The Dragon Chedupuram and the Knight Starkiller
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
the fields of time and space, between the light and the dark, rode the knight
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 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
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
"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
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,
"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."
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