"Once you have seen him, you have no choice but to follow. It is the one true quest. Both a burden and a joy. To follow the stag. To follow wherever he leads. Will you follow as I have? Give him everything you are? Lose your life in service to perfection?"
A 14-year-old peasant boy finds himself alone in the world after his home
is destroyed by marauding knights. Enter an old man calling himself Sir
Sans Espoir (the knight without hope) who tells the boys of his quest for
The White Stag, a legendary beast that, if captured, must grant you your
The boy joins the knight on his quest and along the way they encounter a five-year-old girl fleeing her cruel uncle. With the help of a troublesome goose, a half-crazed theatrical troup and the stag itself, the three reach the icy shores of Loch Ness where the old knight's mysterious past brings events to a startling conclusion.
An EXCERPT from The White Stag
When next I opened my eyes, day had just begun to dawn and the sky overhead was already a pale blue. I sat up and glanced around. A soft mist floated in the air, giving the familiar landscape a muted, unearthly appearance. I felt like the only living creature in a world made of shadows. The ruins of our cottage looked like a shipwreck and the graves of my mother and father seemed somehow beautiful, like twin loaves of bread.
The forest looked especially mysterious and as I gazed at the trees, the fog seemed to swirl. Then out of that haze stepped the magnificent white stag. I had never seen anything so heavenly. He was truly huge, and so white that he seemed to shimmer from within. He held his head high and puffed out his chest as if to say he owned the world. His muscles rippled with strength, yet his muzzle looked as soft and as gentle as a baby's breath. The antlers did indeed form a sort of crown, and the eyes . . . I cannot describe the eyes. They reminded me of wells. Deep, crystal wells that reach all the way to eternity. Even from a distance I nearly drowned in them. They seemed to draw me. Draw me toward that majestic creature.
Then I heard a gasp. The knight had awakened and seen the stag. For a long time (or was it just a moment?) the two of us sat there gazing, unable to move, barely able to breathe. Finally the buck turned and regally strode back into the woods. Instantly I wanted to see him again. I wanted to touch him. Hold him. I wanted his strength, his purity, his gentleness. And, in a strange way, I wanted to be possessed by him. I felt a yearning such as I had never known. A yearning that I thought would tear me to pieces.
The knight's voice broke the spell and I found myself back in the hum-drum reality I had always known. The old man staggered to his feet and began scrambling about madly. He pulled a stocking halfway up, then started folding his blanket, then whistled for Rosalind.
"Go where?" I asked.
He had gone back to pulling on his stockings and now paused with one leg in the air like a stork. "Go where?" he gasped. "Why to follow the stag."
"Why should I come?"
He hopped about on one leg and answered, "To be my squire, of course. Every great knight starts out as a squire."
"But, I . . . hardly know you."
"And I hardly know you. But we have this in common, Robert. We have seen the stag. And once you have seen him, you have no choice but to follow. It is the one true quest. Both a burden and a joy. To follow the stag. To follow wherever he leads. Will you follow as I have? Give him everything you are? Lose your life in service to perfection?"
I looked at that ridiculous old man. I looked at the graves and at the ruined house. I looked at the spot where I had seen the glorious creature.
And that is how I joined the quest for the white stag.
Copyright © 1996 by Stephen Mark Spence