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Library: The king's horse

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Author: lyriikka
Date:Feb 20 2005

Erkki was a stable boy in the Inn of Seven Stars. He was very big and sturdy
with a fair complexion. But on the head, he wasn't too well-endowed. He was
slow, if you want to say it politely. His parents had abandoned him when he
had been just a child, they had been from some distant northern country, whose
name nobody could remember. The innkeeper had hired him in hope of a cheap
diligent worker. He had not been disappointed. Erkki groomed and fed horses,
chopped wood, cleaned the inn and stables, fixed the roof and never
complained. Erkki called the innkeeper as "the master". In fact, if the
innkeeper would have wanted, he could have forced Erkki to do practically any
kind of slave work.

One evening, when Erkki was cleaning the common room of the inn, he saw seven
king's knights playing cards. He had always wanted to be a knight. He had seen
many knights in the inn. He had often dreamily gazed at their shining armours,
lethal swords, bright cloaks and helmets and best of all, the crimson red
ribbons the knights wore on their left arm. This evening, he decided to do
something else than just gaze and dream.

Erkki approached the knights.
"Good and fine evening mister knights", Erkki said.
Knights ignored him and continued their play and chatter, occasionally sipping
their beers. 
After some time standing at the table Erkki said to the knight closest to him
"Mister knight, could me play? Me am not very good at it and the master
doesn't let me use much of me money, but me have always wanted to play with
real knighties."
One of the knights glared him coldly and then yell to the innkeeper "Hey!
Where have you found this dumbass? It's got shit for brains." Then they all
chuckled. Even Erkki's master chuckled behind his bartable. 
"Please mister knighties! Let me play I really want to..." 
"Hey Erkki, I need some beer here!", someone called from the other side of the
common room.
Erkki turned quickly and carelessly and tipped one of the knight's tankards
over spilling beer and staining their bright cloaks.
"Now you have done it boy!", one of the knights shouted and stood up. Little
later they all stood up.

The knights dragged Erkki through the front door and behind the stables.
There, they beat him up bad hitting him many times in the head and back. Erkki
tried to cry for help and his master, but nobody came to aid him. He begged
for mercy but it was of no help. Then one the knights noticed the big dunghill
behind the stables. He padded his buddy's shoulder pointing at the big
dunghill. Soon Erkki was dragged towards the dunghill, his head was pushed
into fresh manure. Erkki coughed hard.
"Now, you eat shit!", he heard behind the hand that pushed his head into shit.
"No please mister", Erkki tried to plea.
Then he welt cold sharp edge pressing against the back of his neck. Even Erkki
was clever enough to know a sword edge when it was pressed against his neck.
"Eat shit, or die.", the voice reiterated.
Erkki succumbed and ate. It tasted bad and he vomitted many times. The knights
chuckled some more.

Eventually the knights left and returned into the inn. Erkki was left laying
on the dunghill, beaten and bleeding. He sobbed a bit but then gritted his
teeth. Then he heard somebody coming, a stamp of a horse. He looked up. It was
a man riding a brown horse with white patches, the man had fancy and colourful
clothes and a fancy hat with a feather. He was carrying a box with strings
under his other arm, it was some kind of thing which could be used to play
tunes. Erkki didn't know what it was called, although he had often seem them.
The man belonged to those who called themselves "bards".

"What we got here? A man in a state of misery, I see!", the man stated with a
witty grin. "Now how foul! Please, tell me what has happened to you poor man?"
Erkki stood up and feeling ashamed told the man all that had happened.
"Hmm...", the man pondered and stroked some tunes from his musical box "Hmm...
Maybe we could do something to help you..."
"Aha", he shouted and giggled insanely.
Then he jumped off his horse. "Now Erkki, you want to be a knight right?"
Erkki looked down and nodded.
"Good, see this horse here.", he patted his horse "It is not an ordinary
horse, its the king's horse. Do you know what it means?"
Erkki shook his head silently.
"It means, it can knight thee!"
Erkki looked at the bard and then at the horse "Really!" 
"Yes really! Its the king's horse, I'm on my way to return it to him.", the
bard said "Haven't you never heard about a knighting carried out by the king's
horse?"
Again Erkki shook his head.
"Now, lets make you a knight. Take a knee."
Erkki kneeled and the wierd man took something from his saddlebag. It was a
kettle. The man put the kettle on Erkki's head and then he tied a crimson red
ribbon, a strip from his bard cloak, similar to those worn by knights, on his
left arm.
"With the power of king's horse, you are now a knight. Stand up Sir Erkki."
"Really! Me am a real knight now?", Erkki asked anxiously.
"Yes", the man replied and jumped on to his horse. He started to play some
tune Erkki had never heard before. "I think you can now return to the inn and
ask to join their game." Then the bard rode off.

With the ribbon around his arm and the kettle on his head, Erkki returned to
the inn. Patrons smiled and chuckled at him when they saw the kettle and the
ribbon and the shit on Erkki's face. Erkki walked straight to the table where
the seven knights were playing.
"Khm, me wants to play the game now.", he said.
All seven knights peered at him in an amazement.
"Now listen to me boy, this is getting dangerous. Dangerous to you...", it was
probably the knight who had pushed his head into shit.
"Call me as Sir Erkki. Do not call me boy. Invite me to your came now.", Erkki
didn't know where the words were coming from.
All knights laughed jolly at him, the whole inn laughed. Then, the knight
closest to Erkki jumped up quickly and struck his fist straight into Erkki's
jaw. Erkki fell and the kettle on his head fell off. 
"Shut the fuck up.", the knight said.
Erkki stood up slowly in a state of tranquility and carefully picked up his
kettle. Then he walked out. Not saying a word, not looking back. The inn
looked him going and after he was gone, they all quickly returned into their
games and drinks.

Erkki walked straight towards the wood shed. He went in and took the big axe
he used to chop wood. He was feeling something he had never felt before. It
came from deep within. It was something... old and ancient from the past.
Seeing the logs in neat piles in the corner of the shed reminded him of big,
dark and green conifer forests he had seen somewhere. Erkki thought about the
crimson red ribbons the knights used, like the one he now had on his left arm.
Erkki thought red, saw red.

Gripping his axe tightly, he dashed straight through the inn's front door.
First knight didn't feel anything when Erkki sank his axe into his head.
"SAATANAN PERKELEET!", Erkki shouted. From where those words came, he did not
know.
The knights looked up, but before they could do anything two more of them had
met their maker. There were still four left and they scrambled up drawing
their swords. One of them plunged at Erkki, but Erkki grabbed his hand in the
middle of the strike and buried his axe into his groin. Other knight tried
circle around Erkki's back quickly turned around and stroke his thigh spraying
blood. An artery no doubt. The two knights left tried to gang up on him, but
Erkki quickly chopped other's head off breaking the knight's sword, which was
raised to parry, in the process. The one sole knight, probably the one with
the shit hand, decided to skip this battle and bolted to the front door.
The knight was dead before he even got to it.

Erkki made sure they were all dead. All the inn patrons had been looking all
that had happened in the inn. If they would have dared, their jaws would have
gaped wide open in astonishment. Erkki chopped all seven heads of the knights
off from their bodies and piled them onto the table they had used for their
play. One head for one star, "How fitting", Erkki thought.
"From now on, its Sir Erkki.", he muttered through his teeth. He tilted his
kettle straight and tightened his ribbon. 
Then he turned around and left the inn.

It was a new beginning for Erkki, Sir Erkki.
But for the seven knights, it was all too finnish now.




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