D&S: To Be A Knight - Part Ten


    Delivering the lance was but one of a lancebearer’s many duties. A lancebearer was a knight’s attendant tasked with maintaining a knight’s welfare during a tourney; polishing the rust off their armour, making sure their equipment was well and proper, bringing them food and water.


                   Aeda did none of those things.


                   Instead she had spent the hour having a chat with Ser Marcella. Dereliction of her duties as Aeda would say so herself but Ser Knight did insist that keeping her company was looking for her welfare. They spoke much or rather, Ser Marcella did. Her idol, the Painted Knight spoke of the Battle of the Twisting Ford where she took the head of the Bandit Lord, Gharrin and of the Valenwood-Cyrodiil Border Incident and how father received that scar on his shoulder: arrow wound, who knew?


                   However, Ser Marcella herself wasn’t too interested in her war stories, telling them with a tone of academic indifference. No, the fire of her eyes lit up when they changed the topic to something other than warfare or swordplay: painting. When she spoke of blades, her answers were highly technical as if they were from a treatise but no passion.


                   On brushes, she was like a child at a sweet shop, gushing non-stop on the finer touches like the bristles, the handle, the ferrule, and so on. On strokes, she was an expert, doling out lectures of the flats, the brights, and the rounds or at least, that was what Aeda could process. On colours, the knight had to stop herself from saying too much before winter has come. Soon, Ser Marcella talked about her family and life in the Imperial City – she was hoping to win a trophy for her younger sister who was expecting.


                   When she got to her own paintings, Ser Marcella grew sad and… disappointed. She always believed that she was mediocre painter in light of her family name; her touch too rough for the canvas – A lie, Aeda reckoned. Ser Marcella’s paintings captured life’s moment in a single immortal frame perfectly.


                   And so, they talked, Aeda even exchanging a joke about the Smith and the Chicken that cracked Ser Marcella’s façade of grace and ladyhood. To some degree, this unnerved Aeda. Ser Marcella, was no giant-knight or perfect lady or visionary artist; Ser Marcella was Ser Marcella. She was vulnerable, she had her dreams.


                   A roar broke out and Aeda saw the spotted charger trotting to the end of the list, rider hanging feebly on its back as Uncle Mark thrusted his shattered lance triumphantly in the air.


                   The horns blew long and hard.


                   ‘Sir Lambert du Mesnil, the Spear of the Diamond,’ the herald called. ‘Ser Marcella Calpurnius, the Painted Knight. Sir Godfrey de Sanguin the Brave. Ser Albus Martellus, the Iron Knight. Come forth and prove your valour!’


                   Ser Marcella climbed on her horse led by the bridle in the hands her regular lancebearer, a servant of House Calpurnius who went by Eleanora or Noreana; Aeda didn’t quite remember. The knight pushed her hair aside, and lowered the helmet into place, and fastened it to her gorget. She strapped her


                   ‘You ready?’ Ser Marcella said.


                   Aeda nodded.


                   Ser Marcella trotted to the south end of the lists, beside them was father and Artos as his lancebearer. Their foe was Godfrey de Sanguin, the knight of blue and silver chequys. Aeda shook her head and looked to her opposite, Lambert du Mesnil. The man wore a stripped surcoat of white and green over silvery plate and mail. His servants wore the same colours, as did his stallion that easily dwarfed Ser Marcella’s courser and perhaps, Certainty himself. She couldn’t see this far but she saw streams of white and green silk ribbons flowing form his snarling helmet.


                   ‘I’ll need my lance and shield,’ said Ser Marcella.


                   Aeda did as she was told, delivering the items with utmost haste.


                   ‘He gave Constance quite a concussion you know.’ Receiving the shield and strapping it to her arm. ‘Another favour, mind giving the lance a kiss?’


                   Aeda cocked her head.


                   ‘For luck.’ Ser Marcella grinned.


                   Aeda gave the lance a quick peck and armed the knight with her weapon.


                   ‘I’ll win this one for you, my lady!’ The knight declared before shutting her visor down with a clank. Aeda cleared the lists and made for the racks.


                   The horns blew.


                   Ser Marcella clicked her tongue and her steed began at a trot, as did Chestnut and the knights of High Rock. The ground shook again to the great beasts, like hammer on anvil. The knights swung their lances over their horses, the point to bear on their target’s chest. Ser Marcella however seemed to have problem with this; her lance swivelled left and right, up and down – like a puppet whose string had been cut.


                   Is something wrong? Was she hurt from her last bout?


                   Aeda forced herself to look, her heart pounding hard and fast.


                   At the clash, du Mesnil struck Ser Marcella’s shield, Aeda held her breathe. Ser Marcella rolled her body to the side, deflecting the blow entirely. In reply, her coronal hit du Mesnil in the centre of his breastplate – no, not hit; it rammed with the force of a rider and a horse behind it and dragged ‘Spear of the Diamond’ into the ground. Ser Marcella was already making her turn by the time du Mesnil had stopped tumbling in the dust.


                   ‘Yes!’ Aeda shouted as she jumped, thrusting her fists in the air.


                   ‘That makes two spears, that I’ve broken today,’ Ser Marcella said, pulling off her helm.


                   ‘You’ve really shown them, have you?’ Aeda said.


                   ‘That I have.’ Ser Marcella winking. ‘Now, go cheer for you father. I’m sure nothing ought to make him fight harder than his own looking out for him.’


                   Aeda bowed her head. ‘Thank you, Ser Marcella for the honour.’


                   ‘Run along now.’


                   Aeda retreated to the Imperial lines, to where the walking onion stood to be exact. Uncle Mark’s face was drenched in sweat and Aeda swore he even started to smell like an onion. Next to him was Tarkus who turned his head as she approached.


                   ‘Madman, you father is,’ Uncle Mark said. ‘Going to get himself killed if he keeps riding like that!”


                   ‘What do you mean?’ Aeda cocked her head.


                   The horns blew, the crowd roared, and the ground shook.


                   ‘Look closely on how your father rides, girl,’ Uncle Mark said.


                   They began with a slow methodical trot. It would be tempting to do so but galloping too early would tire the horses before the clash. At the quarter point, their horses picked up speed and their lances swung into place. Technique as precise as a pin, Aeda thought. She dared not say it out loud but this de Sanguin rode almost as well as father did. Almost. Still, nothing out of the ordinary.


                   ‘Madman!’ Uncle Mark swatted the air.


                   ‘I don’t understand,’ Aeda said.


                   ‘Watch your father’s head.’ Uncle Mark pointed a finger. ‘Tell me if you see anything odd.’


                   Aeda squinted.


                   Right before the clash, both horses picked up speed once again like a swordsman attacking with a lunge. de Sanguin aimed for father’s chest but the point slid off and struck his shoulder instead. Father held on and his lance snapped cleanly in half when it found true at de Sanguin’s centre. Father threw his lance aside while de Sanguin’s slid off his hand as he reeled, sure to fall off his saddle before recovering his seat. Two to Two, Aeda counted to a drumming heart. The next ride will decide the winner unless both missed but that would be insulting.


                   She turned to Uncle Mark and said, ‘What’s wrong with his head?


                   ‘Are you blind girl? The man ahead during the clash!’


                   Aeda raised an eyebrow. What was so odd about that? That was how she always rode. ‘Why would that be a problem?’


                   Uncle Mark sighed. ‘And they say you Martellus are good with armour. While the slits in our helmets may be small, splinters can still go through. The sane of us raise our chins or looks down before the clash: we lose sight of our target but at least we won’t lose an eye to a splinter because that’s all it takes – a wee splinter and we’ve seen many a knight losing their eye to that.


                   Albus’ a damned fool, that’s what he is. We’ve spoken about this many times before and yet he still rides like this. Foolish!’


                   ‘Fearless, you mean,’ Aeda said.


                   ‘Foolish!’ Uncle Mark snorted. ‘You’re hard headed you know that? Just like your father.’


                   Aeda shrugged. ‘We Martellus are of-.’


                   ‘Don’t say it.’ Uncle Mark frowned. ‘I’m warning you girl, don’t you dare finish that sentence. Just shut up and watch the rest of the joust.’


                   Aeda smirked.


                   ‘You truly are your father’s daughter. Albus always did make that same stupid face.’


                   Father and chestnut wheeled about without much note but de Sanguin, the man practically slumped on his horse. He tried hard to hide it but even Aeda could see his lance arm hanging limp if only slightly.


                   ‘Gods are kind at least; de Sanguin is wounded. Shouldn’t be too hard of a win.’


                   At the midpoint, de Sanguin weakly raised a hand and lifted his visor. Father stopped and hailed the knight in return. The two began… talking.


                   ‘Oh, what’s this?’ Uncle Mark raised an eyebrow.


                   ‘What are they doing?’ Aeda said.


                   ‘Taunts, parley? Ask the gods.’


                   Almost as soon as their chat began, the knights saluted and rode back to their end of the lists where Artos supplied father with a fresh lance. de Sanguin’s squire did too but the chequy knight could barely lift his.


                   An easy win. Aeda’s heart steadied.


                   The horns blew again.


                   The list began as before: with a slow methodical trot. However, at the quarter point, their horses did not pick up speed, neither working more past the trot. At the clash both knights aimed their lances and… raised them high in salute.


                   The crowd booed and Aeda had to stop herself form doing the same. Uncle Mark was firing off a stream of words that’d earn her a tongue lashing from Mrs. Moorsley if she’d was the one who did it. Uncle Mark would’ve earned a tongue lashing from Mrs. Moorsley if she heard him.


                   Father returned the unbroken lance to Artos and rode to the Imperial lines. On the other end, de Sanguin’s squire waved a white flag.


                   ‘de Sanguin concedes,’ Aeda said. ‘Father wins.’


                   ‘Martellus,’ Uncle Mark said, tapping his foot. ‘What in Oblivion was that? You had de Sanguin for an easy finish!’


                   ‘And?’ Father dismounted Chestnut. ‘What of it?’


                   ‘What of it? What of it?!’ Uncle Mark sputtered ‘Knock the bloody ponce off his horse, that’s what!’


                   ‘de Sanguin had never once been knocked off his horse,’ Father said calmly as he removed his helmet. ‘Not once in his twenty years of joust. He wins most of his rides but the ones that he doesn’t are all through points, never a dismount.’


                   Father swallowed a gulp of fresh air.


                   ‘He asked me to show mercy and to let him keep this honour intact.’


                   ‘And you did?’ Aeda recoiled, Uncle Mark was red as heated iron. ‘Piss on that Martellus, piss on that! Why do you care about his honour? Better yet – take the honour of being the first to knock him down!’


                   ‘What would that accomplish?’


                   ‘What would that accomplish?’ Uncle Mark spat. ‘Choke on cack, Martellus!’ He spun. ‘Tarkus, come!’


                   Mercy. Father’s foe was at his feet and he chose mercy. Is that what makes a knight?



    Previous: Part Nine                                                                                                                                           Next: Part Eleven


1 Comment   |   Sotek likes this.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  March 18, 2020
    Two great  moments here and you done both well too...  Great chapter Delta