Tag Archives: four horsemen

A Duel of Wits in Ephesus

I was led a long distance until we reached Ephesus, a settlement of many gates and towers. At its center was a great palace, the court of the Red King. We entered his throne room and my captors, having prostrated themselves, began to explain our presence there. He nodded apprehensively as they spoke. For my part, I stared at the man in mute awe. I recognized his face immediately from our former encounter, but still unaware that I was asleep, the similarity was more confusing than enlightening. He was no longer dressed as a horseman, but was crowned with laurel and decked in robes of scarlet.

At last, he addressed me.

“Why have you appealed to meet with me?” he thundered. “I’m a busy man.”

“I must strike the Red Horseman. Then the Black must strike the Pale. Then the Pale must strike the Black. Then I must strike the Pale.”

“Indeed?” he scoffed. “And just who do you think you are?”

In the crowd, I caught sight of the Lamb from the corner of my eye, and took comfort in his presence.

“I am the White Horseman,” I intoned.

The crowd burst into laughter.

“That’s impossible,” snapped the Red King. “He disappeared long ago, before the war of the Seven Cities established my ancestor as monarch of this place. Since that time, a great famine has blighted this land season by season, and to avert catastrophe, we periodically hold a Tournament of Fire. Is that why you’re here? Well, you couldn’t compete, even if you wanted to. Only three nobles from each of the seven cities can join in the game, with me and my two brothers serving as judges. The participants have all been chosen.”

“If you won’t let me compete,” I said, “then I’ll have to take your place as Judge once I execute you.”

“Are you seriously challenging me to a duel?” he growled. “I’ll destroy you.”

“You can try.”

A ring of fire suddenly blazed forth, with me and the Red King materializing at its center. At my side, I found my old slingshot, and one stone in my grip.

“If you really are the White Horseman,” hissed the Red Horseman, “then tell me—what did my ancestor challenge you to do in the original Game of Stones?”

“To defend the concept of God,” I said confidently, “and this is how I began:

‘God is love,’ taught Christ, but ‘God is dead,’ wrote Nietzsche. If so, Nietzsche is now in good company.”

“How did you know that?” cried the Red Horseman.

“A little lamb told me,” I said. “Now hear my defense of God, and give way.”

8/28/2011

Next Entry 9/4/2011


“You Have Appealed to the Red King…” (“And to the Red King You Will Go…”)

I did my best for many nights to control the content of my dreams, but to no avail. Whenever I found myself vaguely cognizant of my surroundings, I would either fly around at random and ignore the shadows surrounding me, or I’d repeat the same phrase again and again to everyone who encountered me:

I must strike the Red Horseman. Then the Black must strike the Pale. Then the Pale must strike the Black. Then I must strike the Pale.

And so it went, for many nights. For their part, the other shadows seemed uninterested in me. They were all discussing something called a Tournament of Fire to be hosted by three kings, not coincidentally called Red, Black, and Pale. But in my dazed state, the similarity of the names meant nothing to me.

Finally, there came a certain morning on which I needed to wake up for a meeting at 8:00. In my anxiety, I roused myself a bit too early, at 5:30, and returned at once to a deep sleep. This proved to be the occasion for the resumption of my nightly agency.

Alone in a meadow, I was preparing to take off into the sky when a hooded figure approached me.

I said: I must strike the Red Horseman. Then the Black must strike the Pale. Then the Pale must strike the Black. Then I must strike the Pale.

I then noticed that the face of the stranger, though hidden in shadows, was clearly not that of a man at all, but a lamb. Suddenly, my memories came pouring back to me, and I said:

“Do you remember that there was a contest once, to the death, in which four horsemen threw stones at each other and at a woman accused of adultery?”

“There is an ancient legend to that effect,” said the Lamb. “But the game of stones was never carried out to its conclusion. They say a clarion voice burst from the sky, unmistakable to everyone present, and scattered the assembly.”

“What did the voice say?”

“That’s been forgotten. It’s nothing but a legend now.”

I tilted my head to the side, confused. Then I intoned again: I must strike the Red Horseman. Then the Black must strike the Pale. Then the Pale must strike the Black. Then I must strike the Pale.

“Who do you think you are, the legendary White Horseman?” laughed the Lamb. “You’re obviously a stranger here.”

I must strike the Red Horseman. Then the Black must strike the Pale. Then the Pale must strike the Black. Then I must strike the Pale.

A crowd began to assemble.

“What’s he talking about?” barked an indistinct form. “Who is this man, and where is he from? Is he here to compete in the Tournament of Fire?”

“Doesn’t he know,” whined another shadow, “that only Nobility can compete?”

“He’s some fool, asleep,” whispered a third form. “Wake him up and be done with it.”

“No, leave me alone!” I cried. “I know my rights. Take me without delay to the one you call the Red King!”

The shadows conferred. Then a figure dressed as a guardsman said,

“You have appealed to the Red King, and to the Red King you will go…” and I was immediately thrown in irons.

8/14/2011

Next entry 8/28/2011