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of farm folk. It was in the howls of the wind, in the darkness of night, that the small children gathered about their father, eager in anticipation for the tale that was about to be told. “Father, do tell us, yes, please tell us, do so, a tale of bold and fierce heroes and foes.” “Yes, yes. I will tell ye a tale of one knight so bolde so as to keep your dreams filled with clashes of swords, damsels of such beauty, and evil to be conquered. Children, gather round, gather round! For the tail is long and I must not prolong for if I should stray time your mother would not look a good eye to it.” “Let me begin. It was a long time off in a kingdom that was not so far from the place we live, that a knight of such stature and boldness was roaming through the vast land. He was finishing an errand of the king and was making wayward back to his kingdom...”
‘For what bad luck is this, that I should have my horse lose its footing and take lame?’ said the knight, as he was leading his three goodfooted, limping steed upon the road. ‘I could have not wished for something as unluckily to befall me on such a far distance from mine king. Despite this, I shall make way back to mine king.’ Onward the knight trudged with his lame horse, making camp by nightfall and taking journey again by morn. The knight knew not what could the king be thinking of him, being so late in the coming. He was expected back for five days ago and the knight, even now, did not send word to the king of his trouble. ‘I shall not pester mine king with such things as of fallen horses,’ said he. Now the king was indeed worrisome for his brave and faithful knight and he sendeth three pages to seek him, for he wanted his knight for pressing matters and did not wish his presence only to see him safe. ‘Send forth for mine knight, for I must have assistance from him.’
‘At once, mine king,’ said the three. So the pages sought out the knight without cease and found him with his horse upon a weary road. ‘Good knight, it is good fortune that we have come upon thee. The King wishes thee back swiftly as can be,’ said one of the three pages. ‘Indeed, ‘tis good fate that your party should come upon me, for mine horse took lame a few days back and I have been traveling by way of foot,’ replied the knight. ‘’Tis poor fortune, indeed. Thou shalt saddle with us til other steeds can be found,’ said another of the king's pages. ‘Ye speak sense,’ said the knight, and he sat upon a steed beside one the king's pages. So, the four went onward back to the King's castle and on the way sold the lame horse at a local village. They there bought a better horse that was good enough for the Knight to ride. ‘Now mine good friends,’ said the knight, ‘what matter is it, that mine king would find the trouble to seeketh me out with such as yourselves, at the price of such trouble and inconvenience?’ ‘The King finds it necessary that after much hardship and quarreling with his cousin that it would be well to ease the fiery tension between them by holding a joust,’ answered one of the three pages. ‘Is there never a time when the king the cousin of ours is not causing mischief that our good King Albus does not have to quell? I suppose that mine king wants me to participate in this here event?’ asked the knight. ‘He does indeed. He would have none other than ye be his favorite to win,’ answered the same page. ‘When will this come?’ asked the knight. ‘Not more than three weeks in the coming will this be. The King wants you back for ye to prepare and be strong for it. This is the reason for the haste of our coming,’ answered one of the other pages. ‘Then let us be on our way, for there are many more miles before us to travel.’ said the knight.
The four, after several morns and evenings, traveled back to the castle and were welcomed into it with the announcement of the watchers and the greetings of the people. The castle looked as such; it was a splendid castle to behold with towers of stone rising from the ground over the small houses below. In these towers were windows from which archers could defend the grounds. It had a gate made in fine fashion which released the knights and soldiers into battle to defend their king when danger was near. They entered the court and presented themselves before the king. ‘My lord, we have brought before you Sir Aspire as you requested of us to do. I do pray, as I speak for the three of us, that ye would grant us leave of this mission so that we may attend to other things.’ ‘Good work my faithful pages,’ said the king. ‘I give ye leave of this service; ye may commence with your other affairs.’ ‘Many thanks, my lord,’ said the page. He then did leave the presence of the king. The two other pages followed after their companion and left the court, the knight, and the king behind. ‘Mine king, may I speak?’ asked Sir Aspire ‘Do speak,’ answered the king. ‘I have traveled to thee from the task that I was last assigned to by thee, which I did accomplish, and I did make mine way back to thee.’ ‘How is it that thou hast come back ten days late and hath given no explanation?’ asked the king. ‘I was delayed, for mine horse took a bad footing and became lame. I found myself traversing along with my bad horse by mine side. After a few days on the road back, I was found by the pages you sent for me; here I am now,’ answered Sir Aspire. ‘Ha ha!’ the king bellowed with mirth. ‘Ye gave me such worry for a small thing as that! I am glad ‘twasn’t anything worse than a bad horse. ‘Tis of no concern now, I am glad thou art in safety.’ ‘What is thine want, mine king, that thou should sendeth for me in such haste?" asked Sir Aspire.
The king explained to Sir Aspire about his trouble and need for solution with his cousin Malfrin, king of the neighboring kingdom, and that there would be a mighty joust to be held very soon to make better the relations of the two kings. ‘I need ye to be mine champion against mine cousin's best knight. Do ye accept this invitation?’ proposed the king. ‘Indeed, I do, if I shouldeth be mine lord's first choice out of his whole kingdom than what of me to refuse?’ answered Sir Aspire. ‘Very well, thou shalt be mine favorite. Now, thou shouldeth commence with preparation for this joust. I bid thee leave,’ said the king. ‘Farewell mine king.’ said Sir Aspire. He knelt before his king and departed. Sir Aspire neither did waste his days mingling with the court nor the ladies, nor in other social sport. He was not going to disgrace his king by not succeeding in winning the joust, therefore he made it his duty to prepare for it. Sir Aspire trained in fair weather and in foul, in heat and in chill. He would not let his discomfort be his excuse to live his time idly. On one occasion, on a very hot and steamy day, a very fair maiden saw him practicing his riding in the field near her castle window. ‘What might this be,’ asked she, ‘that only one knight is out riding when all others are in on such a day? He must be either a gallant knight or a fool to be doing such.’ Her chambermaid was listening to her whilst cleansing that room and looked to where the maiden’s eyes pointed. ‘That be Sir Aspire, the favorite chosen by the king himself. He must have some sense to have been bestowed with such an honor,’ said the chambermaid. ‘Be that so, what kind of man would risk being cooked in heat such as this? If he hath such stature then why ride now? Now is the time of year when hired hands and wretches waltz about doing the bidding of their masters, whilst the masters stay in contentment with their wine and comfortable chairs,’ said the fair maiden. ‘I knowest not why he takes a fancy to ride in such heat. Perhaps ye shalt have to ask him, shouldeth ye meet him,’ said the chambermaid.
‘Perhaps, but I doubt this will occur. That knight would much rather roast his head in sun like this than come to a banquet and converse with others,’ said the fair maiden. ‘’Tis because of the joust that he doth not come to feasts and converse with ladies. I have seen it many times. The best of the knights will think of nothing but the joust, and after the joust is over, they come to parties and feasts, as will he, too. Ye shall see,’ said the chambermaid. ‘I wish that things were as simple as ye have said,’ said the fair maiden. ‘I have seen more than ye have; ye have much to learn, young princess,’ said the chambermaid. This was no ordinary maiden, as she was the daughter of the late brother of the king, King Fratern. The princess, Mira, was taken into the care of her uncle when her father died in sickness. Her mother, Queen Gwendolyn, distressed with the passing of her husband, died shortly after from grief. Mira was the only child of her father and was his beloved above all. It was his last wish that she would be taken into the care of his brother Albus. His loving brother accepted her with open arms. ‘Watch your tongue maid! I am more learned than a commoner like yourself. Ye be lucky not for me to have thee punished for words as bolde as those!’ The princess harshly scolded the chambermaid. The maid then with haste finished the cleansing of that room and left. The princess returned to the watching of this strange knight and she continued her questioning and wondering. The day of the joust was soon at hand and the people of the kingdom had already prepared festivities and were making much talk of it. The knights of the kingdom were doing nothing but preparation and were too beset with swordplay to do anything besides. Sir Aspire was naturally the most strong and cunning of the knights at this time, for he did not wait until it was late to prepare for the forthcoming joust. All the knights could be seen with armor shining, swords and shields clashing and their horses whinnying. The young boys made it their habit to stop by the training grounds and see the knights in full armor fighting. They would pick up sticks and put bowls upon their heads and play as if they were the knights on horseback.
Most of the knights feared the strength and power that Sir Aspire wielded with a lance and there were few who challenged him to duels. Only the bravest would ask of it. ‘Sir Aspire,’ said Sir Fortin a very brave knight. ‘Wouldest thou face me in combat upon a steed?’ ‘I shall! Let us make sport if it; ‘tis not for bloodshed and glory but for the friendship of knights that we shall do this.’ said Sir Aspire with spirit. ‘Then let us begin!’ replied Sir Fortin. The two knights after a short while, mounted two elegant milk white steeds and in full shining armor took each their place across the long field with lances in hand. They, upon hearing the signal, raced toward each other at a very swift pace. The snorting and galloping of the two horses could be heard by the fellow knights that stood watch. The two knights' lances collided and Sir Aspire’s lance became imbedded in the shield of Sir Fortin and then shattered it. Sir Fortin's lance harmlessly shattered in two against the strong shield of Sir Aspire. Sir Fortin was flung from his horse and landed with a thump upon the dirt. Sir Aspire rounded his horse unto the spot of the fall and dismounted. ‘Good show!’ said he, as he presented the fallen knight with his hand. ‘Tis no wonder that ye are the King's favorite.’ said Sir Fortin when he regained his breath. He grasped the hand of the victorious knight and was lifted out of the dust. ‘I prithee, perform as such against the knights of the king's cousin.’ said Sir Fortin. ‘I shall strive to do so.’ Said Sir Aspire. The other knights around were amazed at Sir Aspire and applauded him. ‘Good show, a very fine joust!’ said they.
The day of the joust came, and so did the assembly of the king's cousin. With himself, his ladies, his knights and nobles, he traveled
through his cousin's kingdom not a few days before and was ready to prove his superiority over his younger cousin. ‘Welcome mine cousin Malfrin! Tis good to beholde ye.’ said King Albus. ‘It shall be better to beholde me once I am victor and thou art humbled before me and mine knights.’ said the king's cousin Malfrin. ‘Ye speak very boldly, but words are folly and actions sound.’ said King Albus. ‘Indeed.’ Replied King Malfrin. The jousting arena was very large and many knights had come to participate in the joust. Flags of many colors were flown in the arena to honor the kings and knights which they did represent. Along the sides of the arena were booths of much color, which in them were seated many peoples from far and near. These booths towered above the arena and stacked outward higher one on top of the other with the king seated in the center of them all with his queen, Ellena, and niece, Mira ; it was he who had the best seating of the whole and he enjoyed the best view of the fighting. Many people filled the booths around the king and elsewhere. King Malfrin had booths to himself and his company and they sat on the other side of the arena away from his cousin. ‘Let the joust begin!’ proclaimed King Albus. As they heard this the trumpeters blew and the knights in full shining armor road into the arena, weapons gleaming in the sun. The crowd made much noise for their knights and the applause was heard and received by them. ‘Let us do honor for our king!’ said Sir Aspire to his fellow knights as they road into the jousting arena, ready to do battle. Sir Aspire stayed behind as he was expected to do joust later with the champion of the king's cousin. "For our king!’ said one, and the others followed in a shout. ‘For our king!’ was resounding throughout all of King Albus' knights as they took up their positions.
King Albus threw his raised hand downward and the two lines of mounted knights charged into one another. There was a mighty shout coming from both sides and the colorful ribbons that were tied upon the galloping horses flapped quickly back and forth in the wind. The two lines clashed together and there was great excitement amongst the peoples gathered to watch. As the horses came close, lances landed into shields and sticks shattered and metal bent; knight and horse were thrown to the ground. Steeds noble were slain in conflict or injured so that they could not continue and many a knight met a terrible fate. Such be the case for two young knights that met in the fray, they came upon each other and after the clash one had a lance embedded deeply into his shoulder. The other had only shattered shield and shaken spirit. It happened so, that when the two horses came into conflict they both left without their masters, for their masters knocked each out of the other's saddle. When they came landing upon the earth, both were so maddened by the other that despite injury, lack of steeds, and any frightful pain, they drew swords and began fighting. Clash! Clash! Went the knights’ blades, the two whipping their weapons through the air. Clash! Clash! Again and again the two were very equally matched opponents. It was bad fate for the knight to have a lance pierce his shoulder for his blood was draining to the earth and he was weakening. He miss swung his blade and his opponent swished and chopped! The knight fell, blood now flowing faster than before. ‘I submit, I submit!’ said he, for the knight was now without an arm. His opponent had laid a blow so strong and true, that it had made his left arm leave his body and land in the dirt. I shall tell ye now to lighten your troubled spirits, that they saved him and he lived without being overcome by death, but for his arm not so. He is now known as “Sir Dexter the right.” After the jousting was complete, all that was yet to be finished was for the favorites of the kings' to face. King Albus called out for Sir Aspire and the King's Cousin Malfrin called out his Champion, Sir Pessim, and both kings spoke with each his knight.
‘Go into battle mine mightiest of knights and do not shame myself for choosing ye above all the others. Do not make me regret mine own judgment.’ said King Malfrin to Sir Pessim. ‘Go therefore Sir Aspire, may ye be granted with God's speed and may ye conquer your enemy. Though, treat thine enemy not as a dog but as one's own brother that thou might not become as one to be looked upon as no better than an enemy.’ said King Albus. The princess, Mira, was sitting close to the king and was greatly concerned for Sir Aspire. To the point so, that she could not conceal her feeling from anyone, for her face was filled with sadness. ”Be not sad for me mine princess, I ride out to bring honor for mine king.” said Sir Aspire. ”Then take this with thee.” said she and she handed him her kerchief. ”I shall.” Said Sir Aspire and he put the kerchief upon his steed. The kings sent the two knights out and they met in the arena for the final joust. Both kings were eager to see whose would be victorious. The trumpet was blown and the champions charged towards the other, with more vigor than ever was seen from the two before. All was silent as all waited and watched, not one dared speak as the two horses sent dust flinging behind both leaping closer to the other. As the two shining figures met at great speed lances and shields in hand, none could be heard but the feet of the horses. The two lances hit their targets, ramming into shields of the other. Both cracked and split at once! The knights road on past each other and grasped a fresh lance provided on the other side of the ring; turning round, they charging yet again. They clashed with lances and Sir Aspire fell from his horse, though with such skill he landed upon his feet! Sir Aspire drew his sword; Sir Pessim drew his own and charged. He came with arm swinging and horse galloping, Sir Aspire was ready. He grabbed the arm of the mounted knight and sent him flying off his steed. He landed on the earth and Sir Aspire rushed towards Sir Pessim to finish him. Sir Pessim swung his sword to defend himself yet in vane for Sir Aspire was too quick and he did kick his weapon out of his hand. As Sir Pessim lay on the earth Sir Aspire raised his blade over his head for the blow of death. The knight knew that it would be his end if he did not act and he shouted ‘I submit! Ye be the victor!’
Sir Aspire lowered his blade and the people of King Albus did cheer for their victorious champion.
"Mine husband, tis late and time for young children to be asleep." "Perhaps ye be right mine loving wife, off to bed with ye children or ye will have trouble with your mother. " said their father. "Cannot ye tell us a bit more of the tale?" asked the children with hope. "That be all for this evening, ye are already late for sleep and ye cannot possibly stay awake any longer." So the children playfully walked to their cots and slept with dreams filled with clashes of swords, damsels of such beauty, and evil to be conquered.
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