Conqueror was lying motionless next to the black horse. I saw immediately that their injuries would eventually prove fatal, but only after many long days of agony . . . and I could never let that happen.
I retrieved the fiance’s knife, as the black horse continued to struggle trying to get up on his broken legs, and cut an artery in the poor beast’s neck. legenday
Reluctantly, I then picked up the hunter’s longbow and quiver and walked over to my old companion. The big horse was paralyzed; only his eyes could move as he rolled them to see if I was coming to help him. When he noticed the bow, he looked away and stared straight ahead, not wanting to make what I inevitably had to do more difficult. Even in his last moments, his only concern was for his life-long friend. lgdsilicone
I emptied the quiver onto the grass, and then, as if in a dream state, chose the straightest and sharpest arrow for my loyal friend. I felt numb . . . I could not be doing this; something else had to be controlling me as I positioned the shaft onto the powerful bow and drew it to its limit. I closed my eyes and released the bowstring.
The bow slipped from my hands as I fell to my knees, cradling Conqueror’s head in my arms while he struggled to breathe – the deadly arrow deep in his heart. My mind was racing. I looked down at the white; battle scarred flanks, recalling the countless times in combat that this valiant horse had taken the blows meant for me. I became overwhelmed, my tears flowed for my only friend in the world now, and soon the horse’s struggles subsided. Then it was over. I was a failure in every sense of the word. I failed myself, I failed the maiden, and I failed Conqueror.
I could barely remember walking back for Maradin. The cottage and barn were now smoldering ruins as I sat next to her body until late afternoon with my head buried in my bloody hands. How could it have ever come to this? Ariya had warned me to listen to my heart, and if I had just listened to it when I first came upon this cottage, I would have walked by and this tragedy would never have happened. And Maradin would still have her life. Everything was now hopeless. rajafantasy
I swore to Ariya that I would give up everything to find the key, and yet I became sidetracked so easily. There was nothing left for me now. Everything in my life was gone.
Evening was approaching, and as I glanced toward the meadow, I thought that I saw something move. I couldn’t quite make it out, but it almost appeared to be a horse grazing near the wood line; a white horse. Suddenly, chills ran up my spine as I realized it was Conqueror!
I quickly looked behind me, and not only had the ruins of the cottage and barn disappeared, but Maradin was gone as well! Even more incredibly, my gashed chest was miraculously healed, and I found myself in my old robes with my long hair and beard. And where the cottage and barn had been, there was only the tranquil, undisturbed forest. Completely disoriented, I continued to stare at my surroundings in disbelief when I noticed someone strolling out of the forest. I couldn’t quite make out who it was, but it was a man, and he was laughing!
Then I recognized him. “I WILL KILL YOU FOR THIS!” I screamed.
The old sorcerer carefully sat down on a rock and stroked his pointy chin with his skinny index finger for a long time. “How old are you now, king?” he finally bellowed across the meadow. yateartificialgrass
“You know what you can do, Sorcerer!”
“I said, HOW OLD ARE YOU, KING?” This time the entire forest shook with the force of his words.
“Thirty-seven!” I yelled back, enraged.
He calmly stroked his chin a few more times. “No you’re not, he shouted, “you’re not thirty-seven,’ you’re a hundred thousand years old considering the past lives you have squandered on the various spheres you have lived on by surrendering to these crude passions. You’re no different than an animal, living out these mindless scenarios lifetime after lifetime.”
He seemed to be just warming up, as I continued to defiantly stare him down. Then he pointed at me and said, “You haven’t learned very much, have you? I created this fantasy in your mind to make you painfully aware of your weaknesses, and reveal to you what will prevent you from finding your key, and instead of being grateful, you want to kill me? When will you ever be finished with this insane killing? What is so special about killing people, and what has your killing ever solved? If killing were a solution, all of your many problems would have been solved thousands of years ago! Why must you continue to kill? You resolve nothing. How stupid can one man be?”
I had to admit that the cottage was a little too perfect with its tailored gardens and its cute, white picket fence, and Maradin . . . she was too good to be true as well. bbcforbes
“I thought that you had finally come to your senses, King; that you had at last accumulated some spiritual potential, but you are still no different than a brute, following your animal-like instincts and passions by crushing anything or anybody that stands in your way. Have you given up your quest for the key so soon? Do you wish to repeat this little episode a few hundred thousand times more before you finally get it through your thick head where your priorities lie? Well? Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
I was about to say something sarcastic but he cut me off, “Don’t even say it! You have caused everybody, including me, enough misery for one day, wouldn’t you say? Who do you think you are; some great king that deserves more than the six feet of earth everybody else will inherit when they are dead? You constantly prop up this over-blown, enormous ego of yours and doggedly fight to stay in the center of your pathetic little circle, fending off everyone and never letting anything else come close.
“In victory, there is always defeat. Can you fathom that, King? Of course you can’t, you are just an impetuous beginner. Can you understand that only in the jaws of final defeat will you be victorious? I don’t think so, not now at least . . . maybe someday. I must tell you; you are worst, most dimwitted student I have ever attempted to train, and I might just send you packing! If you ever do find the key, it will be a miracle.”
Somewhere deep down in my silent heart, I felt terrible for my lack of wisdom, and for what a mess I made, but my logic and conceit would not relent, riding roughshod over any inkling of remorse that might be stirring. Logic whispered to me, “Never admit that you’re wrong,” and conceit said, “and never say that you are sorry.”
The sorcerer’s eyes blazed, “Be gone, both of you,” he growled, and immediately something came over me . . . a surrender, a release? I don’t know, but I found myself apologizing for the first time in my life. I actually said that I was sorry.
The sorcerer suddenly vanished from the meadow and reappeared sitting on a stump next to me. He softened his tone slightly, “There is a chance, he said, “a very slim one, that you still might find the key in this lifetime, but it will be complicated and take you much longer than other key seekers.
“First, however, we must discuss Maradin. Lust grows as quickly and surely as a small child, no differently than any other addiction, and each subsequent stage, small and insignificant as it might appear, doubles the addictive power of lust until it is almost impossible to control. Didn’t you realize when you fell in love with her that it was a case of mistaken identity?” ( To be continued)