“Very well, you’ve had your chance. Good luck in the games,” he’d said
with a sneer.The black knight steadying the midnight steed at the long end of the list sentSimon a murderous glare before pulling down his facemask. This would be
Simon’s eighth and final opponent of the day, taking on the winners of other matches. He’d faced the best of the
best and it had soon become obvious that all of them were out for blood.Basil had obviously offered a reward to any knight who could not onlyunseat Simon, but permanently maim or kill him. It had taken all his skill not to beskewered by one opponent after another. The crowd had booed at theunsportsmanlike behavior of his competitors.At one point his helmet had been severely knocked, causing him to see stars,but somehow he had managed to stay atop his horse and send his opponent flying.Now Simon watched the most formidable foe yet bearing down upon him.Taking his fighting position, he kneed Valiant and leaned forward. Living up to hisname, Valiant ran straight and true, not trotting but taking long steady strides,barely bouncing the master in his saddle.The black knight rode with equal skill, aiming his long deadly weapon at
Simon’s chest. It all came down to a few seconds. The horses’ hoofs pounded the
green turf, sending it flying. The smell of fresh dirt rankled the air as Simon took great gulps of it through his mask. He barely noticed the forty pounds of metal andleather strapped to his chest and arms.He calculated the lean of his body, lifted his lance, stared at the silverbreastplate dashing toward him. A crunch of metal and wood. A jolt of pain in hisshoulder. He gripped his horse with his knees and held the lance steady that
crashed into the opposing chest. A clatter of shields and the black knight’s legs
flailed in the air before he hit the ground.The crowd rose to their feet in a cheer
. “Hooray! Hooray, for Sir Simon!Simon! Simon! Simon!” they chanted.
Ignoring the bolts of pain shooting through his body, Simon circled towardthe royal stand, accepting the accolades of the crowd. Women threw flowers andsent him inviting looks.Marion glowed with delight, but standing just behind her Simon glimpsedhis nemesis, Lord Basil, still as stone. The deadly look in his eye told Simon the
game wasn’t over yet.