Tuesday Tales, Part VIII: Sir Ryence Berdwell, the Truthful Knight

Sir Ryence Berdwell, the Truthful Knight.  After King Shayne had secured Blacknall, he sent Sir Ryence Berdwell into the area which now comprises Caxton, but then was a very troubled, conflict-ridden region between Braelin and Seren, with orders to check on rumors of large-scale Serenite activities aimed at his new territory.  Far from civilized lands or help, Sir Ryence was betrayed by a guide who was supposed to have been trustworthy; the guide led him right into the middle of a huge Serenite raiding party.  The pair were seized and dragged before the Serenites’ warlord, and the young guide explained rather gleefully exactly who Sir Ryence was, as well as his importance to “the usurper” King Shayne.

The warlord looked at Ryence and said, “Is this true, that you are Ryence Berdwell, knight of the usurper?”

Ryence could have denied it and called for the guide’s execution; he knew that the warlord would honor the word of a warrior over that of a young scamp.  Instead, he simply nodded and said, “I am he.”

The guide was well-rewarded for his trouble and Sir Ryence was taken as a prisoner of war, for the Serenites meant to ransom him back to King Shayne in exchange for money and land.  He was stripped of his weaponry and armor and, hands bound in front of him, tied to the saddle-horn of the warlord, so that he had to walk behind the horse whenever they traveled.  Usually, prisoners treated in this way quickly sank into despair, begging and pleading to be cut loose or allowed to ride, asking for water and food.  But Sir Ryence did none of these.  He kept up his good cheer, sometimes even making jokes, and never asked for more than what he was given.  When he was brought meals—usually just water and a bit of bread—he would thank the soldier who brought it and then abstain from eating until he had offered up a plea to the White God.  He often challenged people to duels in jest, although many of the Serenite soldiers had a running bet that he would have gone through with it had any of them accepted.

Sir Ryence’s attitude and behavior impressed them in spite of themselves, and before long he had made friends with many of the soldiers.  He was plain-spoken and honest, but gentle about the truth, and they found themselves captivated by his tales of valor and his descriptions of his king and his companions in Braelin—especially because the Serenites knew that he would never lie or exaggerate about them.  They began to confide in him that their warlord was extremely cruel, abusing them and conducting himself without honor.  Sir Ryence listened to their complaints, but stalwartly refused to take action although they begged him to help in a plot to assassinate the warlord.

“You speak to me of the importance you place on honor,” he told them, “but what you propose is neither honorable nor truthful.”

Finally, one of the guards he had been coaching and giving advice to challenged the warlord in one-on-one combat and, narrowly, bested him with the help of Sir Ryence’s training.  As thanks for Sir Ryence’s help and out of respect for this knight the Serenites had come to like so well, the new warlord returned his armor, weapons, and horse, and set him free; and then the raiding party rode away, back toward Seren.  Sir Ryence returned to court at last with the report that all was well in the contested area—at least for the time being.