridge looked to ever have been built across it nor was it likely to be swum given its breadth. And yet in the very spot where a bridge would cross, if there were one, sat a huge grey mountain. Splashing water and bathing blissfully the pachaderm seemed oblivious to the approaching knight.

As Sir Richard neared the bank his hand strayed to his sword, but he held off drawing it from its scabbard. He chuckled to himself, having met elephants before and having learned the hardway their use as friendly reminders rather than obstacles to be overcome.

At the sound of his laugh, the beast turned his massive head, fully yards across, to see what the noise was.

"Fred!" he exclaimed. "Where have you been?"

The elephant smiled but did not move.

"Now Fred," the knight began in his most reasonable voice, "this is obviously the right road for me to be on, all other paths have lead here and I somehow know it's the right place right now, but how am I to continue with this watery wall and your gigantic self blocking further progress?"

Fred took a trunkful of water and blew it on the knight.

"Cut that out!" Sir Richard yelled, "you'll rust my armor!"

Fred went back to bathing.

The knight went back to his steed and unsaddled Courage and began to set up camp. It was going to be a long wait.

Days passed.

Somehow Richard had come to understand that remounting and retreating was not the right way to proceed, but he also knew that he could not cross. He pondered day and night how to continue, but without a way only frustration grew.

Hopeless. It was hopeless.

Having pitched camp back up the road aways so at least he could see some of the river beyond the grey backside, Richard spent his days shuffling a tarot deck (though not dealing) and humming a song while thinking. Then one morning the words to the song came back to him.

The water is wide, I cannot get oer Neither have I wings to fly Give me a boat that can carry two And both shall row, my love and I

Perhaps the chill wind which blows across the water to him in this season must be endured. Perhaps with the coming of the spring she will come to him. Perhaps not. But certes, there is nothing else he can do now but wait (something he never did well at). Perhaps a good game of chess, polish the armor, sharpen the sword, prepare for whatever comes next for certainly at some point the wheel will turn and something will happen.

In his nearby wanderings he found a deep pit. Not a cave in which a man might take shelter, but a yawning chasm to swallow a man's soul. Several times he stood on the edge and wondered if he should just not cast himself in, or mount up and ride away since at least either of those would be an action rather than this infernal waiting.

And the truth is no one has come for him. No lady bids him come to her. No love warms the winter chill. The pit beckons.

It is the knowing that when his fate comes it could be for good or ill and that he has no control over it which causes such depression and hopelessness. Now if he can only endure until the sun returns.

He stops singing and pulls his cape tighter. Will spring never come?


12 Feb 1996
From Richard
Title: Wandering Harpists

The ground was soggy. It had been raining for days and Sir Richard's campsite by the river, while not threatened directly since it was on a small rise, was nonetheless very damp. The winter chill only accentuated the feeling of bitterness which the season had engendered.

But the day after the rain stopped two travellers wandered into the knight's camp looking for him. The lady was a harpist and her eyes sparkled as she dismounted and greeted Sir Richard once again. Her lord, Mark, his lute slung across his back, held her horse.

It seems that the local Baron had decided to invite Baron Richard to his castle for a feast that evening and had sent these two to insure his attendence. No invitation could have been more powerful.

And so together the three went to the feasthall where they sat High Table along with the other guests. That evening they shared the stars and music and poetry amid much merriment. And it was good.

The next morning the troubador greeted Sir Richard as he was gazing at the mountains and invited him to break fast with them. Together they sat and ate choice morsels while listening to the harpist, enchanted. They spoke of life and love and magic. Enchantment ruled the day. And it was good.

Karen, the harpist, spoke the words of power which broke the chain which had been binding Richard's pain to his sword for so long. At last he could feel his loneliness and his joy of life and not feel bound to draw steel and charge to alter things unalterable. He no longer had to deny his feelings in order to keep himself from bounding forward on the hunt. He could both feel and let be, sorrow and enjoy, be glad and alone. And it was good.

And so he rode back to his camp, whistling a ballade while enjoying the sun which had bloomed after the stormy rain which had washed winter away.

Upon arrival at his pavilion he noticed a hawk. Now while a hawk perched upon his tent was unusual, this was even more so as this bird clutched a scroll in its beak.

As Richard dismounted, the hawk took wing and flying over where he stood, dropped the parchment which unrolled as it fell and several small sheets of paper feel to the grass.

Richard picked up the first. "I _am_worthy". To which he nodded.

The next "There exists a woman willing to give me all her love". At which he smiled.

The third "There is a woman out there willing to accept me as I truly am". To which he nodded and smiled.

The fourth "There is a woman who wants to share her life with me in love". At which his heart sang.

And the last "I will meet her within the next year and we will become good friends and lovers". To which he nodded, smiled, and shrugged.

As God wills it.

And still smiling and whistling he headed to the top of the rise to gaze out once more upon the beauty of the world. And standing on that knoll, the water and mountains spread before him, his heart open to himself and the world and beauty, Richard sang.

And at the end of his song his eyes opened wide. He suddenly realized what he was truly seeing. The land, the water, the sky.

Fred was gone.


14 Mar 1996
From Richard
Title: Loss

It was still raining and the winter's chill had invaded through the now long soaked cloak which covered Sir Richard with its wet folds. His butt hurt from sitting so long asaddle and the brief vision of the far shore of the river over which he looked had long been clouded by the mist and drizzle. His fingers had gone numb with the cold and his breath was a visible thing.

Enough.

Painfully, he swung down out of the saddle which had carried him nowhere for so long. Courage looked at his knight pitifully through rivlets of wet mane. Both were sore beyond bearing.

Richard reached into the saddle bag and pulled the last leftover apple. Patting courage he offered the food, but the horse would have none of it in this season. Dropping the withered fruit, the knight embraced his steed and began to cry.

Still sobbing, he stood back a little ways and drew his sword. The rain ran in streams from the steely blade. Composing himself with the last warmth he could find, Sir Richard held his steed which had so long bore him and kissing him, stepped back and thrust the steely spike into Courage's heart.

And there on the swampy river bank Courage died. Richard, in his grief, turned to a large stone nearby and raised his sword in anger at this own deed. But he stopped. He lowered the blade and wedged it between two rocks and putting his weight into it, snapped the blade and discarded the hilt.

That's gone too.

The knight then proceeded to shuck off his damp vestments, quit his crying and arm himself cap-a-pie' (head to foot). Once dressed in clothes of steel, he took one last look toward where the road had been and where his camp had stood. Nothing remained in the gloom to ever show he had this way been. Nothing.

Turning to the river, Sir Richard stepped down the bank, slipping and falling on the muddy bank. Picking himself painfully up from the sucking grime, he stepped into the swollen river.

Step by step. Slowly but with purpose. The weight of the armor helped to keep him from being swept away though it also meant lifting each foot was a terrible fight. But purposefully he kept going.

Just before the river had risen to his helm, he took one last breath and began to move (it could not be called running) as fast as he could into deeper water. After a dozen or so steps, he could no longer hold his breath and exhaling, gasped for air. Of course all his lungs received was water.

'Twas thoughtful of him to take that last deep breath to move himself out into the current. For with the onset of drowning the knight's reactions were of course to move to save himself, but it was too late.

His last action before drowning was, by force of will, to turn himself so that he was facing the far bank rather than to pass from this world with his back foremost.

FINISHED

In that moment when I envision drowning, I had a further vision too and so perhaps it is a beginning as well...

Awakening in a damp grotto was a new experience for Richard. And this place was no ordinary cave! Here, amid the bright torchlight, were paintings of many sizes and colors but all had one thing in common. They were all portraits. And they were all people he had known.

Taking a candle, and walking barefoot across the carpeted floor, he gazed in amazement at the vast number of people. Some men, mostly women; some smiling, some crying. And here and there an empty frame or a frayed edge. And then there was the first portrait he found slashed.

It was lying against the wall rather than hung. The frame itself was broken and the tatters of the image hung loose. It was Janet, who gave him his first book of heraldry and his first taste of love. She was holding a cup long emptied.

And there in a solid frame, well maintained, was a portrait of his ex-lady-wife, much dusty and muddied with but a few, though major, gashes.

And then the beautiful "le dame". Her face still glowing from the canvas though it be pierced with a thousand small cuts.

But all these he passed on by until he came to an opening where he walked out into the spring light and there, near the cave mouth was a lake. And at the near shore lay a dock and there rode a small boat.

Sir Richard walked out upon the dock and saw the boat and knew that it was good. And so he stepped aboard and cast off the lines. And as the gentle breeze picked up and shook loose the sail and his simple tunic, he smiled to think of the vessel's name..."P".


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