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the mysterious knight


Part 1

The wind had dropped at last, and the lone rider, picking his way across the plain, with the Ephel Dúath at his back and the forests of Ithilien before him, was finding the going easier. He was clad in the armour of Gondor, girt with a sword and carrying a lance and, although his equipment had seen better days, and his once-magnificent war horse was old and looked half-starved, he carried himself like a warrior.



Albrecht Durer: The Knight, Death and the Devil

The Knight, Death and the Devil by Albrecht Durer



The terrain was monotonous—a never-ending expanse of dazzling snow, occasionally relieved by a clump of stunted firs—so the knight’s first thought, when he spotted something so out-of-place, lying directly in his path, was that he had lost his mind, and was seeing something that was not there.

“Whoa, Greymist,” he commanded, bringing his horse to a stop.

The knight dismounted, and inspected the incongruous object.

“Strange,” he muttered.

It was a pretty carpet bag, such as a fine lady might carry when travelling.

The knight raised his visor, and scanned the snowy ground. The only tracks in sight were his own, yet the snow was at least a week old, and—from the condition of the woollen tapestry and the fine, leather handles—he did not think the bag had been lying in the open for more than a few days. He set down his lance and, unsheathing his sword, poked the bag gingerly—fearing, perhaps, that its Faery owner might suddenly appear to scold him...

Nothing happened.

The knight slipped the point of his sword through the handles and lifted the bag.

It was so light, he was sure it must be empty, but he pulled off his gauntlet and felt inside, and his bare fingers found something cold and hard; he pulled out a brass oil lamp.

It was an exquisite thing, lavishly decorated with leaves of a deep, red-orange enamel, and set with acorns carved from bright yellow amber, and the knight, who had seen nothing beautiful in a very long time, regarded it wistfully.

Its owner will want this back, he thought.

But then it came to him that, when he reached the next town, he might sell the lamp for a healthy sum and, with the money, buy himself food and shelter and—more importantly—information...

And that made up his mind.

He dropped the carpet bag, stowed the lamp in his own travelling pack, and continued on his way.