Out of the three weapons, the Fates chose the oar.
Your votes, respected Fates, have been collected and a decision has been reached.
By your direction the Eternal Knight chooses to pick up... the oar? Really? Well, well, well, it seems we have a gaggle of comedians. Do you imagine you can trip up my storytelling that easily? Jokes on you, because I'm not that easily trippable. I happen to agree that a good story needs a twist or two.
Thus, just when things were looking up, the Fates’ taste for irony strikes. Our poor hero has to live with your decision and it’s time, once more, for me to go on with the show. Hold on to your masks, because… the Eternal Knight is armed with an oar. This choice will jostle the tale…
A memory, dreamlike and indistinct, plays out in the Eternal Knight’s mind: As a young man, he stands in the middle of a courtyard, staff in hand, facing a blonde boy a couple years his senior. The staffs spin and connect, once, twice, three times. Both boys laugh as they circle each other, waiting for an opening, flinging insults when weapons can’t find their target. His flesh and blood fingers tighten around the staff as he lunges forward.
On the shore, the knight’s gauntlet closes around the long, wooden oar. Turcifa looks at him with agitated miscomprehension.
“The oar wasn’t part of my prized collection, really. Maybe you’d prefer something with a bit more bite to it? Something that’ll stabby-stab?” He hops and slashes the air around him, looking at the knight, coaxing. “Or take the axe. It’ll suit a big guy like you.”
“This is all I need,” the knight says. He weighs the oar in his hand. It feels like a part of him, its secrets ready to manifest at any moment. Like a forgotten word on the tip of your tongue.
Turcifa looks unhappy. “Before you commit-“ The rest of his words are drowned by the roar of a gigantic wave rushing at them from the sea. With unnatural accuracy, it rapidly rolls over the narrow stretch of sand towards them.
The knight steps in front of Turcifa, back to the water. He grips the old man’s shoulders and the wave breaks on the knight’s enchanted armor.
“That was odd,” the knight says as the water crashes into the cliff, splattering them with white froth and seawater.
“Worse than odd!” the old man wheezes between coughs, “An attack! I spent too much time on the beach helping you. By the curse of Ferax, it must be that rancid plant monster trying to kill me again! You’re a knight, help me! Save me!”
As they start running, long, algae-covered tentacles slither out of the water and up the beach looking for their target. Further down, the water starts to swell and rise. A massive body the size of a small ship emerges, waterlogged, green, and moving in an eery, amorphous manner.
Wet vines whip toward them as the monster climbs up the surf. There’s no time to think. The Eternal Knight parries the vines on instinct with his oar. The hardwood staff spins and smashes through the monster’s flesh like a hammer through butter, splattering plant matter around them. But Turcifa has fallen down onto the sand, scrambling and blubbering.
“Get up, old man!” The knight shouts. “I can hold it off while you get away.”
Turcifa doesn’t move. His eyes are wide with terror, fixed on the monster. A female face forms out of the central knot of writhing vines and algae, grimacing with violent, uncontrolled anger. Another cluster of tentacles flies through the air, like sinewy whips hunting for Turcifa’s neck.
“For the love of gods,” he shrieks, “protect me from this cursed creature!”
The knight parries them with a smooth, circular motion of the oar, successfully blocking or severing each tendril. But for each foiled tentacle two more appear, reaching to attack Turcifa with vicious determination. With the old man frozen and needing protection, there is no way for the knight to approach the monster without sacrificing him.
“Hell of a way to start my life from scratch,” the knight growls.
Suddenly, a gust of wind rushes past them, as unnatural as the first wave had been. It catches the tip of the oar and misses the monster’s tentacles, dispersing in the distance. Out of balance, the knight barely staves off the incoming attack.
“Thank the gods, I’m not the only one here!” Behind the knight, on a rocky outcrop, stands an elven girl in a black and gold uniform. She tosses her long, pink hair, satisfied. Her voice is high and girlish, but with a determined edge. Her hands and fingers are poised, preparing for another magical attack. Then she sways, losing balance, her foot slips, and the girl lets out a terrified shriek, sliding down over the sea spray slick stones.
More of the tentacle-like vines burst from the monster — reaching for all three of them.
Esteemed Fates! The hour of voting is upon you. What will the knight do to get out of this pinch?
Option 1: The Eternal Knight chooses to ignore the conveniently timed elven girl and continues defending Turcifa as promised.
Option 2: The Eternal Knight leaps to the elven girl’s defence. The old man may get hurt or die, but the girl gets to live. It’s the honorable thing to do.
Option 3: This has gone on for far too long already. The Eternal Knight cannot defend both Turcifa and the elven girl at the same time. He’ll have to trust his luck and try to finish the monster, leaving both of the others unprotected while he does so.
This vote was an overwhelming victory in favor of straight-up battle over protecting people. Not sure what that says about you, esteemed Fates, but proclivity for benevolence doesn't seem to be one of your divine virtues. I suspect it won't be pretty over on the mortal side of things.
The Fates have chosen...
The chapter voting closes every Monday at 8:00 AM WEST (Lisbon, Portugal time).