What does it mean to ‘have honor’? Is it something real, or is it more like an idea, a notion based on a set of beliefs? How does one obtain honor? Are we born with it, or do we learn it?
Read on to find out what Sir Trogsdill Domnall, the most revered knight in my novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, has to say about the subject.
Me: “Sir Trogsdill, thank you for sparing a few moments to talk to me. I know from talking to the other knights in the Order you do not like these sorts of interviews, but I couldn’t think of anyone else who could answer my questions with complete honesty.”
The knight leans to one side and props an elbow on the arm of the chair. His forefinger and thumb cradle the sharp angles of his face; the other three perch at his lips. Thick, brown hair falls in gentle waves to his collar. His piercing, peridot-green eyes lock onto mine, and I gulp as my stomach takes flight. I can tell he’s waiting for me to continue, but I’m incapable of speech. I am drowning in a sea of green. Part of me wants to run, but I can’t. I’m drawn to him in a way that defies explanation. He is a mystery, an enigma that commands respect. I take a deep breath to ease the pounding of my heart and then shift in my chair, ignoring the sweat pooling at the nape of my neck. Somehow I gather my thoughts and steady the tremble in my voice.
Me: Sir Trogsdill, the word I hear most often to describe you is ‘honorable’. Would you say that is an appropriate word? How do you perceive yourself?”
Sir Trogsdill: “I believe I am honorable, at least I strive to be.” His deep voice vibrates the air. My nerves quiver. “As for how I perceive myself? I don’t waste the time thinking of it. I am who I am.”
Me: “What does being honorable mean to you?”
The man leans forward, his hands clasped between his knees. His eyes remain fixed on mine, as if he’s trying to dive deep into my soul. I want to look away, but I can’t. I’m mesmerized. I’m a noodle. I am a victim to his captivating presence.
Sir Trogsdill: “You ask an interesting question. Honor, to me, is not something a king or a lord bestows upon you, nor is it something you win at the end of a joust. It is solid. It is moral. We are all born with it, this capacity to be honorable. It is what we choose to do with our lives that keep us that way.”
Me: “Would you mind elaborating a bit?”
Sir Trogsdill: “I am not sure how much clearer I can get.”
Me: “I suppose what I want to know is if you feel honor is something we learn?”
Sir Trogsdill pressed his back into the overstuffed chair. “No, it’s not. It’s something that resides deep within us. Some of us have it. Some don’t.”
Me: “But don’t you have a code of honor you must abide by? Aren’t many of those things learned?”
The man smiles, and my heart swells at the way it touches his eyes. He is handsome in ways I can’t pinpoint. I wonder if he knows it.
“My code? My lady, honor is more than a code. It is something intangible. Yes, knights take oaths to follow certain conventions such as serving our liege lord in faith and valor, or to protect the weak and defenseless. To refrain from wanton acts and protect a lady’s reputation, but honor goes beyond these acts.”
He looks away for a moment as if collecting his thoughts, then turns his gaze back to me. His features are strong, his eyes trusting and kind.
“Honor, my lady, is about integrity, unwavering dedication to one’s morals and standards. It means walking a difficult path, even if we must travel it alone, but we must because it is righteous and true. Honor is holding tight to your convictions when you know they are right, and letting them go when they are wrong. It is about putting another before oneself and striving for a life steeped in justice, loyalty, and fairness.”
Me: “But who is to say what is just, loyal and fair? Your definitions of those may not be mine. Who is right and who is wrong?”
Sir Trogsdill: “Honor is not a question of who is right and who is wrong, my lady. You asked me what it means to have honor. If one stands and defends what they believe in with every fiber of their being, whether you agree with their cause or not, then they are honorable.”
Me: “So by that token, you’re saying that people who are consumed by evil can also be honorable because they adhere to their convictions?”
Sir Trogsdill shakes his head. “No, that is not what I said. Honor and evil cannot exist together.”
Me: “Why is that?”
Sir Trogsdill: “Because having honor is to be selfless. As I said before, honor is about putting others before yourself. An honorable act is a selfless act. Evil, on the other hand, is based in self-gratification. Evil, by virtue of what it is, is not honorable. Therefore, those performing it are not honorable.”
I am touched by this man’s passion … and his wisdom. I can tell by the shifting of his legs and body, he’s getting restless, so I ask my last question.
Me: “If you could give young people any advice about being honorable, what would you tell them?”
Sir Trogsdill counts on his fingers: “One. Hold true to yourself. Two. Never lose faith in the spirit that guides you. Three. Do not let anyone sway you from your core beliefs. Four, turn your back on those who wish to destroy your sense of integrity, and five, stray away from those who disregard your values.”
Wow. Those are words we could all live by. I stand and offer my hand to him.
Me: “Thank you, Sir Trogsdill. That was an enlightening conversation. You have certainly given me plenty to think about.”
The knight stands, and I am dwarfed by his size, but instead of feeling insignificant, I am overcome by a sense of safety and compassion. He bows and kisses the back of my hand before departing the room. I watch as he leaves, noting the confidence in his walk, the strength in his demeanor, and my heart twinges again. What I would give to have half of the courage, poise, and assurance he has. I suppose it will have to suffice knowing how honored I feel to have sat in his presence. I will never forget him. Ever.
So, what did you think? Do you agree with Sir Trogsdill or does ‘having honor’ mean something different to you? Please leave your comments below.
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I hope you enjoyed this interview. Stay tuned for more to come.