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The Knight in Rusty Armor
....This is a lighthearted tale of a desperate knight in search of his true self. His journey reflects our own - filled with hope and despair, belief and disillusionment, laughter and tears. ....Anyone who has ever struggled with the meaning of life and love will discover profound wisdom and truth as this delightful fantasy unfolds. ....The Knight is an experience that will expand your mind, touch your heart, and nourish your soul. ....The first chapter sets up the story, and from there, it's hard to stop reading this short story.
1 The Knight’s Dilemma 2 In Merlin’s Woods 3 The Path of Truth 4 The Castle of Silence 5 The Castle of Knowledge 6 The Castle of Will and Daring 7 The Summit of Truth
5 10 16 21 27 35 37
Chapter 1 The Knight's Dilemma .
.."That's not true." answered the knight. dragon to be slain...One afternoon. slaying dragons. there lived a knight who thought of himself as good. "was the idea of rescuing me. kind and loving knights do.. ... golden-haired son. the knight usually delivered monologues on his exploits..." . which was no easy feat. "I think you love your armor more than you love me. Juliet confronted her husband. and you don't really love me now. . I have to be ready to mount my horse and ride off in any direction. that sometimes he would ride off in several directions at once. one can't please everybody. ." she would sigh.. After a time. who he hoped would grow up to be a courageous knight. and loving.This knight was famous for his armor. Juliet and Christopher were seldom able to get a word in edgewise. .. Christopher said to his mother. the knight shut it out either by closing his visor or by abruptly going to sleep... who wrote beautiful poetry. He fought foes who were bad. Juliet..One day." . .Occasionally. he had the annoying habit of rescuing damsels even if they did not want to be rescued...." said Juliet. So eager was he.Once a long time ago. He did all the things that good.."I do love you."Then take off that armor so that I can see who you really are!" she demanded.. and ride off in any direction.. She was growing impatient with having only a painting to remind her of her husband's face.." .. mean and hateful.When he was at home and not completely preoccupied with his armor.. Gradually his family forgot how he looked without it... After all... Juliet would lead the boy to the fireplace and point above it to a portait of the knight. ." insisted the knight. and rescuing damsels. When this happened. He also had a young. and had a penchant for wine. peering through his visor so that she could see his eyes.For years this knight strove to be the number one knight in all the kingdom. the knight would eagerly don his shining armor... or damsel to be rescued. "There's your father... Christopher. in a land far away.. so."What you loved. because when not fighting battles. When they did.. "Didn't I love you enough to rescue you from that dragon and set you up in this classy castle with wall-to-wall stones?" . When the knight business was slow."I can't take it off. ... As time went on. he was occupied with trying on his armor and admiring its brilliance."You can't have everything!" snapped Juliet. while contemplating the portait.. kind. although many ladies were grateful to him. Christopher would ask his mother what his father looked like. It reflected such bright rays of light that villagers would swear they had seen the sun rise in the north or set in the east when the knight rode off to battle. and she was tired from having her sleep distrubed by the clanking of armor.... . mount his horse.... in fact. hugging her clumsily in his cold. This he accepted philosophically. said clever things. You didn't really love me then. the knight became so enamored of his armor that he began wearing it to dinner and often to bed. stiff armor and nearly breaking her ribs. he didn't bother to take it off at all. At the mere mention of a crusade. . And he rode off to battle frequently.Juliet and Christopher saw little of the knight. just as many were furious with him.. . "I wish I could see Father in person. He slew dragons and rescued fair damsels in distress.The knight had a faithful and somewhat tolerant wife." explained the knight.. . There was always another battle to be won..
" quipped the smith with his usual tact... He loved his wife and his son and his classy castle. who normally enjoyed bantering."If you don't take off that armor. his armor kept him from feeling much of anything. who could? . . glowered.The knight. I'm stuck in this armor.. . but he also loved his armor because it showed everyone who he was . too.Reluctantly. Though he tugged on the visor again and again. Come back tomorrow after I'm rested. he tried lifting his visor but.. . the smith was shaping a horseshoe with his bare hands. and riding out of your life. nothing happened. he hurried to the blacksmith's shop in the castle courtyard. In fact. ..The knight felt nothing. momentarily forgetting the knight was his master. "I'm in no mood for your wisecracks right now.. swinging a nearby hammer with vengeance and bringing it down squarely on the knight's helmet."With pleasure. Juliet became increasingly annoyed as she pushed bits of food she had mashed through the holes in the knight's visor... the knight reached up to remove his helmet. but it didn't budge! He pulled harder.... The blow didn't even make a dent. when he thought about it. He had opened it regularly to eat and drink..Well.. If he couldn't shuck the knight out of his armor. "I have a problem.. Finally he came to a decision.The knight paced back and forth in great agitation. but the visor was another matter. When he arrived. .. the smith sensed the knight's panic and grew sympathetic.. sire." .. continuing to wear the armor wasn't worth losing Juliet and Christopher.." .The knight was distraught. except when his big toe was crushed. the knight told Juliet that the blacksmith had tried to split open the armor but had failed." .. . .The knight was in turmoil. that was stuck.Suddenly the knight had an idea.. "You have a tough plight.. but don't give up. The helmet didn't budge. unaware that the smith obliged out of anger."I don't believe you. The smith was by far the strongest man in the kingdom. and he had worn it for so long now that he'd forgotten how things felt without it. Without saying where he was going. getting on my horse.The smith let out a howl and....Being a kind man.. .. Why didn't Juliet realize that he was any of these things? .. He didn't want Juliet to leave." said the knight. he had lifted it just that morning over a breakfast of scrambled eggs and suckling pig."Try again. alas.. Why. You caught me at the end of a hard day..... . The knight felt only a twinge of discomfort."You are a problem. . kind..."Smith." he bellowed as he stamped his steelclad foot.a good. as she smashed her half-full plate of pigeon stew on his helmet.... How could this have happened? Perhaps it was not so surprising to find the helmet stuck since he had not removed it for years.. Partway through the meal. this was a real blow to the knight.." the smith agreed.." ordered the knight. It held fast. accidentally bringing it down on the smith's big toe. dealt him a smashing blow to the helmet.. Dismayed....Dinner time that evening was difficult. you clanking clod!" she shouted.. .. Knight.... He had barely felt the smith's hammer that afternoon either. and loving knight. I'm taking Christopher.. . Only when gravy began dripping down past the eyeholes in his visor did he realize that he'd been hit on the head.
. .... indeed! You can't even break open this steel junkyard!" the knight yelled in frustration. "Strongest man in the kingdom.. and funny little puppets that he used to amusingly insult his audiences. playing a reed flute. Christopher. the knight stopped to say goodbye to the king.On his way out of the province. Each day the knight grew more despondent and Juliet grew colder. . you'll be delayed. "I came to say farewell to the king.. He also feared that if he didn't get his armor off soon.When the knight returned home.... ...To you there's nothing he can say.. He knew that any knight who would even think of melting his armor off with a castle torch. ... . "You did it for yourself!" . . over his shoulder." he sighed. He had to get the armor off." . How else could I get nice castles and horses for you and Christopher?" .. the knight decided to search in other lands.. Somewhere there must be someone who can help me get this armor off.. but he didn't know how to do it."Where has he gone?" asked the knight.. one willing to remove his armor at bedtime and to be more of a father to Christopher... As the knight rode across the drawbridge and into the courtyard. . Nevertheless. he saw the court jester sitting cross-legged. I've mashed my very last mutton chop!" .. he got onto his horse. Juliet shrieked at him..." .... brightly colored beads that he made appear and disappear...Finally." said the knight.The knight was upset that Juliet didn't believe he was trying to get his armor off.. He didn't dare look back for fear he might change his mind...Of course."It's not my fault that I got stuck in this armor. .. "Oh.The knight dismissed one idea after another as being unlikely to work. he would miss Juliet. Some of the plans were downright dangerous. . I'm never pushing food through the holes of that wretched thing again. who had been very good to him. "I could starve to death in this armor by the time the king returns. Unable to find aid in his own kingdom.... The king lived in a grand castle atop a hill in the high-rent district. early one morning.."He's taken off on a new crusade..The jester was called Gladbag because."You didn't do it for us.... and he rode away.... so.The knight was sick at heart that his wife didn't seem to love him anymore. Juliet and Christopher would really leave.."Hi. or blasting it off with a cannon was badly in need of help. he thought.The jester looked up. Gladbag. There were strange cards that he used to tell people's fortunes.. "Your son has nothing but a portrait for a father.. freezing it off by jumping into an icy moat. and his classy castle." argued Juliet.. the knight had to go. and they kept at it for many more days without success." The knight felt .. . the knight had to admit that the smith's efforts were useless. I might never see him again.." .The knight was disappointed that he had missed the king and perturbed that he couldn't join him on the crusade. I had to wear it so that i would always be ready for battle..If you wait for him. . he carried a beautiful rainbow-colored bag filled with all sorts of things that made people laugh or smile. and I'm tired of talking to a closed visor. "The king has up and gone away. He and the smith had tried.. He also feared that in his absence Juliet might find love with another knight..
and with new hope in his heart.."When the armor's gone from you. "Merlin and Arthur lived long ago."You'd sing a different tune if you were the one stuck in here... or years." ..Gladbad yelped. ."I can't wait for Merlin to show up. the knight kneed his mount forward to leave." ...."Yes. lyrical voice...you'll feel the pain of others...when the pupil is ready.. weeks.This Merlin I know is one and the same.. .. to bring the real you into sight."One never knows be it days."But those woods are so big."Well..." With that...... "Can't you take someone's problem seriously for once?" .. excitedly.... "How will I find him in there?" . ......" . but Gladbag called after him: .." Gladbag rubbed his bruised fingers. . The knight quickly released the jester's hand."Problems never set me a-rockin'..very much like slumping in his saddle. I have to find a way to get out of this armor."It's true. .They're opportunities a-knockin'" . "You know someone who can get me out of this armor? Who is it?" ." said the knight...." .Then you'll discover how to be free. "Sorry.."We're all stuck in armor of a kind....... galloped away to find Merlin. nearly crushing the jester's fingers with his gauntlet..All your might can't solve your plight. He reached out and shook Gladbag's hand in gratitude..... yet he's alive and well.." said the knight.In a clear. his armor wouldn't let him.. ." .. knight.. The knight pulled his horse to a stop and... I'm going to look for him."There is one who can help you."But that can't be!" exclaimed the knight..." ..."Merlin? The only Merlin I've ever heard of is the great and wise teacher of King Arthur..In yonder woods the sage doth dwell.." growled the knight......"Merlin the Magician you must see. that's his claim to fame.. too... of course.. . he turned back to Gladbag..... yes."I don't have time to stay and listen to your nonsense." .." barked the knight.. Gladbag sang: .."I'm in no mood for your insulting rhymes. but.Gladbag retorted: .Gladbag smiled.. . the teacher appears.." .Gladbag replied: .."I'm off!" said the knight... . ..Yours is merely easier to find. stiffening in his armor. He wheeled his horse around. aren't you a silly sight? . ....." . ......." . .
Chapter 2 In Merlin's Woods .
As if that weren't bad enough... "you will never again have to climb on your horse and ride off in all directions. his armor squeaking as he did. that is why you put on the armor in the first place."What does that mean?" snapped the knight. He was sitting under a tree.. The knight couldn't tell north from south or east from west... That was the morning he found Merlin.When the knight awakened.... .. he woke up feeling weaker than usual and a little peculiar.... . night after night.It was no easy task to find the wily wizard.." said Merlin. How could all these animals find Merlin so easily when it was so hard for me? ... Animals of the forest were gathered around him. "I didn't come all this way to be insulted." he commented.The knight didn't bother to deny this.. This made eating a game of Russian roulette.After months of searching in vain.. and birds were perched on his shoulders and arms. "Drink this. he almost drowned. "You are most fortunate.. clothed in a long white robe. He still hadn't found Merlin even though he'd traveled many leagues... He'd always thought of himself as very smart..." said the knight .The knight didn't much like this remark either.....The knight stiffened. What made him feel worse was the fact that he didn't even know how far a league was. the knight realized there were many things he didn't know... his horse could.. biting off a piece of carrot and sharing it with the nearest rabbit..As he rode through the woods alone."What is it?" asked the knight. becoming weaker and weaker. Drinking was no less hazardous.....One morning." corrected Merlin. but he was too weak from hunger and thirst to climb back on his horse and ride away. . Merlin held out a silver cup with a strangecolored liquid in it." he ordered. .. The knight recognized the magician at once." said Merlin..." ."All your life..Wearily. eyeing the cup suspiciously. There were many woods to search but only one Merlin. .The knight was too tired to question this.. Somehow. "I've been looking for you." ."I'm going to stay only long enough to learn how to get out of this armor.Reluctantly he admitted to himself that he didn't even know the poisonous berries from the edible ones. he felt comforted and fell promptly asleep."Perhaps you have always taken the truth to be an insult. sharing the carrot with some of the other animals. Twice... Merlin looked at him compassionately.. Instead. he saw Merlin and the animals all around him. he had been lost since entering the woods. .." he said to the magician. but his helmet filled up with water...."You are so afraid.." .. So the poor knight rode on." .The knight shook his head glumly from side to side.. . the knight climbed down from his horse. for he was too thirsty. the knight was quite discouraged.." . but he didn't feel very smart at all trying to survive in the woods. ... .. "A person cannot run and also learn. ..... Fortunately. "Of course." stated Merlin. . but he was too weak. day after day. "I've been lost for months..Merlin smiled in reply. ."When you learn that. He tried to sit up.. he dropped his metalencased body onto the grass. The knight tried sticking his head into a stream." . He must stay in one place for a while. "You are too weak to run.
" .."But how can you still be alive? Arthur lived eons ago!" exclaimed the knight. Waiting until Merlin had finished playing "Hark Ye the Days of Old......" Merlin said. and the last swallows quite delicious. When Knights Were Bold and Maidens Were Cold.... Have you ever asked yourself why?" ."Why?" . Slowly the knight grew stronger. ..." He plucked a reed."All right. . the animals and the knight were listening to the magician play the latest troubadour hits on his lute. I'll drink it. then pushed the pieces through the knight's visor.." replied Merlin. and Merlin gave him large cups of Life to drink through the straw. the knight handed the cup back to Merlin."What is it?" asked the knight. "Were you really the teacher of King Arthur?" . was it not pleasant?" . and slipped the other into one of the holes in the knight's visor." .."I will not. He wasn't used to thinking in this manner."I call it a straw.The knight shrugged and sipped the liquid through the reed.." Merlin said..With that. ..." Merlin replied... and the last swallows were quite delicious.. Merlin replied..... the later ones more pleasant. "You should put that stuff on the market. Grateful.. The first sips seemed bitter. At this point.. .... and he began to feel more hopeful."Life..."Why not?" . The rabbits did the same thing with carrots.. . the magician clapped his hands....."That was when you began to accept what you were drinking."Is it not?" replied Merlin.... "Did it not first seem bitter.. but what else could a knight who was stuck in his armor in the woods possibly do? ."Ah. Each squirrel climbed up onto the knight's shoulder.... holding nuts in their little mouths.." .. put one end in the cup.."This is a great idea!" said the knight.The knight nodded....The animals fed the knight regularly.... .. "It is too precious to waste. ."You will be able to think more clearly when you regain your strength." Merlin just smiled.. . and the squirrels.."Why not?" retorted the knight irritably... .. and the deer crushed roots and berries for the knight to eat. his head was beginning to hurt."Life?" .." . he asked Merlin the same question: "When will I get out of this armor?" Each day... Pour it into my visor. You cannot get out of it just like that..One night..... lined up in front of the knight.." said Merlin. . raising an eyebrow in amusement.. I taught Arthur. "Yes.. .Each day. "Yes.." said the wise magician. . You put it on yourself. then as you tasted more of it...The magician's face lit up.." he said. ."Yes. cracked and chewed a nut.. This method of feeding would never be endorsed by the health department." the knight asked a question long on his mind."Do you expect me to accept all this heavy armor?" .. "you were not born with that armor."Are you saying that life is good when you accept it?" asked the knight. "Patience! You have been wearing that armor for a long time. You could sell flagons of it..
invisible power that is the origin of all...."Huh?" The knight peered down to the side and noticed a little squirrel sitting beside him. Her tail was hidden from sight.. he blurted out."Oh. Then he remembered something that Merlin had said to him when he first arrived......."Why do you always answer a question with another question?" ..."What do you think?" Merlin replied.. "I don't have to stay here and talk to you. and future are all one when you are connected to the Source.."I don't doubt that...."No. present.he drifted off to sleep. "Otherwise.The following morning. Suddenly."I have a very good mind.."Isn't everybody?" ..... I can't see very well with this visor in my way. "Sometimes he really gets under my armor!" .. . ."A tribute to my good nature. "considering that you sat on my tail." .. you and I are talking!" .."It is the mysterious... kind... . and loving?" .... the knight plunked his burdened body down under a tree to comtemplate the magician's questions. ." added Merlin.... but your mind is limited.. excuse me!" said the knight.. That is." argued the knight.....With a thud..." added Merlin. quickly moving his leg so that the squirrel could reclaim her tail... . . cursing Merlin under his breath. "It trapped you in all that armor. "That Merlin!" he muttered.." ." .. . "that I'm not good.. and loving? He decided to ask Merlin.. "You once said that I put on this armor because I was afraid." ." he said aloud to no one in particular. kind... .." ..."Is that not true?" responded Merlin..." groused the knight. "I hope I didn't hurt you. "That is because you are trying to understand with your mind.."If you really were good.." .. . he could see most of the squirrel." ... ..."Past.."I had to prove that I was a good. he awakened with an odd thought stuck in his mind: Was it possible that he was not good."The only thing that irritates me more than a smart-aleck magician is a smartaleck squirrel..What did he think? "Could it be...The knight could not refute this..."Could be." replied the squirrel without any resentment in her voice."I don't understand.." said the knight.... . "Who ever said you had to go to battle?" . "That's why you have to keep apologizing to people for hurting them.. I wore it for protection when I went to battle.. kind." replied Merlin.He labored against the armor's weight in an attempt to get to his feet.."And why do you always seek the answers to your questions from others?" The knight stomped off angrily.."And a clever one...Merlin shook his head.The knight escaped thinking about this in his usual manner of escaping things .." replied the squirrel." . "Hey . why did you have to prove it?" Merlin asked. and loving knight..."And you were afraid you would be seriously hurt or killed.." ... in amazement.." . why are you sitting on my tail?" ." said a little voice. kind.. and loving."What is the Source?" asked the knight. .
..The knight looked troubled. . "I have to get out of here... The knight was obviously confused.. ." said the knight. "It's just that people don't listen.. "However. ..." Merlin said gently. he saw Merlin approaching..The knight shook his head in bewilderment... splendid?" . but you felt her vibrations. "Surely they would give me another chance."Why not send Christopher a note and ask him?" suggested Merlin."Perhaps that armor is thicker than it appears..."But I miss them."Splendid.. The knight called after her."Where would you go?" . she replied very simply and vanished into the topmost branches." ......" commented the squirrel." .... "You've been around Merlin too long. sure we can.. After all." replied the magician... I have to get back and take care of them. They've been alone for too long."Just that...just because it is?" ." .." he said." . but certainly Christopher would... .. I am one of the top knights in the kingdom. I am looking forward to the day when you start talking to flowers... a gift.." ."How can I hear you now when I couldn't hear you then?" ..." said the squirrel."Back to Juliet and Christopher. ." .Merlin nodded in understanding. has to be accepted.. every time I cracked a nut and pushed it through your visor.. "Merlin.. I've started talking to squirrels...." ." whined the knight. to be a gift. I have to get out of these woods!" ."Oh. Otherwise it lies like a burden between people.... "You've talked to me before?" .The squirrel flicked her tail at the knight and ran up a tree.. ..." ." . I want to go back now and be a good. so Merlin continued explaining. The knight thought about this."That'll be the day you plant them on my grave.. Maybe Juliet wouldn't want him back. . He remembered Juliet's endless complaints about his going off to battle so often. "I don't want to wait until I get the armor off. and loving husband to Juliet and a great father to Christopher.... "but don't you ever accept anything the way it is . You are becoming sensitive enough to feel the vibrations of others..... and about his closed visor and his habit of abruptly going to sleep to shut out her words."But animals can't talk... "What do you mean."I admire an inquiring mind."You mean they might not want me back?" asked the knight in surprise. "I want to go back to them in the worst way. kind. .."You're answering my questions with questions.." .."Squirrel".Dazed. "You did not talk to the squirrel in words... and you translated those vibrations into words.. He told the knight that going back to give of himself was a lovely gift." said the knight.. "Wait! What's your name?" .. Had he imagined this? At that moment..." cautioned Merlin..The knight looked at Merlin sadly...."And you haven't been around him long enough!" ."And that is exactly how you will be going back if you go in your Armor."Certainly..."How can you take care of them when you cannot even take care of yourself?" Merlin asked. the knight shook his head. about the attention he showered on his armor..
. Cold Heart.. .. "which is more than I can say for you." the knight called after her."It means.The knight agreed that this was a good idea.." ."Let me see!" said the knight. He winced.The knight quickly apologized. . but he'd gotten both of them mad at him in the same day... realizing that the knight had much to learn. High above them. He was thoroughly shaken.Rebecca ignored his thoughtless remark."Don't coo at any strange pigeons. or you'll drop my note. . fearing she might have fallen prey to one of the hunting falcons he and the other knights had trained.All at once. . the magician glanced at it and gravely told the knight it was from Christopher. for knights in shining armor simply didn't cry. Rebecca accepted the knight's apology and flew off with his hastily written note to Christopher in her beak.. ." ..." .A week passed.The knight stood there for a moment... but how could he get the note to Christopher? Merlin pointed to the pigeon sitting on his shoulder. His jaw dropped with a clank as he stared at the note in disbelief.. ..Merlin reassured the knight by making up a happy little verse: . Then.... stunned. .. and Rebecca still had not returned..." snapped Rebecca.. then groaned and slowly sank to the ground. exhausted and halfdrowned from the tears in his helmet. Not only had he talked to both a pigeon and a squirrel.The knight became more and more anxious." the knight expressed his worries about Rebecca.. . Cold Winter if You Have a Short. However. Taking the note from her beak..... they saw Rebecca. She's only a stupid bird. wondering how he could have participated in such a foul sport ..The knight was puzzled. He tried to choke back the tears...then winced again at his awful pun. "She doesn't know where I live. too.. "It's blank!" he exclaimed.When Merlin finished playing his lute and singing "You'll Have a Long. a great chattering arose from the animals..... They were all looking skyward..."The smartest pigeon who ever flew .. "that your son does not know enough about you to give you an answer. .. circling for a landing..will never wind up in someone's stew.... his grief soon overwhelmed him.. "Rebecca will take it." said Merlin softly.Bighearted bird that she was..." ."I can tell north from south and east from west. .. eagerly seizing the paper... so Merlin and the knight looked. "What does that mean?" ....." .The knight struggled to his feet just as Rebecca swooped down onto Merlin's shoulder.. the knight fell asleep.
Chapter 3 The Path of Truth .
" he said. Merlin was sitting quietly beside him... jealousy. True.. "is the Path of Truth." . "Being trapped in all that steel has caused you a lot of problems. and you can go back that way if you want. leading the knight to a path.."People are often unaware of the path they are on.." Merlin explained .The knight looked at the steep trail without enthusiasm.Merlin nodded in agreement."Do it for yourself. "This was the path you followed to get into these woods.."It is not as difficult as it may seem. Anyway it seemed he had no place to go.. "I'm not sure it's worth it.."You will see.." . and he would probably die of loneliness and fatigue." observed the knight..... I have to get this armor off for myself." replied Merlin. "That is how you got stuck in your steel prison in the first place. "It is time for you to go. "You're right." replied the magician. Juliet and Christopher apparently didn't want him to come home. What will I have when I get to the top?" .. Come to think of it."That looks like a tough climb.. He stood up. "I'm sorry I acted so unknightly."Do not apologize....." Merlin admitted quietly. He had come to enjoy staying in the woods with Merlin and the animals." .." ... It was narrower than the first and very steep.. and things will only get worse as time goes on.. "You have just taken the first step toward getting out of your armor.....The magician then pointed to another path. you are some of those things." suggested Merlin. or heard a beautiful melody without your armor getting in the way?" . ... "I was lost for months!" . but it leads to dishonesty.. ." replied the knight." . If he returned to the path that he had traveled before." said the knight. but I couldn't see it?" ." .. hatred.. .."You mean this path was here...."And how long has it been since you have felt the warmth of a kiss."You cannot continue living and thinking as you have in the past.." mumbled the knight sadly.."At times.." said Merlin. He had a good reputation in battle. there was no hope of removing his armor...When the knight awoke." .. he could get back into the knight business and go on some crusades. but fighting no longer seemed to have any purpose.. ..... . ."I didn't follow any path... ."I suppose my armor has become a nuisance. You could even die of something like catching pneumonia from a soggy beard. "That.. "It doesn't matter to Juliet and Christopher whether I get my armor off or not.." he added in disgust. and ignorance."Are you saying that I am all those things?" the knight asked indignantly."It is what you won't have." said Merlin.."Why bother?" asked the knight morosely... "My beard got all soggy. It gets steeper as it approaches the summit of a mountain far in the distance. "I'm tired of lugging it around.."your armor!" The knight pondered this. fear." .. smelled the fragrance of a flower... .... I can't even scratch my back when it itches. . greed." .."I can hardly remember.." ..Merlin reminded the knight of his new purpose: to get rid of his armor." Merlin explained. and I'm fed up with eating mushy food.This disturbed the knight.. .. Merlin."But how am I ever going to change all that?" asked the knight uneasily."What do you mean?" .. and there were several kings who would be happy to have him." said the knight."Yes.
. The fight will be learning to love yourself. "there is a different battle to be fought on the Path of Truth. "The first castle is named Silence.From the knight's point of view.Thus reprimanded. it seemed.. He sensed that this journey was going to be much more difficult than a crusade.. and landed on the knight's shoulder.The only way to get the armor off.."You might not be able to ride me... .The knight knew that he'd better start immediately.... Then he looked down at the steel covering his body.Rebecca flew over from a nearby tree. The only way you can get to the top of the mountain is to go through those castles.. was to follow the Path of Truth. "Squirrel will accompany you." Merlin told him. and I'll slay the dragon guarding her and rescue -" . the magician took an exqusite golden key from his neck and gave it to the knight. he said to himself.. where she'd heard the conversation. the knight grew quiet while Merlin continued. this didn't sound like nearly as much fun as rescuing princesses."If you do. "You will not have to travel alone. I've been to the top of the mountain. "I think I'd rather die of a soggy beard." said Squirrel."I know!" cried the knight eagerly. .. It disappeared between tall trees that jutted up toward some low-hanging clouds.. castle tours didn't really appeal to him. dreading the thought of making the arduous journey with a smart-talking animal." . signaling to Merlin that he was ready to begin his journey." he said... .As they walked toward the path." .. the knight plunked down on a rock.. .. "Why can't I just go around the castles?" he asked sulkily. . Besides.. and the third... "Your decision to take an unknown trail while encumbered with heavy armor takes courage. "I'll go with you."Enough!" Merlin broke in." ..Well."OK. you'll stray from the path.... Knowledge." said Merlin.."Oh.. "I'll try the Path of Truth. Once you enter them. "Yes. Will and Daring. at the moment. ." .." he agreed. "but you'll need me to help you eat. but then he might die trying to struggle up the steep mountainside." Merlin said firmly." he said. "The path has areas too narrow for a horse to pass." ..... one of the top knights in the kingdom needing courage from a squirrel and a bird! He struggled to his feet.. "There will be a princess inside each castle.." she said. too. the second. . or he might change his mind. you will find your way out only after you have learned what you are there to learn.. "I'll get my trusty horse. "This key will open the doors to three castles that will block your path. you are in no shape just now to be rescuing anyone.The knight sighed deeply as he gazed up the steep. Even if there were. shaking his head.... isn't this something. You will have to go on foot..The willingness of the two animals to help gave the knight the courage he needed. You have to learn to save yourself first. and you are certain to get lost. ride squirrel-back?" asked the knight. narrow trail." he said with resignation.. ... ..Merlin knew what the knight was thinking.." . no... and I know the way.. Who else is going to chew nuts for you and push them through your visor?" .Merlin nodded." . his courage waning rapidly.. ."What do you expect me to do..The knight looked at the difficult path ahead.Aghast.." . "There will be no princesses in any of these castles...
He looked closely at the faces of some robins and and saw that they didn't all look alike.. the knight fell asleep." answered Merlin..."You're going to waste all your energy talking. "Let's get going..He was awakened the next morning by the sun shining in his eyes.."It will begin with learning to know yourself.. which she pushed through the holes in the knight's visor. he vanished!" .. . He noticed tiny sunlit particles in the air as they filtered through the branches of the trees.... . He was too proud to ask." Merlin's gentle gaze rested on the knight for a moment. then the knight with Rebecca on his shoulder. "Forsooth! Let's hit the Path of Truth!" . Since it was almost dark anyway. As he was trying to figure out this phenomenon. exhausted and sore. Unaccustomed to the glare." .He climbed to his feet faster than he had done in years.. "It rusted and fell off.."But how?" asked the knight. .."Any self-respecting magician can do that. he suddenly realized that he could see more than he had the day before. .Rebecca flew among the bushes and returned with some berries."From the tears you cried after you saw your son's blank letter." Rebecca scolded.. so you can leave it here. Part of his visor had broken off and fallen away! How did that happen? he wondered. "He really hams it up sometimes... "This battle cannot be won with your sword. for he still thought a knight should be smarter than a pigeon.."That's it!" he shouted.. His visor had never before allowed in so much light.... . . Then he added. just call me and I will come. excitedly chattering and cooing."You mean you can appear anywhere I happen to be?" . "Why .....After a few hours.. The sorrow he had felt was so deep that his armor could not protect him from it. . "Squirrel! Rebecca!" he cried. They started out with Squirrel in the lead..." ... "You're starting to see the differences in other forms of life because you're starting to see the differences within yourself..... cooing merrily.... Then he disappeared. which the knight drank through the straw that Merlin had given him.. . . the knight collapsed..The knight's helmet squeaked as he shook his head in assent.." Merlin replied. Rebecca flew on scouting missions and returned to report what lay ahead."How will I do that?" asked the knight...The knight was astounded. .Squirrel nodded. he became aware that Squirrel and Rebecca were looking at him. "If you encounter anything you cannot handle. He mentioned this to Rebecca who hopped up and down..Rebecca and Squirrel were so overjoyed at what was happening to the knight that neither of them even mentioned that this was terible rhyming." said Rebecca." .. Squirrel went to a nearby brook and filled some walnut shells with water.." . and he could feel the cool air against his face.. "Tears from real feelings will release me from my armor!" . He was not used to traveling in armor without his horse.. .... Quite to the contrary. Rebecca and Squirrel decided that they might as well stop there for the night..Squirrel answered his unspoken question. Too tired to stay awake for the nuts Squirrel was preparing next.The knight tried to figure out exactly what Rebecca meant... Pushing himself to a sitting position. his tears had started to break down the steel surrounding him... he squinted.The three of them continued on up the mountain." .The knight considered this.. From time to time.. It was an especially fine day for the knight. why....
The knight mulled this over...This made sense to the knight.. a castle loomed ahead..As Rebecca flew off. "Animals accept and humans expect.. thinking I was the most beautiful baby in the whole world. Then my nurse looked down at me and said.Just then Squirrel..... "The Castle of Silence is just over the next rise. completely blocking the path. He was expecting again..." .The knight nodded at the wisdom of this..."The fact that you can say that makes you as smart as we are." ... you'll have fewer disappointment. "I've spent most of my life being disappointed. I remember lying in my crib.' If the sun doesn't come out.. . He reached the top of the hill quite out of breath." . the knight clanked forward even faster.."If you had truly accepted yourself as beautiful. . who was learning to love and trust the two animals. The knight confessed to Squirrel and Rebecca that he was disappointed.The animals knew that the knight was hesitant to step into the castle..Excited at the thought of seeing the castle.' I wound up being disappointed in myself for being ugly instead of beautiful.Soon they came to the door of the huge castle.. Instead." Squirrel replied.. You wouldn't have been disappointed." . Rebecca whispered. 'You have a face only a mother could love. "When you learn to accept instead of expect.. "We can show you the door. the Castle of Silence looked just like any other tract castle. was disappointed that they would not accompany him." ." Squirrel explained. He's happy just being a rabbit. ."I don't think it has anything to do with being smart. He almost said so. who had gone scouting ahead." . it wouldn't have mattered what she said. "but you have to walk through it alone.. "We're not going in with you." said Squirrel." ." said Rebecca. but he caught himself. You'll never hear a rabbit say.... ... Sure enough. Rebecca laughed and said... and I was disappointed in the nurse for being so impolite.. The knight took the golden key from his neck and fitted it into the lock.The knight.. it won't ruin the rabbit's whole day. "I'm beginning to think that animals are smarter than people.. He had expected a very fancy structure. As he opened the door. ... 'I expect the sun to come out this morning so I can go down to the lake and play. she called cheerily. "We'll meet you on the other side." . He couldn't recall many people who were happy just being people.. came scampering back....
Chapter 4 The Castle of Silence .
." .. I tried that...." said the knight."The same thing you are. it's impossible to see the door out of this room." .." suggested the knight. . especially at those times when Juliet didn't talk to him for several days. You're so wise.For a moment.. but it was nothing like this.. He sat down on the rug nearest the fire. Then one day we get stuck behind the barriers. Knight. thinking that perhaps the king could show him the way..." . he pulled himself together and walked boldly inside." . King... eerie silence in this castle.."Most of us are trapped inside our armor.. ." . He saw only a fire blazing in an enormous stone fireplace on one wall and three rugs on the floor...."That's the word I give out whenever I travel the Path of Truth. the knight cautiously poked his head inside the doorway of the castle. "I wouldn't be on this path myself if I weren't trapped in this armor.. Second... but Merlin had promised that there'd be no dragons to slay.." .looking for the door. It made the . The knight had thought of his own castle as quiet..The knight was greatly encouraged.. It's true that my companions and I weren't so lonely because we talked constantly. "could we go through the castle together? That way we wouldn't be so lonely. "I have enough wisdom to know when I'm stuck and to return here so that I can learn more about myself." said the king. I heard you were on a crusade. What are you doing here?" .."Maybe we could just walk along and be quiet together. caused him to make a low metallic rattle."Hello.. .The king shook his head....."One can't really see until one understands. . "No.. closing the door after him." . harder this time."Everybody understands crusades.... King.. . "It's easier for my subjects to understand.... too.The knight looked puzzled."What do you mean?" asked the knight. he thought. his face brightening. .. The Castle of Silence is well named.Suddenly. you'll be able to see the door to the next. the knight was startled by the sound of a familiar voice behind him. He realized with a start that the fire wasn't even crackling. ... "I'm surprised to see you here." declared the king.." agreed the knight. there was an extraordinary. and the knight trusted him." said the king.. he wished he hadn't left his sword behind.The knight soon became aware of two things: First there seemed to be no door leading out of the room to other parts of the castle.." ." ..The king laughed ruefully... Not wanting to look chicken to a pigeon in case Rebecca could still see him. . but when one talks....He walked into the huge anteroom of the castle and he looked around. Never in his life had he felt so alone.. Knight . His knees trembled slightly...." said the knight.. "Say..."Yes.." said the knight.. .Left on his own. "When you understand what's in this room.." the king explained.... "I once tried that. with his armor.. He wasn't looking forward to wandering around the Castle of Silence by himself."We set up barriers to protect who we think we are. which.The knight turned and was astonished to see the king approaching him from a far corner of the room." ..." . . "I didn't even see you."I never thought of you as being stuck. "but very few understand truth."King!" he gasped.... . and we can't get out.The king shook his head again."I certainly hope so.
."That door is only an entrance. the stillness began to drown out his singing. then disappeared into the wall." .... Neither did I when I first began coming here... wondering why the king would bother to keep coming back. . "This is a new kind of crusade for you." . enveloping . standing tall.. It will be your greatest victory if you can summon the strength to stay and do what you need to do here."I don't get it.... ." said the knight.... leaving the knight staring disbelievingly after him. adding.emptiness less painful.. .. ." . "I must be on my way now... he sang a couple of rousing battle songs: "I'll Be Down to Get You in a Crusade. That armor hurts you more than it hurts me.. I wouldn't let down my barriers and allow either myself or the other person to see what I was trying to hide. The door to the next room is on the far wall.. One must be alone to drop one's armor. he might be able to see the door.The knight hurried over to where the king had been. "Is there any advice you can give me before you go?" ." replied the king.. hoping that from up close. .." said the king. "I don't want to stay here by myself!" he exclaimed..." He sang them over and over again."What do you mean finally saw it? Didn't you remember where it was from the other times you were here?" asked the knight." .. my friend. ."You will. "Oh... "But if you weren't talking . "I discovered that when I was with someone.The knight was dismayed. "Be good to yourself.The king thought for a moment then replied."Being quiet is more than not talking.. sire." said the king... "Where are you going? The door is over here... ." ... the king turned.With this. Each time I come here." . well...one that requires more courage than all the other battles you've known before.The knight was horrified! First the smith." ." The king waved..As his voice grew tired. "Sorry." Then.The knight protested. "I understand that you don't want to stay in this castle by yourself.... Honey" and "Anywhere I Hang My Helmet is Home. "when you have been here long enough..The king yelled in pain and hopped around. he limped across the room."One never finishes traveling the Path of Truth. but now I realize that what one must do here... he began to pace around the room.. he felt more depressed than ever in his life.The king rubbed his toe tenderly." ... Finding what appeared to be only a solid wall. I showed only my best image. . he looked knowingly at the knight.... but I still couldn't see the door out of this room.. To cheer himself up. the knight asked.Perplexed. dear Knight . now the king..After awhile...."Wait! Please!" called the knight. too. ..." said the knight apologetically. reached out as if to open a door." With that. . All the knight could hear was the sound of his armor echoing through the castle... I finally saw it just as you came in. stamping his foot emphatically and inadvertently bringing it down on the king's big toe.The knight knew well that he couldn't shake the king's resolve.. one must do alone. "Yes?" . I find new doors as I understand more and more.The king looked back at him compassionately...
" said the voice in answer to his thought." . Who had spoken? ..At that moment." . . It reminded the knight that he was sad.The knight thought hard about this until the sound of his own voice broke the chilling silence. "Because you're closing in on yourself.as lonely as he felt sitting in this tomblike room... . The tears flowed into the fireplace and doused the fire. and the knight might have drowned if another door hadn't appeared in the wall just then. "I wonder why these rooms keep getting smaller..especially when she was sad. When there was no one to talk to.. In fact.. too. but he never actually heard them." .. He talked about what he was like as a little boy and how he was different from the other boys he knew. and he could shut her out.. Could that be? . .. He said anything that came into his mind." answered the voice. . That is when he began talking eagerly to anyone who passed his way. It occurred to him that for most of his life. All he had to do was pull down his visor.Juliet must have felt very lonely talking to a man encased in steel .He sat on the floor and continued thinking. He burst into tears.. Since books were handwritten by the monks then. it could be. He crossed over to it." he asked himself aloud. . While they hunted quail and played "Pin the Tail on the Boar..or so he had believed.. The rustle of the wind. He'd never enjoyed what was happening at the time.The voice seemed to come from within himself. slowly pulled it open... .. This chamber appeared very much like the last."Yes. "I guess I've always been afraid to be alone.. And yet another door appeared.. and entered a room that wasn't much bigger than the stall where he'd once kept his horse. and the sound of water running through the brooks must have always been there... the knight began talking aloud to himself. The knight opened it and stepped into the next room. . he had forced her to live in a castle of silence. the patter of the rain.. he saw a door in the far wall of the room.... It led to a room still smaller than the others.As he spoke these words. too. devastating quiet. another door became visible. one of the reasons why he'd taken to leaving his armor on all the time was that it muffled the sound of Juliet's sad voice.. Only then could the knight frankly admit something he'd never acknowledged before: He was afraid to be alone..A voice replied.. For years.just as he was doing now. He was alone .Encouraged by his progress. he waded to the door. and he had soon read them all. . was void of all sound. His own pain and loneliness welled up in him. Nor had he heard Juliet when she tried to tell him how she felt ..Startled. "I am the real you.. It. It was smaller than the previous one. he hadn't really listened to anyone or anything. .. and stepped into another room. the entire room was starting to flood.. He sat still and listened to the silence..Although he was exhausted from the deluge. the knight did something he'd never done before." he sat inside and read. they were few.The knight cried for so long that his tears poured through the holes in his visor and soaked the rug beneath him.. ..."You did..him in utter.. too. pulled it open.. He unexpectedly found himself saying that he had talked so much all his life to keep himself from feeling alone. the knight looked around. Soon the thought struck him that all his life he had wasted time talking about what he had done and what what he was going to do. except it was somewhat smaller..In order to pass the time. Indeed. he talked to himself . Soon he felt Juliet's pain and loneliness..
.. "You must have cried again in the Castle of Silence.. "If you're the real me...Rebecca answered."Now see here.." . The knight reached up to scratch his head. "You can't expect to learn everything at once. "but how could a whole helmet rust overnight?" .."How did I get out of there?" he asked. You thought your way out...The knight was doubtful." He stopped himself. He clasped both of his gauntleted hands to his head. The rest of the world seemed to have vanished." ..When the knight first awoke. Why haven't you spoken up before?" . "but this is the first time you've been quiet enough to hear me.. . He had a lot to think about." said the voice with a note of disgust... both of us are in trouble!" . ........ ." said the knight... His helmet had falled away! He touched his face and his long."I've been around for years. "We're not in there.. and it took him a moment to realize that he was actually scratching his own skin.." Rebecca cooed.. .." replied the knight." said the knight. He wanted to tell Squirrel and Rebecca about Sam... I'm you. He demanded to know what was so funny. Call me Sam.... Besides." . "Why... "You weren't in the castle just overnight. but it wasn't easy to explain. the knight realized that Squirrel and Rebecca were sitting on his chest." they said merrily in unison. . peaceful slumber.."We know.. If you are the real you..." .. puzzled." . then.. "sitting there half-starved in that hunk of junk with a rusted visor and sporting a soggy beard."Look at yourself. "I've lived all these years without hearing a word from you....The voice replied kindly. Now that I do. who am I. Then his eyes closed as he fell into a deep. ."I did.." replied the voice.The knight opened his eyes wider and pushed himself up to a sitting position." protested the knight. Sure enough.."Why not?" came the reply.." . "but before I do. He was only aware of himself." . He looked around in amazement. "How did you get in here?" he asked..." .. ....... he was lying on the Path of Truth just the other side of the Castle of Silence..... prey tell."You're out here..The animals laughed uproariously." said the knight. Rebecca lay gasping and flapping on the ground. Why don't you get some sleep.." said the knight... ........ . he didn't know where he was." ."The last thing I remember."You must know Merlin. It confuses me. .?" ." . he might have imagined the whole thing. As he grew fully awake."Squirrel! Rebecca!" he shouted... his head beginning to droop from sleepiness. "I was talking to .."Then for how long?" . The knight thought she was going out of her bird. the first thing you say is that you are the real me. "The only way possible.."I can't call you me. scraggly beard..Squirrel laughed.. I want to know what to call you.."But I'm the real me. ."Why Sam?" asked the knight.Squirrel was the first to catch her breath."Call me?" asked the voice."All right."OK..
"You will by the time you go through the Castle of Knowledge. "One does not have to feel proud of being human. You were born with a heart ." ... it is true..He shook the water from his beard.The knight's mouth dropped open in disbelief.. Merlin.. ."You really know how to bring a fella down... "I'm beginning to understand." affirmed Rebecca. He looked toward the sky and.."What if I told you that while you were in there I could have easily gathered more than five thousand nuts?" .. I could feel Juliet's pain because I'm part of her?" ..in fact."Sorry about the intrusion.. . or you never would have met Sam.and now you are using it." . You are not going crazy. "but this is an emergancy! I -" . "To answer your question. Apparently the knight had caught Merlin taking a bath.. "How could you know I wanted to ask you that?" . a more real you than the one you have been calling I all these years... You are just starting to listen to your real self.... "Then I really did hear him? It wasn't just my imagination?" .." ." said the knight. I must talk to you."Since I know myself." Merlin answered..The knight told Merlin that he felt proud.. That was the first time you shed tears for another... The magician smiled indulgently... It is as pointless as it would be for Rebecca to feel proud that she can fly.." ." Then Merlin disappeared before the knight could ask any more questions."You were in the castle for a long..." . I can know you. Rebecca was born with wings. long time. just as you were meant to do.." ." said Merlin..."I did not mean to be hard on you.." .. Sam is real . "No.As he had promised. You are doing very well..."I don't understand. You were in the Castle of Silence for a very long time." ." said the knight. . We are all part of each other."Yes. the magician appeared immediately. "Magicians are often inconvenienced..Merlin chuckled... "That is why you could cry for her as well as for yourself..The knight felt relieved. That is why time passed so swiftly without your realizing it.... . He was bare except for his long beard. "Merlin."I would say you're nuts!" exclaimed the knight.... in a booming voice.. and he was dripping wet. .."It is all right..... ." said the knight. interrupting.The knight thought for a moment..... said...Merlin never failed to astound the knight.
Chapter 5 The Castle of Knowledge .
" .. Squirrel.... The knight groped for the customary torches by the castle door to light the way. "It means that the more you know.. I don't want to go through that again.. The knight looked and felt much better when this was done. and he was freer now than he'd been before....A castle with a door of gold and no torches? "Even cheap tract castles have torches.. "Silence is for one..Just before nightfall..the source of all knowledge. .. and its door was solid gold." ... If the Castle of Knowledge was anything like the Castle of Silence. They stopped only twice that day. It read: . and Rebecca crossed the drawbridge over the moat and stopped before the golden door... ." Sam replied.. The knight stared at the impressive structure and wondered who had designed it.. Though he had appreciated the lifesaving technique...."Sam. the lighter it will get in here. He liked Sam's sense of humor. How do you like me now that I've had a shave and a haircut?" . the trio trudged over a hill and beheld the Castle of Knowledge in the distance... .. but there weren't any... knowledge is for all. The knight carefully felt his way to her and saw that she was pointing to an inscription that glowed on the wall.The knight was surprised but pleased to hear from Sam again.I'd rather have a torch."It's the first time that you ever profited from being clipped. This was the largest castle the knight had ever seen.. he could eat nuts without Squirrel's help."Actually. .The knight...."No. ...Knowledge is the light by which . but whoever runs this castle sure is clever at cutting down on light bills. once to eat and the other time for the knight to shave off his scraggly beard and cut his long hair with the sharpened edge of his gauntlet.. As he pushed the door open..The three of them walked through the doorway and into a darkness so dense that the knight couldn't even see his own hand. thought the knight. The knight took the key from around his neck and turned it in the lock.The knight laughed at Sam's joke.... It was larger than the Castle of Silence.you shall find your way.."Please. Never again would he eat pigeon or any other fowl or meat because he realized that doing so would literally be having friends for dinner.. .. ." . heading toward the Castle of Knowledge.The knight wondered how the word pigeon had come to mean an easy mark.. He could also feed himself the fruits and roots to which he had become accustomed. he asked Rebecca and Squirrel if they were going to leave as they had done before. he really didn't consider it gracious living......" Sam replied. ." grumbled the knight as Squirrel called out to him.At that very moment. "Remember that I'm you...Sam spoke up. .." he said.. ..... .The knight.. And a glimmer of light crept . With the helmet gone. I'll wager you're right!" exclaimed the knight.." Rebecca replied. the knight's thoughts were interrupted by Sam's voice.... "I'm glad you're back. he'd be happy to have Sam along for company.. "The Castle of Knowledge was designed by the universe itself . ." . Squirrel.. and Rebecca started out once more on the Path of Truth. . even larger than what the king had built for himself. . I never left.
He sighed and sat down before it.Have you mistaken need for love? ." . It seemed to him that he had no choice but to figure out what the inscription meant. Squirrel called out again for the knight to join her.into the room. The blackness. He had needed all the beauty that Juliet added to his life with her quick wit and lovely poetry. .. Juliet had made attractive garments for the family to wear. . "I suppose I have to figure out the answer before I get any more light.." granted the knight. he had needed her more than he loved her... without his sword. a dreadful thought occurred to him: He hadn't wanted to blame himself for the things he did."You're catching on quickly. ..." suggested Rebecca.... For a moment... He read it again: Have you mistaken need for love? . He had given her a lot of castles to keep clean.As the knight realized how unfairly he'd used Juliet. She had found another inscription that was chiseled into the wall and glowing: .. was quite forbidding and." Sam replied..Often they'd had to move into a cheaper one when he came home broke from a crusade. you loved Juliet and Christopher. .Still perturbed."Maybe what you're supposed to learn here is that you have all the time in the world. he was afraid.. I want to find my way through this castle fast so that I can get to the top of the mountain!" .."Isn't that when Juliet started lying under wine casks"? asked Sam in a gentle voice. he considered plunging into the darkness of the castle and blundering through.. too. although he had to admit that he loved Juliet more before she began lying under wine casks and emptying thier contents into her mouth.... ... but didn't you need them. too?" ..... He had also needed the nice things she did. tears flowed down his face. the knight mumbled.. however.. He preferred to blame Juliet for all her wine drinking. as he was usually off at some tournament. Then.. "Yes.. . too.Just then. and she had cooked delicious meals for the knight and his friends..As he continued to cry. He wished he could have loved her more and needed her less... . to which the knight snorted.. .. he needed her wine drinking so that he could say that everything was her fault . He remembered how weary she'd looked as she moved their belongings from castle to castle and how sad she'd become when she was unable to reach him through his armor.... Indeed.He thought back to the times when the knight business had been slow and they couldn't afford to buy new clothes or to employ serving maids.. it dawned on the knight that he needed Christopher... ."I suppose so.. . ... and tears began to form in his eyes. The knight reflected that Juliet also kept a very clean castle..The knight nodded. He'd left Juliet on her own to do most of the moving..The knight was not in a receptive mood.. but he didn't know how.The knight knew that he loved Juliet and Christopher.. . Yes.... and he didn't want to listen to her philosophy.. like often inviting friends over to cheer him up after he'd gotten stuck in his armor. "I don't have time to play Twenty Questions..Sam said. .including his being stuck in his armor.
.. yet everywhere.The knight looked at the light around him then into the gloom ahead... Rebecca came flying out of the darkness ahead."No... he noticed the light around him..."That is all right."You already have just by knowing what you know. He thanked Merlin for showing up even when he hadn't called him. To his amazement. he saw Merlin smiling down."It's not an ordinary mirror. ..Merlin echoed the knight's thought. the knight got to his feet."I know I'm a fool. A knight needed a son to go out and do battle in his father's name when the father grew old. "Not anymore.." And so saying.Encouraged. He also liked to hear Christopher say.. As his eyes dried. scarcely able to contain herself as she guided the knight and Squirrel to a large mirror.... is there?" ..The knight had never seen Rebecca so excited.. Dad. "There is nothing more beautiful than the light of self-knowledge.." replied Merlin." .. he couldn't really love others.. . so.. This didn't mean the knight didn't love Christopher.. "I love you. . armored to the neck.The knight was intrigued but not enthusiastic... . he vanished. "You can love others only to the extent that you love yourself.As he admitted this. a beautiful... you know the truth. bright light shone around the knight where there once had been darkness.. He'd never cared much for mirrors because he'd never considered himself very handsome. he now stood before the mirror and gazed at his reflection. her eyes sparkling with enthusiasm. and truth is love. . "There's no darkness in this castle for you.The knight cried harder as he realized that if he didn't love himself. "C'mon. A gentle hand touched his shoulder. Looking up through his tears.." he said impatiently." said the magician. It seemed to come from nowhere. .The knight was disappointed.... "One does not always know when to ask for help..." . . he saw a charming.As the knight started onward.. It was unlike any light that he'd seen before. for he loved his son's golden-haired beauty... but now she hopped up and down on his shoulder. and he stopped crying." .. "Do I have something to show you!" ." . ... vital person whose eyes shone with compassion and love. ready to go on."How do I begin to love myself?" asked the knight.. .. instead of a tall man with sad eyes and a large nose. "That's it! That's it!" Rebecca chirped loudly."You have discovered a great truth." but as he'd loved these things about Christopher." Rebecca insisted." said Merlin. he had needed the love of all the damsels he'd rescued from dragons and all the people for whom he'd fought in crusades because he didn't love himself.."No.. . His need for them would get in the way...This comforted the knight... they had answered a need in him as well." sobbed the knight.." ." the magician told the knight... ... But Rebecca insisted and. "It's only a crummy old mirror... .more than he'd loved him. It shows what you're really like. "It doesn't show what you look like..." ..A thought came to the knight in a blinding flash: He'd needed the love of Juliet and Christopher because he didn't love himself! In fact.. She was usually pretty cool. reluctantly."Wow!" she said. let's get going. all atwitter. ...
At this thought.... Don't you remember?" . .. luckily." ..." . "It hasn't been wasted."That's your potentional answered Sam.Squirrel answered. He realized that all he had to do to have these qualities was reclaim them. .. "Real knowledge isn't divided into compartments because it all stems from one truth. and the damsels he'd rescued from distress .The knight and Rebecca followed Squirrel into the courtyard... and loving. "Stop with those tiresome rhymes..At that moment. . "something terrible happened on my way to it. It illuminated the whole room. ... to the knight's surprise." . "I've wasted my whole life!" . "that man is a perfect specimen.." . the dragons he'd slain.." said the knight. Kindness..."Yes. "This castle has a courtyard with a big apple tree growing in the center of it." replied Sam. Nobody would have liked me.. . "to be beautiful and innocent and perfect.." Sam said quickly... He thought of all the crusades he'd fought in.."You're seeing the real you. ."Jumping javelins!" he exclaimed." .....The knight looked into the mirror again." said the knight.... and unselfishness looked back at him...all to prove that he was good. love.. "you put an invisible armor between you and your feelings.."Maybe I did hide my feelings.They're not the kind that cause armor to rust. compassion." . but." said Sam... .. . guns hadn't been invented yet."I still feel like crying...." ....." ." ." . for they had been his all along. The truth was he didn't have to prove anything." said the knight eagerly. The sturdy boughs . the knight gladly would have shot himself to get rid of Sam... And his face is full of beauty and innocence. ." The knight stopped short as he uttered these words."Oh. take me to it." .. Then he sang this little tune: . for he was getting quite hungry.."You can't kick me out....."If that's my potential......."It's the standard building code for a Castle of Knowledge. It's been there for so long that it's become visible and permanent."Tears of self-pity end up in disgust."Now that would be a waste." explained Sam... He was good. "But I couldn't just say everything I felt like saying and do everything I felt like doing. looking deeper into the mirror. the beautiful light shone once more.."No." chortled Sam." said the knight. . . or I'll kick you out.The knight nodded in argreement. It seemed there was no way to get around Sam. He was ready to leave just as Squirrel came running up... that the castle had only one gigantic room.. revealing..... "I don't look like that.."But." protested the knight... . intelligence. "I'm you.The knight was in no mood to appreciate Sam's song or his humor. kind.. and loving. realizing that he'd lived his whole life in a way that would make people like him." said the knight."Who's that?" he asked.. "It's you.. You've needed time to learn what you just learned......"This mirror is a phony. . brighter than before. "the you who lives beneath your armor." said Sam. kind." he yelled.
idly plucking a few notes on his lute. like I've always wanted to be the best knight in the kingdom.." Sam said firmly."I was about to call you." Sam piped up...... Trees are content just being trees ...." ... .."How do you like them apples?" quipped Sam. "and I'll bet this tree doesn't have any either.. ...... .." protested the knight.. ."They are born beautiful. ...For this fruit..The knight looked at Rebecca.." said the knight... he decided to forget it." said Rebecca.. and perfect. too. .The knight groaned.." ..."No..The knight found himself chuckling. "These inscriptions are getting harder and harder to understand.. . . ." explained the knight." ."She's on to something..." answered the knight.." ." .The knight turned and saw Merlin standing behind him and the animals.. who was somewhat offended.... . . and he was carrying a lute."Better than what?" Merlin asked.. . yes...... What could be better than that?" Merlin asked. .. he had no idea what it meant.."But human beings are different."I know."So what's wrong with that?" asked the knight defensively.. "This tree is like us.of the large tree bent under the weight of the reddest."No one ever said that the Castle of Knowledge would be a breeze." said the knight.... "that I don't have any ambition. "Do you get this one?" he asked them...."We have minds. quite frankly. The magician was dressed in his long white robe..." replied the magician. ." she said thoughtfully. Finally." said a familiar voice.... ......." ."Neither do I..."All of you are right. Then he noticed an inscription chiseled on a slab of stone beside the tree: .."No. "They have minds.The knight pondered this. . . you know. It has no ambition. who also shook her head no."That's all right for trees and animals."Ah..."Sorry." said Sam.but may you now learn about ambition. I impose no condition.. ...." declared Squirrel. and sat down under the tree with Rebecca and Squirrel. but.. Maybe you don't need any."If you do..... .. I don't think so.. ....The knight sighed." .Squirrel shook her head no.. shiniest apples that the knight had ever seen.the same as Rebecca and Squirrel are happy just being what they are... .. I mean that they want to be better than others are . picked an apple. we'll never get out of here. innocent.." .." .. "ambition from that complicated mind of yours led you to try to prove that you were better than other knights.. "But I do know."Happy... "But what would a person be without ambition?" . It's just that human beings have very complicated minds that make them want to become better. ."Better than they are." said Merlin.... ." chimed in Squirrel... "Everyone needs help to understand a tree.
" said Merlin.. "there is more than one kind of riches ."Those riches can't buy castles and horses.. "Ambition that comes from the mind can get you nice castles.. like most people.."It is true." said the knight.. I couldn't own a classy castle and I wouldn't be able to trade in last year's horse for a new one. but if they would stand still more often to accept and appreciate .."You're getting me all confused." replied the knight."Were you? Or were you so busy trying to become that you couldn't enjoy just being?" . and unselfish. It competes with no one and harms no one."There is more to it than that. innocent.. This tree is doing exactly what apple trees are meant to do . Either you want to get ahead or you don't. "You receive the same life energy as a tree.. In fact. You use the same water." . trying hard to understand." responded the magician.and you'll soon have all the horses and castles you want.. "I know people need ambition."It's easier for trees than it is for people in this world.. However. ..." .. it serves one in such a way that it serves others at the same time.. ..." muttered the knight. but it is necessary to separate need from greed. Then you could give away the apples you do not need so that others could be nourished. They want to be smart and have nice castles and be able to trade in last year's horse for a new one. and the same nourishment from the earth. ." retorted the knight. They want to get ahead."It's all a matter of perception... and perfect as you were?" .. how could that person be richer?" .. .. It has become handsome and fully mature. but if a person is kind."Ambition from the heart is pure... "Human beings were given two feet so that they would not have to stay in one place."Now you are talking about a man's desire to be rich. "if I sat around all day giving away free apples... only ambition that comes from the heart can also bring happiness.." ....just as there is more than one kind of ambition.. It can be the same with people when they have ambition from the heart." said the knight. loving.." objected the knight.fulfilling it's potential to the benefit of all... you too can bring forth the fruits that nature intended .."It seems to me that ambition is ambition." Merlin smiled. compassionate... .."Here's where we can learn from this apple tree."You.." . I assure you that if you learn from the tree..Merlin laughed.. want to have lots of nice things.." .. The more apples that people pick.. "the more the tree grows and the more beautiful it becomes........"How could you be better than other knights when they were all born as beautiful."What's ambition from the heart?" questioned the knight....." . philosophically.."How?" asked the knight.. the same air. .A hint of amusement flickered across Merlin's face.." ... "You could sell some of your apples to pay for a new castle and horse.." said Merlin."Go tell that to a wife who wants a castle in a better neighborhood. intelligent."I was happy trying."You mean I could get everything I need just by being rooted and staying in my own backyard?" asked the knight quizzically.. .." ."But. and it can get you fine horses. bearing fine fruit which it gives freely to all." .." .
All this he had acquired by ambition from the mind. then again. The idea was frightening. he started out for the Castle of Will and Daring with Rebecca flying above him and Squirrel scrambling at his heels. He was undernourished. He decided that time does pass quickly when one is listening to oneself. Thirsty.. the knight felt lighter and younger than he had in years. and all this he now knew that he must change. . and Merlin's ambition was obviously from his heart. contemplating Merlin's words. . what did he have to lose? . Alongside the path was a sparkling brook.." he pledged."From this moment on. the castle and Merlin both disappeared..As the knight spoke these words.... His beard was very long again.instead of running around to grab. Evidently. and the knight found himself back on the Path of Truth with Rebecca and Squirrel. . had played tricks with him.. he knelt to drink from it and noticed with some surprise that the armor on his arms and legs had rusted and fallen away.The knight contemplated this rather odd phenomenon and soon realized that Merlin had been right. He studied the apple tree flourishing before him.. With the firm step of a young man.. nervous. .The knight sat quietly. and exhausted from lugging around his heavy armor.. they would truly understand ambition from the heart.Then he considered himself . They all looked happy and well nourished...scrawny and with a beard that had begun to get scraggly again..." .. my ambition will come from the heart. Neither the tree nor the animals had ambition. but.With all his armor gone except for the breastplate. He looked from it to Squirrel to Rebecca to Merlin.. so. all were beautiful specimens of life.. He also discovered that he liked himself better than he had in years. .. like the Castle of Silence. He recollected how often time had dragged on and on when he was depending upon others to fill it. the Castle of Knowledge. he'd already lost everything.
Chapter 6 The Castle of Will and Daring .
"I've become used to some little luxuries . . but this one beat them all...The knight reached for his sword.By dawn of the next day. .. . "Pretty tough talk from a scaredycat. meaning that this dragon had a high butane content.." replied Rebecca firmly. ." . the knight called out to Merlin for help."Then you take on the jolly green flame thrower!" The knight turned and quickly retreated across the drawbridge.."I don't know. cocked her head and listened attentively. menacing... ho.." roared the monster in a booming voice that shook the trees and nearly knocked Rebecca off the knight's shoulder. Confindent that he'd soon pass through this castle as well.."I don't know.. To make matters worse.. Shocked.The knight. stalled for time.... loudest voice he could command. ." ...The knight had to admit this dragon was well named. the flames were blue..." . green scales."Yes. "Get out of my way. In a croaky. Merlin's in Paris attending a magician's conference.Rebecca whispered in the knight's ear.The situation looked grave. It was enormous..." . He'd seen some dragons in his time... glittering with shiny. the magician didn't appear.When they were halfway across.." the knight replied.. .. "What are you doing in the Castle of Will and Daring?" he asked. who was sitting on the knight's shoulder."Ho.... It was taller than the others.. fire-breathing dragon. but also out of it's eyes and ears."Can you think of a better place for me to live? I'm the Dragon of Fear and Doubt. . In the strongest... He began to tremble.. . "From what I can pick up. unrecognizable voice... "I'm here to knock off all you smart alecks who think you can lick anybody just because you've been through the Castle of Knowledge.."Do you believe that?" the knight whispered back. ho. the knight said to himself. he shouted..." . sending fire in all directions.. .like ." laughed the dragon.."Why doesn't he come?" the knight asked anxiously as he dodged a jet of blue flame from the monster..." .. you oversized Bunsen burner!" . and its walls looked thicker." replied Squirrel... ..Rebecca.He can't let me down now.."Are you quitting after you've come this far?" Squirrel asked as the knight brushed sparks from his backside...The beast snorted. the knight stopped dead in his tracks. but much to the knight's dismay..The dragon bellowed again. not knowing what to do next. "He's usually pretty reliable. ... the unlikely trio came to the final castle. He promised there wouldn't be any dragons on the Path of Truth.. but somehow the knight forced himself to stop trembling...... but his hand fell away empty. the door to the castle flew open and out lumbered a huge.. . "Merlin once said that self-knowledge can kill the Dragon of Fear and Doubt. the knight started across the drawbridge with the animals. . its last "ho" nearly igniting the seat of the knight's pants. and flames roared not only out of it's mouth.."He meant ordinary dragons. Fear and doubt were precisely what he felt. as was the case with any run-of-the-mill dragon. A dragon that could read minds was absolutely the worst kind.
. I'd much rather just sit here in the . "How can you live with yourself if you don't have the will and daring to test your self-knowledge?" ... ..."Then why am I sitting in this brook with a burned behind?" demanded the knight."I'm tired of figuring out what things mean. it was two and a half...The knight looked across the drawbridge to where the monster was pawing the ground and setting fire to some nearby bushes. and you know what they say: Truth is mightier than the sword... quenching the flames with a hiss. but has anybody ever proved it and lived?" quibbled the knight." said Squirrel. he heard Sam say." .. he quickly plunged his scorched seat into the cool water...."Certainly.The knight felt concerned." .."If you believe the Dragon of Fear and Doubt is real. "What do you mean. came out to meet the knight again.." added Sam. ."Remember.." said Rebecca.. Spotting a small brook. for the Sam half of the knight agreed with Squirrel and Rebecca.. Yet the knight's courage soon began to melt.. the knight turned and ran. . With the thought in mind that the dragon existed only if he believed it did." answered Rebecca.." added Rebecca..The dragon let out a might laugh and shot a stream of searing flame at the retreating knight.... Courage gives God to man."Right. "The fire was an illusion.. trying to comfort him.As the knight grappled with his flagging courage...No sooner had he uttered these words than the knight remembered he didn't need to prove anything... too.living. ... "You go back a second time!" .. first try?" .."Do you believe. "You have to go back and face the dragon once and for all. ." ..Squirrel said matter-of-factly... too?" . .. ."I know they say that.. He was born good.The knight retorted angrily. This time.. as did his beard.Squirrel and Rebecca stood on the bank. "God gave man courage. .. while the other half of him wanted to stay in the brook. the knight took a deep breath and slowly marched back over the drawbridge." said Squirrel."And the fire coming out of its mouth? Was that an illusion. Or rather. "You'll do better when you go back the second time..Sam chimed in.. the knight continued marching forward. the knight flew across the drawbridge with Squirrel and Rebecca close behind him. ... apparently to keep in practice. from the heat of the dragon's flame.."You were very brave. With a cry of both fear and anguish.. . of course." . .." explained Rebecca.. With a howl of pain. . It was three against one.... ." .. kind. the dragon was only an illusion...... .."Not too bad for a first try. he didn't have to feel fear and doubt.The dragon.. Self-knowledge is truth.. snorting and spitting fire.. The dragon was only an illusion. Therefore.. however.Astonished. too.." ."They're right."Because you made the fire real by believing that the dragon is real. the knight looked up from where he sat. and loving..... you give it the power to burn your behind or anything else. that self-knowledge can kill the Dragon of Fear and Doubt?" asked the knight...
brook and relax..." .The knight threw back his head. why didn't you walk up to the dragon with me?" asked the knight.."Look. ... "I wouldn't have wanted to interfere." the knight called after it. "Back again?" it snorted.But it was a different knight who was marching toward the dragon now ..Amused... it vanished in a puff of blue smoke."If you truly believed that. .The dragon could barely speak.. "Each time you do. . I was right. time and time again.. I'll be stronger.. This was certainly a stubborn fellow.. "if you face the dragon.." . . and you'll be weaker.a knight who chanted over and over.... and once again started across the drawbridge. he struggled to his feet. the dragon began to spit small seeds at the knight. "Well. it couldn't set fire to him. but the Castle of Will and Daring was gone! . "Perhaps this time..." .Rebecca flew up and landed on the knight's shoulder. But these seeds .. He could see the top of the mountain..The dragon looked up in disbelief.Sam explained. .. "You see. this time I'm really going to burn you!" .... but.. it will surely destroy you. but if you don't face the dragon.. It's your trip. The dragon became still smaller as the knight continued to advance determinedly.. but it didn't matter.didn't stop the knight either. . but I'll be back again and again to stand in your way."Decisions are simple when there's really no alternative.. try as hard as the monster might. crackling flames at the knight.the Seeds of Doubt ." ." ." Sam encouraged...As the knight continued to approach.. The path appeared much steeper than it had been so far. .. "You don't have to learn will and daring because you've just shown that you have them. the dragon became smaller and smaller." said the knight.." . until it was finally no bigger than a frog.. .."I've won!" shouted the knight victoriously. Reluctantly.. there's a chance that it will destroy you.He knew that nothing could stop him now. Selfknowledge can kill the Dragon of Fear and Doubt."Come back whenever you want." With that... took a deep breath..The dragon threw gigantic. no longer feeling inferior to his feathered friend. laughing in pure joy.. "Fear and doubt are illusions... the knight started to reach for the castle door..Rebecca fluffed her feathers.. It's flame extinguished." .
Chapter 7 The Summit of Truth .
. the force.. "Take a look at yourself.. . down into the infinite depth of his memories. Did the inscription mean that he would have to let go and fall into the abyss of the unknown? ."What are you trying to do ."It?" asked the knight... giddy as his mind descended into his heart.. his father..The knight took a deep breath. As he fell deeper into the void.. Then he read the last part of the inscription aloud: "for I cannot know the unknown if to the known I cling.. . . he saw his life clearly. he let go of all the judgements that he'd made against them." Sam whispered urgently. . You're so thin you could be slipped under a door...."Let go.and trust.kill both of us?" the knight screamed... ."Actually... his son.. ..."I'm not nearly as afraid as I used to be." said the knight... . .those things he thought were true and those things he thought were false. . his friends.The knight felt entirely too exhausted to overcome this final hurdle."Trust whom?" the knight retorted hotly. ...who he thought he was and who he thought he wasn't. When he was almost to the top.."Yes.. .... and a horrifying thought entered his mind: The rock to which he was clinging for dear life was also known to him. . Knight. In ." ." said Sam. the knight let go and plunged down..... And there were his judgements . ........... his teachers. the universe...Squirrel and Rebecca were tempted to offer sympathy...Though this universe I own.. his wife...." said Sam... . Then...life.I possess not a thing.. for the first time... ..whatever you want to call it..."Not whom. ."If that's the case. . . without judgement and without excuses....." . . There was his idenity ... "It .. and you're full of stress and fear. He was losing strength every second. .. it had an inscription chiseled on it: .. we're dying right now. his fingers bleeding from holding onto the sharp rocks...... .if to the known I cling..He recalled all the things in his life for which he had blamed his mother.The knight considered some of the "knowns" to which he had been clinging to all his life. his path was blocked by a huge boulder. and everyone else... God . which somewhat cleared his head.....The knight peered over his shoulder into the apparently bottomless chasm below. Not surprisingly..Faster and faster he dropped.The knight looked up at the rock... There were his beliefs . then let go . "You have to let go..the things he held as good and those he held as bad. and blood was now oozing from his fingertips where he clutched the rock. knowing that sympathy can weaken a human being.Inch by inch and hand over hand. the knight climbed... It seemed impossible to decipher the inscription while clinging to the side of the mountain at the same time.." Sam replied. but he knew he had to try. Believing that he was going to die." said Sam...."You've got it right.. He wanted no more of Sam's philosophy. but quickly stopped themselves." . "It's not a who but an it!" ." .for I cannot know the unknown .The knight seemed to have no choice..." said Sam. ...
that instant. . and feeling the universe all around him. . he felt connected to the very center of the earth. dazzling like the sun. the knight was the brook... His heart brimmed with love ... knowing that he was joined to both heaven and earth. new light now shone from him a light far brighter and more beautiful than his armor at its polished best . .in fact. He was the moon. for the influence that people had had on it.. gave him a new feeling of power. hearing. and the beauty of nature's shapes and colors that painted the landscape as far as his eyes could see filled the knight with indescribable pleasure... Because they came from his heart. . not the effect. and for the entire wondrous world. up out of the abyss! At the same time.The knight cried out with joy.. he was falling up. and onto his breastplate. . and he knew the full meaning of the inscription on the rock.. indeed. The Beginning . a strange thing happened: he began to fall upward! Yes. for Merlin.Squirrel and Rebecca watched the knight drop to his knees.. the melody of the gentle mountain breeze. and they quickly melted the last of his armor.Suddenly. The warmth of the afternoon sun.. and an overwhelming sense of well-being swept through him... He was the sun. he would no longer blame his mistakes and misfortunes on anyone or anything outside himself.He smiled through his tears. unaware that a radiant.The knight stood on the mountaintop breathing deeply.. tears of gratitude flowing from his eyes.He was love....sparkling like a brook. fear of the unknown had dulled his senses. for Squirrel and Rebecca. but now he was able to experience everything with breathtaking clarity. The tears poured down his cheecks. He could be all these things at once now.. . He grew dizzy from the enchantment of seeing. for life.. and for the events that had shaped it. I nearly died from the tears I left uncried. the tears were extraordinarily hot. His willingness to embrace the unknown had set him free. through his beard. He was now unafraid. He'd let go of all that he'd feared and all he had known and possessed. .. because he was one with the universe.As an unfamiliar sense of calm overtook him. He continued falling higher and higher.for himself. . he accepted full responsibility for his life. he thought..For. . he was no longer falling but standing on top of the mountain... .From this moment on... . Before... No more would he don his armor and ride off in all directions. shining like the moon. for Juliet and Christopher. No more would people see the shining reflection of steel and think that the sun was rising in the north or setting in the east. The recognition that he was the cause. he still felt connected to the deepest part of it . Now the universe was his to experience and enjoy. and more. impossible as it seemed.
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