10/14/03 17:53 is the date stamp for the original file.
Sir George the Good Knight stood surrounded by the minions of the Dark Kingdom. “The Kingdom is mine, Sir George. Surrender to me now and I will only put out your eyes and make you a slave in my house.” The Black Knight was saying. With odds of twelve heavily armed and armored soldiers against him, with no armor, his only option would be to get the Black Knight, easily twice his size and weight without armor, to fight him. It could be deadly too, but it would be a chance.
“Come and fight me man to man you foul-scented, un-weaned son of a mongrel cur!” Sir George shouted.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha! Sir George thinks to bait me.” The black Knight leaned forward and prodded Sir George in the chest with his lance. “I have no intention of dignifying your insults. My men have you and I have the kingdom!”
“Coward! Knave! Filthy dog! I wish you were clean enough for me to spit on!” He spat on the Black Knight’s armor.
“Fool!” The point of the Black knight’s lance pushed Sir George backward into the pool of his horse’s blood.
“Poor beast,” George thought. “How could this have happened in the first place?” Was all really lost? He thought of the tragic loss of the steed in whose blood he now so unceremoniously sat. A noble animal unto the very end, he had been racing on his way to the battle at breakneck speed, knowing that every rider was valuable to the cause when the horse had pitched violently forward throwing him off. At the same time, he heard a sickening, snapping sound. After the agonizingly difficult process of wriggling out of the armor that trapped him on the ground and realizing the miracle of being alive at all, he walked over to the whinnying animal. While dispatching the animal as humanely as he could he saw the shoe hanging oddly from the hoof of the broken leg and the tree root sticking out of the ground.
At the same time, this party of enemy raiders had come along as well. He had almost made it to the battle, too.
“You know you could never best me on a fair field of battle you lily-livered boy!” He said to the Black Knight again. “You remember how I humbled you at the games before. You are not fit to lead these men, you notable coward!” He turned to the men surrounding him, “If your leader is a coward, and fearful to fight man to man, a man half his size, what does that make all of you?” All heads turned toward the leader. George knew these types of men only respected strength and boldness. He hoped he could play them into his hand.
Why had the horseshoe come loose, he wondered? As he sat in the blood-mud against the corpse of the formerly powerful animal he inspected the foot more closely while the men argued heatedly amongst themselves. He knew he could never make a break for it so he sat and examined the bent shoe. It took a lot of force to bend a horseshoe, but it had struck the root so hard that the shoe was bent slightly. He had been traveling at full speed and something caused the sure-footed creature to catch on the tree root. Looking more closely still, he counted the nails. Could it be possible? He counted twice. He knew there should be seven; four on the outside and three on the inside, but sure enough, a nail was missing in the front! The regular farrier had been ill, and the big, stupid apprentice had shod the horse. “Fool I am! In my hurry to fly to the battle I had not inspected the work. Why had I trusted that worthless apprentice?” He thought with anguish. Now, for want of that nail, the shoe was lost and for want of the shoe, the horse, that beautiful, noble, faithful steed, friend and companion for years, was lost. Of course, the loss of the horse meant the loss of himself to the battle and that battle had cost the kingdom.
The Black Knight was getting off his horse now. “Will you fight me hand to hand, then? No rules? to the death? Neither armor nor weapons.” The men had put pressure on their leader and he was in a predicament. If he did not fight Sir George, who was half his size, after such a challenge, his men could walk away and his victory would be turned into chaos. Not relishing the possible loss of all he had gained, yet remembering the humbling he had suffered at the games so long ago, he had no choice.
“Let me remove my armor and I will fight you and I shall kill you.”
The Black Knight removed his helmet to reveal none other than the apprentice farrier!
“You! You killed my horse and tried to kill me! How could this be?”
“I have observed you in the kingdom for a long time while people thinking me stupid spoke freely of matters of the kingdom. It was simple to plan and to prepare. I had only hoped to stall you from the battlefield, but this has worked out far better than I had ever dreamed.”
As the black Knight removed the last of his armor Sir George flew at his knees and then ensued a battle to be sung of in ballads around campfires for generations afterward. The Black Knight and Sir George traded tricks and blows, slipping and sliding in the mud created by the blood of the horse.
Finally, the Black Knight feinted and as he did he took a misstep over the very root the horse had stumbled on. He reeled backward and George plunged after him, forcing his enemy’s head to hit the ground with a sickening crack. He finished killing his enemy and slowly rose to find himself being cheered and slapped on the back by those around him.
“Good show, that!”
“Cracked his skull fair and square!”
“Never saw a fight like it!”
“He almost lost a couple of times, but he looked over at that there horse and a fury came on ‘im, it did!”
“Aye, like a madman he fought!”
With many such other accolades, they spoke amongst each other. He was their new leader. He could now regain the kingdom. Apparently, the rider had not been lost.