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.

Contents

Chapters

Page

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 .

peering through his visor so that she could see his eyes.. .." said Juliet. Gradually his family forgot how he looked without it. "I wish I could see Father in person. and ride off in any direction. After a time. This he accepted philosophically... 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. one can't please everybody.... stiff armor and nearly breaking her ribs. When this happened. who wrote beautiful poetry. Christopher said to his mother. in a land far away. the knight would eagerly don his shining armor."That's not true." explained the knight.When he was at home and not completely preoccupied with his armor. or damsel to be rescued. while contemplating the portait. Juliet... dragon to be slain. which was no easy feat. "I think you love your armor more than you love me... ... the knight shut it out either by closing his visor or by abruptly going to sleep. kind. he didn't bother to take it off at all.." . She was growing impatient with having only a painting to remind her of her husband's face. and you don't really love me now. because when not fighting battles.. that sometimes he would ride off in several directions at once.. "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?" .... You didn't really love me then." insisted the knight. .." ."What you loved..... Christopher... in fact. "was the idea of rescuing me. golden-haired son."You can't have everything!" snapped Juliet."Then take off that armor so that I can see who you really are!" she demanded. slaying dragons." answered the knight. said clever things. he was occupied with trying on his armor and admiring its brilliance.Once a long time ago. the knight usually delivered monologues on his exploits. . .Occasionally. ... At the mere mention of a crusade. so.. . there lived a knight who thought of himself as good. the knight became so enamored of his armor that he began wearing it to dinner and often to bed. he had the annoying habit of rescuing damsels even if they did not want to be rescued.. although many ladies were grateful to him... And he rode off to battle frequently. Christopher would ask his mother what his father looked like. Juliet confronted her husband. mount his horse. He did all the things that good. He fought foes who were bad."I do love you. So eager was he..Juliet and Christopher saw little of the knight." she would sigh.. I have to be ready to mount my horse and ride off in any direction. who he hoped would grow up to be a courageous knight. . As time went on.... He slew dragons and rescued fair damsels in distress.For years this knight strove to be the number one knight in all the kingdom.. and loving. He also had a young. After all. mean and hateful. When the knight business was slow. and rescuing damsels. and she was tired from having her sleep distrubed by the clanking of armor. and had a penchant for wine.One day.."I can't take it off. hugging her clumsily in his cold. . When they did... Juliet would lead the boy to the fireplace and point above it to a portait of the knight. Juliet and Christopher were seldom able to get a word in edgewise." . .The knight had a faithful and somewhat tolerant wife.. kind and loving knights do. just as many were furious with him.. There was always another battle to be won.. . "There's your father.This knight was famous for his armor.One afternoon..

Dinner time that evening was difficult. continuing to wear the armor wasn't worth losing Juliet and Christopher." quipped the smith with his usual tact...... "I'm in no mood for your wisecracks right now.The knight paced back and forth in great agitation... Without saying where he was going.." ... when he thought about it." . and he had worn it for so long now that he'd forgotten how things felt without it. as she smashed her half-full plate of pigeon stew on his helmet.Reluctantly."Smith. alas.Suddenly the knight had an idea."You are a problem. Dismayed.."If you don't take off that armor.. momentarily forgetting the knight was his master. He loved his wife and his son and his classy castle.. he had lifted it just that morning over a breakfast of scrambled eggs and suckling pig. unaware that the smith obliged out of anger. who normally enjoyed bantering."Try again. nothing happened. Though he tugged on the visor again and again.. . Finally he came to a decision.. swinging a nearby hammer with vengeance and bringing it down squarely on the knight's helmet. If he couldn't shuck the knight out of his armor.. the knight told Juliet that the blacksmith had tried to split open the armor but had failed. you clanking clod!" she shouted. "You have a tough plight. dealt him a smashing blow to the helmet.Well. the smith was shaping a horseshoe with his bare hands.The knight was in turmoil. .... . Partway through the meal. .. Come back tomorrow after I'm rested.a good.Being a kind man. and loving knight. he tried lifting his visor but. You caught me at the end of a hard day. Knight. The helmet didn't budge. He had opened it regularly to eat and drink.. .. I'm taking Christopher. and riding out of your life. kind. Why. .. In fact. . but the visor was another matter. When he arrived. accidentally bringing it down on the smith's big toe. the knight reached up to remove his helmet.. who could? .. he hurried to the blacksmith's shop in the castle courtyard.. The knight felt only a twinge of discomfort. Why didn't Juliet realize that he was any of these things? . Only when gravy began dripping down past the eyeholes in his visor did he realize that he'd been hit on the head. getting on my horse. ."I don't believe you.. He had barely felt the smith's hammer that afternoon either.The knight.." .. that was stuck.. The blow didn't even make a dent. except when his big toe was crushed.The knight was distraught.. . How could this have happened? Perhaps it was not so surprising to find the helmet stuck since he had not removed it for years. but don't give up." ordered the knight.."With pleasure.. this was a real blow to the knight..." he bellowed as he stamped his steelclad foot. glowered. .. . the smith sensed the knight's panic and grew sympathetic.The smith let out a howl and.The knight felt nothing.... Juliet became increasingly annoyed as she pushed bits of food she had mashed through the holes in the knight's visor.. too.... I'm stuck in this armor... his armor kept him from feeling much of anything.. but it didn't budge! He pulled harder. "I have a problem... sire. He didn't want Juliet to leave. . but he also loved his armor because it showed everyone who he was ." the smith agreed. It held fast. The smith was by far the strongest man in the kingdom.." said the knight..

and his classy castle.."You didn't do it for us. the knight had to go. Unable to find aid in his own kingdom.. Juliet shrieked at him.Finally.. "The king has up and gone away... . "I could starve to death in this armor by the time the king returns."It's not my fault that I got stuck in this armor.. "Your son has nothing but a portrait for a father.The knight dismissed one idea after another as being unlikely to work.. and they kept at it for many more days without success... I might never see him again.. Juliet and Christopher would really leave." .If you wait for him.. "Strongest man in the kingdom. but he didn't know how to do it.. He also feared that in his absence Juliet might find love with another knight... one willing to remove his armor at bedtime and to be more of a father to Christopher.When the knight returned home. . indeed! You can't even break open this steel junkyard!" the knight yelled in frustration. he saw the court jester sitting cross-legged.. he thought. The king lived in a grand castle atop a hill in the high-rent district.. ... Some of the plans were downright dangerous. "Oh. Each day the knight grew more despondent and Juliet grew colder. playing a reed flute. he would miss Juliet.The knight was sick at heart that his wife didn't seem to love him anymore... . How else could I get nice castles and horses for you and Christopher?" ." ... Somewhere there must be someone who can help me get this armor off... and I'm tired of talking to a closed visor. ." The knight felt ..The knight was upset that Juliet didn't believe he was trying to get his armor off. . freezing it off by jumping into an icy moat. you'll be delayed. so." .. I'm never pushing food through the holes of that wretched thing again. There were strange cards that he used to tell people's fortunes.. who had been very good to him. .The jester looked up..To you there's nothing he can say.. I had to wear it so that i would always be ready for battle." said the knight. early one morning..The jester was called Gladbag because.. He and the smith had tried. I've mashed my very last mutton chop!" .. He knew that any knight who would even think of melting his armor off with a castle torch.Of course..."Where has he gone?" asked the knight. He didn't dare look back for fear he might change his mind. . "You did it for yourself!" ."He's taken off on a new crusade." he sighed. He had to get the armor off. and he rode away. the knight had to admit that the smith's efforts were useless. . . or blasting it off with a cannon was badly in need of help. the knight decided to search in other lands. "I came to say farewell to the king. Gladbag. over his shoulder.."Hi.. . and funny little puppets that he used to amusingly insult his audiences....The knight was disappointed that he had missed the king and perturbed that he couldn't join him on the crusade. he carried a beautiful rainbow-colored bag filled with all sorts of things that made people laugh or smile. Christopher. he got onto his horse..On his way out of the province... the knight stopped to say goodbye to the king....... He also feared that if he didn't get his armor off soon. Nevertheless." argued Juliet.. As the knight rode across the drawbridge and into the courtyard... brightly colored beads that he made appear and disappear..

... ." barked the knight. aren't you a silly sight? . to bring the real you into sight. ......very much like slumping in his saddle.. .. The knight pulled his horse to a stop and...."You'd sing a different tune if you were the one stuck in here.. "Merlin and Arthur lived long ago.Gladbag retorted: .you'll feel the pain of others." said the knight. I'm going to look for him."We're all stuck in armor of a kind. galloped away to find Merlin."It's true. excitedly....... that's his claim to fame.."I can't wait for Merlin to show up.when the pupil is ready. "You know someone who can get me out of this armor? Who is it?" .." . and with new hope in his heart." growled the knight. the teacher appears......" With that.."I don't have time to stay and listen to your nonsense."But those woods are so big.Yours is merely easier to find.. weeks. .. but Gladbag called after him: .. lyrical voice. . nearly crushing the jester's fingers with his gauntlet. knight...Gladbag replied: .They're opportunities a-knockin'" ... He reached out and shook Gladbag's hand in gratitude..... "Sorry." ."Well.In yonder woods the sage doth dwell. "Can't you take someone's problem seriously for once?" ."When the armor's gone from you. yes. .....Gladbad yelped... ... ." .. .. stiffening in his armor.. too...."There is one who can help you..." .. Gladbag sang: . his armor wouldn't let him." .All your might can't solve your plight...Then you'll discover how to be free. I have to find a way to get out of this armor. or years. he turned back to Gladbag." said the knight."I'm in no mood for your insulting rhymes...In a clear... "How will I find him in there?" ..."Merlin the Magician you must see." . The knight quickly released the jester's hand. . ... ..." ......"I'm off!" said the knight. but."One never knows be it days." Gladbag rubbed his bruised fingers. of course...."Problems never set me a-rockin'.Gladbag smiled." ... yet he's alive and well.This Merlin I know is one and the same. ."But that can't be!" exclaimed the knight. He wheeled his horse around...." ......"Yes......" . the knight kneed his mount forward to leave."Merlin? The only Merlin I've ever heard of is the great and wise teacher of King Arthur.

Chapter 2 In Merlin's Woods .

.... .... Somehow.Wearily. ." he commented. What made him feel worse was the fact that he didn't even know how far a league was..." .. biting off a piece of carrot and sharing it with the nearest rabbit. Merlin held out a silver cup with a strangecolored liquid in it. "You are too weak to run. ... that is why you put on the armor in the first place....The knight shook his head glumly from side to side.Merlin smiled in reply. Fortunately." ... . he felt comforted and fell promptly asleep. As if that weren't bad enough. "you will never again have to climb on your horse and ride off in all directions.." ." said the knight .." he ordered... "You are most fortunate.When the knight awakened. his armor squeaking as he did.The knight was too tired to question this. Twice." ..One morning. "I've been lost for months... eyeing the cup suspiciously.. There were many woods to search but only one Merlin."All your life."Perhaps you have always taken the truth to be an insult.. he had been lost since entering the woods...The knight didn't much like this remark either.. but he didn't feel very smart at all trying to survive in the woods. Drinking was no less hazardous."I'm going to stay only long enough to learn how to get out of this armor. He still hadn't found Merlin even though he'd traveled many leagues.... The knight couldn't tell north from south or east from west." he said to the magician. . .. clothed in a long white robe." . So the poor knight rode on." stated Merlin. he almost drowned....As he rode through the woods alone. That was the morning he found Merlin. . day after day... and birds were perched on his shoulders and arms.The knight didn't bother to deny this. he dropped his metalencased body onto the grass. How could all these animals find Merlin so easily when it was so hard for me? ." said Merlin. "I didn't come all this way to be insulted."What does that mean?" snapped the knight..... "Of course. but his helmet filled up with water. .. "Drink this. he woke up feeling weaker than usual and a little peculiar. He must stay in one place for a while. ....After months of searching in vain..It was no easy task to find the wily wizard. This made eating a game of Russian roulette. He'd always thought of himself as very smart. Merlin looked at him compassionately." said Merlin... the knight was quite discouraged.. He was sitting under a tree. The knight tried sticking his head into a stream. ." corrected Merlin."When you learn that. the knight realized there were many things he didn't know."What is it?" asked the knight.. but he was too weak from hunger and thirst to climb back on his horse and ride away. Animals of the forest were gathered around him.Reluctantly he admitted to himself that he didn't even know the poisonous berries from the edible ones. The knight recognized the magician at once.. night after night. He tried to sit up.. "A person cannot run and also learn. but he was too weak. becoming weaker and weaker... "I've been looking for you. . Instead.. he saw Merlin and the animals all around him."You are so afraid. for he was too thirsty. sharing the carrot with some of the other animals." . his horse could. .The knight stiffened.. the knight climbed down from his horse...

raising an eyebrow in amusement..The magician's face lit up...... "Patience! You have been wearing that armor for a long time. the knight handed the cup back to Merlin. The first sips seemed bitter. You put it on yourself.. "Yes.... Each squirrel climbed up onto the knight's shoulder."Are you saying that life is good when you accept it?" asked the knight. Waiting until Merlin had finished playing "Hark Ye the Days of Old.."Why not?" retorted the knight irritably...." said the wise magician.." replied Merlin.. Grateful.. Have you ever asked yourself why?" . holding nuts in their little mouths...."All right."I will not.. . . ..."Do you expect me to accept all this heavy armor?" ."That was when you began to accept what you were drinking. . ." the knight asked a question long on his mind." Merlin said."Is it not?" replied Merlin.. "Were you really the teacher of King Arthur?" . . was it not pleasant?" . "you were not born with that armor.. he asked Merlin the same question: "When will I get out of this armor?" Each day. ... At this point." Merlin said."Yes.... The rabbits did the same thing with carrots.... the animals and the knight were listening to the magician play the latest troubadour hits on his lute.." ." ... and Merlin gave him large cups of Life to drink through the straw. the magician clapped his hands. put one end in the cup."Why?" . the later ones more pleasant. and the last swallows were quite delicious.."Why not?" ........The knight shrugged and sipped the liquid through the reed.." said Merlin." Merlin replied.."This is a great idea!" said the knight. I'll drink it. then pushed the pieces through the knight's visor."Life?" ."Ah.."I call it a straw.. but what else could a knight who was stuck in his armor in the woods possibly do? . . then as you tasted more of it." he said. "You should put that stuff on the market. cracked and chewed a nut. I taught Arthur. and the squirrels. . and the last swallows quite delicious.. lined up in front of the knight... ." Merlin just smiled.The knight nodded.."You will be able to think more clearly when you regain your strength. "Yes." .The animals fed the knight regularly. When Knights Were Bold and Maidens Were Cold....Each day. and slipped the other into one of the holes in the knight's visor.. .With that. Slowly the knight grew stronger..One night.... "It is too precious to waste.. You cannot get out of it just like that. and he began to feel more hopeful. "Did it not first seem bitter.. .. This method of feeding would never be endorsed by the health department...." He plucked a reed...... and the deer crushed roots and berries for the knight to eat..."What is it?" asked the knight. Pour it into my visor."But how can you still be alive? Arthur lived eons ago!" exclaimed the knight."Life." . his head was beginning to hurt. He wasn't used to thinking in this manner.. You could sell flagons of it... Merlin replied. .

" .. ...... kind.. he blurted out. Suddenly... Then he remembered something that Merlin had said to him when he first arrived... why are you sitting on my tail?" . . kind.... cursing Merlin under his breath. and loving? He decided to ask Merlin." ... That is."No.....he drifted off to sleep. excuse me!" said the knight. invisible power that is the origin of all.. and loving." added Merlin.."Huh?" The knight peered down to the side and noticed a little squirrel sitting beside him." said the knight.The knight escaped thinking about this in his usual manner of escaping things . Her tail was hidden from sight."And you were afraid you would be seriously hurt or killed..The following morning. ." ."And a clever one. . .. .." added Merlin.. "Sometimes he really gets under my armor!" . . kind." .." . ..The knight could not refute this.. he could see most of the squirrel...."Past...Merlin shook his head. quickly moving his leg so that the squirrel could reclaim her tail. present.... "Who ever said you had to go to battle?" ..."Oh..."Isn't everybody?" .." replied the squirrel without any resentment in her voice.What did he think? "Could it be. "You once said that I put on this armor because I was afraid..... .." ."I don't doubt that. why did you have to prove it?" Merlin asked.." .. the knight plunked his burdened body down under a tree to comtemplate the magician's questions.."A tribute to my good nature."I had to prove that I was a good. in amazement.. kind... "Otherwise.." argued the knight. I can't see very well with this visor in my way. .With a thud. and loving knight.."Could be...."If you really were good. .." said a little voice. and future are all one when you are connected to the Source. "That's why you have to keep apologizing to people for hurting them..He labored against the armor's weight in an attempt to get to his feet.." he said aloud to no one in particular..."Why do you always answer a question with another question?" .." ."What do you think?" Merlin replied. he awakened with an odd thought stuck in his mind: Was it possible that he was not good." .." groused the knight.."And why do you always seek the answers to your questions from others?" The knight stomped off angrily."I don't understand. you and I are talking!" .."The only thing that irritates me more than a smart-aleck magician is a smartaleck squirrel......." . but your mind is limited." replied Merlin... I wore it for protection when I went to battle. .. "considering that you sat on my tail.... and loving?" . "I don't have to stay here and talk to you." replied the squirrel.."Is that not true?" responded Merlin.. "That Merlin!" he muttered."It is the mysterious. "I hope I didn't hurt you. "It trapped you in all that armor. "that I'm not good. "Hey ."What is the Source?" asked the knight... "That is because you are trying to understand with your mind..."I have a very good mind...

He told the knight that going back to give of himself was a lovely gift.."And that is exactly how you will be going back if you go in your Armor. "However.. I've started talking to squirrels... sure we can... You are becoming sensitive enough to feel the vibrations of others..just because it is?" .. ." .." . "Wait! What's your name?" .." whined the knight. I am looking forward to the day when you start talking to flowers. ." commented the squirrel."Splendid..." cautioned Merlin." .Dazed. "Surely they would give me another chance. "I want to go back to them in the worst way. I want to go back now and be a good. "You did not talk to the squirrel in words.. "but don't you ever accept anything the way it is . about the attention he showered on his armor. . Had he imagined this? At that moment..." .. ... Otherwise it lies like a burden between people..."Why not send Christopher a note and ask him?" suggested Merlin... and loving husband to Juliet and a great father to Christopher." ... every time I cracked a nut and pushed it through your visor." said the knight. has to be accepted...The knight looked at Merlin sadly."How can I hear you now when I couldn't hear you then?" ......"And you haven't been around him long enough!" . . .."But animals can't talk. He remembered Juliet's endless complaints about his going off to battle so often."Perhaps that armor is thicker than it appears. "You've talked to me before?" . The knight was obviously confused.."I admire an inquiring mind. "I have to get out of here. I have to get back and take care of them." said the squirrel. I have to get out of these woods!" .."Squirrel".The knight looked troubled. a gift. the knight shook his head."Certainly.The squirrel flicked her tail at the knight and ran up a tree.. I am one of the top knights in the kingdom.." . "I don't want to wait until I get the armor off..."Where would you go?" ."You're answering my questions with questions.. but you felt her vibrations. "Merlin. kind.." ..." . "It's just that people don't listen." ....... ........ The knight called after her..... splendid?" . and about his closed visor and his habit of abruptly going to sleep to shut out her words.. After all... . Maybe Juliet wouldn't want him back..." Merlin said gently. The knight thought about this. They've been alone for too long.."Back to Juliet and Christopher...." ." replied the magician. so Merlin continued explaining.The knight shook his head in bewilderment."That'll be the day you plant them on my grave."Oh. to be a gift..."But I miss them. "You've been around Merlin too long. but certainly Christopher would. she replied very simply and vanished into the topmost branches.. and you translated those vibrations into words."Just that."You mean they might not want me back?" asked the knight in surprise." said the knight."How can you take care of them when you cannot even take care of yourself?" Merlin asked.Merlin nodded in understanding...." he said. he saw Merlin approaching. "What do you mean..

.The knight struggled to his feet just as Rebecca swooped down onto Merlin's shoulder. High above them.." the knight expressed his worries about Rebecca..The knight stood there for a moment.. . fearing she might have fallen prey to one of the hunting falcons he and the other knights had trained..." . circling for a landing. but he'd gotten both of them mad at him in the same day.The knight quickly apologized.When Merlin finished playing his lute and singing "You'll Have a Long. "Rebecca will take it.."The smartest pigeon who ever flew . Then.... exhausted and halfdrowned from the tears in his helmet. "that your son does not know enough about you to give you an answer. ." .. so Merlin and the knight looked. .A week passed. Not only had he talked to both a pigeon and a squirrel... they saw Rebecca." snapped Rebecca.. realizing that the knight had much to learn.......The knight agreed that this was a good idea. They were all looking skyward... Taking the note from her beak." said Merlin softly." .All at once. She's only a stupid bird. However.. Cold Heart. or you'll drop my note."Don't coo at any strange pigeons.. his grief soon overwhelmed him.The knight was puzzled.. He winced..." the knight called after her.Bighearted bird that she was. .."Let me see!" said the knight.. stunned. . wondering how he could have participated in such a foul sport . a great chattering arose from the animals." .. the knight fell asleep.will never wind up in someone's stew. the magician glanced at it and gravely told the knight it was from Christopher.. "It's blank!" he exclaimed.Rebecca ignored his thoughtless remark." . His jaw dropped with a clank as he stared at the note in disbelief. and Rebecca still had not returned. "which is more than I can say for you....The knight became more and more anxious.. . eagerly seizing the paper.. for knights in shining armor simply didn't cry. He tried to choke back the tears.. .... Cold Winter if You Have a Short... "She doesn't know where I live. then groaned and slowly sank to the ground.."It means.Merlin reassured the knight by making up a happy little verse: .."I can tell north from south and east from west.... "What does that mean?" . He was thoroughly shaken.then winced again at his awful pun.. Rebecca accepted the knight's apology and flew off with his hastily written note to Christopher in her beak. but how could he get the note to Christopher? Merlin pointed to the pigeon sitting on his shoulder. .. .... too. .

Chapter 3 The Path of Truth .

The magician then pointed to another path. and ignorance. fear. but fighting no longer seemed to have any purpose. "I'm sorry I acted so unknightly. Merlin was sitting quietly beside him. ."It is not as difficult as it may seem..Merlin reminded the knight of his new purpose: to get rid of his armor. "I'm not sure it's worth it.... or heard a beautiful melody without your armor getting in the way?" . ...." ."You cannot continue living and thinking as you have in the past... "My beard got all soggy.The knight looked at the steep trail without enthusiasm. . "That is how you got stuck in your steel prison in the first place."Yes. You could even die of something like catching pneumonia from a soggy beard." said Merlin. "It doesn't matter to Juliet and Christopher whether I get my armor off or not. but it leads to dishonesty." said the knight.When the knight awoke."You will see. you are some of those things.. It was narrower than the first and very steep." he added in disgust. Come to think of it. ."What do you mean?" .." replied Merlin.. "It is time for you to go.. but I couldn't see it?" . Merlin."Do not apologize.. and you can go back that way if you want. .." Merlin explained .."People are often unaware of the path they are on.. .." said the knight."But how am I ever going to change all that?" asked the knight uneasily......" . .. smelled the fragrance of a flower. He had come to enjoy staying in the woods with Merlin and the animals.. "I was lost for months!" . "This was the path you followed to get into these woods. "That.." . and he would probably die of loneliness and fatigue.. "Being trapped in all that steel has caused you a lot of problems."I didn't follow any path."That looks like a tough climb. and there were several kings who would be happy to have him. "I'm tired of lugging it around. he could get back into the knight business and go on some crusades." observed the knight."I suppose my armor has become a nuisance. Anyway it seemed he had no place to go.."And how long has it been since you have felt the warmth of a kiss." said Merlin..." ." he said.. . and I'm fed up with eating mushy food.This disturbed the knight..."your armor!" The knight pondered this.." .." . there was no hope of removing his armor..... ." .."Why bother?" asked the knight morosely... greed.."I can hardly remember......." mumbled the knight sadly.." replied the knight. jealousy. If he returned to the path that he had traveled before..." . "You have just taken the first step toward getting out of your armor. He had a good reputation in battle.Merlin nodded in agreement..." Merlin explained.. It gets steeper as it approaches the summit of a mountain far in the distance.."You mean this path was here."It is what you won't have."Do it for yourself. Juliet and Christopher apparently didn't want him to come home." ." replied the magician. I can't even scratch my back when it itches. What will I have when I get to the top?" ."At times.. True.. hatred. I have to get this armor off for myself... "is the Path of Truth. leading the knight to a path. "You're right.." ." Merlin admitted quietly.. and things will only get worse as time goes on. He stood up.. ."Are you saying that I am all those things?" the knight asked indignantly......" suggested Merlin.

"OK." he said with resignation. you are in no shape just now to be rescuing anyone.From the knight's point of view.... shaking his head. where she'd heard the conversation." she said. "there is a different battle to be fought on the Path of Truth. ." . one of the top knights in the kingdom needing courage from a squirrel and a bird! He struggled to his feet. ." . Knowledge.. the magician took an exqusite golden key from his neck and gave it to the knight.." he said. and landed on the knight's shoulder.. and the third. . signaling to Merlin that he was ready to begin his journey." he said." . you'll stray from the path." . no." . "There will be no princesses in any of these castles. "The path has areas too narrow for a horse to pass. you will find your way out only after you have learned what you are there to learn... .."I know!" cried the knight eagerly."You might not be able to ride me. the knight grew quiet while Merlin continued.The only way to get the armor off.. "I'll try the Path of Truth.. "Squirrel will accompany you."What do you expect me to do. "You will not have to travel alone." Merlin said firmly.Merlin nodded. the second. castle tours didn't really appeal to him.Aghast... The only way you can get to the top of the mountain is to go through those castles.. isn't this something. ..Thus reprimanded." . I've been to the top of the mountain. "There will be a princess inside each castle. "I'll go with you. "Why can't I just go around the castles?" he asked sulkily.." Merlin told him.. and I'll slay the dragon guarding her and rescue -" . he said to himself." said Squirrel. He sensed that this journey was going to be much more difficult than a crusade."Enough!" Merlin broke in. and I know the way. the knight plunked down on a rock. dreading the thought of making the arduous journey with a smart-talking animal.. .. . "The first castle is named Silence.." . Will and Daring.. his courage waning rapidly. The fight will be learning to love yourself. narrow trail..Well.. Once you enter them.The knight knew that he'd better start immediately. "Yes... Who else is going to chew nuts for you and push them through your visor?" ..The willingness of the two animals to help gave the knight the courage he needed... and you are certain to get lost.. was to follow the Path of Truth.. . Besides.."Oh. "Your decision to take an unknown trail while encumbered with heavy armor takes courage.." said Merlin. too. at the moment.The knight looked at the difficult path ahead..As they walked toward the path... "I'll get my trusty horse. "but you'll need me to help you eat... .. Then he looked down at the steel covering his body.." he agreed. You have to learn to save yourself first." ...Rebecca flew over from a nearby tree... or he might change his mind.The knight sighed deeply as he gazed up the steep. Even if there were.Merlin knew what the knight was thinking. it seemed. . this didn't sound like nearly as much fun as rescuing princesses... It disappeared between tall trees that jutted up toward some low-hanging clouds. You will have to go on foot. ride squirrel-back?" asked the knight.. "This key will open the doors to three castles that will block your path..... "I think I'd rather die of a soggy beard."If you do.. but then he might die trying to struggle up the steep mountainside..

Part of his visor had broken off and fallen away! How did that happen? he wondered. Pushing himself to a sitting position.Squirrel nodded. From time to time. and he could feel the cool air against his face..He climbed to his feet faster than he had done in years. . which she pushed through the holes in the knight's visor.." answered Merlin.. then the knight with Rebecca on his shoulder."How will I do that?" asked the knight.." Merlin's gentle gaze rested on the knight for a moment. . he suddenly realized that he could see more than he had the day before.. "If you encounter anything you cannot handle. As he was trying to figure out this phenomenon. which the knight drank through the straw that Merlin had given him. .. "Squirrel! Rebecca!" he cried.He was awakened the next morning by the sun shining in his eyes.."It will begin with learning to know yourself.. cooing merrily."You're going to waste all your energy talking..The knight considered this."But how?" asked the knight.. so you can leave it here..After a few hours.... He mentioned this to Rebecca who hopped up and down. .. excitedly chattering and cooing....." Merlin replied." ... . . Rebecca flew on scouting missions and returned to report what lay ahead. "It rusted and fell off. Quite to the contrary. He was not used to traveling in armor without his horse." said Rebecca....The three of them continued on up the mountain..." ."That's it!" he shouted." . the knight fell asleep. "Why . "Let's get going." Rebecca scolded. Too tired to stay awake for the nuts Squirrel was preparing next.The knight was astounded. "You're starting to see the differences in other forms of life because you're starting to see the differences within yourself. why.. The sorrow he had felt was so deep that his armor could not protect him from it. exhausted and sore. "Tears from real feelings will release me from my armor!" .Squirrel answered his unspoken question. He looked closely at the faces of some robins and and saw that they didn't all look alike.. for he still thought a knight should be smarter than a pigeon... He noticed tiny sunlit particles in the air as they filtered through the branches of the trees... he became aware that Squirrel and Rebecca were looking at him.. Then he disappeared.... Squirrel went to a nearby brook and filled some walnut shells with water. .. just call me and I will come.." .." ."Any self-respecting magician can do that.. Rebecca and Squirrel decided that they might as well stop there for the night. his tears had started to break down the steel surrounding him... he vanished!" ....Rebecca and Squirrel were so overjoyed at what was happening to the knight that neither of them even mentioned that this was terible rhyming... Unaccustomed to the glare.. .. . He was too proud to ask.. "This battle cannot be won with your sword. "He really hams it up sometimes..The knight tried to figure out exactly what Rebecca meant."You mean you can appear anywhere I happen to be?" .. His visor had never before allowed in so much light.. the knight collapsed.. . They started out with Squirrel in the lead.. Since it was almost dark anyway."From the tears you cried after you saw your son's blank letter.The knight's helmet squeaked as he shook his head in assent. Then he added. "Forsooth! Let's hit the Path of Truth!" .. . he squinted....Rebecca flew among the bushes and returned with some berries.. It was an especially fine day for the knight.

.The knight mulled this over. As he opened the door.. completely blocking the path."If you had truly accepted yourself as beautiful. Instead.. you'll have fewer disappointment."The fact that you can say that makes you as smart as we are. He couldn't recall many people who were happy just being people. He's happy just being a rabbit. Sure enough.. The knight took the golden key from his neck and fitted it into the lock..Excited at the thought of seeing the castle.. You wouldn't have been disappointed.' I wound up being disappointed in myself for being ugly instead of beautiful. "Animals accept and humans expect.' If the sun doesn't come out. thinking I was the most beautiful baby in the whole world. . 'I expect the sun to come out this morning so I can go down to the lake and play. "When you learn to accept instead of expect..." . the knight clanked forward even faster. . it won't ruin the rabbit's whole day." Squirrel replied. a castle loomed ahead.This made sense to the knight..The knight nodded at the wisdom of this. "I've spent most of my life being disappointed. was disappointed that they would not accompany him." Squirrel explained." . I remember lying in my crib.. it wouldn't have mattered what she said. "We can show you the door.As Rebecca flew off. she called cheerily.. "We're not going in with you...The knight.. "I'm beginning to think that animals are smarter than people. . He had expected a very fancy structure. He almost said so." .... but he caught himself. who had gone scouting ahead. Then my nurse looked down at me and said. who was learning to love and trust the two animals...."I don't think it has anything to do with being smart." said Squirrel.. came scampering back.." . You'll never hear a rabbit say. . Rebecca whispered." . ." .." .. and I was disappointed in the nurse for being so impolite.Soon they came to the door of the huge castle. "The Castle of Silence is just over the next rise. the Castle of Silence looked just like any other tract castle. He reached the top of the hill quite out of breath.. "but you have to walk through it alone. The knight confessed to Squirrel and Rebecca that he was disappointed.Just then Squirrel..... He was expecting again. Rebecca laughed and said...... 'You have a face only a mother could love...." .The animals knew that the knight was hesitant to step into the castle. "We'll meet you on the other side." said Rebecca..

Chapter 4 The Castle of Silence .

" .. .. the knight cautiously poked his head inside the doorway of the castle. the knight was startled by the sound of a familiar voice behind him.. I heard you were on a crusade. King. His knees trembled slightly....The knight looked puzzled. He saw only a fire blazing in an enormous stone fireplace on one wall and three rugs on the floor. Not wanting to look chicken to a pigeon in case Rebecca could still see him." said the king... too. I tried that...... He wasn't looking forward to wandering around the Castle of Silence by himself.." .. The Castle of Silence is well named..The knight turned and was astonished to see the king approaching him from a far corner of the room. He sat down on the rug nearest the fire. eerie silence in this castle.The king laughed ruefully.. ... "Say." .."We set up barriers to protect who we think we are." agreed the knight. ." .." . Then one day we get stuck behind the barriers...... with his armor. he thought." suggested the knight."I never thought of you as being stuck..The knight was greatly encouraged." . The knight had thought of his own castle as quiet."What do you mean?" asked the knight." said the king.The king shook his head.. "I didn't even see you."I certainly hope so.Left on his own."Yes.looking for the door.. Second. It's true that my companions and I weren't so lonely because we talked constantly."Most of us are trapped inside our armor.He walked into the huge anteroom of the castle and he looked around..."The same thing you are. "I have enough wisdom to know when I'm stuck and to return here so that I can learn more about myself.. "When you understand what's in this room."Maybe we could just walk along and be quiet together.. . harder this time..." said the knight.."One can't really see until one understands... closing the door after him..Suddenly. . his face brightening. Knight .. . ." . you'll be able to see the door to the next.. Knight.." . there was an extraordinary. thinking that perhaps the king could show him the way.. "could we go through the castle together? That way we wouldn't be so lonely. "I once tried that. it's impossible to see the door out of this room. ... caused him to make a low metallic rattle. Never in his life had he felt so alone.. and we can't get out. "I'm surprised to see you here. What are you doing here?" . but Merlin had promised that there'd be no dragons to slay." the king explained." .. You're so wise."King!" he gasped. but it was nothing like this." ." said the knight. "but very few understand truth.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..For a moment.. .....The king shook his head again.. . King... but when one talks.." declared the king. and the knight trusted him."Hello." ..." said the knight. "I wouldn't be on this path myself if I weren't trapped in this armor.... he pulled himself together and walked boldly inside. It made the . he wished he hadn't left his sword behind.. "It's easier for my subjects to understand. "No. He realized with a start that the fire wasn't even crackling.."That's the word I give out whenever I travel the Path of Truth... which.."Everybody understands crusades. .. especially at those times when Juliet didn't talk to him for several days.

.." He sang them over and over again. adding....The king looked back at him compassionately. "But if you weren't talking . "I discovered that when I was with someone." . Honey" and "Anywhere I Hang My Helmet is Home.emptiness less painful... It will be your greatest victory if you can summon the strength to stay and do what you need to do here." . "Is there any advice you can give me before you go?" ."One never finishes traveling the Path of Truth.The knight hurried over to where the king had been. but I still couldn't see the door out of this room. he looked knowingly at the knight.... "Oh.. "Where are you going? The door is over here."Wait! Please!" called the knight." replied the king.The knight knew well that he couldn't shake the king's resolve. hoping that from up close.. ... "when you have been here long enough..." ." .. "Yes?" . stamping his foot emphatically and inadvertently bringing it down on the king's big toe. 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. "Be good to yourself. All the knight could hear was the sound of his armor echoing through the castle.." said the king."What do you mean finally saw it? Didn't you remember where it was from the other times you were here?" asked the knight.With this.. enveloping . "I understand that you don't want to stay in this castle by yourself.. "This is a new kind of crusade for you." said the knight. "Sorry. then disappeared into the wall."I don't get it.. "I don't want to stay here by myself!" he exclaimed." said the king. he sang a couple of rousing battle songs: "I'll Be Down to Get You in a Crusade.. .one that requires more courage than all the other battles you've known before. Neither did I when I first began coming here.... I finally saw it just as you came in... the knight asked." .The king thought for a moment then replied. one must do alone...After awhile. .."You will. the king turned. sire." .As his voice grew tired. now the king. he might be able to see the door.."That door is only an entrance. leaving the knight staring disbelievingly after him.The king rubbed his toe tenderly. reached out as if to open a door... To cheer himself up." .. .. I showed only my best image. Finding what appeared to be only a solid wall. The door to the next room is on the far wall.. . he limped across the room. .."Being quiet is more than not talking. ... my friend.....The knight was dismayed.. standing tall." With that...." The king waved. "I must be on my way now.. dear Knight ..The knight was horrified! First the smith. well.. One must be alone to drop one's armor... ." said the knight apologetically. I find new doors as I understand more and more. the stillness began to drown out his singing." Then. he felt more depressed than ever in his life. . Each time I come here.. he began to pace around the room. wondering why the king would bother to keep coming back.The king yelled in pain and hopped around... too.Perplexed. .... but now I realize that what one must do here.The knight protested...

He talked about what he was like as a little boy and how he was different from the other boys he knew. It occurred to him that for most of his life.At that moment. "I am the real you... .."Yes... devastating quiet. he hadn't really listened to anyone or anything.him in utter.. The rustle of the wind.. and the sound of water running through the brooks must have always been there.A voice replied. 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... and the knight might have drowned if another door hadn't appeared in the wall just then. Since books were handwritten by the monks then. was void of all sound... the knight did something he'd never done before..Encouraged by his progress. He unexpectedly found himself saying that he had talked so much all his life to keep himself from feeling alone.. too. it could be." he asked himself aloud. It led to a room still smaller than the others.The knight cried for so long that his tears poured through the holes in his visor and soaked the rug beneath him. and he had soon read them all.The voice seemed to come from within himself. Could that be? . This chamber appeared very much like the last. He said anything that came into his mind." answered the voice. he talked to himself .. pulled it open.." ..Although he was exhausted from the deluge. the knight looked around. slowly pulled it open. Nor had he heard Juliet when she tried to tell him how she felt .." . Soon he felt Juliet's pain and loneliness..As he spoke these words. 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. . It. His own pain and loneliness welled up in him. . and entered a room that wasn't much bigger than the stall where he'd once kept his horse.just as he was doing now. ."You did.. The tears flowed into the fireplace and doused the fire.. but he never actually heard them. the patter of the rain. and he could shut her out.. . and stepped into another room. It reminded the knight that he was sad... another door became visible... . It was smaller than the previous one.. That is when he began talking eagerly to anyone who passed his way. the knight began talking aloud to himself... The knight opened it and stepped into the next room.or so he had believed. Who had spoken? .as lonely as he felt sitting in this tomblike room. He crossed over to it.The knight thought hard about this until the sound of his own voice broke the chilling silence. He sat still and listened to the silence. too." he sat inside and read. ." ... "Because you're closing in on yourself.In order to pass the time.. too.. except it was somewhat smaller..Startled. he waded to the door. . And yet another door appeared. Only then could the knight frankly admit something he'd never acknowledged before: He was afraid to be alone.He sat on the floor and continued thinking. Indeed.. they were few. While they hunted quail and played "Pin the Tail on the Boar. For years... . In fact. He burst into tears. he had forced her to live in a castle of silence. the entire room was starting to flood. He was alone .." said the voice in answer to his thought. . he saw a door in the far wall of the room.Juliet must have felt very lonely talking to a man encased in steel . "I guess I've always been afraid to be alone. He'd never enjoyed what was happening at the time. When there was no one to talk to..especially when she was sad. "I wonder why these rooms keep getting smaller. All he had to do was pull down his visor..

.When the knight first awoke.. He looked around in amazement. ."Then for how long?" .. He had a lot to think about.." they said merrily in unison.. ... The knight reached up to scratch his head." said the knight.. he was lying on the Path of Truth just the other side of the Castle of Silence..."Squirrel! Rebecca!" he shouted. .. the knight realized that Squirrel and Rebecca were sitting on his chest.."Look at yourself. .. he might have imagined the whole thing." .. "but how could a whole helmet rust overnight?" .Squirrel laughed. "but this is the first time you've been quiet enough to hear me."How did I get out of there?" he asked.." ."I can't call you me. Why don't you get some sleep. It confuses me.. puzzled..." .The knight opened his eyes wider and pushed himself up to a sitting position.... The rest of the world seemed to have vanished... I want to know what to call you... The knight thought she was going out of her bird...." . Call me Sam." replied the knight. "I've lived all these years without hearing a word from you.. "You must have cried again in the Castle of Silence.." . "You can't expect to learn everything at once." ."Why not?" came the reply. peaceful slumber.. ." .."You're out here." . Then his eyes closed as he fell into a deep."I've been around for years.. both of us are in trouble!" .. Why haven't you spoken up before?" . ." said the knight........ Now that I do. ." said the knight. He wanted to tell Squirrel and Rebecca about Sam..The voice replied kindly.. and it took him a moment to realize that he was actually scratching his own skin... "We're not in there. his head beginning to droop from sleepiness."All right." Rebecca cooed. . "I was talking to ." ." protested the knight." said the voice with a note of disgust.. "You weren't in the castle just overnight.?" .. Rebecca lay gasping and flapping on the ground......." ... He was only aware of himself. he didn't know where he was.. I'm you.The knight was doubtful. prey tell. He demanded to know what was so funny.. "but before I do.. then. who am I..Rebecca answered.."But I'm the real me. "If you're the real me... His helmet had falled away! He touched his face and his long."We know.."You must know Merlin.."I did.Squirrel was the first to catch her breath.. Sure enough. "Why."Call me?" asked the voice. You thought your way out. .. scraggly beard. the first thing you say is that you are the real me.. "sitting there half-starved in that hunk of junk with a rusted visor and sporting a soggy beard." He stopped himself. He clasped both of his gauntleted hands to his head... "The only way possible.. If you are the real you. Besides."OK. "How did you get in here?" he asked.."Why Sam?" asked the knight. but it wasn't easy to explain."Now see here."The last thing I remember." replied the voice." said the knight...The animals laughed uproariously.. . ... As he grew fully awake..

.He shook the water from his beard.... "Then I really did hear him? It wasn't just my imagination?" .."I did not mean to be hard on you.." .The knight thought for a moment. "I'm beginning to understand. Sam is real ." said Merlin. That was the first time you shed tears for another.in fact. Apparently the knight had caught Merlin taking a bath."Since I know myself. Merlin.The knight's mouth dropped open in disbelief..." .. Rebecca was born with wings.."Yes. ..." ... and he was dripping wet..The knight told Merlin that he felt proud."You really know how to bring a fella down. That is why time passed so swiftly without your realizing it. "How could you know I wanted to ask you that?" . or you never would have met Sam." ." said the knight. . He was bare except for his long beard..."It is all right.. "To answer your question.. ... It is as pointless as it would be for Rebecca to feel proud that she can fly. interrupting." ...."I would say you're nuts!" exclaimed the knight."You were in the castle for a long... I can know you." said the knight...Merlin chuckled."What if I told you that while you were in there I could have easily gathered more than five thousand nuts?" ." .... "Magicians are often inconvenienced. He looked toward the sky and..." ... You were in the Castle of Silence for a very long time. I could feel Juliet's pain because I'm part of her?" ." ... said." affirmed Rebecca... You are just starting to listen to your real self. .. just as you were meant to do.. "Merlin..."You will by the time you go through the Castle of Knowledge.. a more real you than the one you have been calling I all these years. ." Merlin answered.." Then Merlin disappeared before the knight could ask any more questions. it is true.The knight felt relieved.. You were born with a heart .As he had promised."Sorry about the intrusion. We are all part of each other. "No. "That is why you could cry for her as well as for yourself. . "One does not have to feel proud of being human. long time. I must talk to you. the magician appeared immediately.... You are not going crazy... You are doing very well.. The magician smiled indulgently.Merlin never failed to astound the knight. in a booming voice. "but this is an emergancy! I -" ...." said the knight.."I don't understand.and now you are using it.

Chapter 5 The Castle of Knowledge .

thought the knight. "It means that the more you know..."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.. Squirrel... If the Castle of Knowledge was anything like the Castle of Silence." he said. but there weren't any. knowledge is for all... .." . How do you like me now that I've had a shave and a haircut?" ...The knight wondered how the word pigeon had come to mean an easy mark.. The knight groped for the customary torches by the castle door to light the way.. .. and he was freer now than he'd been before. This was the largest castle the knight had ever seen..."Actually. It read: .. The knight carefully felt his way to her and saw that she was pointing to an inscription that glowed on the wall. ..." .." .." Sam replied.. As he pushed the door open....."Sam... "Remember that I'm you. he'd be happy to have Sam along for company. ." Sam replied... The knight stared at the impressive structure and wondered who had designed it. Though he had appreciated the lifesaving technique. he could eat nuts without Squirrel's help..I'd rather have a torch.. . the knight's thoughts were interrupted by Sam's voice... "Silence is for one. . I don't want to go through that again. ." grumbled the knight as Squirrel called out to him.The knight. "I'm glad you're back..... I never left.The knight was surprised but pleased to hear from Sam again.......the source of all knowledge.The knight.A castle with a door of gold and no torches? "Even cheap tract castles have torches.... The knight took the key from around his neck and turned it in the lock.. and its door was solid gold...you shall find your way.. . I'll wager you're right!" exclaimed the knight.. They stopped only twice that day. and Rebecca started out once more on the Path of Truth. With the helmet gone...At that very moment. .Just before nightfall. heading toward the Castle of Knowledge. even larger than what the king had built for himself... . ."No. The knight looked and felt much better when this was done. .Sam spoke up.Knowledge is the light by which . the trio trudged over a hill and beheld the Castle of Knowledge in the distance.. Squirrel. ...The knight laughed at Sam's joke. he really didn't consider it gracious living.. he asked Rebecca and Squirrel if they were going to leave as they had done before." . And a glimmer of light crept . It was larger than the Castle of Silence..The three of them walked through the doorway and into a darkness so dense that the knight couldn't even see his own hand. but whoever runs this castle sure is clever at cutting down on light bills. He could also feed himself the fruits and roots to which he had become accustomed. the lighter it will get in here." Rebecca replied.. 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. "The Castle of Knowledge was designed by the universe itself ."It's the first time that you ever profited from being clipped. .. He liked Sam's sense of humor. and Rebecca crossed the drawbridge over the moat and stopped before the golden door.

he considered plunging into the darkness of the castle and blundering through.. Yes... "Yes." suggested Rebecca. it dawned on the knight that he needed Christopher. . "I suppose I have to figure out the answer before I get any more light. He had needed all the beauty that Juliet added to his life with her quick wit and lovely poetry... was quite forbidding and. the knight mumbled.. .. I want to find my way through this castle fast so that I can get to the top of the mountain!" . he had needed her more than he loved her.The knight was not in a receptive mood. a dreadful thought occurred to him: He hadn't wanted to blame himself for the things he did.... .. Squirrel called out again for the knight to join her. He'd left Juliet on her own to do most of the moving....."You're catching on quickly.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. and he didn't want to listen to her philosophy... 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..into the room. tears flowed down his face. although he had to admit that he loved Juliet more before she began lying under wine casks and emptying thier contents into her mouth.... She had found another inscription that was chiseled into the wall and glowing: . but didn't you need them... however. like often inviting friends over to cheer him up after he'd gotten stuck in his armor.. He read it again: Have you mistaken need for love? . too?" .. ."Isn't that when Juliet started lying under wine casks"? asked Sam in a gentle voice. The knight reflected that Juliet also kept a very clean castle.."Maybe what you're supposed to learn here is that you have all the time in the world.. He sighed and sat down before it.including his being stuck in his armor....Often they'd had to move into a cheaper one when he came home broke from a crusade." Sam replied.As he continued to cry. . and tears began to form in his eyes. Indeed.Still perturbed.. he needed her wine drinking so that he could say that everything was her fault ... .... He wished he could have loved her more and needed her less..."I suppose so. He preferred to blame Juliet for all her wine drinking. too. The blackness. . For a moment.Have you mistaken need for love? .. and she had cooked delicious meals for the knight and his friends.. as he was usually off at some tournament. .Just then.. It seemed to him that he had no choice but to figure out what the inscription meant.... Then. but he didn't know how.. too.. He had also needed the nice things she did.The knight knew that he loved Juliet and Christopher. He had given her a lot of castles to keep clean." . . ..The knight nodded. . you loved Juliet and Christopher..Sam said. to which the knight snorted. Juliet had made attractive garments for the family to wear... he was afraid... . . without his sword." granted the knight.As the knight realized how unfairly he'd used Juliet. "I don't have time to play Twenty Questions.

"It doesn't show what you look like.... But Rebecca insisted and.. . . "One does not always know when to ask for help. but now she hopped up and down on his shoulder." replied Merlin. he vanished." but as he'd loved these things about Christopher.Merlin echoed the knight's thought.. It shows what you're really like.." sobbed the knight.. "Do I have something to show you!" . . and truth is love. As his eyes dried.. . he saw Merlin smiling down. This didn't mean the knight didn't love Christopher... "Not anymore. .. "C'mon.. scarcely able to contain herself as she guided the knight and Squirrel to a large mirror.. He also liked to hear Christopher say." said the magician... . a beautiful."I know I'm a fool."Wow!" she said."No... "I love you."How do I begin to love myself?" asked the knight.more than he'd loved him. vital person whose eyes shone with compassion and love... Rebecca came flying out of the darkness ahead. "That's it! That's it!" Rebecca chirped loudly. To his amazement. ..As the knight started onward. ready to go on. the knight got to his feet.As he admitted this. is there?" ." .. It was unlike any light that he'd seen before." .. Dad." he said impatiently.Encouraged. "There is nothing more beautiful than the light of self-knowledge. "It's only a crummy old mirror." And so saying." ...."You have discovered a great truth.The knight was intrigued but not enthusiastic. he noticed the light around him. . he saw a charming.. he couldn't really love others... He'd never cared much for mirrors because he'd never considered himself very handsome. Looking up through his tears.." .. . so. . reluctantly.This comforted the knight. A knight needed a son to go out and do battle in his father's name when the father grew old.The knight was disappointed...."It's not an ordinary mirror.. .. he now stood before the mirror and gazed at his reflection.." .The knight looked at the light around him then into the gloom ahead. It seemed to come from nowhere.The knight had never seen Rebecca so excited."That is all right... all atwitter... and he stopped crying.." the magician told the knight. yet everywhere. bright light shone around the knight where there once had been darkness.." ..The knight cried harder as he realized that if he didn't love himself. they had answered a need in him as well."You already have just by knowing what you know.. He thanked Merlin for showing up even when he hadn't called him. "You can love others only to the extent that you love yourself... instead of a tall man with sad eyes and a large nose. let's get going. for he loved his son's golden-haired beauty. you know the truth." Rebecca insisted."No." said Merlin. His need for them would get in the way.... armored to the neck... 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... A gentle hand touched his shoulder... ... "There's no darkness in this castle for you. her eyes sparkling with enthusiasm. She was usually pretty cool. ..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..

. guns hadn't been invented yet. . that the castle had only one gigantic room....." explained Sam." he yelled.. "I don't look like that.. and loving."Now that would be a waste.... He realized that all he had to do to have these qualities was reclaim them.." said the knight.At this thought.." protested the knight. kind.." ."Oh.The knight nodded in argreement.." said Sam. but. It illuminated the whole room... "But I couldn't just say everything I felt like saying and do everything I felt like doing. love..... .. He was good. revealing... . He was ready to leave just as Squirrel came running up. And his face is full of beauty and innocence." The knight stopped short as he uttered these words."Yes." said the knight.all to prove that he was good.. the dragons he'd slain." ." ...." replied Sam.."Jumping javelins!" he exclaimed." .. It seemed there was no way to get around Sam."No.. .." said the knight. . "you put an invisible armor between you and your feelings. "It's you.." .. the beautiful light shone once more...The knight was in no mood to appreciate Sam's song or his humor." said Sam.. take me to it. "Stop with those tiresome rhymes.At that moment.." ."You can't kick me out.The knight and Rebecca followed Squirrel into the courtyard." said the knight....." said the knight eagerly. .. It's been there for so long that it's become visible and permanent." chortled Sam. intelligence. "something terrible happened on my way to it. "Real knowledge isn't divided into compartments because it all stems from one truth. luckily. for they had been his all along.." . He thought of all the crusades he'd fought in. .... "I'm you.."This mirror is a phony.... "This castle has a courtyard with a big apple tree growing in the center of it. Don't you remember?" ... The truth was he didn't have to prove anything. kind......"It's the standard building code for a Castle of Knowledge.. the knight gladly would have shot himself to get rid of Sam. to the knight's surprise.."That's your potentional answered Sam." ."Maybe I did hide my feelings.... realizing that he'd lived his whole life in a way that would make people like him. You've needed time to learn what you just learned. or I'll kick you out. Kindness. "It hasn't been wasted... ." Sam said quickly.Squirrel answered..... compassion.."I still feel like crying...The knight looked into the mirror again.. Nobody would have liked me. . brighter than before. for he was getting quite hungry.." ." . The sturdy boughs .They're not the kind that cause armor to rust... "that man is a perfect specimen. ."But. and the damsels he'd rescued from distress . and loving."If that's my potential. . Then he sang this little tune: . and unselfishness looked back at him."You're seeing the real you..." . "I've wasted my whole life!" .."Tears of self-pity end up in disgust. "to be beautiful and innocent and perfect. "the you who lives beneath your armor. looking deeper into the mirror."Who's that?" he asked. .

Squirrel shook her head no..."Ah." answered the knight. . Then he noticed an inscription chiseled on a slab of stone beside the tree: ." ."I know. The magician was dressed in his long white robe." Sam piped up. .."So what's wrong with that?" asked the knight defensively.of the large tree bent under the weight of the reddest.. .The knight looked at Rebecca." replied the magician...." . who was somewhat offended.. "ambition from that complicated mind of yours led you to try to prove that you were better than other knights....The knight pondered this." ."I was about to call you." .The knight found himself chuckling.The knight sighed." said Rebecca. ... . .."They are born beautiful.......... It's just that human beings have very complicated minds that make them want to become better. but.."No. "But I do know." said the knight."Neither do I. who also shook her head no."If you do... . I mean that they want to be better than others are .. . Trees are content just being trees .." said Sam. "Everyone needs help to understand a tree.." ."Sorry. he had no idea what it meant. .. It has no ambition. and perfect. quite frankly... ." protested the knight... shiniest apples that the knight had ever seen.. ."Better than they are.... picked an apple."Better than what?" Merlin asked. yes.." chimed in Squirrel."No one ever said that the Castle of Knowledge would be a breeze... Finally." said the knight..." Sam said firmly... like I've always wanted to be the best knight in the kingdom. "This tree is like us... .. Maybe you don't need any."We have minds. "But what would a person be without ambition?" ."But human beings are different.. ... idly plucking a few notes on his lute. and sat down under the tree with Rebecca and Squirrel........The knight turned and saw Merlin standing behind him and the animals..."She's on to something.The knight groaned.. .."All of you are right...the same as Rebecca and Squirrel are happy just being what they are.." said a familiar voice. .. too." ."No.. What could be better than that?" Merlin asked.."That's all right for trees and animals.. ." she said thoughtfully.." explained the knight. . "that I don't have any ambition."Happy. .. ...but may you now learn about ambition.... "They have minds." said Merlin. I impose no condition.. ." declared Squirrel. "These inscriptions are getting harder and harder to understand..For this fruit. .. and he was carrying a lute. .. I don't think so.." ... he decided to forget it....... innocent. we'll never get out of here.. "Do you get this one?" he asked them. ." .." .... you know. "and I'll bet this tree doesn't have any either.."How do you like them apples?" quipped Sam.....

"Human beings were given two feet so that they would not have to stay in one place... "if I sat around all day giving away free apples.. .. the same air."You're getting me all confused. It can be the same with people when they have ambition from the heart..." Merlin smiled." . like most people. This tree is doing exactly what apple trees are meant to do .. and perfect as you were?" .and you'll soon have all the horses and castles you want. .. Either you want to get ahead or you don't.A hint of amusement flickered across Merlin's face.. but if a person is kind.." . compassionate.." replied the knight.. They want to be smart and have nice castles and be able to trade in last year's horse for a new one. It competes with no one and harms no one..."How?" asked the knight."But. "You receive the same life energy as a tree. innocent."It's all a matter of perception. . only ambition that comes from the heart can also bring happiness... you too can bring forth the fruits that nature intended ."Those riches can't buy castles and horses." ."What's ambition from the heart?" questioned the knight.. . intelligent. I couldn't own a classy castle and I wouldn't be able to trade in last year's horse for a new one...." said the knight..." objected the knight."Go tell that to a wife who wants a castle in a better neighborhood.. want to have lots of nice things...... and the same nourishment from the earth.."I was happy trying. You use the same water. I assure you that if you learn from the tree. how could that person be richer?" .. "the more the tree grows and the more beautiful it becomes.. and it can get you fine horses...." said Merlin.."Here's where we can learn from this apple tree." . "Ambition that comes from the mind can get you nice castles. philosophically....just as there is more than one kind of ambition.."It is true.. trying hard to understand." ." .. loving. However.fulfilling it's potential to the benefit of all.." muttered the knight.. Then you could give away the apples you do not need so that others could be nourished." responded the magician."You. "I know people need ambition. It has become handsome and fully mature.. .."It's easier for trees than it is for people in this world." retorted the knight.."Were you? Or were you so busy trying to become that you couldn't enjoy just being?" ."Now you are talking about a man's desire to be rich. but if they would stand still more often to accept and appreciate ."Ambition from the heart is pure.. ." said Merlin.. it serves one in such a way that it serves others at the same time." . ...."You mean I could get everything I need just by being rooted and staying in my own backyard?" asked the knight quizzically. bearing fine fruit which it gives freely to all... "You could sell some of your apples to pay for a new castle and horse. "there is more than one kind of riches ..." . They want to get ahead..Merlin laughed."There is more to it than that." ."How could you be better than other knights when they were all born as beautiful... In fact.. and unselfish." ."It seems to me that ambition is ambition... but it is necessary to separate need from greed.." said the knight.. The more apples that people pick.

He also discovered that he liked himself better than he had in years." he pledged. nervous.. He studied the apple tree flourishing before 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.As the knight spoke these words." ... With the firm step of a young man.The knight sat quietly.."From this moment on. he started out for the Castle of Will and Daring with Rebecca flying above him and Squirrel scrambling at his heels. . what did he have to lose? . He recollected how often time had dragged on and on when he was depending upon others to fill it. he'd already lost everything. . The idea was frightening. so. the knight felt lighter and younger than he had in years. the castle and Merlin both disappeared. contemplating Merlin's words. His beard was very long again. then again. He looked from it to Squirrel to Rebecca to Merlin... Thirsty. they would truly understand ambition from the heart. but...With all his armor gone except for the breastplate. and the knight found himself back on the Path of Truth with Rebecca and Squirrel.. had played tricks with him. Evidently. ... and Merlin's ambition was obviously from his heart. all were beautiful specimens of life.instead of running around to grab.. and all this he now knew that he must change. .. All this he had acquired by ambition from the mind.The knight contemplated this rather odd phenomenon and soon realized that Merlin had been right. the Castle of Knowledge. and exhausted from lugging around his heavy armor.. like the Castle of Silence. my ambition will come from the heart. Alongside the path was a sparkling brook. He was undernourished. Neither the tree nor the animals had ambition..Then he considered himself . He decided that time does pass quickly when one is listening to oneself..scrawny and with a beard that had begun to get scraggly again. .. They all looked happy and well nourished..

Chapter 6 The Castle of Will and Daring .

... loudest voice he could command. .. but much to the knight's dismay. and its walls looked thicker. the knight said to himself. unrecognizable voice.. A dragon that could read minds was absolutely the worst kind....." ."Can you think of a better place for me to live? I'm the Dragon of Fear and Doubt." . It was enormous..."Yes. In the strongest. Confindent that he'd soon pass through this castle as well. . Shocked. .... "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.... the magician didn't appear. fire-breathing dragon. stalled for time. ."I don't know. He began to tremble......." ."I don't know. its last "ho" nearly igniting the seat of the knight's pants.The dragon bellowed again. . meaning that this dragon had a high butane content.The knight had to admit this dragon was well named. the door to the castle flew open and out lumbered a huge. Merlin's in Paris attending a magician's conference.. "He's usually pretty reliable."He meant ordinary dragons.... but this one beat them all. the knight called out to Merlin for help.The knight reached for his sword." ." laughed the dragon.like ."Ho.. menacing." replied Rebecca firmly. "I've become used to some little luxuries ." . . glittering with shiny. ......Rebecca. but his hand fell away empty." replied Squirrel." roared the monster in a booming voice that shook the trees and nearly knocked Rebecca off the knight's shoulder.."Then you take on the jolly green flame thrower!" The knight turned and quickly retreated across the drawbridge. not knowing what to do next.. In a croaky. but also out of it's eyes and ears... he shouted. . ... ho.... .When they were halfway across. "Pretty tough talk from a scaredycat.Rebecca whispered in the knight's ear. green scales. "Merlin once said that self-knowledge can kill the Dragon of Fear and Doubt......"Are you quitting after you've come this far?" Squirrel asked as the knight brushed sparks from his backside. as was the case with any run-of-the-mill dragon. .. you oversized Bunsen burner!" .. and flames roared not only out of it's mouth.. To make matters worse. the knight started across the drawbridge with the animals.. . He'd seen some dragons in his time. the knight stopped dead in his tracks. ... cocked her head and listened attentively. "Get out of my way. "What are you doing in the Castle of Will and Daring?" he asked.By dawn of the next day.The knight. ho. He promised there wouldn't be any dragons on the Path of Truth...He can't let me down now.."Why doesn't he come?" the knight asked anxiously as he dodged a jet of blue flame from the monster.The situation looked grave. "From what I can pick up.The beast snorted." the knight replied. but somehow the knight forced himself to stop trembling...." . who was sitting on the knight's shoulder. It was taller than the others. the flames were blue. Fear and doubt were precisely what he felt. sending fire in all directions."Do you believe that?" the knight whispered back. the unlikely trio came to the final castle.

. while the other half of him wanted to stay in the brook."They're right. Spotting a small brook. snorting and spitting fire... kind."I'm tired of figuring out what things mean.." . and you know what they say: Truth is mightier than the sword.. that self-knowledge can kill the Dragon of Fear and Doubt?" asked the knight..."If you believe the Dragon of Fear and Doubt is real.." explained Rebecca.Astonished.. The dragon was only an illusion."Not too bad for a first try.. of course. This time. "The fire was an illusion... "You go back a second time!" . ... but has anybody ever proved it and lived?" quibbled the knight.. ..Squirrel said matter-of-factly. the knight took a deep breath and slowly marched back over the drawbridge. he heard Sam say.." said Squirrel. Yet the knight's courage soon began to melt.."Remember.... too. the knight turned and ran. .." .The dragon.The knight looked across the drawbridge to where the monster was pawing the ground and setting fire to some nearby bushes. . Or rather. It was three against one. Courage gives God to man. ."And the fire coming out of its mouth? Was that an illusion. Self-knowledge is truth. first try?" . for the Sam half of the knight agreed with Squirrel and Rebecca.." added Sam.... .. I'd much rather just sit here in the .As the knight grappled with his flagging courage. "God gave man courage. the knight flew across the drawbridge with Squirrel and Rebecca close behind him.Sam chimed in.. the dragon was only an illusion. .. .The dragon let out a might laugh and shot a stream of searing flame at the retreating knight.living..The knight felt concerned... too...." ." said Rebecca. . ." added Rebecca. he quickly plunged his scorched seat into the cool water.. from the heat of the dragon's flame.. came out to meet the knight again." .. . With the thought in mind that the dragon existed only if he believed it did....The knight retorted angrily. Therefore.. With a howl of pain."Right." ."Because you made the fire real by believing that the dragon is real.."You were very brave. you give it the power to burn your behind or anything else.Squirrel and Rebecca stood on the bank.. trying to comfort him. With a cry of both fear and anguish.. too?" ."Do you believe.. and loving. "You have to go back and face the dragon once and for all... "You'll do better when you go back the second time..... .. he didn't have to feel fear and doubt. ." answered Rebecca..... "What do you mean. the knight looked up from where he sat."Then why am I sitting in this brook with a burned behind?" demanded the knight. however."I know they say that. as did his beard." said Squirrel. quenching the flames with a hiss.. "How can you live with yourself if you don't have the will and daring to test your self-knowledge?" ..... it was two and a half. the knight continued marching forward.. . apparently to keep in practice...."Certainly..No sooner had he uttered these words than the knight remembered he didn't need to prove anything." .. He was born good..

there's a chance that it will destroy you. took a deep breath." Sam encouraged.a knight who chanted over and over. This was certainly a stubborn fellow.He knew that nothing could stop him now." . ...." ." With that. the dragon began to spit small seeds at the knight."If you truly believed that. and you'll be weaker. until it was finally no bigger than a frog... It's flame extinguished. ."I've won!" shouted the knight victoriously. .... "Perhaps this time. ." . "Each time you do.. it couldn't set fire to him. Reluctantly..The dragon could barely speak. it vanished in a puff of blue smoke.. why didn't you walk up to the dragon with me?" asked the knight... But these seeds . the knight started to reach for the castle door..The dragon looked up in disbelief...... "You see..The knight threw back his head..Rebecca fluffed her feathers.."Decisions are simple when there's really no alternative."Look. "Well. the dragon became smaller and smaller.." .....the Seeds of Doubt . but if you don't face the dragon. The path appeared much steeper than it had been so far. no longer feeling inferior to his feathered friend.. .. but. laughing in pure joy." . The dragon became still smaller as the knight continued to advance determinedly.Sam explained..Amused. but it didn't matter.As the knight continued to approach. I was right. he struggled to his feet. .brook and relax. "Back again?" it snorted.. It's your trip.But it was a different knight who was marching toward the dragon now ." the knight called after it.." . ." said the knight.. "Fear and doubt are illusions. Selfknowledge can kill the Dragon of Fear and Doubt..... .didn't stop the knight either. I'll be stronger...Rebecca flew up and landed on the knight's shoulder. He could see the top of the mountain. crackling flames at the knight.The dragon threw gigantic... "if you face the dragon."Come back whenever you want. it will surely destroy you. "You don't have to learn will and daring because you've just shown that you have them. this time I'm really going to burn you!" ... but I'll be back again and again to stand in your way.. but the Castle of Will and Daring was gone! . "I wouldn't have wanted to interfere." . and once again started across the drawbridge. try as hard as the monster might. time and time again.

Chapter 7 The Summit of Truth .

. ."If that's the case.. You're so thin you could be slipped under a door.."You've got it right.. and everyone else."I'm not nearly as afraid as I used to be... his wife. he let go of all the judgements that he'd made against them." said Sam. the universe.. .whatever you want to call it. ... When he was almost to the top..Inch by inch and hand over hand." said Sam. .."What are you trying to do ..... .The knight looked up at the rock.." ....."Actually. "You have to let go. Then.who he thought he was and who he thought he wasn't. "It ... In .. for the first time.and trust. .. ......if to the known I cling. As he fell deeper into the void... his fingers bleeding from holding onto the sharp rocks. his path was blocked by a huge boulder. Not surprisingly. Did the inscription mean that he would have to let go and fall into the abyss of the unknown? ..life. it had an inscription chiseled on it: . He was losing strength every second.... and you're full of stress and fear." .. which somewhat cleared his head. the knight let go and plunged down. his father. his teachers... . without judgement and without excuses...Though this universe I own.. "Take a look at yourself.. "It's not a who but an it!" .Faster and faster he dropped. ..The knight peered over his shoulder into the apparently bottomless chasm below. It seemed impossible to decipher the inscription while clinging to the side of the mountain at the same time.... Then he read the last part of the inscription aloud: "for I cannot know the unknown if to the known I cling.The knight took a deep breath..those things he thought were true and those things he thought were false.. . the force.He recalled all the things in his life for which he had blamed his mother. . There was his idenity ... he saw his life clearly." said Sam....... ..."Let go. knowing that sympathy can weaken a human being... ... God .Squirrel and Rebecca were tempted to offer sympathy. . .." said the knight. his son.. .. and a horrifying thought entered his mind: The rock to which he was clinging for dear life was also known to him. but quickly stopped themselves.. ." Sam replied..the things he held as good and those he held as bad.. . ..."Trust whom?" the knight retorted hotly.. . giddy as his mind descended into his heart.for I cannot know the unknown ."Yes.. There were his beliefs ." .The knight considered some of the "knowns" to which he had been clinging to all his life. And there were his judgements . ." said Sam.I possess not a thing.. Believing that he was going to die. ..." .... the knight climbed..kill both of us?" the knight screamed." Sam whispered urgently.... ."Not whom.The knight seemed to have no choice... but he knew he had to try. then let go .. down into the infinite depth of his memories.."It?" asked the knight. we're dying right now...... his friends. He wanted no more of Sam's philosophy... and blood was now oozing from his fingertips where he clutched the rock.. Knight.The knight felt entirely too exhausted to overcome this final hurdle..

that instant...As an unfamiliar sense of calm overtook him. Now the universe was his to experience and enjoy. and an overwhelming sense of well-being swept through him.. for Merlin.. He'd let go of all that he'd feared and all he had known and possessed. he felt connected to the very center of the earth.He was love.. 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. .. .For.The knight cried out with joy.Squirrel and Rebecca watched the knight drop to his knees.. the tears were extraordinarily hot. I nearly died from the tears I left uncried. the knight was the brook.. but now he was able to experience everything with breathtaking clarity.He smiled through his tears. through his beard. he still felt connected to the deepest part of it . indeed. the melody of the gentle mountain breeze.. . and they quickly melted the last of his armor. His willingness to embrace the unknown had set him free.Suddenly. up out of the abyss! At the same time.. . . The Beginning ... for Juliet and Christopher. He continued falling higher and higher. . he thought. His heart brimmed with love .The knight stood on the mountaintop breathing deeply. shining like the moon.. . He was the sun... he would no longer blame his mistakes and misfortunes on anyone or anything outside himself.From this moment on.. The tears poured down his cheecks. he was falling up.for himself. .. and onto his breastplate.in fact. for life. 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.. gave him a new feeling of power. for the influence that people had had on it. and more. a strange thing happened: he began to fall upward! Yes. new light now shone from him a light far brighter and more beautiful than his armor at its polished best .. He could be all these things at once now. He was the moon. and feeling the universe all around him.. .. he accepted full responsibility for his life. . for Squirrel and Rebecca. He was now unafraid.. No more would he don his armor and ride off in all directions. He grew dizzy from the enchantment of seeing. tears of gratitude flowing from his eyes. he was no longer falling but standing on top of the mountain.. dazzling like the sun. The warmth of the afternoon sun.. because he was one with the universe. . and for the events that had shaped it.. Before. impossible as it seemed. and for the entire wondrous world. unaware that a radiant. and he knew the full meaning of the inscription on the rock. knowing that he was joined to both heaven and earth. The recognition that he was the cause.. fear of the unknown had dulled his senses. Because they came from his heart.sparkling like a brook. not the effect.

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