The Holy Knight Song
by Shay McSudonim
“I have chosen my successor,” the Sun Knight told his group of prospective apprentices.
Creus sighed. It was going to be Roland, no doubt about it. He’d known this unhappy day was coming, and yet it was still crushing to realize he’d hardly see his friend after the ceremony.
“Roland,” said the golden-haired leader of the Twelve Holy Knights, August Sun. “Congratulations. You shall be the 38th generation Sun Knight.”
The small child smiled, and nodded. “Thank you, teacher,” he said.
Creus fixed a smile on his face as he went over to congratulate Roland on a job well-done. The twelve apprentice knights would be extremely busy from here on out, and the young apprentice priests, whom Creus would be joining, trained in the more distant monasteries, even if they did have more free time.
Who would Creus spend time with after this? Who would he find to harass his enemies for him or buy him desserts? Creus was happy for Roland, he really was, but it was depressing to think the two of them would never again be as close as they’d been these last few weeks.
Still, no point fretting over what was done.
As soon as was polite, Creus left Roland and his press of admirers to go pack his stuff for the trip out to wherever he was assigned.
In fact, the young boy was just debating about how much sympathy he could plausibly gain from the kitchens (in order to supply him sweets for the journey ahead), when he noticed a figure wearing a hooded priestess’ robe blocking his path.
“Hello, Creus,” said a soft, but unmistakably male, voice.
“Hello,” said Creus. If a transvestite had gone to the trouble of learning the name of the least-likely Holy Knight candidate, Creus wasn’t about to give the stranger the satisfaction of asking how he knew it. Probably they just wanted to mock him…
“Shame August didn’t choose you,” continued the cross-dresser, gazing off into middle distance. “You’d make the best Sun Knight out of the lot of them.”
Creus remained silent.
“…but I suppose it’s his loss,” said the figure. “And who am I to question providence?”
Finally, the man turned his full attention to the child before him. “I suppose you’re going to join a priesthood now?” he asked, removing his hood.
“Yes—” Creus started to say.
And then he stopped.
The man before him looked very much like a Sun Knight (who, admittedly, looked an awful lot like a woman): blond hair, blue eyes, and a smiling face… though his expression was anything but reassuring.
But he wasn’t. No Holy Knight carried that many knives in plain sight. The God of Light only knew how many concealed weapons the man had…
“I am Neo,” said the man, giving him a calculating look.
“You know,” he continued, after a moment’s pause, ” People never suspect pretty boys or women of being capable of violence, and you’d be able to pass as either one. You’d make a phenomenal Holy Assassin.”
“Would I?” asked Creus.
“You most certainly would,” said the man. “That’s why you’re coming with me to the Ankh Morpork Monastery.”
“Do I have a choice?” asked Creus.
“Of course,” said Neo, “but why would you go anywhere else? If you become my student, you’ll become apprentice to History’s Strongest Holy Assassin. You’d find it much easier than being a Holy Knight: no swordsmanship required.”
Creus perked up at that. Perhaps losing to Roland hadn’t been such a bad turn of fortune after all. “When do we leave?” he asked.
Fifteen years later:
“Pink, where’s that talisman you promised me?”
“Hmm?” asked the corpse of a little girl, not looking up from her crystal ball. “What was that, Creus?”
A young man with serious eyes overturned one of her trunks and began to rummage through the pile he’d created from its contents. “The Dragon’s St. Brigadine,” he explained, “you said you’d give it to me, once I figured out that riddle about geodesy.”
“And what is the answer?” asked Pink, her eyes glued to her stories.
“Two months, seven milestones, and a cow.”
“Hmm.” agreed Pink. “You got it. I’ll find the badge for you later.”
“Later? I’ve been trying to solve that thing for months and—just what are you watching?” asked Creus, when he saw that the necromancer was ignoring him.
“Interdimensional cable,” said Pink, “Learned about if from the Librarian; if you bribe the space-time repairman, it’ll get you an illegal hook up; Earth has the best TV in the universe,” she said, her voice something of a disinterested monotone.
Against his better judgment, Creus found himself interested.
“What’s that?” he asked, pointing to a square object he could see in Pink’s crystal ball.
“That’s a television,” she said, “it’s what people who aren’t magically inclined use to watch TV.”
“Interesting,” Creus considered that for a moment. “There’s a screen for viewing,” he said, trying to reason things out, “and there’s a penguin for—”
“Not anymore there isn’t,” said Pink.
When Creus next looked up from the glowing glass orb, he realized he’d been in Pink’s house for several hours. Shaking his head, he excused himself. He still had a job to do, after all.