Hogwarts Origins Chapter 5: Litany of the Holy Knight



You are unarmed now. Yield now, fall at my feet and beg for your life. I may yet let you live. For the Decantae are merciful to their dogs.

A holy knight I am. And a knight’s honor I shall hold to my last breath.

The sword whizzed through the air and came to strike him. In that single moment the sword was about to strike him, it seemed as if something opened a dyke gate within his mind. Within that fraction of a second, it seemed as if a sudden surge of resistance had built up against the sword that came to strike him. “Expelliarmus,” he cried as he released the entire power built up with his mind.

The wooden sword was snatched violently from his adversary’s hand and he was thrown back forcefully ten feet back. Gawain himself was too shocked at what had happened. As he slowly gained composure, he walked up to his adversary, a twelve year old boy and tried to help him up.

Stay away from me, you demon spawn.” The boy on the ground had fear in his eyes and his voice was filled with hatred.

I am sorry, Gaelen. I don’t know how it happened. I did not mean to hurt you.” There was genuine regret in the smaller boy’s green eyes. But Gaelen just backed away as Gawain came near him. He got himself off the ground and ran as if possessed.

Gawain was bewildered at the turn of events. What had he done that his best friend now feared and hated him so much. He felt guilty and scared that he had done something terribly wrong. He trudged home sadly and threw himself into his bed. But he did not get sleep. He wondered why his friend called him demon spawn. He had heard the term before. His father had used them once in reference to Merlin’s wizards. Now was Gawain one of them? How could he be demon spawn being his father’s son. His father was one of the greatest of the knights of God. There was no match for him in bravery and devotion to God. Being the son of such an illustrious father, how could he be demon spawn?

His thoughts went to his mother. He had never seen her. He had been told that she had died during childbirth. His father never spoke about her. Nobody in the hold ever mentioned her. He wondered if she was one of the wizards. Is that why no one spoke of her? Now was he also one of them? Would his father hate him now?

He could not bear the thought of his father hating him. His father was his hero. How he wished he could grow up and become like his father! He wanted his father to be proud of him one day. And now it seemed that, far from being proud  his father might be ashamed of him and disown him. He had decided. He would not tell his father anything. He had never hidden anything from his father before. He felt very bad about deceiving his father. But his friend’s reaction had scared him. What would his father do if he came to know what he was! He could not bear to think of life despised by his father. He had no other go. He had to keep the terrible secret within his head.

As he lay pondering on his bed, he could hear heavy footsteps. It was his father. He had learnt to recognize his father’s footsteps.

Gawain! Gawain! Where are you my boy? See what I have got for you!

Every day he would run joyfully to welcome his father and open his rucksack and rummage it to see what gifts his father had got for him. Every day his father did surprise him with gifts for he was the apple of his father’s eye. Some days it would be sweets. On other days it would be toys. On still other days it would be books. Today somehow Gawain’s heart was too heavy to rush out to welcome his father. But he still got up from his bed and slowly walked towards his father. He did not want his father to be suspicious. But being a child, he was not very good at hiding his emotions.

So the moment Sir Percivale saw his son’s forlorn face and listless gait, he guessed something was wrong. He immediately picked up Gawain in his arms. “What is bothering my little knight? Tell your pa.

Gawain had a lot to tell and also a lot of questions to ask. Especially about this mother! But he was scared and words just did not come out. Sir Percivale sat him on his lap and spoke to him for a while. That seemed to calm the boy a little. He then gave the boy his gift, a cleverly crafted wooden doll of a wizard holding a crystal ball. But to his surprise the boy did not at all seem happy with the gift. He just backed away as if it was a venomous snake. Though he loved his son more than his life, he was a warrior not a nurse maid. Beyond a point he had no patience for the small kid’s tantrums. So he gently carried him to his bed room, tucked him into bed, gently ruffled his red hair, blew out the candles and retired to his own room.

The next morning he had to be at the abbey. Cardinal Erasatz had asked him to be there early. It was not a surprise as he had been working closely with the cardinal and had been secretly helping him raise an army of loyal knights to defend the kingdom against the forces of the dark. But the surprising thing was he had asked him to bring Gawain along. He wondered what he wanted with Gawain. He somehow did not like it. There was a nagging feeling at the back of his mind that something was not right. He always relied on his gut feelings and he had almost always been right. This was one time he wished he were wrong.

One thing about small children is that sleep just erases all worries of the previous night and they get up the next morning bright and shining. The next morning Sir Percivale to his relief found him to be old Gawain, a vivacious child with no care in life chattering away to his father from nineteen to a dozen. Of course the boy still had a little bit of worry at the back of his mind but now that he was well refreshed and in his father’s inspiring presence, he felt secure. Looking into his father’s eyes, he could fathom the depth of his father’s love for him and he knew his father would not abandon him under any circumstances. With his father by his side, he did not fear even if the whole world stood against him.

So he hopped gaily alongside his father as they walked to the stable. He loved riding alongside his father. His father had promised him his own horse for his eleventh birthday. He was very excited and he was already imagining himself striding the length and breadth of the country side on his horse.

Cardinal Erasatz was waiting for them at the abbey. Bishop Benford sat next to him. They seemed to be deeply involved in some theological discussion. The abbey was otherwise empty. Only on Sundays at these times, it would be thronged by those of the faith. Both the holy men ceased their dialogue as they heard the sound of footsteps.

Welcome, Godric. Good to see you. And is this your son, Gawain?” The cardinal bent down and pinched the little boy’s cheek with a smile. But there was something about the cardinal the boy did not like and he withdrew from the cardinal and clung tightly to his father’s legs.

Sir Percivale bowed before the cardinal. “I come before you as per your bidding, your holiness. And I have here with me my son, Gawain, the oasis in the parched desert of his father’s heart. I have brought him as you have ordered. I wait for your next command.

You’re the church’s truest defender of faith, my son. The staunchest of heart and steadiest of faith! We know you will never fail us. But today I have for you a challenge greater than any you have ever faced.

Then he turned to the little boy. “Your father’s training you well to be a holy knight?

The little boy nodded his head.

Your father’s taught you the litany of the holy Knight?

The boy again nodded his head.

Can you recite for us?

The boy started shyly and his voice grew in confidence as the words filled him with spirit.

I am the knight of the holy order 
Staunchest of heart and truest of faith 
My heart is not my own but my family’s 
My life I shall give in their defense 
My body is not my own but my king’s 
My family and I shall our lives 
Lay down at the king’s bidding 
My soul is not my own but God’s 
Glory of the Lord is my life’s mission 
Body, heart or soul, family, land or king 
Means naught to me if serve God not 
For the work of God and his church 
Is my sole mission on this Earth 

The cardinal turned to Sir Percivale, “You have taught your son well, Godric. You must be proud of him. But are they empty words or do they mean something?

Sir Percivale looked offended at such a question but did not say anything. He wondered where the cardinal was driving at.

I don’t question your faith, Godric . But there are times when our faith is sorely tested. As it shall be presently! For God asks of you what he asked of the great prophet Abraham.

Sir Percivale gave a blank look. He was a warrior not a scholar. Evidently he did not understand the allusion.

The cardinal explained, “My brave knight, God asked Abraham the prophet from ancient times to sacrifice his dear son Isaac at his alter. The great Abraham without slightest hesitation offered his son unto God. Today God asks the same of you. Will you give God your son? 

Sir Percivale could not believe what he was hearing. He had been asked to decapitate his son with his own hands! “But his holiness, what wrong has my son done? Not my son, please. Spare him. Ask anything else of me and I shall gladly oblige. Ask me to run myself over with the sword and I shall gladly do so. But let my son live.

I understand how tough this is for you, son. But you can't give your life. God has other plans for you. It is your son whose fate it is to be sacrificed. And would you question God’s reasons. Isn’t the fact that God wants it so, good enough reason? Do you think I would even dream of asking of you something so terrible unless it was absolutely essential to protect the kingdom and maintain the glory of God?

Gawain was shocked beyond words when he heard the priest’s request. He knew the reason though. Word must have reached the cardinal about him being a demon spawn. But he was touched by his father’s concern for him. He did not want his father to hear why he had to be killed. He would rather die loved by his father than live despised by his father. So he spoke up,

Father, who are we to go against God’s wishes? We are knights dedicated to the service of the almighty. I don’t want to see my father derelict in his duties. Do what you must, father.

Once again Gawain started reciting the litany of the holy knight.

I am the knight of the holy order
Staunchest of heart and truest of faith
My heart is not my own but my family’s
My life I shall give in their defense

Sir Percivale also added his voice to his son’s voice. Father and son recited in unison.

My body is not my own but my king’s 
Me and my family shall our lives 
Lay down at the king’s bidding

Tears streamed down Sir Percivale’s green eyes as they continued on

My soul is not my own but God’s 
Glory of the Lord is my life’s mission 
Body, heart or soul, family, land or king 
Means naught to me if serve God not 
For the work of God and his church 
Is my sole mission on this Earth 

The last word was followed by a flash as the sword stuck and then there was pin drop silence. Gawain’s head rolled on the floor. A few drops of blood had splattered on Lord Percivale’s face pale with anguish. It had got over in a matter of seconds. It had been a clean cut, the head severed from the body in a single stroke. Such was the strength of his strike. The death had been painless. The sword sparkled in all its glory. The blood had not stained it. But Sir Percivale was in no condition to notice his sword. He felt as if a part of his soul had been wrenched away from him.

Finally Cardinal Erasatz broke the silence. “You have done well son. You have proved your devotion to the cause of God. We need men like you to defeat the dark forces that besiege us. Go forth now and strike fear of God into the hearts of our enemies.

Now the cardinal and the bishop were alone. Bishop Benford’s eyes had tears in them. “Was this necessary, your excellency?

Do you think I relish needless killing of innocents. But we are opposed by strong forces and we need strength to oppose strength. A strong sacrifice and blood of an innocent have the greatest power in this world. The sword of Godric has been enriched by both now. It has made the sword both invincible and incorruptible, the ultimate weapon of the warrior of the light. Our victory is now almost certain. And as far as the boy is concerned, he has gained for himself a place in the Kingdom of Heaven by sacrificing his life"

Something about the whole thing struck a wrong chord with the bishop. But he knew better than to argue with his superior on theological matters.

Click for other Chapters: Chapter 1  Chapter 2  Chapter 3  Chapter 4  Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8

Picture Credit: Jan H Anderson

11 comments:

umashankar said...

TF, that is so cinematic! I can still hear the Gawain's song, I can still feel the flash of the sword and the end of him. Yes, the plot thickens! Battlespeed!

The Fool said...

Thanks Umashankar. Hope its gone well so far. Reached over 10,000 words now, which is like 40 pages of a paper back.

DS said...

My first comment on this series but I have read from chapter 1 and gradually found a little bit of interest in this. It surely is getting interesting. Shades of Angels and Demons in this one as the authorities in the church play a game which is dangerous!!!
Waiting for the next part.

The Fool said...

Thanks, DS. Good to have your comment here, finally.How can I not have my regular reader not commenting on my dream project?

IndolentInsomniac said...

"A strong sacrifice and blood of an innocent have the greatest power in this world."
These can very possibly be one of the darkest lines you've ever written! And I wouldn't recommend this to HP fans (because most of them are too young to be exposed to this sorcery! ;))

And Godric Gryffindor killed his own child?!? Waiting for more...Please do write soon!

The Fool said...

Thanks Indolent. Your comments makes me think. That is the advantage of posting chapters on a blog and writing by myself. Reader comments can help shape the rest of the story line. As this project is meant for my novel writing practice, I plan to write this over 4-5 months and then fully re-edit and compile as a pdf and put for download on my blog.

And I meant innocent blood and sacrifice in a different way - if you seen one way thats what Christianity is based on - God's sacrifice of his son Christ and blood of Christ. And as far as darker elements go, J K Rowling herself has gone as dark as it can get - I was shocked reading the concept of horcruxes.

IndolentInsomniac said...

Wow!! All the very best and you can be sure of at least one reader who will download the pdf!! ;)

Agreed, but what I meant was she rarely uses blood and gore for dark matter, she either uses spells or leaves it to the readers imagination. But the way you describe it, its scarring! ;) And don't get me wrong, while I love blood and gore, I certainly wouldn't recommend this to my 10 year old niece, who by the way is a huge potter freak.

The Fool said...

Agree. I am not writing this with children in mind. Characters are adults and I plan to deal with some serious issues beyond the comprehension of children as the story progresses.

IndolentInsomniac said...

All the more reason to wait for the next part!! :D

C. Suresh said...

TF! This is getting better and better! I, too, was shocked by that sudden human sacrifice element in this chapter and love the fact that you have left a hook dangling about intrigue in the Church! Waiting for the next part!

The Fool said...

Thanks, CS. I was waiting for your opinion if this worked. I wanted to go on the lines of your gates of hell and see if I can create tragedy.

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