Daaskmere Monk

William of Meadowsford

Book Cover

arrowShawn Postoff

Copyright © 1997 - 2009
arrowInfinitive Ink Limited


XVIII ill title Humble Returns

'Twas long before mid-day we met the parade,
And counter its current we slowly did wade,
From time to time asking its people opaque
If Meadowsford members flowed after their wake.
Then still ‘ere the noon-time we spotted our flags,
Their bright colours shaming all others to rags,
And pushing then through the remains of the pile,
I rode up to Robert, relieved with a smile.
Dismounting our horses we moved to embrace,
And quick my return became known in the place.
Rejoicing was sounded and cheering was heard,
Then climbing to saddle we sent o’er the word
That later in evening, ‘round fire, I’d speak,
And tell of events that the list’ners did seek.

Then Wimstayme made passage to pull by our side,
And three of us slowly then forward did ride,
And I told them privately most that transpired:
The order of jousts and the place I’d acquired.
But never said sound of collision that morn
With Daask, the dark Dragon, his challenge and scorn.

“You tried,” came the comfort of Robert’s address.
“For this, I am proud that my colours you dress.
The winning’s worth only the skill of the sport,
But nobler is he who can lose and report
That still there is pride at the effort displayed,
Regardless of where in the rankings was made.”

“Good William,” said Wimstayme, “our gentle, young squire,
Your courage at trying I greatly admire.
So heighten your spirits, far worse could it be,
More fortunate findings we always can see.”
‘Twas then I decided the timing was ripe,
And shifted my voice to a noteworthy type.
I told of that son of the Anchorwae claim,
How speaking he spoke in his father’s high name,
To make an appeal for his master’s consent:
Devotion to Anchorwae loyally bent.

“But where was his context?” Sir Robert inquired.
“And what was the form of approval required?
Dids’t want my support to petition the king?
Dids’t wish a new battle-plan forward to bring?
Such words are more vague, to be fathomed and sure,
With Andrew my loyalties still shall endure.”

“Your words I expected,” I said in reply.
“Myself, I know not to what wish we’d comply
If Anchorwae’s words would be heeded and kept.
It seems from discretion has Anchorwae stepped.”

“Agreed,” came Sir Robert. “We’ll ponder’t no more.
Our journey approaches the battlefield shore.
And if you prove gallant, good William, my boy,
From there on the field will you knighthood enjoy.”

I smiled a simpler respect at his lines,
And tried to display me some happier signs.
But still from the deepest designs of my heart,
I sensed a new colour of doubt taking start.
‘Twas only the flash of a feeling it made,
Retreating as quickly as it did invade.
But most unmistakable meanings it held,
And thinking it over, anxiety swelled.
I wondered for only an instant of thought,
If knighthood was truly the lifeblood I sought.
I questioned the standards, the battles, the years
Demanded of training ere glory appears.
I wondered if all of my efforts were sunk,
If all of my faith in the Order was shrunk.
But quickly I banished these thoughts from my head:
Their consequence held an unspeakable dread.

So noon sank to vespers, and sunlight took leave,
The march was dispersed as came settling the eve.
And firelights blossomed to warm up the night,
Attracting the comp’ny that talk would invite.
My tale was unfolded ‘midst laughter and cheer,
And courtesy called for regret to appear
When I with conclusion then told of defeat
Against an opponent I thought I would beat.
“Unfortunate William,” came Michael’s consoles.
“A standing’s what Fate when in favour she doles.
Alas, if you’d only compete in my game,
You’d find there was more to distract you from shame:
A love of the ladies its champion imparts,
To joust with their wits for the prize of their hearts!”

The laughter exploded high into the night,
To warm the cool air ‘round the fire more bright.
But following fast on what Michael had spoke,
‘Twas Duncan who countered the spell of the joke:
“But Michael,” he said through a mischievous grin,
“I’d argue your games are flirtation with sin.
You master a maiden with words and more wine,
And wait for a damsel to dote as you dine,
Then singly explore one another your flesh,
Resolved in the morning for someone more fresh.
This game with which glorious colours you paint,
Is hardly artistic the work of a saint.”

More challenging laughter to Michael was made,
For truth brings to humour a loftier grade.
But smiling defiance was Michael’s retort,
No doubt he enjoyed this agreeable sport.
“The layers of love like an onion do peel,
And one who would woo what the heart can reveal
Should fully expect that each layer brings fear,
And causes the seer to shed her a tear.
But what is that crying? ‘Tis lust without flame,
That looks to the layers now scattered in shame
Around the warm bed and stripped off from her name.
Her love is not real, ‘tis revealed as a game.
So how can you say that a sinner am I?
With words and a barter some pleasure I buy.
And in the procurement there’s little I taint,
In fact, in my actions, I’m closer a saint!”

The laughter rang higher to hear these wrong words.
And Michael was loudest who laughed to the birds,
So christened was he a more jovial name,
That night, from the rowdies, “Saint Michael” he ‘came.

More topics were carried ‘cross hours of talk,
But soon in my bones I felt sleepiness stalk,
So kindly excused me from social affairs,
And stepped into dimness to say me some prayers.

“Dear God,” I entreated, “most infinite Height,
I ask you support me this delicate night.
Tho’ ne’er could I lie to my master and friends,
I struggle today with internal amends.
For Daask, I believe, when this morning he spoke,
Was trying to have me my passion provoke.
I know not how I should respond to his voice,
Must I now attack him, or have I a choice?
The battle is near, for the journey soon ends,
And then at his lair the Dragon defends.
This multitude eagerly waits for their fight,
But hesitate I with confusion tonight.
For also, I felt it, a struggle to hold,
A terrible doubt from an innermost fold.
A feeling that knighthood was worthless and cold,
Its path to be followed until I was old,
And only to find that my death would be naught,
With all of life’s battles most foolishly fought.
O God, I implore you, forbid me to lose
The faith I have held in this path I would choose.
And if misdirected my vision is placed,
Then light me the way of the righteous and graced!”

Those words off my heart and sent up to the sky,
I stripped off my clothes with a wearisome sigh.
And in the pale moonlight, I saw on my chest
A rash had appeared on the left of my breast.
‘Twas only a small patch of skin coloured dark,
From over my heart it had shaded its mark.
I fretted a time that my health was at risk,
But nothing was painful about the small disk.
A blemish was all it appeared to then mean,
So soon I forgot it; no more would be seen.
I lay on the grasses and settled to sleep,
Uncaring that ‘round me night’s creatures did creep.