Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Short End of the Stick (02/20/14)
TITLE: Prayer Warrior
By Sara Harricharan
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Cyrus felt her theft a moment too late. “Opal!” He protested, stumbling to the side of the narrow path when his warhorse nearly trampled him over. But the pretty knight passed in a huff, leading both of their mounts to food and water. He watched until they reached the bend in the path and then sighed, scrubbing a hand through his hair.
His fingers met with a bloodied tangle and he grimaced at the unwelcome texture. They had been successful in this battle, but the skirmish itself had unsettled him. He’d struck down a white-eyed Seer who had predicted a grim death in the near future for his knight sponsor, Lord Callahan.
The famous knight had also sponsored Opal and the third in their awkward trio, clumsy squire Jordan, son of the well-respected Knight Alvaron. Battle rules required all prophecies to be relayed to the person or persons involved by the one who witnessed the utterance.
It was this point that troubled Cyrus, for all three of them had heard said utterance and neither wished to be the bearer or said news to Lord Callahan. He was no easy taskmaster, he was fair, even if he worked hard and often.
Cyrus had been trying to puzzle his way out of it, but then Opal had proved that she had brains for a girl and now he was left with nothing but his conscience. They kept the warhorses separate from the camp, lest the roaming dragons devoured them all in a single blast of flame and so Cyrus stood in the newly worn path, looking longingly to the left where Opal had vanished.
He squared his shoulders and strode forward to the right. It took him a scant few minutes to enter their camp navigate to the right tent. He nodded to the young guard keeping watch and ducked his head to enter.
“Sir?” He called out, looking around as he straightened. There was no immediate answer and a chill ran down his spine. He looked about, worriedly, and spotted one armored leg sticking out at an odd angle from the bed in the left corner. He swallowed hard and darted forward.
His knight-sponsor lay awkwardly on the grassy floor of the tent, his skin a deathly pale grey and his breathing shallow and labored. “Help!” Cyrus cried, dropping to his knees beside him. “Someone help! We need a Healer.” The young guard poked his head through the flap in time to see Cyrus attempting to move the heavy, armored knight.
He shouted for a Healer and ducked in to help lift the injured knight onto the makeshift cot. “I didn’t hear anything,” he volunteered, before the young knight could ask.
Cyrus scowled. “Go find a Healer!” A wheezing cough drew his attention and he looked down, instinctively reaching out to clasp the proffered hand. “Lord Callahan,” he squeezed the calloused hand, gently. “The battle was fine. We won. Healer’s coming, everything will be-”
“S’alright.” Lord Callahan gasped. “Tis my time.” He heaved a breath.
Cyrus froze, staring down at the face that was too calm for their present situation. “S-sir?” He stammered.
Lord Callahan gave a wry smirk. “Not everyone manages to live as long as I do,” he said. “Not every Prayer Warrior is the same.”
“W-what? No!” Cyrus protested. “Shh. Save your breath. Please. The Healer—someone will be here and everything-”
“Promise me,” the calloused hand gripped tight and brilliant blue eyes pierced through the panicked haze of his knight-apprentice. “-that you will never stop praying. Never! Promise me.”
Cyrus bobbed his head up and down. “I won’t stop.” He choked out.
Lord Callahan smiled, relieved. His eyelids slid halfway shut. “They said I wouldn’t live past my twenty-first birthday,” he murmured. “But I did. Proved them all wrong. Only the Lord’s plans matter, lad. Learn Him. Know them.” He winced in pain. “Trust Him.”
“Yes sir.” Cyrus squeezed the hand clasped between his own. He felt a hot tear trickle down his face as Lord Callahan became unnaturally still with his final breath. There was a shimmer of silver and white, then the body vanished, leaving only the bloodstained armor behind and his prayer mantel. With his head bowed, Cyrus prayed through the tears as he felt the mantel settle over his tired shoulders.
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