Chapter 2 - The Quest of the Traveling White Knight
UPDATE 04/27/2022 Illustrations coming soon.
Adam jumped away and pulled out his dagger to point it to the thing in front of him. “What is your game? What trickery and ruse have you pulled over my own eyes?”
“Seriously,” Puck responded. He sat magically on an invisible chair with one leg crossed over the other. He looked as innocent as he could with wide doe-like eyes. His lips quirked up slightly, showing he was in a merry mood.
“What poison have you given me, demon?” Adam demanded to know, his voice rising in pitch. He rubbed both his eyes to confirm what he saw was true. But there it still was. Like many others, he has read of Puck, if true, here the fable was, out from the books of tales, sitting and lacking any signs of current unease or worriment. The same could not be said of him; he was agitated and confounded. Adam pinched his cheeks, slapped his face, and looked for others in hopes of finding the evidence of a jest being played upon him. He could find none.
“Sit down,” Puck ordered with annoyance. He had tired of watching the knight pace back and forth. If he had reacted like a lunatic with this news, Puck could only imagine how the other tidbit he learned would be taken. “It isn’t a big deal, you know. You act like an evil calamity has struck you down, and that havoc and annihilation of the world are here and now. Calm down, you fool. Get a hold of yourself.”
“He tells me to calm down,” Adam mumbled to himself, covering his face with both his hands. He stopped his to and fro movement to point at Puck and say, “This is real?”
“Yes! You have it!”
“It can’t be real.”
“—and you just lost it,” Puck pouted in disbelief. “See me! I am here. I am showing you that my existence is true! How can you not think it is real? That I am false?”
“I died,” Adam said to himself with several nods of his head. He lifted a finger as if he had solved a puzzle. “I died. This is hell.”
“Honestly?” Puck questioned in wonderment. “You must be joshing?”
Adam ignored Puck. “Yes! I am finally dead! And hell is an endless torment of what-ifs. I am trapped in this dreamworld of war for eternity. Punishment for the lives I have taken. Befitting for a soul like mine.”
Puck’s mouth gaped open in bewilderment. He closed it and rubbed his chin, looking for the words that would persuade Adam that he wasn’t deceased—or in hell. He ran various scenarios in his head; neither was better than the other. To convince a man he isn’t dead, one must know death. Puck had never died.
“Is it really that hard to believe who I am?” Puck asked angrily with arms crossed over his chest. He was affronted that a mere mortal didn’t believe in him. Didn’t accept magic. Puck needed to find a way to motivate Adam, engage him, and have him help him. He wished not to trap the man to do his deeds, but he could do little. He had traveled the world for a century looking for the right individual to help him. Then he had heard the legend of the saint warrior: The White Knight. The mortal in front of him was a disappointment, but Puck was desperate. One more attempt, then he wouldn’t have a choice but to use what he knew. “Why can you not believe?”
“Believe? You wish me to believe in this world? You tell me you are real. If so, where were you then when I needed your kind the most? Where were you when my father berated and beat me for never acting appropriately?” Adam angrily asked. “I called for beings—from any world—and none came to my aid. Fairies don’t exist. So, fairy—”
“Fey,” Puck corrected. Of course, the knight would jump to fairies. They always were recognized. Yet, there was little acknowledgment to the fey. “What I am. I never mentioned fairies?”
“Yes! For reasons beyond my own, those pesky little miscreants are widely known and written about. They bite and yet it is them—THEM that is talked about,” Puck gabbed. “There is a difference between feys and fairies. Feys are taller. Witter. Cleverer. Craftier. Stunning. Fetching. Suave—”
“I understand,” Adam cut in.
“Then you have realized that you are not dead?”
“No. I am dead.”
“Agh! You cannot be this bloody stubborn?! What words will it take to get the notion out of your head that you are not part of the living? You are not departed or deceased. You are alive!
Additionally, I am not a fairy. I am fey. I do come from another world hidden but among this one. One I wish to go back to and only in which you can help me with. I ask, need, for you to take a quest of a lifetime and one that will bring you glory.
Help this Puck, and off you shall be to the great and magnificent Avalon seen by few mortals. I cannot accompany you as I have been banished and exiled. For I to go home, an item is needed. During my immediate departure, a key of mine was lost in the chaos. Word came to me that Oberon has it and keeps it in one of his many treasury rooms. It is a family heirloom, a dagger made real but not seen by eyes if only by light. Just whistle once you are in possession of such fortune, Puck will hear and bring you back he will,” Puck requisitioned with a deranged glint in his eyes and a large smile plastered on his face.
“You are insane, and nothing you say will change my mind. I. Am. Dead.”
Puck growled. He had no choice. He had to say the one word that would be his death or his savior. The word that was a secret, a name hidden in the past. A name that told of Adam’s true being. “Eve.”
Adam’s laughter slowed to a halt with wide-open eyes of distress. A pain formed at his—her temple as worry flooded his—her body. He, she, had not seen herself as Eve for so long. A name her father had banned from being spoken until she was at the peak for breeding to another. Luckily, her father had died before he could sell her off.
“Astounding that here one can be executed for acting, or impersonating a man,” Puck commented.
“How? How did you know?” Adam, nay Eve, asked with the pitch of her voice becoming to its natural level, feminine. She knew—wait, no—her father had informed that those that had known her sex were killed by his hands. It was only he and herself that knew what she was.
Eve Ronan Bonel was the only heir and child to the great Lord Henry of the Bonel family. Her mother had died giving birth to her and her father was never able to remarry. Women were wary of him, which grew more when those present for her birth suddenly died in tragic accidents coordinated by her father. The rest of the household that had not been there to witness her birth were told lies. As Eve became older, her father hid her womanly figure under tight bandages daily, and she was ordered to always lower the pitch of her voice. Those who questioned her appearance was answered that God had blessed her with an extended youth. It explained the lack of facial hair and rounded face.
Eve had managed to be Adam for years—until now—and she was not pleased as she ran to Puck. She grabbed him by his tunic in blind fury. She showed an unnatural strength that surpassed even the strongest mortal as she easily rose him above her height.
“All who know are dead,” Eve growled. “Tell me how you know, and I promise a quick death.” Eve’s eyes began to glow eerily in the darkness of the night.
“It can’t be?” Puck breathed out.
Centuries ago, there had been children of magic, born of a mortal and a mythical being. Due to their mixed blood, the children had grown to be unstable and dangerous. After so many deaths caused by the hybrids, Oberon had them hunted and killed. He then forevermore made a ruling banning any being from his world from having a relationship with a mortal. Puck wondered who or which being dared to break the rule for Eve to exist.
“What cannot be? What do you know?!” Eve ordered with tears in her eyes that never fell. Her grip tightened furthermore that the tunic started to tear under her hold. Eve was oblivious to her strength as she internally panicked.
Puck didn’t answer. He was in awe. It had been so long since he had laid eyes on a hybrid. He watched the glowing ember turn into a bright red. He then tensed as the skin around her eyes darkened. She was dangerous. He stuttered, “Your eyes.”
“What?” she asked in confusion. She shook her head and then glared at Puck. “You are trying to distract me. Answer my questions!”
“No, your eyes. Look,” and Puck pointed to a hanging mirror outside of the tavern. Eve released him, and he fell to the ground haphazardly.
She ran to the mirror. A gasp sprung from between her lips. She prodded her face and her eyes widened in fear. A cry of relief escaped her as her eyes slowly became ordinary. She thanked the Lord and afterward, her thoughts spun to Puck. Her eyes have never changed before until presently. She could only conclude the fault lay upon Puck.
“You,” Eve growled as she faced Puck. She quickly approached him. “What have you done to me?”
“Nothing, Puck swears,” Puck answered fearfully. “But…but, if you do as
I bid, perhaps on the journey, would you the receive the answers you seek. Puck has heard stories, more like whispers spoken possibly of creatures like you. And—”
He lies, Eve’s voice hissed at her. Yes, he was lying to her. Kill him. Consume his magic. We need it. Eve’s eyes began to glow anew, her inner voices urging her to attack.
“And—if you do this for Puck, Puck won’t voice to any your secret. Accept the quest for not only Puck’s sake but your own,” he expertly finished with a flourished and exaggerated bow.
“My sake? Mine! You lie. Your death draws near. What reason is there left for me not to end you now?”
“Yes! Yours! You died. Yes! You did! That is what started it all.”
“No,” Eve denied fervently. “It is false. I am here. I never died.”
Puck continued. “I wager you have gotten stronger. Faster even. You are part of my kind. Part of my world.”
Eve continued to deny his words. It wasn’t true. Yes, there were times—rarely—where things did not go the way she had wished them. She had swung once, taking out more than one man and throwing them to the ground. She did not tire easily under her armor as she had before and when attacked, her opponent’s movements were slower. Yes, she was different, changed. Though that did not mean she was otherworldly. That she was from his world.
“I can prove it. All you need to do is agree with me…say yes to my quest. If nothing happens, you can kill me. I won’t even defend myself.”
“Prove it then. I will be your thief,” Eve commanded with finality and coldness in her eyes. She knew he was a liar. Once the farce was over, she just needed to pull out her dagger and kill him. She wished there was a way she could leave him alive, but that was not to be. He knew her secret, and she couldn’t allow that. She needed to be Adam again the following day.
“Get ready,” and Puck smiled. He snapped his fingers, a black hole opened in the ground underneath Eve, and swallowed her up. She screamed, and it was silenced quickly as the hole disappeared. Puck looked around and was glad to see no witnesses. “I hope she likes her look. She did call herself a thief.”