The Gatekeeper

She stands before me, a woman made of water and air and fire, and on the altar behind her, the vessel that I had vowed my life to find, the Most Holy Grail, limned in sacred light. With difficulty, I raise myself to a kneel.

“How do you come to be here?” she asks in liquid tones that fall upon the ears as does the taste of honey upon the tongue.

My voice, cracking from disuse and the privation of water, begins to relate the chronicle of my quest. I tell her of the king’s charge, of the many years of wandering through town and wild in search of the smallest sign of the Grail’s environs, of the deaths of many brave and loyal knights, and finally of my long passage across the desolate and arid wasteland at the end of which this chapel lies. I tell her of shedding my armor from debility and of sustaining my life from the blood and flesh of my horse. I tell her what I have sacrificed to be here.

I tell her why I am worthy to receive the Grail.

She looks at me sadly. “Return to your king. You are not the one.”

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