the knight’s tale



The Goods

If history repeats itself, the future may come more than once.

In lore, they were called the Fifth Horsemen—the ones to slay the other four. After the terrors of pestilence, war, famine and death, it was the Pelagian knight who held the thin line of civilization and offered esperance to the survivors. But, in truth, it was something more grand. It was ordinary men, ordered to kneel, who chose to stand.

“Governments are by nature political. They are the product of expedience, convenience and compromise, not of principle. Governments are naturally malignant. They serve themselves first. They seduce the weak by promising what is not theirs to give. They grow for their own benefit. The Pelagian stands in the way of that bane. A Pelagian knight lives by principle, not politics. Governments fear us, but they accept us out of necessity. Most do, though this will not always be the case. It is a conflict that is meant to be. Perhaps without end. But the darkness of the Elide must never come again. It is ours to do battle on that sacred ground, so that others may live in peace and lie safely in their beds at night to dream their dreams…I live as a free man. I die as a free man. My liberty is my life. I shall not complain. I shall feast!”

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Sunday, June 6, 2162

The last dark of night stole shape and substance from the shadows beneath the pine. A first waking of birds tested the air. The muffled crack of a limb, twisted by the gentle fingering of a cool draft, and the drop of a pinecone onto the thick mat of fallen needles went unnoticed by horse or man. But another sound, no more than an insect against the first soft bluster of oncoming dawn, pestered the larger silence.

One eye opened. Through a gray wisp off the ashes of his campfire, John looked toward Rosie. Wide-eyed, ears erect and turning nervously, she backed against her tether, snorted, and returned his stare. John slipped a hand forward in his sleepsack to his gun, shifting the clasp with his thumb. A gathering chorus of catbirds, warblers and cardinals further tattered the quiet. Calculating that the lingering dark would hide the movement, John turned his head just enough against the undermat to better hear. Rosie saw his attention and stood still. The only odor he noticed was the warm whiff of insect repellent from within the sleepsack. A pine knot, still smoldering at the center of the ashes, began to buzz like a fly. But above that faint noise, there was another sound. A vibrating. Metallic.

A drone perhaps?

No. More distant. An engine.

John sat up.

To the east, through the pine growth just beyond his campsite, where granite teeth abruptly opened the great black maw of an old quarry, the land fell away from the wood to the uppermost edge of a crimson ball of sun just breaking the dark rim of the Earth. The noise was away, from the southwest. The vibration became a chatter, growing louder, coming on toward him at a great pace.

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