Tale As Old As Space

It’s storytime! Today, I want to tell you one of the greatest fantasy tales I’ve ever heard. It’s a long one, and you have to make the pictures up in your head, so please bear with me.

A long time ago in a realm far, far away, a man who was thought of as a goodly high king was, in reality, an evil wizard. The civil war that had united the kingdoms under his banner was in fact orchestrated by the wizard-king himself, as he turned what was once a fair council of kingdoms into a terrible empire of oppression.

In one of the outlying kingdoms there lived a young man who dreamed of adventure, but he was stuck working on his aunt and uncle’s farm even though all of his friends had travelled abroad years before. One day, he and his family bought a pair of magical golems from a tribe of wandering merchants. The Young Man discovered that the smaller golem was carrying a secret message from a captured princess!

The Princess was asking for warrior whom the Young Man did not know, though thought perhaps may be related to an old hermit who lived in the wastes. The Small Golem knew how important the message was, and decided to strike out on its own causing the Young Man to give chase, lest he be scolded by his Uncle for letting such expensive workers escape. Before they could catch up, however, he and the Tall Golem were waylaid by a tribe of vicious barbarians. Luckily, the barbarians were frightened off by none other than the Old Hermit.

The Hermit turned out to be the selfsame warrior asked for by the Princess. Once a Knight of a now- extinct order of paladin-monks, guardians of the ancient magic that binds all life, they were betrayed and slaughtered by one of their own who had become apprentice to the Emperor’s evil magic. The Old Knight explained that one of the order killed by the Black Knight was the Young Man’s father, and since the same blood flowed through his veins the Young Man had the potential to learn the same ancient magic as the Knights!

At first, the Young Man was afraid. He wanted adventure, but now that one was staring him in the face, he wasn’t sure he could leave his Aunt and Uncle. However, on the road home they came across the merchant tribe slaughtered by the Emperor’s faceless soldiers. The Young Man raced to the farm, but it was too late. The Soldiers had burnt it to the ground with his Aunt and Uncle still inside. Knowing that nothing was left for him, he followed the Old Knight and dedicated himself to his training. The Old Knight gifted him his father’s old sword, a special blade tempered with the order’s magic.

They had to now secure passage to the Princess’ kingdom. They travelled to a seedy tavern where they met a Pirate and his monstrous First Mate, known for smuggling goods with the fastest ship in all the realms. The Pirate was eager for some coin, for he was in great debt to a ruthless Thieves Guild Master who would surely put a large price on his head if not paid back soon, and jumped at the promise of a large reward.

The group sailed to the Princess’ kingdom only to find, to their dismay, that it had been completely obliterated. The Emperor had built a terrible weapon: a magical, mobile fortress armed with an eldritch blast capable of erasing entire kingdoms! It plucked the ship right out of the water, but the Pirate was clever enough to sneak through the fortress’ guards while they were focused on the ship. They discovered that the Princess herself was held in the Fortress dungeons. The Young Man and the Pirate went to rescue her while the Old Knight sought a way to free the ship from the magic bindings.

The Old Knight succeeded in freeing the ship, but on his way back to the group he met none other than the Black Knight, who was his student before he was the Emperor’s. The Old Knight fought valiantly in order to give the Young Man, the Pirate, and the Princess time to escape. However, the Black Knight’s magical armor was too strong and the Old Knight fell as the others broke through back to the sea.

The Princess revealed that she was working with a group of rebel freedom fighters trying to end the Emperor’s tyranny. The Golems had been in her service when they were captured, and she had hidden counterspells to the Fortress’ magic on the Small Golem. Her kingdom had been destroyed by a wicked Governor with the help of the Black Knight as a way to try and persuade her to give up her friends. They made it to the Rebel hideout, but the Fortress had followed them and prepared the incantations for the dreaded eldritch blast. Luckily, the Rebels attacked the fortress and the Young Man, using the Knight’s magic and the counterspell information, caused the arcane energy to backfire and destroy the Fortress!

Unfortunately, this was only one weapon of the Emperor, and the Black Knight had escaped. The Black Knight led his soldiers on a chase of the Rebels throughout the many kingdoms. In the Kingdom of Ice, the Young Man was greeted by a vision of the Old Knight – a trick of the order’s magic – telling him to find an old Master, the last of the Order, and complete his studies. As the Black Knight’s forces descended upon the Kingdom of Ice, the Rebels were scattered to the winds.

The Young Man and the Small Golem travelled to a dangerous swamp where they met a funny little Goblin living in the muck who revealed himself to be the Master that the Old Knight had sent them to find. The Goblin Master taught the Young Man how to tap into the ancient magic in many different ways. When the Young Man began practicing the art of clairvoyance, he saw a vision of his friends being in danger and, against the Master’s wishes, rushed off to save them.

Meanwhile, the Princess and the Pirate, along with the Tall Golem and First Mate, were narrowly evading the Black Knight at every turn. The Pirate knew an old friend in the High Kingdom, which rested above the clouds, but the Black Knight beat them there and forced the Friend to betray the group. The Pirate was sealed in a dark artifact – after declaring, in his own way, his love for the Princess – and given to a Hunter to take to the Thieves Guild Master as payment. But the Friend became brave and freed the others just in time for the Young Man to arrive and battle the Black Knight.

Though he fought valiantly, the Young Man soon lost his blade to the Black Knight. Rather than strike him down, the Black Knight exposed a terrible truth: The Knight did not kill the Young Man’s father; he WAS the Young Man’s Father!

For the truth was that the Father had been discovered as a small boy, a slave to a gambling shop owner, by the Old Knight’s former teacher. The Teacher had been protecting a young Queen from a neighboring realm from a corrupt merchant’s guild that had invaded her city. Along with the Small Golem, an outcast from the Water People, and a handmaiden (who was secretly the Queen in disguise!), the Teacher bartered for the boy’s freedom and for repairs to the royal carriage. The boy seemed so connected to the ancient magic that he was likely born of it, portents of a prophecy that the order had been waiting for a long time. Sadly, the Teacher was slain by an assassin secretly sent by the Evil Wizard (who would become Emperor), and the Old Knight, then very young himself, took on the boy – the Father – as an apprentice.

But the Father never forgot the Queen. As he got older, he fell in love with the Young Queen and she with him. Even though the code of the order forbade attachment, they could not bear to be apart and were married in secret. But soon, the Father received omens of death regarding the Queen. Afraid to lose her like he lost his mother to barbarians, he searched high and low for ways to stop his vision from coming true. When the Evil Wizard, in the guise of the Goodly High-King, offered his power to save her, the Father was ensnared in evil magic. The Wizard commanded the Father to slay his friends and turn the council into an Empire, and when the Queen tried to bring back the man she loved, he fatally wounded her in a fit of jealousy. It was there, in the Kingdom of Fire, that the Old Knight dueled his best friend and left his broken body to burn. The Emperor found him, and sealed him in the magic armor of the Black Knight to keep him alive and tied to service with the knowledge that he, the Father/Knight, brought about the fate he had so desperately tried to avoid.

Before she died, the Queen gave birth. The Young Man brought to live with the Father’s step-brother – the Young Man’s Uncle – and his ties to the ancient magic kept hidden until the time was right.

After spending some time healing, and staging a daring rescue of the Pirate from the clutches of the Guildmaster, the Young Man returned to the swamps to confront the Old Goblin Master, now finally succumbing to his supernatural age, about what the Black Knight had told him. The Master confirmed the truth, and with his dying breath informed the Young Man that he was not alone. The Spirit of the Old Knight appeared and revealed that the Queen had given birth to not one, but two children. The Young Man’s twin is none other than the Princess! Safe in the knowledge that the order may live on, the Young Man set out to redeem his Father – despite the Old Knight’s insistence that only the Black Knight remains.

The Black Knight and the Emperor himself were reconstructing the dreaded mobile Fortress, but the Rebels had discovered it and planned a final assault to slay the Emperor once and for all. The Emperor had anticipated this, and in fact baited the trap on purpose to crush the last opposition. What he did not count on was one of the last hidden tribes in the realm helping the Rebels bring down the magical shield protecting the unfinished Fortress from the same counterspells used before.

But the Young Man was not there this time to use them. He had surrendered himself to the Black Knight in an attempt to appeal to the man he once was. Instead he was taken before the Emperor who tried to turn the two against one another and replace the Father with the son. The Young Man nearly gave in, but he realized he was going down the same path his Father had fallen long ago, and refused to continue the cycle of violence. When the Emperor tortured the Young Man with his dark magic, the Black Knight could not bear to watch his son be destroyed. The good part of himself that had long been buried in hatred, fear, and guilt suddenly burst forth as he threw the Emperor from the Fortress’ tallest tower. The Emperor was dead, but his twisted magic had damaged the life-sustaining spells of the armor. But the Father was at peace, his last request removing the armor so that he may look upon his son with his own eyes.

The Young Man escaped the Fortress just as his friends succeeded in destroying it for good. Across the realm, the death of the Emperor was celebrated for many nights, but the biggest celebration was at the site itself, as the Rebels toasted their victory. The Young Man and the Princess, the Pirate and the First Mate, the Pirate’s Friend and the Two Golems, and all the Rebels and Tribesmen danced into the many nights, looked over by the spirits of the Old Knight, the Goblin Master, and the Father – whole again for the first time. And they lived happily ever after.

The End

Star Wars has been called many things. People will try to claim it is many different genres. And, in truth, it does draw from many different aesthetics and backgrounds. But the story, at its core, is a fantasy above all else. If you keep this in mind, you will have a better love and understanding of the Saga as a whole. I sincerely hope that whoever continues the story after the “Happily Ever After” mentioned above remembers this as well.

Now it’s way past your bedtimes. Sweet dreams.

For more of Adam’s articles click here.

Adam lives with his wife in Providence, Rhode Island USA (a wife who was gracious enough to allow “Across the Stars” as their wedding processional). Adam plays World of Warcraft, writes and manages the self-indulgent blog “Nilbog’s Storybook Land”, and attempts (often in vain) to complete his novel. He secretly hopes that the production of the new Star Wars films will lead to open auditions.