Sir Leonard was woken by the banging on the wooden door. He grabbed a dagger from his hanging belt. "The king demands your presence Sir Leonard". He opened the door yawning "now at this hour". "Now my lord". They marched him into the castle kitchen seated at the large Oak table sat the King. Leonard bowed "my king". "Sir Leonard how long have you known me"," since my father died on the Knights square my king". "Yes dear boy, it broke my heart to see your father slaughtered, by that monster Sir jedard. And yet twenty years have past and news has reached me, that he the monster of North and South has himself perished, fighting the pagan hords in the North". Leonard looking at the king "So my king have you chosen me for the Knights square". The king smiled "Yes my boy you". The king had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Sir Leonard through all these years had been a fine soldier. He had fought with King Edward in five campaigns. King Edward knew, Leonards, passion to become King of North and South. "Pass him the scroll man". Father Daniel hurriedly crossed the room and handed Sir Leonard the scroll. "We are all witnesses here read the sacred scroll of the square and there is no turning back". The king said shaking his hand for the scroll to be read. Sir Leonard cleared his throat," Let no man who enters the Knights square shame the Kings of past and present. If any man challenges a Knight on the square, to be unjust. He must show proof, if it is proven, then the challenging Knight will take the place of the unjust, who will be put to death". At that moment Sir Martin the Kings nephew pushes aside the guards and shouts at the king "how could you give it to him, his old how can he command, when he will be feeble in a few years". The guards moved to detain Martin. King Edward holds a hand up the guards stand down. "It is moments like this that I realise how right my decisions are, your not fit to gather eggs". The king said scowling at his nephew, Sir Martin clearly embarrassed walks out, giving an evil stare at Leonard who ignores it. " So Sir Leonard you will fight Sir Bolton and Sir Melton". Sir Leonard smiles at the King," I thank you kindly my King, two worthy opponents." The king in in a loud voice. " prepare the Kings square we shall have a new King of North and South"
Sir Leonard sitting at a table drinking mead, and watching the barmaid Nancy.
She comes over to him ,"would you like another my lord. "Yes my dear." reaching for his mug he smiles at her,"come nancy sit with me." she laughs,"oh Sir Leonard whatever for"." I need your advice a gold coin for a little information." she sits beside him ,"about Sir Martin Nancy have you heard about his feelings, not being picked for the square"." I shouldn't say Sir Leonard I will be put in the stock's", "no dear girl that will not happen, another piece of gold." After talking with Nancy he headed to the black-smiths.
"John I need you to make me something," he drew a picture in the sand bucket,"it needs to be snug, but there should be a fist distance between the breast plate." He paid in gold and went to his horse bringing back a sack." here John the breastplate of my armour. " My lord its gold, yes for the square we get the best. " The black-smith gave a worried look. "John don't worry I have battled much worse than this."
Sir Martin stood at the fire place, rubbing his hands.
His wife moved closer to him ,"have you set it all in place my love". " Yes of course there are no shortage of murderers wanting gold". She smiled ,"we have so much to gain."
Sir Leonard rode his horse to the clearing the two old woman looked up and smiled at him. They were putting the final touches to the thatched mat made of water reed. Normally used on roofs but for the Knights square, it served its purpose. Tough enough to last at least twenty years, the blood from the slain was still visible, not on this one this was new. He wandered over to the centre of where the square would be. Looking from side to side forward and back, he imagined how his opponents would fight. They were allowed to attack him as one unit. He tensed up a chill ran up his spine, while fighting in the crusade two Hoyit pagans attacked him, while he was separated from his men. The fight, was short but bloody they both rained blows at him. His shield took most of the blows, but at one point a blade cut through his chain mail slicing the skin from his shoulder. At that moment fear more than at any other time in so many battles, gripped him he could hardly move his arm.
They came at him again he hit one in the face with the shield sending him crashing to the dirt and the other he managed, with great pain to slice, through the neck into his chest. He had never forgotten that moment and had strived never to let it happen again. On the day of the Knights square he would be up against Sir Bolton and Sir Melton both of whom, had fought in the crusade and both he knew would be formidable opponents. He thought to himself how close he was to finally, renewing his familys honour. The procession to the square was a magnificent affair no expense was spared and Sir Leonard was amazed by just how many people were part of the ceremony. Musicians lined the way singing new ballads of the brave Knights going to the square. Market traders selling their wares were calling out, children with branches from bushes imitating the Knights fighting were playing. The solemn figure of Sir Martin his eyes fixed on Sir Leonard as he rode by upright, a broad smile for the ladies looking every inch the brave warrior. Sir Martin turned and pushed his way back through the crowd his eyes rolling as the crowd cheered for Sir Leonard and the other Knights. Now at the square their was total silence as father Daniel read the sacred words of the square "Let their be no doubt these brave Knights hold the honour and integrity of our ancient ancestors in their hands, this day, if there be anyone who believes one of these Knights be unfit in honour to carry out his duty step forward in the eyes of our great king Edward and show proof. If proven a Knight on this day is untrue in his deeds to the ancients he will be put to death and the accuser shall take his place". In the silence of that moment Sir Martin steps forward a gasp of complete shock comes from the crowd. The three Knights look at one and other. The king truly shamed that one of his kin could be bringing an accusation of this magnitude to this noble event jumps from his chair. The guard of honour step forward and lower their lances to protect the king all three Knights are grabbed by other soldiers their weapons confiscated. The king now face to face with Sir Martin screams at his nephew" how dare you do this on a day like today you spoilt brat I'll have your head cut off",the crowd gasps the king grabs hold of father Daniel for support, red faced clearly shocked and hurt he collects himself and demands proof. Sir Martin a sly grin on his face pulls out a letter from his tunic my king your proof. The king in anger grabs the letter and breaks the seal he reads and then falls to his knees ", no, this can't be he hands the letter to father Daniel the Kings guard help there king back to his chair. Father Daniel orders the guards to release Sir Melton and Sir Leonard he gestures to the guards holding Sir Bolton and they force him to kneel. Father Daniel his hands shaking reads the letter " My king it is, with a heavy heart that I inform you that a treacherous deed has been stopped. An army of traitors were captured and under interrogation they admitted that Sir Bolton was there leader and that on the day of the sacred Knights square if Sir Bolton win or lose these traitors would kill you my great king, Signed the Lord protector Sir Monford", Father Daniel looked at the king who looked at a disbelieving Father Daniel but both men knew there was only one outcome to restore ancient honour. The king nodded, the soldier holding Sir Bolton stepped back drew his sword. Sir Bolton kneeling straightens his body and tilts his head to the side stoic in his innocence he shouts" for my sins my king", the soldier two handed drives the sword down through the kneck of Sir Bolton. The king wispers in the ear of father Daniel "Display Sir Boltons body for the duration of the tournament in irons, after dark remove his body and bury him with honours in his family crypt". Father Daniel bows and orders the Knights to prepare. Standing on the Knights square the three men watch as Sir Bolton is put in irons and pulled high in the air. The crowd remain silent Sir Martin laughs and looking up at Sir Bolton calls" traitor". moving angrily forward the crowd is stopped by the soldiers. Sir Leonard looks directly at Sir Martin", for your lies Sir, I mark you DEAD". Sir Martin adjusting his helmet calmly replys "of course you do old man but alas you are out numbered", he looks at Sir Melton who smiles " Indeed he is my lord", Sir Leonard ignoring both men, notices a glint momentarily in the forest he shakes his head "Seems three to one then", he rubs the hilt of his sword, "as long as I make you suffer Sir Martin death will be a worthwhile companion". They step away from each other, the king stands everyone falls silent. " I your king demand, that these three Knights show our ancestors that we in this age are as brave and loyal as they, our ancestors were in their time. No Knight shall leave the square till only on Knight stands proud and worthy of being called king of North and South", the king waves a hand the crowd cheer and the Knight square begins. Sir Martin goads Sir Leonard "come old man you take the first move ", with a swift footed move Sir Leonard is in the space of Sir Martin he brings down a tremendous blow which Sir Martin clearly shocked just manages to block. Sir Melton comes across and tries to deliver a blow to Sir Leonard on his left side but aware of the danger spins away and delivers a sword strike to the still bewildered Sir Martins head, the crowd let out a groan as if it were their heads taking the blow. Sir Leonard seeing Sir Martin fall uses his shield and smashes it into Sir Meltons visor the sharp end of the shield going at least an inch into the hole, Sir Melton screams and steps back putting up his shield and waving his sword in front of him trying to block any more attacks by Sir Leonard. Sir Martin now on his feet sees Sir Leonard turn to face him he raises his sword and Sir Leonard knows what's coming, he braces as the bolt from the crossbow smashes into his chest he steps back feigning a fatal blow, at which Sir Martin rushes in for the kill, but Sir Leonard drops to one knee and the on coming Sir Martin runs into Sir Leonards outstretched sword which enters Sir Martins groin Sir Leonard uses Sir Martins momentum to throw him over his shoulder he then comes up and finishes Sir Melton with a single blow to the side of the head. The crowd cheering call for the death of Sir Martin, Sir Leonard turns and starts to walk over to Sir Martin holding his groin and crying out in pain pleads "please spare my life Sir Leonard you can have all my wealth". The king stands and looks towards his nephew " bring the traitor", the guards push a shackled royal archer to the outside of the square " tell me and everyone here why you tried to kill Sir Leonard, the archer white and gaunt looks at Sir Martin "he Sir Martin paid me in gold to kill Sir Leonard". The king looks at the archer "your greed and disloyalty on this day of days has earned you your death warrant ", the archer panics "please king Edward I was foolish I fell for his lies". The king orders the royal guard "you won't spill your blood on this sacred day, there is only one person left to die here", he looks at his nephew who closes his eyes and groans with pain. " take this traitor archer and put him in a boat send him into the whirlpool ", the guards drag him screaming away. The king looks at Sir Leonard the crowd goes quite Sir Leonard walks over to Sir Martin and cuts his head of with one blow. The crowd cheer as Sir Leonard is crowned king of North and South.
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