I wrote this a while ago, but I liked it enough to post it here.
It wasn’t raining that day.
For most of his life, his only experiences outside during the day was under a cold, rainy sky. He knew that a storm would follow whenever he marched into battle. The icy waters that fell over him calmed his mind, steadied his nerves, and gave him focus. With every battle he fought, the harder it rained, the more efficient he was.
He had no name of his own. However, he has heard what others have called him. Titan. Champion. God of Death. Monster. None of these labels mattered to him. It was the only life he knew. He was a warrior. Born and raised in darkness, to sharpen his senses. Taught to fight as a child. To never show emotion. To exist only as a living, breathing, weapon.
There was purpose to him, though. For the greater good of the Kingdom. He never truly understood what that meant, yet never questioned it. There was no time to do so. it was all about the fight. Never about philosophy.
Years of training has made him a mountain of a beast. Standing taller than any man, his size resembled an ox that had learned to walk on his hind legs. Yet, he was as quick and agile as a child. A frightening combination, punctuated by the customized armor that he wore. When he first put on his raiment, the polished steel shined like the full moon. However, years of combat has stained it so much with blood and viscera that it turned black. The only color left was the brown of his own eyes, that shone through the otherwise featureless face-mask.
Many have tried to best him in battle. Bullies, bandits, and other unsavory types have attempted. None survived for a rematch. Yet, he felt nothing. No joy, no remorse. The rain would always wash his mind clean of such things.
Then the war began. Truly, a war he was fated to fight. The reason didn’t matter to him. It was just another order, on just another day. He was always the first in battle, always the last to leave. Each day’s victories encouraged his fellow soldiers. In the evenings they would celebrate, cajoling him to join them. He would simply walk away, without so much as uttering a sound. It meant nothing to him.
There was word that the enemy forces would make their final advance in the morning. He would prepare as always: rise before the others, and wait at the highest hill near the battlefield. That way, he could see their marching patterns long before the battle began.
But it wasn’t raining that day. When dawn broke, the sky burst into a brilliant orange. He had never seen such color before. The sky was always dark, and the rain dulled whatever was around. He was all too familiar with the sight of blood, from the rusty brown to the sparkling vermillion. With a sky as clear as this, though, everything else exploded in his eyes.
As the sun rose higher, the sky began turning blue. Trees and grass were defining themselves, in various shades of green. On the site of the upcoming battle, a field of flowers were in bloom. Dark blues, yellows, and reds. Reds unlike any he had ever seen. His heart raced in his chest, in a way that felt different than a grueling battle. He surveyed the area just as methodically as he’d done before, yet his mind raced to a near panic.
The black knight removed his helmet, to better absorb the new world around him. His face, unseen by many, was craggy, and well defined. A life led only in combat gave him lines men much older deserved. His hair and his beard hung long, and damp. His eyes grew wide with a sense of wonder and awe.
The expression on his face became increasingly confused. ‘What… is this?’ he thought to himself. He was at peace, and yet, his mind was full of turmoil. He was familiar with his surroundings. Somehow, though, everything seemed so alien.
There was no sorcery in this. He had felt the hand of the dark arts before and stood defiant. But this day, something was different. He felt a stirring in his heart he’d never felt before. There was no rain to blanket him. In the face of all this grandeur and beauty, the rush of emotions slammed into him like a large war hammer. Overwhelmed, he fell to his knees. For the first time in his life, he truly felt alone.
'Is this why I must fight? For this?' He questioned, wiping the flood of tears from his eyes. He looked down into his calloused hands. 'So many lives. Gone by my hands.' He was practically in a trance when, in the distance, the echoing sound of war drums could be heard. Slowly, he rose to his feet and replaced his helmet. He still had a job to do.
When he arrived at the encampment, the men there had already prepared themselves. A soldier approached him, still strapping on his shield. “Sir, the enemy approaches from the northwest.”
He nodded silently as they made their way towards the battlefield. The rest of the soldiers were in good spirits, almost sensing a guaranteed win. No one seemed to pay any mind that he was troubled.
Their ranks fell into place almost immediately. “Have you come to die at the hands of the Titan?” someone screamed from the back. Others laughed at the remark. He felt another feeling, then. Annoyance. Still, he remained as stoic as ever. Seemingly staring down an entire army. Their drums beat louder. The chanting of their mages droned on. As they approached, the field of flowers he had admired from afar was being trampled underfoot.
The black knight drew his enormous blade. It rattled in his hand, where once it had been steady. As more and more of the flowers died, his anger grew. Where once he stood silent, he roared. Like a large beast in the throws of death, the very sound shook the bones of everyone. His own troops were frightened, for they have never heard him utter a single sound. The bellowing echoed in the vale, stopping the invading army dead in their tracks.
'No more.' he thought to himself. No more should the new life under the sun be destroyed by anyone. He advanced, slowly at first, then began running. He intended to kill every last one of them. This was for the good of the kingdom.
His troops took that as a sign to charge. They shouted in unison, and moved in like a tidal wave. Soon, it became a massacre. The din of metal on metal rang loud. Arrows flew from every direction. Blood was everywhere. Amidst the turmoil, stood the black knight. Swinging and slashing like an exuberant painter. He had never fought like this before. With such fire. With such purpose. He ignored the clouds gathering overhead. He ignored the sudden downpour. It no longer comforted him. His heart ached so much with every life he snuffed.
Eventually, the battle ended. A few of the enemy survived, scattered like wild dogs that were spooked by a noise. The defending force cheered in triumph. Yet, someone was conspicuously absent. Usually, the titan would stand dead center of the carnage, ever still, like an obelisk. But where was he? Could it be that he had fallen?
The soldiers’ celebrating quickly turned to concern as they searched the battlefield for their comrade. To them, he was more than just a weapon of war. He was the symbol of their invincibility. He was their inspiration. He was their hero.
It was a sad truth that even the black knight did not know what he inspired in his men. Their search ended, for under a pile of bodies lay the armor of the black knight. Sliced, dented, riddled with arrows… and empty.
Was he really gone? Did he die in battle? Was there really someone in that black armor? Many questions arose in the minds of the men there, that day. Although they returned victorious, they returned without their champion. His armor was immediately placed within the hall of heroes, in the most prestigious spot they had. He died that day. For the good of the kingdom.
"Aww, come on, mister, what really happened to him?" whined the young boy.
"Ah," the old man laughed, stroking his long, white beard. "Some say he became a dream, to inspire soldiers in their endeavors. Some say, there was never really anyone in there. Some say, he became part of the world he saw that day."
"Like a flower?" the boy asked.
"I suppose, yes."
"What do you believe?"
"I believe," the old man sighed, as he stood up, "that he’s around, to punish little boys who don’t run along when they should!"
"Aah!" the little boy yelped, as he ran down the road. "I’ll see you tomorrow!"
The old man waved back at the boy, who was now fading out of view. Sighing, he returned to his plow. Despite his age, the old man was quite muscular. Pushing against the wooden handles of his plow, he resembled an ox that had learned to walk on his hind legs. The sun felt good on his back, as sweat beaded on his brow.