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The Dragon Chedupuram and the Knight Starkiller
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 1

Across the fields of time and space, between the light and the dark, rode the knight Starkiller.

In all the annals of his reality, there were no heroes as great as the knight Starkiller. He had dispatched the ogres and demons of the shadow realms between the worlds, and done battle with forces from beyond the Outer Dark until they had retreated, defeated, to the shadows from which they had come. He strode his reality like a colossus, and there was no challenge left for him, no evil that he still had to fight.

All who inhabited that reality lived in awe of the knight Starkiller. Once they had merely loved or hated him, fought him or made legends about him, but now he had transcended hate and fear, love or worship. He was above myths. He was merely what he was.

Great indeed was the knight Starkiller. Clad in armour black as the gulfs between the stars, wielding his immense sword of obsidian, which could slice a troll’s head from his shoulders like butter, he had no equal in courage or prowess. He had conquered all, hungered for further horizons, and yet as the years passed his thoughts turned more and more to the structure of reality itself.

Reality folded truth and lies, turned them into their mirror opposites, and created paradoxes which could not be resolved. Reality turned light to dark and today into tomorrow, and great as the knight Starkiller was, he had no influence over light and dark and today and tomorrow; he had no influence over reality.

Finally he decided that he had to master reality, for that was the only thing that was greater than he was. And since he knew nothing of the structure of the realities, he set out to visit the Wizard Who Has No Name, that is to say, the Wizard Nameless, who was the wisest man that ever was.

The Wizard Nameless lived in a small stone hut atop a desolate cliff overlooking a silent sea. He was so old that he had long since outgrown the need for a name, or for such shallow frippery as mere decoration, which was why his hut had bare stone walls and a roof of driftwood, and why the clouds overhead never broke, and merged in the distance with the dull  grey of the sea.

He met the knight Starkiller at his door, for of course he had been aware of his coming. He would have been a poor wizard indeed if he had been taken by surprise; for great as the knight Starkiller was, he was but a swordsman, and the wizards have access to stores of knowledge which have always passed the swordsmen by.

For the purpose of this meeting, the Wizard Nameless chose to appear as himself, as a short, squat old man, with a shock of hair the colour of ancient paper tumbling over a weathered, wrinkled face. He was dressed only in a pair of leather breeches and boots, his work-roughened hands and liver-spotted torso bare. They stood looking at each other for a long moment, neither speaking: the gigantic knight in his armour of the deepest black, and the ancient wizard with his mottled skin and his lank white hair.

"You know why I have come," the knight Starkiller said at last.

"Of course." The Wizard Nameless nodded. "But do you think you are ready for that information? It is not knowledge that comes without a price, and the price may be too much to pay."

"I want to know," the knight said simply. "I must know, no matter what the cost." He fingered the hilt of his great sword of obsidian. "The price to anyone," he said ominously.

The Wizard Nameless stood looking up at him for a moment longer, without a trace of fear in his eyes. Then he turned to go back into his hut. "If you really want to know," he called over his shoulder, "come in, and listen carefully."

Frowning in annoyance, for he was unused to such treatment, the knight Starkiller bent his head to pass under the low lintel of the hut, and followed.

"Sit down." The Wizard Nameless pointed to a low stool. "You will forgive me if I do not offer you any refreshments – but you are here to talk, not to eat or drink."

"I wouldn’t have touched anything you gave me, anyway," the knight Starkiller growled. "After all, you’ll appreciate that a knight can hardly trust a wizard, especially one as accomplished as you."

[ Continue to page 2 ]

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Genre:Science Fiction
Type:Short story
Rating:5.5 / 10
Rated By:12 users
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