THE DANDELION KNIGHT: Mythographic exegesis

The following is a common motif in tales of the Dandelion Knight:

A locale will be plagued (blessed) by his depredations (charity) for a period of months or years. His attacks on the local authorities — the burgomeister, let us say — are uniformly damaging, often deadly, and executed with a jeweler’s precision; his aid to the burghers is more mixed, as a rule, for he has little understanding of human needs beyond the physiological and no sympathy for neutral parties or collaborators. As the months or years press on, he becomes perceptibly weaker — his strength and speed diminish, his plans lose their clockwork inexorability, perhaps he fails to detect a betrayal until it blooms — and eventually he sustains a crippling injury, although his legs and wits allow him to stay ahead of the burgomeister’s men, leaving a trail of blood until he reaches the place that he has chosen to die. His followers rally in front of him, hoping to keep the burgomeister from him by sheer force of numbers, but the Dandelion Knight forces his way through their ranks to confront the men who wish to kill him. Speeches are given; the burgomeister may show remorse, pity, or other redeeming complexities of character, or he may be purely blinkered, venial, or evil, but the Dandelion Knight is purely eloquent, witty, and suffering in much the same way as a patient with bilateral damage to the parietal lobes of the brain, who can focus on only one object at a time. At the end, the inevitable happens. The enfeebled Dandelion Knight cannot escape; the last image of him alive always includes his hair, the only outward sign of his accelerated aging, a halo of white where vivid yellow had been when he made his name. The manner of his death is always similar: Whether the implement is mace, poleaxe, slug gun or energy lance or a brutish lackey’s bare hands, the Dandelion Knight’s face and head are destroyed, and his blood spatters his adherents.

The Dandelion Knight is dead, but his work does not stop. The burgomeister meets his fate at the hands of an anonymous perpetrator, dressed in green motley with a yellow shock of hair; sometimes there is a clue to his identity and sometimes not. The burghers take their fate into their own hands; sometimes there is a coda of exultation, sometimes not. The means of the Dandelion Knight’s transmission is sometimes made explicit, sometimes not. Many critics claim that these tales constitute evidence of paleobioweaponry, but this, like everything else in ancient history, is a matter of considerable dispute.

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