The Night Knight

The legends of the Hero of the Night were well known throughout the Kingdom of Trifling. The bards would sing of this hero to the joy of tavern crowds even in the most rustic village. Tales of his exploits were told around campfires for any who dared travel between the settled areas where safety reigned. The tales told of a fierce warrior who knew no fear. He would single-handedly take on armies; he slayed the mightiest of beasts with his bare hands. None knew who he was, or even what he looked like, for he always wore an armor suit of the darkest black, and he was seldom seen in the daylight. It was as if he only journeyed at night. Thus he was commonly known as … The Night Knight.

As with most legends of heroes renowned … the people got almost all of the facts wrong.

Edgar Von Grandlittle the Fifth was a humble soul, despite the grandeur of his name. He was never quite clear on why he was called Edgar the Fifth, considering his father’s name was Jerome, and his grandfather was Charles. As far as he knew, he was in fact the first Edgar in his family. But if he ever questioned his name, his whole family would make life so unbearable that it was simpler to accept his label as given. His family was definitely on the eccentric side, though in general their hearts were in the right place. He grew up in a comfortable cottage on the outskirts of the Township called Ambiguitee. The cottage was not overly large, but at the insistence of his family it was referred to as The Manor, and for a reason he never quite figured out, the townsfolk agreed to do so. The Von Grandlittle family were viewed as royalty in the region, despite all evidence to the contrary. Again asking why was a sure path to discomfort. So Edgar went through life being treated like a king, or at least a distant cousin of a King, when in his heart he was no more than the average surf. The family survived on this appearance of royalty, another mystery to Edgar’s questioning mind. Somehow they never lacked for the necessities, despite no one actually working, or even gathering by other means as far as Edgar could tell. All in all, the whole situation was a complete mystery to Edgar. Having learned quickly that questioning always ended in misery for himself, he grew to simply accept things as they appeared to be.

Though a competent man, Edgar had not truly mastered any skill. He was supposed to have all the merits of a royal uprising, but as long as he APPEARED to have the many required skills, his family was content. Thus Edgar could seem quite the Renaissance Man (or would if such a term existed in the land), yet in his own mind he was just someone who stumbled by … emphasis on “stumble”.

It so happened that, thanks to an indelicate remark at a dinner party, the Kingdom of Trifling had declared war on its much larger neighbor, the Realm of Distrait. Most deemed this a rather unwise move, but most had no say in the matter. The Trifling Army was not all that large, adding to the foolishness of declaring war on a larger, well established military, but Kings will be Kings. So a call to arms was … um … called, which essentially required all able-bodied men of the region gather up whatever could reasonably called a weapon and make a mad dash to the border with Distrait. Obviously any Royals would lead the rabble, usually from behind. It was also a given that said royals would have the best armor and weapons. Since the Von Grandlittle’s were the “royals” of the region, they were expected to gather the local draftees and head on over for the fun. Somehow, all the “able-bodied” males in Edgar’s family suddenly came down with “fatal” ailments, resulting in Edgar being the valiant “leader” of a crowd of very confused and scared farmers carrying pitchforks and farm implements to a seemingly reason-less war. Edgar being the non-royal royalty he was had a rather large kitchen knife that could be confused with a sword if the light were right and the viewer was rather near-sighted. Concerned for his safety (sort of), his mother insisted he strap some dinner trays … so tarnished as to appear black … on his front and back for protection. A small black bucket as a helmet finished off his “armor”.

Trifling really was not a big kingdom at all. By the standards of Distrait, it was no more than a large backyard to some rich man’s mansion. Thus, even traveling by foot, it would only take a few days for the Trifling army to gather from its various villages. Edgar was more than happy to walk along with his fellows, but they insisted that their glorious leader be mounted, so he ended up on a shaggy  mule whose attitude matched his looks. Edgar often found himself trotting to keep up with his slowly shambling squad thanks to the mule suddenly wandering off after something to nibble on. Since none of the farmers really knew the land beyond their village (any more than Edgar did), they ended having to frequently ask directions. This resulted in them arriving at the designated battle area much later than most. It was well after dark when they made their final approach. Fortunately no starting time for the battle had been set yet, and with chivalry and all that it would likely be a morning thing.

The night was a rather dark one, made darker by a sudden fog. Edgar’s mule decided to wander even as his squad approached the camp. Thus he found himself alone, lost in the woods, not quite sure what direction to go in. He just ambled along, until he caught sight of fires in the distance. Getting a measure of control back from the mule, he headed towards the fires. As he got closer, he was startled by the sound of a young girl’s scream, soon followed by said young girl running right in front of him, chased by a  … something. This caused him to jump, resulting in him falling off the mule. He landed right in front of the creature that was chasing the girl, which hissed at him and reversed course, scampering off into the darkness. Edgar thought it might have been a raccoon. The running girl stopped, and squinted in his direction. Edgar realized that his dark “armor” combined with equally dark leggings must have made him somewhat difficult to see on the foggy night. The girl said, “Thank you strange knight, for slaying that horrid beast!” Yelping with glee, she continued, “You did not even raise a weapon!” Before he could say anything, she ran off back in the direction she had come from, towards the fires.

Edgar shrugged, and managed to find his wandering mule. He was soon heading in the same direction the girl had run. As he approached he could hear a high-pitched voice regaling a mumbling crowd with a story of being chased by a dragon, only to be saved at the last minute by a dark armored warrior who slew the dragon with only his hands. He soon could see the crowd, the little girl at the center of a ring of well armored knights, most seeming amused by her tale. As he approached, she caught sight of him, and squealed. “There he is papa! There is the Night Knight!”

The man she called Papa seemed the leader of the gathered knights based on the deference that was paid to him. He turned, the amused look on his face growing as he caught site of Edgar. With a fatherly smile aimed at the girl, he said, “Thank you for saving the Princess Sir Knight! How may we reward you? And how might you be called?”

Edgar was nonplussed. It seemed that he was being addressed by the king. He stumbled off his mule, tripped into a bow, and then hesitantly said, “I am really no one your highness. And I have done nothing of note.” The princess frowned and looked pleadingly at her father, insisting he reward her hero.

The king’s smile lessened only slightly. “Surely the princess could not be mistaken. Come man, humility aside, name your reward.”

Edgar thought for a moment, not sure what to say. Sudden inspiration hit, and he said, “If it would please your highness, maybe you could excuse my small town from fighting in this battle. They are but unprepared farmers, and they could be no match for soldiers such as I see before me. Spare their lives, and I will consider myself rewarded.”

The king looked totally startled. Then a look of understanding brightened his face even more. “You are from Trifling,” he stated. “Is this who we have to battle? That fool! All this over a poor choice of words!” He looked around at the soldiers surrounding him. “We leave the field tonight! This ‘war’ will not be fought. I will not slaughter untrained innocents over the sullied pride of a foolish man!”  Looking back at Edgar, he more sedately said, “You are a wise and noble man, Sir Knight. You have saved your kingdom, even if your king does not deserve it. We will make sure that your worth is spread throughout the wide lands. But YOUR camp is that way.” He pointed off in the distance, where Edgar could see another set of fires. He mounted his mule, preparing to head over to his countrymen, as the camp was suddenly awash with activity. None of the Distrait soldiers seemed to notice him anymore.

Just as he started moving, a small hand on his leg stopped him. “Night, night, Night Knight!” she said, and then ran off after her father.