Raym’s own time travel adventure reveals an unusual occupation
My vision and hearing are impaired and I am hot. My body moves to a natural but non-human rhythm. Sweat trickles from my forehead into my eyes and it stings, blurring my vision; I sense vertical lines of light before me. The distorted background sounds that I can hear are strangely tinny, I might be hearing birdsong; I do not know where I am, what I am or why I am here.
I have invited my apprentice to time-travel with me on an open-ended adventure and I am reminded that the trouble with open-ended adventures is just that, their open-endedness. I have left it to my higher-self to take us to wherever we need to be.
An unearthly screech rattles my bones, triggering contradictory feelings of fear and calm. Wherever I am this is not new to me, I know what to do next. I tell myself to stop questioning and just experience.
I feel into my surroundings and gradually grasp what is going on around me. The armour and padding I am wearing are heavy and it feels like I am trapped in a slow roast croc-pot. The blokes who wore this stuff must have had ways of dealing with this claustrophobia, I am not doing so well. My body is smaller and leaner than the one I have now, which although fit and muscly might be considered overfed by my past-life self.
My vision clears and I can see greenery through the vertical slits in my visor, a gentle grassy slope dotted with daisies and European trees. It is a cool spring morning, somewhere in Britain. If it wasn’t for that disturbing sound and the fact that I was sitting on an armoured horse ready for some kind of battle it would be a pleasant day.
I look around me, which is a challenge in this helmet, I have to move my whole body and my twisting unsettles my mount. I notice that he is armoured too, his crinet, peytral and shafron have been well attached by my squire.
I see also that I am pretty much alone, no armies massed to meet each other as I had expected. Just a small, rag-tag group of peasants who are watching from some distance away. I know my apprentice must be nearby and I wonder how her appearance will differ from her usual twenty-first century street chic.
Then I spot her, my squire, a young man in period dress. He stands between the locals and me, a shiny polished shield resting against his feet. Behind him our traveling ponies, supplies and the gear used to help me onto my horse.
In my right hand I become aware of a long heavy sword and in my left a shield, like the one at my squire’s feet. I am ready for action, but what kind of action? I can see no enemy.
The otherworldly screech fills the air again; the villagers flee, my squire stands his ground and I feel the earth vibrating through my horse. He is stock still, ears pricked, breathing loudly through his flared nostrils. I realise he is waiting for instructions from me and as I gently lean, he moves forward in the direction I am intending. We make our way slowly up the grassy knoll towards the sound. He traverses the hill sideways as if he is performing full-pass in a modern dressage competition. He is a fine beast; he presents my sword arm to the hill.
My past life self is feeling confident but my present logical mind is not, we are making our way sideways uphill towards an unknown enemy, surely we will be vulnerable to whatever crests the hill as it bears down on us?
I do not have to wait long to find out what is making that awful sound.
A large, scaly, green, reptile-like creature appears over the rise before us. To say it breathed fire would be an exaggeration, but plenty of snot and steam emanate from its nostrils into the crisp morning air.
It must be warm blooded I catch myself thinking.
It stands three metres tall on its hind legs, both its front and rear claws flash pink and white, clogged with flesh and wool. Intestines dangle from its mouth. The villagers have deliberately disturbed its morning feast on one of their precious lambs.
My job, I quickly realise, is to curtail its eating habits, permanently.
I become an acutely aware observer as the action unfolds around me. I hear myself shouting insults at the reptile, I make bird calls, animal noises, cows, sheep, goats – you name it. I could have been a great stage performer. It is as if the creature understands me, it responds by bellowing what could be insults back at me, in its strange shrill way.
I hear myself giving it the option to retreat to its cave and leave the villagers alone. It does not care for or understand my words and makes its way down the slope towards me, ready for another snack.
I notice the shield on my left arm is smaller than I expected and I feel myself positioning it carefully before I engage with the dragon. I also know I am relying on my squire to use the highly polished shield he has to reflect the morning sun into the dragon’s eyes.
Everything is in my favour, the reflected sunlight dazzles the beast and it rears up momentarily distracted. In an instant the horse changes tack, responding to my gentle, almost telepathic signals, he moves quickly and courageously right in, under the reptile, giving me a clear lunging strike with my sword.
I thrust my blade deep into the beast’s underbelly and immediately retreat, so as not to be trapped beneath its shocked, staggering bulk. The kill is all over in a few, adrenalin-pumped seconds. The beast falls, writhing, wailing in agony, thrashing around with its long claws, seeking some kind of retribution. My big, brave horse gracefully backs away from the danger, eyes fixed constantly on the dying dragon.
I am totally drenched with sweat and exhausted, my squire helps me off my horse and removes my armour, I thank and embrace him.
The shepherds and local villagers are grateful, but also afraid of me. I smile inwardly; they have no need to fear me. I accept their gold as my squire packs up and readies to depart. I can see parallels to my present life as a shaman, people respect me but also fear me: there is no need for that, now, either.
“Shall we return?” I speak to my squire/apprentice using the knight’s vocal chords.
This is our pre-arranged signal to return to our present time-space, s/he nods. We stretch as we feel ourselves back in our bodies in this here and now.
“Wow! Way cool. You were a really brave man.”
“I was skilled at my craft.”
“Unbelievable… Dragons – far out. But there was no trauma there, you did well. Why were we taken there? So you could experience what a great warrior you were?”
“No… It was so I could remember the mutual bond of total trust I had with my horse: such a fine, noble and beautiful animal.” My tears surprise her.
“You could have one again now.”
“No need,” I smile, “the dragons I deal with now are non-physical. Anyway I have a bicycle, less space and lower maintenance.”
All stories are © 2019 Raym Richards and are extracted from his book “Sprit World. A diary of an Urban Shaman” available through iBooks and Amazon or directly from Crystal Dreaming