Talan stood at the precipice, hands on hips, wind tussling his dark brown hair, with eyes two shades lighter looking over the kingdom that’d one day be his. Perhaps. It may be that after his father, King Girvin, and the court heard what he had to say they might strip him of his right to bear arms. His shield, now emblazoned per bend sinister, vert (green) and argent (silver), beneath a sable serpent striking, could be wiped clean, permitting him to bear no device whatsoever.
Silver and green pennants waved from the fortification tucked safety in the valley, sheer cliffs surrounding it from three sides. Girdled by stone walls, with the humbler huts of the peasants outside, it’d never been conquered from without. He now sought to conquer it from within. Not with sword or strength, but with truth.
Well over a year ago, Talan was paraded from the grounds, sitting tall and proud atop his bay steed. It was the tradition of his people that when the crown prince reached manhood, he journey abroad and spread the greatness of Ferricstone by performing brave and glorious deeds throughout the land, thus proving his worthiness to become king. Herald’s would run swiftly bearing the news of his prowess back to the king, and upon his return they would celebrate his bravery.
Ferricstone would’ve heard no such news for many months now.
On his departure, he’d hidden deep within a desperate fear of the unknown. Fear of failure, fear of death. For many months he worked to allay these fears, to show bravery through the power of his blade, a skill well honed since early childhood. He’d battled knights errant, pirates, and rogues alike. All in the name of his father and kingdom.
Talan shifted his leather boots, sending a stone rattling down the cliff as he remembered his undoing. His failure.
He’d been ambushed by a group of ruffians. They probably thought the lonely young man an easy target, but he proved that was not so. He battle the trio valiantly but, there was a fourth. One he’d not seen, and that night Talan was sorely wounded.
Some kind souls took him to a nearby monastery, where the monks tended him. Slowly, his wounds mended, but that was nothing compared to the healing he received within. The healing of his soul.
One of the younger monks who tended him regularly shared the knowledge of Christ. Of the One who’d created all, the One who loved all. This was something Talan had never heard; religious gatherings were banned in Ferricstone: King Girvin said the only power that counted was the power of man.
Talan had been skeptical at first, thinking himself unworthy to call this great God, Father. He hesitated, saying that when he failed, and he was sure he would, God would toss him out. After all, it was no less than he expected from his earthly father. But the young monk assured him that once welcomed into God’s kingdom, he’d never be dismissed.
The wind shifted, making Talan’s cloak snap out behind him. It brought delicious smells of baking bread and roasting meat, mixed with the more pungent aromas of pig sties and horse stables.
He breathed it in deeply. 'Ahhh home!'
He’d an impulse to jump on his steed and race down to the castle gates, but he stood fast, held in place by fear much greater than he’d harbored on the outset of his journey. 'Where was his courage now?'
When he departed the monastery, whole and new in every sense of the words, he asked the young monk to accompany him. He refused, choosing to stay in his cloistered home, because he said he lacked the necessary courage.
Now Talan understood what he meant. It was one thing to live within the tall gray walls with everyone supporting your faith, and quite another to take that faith alone into a hostile, cynical world.
But then he remembered he wasn’t alone. He’d the greatest ally anyone could ever want. And whether Talan won the day or not, that ally could never be destroyed, never taken away.
Valiant, his horse, nickered. He turned to the stallion and smiled. The horse, draped in green and silver, started eagerly after Talan mounted, beginning the journey to face his greatest challenge yet, in the name of the greatest King and Kingdom of all. He was returning a warrior. God’s warrior. And he was not afraid, anymore.
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