This is not a new story.
In fact, ‘The Knight’ is one of my very first stories. I’m not 100% certain, but I think I wrote this short story after I wrote the short version of my debut novel, Mask of the Highwaywoman, but before I turned that short version into the full-length manuscript. That would put this story as being at least ten years old.
I have shared this on Wattpad, but as I move away from that platform, I thought I would share it with you again here so it doesn’t get lost in the mists of time.
I was tempted to re-write it, resolve some of the plot issues and give the love story the page time it deserves, but for now, I’m sharing it with only (many) typos corrected and a couple of tweaks to the ending lines.
When a mysterious Knight enters King’s tournament, their grace and prowess with the sword captivate the crowd and the young princess Eleanor.
But when the Knight goes up against the champion, Geoffrey de Tours, their fierce duel sets in motion a story of love, courage, and war.
Now Eleanor must decide if her loyalty lies with her warmongering family or with the peace-seeking Knight as the pair battle for their true love and a chance at lasting peace.
Will Eleanor’s heart lead her to victory, or will the forces of fate defeat them both?
A Princess, A Knight And A Tyrant King.
When war is brewing she must fight or die…
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Two knights entered the arena, and the crowd erupted into cheers and shouts of approval.
King Fulk, seated on his throne overlooking the scene, raised his head in acknowledgement and his Queen politely clapped. The King’s daughter, the beautiful, raven-haired Princess Eleanor, however, regarded the spectacle with barely concealed disdain.
It was an uneven match; the new Tourainian champion, Geoffrey de Tours, was a quick and highly skilled swordsman, and his opponent was a young, bullish, Saxon knight, with scarcely a season of experience behind him.
The fight lasted seconds.
The eager Saxon ran forward and immediately received two blows to the head in quick succession. He hit the floor with a resounding thud and didn’t move again.
The defending champion, Geoffrey, basked in the glory; he removed his helmet, raising his sword in the air to announce his triumph, while the crowd cheered and his unconscious opponent was half dragged, half carried out of the arena by two attendants.
The King nodded his approval at the victor, who stole a glance toward Princess Eleanor. But she didn’t acknowledge him and he turned away, suppressing a snarl of frustration as the Herald walked into the arena to announce the competitors for the final match.
“Geoffrey de Tours, Son of the count of Touraine,” the crowd hushed as the Herald spoke, “will next defend his championship against The Official Representative Knight of the Principality of Perrigor!”
The crowd went wild once again, as the final match was confirmed, and Geoffrey stormed out of the arena to prepare for battle, his recent victory soured by the Princess’ disregard for him.
“He may have a struggle on his hands,” whispered the King to his wife, his daughter silently agreed.
The Official Representative Knight of the Principality of Perrigor, as The Knight was officially known, had taken the tournament by storm. No one knew who The Knight was, only that no one had stood a chance when matched in combat.
The crowds had been growing more and more intrigued with the mystery, and rumours surrounding The Knight grew: perhaps it was a great Saracen warrior, fallen in love with the famous beauty; the Princess Adelaide of Perrigor, or an ancient Greek hero, risen from the dead, or a knight bestowed with magic from the fey of the north. With every new day, the rumours grew, and yet the mystery remained.
Throughout the tournament, the King’s initial amusement at this simple mystery had turned to displeasure, discomfort and distaste. He had watched in anger as The Knight clambered up the league table, defeating champion after champion, until reaching today, the grand final of the tournament, where he stood against the King’s own champion in Geoffrey De Tours.
King Fulk now felt sure that The Knight was a mercenary, somehow paid for by the reigning Prince of Perrigor, to force the King to make good on his promise: to sign a peace treaty should a Champion of Perrigor win the Tournament of Bourges.
Fulk had been sure that Perrigor was crippled beyond defeat; the Prince had no surviving sons and had put every penny of his treasury into vainly defending his castles against a superior army. Fulk thought he had driven the little country into the ground. He meant only to taunt the scholarly Prince with the opportunity for peace and the return of his castles. He had not intended to have to make good on his word. He shifted impatiently in his chair, just minutes away from satisfaction or humiliation.
Princess Eleanor waited with equal impatience, but for entirely different reasons. She was fascinated by The Knight. Tournaments usually bored her; she had little interest in combat. But the mystery surrounding The Knight’s sudden appearance, coupled with the grace and skill with which so many opponents had been struck down over the last few days, had captured her imagination.
Just the day before, she had witnessed a fight between The Knight and Manchelli, known as ‘Benito the Beast’, who was twice the width, and a clear foot taller than the challenger. But The Knight had shocked everyone by shedding most of the standard armour; appearing with mere cloth on arms and legs, a tabard, helmet, gauntlets, and sword.
The administrators were forced to check the lengthy rulebook to ensure such an outfit was legal, but when the match started, The Knight’s tactic became clear; any blow from ‘Benito the Beast’ would surely be lethal, no matter how dense the armour, The Knight had decided speed of movement was the best chance of success. After one swift strike behind Manchelli’s knee, this theory had been proved correct.
The thud of the beast hitting the ground was felt even on the terraces. The cheer of the crowd had been deafening and the legend of The Knight had been sealed.
Suddenly, the crowd cheered again as the opponents stepped into the arena; the final match for the championship of the Tournament of Bourges was about to begin.