By: Wouter van de Zandschulp
Genre: Fantasy, Humor
A story of a persistent young man who took on the role of a goat riding knight intent on changing the world.
The story of the Knight of the Goat was first written in Dutch. Some parts were published in the Alcarin.com mailinglist in English translation (see the mailinglist or columns archives). This page presents the complete story in English. Enjoy reading.
Arjan Wardekker (webmaster and mailinglist editor-in-chief)
Knight of the Goat
Challenge of the Goat
The friendly young man
Walking the goat
The invasion of the goat
Acceptance of the goat
Redemption of the goat
"Knight of the Goat" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 52)
The legend of the Knight of the Goat, as told by the bard Jonathan, started out like this:
'There they had it. A kid. A small kid. Not a puppy. Not even a cappuccino-maker. They had a child.
They were a poor and simple family on the country. And therefore they were happy. They thought life was hard, but fair on them. They thought people were fair on them. They even were contempt with the fact that there are richer and poorer people. They even believed that people with power really did everything they could to make life as good as possible for all people.
Yes, they were real simple people.
Living within a house near collapsing, they seemed to be happy. They had running water… running right through their roof when it rained. And they had goats. To milk. To get the delicious goat milk.
The little Frederick loved goats. Every day he woke up because of them making noise. And he thought it was all for the best, since he had to get up. His parents attitude towards nasty stuff seemed to get on him. The whole family had some sort of creepy way to think bad stuff is happening to them for a good reason.
One day they invited a tax inspector inside, nice and smiling, and gave him a drink and everything. The poor man was totally confused and ran away in terror. He knew about people trying to kill him. Part of his job. That's what he understood. But this… he had no idea what to do with people who seemed happy to see him.
There was one thing that could infuriate little Frederick, though. It was the boy next door, whose father was a rich farmer. He had cows, animals that were way more popular than goats. Cow milk sold a lot better, also.
This boy teased Frederick. Told him goats smell. Though little Frederick knew how sweet those goats were. It was not fair. They did not deserve to be treated as inferior.
Things got worse when that little show-off neighbour kid was promoted as to become a knight. His parents could afford a horse for him and all. All because of the money. Frederick slowly got full with realisation that life was not fair. His goats were under-appreciated. They made less money. They were the underdog-animals, suited for poor people. He thought of all those poor kids, never getting a chance at becoming anything more. He wanted people to get rewarded on talent, not heritage. So he had a dream. He would show the world the might of the goat!
And that's how it started. He used a goat for a horse and started to make a statement for goats and all underdogs they stand for. The Knight of the Goat was born!
Their parents saw Frederick driving away on a goat and sighed.
"He must have gone nuts" they said.'
"Challenge of the Goat" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 56)
"And so, on his way the Knight of the Goat went. Lot's of people looked at him. Like they had never seen a knight ride a goat before! All terrible narrow-minded people who thought something odd about this, he was sure. But he believed his willpower would triumph over this.
That afternoon it was terribly busy at the local marketplace. Knight Patrick, his former kid-next-door, was giving away autographs. As the only real knight from their little town, he was quite famous. All kinds of Knight Patrick merchandise was sold. Frederick saw him. His teeth had about the same shine on them as his armor had. Even his horse seemed to shine a little.
"What is your plan? Shine your enemy 'till he is blinded?" Frederick called out before he knew it.
Everyone looked at him, surprised. None of them thought about saying something to their local hero which was other then extremely nice and gentle.
Patrick smiled at him.
"If it isn't the poor goatboy" he said.
He saw Fredericks poor clothes and goat.
"This sure is... ridiculous..."
He had trouble not laughing aloud. So he decided to just go ahead and do laugh aloud.
"Ha ha ha ha!"
Frederick looked at him, furious that he laughed at his poor appearance.
"I challenge you" he said.
"That would be a much to sad show" Patrick said and turned his horse around again.
"I AM THE KNIGHT OF THE GOAT - FIGHTER FOR JUSTICE FOR ALL BORN WITH LESS CHANCES!" Frederick called out.
"If you don't want my autograph, please GO" Patrick said. "I have to promote some stuff, save some princesses, slay some dragons, you know... busybusybusy..."
"Lend me a lance like you have and I will take you on in a honest fight..."
Patrick sighed and granted his wish. A moment later they were running towards each other. Frederick got thrown right of the goat by the lance. He got up and wanted to take on Patrick again, but saw his goat running home again.
He had failed quite badly. Not a good way to start. Only good ideals do not mean you will win yet. Only courage isn't enough either. He needed more practice to make perfect."
Jonathan stopped writing because he heard an explosion.
"WHAT ARE YOU UP TO NOW, FOMBEL!" he called out.
He sighed an knew his party would drag him into another adventure soon, probably. Something like fleeing the locals because the gnome in the party blew something up. He looked at his writing and smiled. The Knight of the Goat had a long way to go, but would become a legend. And he had to admit, the adventures of the party and little Fombel's enthusiasm helped him create this legend. He would write the rest of his adventures next time being.
"No justice" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 58)
Frederick had made a big fool of himself in the village. But he wore socks made of goat-wool and bravely walked on.
"Son, this man wants to talk to you" his father said one day. The local psychiatrist looked at him, holding a briefcase. Frederick walked right to his goat and ignored it all.
"I will let goats take over the world!" he called out.
Without saying another word he got onto his goat, looking for places to make a fresh start.
Our Knight of the Goat hadn't had success anywhere. He had been in many cities, but had heard only harsh words about his goat. Why couldn't anyone see what a nice creature it was.
In one village, the people threw stones at him and ridiculed him badly. His poor goat couldn't handle it and fell down. He couldn't get up. Frederick did all he could, but couldn't keep them from throwing more and more stones, till the goat died. Frederick felt like he was dead himself and the terrible lack of justice hurt him deeply, just as the pain to his animal. After burying his goat, he swore to get more justice in this world.
In the next village they just thought him ridiculous and not anything more. He bought a new goat who he named Nibbles. He got on with his new goat and traveled along. He then came into a village of gnomes. Little people with chaotic tendencies. But not these gnomes. This where organized gnomes, which in a way is even more scary. A bunch of adventurers, like the famous bard Jonathan and the gnome Fombel, where guests in their town and were treated well. Fredericks' ideals had changed because of all the hard reactions he got. He did not expect any respect for his ideas anymore. Goats where treated a lot like the lower class. People say they smell and are not worthy. But if he proved his courage, perhaps people would realize you can be a knight on a goat? Perhaps then the poor can become knights too. Perhaps his father's name would get more honor. The love for goats would get justified. People would see the advantages: you could milk a goat while traveling!
This village was still without heroes. He would give them one.
Next morning he came riding on his goat. He came onto the marketplace and loudly called out: "I am the Knight of the Goat, I fight for justice! I will help and protect you against evil!"
The gnomes were startled and didn't like it at all. They were organized and a knight of a goat was not how they thought an organized world should be. They came out with weapons and got the knight of his goat. They hit him and hit him till he didn't move and they thought he was dead. His goat got away. They didn't see him crawling away later en hiding behind a hill, slowly healing his wounds and wanting revenge on this terrible world.
"The friendly young man" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 60)
Last time the Knight of the Goat appeared, it was in a village which was visited by a group of adventurers. Much later, in a completely different village, this same group of adventurers had gathered, when the Knight came riding again, wanting to challenge them. Wanting to prove what Knights of the Goat are capable of. And since it was clear he could not show it in a positive sense, it had to be done otherwise. He had seen pain enough. Pain seems to be the thing the other people understand, so he would provide it to them.
"I am the Knight of the Goat, fighter for pain!" he called out.
This new slogan was not received very well. Before he could actually hit anyone, he was tossed of his goat again. Since he was alone. Always alone. And the people who don't think riding on goats is a good idea, are the others. And so they are much more people all together.
Same scenario after this short-lived adventure. They thought he had died and left him.
But here the Knight found his strength. He was tougher than people thought and proud of it. He lived and the hatred in him grew. He had learned a lot the hard way and would show he could come back once again.
But it was no use coming back the same way over and over again... There was no point to it even though he could survive. He had to show the world that he had patience now to think this through a bit further.
Many years later a simple young man entered the town "Goat Droppings". This town had gotten big by means of their excellent goat market. The young boy seemed friendly and sincere, though his eyes looked like he harbored a terrible secret. He worked hard and the people liked him.
He was smart and practical and earned more and more money. Nobody was surprised when he went out to buy a flock of goats one day. This was very usual as goods for trade.
Handu, a local goats-salesman, looked at him with a smile. His beautiful daughter Merel smiled too. Everyone liked to see the friendly young man.
"Hello friend!" he called. "Are you looking for someone to do business with?"
"I like the look of your goats, dear Handu" the young man said friendly and sincere. "I think I could make some money with them."
"You probable could" Handu replied.
The started bargaining about the price. Merel looked from a distance, while her favorite goat, Curlyeye, was chewing on her dress.
"Curlyeye, shall I take you for a walk?" she said with a friendly and soft voice.
She walked past them with her goat on a rope.
The young man looked at her, very interested.
"She is not for sale" Handu said, and they bargained on about the goats.
"Walking the goat" (Alcarin.com mailinglist no. 62)
Merel was walking with her goat through the mountains. The young man ran after her.
She turned her beautiful face towards him. He had to give some explanation for him going after her.
"I... err... well..." he said.
"Are you always that articulate?" she asked.
"Well... mumble mumble..." he stuttered.
"It's... good... you walking your goat. Goats need love."
She looked at him.
"Thank you" she just said and walked along. The young man walked after her.
"I used to have a nice goat, I walked with him. I like walking with goats."
"You're the first boy I hear saying this" she replied.
Since this moment she let the young man walk with her.
While the seasons past they got used to walking the goat together. They got more and more close together. In the beginning of spring they kissed for the first time.
During the day the man negotiated. He hired people who he trained to fight. He bought goats on all different locations; strong goats who could walk fast and could give a lot of milk.
The man he hired never talked about their job.
One day the man and Merel walked through the mountains. It was a beautiful night, the temperature and the smell was perfect. During the day it was hot, but at night it was pleasant.
They felt so happy they wished it would never stop. So they walked all night.
At last it got colder. De young man put his arms around her.
"I love you. You know that, don't you?" she said.
He nodded moved and kissed her on the fore-head. "I love you too."
A star came down.
"I wish you would stay with me for ever" she said.
"Well.. I need to go... I need to do something."
"Can't tell you... best if I don't..." the young man said.
"Don't do it... stay with me..." she said.
"I can't. I have to go through with it now... can't do anything else."
Wearing his sweater of goat wool, Merel and her goat got back alone that night, very sad.
"The invasion of the goat" (did not appear in Alcarin.com mailinglist)
The next day, a lot of goats were loaded on a ship heading for Waterdeep. Many hired staff seemed inappropriately heavily armed for people who transport goats. Especially since the goats did not seem difficult to handle at all. On the contrary, the goats seemed highly trained to behave in a certain way.
The young man also boarded the ship. He seemed very concentrated and walked in a serious manner.
In his room, he put some sort of crown on his head and put on a beautiful costume.
In Waterdeep, the goats were chased out of the boat in a calm manner. On a deserted plaza, they were saddled. The young man climbed on the first goat and gave a signal with his hand. At that moment, something unusual happened in Waterdeep. Dozens of fierce looking men rode on goats, into the city. In front their leader rode, calling: "I am the Knight of the Goat, fighter for a New Way!"
Behind him his colleagues came as well.
Soon the city was in great chaos. The citizens defended themselves against the big attack.
The Knight of the Goat had returned! This time he planned to take over the whole world and change it. If this was the only way to make the world more friendly towards goats, so be it! There had to be a revolution and it had to be done by the Knight of the Goat. Never again will he suffer from lack of understanding!
Apparently, the Knight had gotten a bit kooky. Of course you cannot start a world revolution with dozens of men riding goats. Of course they will lose. A clear mind and mathematics were clouded by his anger and bitterness. And still he had returned, once again. Once again people had heard of him. And once again his revolutionary idea, that was not meant to be, brought chaos.
Our well known adventurers, who seemed to be in every city he came by, took notice of the situation. Many of them fought against him. But there were also some admirers among them. The brave gnome Fombel and the talented bard Jonathan were his fans, since the beginning.
There was chaos. Many goats and men died. And eventually the Knight of the Goat himself got blown from his goat. He got hit by ordinary civilians, like all the others. No one noticed what was special about him.
This seemed to be his final doom. He had gotten strong on the inside by his persistence and by surviving so many times before. But this downfall, though he could cope physically, was too much for him mentally.
"Acceptance of the goat" (did not appear in Alcarin.com mailinglist)
Totally ruined, he started walking around the city like a zombie.
He was in pain, terrible pain.
He had lost his family, his true love and even his goats.
"Cows are nice... goats smell... horses are nice... goats smell... big knight... better knight... baaahh..."
That's how he dreamed at night in some cold alley.
It was not fair, he realized. People saying these things. It was not fair that a knight on a goat was not meant to be. He accepted this. A accepted it and this made him think clear again.
He had battled for a thing that was not fair, brave though foolish, because some things you cannot change. He had devoted his live to goats, but he also had love. He also had family.
His father and mother were sleeping inside a tent, when he walked by.
"Hello" he said.
"Son!" his father called. "How are you doing? What have you been doing?"
"Well... some business... chased some goats through a big city and... what's happened?"
His parents were in a tent, behind which a big villa was built.
"We sleep here out of habit, but we live in there" his father said. "Some fool seems to have created an army of goats and that tale apparently stimulated the imagination of some spoiled kids from the village. Goat-products became a hype over here and we became rich. I think we even got more rich then the neighbor with his corny cows and horses."
After a happy while of staying with his parents, which gave our knight the feeling he did some good for them, he went back to another city one day. He ran up a hill, where he saw a beautiful girl walking lonely beside a sheep. This made him very happy. After running some closer he recognized his own sweater made out of goat-wool.
After a big hug and some sort of happy-dance, an even happier period in his life began.
"Redemption of the goat" (did not appear in Alcarin.com mailinglist)
One day, a very happy couple walked through the city of Waterdeep with a buggy for small children and a goat on a rope. The Knight was lucky he was not recognized over here.
"Did you really chase through this city with an army of goats?" his wife asked. "You are always overreacting!"
All of a sudden, the extremely talented bard Jonathan recognized him.
"Knight of the Goat? It's me! Your fan!" he called out loudly, happy to be someone else's fan for once.
"Sssh... I'm someone else..." the Knight whispered back to him.
Jonathan understood and stayed behind. What a pity, his hero had to go into history as a bad person. What's cool about a persistent man who never succeeded? Who eventually still was beaten, instead of always coming back. A defeat for the honor of the goats and for the low classes in society.
The Knight of the Goat himself had the same problem. He had succeeded as a family man, but most of his life he had worked on a legend which did not end happily. If only he could redeem the Knight of the Goat.
Many nights he wondered about this, while walking the streets. Should he go out as the Knight once more... or would he be hurt again if he did? He feared this greatly.
He walked past a big house. A party seemed to be going on inside. A banner at the entrance said: "Party in honor of Fombel becoming a father!"
He remembered Fombel and Jonathan being his only fans. He had the congratulate them!
He walked in and saw Jonathan and Fombel performing. He decided to wait for a little while.
"I hereby present with pride, the hero who just became a father, Fombel, working magic!" Fombel called out.
Fombel got a bag, while the audience applauded.
Fombel got a round thingy from the bag and a huge bear appeared.
"Oops" Fombel said, which gave away that it was not intended this way.
Jonathan and Fombel were in imminent danger of being eaten. The audience was surprised so much they didn't do anything.
Before he knew what he was doing, Frederick jumped on stage, calling: "I am the Knight of the Goat, fighting for Justice!"
He started hitting the bear without a hesitation. He kept the bear's mouth open so that it could not bite Fombel and at the same time kept the bear's claws at bay so that it would not scratch Jonathan.
After a big battle, the bear lost.
A big cheer was heard. The Knight was startled. Would the audience attack him now?
No, this time they were positive toward him.
"I've thrown him overboard" he answered.
The audience seemed to get mad after all.
"A matter of speaking" the Knight called out. "Figuratively".
"Maybe we should have thought of something better" Jonathan said to Frederick.
"Maybe you should have thought of something good" Torg, a gnome in the audience, said.
Zargo, the housekeeper, gave another round of drinks and the Knight realized it was over. The audience accepted him. His name was in the clear.
He walked back home and lived happily ever after.
Jonathan sighed. He knew that, in reality, the Knight of the Goat was a straw dummy put on a goat, which he made to talk through ventriloquism. No-one liked the joke and it got destroyed several times. Eventually, he and Fombel played out the last act at Zargo, redeeming the Knight. But with the vague recollection of the talking dummy on the goat, and this story, people would remember him as being real. They would remember him as being a hero because he went on, when it was least easy to do so.
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