The Tournament

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I’ve been neglecting my blog AND my novel lately… So, now, I’m going to share a small part of my novel on my blog in order to make some progress on both sides. How sneaky of me!


 

On the first day of the tournament, there were no fights. It was the day when several short contests took place, and even the common people were allowed to participate in some of them. The most prestigious of the contests was archery, and many noblemen came with their finest bows and arrows to show their skills. The winner was a certain Sir Adlard, who hit the target time and time again with enviable precision.

The gallery where the king and queen were seated was raised on a platform higher than the rest of the auditorium, covered with a luxurious green curtain and decorated in golden reliefs. On each side of the gallery were the seats reserved for those chosen by the king and queen to be in their company. On the right side sat the Norrington family, as many times before, and on the left the Count of Ashire and his daughter, for the first time ever. It was also Evelyn’s first time attending the tournament. She sat next to Prince Edward, and she shared her impressions with him, asking him what the rules of each competition were.

The second day was the day of single combat. Evelyn did not find it as attractive, even though it was a competition for those of the higher rank and a more important one. It was not allowed to keep harming the opponent once he was down, but there was still a lot of blood on the ground, and many knights suffered serious injuries. Once again, Sir Adlard proved to be the best competitor.

On the third day, Edward’s seat was empty. Evelyn was greeted by William Cornwell.

“His Highness has told me to be in your service today, Lady Evelyn, since he won’t be able to spend time with you. He’s already preparing for the tournament.”

“I thank you for that. It is nice to meet you again, Sir William”, she bowed lightly.

“I’m not a knight, my lady”, he said.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I was certain you were a knight. You look like one.”

“And how do knights look like, my lady?” his response confused her a little.

“Well I guess they look like you”, she chuckled.

William had never found a lady to be so sincerely charming. She nodded to him and took a seat next to her father. William was to remain close to them, and he stood next to Evelyn as her protector, still like a statue.

The trumpets announced the beginning of the tournament. Knights shined in strong armours, with bright shields and long spears. Soon, they would climb on their horses, take their places, one on each side of the terrain. They would then run towards each other and try to hit the opponent with the spear and push him from the horse. Evelyn was still unable to see Edward. The price would surely not appear among the first contestants, since he was the one everyone thought would win.

The first clash was over quickly. One of the knights managed to push the other from the horse in the first try. The defeated knight fell to the ground, with only his pride hurt.

It was the other round which made Evelyn feel uneasy. A knight’s spear struck his opponent dangerously, but he managed to remain on his horse. The knights ran towards each other again, but the injured knight could hardy hold his spear and he suffered another blow. Still, he did not withdraw. The third strike was too much for him, however, and he fell from his horse. He remained on the ground.

“Oh, no! He’s not dead, is he?” Evelyn asked but no one could give her a reply.

The fallen knight’s squire approached his master and slowly removed his helmet. There was blood on the knight’s face. The squire tried to wake him up, but the knight remained unresponsive. He was taken from the terrain so that the tournament could be continued.

“I don’t think he’s dead. I think I saw him breathing”, her father responded.

“That only means he is not dead yet”, William said, obviously displeased with the entire tournament. “But he might as well recover completely. It’s hard to tell.”

“Why does His Higness participate in the tournament?” Evelyn asked, scared for Edward’s well-being. “He doesn’t have to.”

“He just really likes it”, William smiled. “You shouldn’t worry, my lady. His Highness knows what he’s doing. He was never badly hurt.”

The time for the prince to compete came before Evelyn was ready for it. Several knights were injured, and her fear only grew. Edward rode into the terrain confidently. He was the only one who had a pearl white horse. The emblem of the royal family was carved into his shield.

Evelyn wanted to close her eyes, but she thought it would be disrespectful. She could hear her heartbeat pounding in her ears.

The knights clashed, and Edward’s opponent fell to the ground. The prince raised his spear in victory. Evelyn could breathe again.

As the tournament progressed, it was obvious that the best competitors were the prince and Sir Adlard. In the end, it all came to the two of them. Sir Adlard was on his auburn horse, upright and motionless. His face was hidden behind the helmet, and he seemed almost as an inhuman, mythical apparition. The prince’s white horse took its place on the opposite side of the terrain, equally tranquil, as if nothing was about to happen. Evelyn watched Edward as his fingers gripped the heavy spear and lifted it parallel to the horse’s body, just above the tip of its ears. She then turned to see Sir Adlard, who took the same pose.

The sound of the trumpet never sounded so threatening. Evelyn knew that she should not be doubting the Prince’s skills, but she had seen him insecure at times, close to falling from the horse. Sir Adlard defeated all of his opponents with such ease that she could not banish the feeling of immense danger approaching.

Prince Edward and Sir Adlard rushed towards each other so swiftly that Evelyn had barely the time to think about what was happening. She didn’t close her eyes. She focused on the centre of the terrain. Metal spears clashed, producing a loud, piercing clang followed by deep echo. Nothing happened. Both competitors were on their horses, riding slowly to the opposite side of the terrain. They had to face one another again.

The other clash resonated in a deeper, more sombre echo. Edward’s spear scraped the ground, but he managed to keep it in his hand. He was hit hard. While Sir Adlard rode back to his place, the Prince just stood there, on the middle of the terrain, holding his hand to his chest. Evelyn could see a dent in Edward’s armour. She wondered how badly he was hurt, but all she could do was sit and wait. She wasn’t sure if she was glad that Edward gathered all his strength and approached his position. She just wanted everything to end, end before tragedy strikes.

The two competitors ran towards each other for the third time. Evelyn wanted to look away but she couldn’t. There was no echo this time, and the clash was followed by a loud thud. The auburn horse reared, but it didn’t move from where it stood. The white horse kept running forward, disobeying the commands of its rider, and then suddenly stopped. Edward almost lost his balance. He held onto the horse with only one hand, while the other throbbed in pain as he tried not to drop the spear. This was in vain, and the spear fell to the ground. The only thing Edward could do was to look back to see what had happened to his opponent. The white horse soon regained its calm and turned obediently towards the centre of the terrain. Next to his horse’s hooves, lay Sir Adlard.

“His Highness, Prince Edward, is the champion!” the words sounded otherworldly.

Edward took off his helmet and raised his hand in victory. It was his time to be proud. He proved to everyone that he was worthy of becoming the king. He felt he was ready for it.

He looked after Evelyn. She raised from her seat and applauded. He wasn’t aware just how happy she was that the tournament was over, and how much she feared for his well-being. But he saw that she was smiling. Her face was shining with happiness.

It was the queen’s duty to bestow the champion’s coronal on the winners head. Edward rode to the royal gallery and greeted his mother with a wide smile. He bowed lightly and she put the coronal on his head. He raised his eyes and looked for hers. His mother was proud and smiling. He then looked at his father, a bit fearful. The king nodded, as if Edward only did what was expected of him, which made the future king feel like a young prince again. But he quickly gathered his thoughts. He was a champion and he should act like one! It was his time to rejoice.

Edward trotted around the terrain, noticing that Sir Adlard managed to raise and was slowly limping towards the crowd. He didn’t seem very proud now, and it made Edward feel great and powerful. After he did a full circle and greeted the entire audience, Edward was once again next to the royal gallery. His eyes met Evelyn’s. He was now close enough to see that they had teared up. He approached her and she came to greet him. They were aware that entire audience was staring at them, but it didn’t matter. Edward took off his coronal and put it on Evelyn’s black hair. The audience fell silent.

“You look like a fairy”, he smiled. “This is not just my victory. It is ours.”

William smiled at his friend’s words. He had never seen Edward act like that, never had he paid so much attention to a lady before. Maybe Edward’s decision to marry Lady Evelyn was not so crazy after all. He still felt it was rash, but he allowed himself believe that maybe they really were meant for each other.

Edward kept his gaze for a while, and Evelyn looked back at him. He then rode back to the terrain, saluting to the audience time and time again. They loved him. They worshipped him. He did it!

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