esson 33: Gawain


wakening from my post-banquet nap, I feel refreshed, and rise and stretch to get the energy flowing properly through my body. I leave the orchard and move into the pass, where I meet Gawain, who I greatly admire. We review the defense and attack strategies I learned in the Spear Realm, and he gives me some pointers to hone my skill. I have more agility than strength, but this will come with practice. He asks me to guard the pass in his place, and I agree.

   As the sun is setting in the west, the full moon is rising and I stand seemingly in the center of the celestial lights. A woman approaches, carrying a small child, and asks for my protection. I see no enemies, so I guess she needs protection from the night and exposure to the elements. I find some sticks and use my cloak to build a lean-to for them, and also build a small fire. I would like to sit and chat with her, but remind myself to stay vigilant.

   Soon another woman approaches. She looks scrawny and weak [like the woman in the RW 5P] and asks for alms. I have three apples from the orchard, and giver her one, offering one also to the first woman. As the full moon shines overhead, a cranky old woman hobbles through the marsh towards me. "Are you in charge here?" she demands. "Yes, ma'am," I reply. "How shall I cross this river? I pay enough taxes! Why haven't you built a bridge yet, eh?"
   "I'm sorry, ma'am, but it's my first day here at this job." I'm momentarily baffled, then realize I can carry her piggyback--so I do.
   She's not very heavy, and it's not very deep or wide. Even though she is unthankful, I feel really good that I could help her.

   Later on, I hear the noise of an approaching leper. "Hello," I greet her. "I know you are required by law to use the bell and clapper to warn others of your contagion, but could you please stop it for now? There is a woman with a baby sleeping nearby. I am in charge here, and I suspend the law for you in this time and place."
   She thanks me, and I ask her about her life--how it was, how she got sick, how she lives now--and she in turn asks how I came to be here. We have a friendly and interesting chat, which helps me stay awake in the wee hours of the morning. Then she quietly goes on her way.

   The eastern sky begins to glow red with the dawn, and I see a figure silhouetted and storming towards me. She is talking to herself, so I manage to get the gist of her problem before she reaches me.
   "I know just how you feel!" I exclaim.
   "You do? How can you?" she asks.
   "I had a similar confrontation, and I felt the same way," I tell her.
   Then I tell her all about the situation *I* was in, how it was similar, how I felt, etc. I empathize with her, and we spend a few minutes bitching about our respective antagonists.
   "But what I found," I continue, "was that it wasn't worth high blood pressure, that person didn't deserve that much response or reaction from me, and when I calmed down, the proper course of action just *came* to me. I took control of myself, and it turned out very well for me in the end."
   "I'm glad I came this way," she says. "You've helped me a lot and given me things to think about, and a way to stay calm when I go back. Thanks. Bye."

   Now Gawain returns, and we discuss the events of the night.

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