The Gray Knight

Writing Prompt: “Two swords of godly origin lay stuck in stone. One is said to be evil the other heroic it is said whoever pulls one of these blades will be the ultimate force of good or evil. As a joke you pull on both however you and everyone around are in shock when both blades come free in your grasp.”

Anyone living in the city of Bar-tock would know the story of the two blades in the center of the city. Two blades, given to humanity by the gods, were both struck into the rock. One blade was a blade made for a holy warrior and champion of good. The other was a dark blade meant to be wielded by a demonic presence and a champion of evil. Both blades were hard stuck into the stone, unable to be pulled by people who tried. Princes, Paladins, Citizens, and traveling merchants all tried to pull the blades free, but none succeeded.

I grew up living in the slums of Bar-tock. This was a city of great wealth and great despair, but I had only experienced the later. I was like many children my age who lost their parents at a young age due to poverty and disease. I loved on the streets fighting rats for scraps of meat and pickpocketing merchants who made the mistake of meandering into the slums. I never had much more than what I could survive on for a day at the time. It was a horrible life, but one that I didn’t know how to escape.

When I was fifteen years old, Bar-tock had one of the worst winters I’ve ever experienced. Heavy snow, strong winds, and temperatures so cold, I could feel the chill in my bones. Many people huddled together using scraps for blankets and literally froze to death in their sleeps. It was a horrible time even compared to the horrible times I usually experienced. I remember it getting so bad that children my age and younger would flat out attack people in the richer parts of town hoping to get any amount of gold or food or anything that gave them a chance to survive. Others would occupy taverns hoping to get a bit of warmth before being thrown out into the cold by uncaring tavern owners.

One particularly cold night, I went with a couple of my friends to a tavern in the middle-class part of the district hoping to get some warmth and food scarps. We had heard rumor that one of the barmaids working nights would leave scraps by the backdoor for people to eat. We made our way across town, braving the cold, but something terrible was waiting for us. It seemed like a group of kids had gotten there before us and the alleyway was full of town guard grabbing kids and arresting them. Early on I remember some kids tried to get arrested by the town guard hoping that the jails would be warmer than sleeping on the streets. That was until we found out that they didn’t warm the jails. They just let the prisoners freeze to death because they didn’t want to waste the energy making sure they didn’t freeze. Now we knew getting arrested was basically a death sentence.

As soon as we saw the town guard, my friends and I turned and ran. There was no point hanging around, because the town guard could easily grab us and arrest us too. We didn’t need to be charged with a crime. Being poor was the crime.

It was about a ten minute run through the town before we found ourselves in the town square. It was completely abandoned for the night since no one wanted to be out in the cold. I looked around and I saw the large stone in the center, two swords stuck out of it. They both radiated an energy that seemed to keep the snow away, but I felt no heat from them.

It was a bit odd not to see anyone around keeping guard over the two blades. I remembered that in the legends I heard, the swords were originally guarded. They did not want just anyone to pull the blades, but it turned out the guards were unnecessary. No one had been able to pull the blades so there was no point of securing the blades. They weren’t going anywhere.

As I looked around, there was only the two of my friends. They both gave me strange looks as I approached the blades. They questioned what I was doing. Did I really think I could pull one? I starred at them for a second. One blade made with black metal which seemed to suck me in like it was a part of the void. The other a pearlescent blade that seemed to shine like the sun, even though the real sun was blocked by large clouds dumping snow on us. One evil, one good. Both seemed to call out to me.

The idea of pulling one was ridiculous. I was no prince or merchant. No hero. I didn’t matter. If I died on the snowy streets, no one would miss me or even notice I was gone. I was basically another rat living in the underbelly of Bar-tock. Even though I knew I couldn’t pull the blades, something made me reach out my hands. I knew it wouldn’t happen, but at the same time, what was the risk? What if I could pull a blade? Suddenly I would be something. I would be a legend. Maybe that would mean that I would no longer have to beg for food or deal with the cold.

My eyes darted between the two blades. Which one would I pull? Most people would go for the holy blade. I think most people think themselves as good and would want to champion a righteous cause. However, knowing this city, most people would have better luck pulling the dark blade. My hand went back and forth between the two hilts. Finally, I let out a breath and placed my right hand on the dark blade. Then I reached out my left hand and placed it on the light blade. Why pull one when I could try for both?

I wrapped my hands around the two hilts and pulled as hard as I could. Obviously I was not very strong due to being malnourished and underdeveloped, but I gave it all I could. As I pulled, the blades did not move. When they said the blades were stuck in the stone, they weren’t lying. But I didn’t give up. This was my one chance to escape this crappy life and I wasn’t going to give up after just one pull. I let out a breath and started to pull again.

What happened next would change my life forever. I pulled on both blades, pulling as hard as I could. Pulling on the blades as I gave every once of my strength and they came free. One moment they were so stuck that nothing could move them and the next, they came free like I was pulling them from liquid instead of solid stone. My eyes grew wide as I held, not one blade, but both. The blade of holy light and demonic darkness were both in my hand.

I heard a gasp and turned to see a group of town guard had pursued us to the town square. They all just stood and starred at me as I stood on the rock holding the blades. I was speechless for a moment, unsure what to say or do. The town guard also seemed unsure of what to do.

Eventually I broke the silence.

“The…the…legends say that whoever pulls these blades are to be a hero. Someone who is supposed to be a great…someone,” I began to speak but my eyes darted toward the darker blade.

What did it mean that I not only pulled the blade of light, but also the blade of darkness. Was I a hero? Was I a villain? I had no idea. This was supposed to be a joke. Just a last ditch effort not to starve to death.

I looked back toward the guards.

“I demand to be taken to someplace warm and with lots of food,” I demanded.

The guards obliged and began to lead me deeper into the city. I was lead into the innermost part of the city which was normally reserved for only royalty and rich merchants. People who spent more gold in a day than I could spend in a lifetime. The guards then brought me to the palace. Once inside, it felt like I had died and gone to paradise. There was a large fireplace which warmed me up and people began bringing me food. I ate and ate and ate until I felt sick. For a moment I was happier than I had ever been. But this was ruined the moment the King came in.

The palace guards had awakened the King in the middle of the night and he had made his way into the room I was eating. He examined me and looked at the two blades that I had laid down on the table next to my full plate. More people came in the King ordered them to examine the blades. My best guess that these were some sort of mages. One reached out to touch the holy blade and it glowed brightly. The mage yelped and stepped back as he held his hand like the blade had burnt him. The King’s eyes narrowed as he looked at me.

“You pulled the blades from the stone. Both blades,” The King spoke.

“Yes..” I said unsure if it was a statement or a question.

“And how did you do it?” The King asked.

“I…uh…I just pulled the swords. I didn’t think it would move, but it did.”

“You pulled the blades when no one else could. Tell me how you did it. How did you trick the stone and pull the blade.”

“I just pulled it. I don’t know. I didn’t trick anything.”

“From the looks of you, you are one of the scrum who do nothing but commit crime and plague this city. There’s no way someone like you could pull a blade when I couldn’t pull one. So tell me how you did it.”

Our eyes met as I noticed several other folks had entered the room. Dozens of palace guard entered the room, covered in thick metal armor, and carrying weapons.

The King gave a sly smile.

“Now. Leave the swords and I’ll let you leave here alive. You can go back on to the streets where you belong,” The King said.

My eyes darted around at the palace guards all armed to the teeth. Then I looked at the blades which pulsed with power, giving off a dim light.

I then looked at the King and placed my hands on the blades.

“No,” I said as I gripped both blades.

The blades lit up brightly and I felt a surge of energy run through my veins. I heard many footsteps approaching me, but my vision was blurred. I let out a scream as the energy burst from me in all directions. The holy light and unholy darkness mixed as it struck the bodies of the guards, sending them flying. The energy was so strong that the guards turned to dust instantly while the King was thrown backwards. I heard his cries of pain as he fell to the ground. The whole palace room was destroyed and the stone was scarred and blackened.

Then the light dimmed and I was no longer wearing rags. Instead I was wearing armor which was a mix of white, black, and gray. Symbols both glowed on the blades and the armor.

“Demon! Demon!” The King screamed as he held his face. I could see deep scars and burns on his face.

I stood there for a second starring at him. I still felt the energy radiating through me.

“I did not mean to bring harm upon you or anyone. I didn’t even know I could do this,” I tried to explain, but he King continued to wail.

I heard more guards begin to move toward the room and I looked over at the King.

“Do not come after me or I will be forced to come back here and kill you,” I said.

I did not wait to hear the King’s response. I just turned and started to run for the other end of the room. There was a large stained glass window which I ran at and charged through it. The glass shattered without resistance. Then I drifted to the ground slowly, landing in the snow.

Then I just started running. I ran from the palace and ran through the town. I ran toward the walls of Bar-tock and just kept on running. I had an inhumane amount of endurance and I ran faster than a warhorse. Nothing could stop me and I felt so powerful.

After that I spent years out in the wilderness harnessing my skills and understanding the blades and the power they held. I did not need to eat and sleep, but I did so out of habit. I no longer felt the cold or the warmth. I only felt the blades and they felt me. We were one.

I would travel from town to town taking odd jobs and helping the people in need. I would hunt monsters and strike down corrupt governors who hurt their people.

In some ways I became a legend among the people. A Gray Night with two powerful blades who would slay evil and would save the people in need. It felt good to be recognized as a hero. But in quiet moments I would look at the dark blade and would be puzzled by it. I had pulled both blades but I was unsure where they would take me.

Header Photo Credit to VHV.RS

Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/Akuma2004

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