prompt: left, title: the ballad of sir gladhand in misc. flash fiction

  • May 16, 2022, 7:30 p.m.
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  • Public

Sir Gladhand had surely seen the world and, as he watched, the world had just as surely passed him by. He was a hero a dozen times over for whatever that mattered but lately it didn’t feel as though it mattered very much at all. The crusades he won, all the times he had run rampart over holy cities’ fallen walls, titles given, lands received, they were all such as laurels granted in the distant past: wilted, every one, after a couple of days without water in the baking summer sun.

War had called Sir Gladhand forth, leaving his lover weeping in the wake of dust at the hooves of his dark-horse steed. By the time he returned in triumph to her, she had married the king who sent him off and stood instead as a happy queen. There were no heathen nations left to conquer for the erratic knight errant, no deeds left to do. He had found three different Holy Grails along the way, needless to say, each of them was fake, may as well have been souvenirs reading the ancient Aramaic equivalent of “I Sacked Jerusalem And All I Got Was This Lousy Cup.” Sir Gladhand was disillusioned, he was tired, he more than anything else just wanted to die.

But that just wasn’t done, suicide, certainly not done by a holy knight of Christ. Great shame on the family, on his title and his land, on most of all his name. It would have to look like he wasn’t trying to get himself killed, was just trying to impress, but do the job, nonetheless.

There was word of an ancient dragon sitting on an ancient hoard, up in some ancient cavern, up in the ancient north. Surely, taking on that kind of might was the truest test of a Christian knight. Surely also, such a thing would kill him clean and quick and do it right. And so he left, the queen herself throwing him her hankie in tribute, the king throwing him a hale and hearty salute.

When Sir Gladhand and his dark-horse reached the cave that he dearly hoped would be his grave, he shouted “Hail, monster, death awaits!” but didn’t expect the dragon to amble out, bearing his soft underbelly unguarded and bellowing “Thank God, lo, dark rider, that would be great!”

The dragon explained, he didn’t mean to complain, but he’d lived now for thousands of years and this whole living thing had started to drive him insane. He’d had enough of sitting atop a giant pile of gold, it sounded like just about time to bleed out and go cold.

Sir Gladhand explained to the gigantic lizard all that he had similarly lost, how this was his own attempt at having his life tossed, how both of them were so sick of having to pretend. But neither of them died that day, instead the two became friends.

Oh, the adventures they had together from that day forward.

Last updated May 17, 2022

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