The Briar Knight - a tale

(To all those who end up chosen, sometimes by nothing more than fate or circumstance, to bear the punishment for something much wider and abstract, something harder to pin down. The whipping boys who fulfil a necessary role. Their own pain must be relinquished and they must learn to bear their fate with resignation, however bitter. These things must be given an individual face.)

He didn't stand out much, to look at. He was thin and of average height, with a kind of ungainly awkwardness left over from childhood though he made an effort to carry himself with grace. His eyes, though, were you to look into them, were a strange and startling green, and like that colour, existing on the margins of gentle yearning and poisonous resentment.

From childhood, he had served a great and powerful Lord. The Lord was brilliant, and powerful, and like many Lords in those days, often a cruel tyrant towards those who opposed him and an unkind ruler towards those who served him. His green-eyed servant, a gentle if awkward boy, loved him like he loved the dazzling sun, but was often the first target of this rage. But his love continued, for who else was there? He wore the symbols and livery of this castle, this world, in all of their glory and what else was there for him? We must all love where we come from, the soil we grew in.

Though his duties left him little time for this, he spent time in the rose garden. Somehow, though, the wilder, simpler roses of the wilderness appealed to him more.

It is on resignation, that he finds himself here. Fairness or justice, what do they matter in the end? He was simply a symbol, in the place that needed one, and his own pain was not relevant. His yearning for love, and for gentleness, was not going to be fulfilled if he cried for it. We may love him now, and understand. It will give him joy, if we do so. We will know his gratitude. But in the end, he moved beyond a need for it.

(But we all have our gentleness, don't we? As well as our lusts for power. These things exist within all of us. The master and the boy. To be here at all is to understand that none of us are pure, beneath the roles we play, the roles we find ourselves in, the roles we are forced into.