23 January 2013 @ 10:40 pm
*NaNo Project* Part the Ninth - Section the Second - Cornwall - 960AD  
I returned to the first aid tent just before the melee was set to begin. I had been at least an hour, but Gaius was only just now emerging from the tent.

"Have you only just finished?" I asked, completely stunned, how many bandages did they have?

Gaius made a face. "Yes, Linus is a complete stickler for professionalism. Perish the thought that we would set a knight's broke bone with a badly rolled bandage."

I laughed, it really was pretty ridiculous when he put it that way.

“But! I’ve emerged in time to watch the beginning of the melee,” he rubbed his hands together.

I certainly couldn’t see the excitement, but I turned towards the field and watched as the King appeared striding towards the wooden throne that stood in the centre of the Royal pavilian. The Queen and the the royal brothers were all ready seated, although of course they all rose to their feet as he walked past. Once the King was in front of his throne he turned to face the arena where dozens and dozens of knights stood, separated into two groups ready to face each other in the melee.

“People of Camelot, Knights of the Realm,” as always King Aurelius’s booming voice was impressive. “I welcome you to Camelot’s yearly tournment.”

There was an outbreak of applause at this and the King had to wait a moment for it to subside.

“Today these brave men face the most demanding and dangerous of all tournament events, the melee. Today skill and luck will merge and the knight who is most able to use both to his advantage will win this day.” The King seemed to look at each knight in the crowd. “The one who does will be made tournament champion and take home the grand prize.”

The grand prize was, as ever, a rarther large chest filled with gold coins, I had yet to find out just how much money was in it, according to Gaius it was quite probably a different amount every year. But whatever amount it was it definitely made the dangers of the tournament worth it, at least to the knights.

“I wish all of you the best of luck and may the tournament begin!”

There was the sound of a drumroll and the knights all bowed to the royal family before turning towards the centre of the field and each other, pulling on their helmets and readyng their weapons.

There was a long moment where nothing happened, you could have heard a pin drop anywhere in Camelot.

And then just as suddenly the silence was torn, the battle cry of dozens and dozens of knights rent the air. And then there was the nearly deafening sound of footfalls as the two groups clashed together. The air was filled with the clashing of blades as sword and spear came together and soon there wasn’t just war cries but shouts of pain.

I couldn’t tell what was going on in all honesty, I certainly couldn’t pick the Crown Prince out of the pack even though his armour was extremely noticible.

Gaius was craning his neck this way and that, and personally I didn’t think he had any idea what was going on either...but he seemed to be enjoying it.

I noticed Linus approaching out the corner of my eye, with a look of a complete detachment, no doubt he was waiting for the first injured knight to be taken from the field.

It wasn’t long in coming.

The melee moved from the middle of the field towards one side and left behind in its wake were the slumped over forms of various fallen men.

Linus issued sharp commands to two guards who I hadn’t even noticed were standing not far from the first aid tent.

The two of them bearing a stretcher between them rushed out onto the field and began moving the men. Most of them were simply yanked to their feet and directed off the field, the men actually being able to albet it with a lot of staggering. A few had to be carried off in the stretcher.

I had to admire their bravery going in thee to help to the wounded, after all, it was a melee and it didn’t go by any rules. It started moving back to the centre of the field and in the direction of the guards as they were carrying the last of the injuried from the field.

“Gaius!” Linus snapped. “Stop gawking and get in here! These men need tending to, now!”

Gaius gave annoyed grunt and whispered. “Slave driver,” to me before disappearing into the first aid tent.

I have to admit as soon as he disappeared I turned my attention right back to the melee, I really didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on, but it drew your attention and held it.

The crowd who were far more conversant in the intricacies of this particular event and there was a lot of cheering, intermingled with groans as a favourite was dealt a particularly nasty blow or something of that nature.

I for one was more than a little surprised to discover that some ten minutes had passed since the melee began. It seemed like the sort of event that would be lucky to go for a minute let alone ten! But most of the men were still on their feet so it looked like it would go on for a while yet.

Gaius reappeared from the tent, wiping his hands on his tunic. “Did I miss anything?”

I gave him a look. “Do I look like I would know?” I asked.

Gaius grinned and looked back at the melee announcing after a moment. “The Crown Prince is still there.” And for my benefit he pointed.

At first I couldn’t see a thing, but then I caught the flash of red, but it was gone almost as soon as I did.

“He’s got unbelievable skill,” Gaius continued, shaking his head. “I think we’re looking at this year’s champion.”

I couldn’t really tell if he was going well or not, but I trusted Gaius’s judgement.

Yet more men were knocked down and out of the fight, most of them crawling out of the thrashing mass that was the melee while the guards headed out with the stretcher to pick up others.

Gaius was called to work once more and I once more watched the fight with complete confusion, not able to pick up the Crown Prince’s red vambrace again.

The melee was steadily decreasing in size, now only about a dozen remained, a fair few of them seemed to have lost their weapons and were fighting hand to hand, delivering kicks and punches not just to those who had also lost their weapons but those who were still armed.

Eventually I did manage to pick out one knight in particular amongst the others, he was noticeable from the others because of his stature, or lack there of. He was quite simply the shortest knight I had ever seen.

The knight smallness had one advantage it seemed, he was extraordinarily nimble on his feet, ducking under the swings of others or just getting out of the way in the nick of time and leaving his opponent off-balance.

When Gaius next returned the field had whittled down to five and I was much more able to see what was going on and spot the Crown Prince.

Gaius rose an eyebrow as he took in the sight. "Why is there a child out on the field?"

It took me a moment to understand. "That's not a child...is it?"

The melee was bad enough, surely there was an age limit, not even would be knights were that foolhardy... were they?

Gaius pursed his lips and squinted as if he was able to see through the knight's helm and see his face.

"Well, he seems more than a match for most of them," he eventually decided and turned to me with a grin. "Looks like this might be a more exciting tournament than everybody thought."

I wasn't entirely sure if that was a good thing, in general tournaments were fought until an opponent was too tired or injured to go on, but there were stories of fatalities occurring. I had never seen anyone die, much less violently and would be more than happy for that to continue being the case.

The melee seemed to go on endlessly until only two were left standing, the Crown Prince and the mysterious small statured knight.

The crowds were on the edge of their seats and in the royal box the King was leaning forward eyes fixed on the tournament, fingers locked together in front of his mouth.

There was a great hush as the two knights faced each other on the field, sizing each other up.

It seemed to stretch on for hours until suddenly the small knight dashed forward.

I'm not entirely sure what happened, but suddenly the small knight was standing behind the Crown Prince. He charged again, ramming into the Crown Prince's back, attempting to knock him down.

The Crown Prince staggered, but unsurprisingly, did not fall, he wasn't a tall man, but he was of average height and well-built. It seemed a very stupid move, especially when the Crown Prince brought his elbow crashing down on the small knight's head.

There were cheers from the crowd as the small knight fell, but almost as soon as his knees touched the ground he was up again spinning about and raising his shield to ward off the Crown Prince's sword swing.

The melee had become a duel, one that looked as if it would last as long, whatever one thought of knights their stamina was certainly unparalleled. I wondered how long a tournament melee could go for? Would they truly fight to the point of sheer exhaustion?

It seemed they would...neither seeming able to get the upper hand at least until the Crown Prince managed to connect a kick directly to the small knight's shield all but up ending him. The small knight lost his grip and the shield went flying, leaving him armed only with his sword.

The fight did not last long after that, still armed with shield and sword the Crown Prince forced his opponent to a corner, up against the barricade, levelling his sword at the small knight's chest.

The Crown Prince pushed up the visor of his helm, his face was red and glistening with perspiration. "Do you yield?"

The crowd were all craning their necks, silence had descended across the arena, the King himself had risen from his seat.

"I yield," the smaller knight's voice was muffled because he had not removed his own helm.

The voice sounded very small...and young!

Even from this distance, I saw a look of complete and utter disbelief, a look of...recognition?

Before anyone in the crowd had time to process the possibility, the Crown Prince dropped his sword, reached out and pulled off the small Knight's helm.

Current Mood: shocked