Part 2. The Perfect Knight
IT HATH BEEN TOLD by all that Good Prince Gildemaar was the perfect knight.
With the setting sun gleaming off his gold gilt spike-plate and helm, the ancestral War-Hammer of a Thousand Burning Suns gripped burning above his head as he sat astride his white war-destrier, Purity, he certainly looked the part. A golden lion blazed upon his shield. And was that noble beast not a true reflection of the Good Prince? Was he not noble and fierce and deadly, but only when necessity forced his hand? And such a sad misfortune it was that necessity had forced it so very many times.
The Good Prince shifted his iron glare to his left and then right. Flanked he was by his Eight, four to each side, all armored in silvered spike-plate, all Captains, his Paladins of Sanctos, each one the pinnacle of knightliness, the best, excepting of course when compared to each other, for they were all equals. Though, the Good Prince was a first amongst equals for he was so clearly superior to all of them. And in every way imaginable.
“O’ Captains … my Captains,” the Good Prince spoke, and because he wore a gleaming golden helm, and his perfect lips regrettably could not be seen to move beneath it — though it brings much pleasure to imagine them to do so — it seemed his voice thundered down from the very heavens above to grace the ears of the Good Captains like the Lord-God’s own voice might. Perhaps even more so? “See how the villains seek succour at the stone teat of their dark lord and master?”
The destriers bristled beneath the lobstered-steel legs of the Nine and scraped and kicked their spike-shod hooves in the dirt. Yea, verily, could they too smell the reek of evil wafting up from the town. But truly, to call it a town would be to disrespect all well-intentioned towns in the realms of Shagra’Lor. Call it rather, a shite-burgh, for that was what to all eyes indeed it appeared to be.
“I see naught but women and children, Milord.” Captain Illnius Rageheart squinted. “A few old men with rusted farming tools.”
“Yea … villains.” The Good Prince hefted his war hammer. “The one chance in their tragic lives to truly be purified, and yet they scurry like rats to their dark temple.”
“The temple ‘tis the sole structure not burning,” Captain Illnius explained. “And they cannot hide within the surrounding fields for we hath set those ablaze as well.”
“And what dark rites perform they behind yon scabrous walls, me wonders?” the Good Prince pondered.
“A wedding celebration, Milord,” Captain Illnius answered. “Before torching the eastern fields and after trampling a crippled waif — I espied a peasant maid in wedding garb at the Black Temple entrance—”
“A maiden fair, you sayeth!?” The Good Prince stood instantly erect in his saddle. “Set to marry against her will, no doubt? In yon temple? Yea, a beauty methinks?”
“Methinks it were good we espied her from afar, Milord,” Captain Illnius drew his sword, “for it were plain even at a distance she were far from good.”
“A maiden fair forced into a vile pact of forced matrimony, servitude, slavery,” the Good Prince growled. “No doubt she shall be forced to undergo the vilest of the Craven Lord’s dark breeding rituals. The forbidden practice of occult lustations. I … I shudder to think, to imagine, to picture — yes, Oh, yes, yes, YES! Picture in my mind’s eye the heinous crimes soon to be pene — perpetrated. Ahem. A dark priest no doubt is present to seal this corrupt bargain?”
“We espied a corpulent croaker priestess—”
“A dark-frog champion!?” the Good Prince roared, gripping Purity’s reigns so tight his arm shuddered. “We shall cleanse her with Sanctos’s holiest flame!”
“Shall we set a pyre, Milord?” Captain Illnius asked.
“Aye, Captain!” He lifted his burning war-hammer. “The whole temple shall be the pyre!”