A story for Tullibardine 1992
By Faith Martin
Deep in the hills of Scotland, near the village of Blackford, was a victorious battle, a brutal battle, a bloody and couragous battle. But a lone knight lay wounded on the ground, surrounded by woodland tainted with the blood of the dead, and the cries of the dying. The lone knight shouts were not answered, his painful groans got no reply. As night fell he slipped into a restless sleep, he dreamt of rain, but when he woke the earth was dry.
As the sun rose, so did the lone knight, he crawled and crawled, but he couldnt feel his painful wounds anymore, he only felt a roaring burn in his throat, a incredible thirst, his tongue felt as dry as the soil. The lone knight crawled all day in search of water, he crawled up onto the hill of ‘Deaf Knowe’, and he saw some villagers, but his shouts were lost somewhere upon their path, and the villagers could not hear him. Night came again and once again the lone knight dreamt of heavy rainfall, which made his thirst even more unbearable. When he woke he was so weak he could not move, he lay on the ground, his agonising thirst searing his throat. As dusk came the lone knight started to have visions, he dreamt whilst he was still awake. In times now we with our science and knowledge, we would say these visions were a symptom of his physical state. But in those dark times, such envisions would most certainly be the work of witches, spells and evil. The lone knight saw a woman, dressed in a dark blue robe, she was soaking wet, and once agin he realised he could see and hear the rain, but he could not feel the water, replenish his dry, cracking skin. He could not see her mouth move, but he could hear her singing, in a calm, bell like voice.
“Follow me brave knight, to where the water dwells,
It is close but out of sight, tasting so pure and light,
But be warned, of the hidden horror’s it has to tell".
The lone knight found strength, dragging himself upon to the rocks where the lady stood. He reached the rocks but she had gone, he could no longer see the rain, but he could here the trickling of a spring. As he looked below he saw the crystal clear water in the spring, and if he had the strength he would have cried with joy when he realised he could feel it too. The lone knight drank from the spring until he fell into a comfortable sleep, he awoke feeling refreshed, and he took another drink before he headed in search of his friends. He had never tasted water so pure. By the time dusk had come again, the lone knight had reached camp, his fellow fighters were overjoyed to see he had survived, and he sat with them around the fire, and prepared to enjoy a momentous feast.
I wish this is where the story ended, but I have to tell the truth, this story has no happy ending. He ate bread, chicken and gorged himself with duck and other such treats, and then he brought some fine wine to his lips. The red liquid touched his tongue and it felt thick, the taste was strange. He spat back into his cup, and he realised that it was no longer wine, it was thick, red, blood. With disgust he threw the cup onto the floor, and he ordered that someone bring him some ale, he knocked the ale back to take away the foul bloody remains in his mouth, but he could not swallow, with a sudden cough he realised that that the ale had turned to thick smoke, and as it escaped from his mouth, he was sick. His friends were disturbed and immediatly fetched him water. But instead of quenching his mouth, the fluid turned into hot ash, and burnt his flesh. He screamed in pain and ran from the camp in fear and confusion. He wandered until the early hours, until his legs gave way, he slept uncomfortably, waking repeatedly, and he saw the woman in the rain, though he could not tell if she was really there, or if he was dreaming her. But she sang to him , the same thing again and again.
‘The spring so crystal clear, has hidden horror’s that I warned,
I tell you knight, my dear, you will be forever scorned.
Ale and wine and all other, will never taste the same
You can only drink from the spring, until your dying day.”
The lone knight tried to ignore his dreams, he continued to try and drink from elsewhere, in the hope that it would replenish his thirst. But each time the liquids touched his mouth, they would transform into something ghastly, and dry, like ash, soil or even spice. The knight dreamed of the taste of water from the spring, and finally he could wait no longer, he walked into the valleys and took a drink. Instantly he felt refreshed, but what could he do. The knight found that he could not stray far from Blackford, the army left without him, and each day he walked to the spring to drink. The villagers thought he was mad, and although he lived a healthy life, walking the hill’s of Scotland everyday to drink from the spring, he was sad, never again could he see his family, leave the small village, or even fight. The lone knight, stayed lonely for ever more.