Being proud of yourself even if you don’t get to the result you want (part 2)

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Table of Contents

Photo by Bence Balla-Schottner on Unsplash

That which is broken is not unfixable

The knight continued on the sandy road. Leaving the village behind him. The smoke in between the mountains wasn’t there anymore. He wondered if… “No that can’t be.” He shook the thought of his mind and galloped east. He soon left the grasslands behind him and entered the forest at the foot of the mountain. He knew there was a merchants outpost at the end of the forest, where the mountain roads begin. It was a place for merchants to rest after their long journey through the mountains. The knight would rest here one night so that he could fight the dragon when daylight hit. But he wasn’t there yet, the road was beaten and part of it had been flushed away by heavy rains. So the knight had to get off his horse and walk. If he stayed on her back they would slip off the road into a dazzling river, rushing from the mountain. At times the water bashed upon the rocks, splashing twice the length of the knight up into the sky. In the distance, the knight saw someone at the side of the road. He sat down against a tree looking around him. When he saw the knight he ran towards him. “My noble knight, would you be so kind to help me get my carriage fixed. The wheel broke off and all my wares have spilled out onto the muddy road. I gathered them but the car needs to be fixed to read the merchants village a few miles down the road.” The man sounded desperate, but the knight knew that the night would fall soon. He had a quest to fulfill, if he slayed the dragon they would not care if he left a common person in need of his help. He simply ignored the man and continued. He saw the broken carriage and the merchants ware spread out across the muddy road.

The road quickly improved and the knight hopped back onto his horse. He didn’t look back at the merchant. The merchant’s village wasn’t far from here. “HELP!! HELP!! GET OF ME” The merchant was screaming for help. The knight looked back at saw the merchant fighting off a bandit. The bandit was holding a long sword in his hand. Threatening to kill the merchant. The merchant seemed to be paralyzed by shock and held a small golden dagger in his hand. A simple weapon to kill silently but not a chance against the long sword of the bandit. The merchant knew this, he was a trader of weapons in his early days as a merchant. The knight quickly turned his horse around and galloped towards the merchant and the bandit. The horse pranced just in front of him. Kicking his feet at the bandit, just an inch away from hitting his face. The merchant got up from his fall and quickly kicked the bandits’ long sword out of his hand. The bandit was pulled out of his near-death experience and then stepped back making sure the horse couldn’t hit him anymore and rushed towards the merchant. He grabbed a dagger out of the back of his pants and held it to the throat of the merchant. “I want some money!” The bandit said in a raspy and squeaky voice. “Put the weapon away.” The knight said calmly, stepping off the back of his horse. “There is no need to kill a man for just some money.” The knight with a big heart reached into one of his saddlebags and pulled out a small brown leather satchel, held together by some string weaved through it.

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“If you let the merchant go, you can have my money. I don’t need it, but you do.” He said looking the merchant in the eyes, trying to comfort him, then quickly looking back at the bandit to see if he was lowering his weapon. He was. He was slowly removing his dagger from the through of the merchant, revealing a slight cut on the merchant’s neck. “Nothing to worry about,” the thief said when he saw the knight looking at the blood dripping from it. “I want that money, but how do I know you won’t fight me afterward?” The thief said doubtfully. “Throw the satchel on the ground right there.” And the merchant pointed with his foot to a place both outside of his reach and outside of the knights reach. So the knight threw it there. “There you go. I do not want to harm you. Just leave the merchant alone.” The thief lowered his weapon and rushed towards the satchel, dropping on his knees to pick it up. The knight raised his sword. The thief looked at him. In fear, thinking he had been betrayed. “Get up,” the knight said with his sword still raised.

The thief got up. The satchel with the coins in it ringed, because of the thief’s shaking hands. The knight made a step forward and the thief fell over backward. The knight pulled his sword back ever so slightly. In one swift motion, his sword glided through the air. Straight into his sword holster. He put his hand out to the thief and pulled him up. “If you need money, work for it.” The knight said. “The merchant worked for his fair share, now you have to do so too.” The thief dropped to his knees again and thanked the knight for sparing his life. He then looked at the merchant and said. “Let me help you fix your car. I’ve been a carpenter and smiths apprentice so I know a fair bit about building and restoring things.” Said the thief. The merchant was hesitant. “I… I don’t… I don’t know about this.” He stumbled looking at the knight for any support on the matter. But the knight was busy closing his saddlebag. “But I guess you won’t try to rob me a second time now you got the money, right?” The merchant laughed nervously.

The merchant thanked the knight as he rode off towards the merchants’ village. The night fell as he entered the village. Another day had passed. Another chance to kill the dragon gone. He looked up at the mountain and saw no sign of the dragon. There was no smoke rising into the sky or roars of the dragon echoing through the valley. Tomorrow was his day, he hoped the dragon was weakening so that the kill would be easier for himself.

No fair fight

The next morning, far before the village was awake, the knight with a big heart rode out of the village. Up into the mountains. He sharpened his sword, last knight. Tightened his armor and made sure his shield was not cracked. The entire road up into the mountains was silent. There was no echo of a dragon, no other knights, nor smoke or burned trees on the side of the mountain. It was as if there was no dragon at all. The dragon would be easy to find. It was a large, beast hidden on the highest point of the mountain. He had almost reached that place. So he got off his horse and tied it to a mountain tree. He grabbed his shield and sword and tied those to his back and middle. If he got back he knew the horse would be here, but if he didn’t come back the horse could easily pull itself free from the tree so it could go back to the merchants’ village and serve another master.

The knight climbed some rocks and noticed there were other horses on different roads towards the mountain peak. There must be other knights he thought. As he climbed up onto the highest rock and looked down he saw a big open space in the middle of the mountains. A flat service almost magically appeared in the middle of the mountains. He wasn’t the only one. Multiple knights stood around the open plateau in the mountain. Looking down. He looked down and saw…

The dragon, still. Not moving. “Was it dead? Was it sleeping? Why didn’t these knights fight it?” And as he thought all these thoughts a knight walked from behind the dragon. With his arms spread wide into the air, in one he held his sword covered in black blood, and in the other, he held his shield undamaged, even the paint was untouched. He… He killed the dragon. “But… How… How…” the knight didn’t know what to say or think. He looked at the other knight who killed the dragon. “How could this have happened?” Then the knight knew. He got furious. “It was because of the old lady, the merchant, and the thief. He had to stop for them and help them. These knights probably just went by them and didn’t help them. They just rode off with one goal, and one goal only. To kill the damn beast. The knight turned around and threw his shield away. He didn’t deserve the title of a knight. He had lost his honor, and couldn’t be proud of himself.

The way down

The way back down from the mountain was long. He spends most of the time in agony of himself. Why did he help all these people on the road when he could have just rode on and killed that dragon in a day. The knight got back at the merchants’ town. He decided to spend the rest of the day there before making his way back to the kingdom. He road past the market square. A chicken was running around freely and merchants screaming out to get customers to their stands. In the middle of the square, he saw the merchant he helped. He had cleaned his merchandise and was selling it to the people in the village. On the other side of the square, a man came running in. It was the thief again. He ran straight to the merchants’ stall. The knight jumped off his horse and rushed to the merchants’ stall as well. Trying to stop the thief from grabbing some of his merchandise and disappearing into the crowd. The knight kept his gaze at the stall and the thief, but the thief slowed down. He didn’t run anymore. He walked around the stall and… “wait did he just see that?” The thief stood next to the merchant and was talking to villagers as well. The two-man were working together. As a team. Instead of enemies of one another.

The knight with a big heart smiled. For a moment he forgot that he had lost his sense of pride and honor for not killing the dragon. By now he felt proud for helping the merchant and the thief, he had helped them move on in their lives. The merchant saw the knight and waved at him joyfully. The knight raised his hand and smiled back at the merchant. He then turned around and found a place to spend the night just outside the merchants’ village.

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Honer and pride in helping others

The next morning the sun had been up for hours already when the knight woke. It was about midday, but he had been beaten by his journey and the long days he had made. Today he would ride off for his kingdom, knowing that the king would be disappointed and he would spend the rest of his days as an ordinary knight.

He left the forest behind him again and the grasslands showed itself. He had only been gone for three days but he missed the sight of this vast landscape. He had to go through the farmers’ village again. But this time the village wasn’t mostly empty. The people had come out and huddled around the house he had stayed in when he passed through here the first time. They were waiting outside the old lady at her house. The door to the house opened and there was the old lady again. She instantly saw the knight and smiled. She waved at him and gestured to him to come inside. She pushed her way through the crowd of people waiting. “I am so glad to see you!” She said when she stood before the knight again. “What are all these people doing here?” The knight asked her. “They are all waiting here because of you.” She added. “I know you hated to water the crops but I couldn’t do it anymore. I am getting too old. But I saw that without water the crops would die and we would have no food. But then you came by, on your mighty quest to kill a dragon. But what is more important is that you saved the village from starving by simply taking a day to water the crops.” The lady hugged the cold armor of the knight and the knight put her arms around the old lady. “So tell me, did you kill that dragon of your?”

The knight looked down at the ground and didn’t say a thing. “Good, good” the lady said. “But I didn’t kill it?” The knight said confused. “I know that my dear boy. But you have learned something far greater than killing your dragon. Haven’t you?” She giggled and walked away. Pushing through the villagers again making her way inside to hand out food to all of them. The knight stood there, confused. “What had he learned from not killing the dragon? He was a failure.” He waited outside for all the people to go away, and then made his way to the house. He knocked on the door and the old lady opened. “Oh, what a delight to see you my boy” she made a small skip into the air like a little child. “Stew is all ready for you. So sit down, sit down.” She said happily.

The two sat down at the table, just like a few days ago. They both ate their stew from the two rose bowls. The knight didn’t dare to ask the old lady what she had meant when she said to him “you have learned something far better haven’t you?” The old lady saw that the knight was thinking. “Tell me, boy. What’s on your mind?” She felt like a mother to him. “I just don’t know what I could have learned from not killing a dragon? My quest was to kill that beast and I failed.” The knight said. “Have you?” The old lady said. “Have you failed as a knight? Or have you proven to be the best of them all?” She asked him. “I haven’t done my duty, I didn’t kill the dragon how could I not have failed?” The knight replied. “Didn’t the other knights rode by people in need, just to kill that dragon? And what have they now? Fame? A title? Wealth? But have they grown as a knight?” She looked seriously at the knight and raised one of her eyebrows. But the knight didn’t answer. “They are the selfish, not true knight. They think killing that dragon is a good act, an act for the people. But in truth, it is a selfish act. They are proud of themselves even though they don’t deserve it. But you. You, my dear boy, you held your oath. You can be proud of yourself. You haven’t proven to be strong in your physical strenght. You haven’t proven to be a strong knight, killing dragons and winning battles.” The knight felt ashamed as the lady said this to him. “No, you have proven something far more important. You have proven to help those in need. You have proven to be brave of heart to neglect your duty to kill the dragon so you could help common people. That is a true act of knighthood. That is true honer. You, my dear boy, can be proud of yourself.” The knight didn’t understand. He hadn’t killed the dragon how could he be proud of watering plants and helping a merchant? The old lady got up and grabbed something from a small cabinet. “This is for you.” She said holding a pin with a red rose on it. It was a medal of the brave rose knights.

“This belonged to my husband, but he is no longer, and I think you deserve it more than he does. Honer and pride are not found in killing a dragon but in helping those who need it most. By doing a selfless act instead of a selfish act.”

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