A Knight's Tail
SCREAMS!!! WINNER!!! 12/17/19 on writing.com
Prompt: HE HAD A DEEPLY FLAWED UNDERSTANDING OF COURTLY LOVE
Everyone hated Sir Merek.
The villainous man had killed knights numbering twenty, all in the glorious Joust. The first met his end from a splinter to the neck, finding vein under helmet. One found doom when his armor gave way with a crack and the blunted lance had smashed betwixt the chambers of his heart. I couldn't remember all of the others, but to a man, they died in strange ways.
None desired to face Sir Merek, to do it, near assurance of a foul and inglorious end. If not for Lady Aethelu, Sir Merek would not had opportunity to kill so many men. It was she that kept them coming forth to meet him in illustrious combat, despite the overwhelmingly poor odds of survival.
Lady Aethelu, it was said, was the fairest of all nobility. I had never believed the gaudy tales--until I saw her with eyes of my own. She was a vision, surely a direct descendant of angels. Her blond hair of purest silk, her flawless complexion, her celestial body. She wore the most stylish and daring of gowns to tournaments all, and nary a masculine soul who met her could resist a declaration of courtly love. They would win the tournament for her, they would cry!
Try they did, emboldened by her beauty to brave the wrath of Sir Merek, for Lady Aethelu hated none more than him. She called upon the bravest, the boldest, the strong. On this day, she had challenged the ranks of nights in attendance, offering the prize of her hand in exchange for the death of one Sir Merek.
I was one of the fools who'd accepted and the last in line to face this foul knight. The bodies of better men than I had been dragged from the field, dead by the cursed lance of Sir Merek.
Let fortune favor the foolish, I said, whilst drowning in the beauty of my Lady. Notions of marriage to the prize of all prizes had clouded my reason. Her face, her smile had driven me to madness--the folly of facing Sir Merek.
When the last of the other challengers had fallen, this one trampled by his own horse when unseated, I took my mount with trepidation.
My squire brought me a gift of red wine, blessed blood of Christ, he informed. I inquired as to the giver of such a fine gift, and the Lady, he told me, was she.
I looked up to Lady Aethelu, her face a shining beacon to give hope to the hopeless. Steeling my resolve with a drink of her magnificent visage as well as her gift, I turned to face Sir Merek.
Darkness leaked from his visor, his face a mystery to all. Always, the man accepted his trophies visor down. He held them aloft with furious vigor but never his face did he reveal.
A chill ran my spine as I kicked my horse to full gallop. This was the moment, likely my doom. I thought of the Lady, whose love had inspired this rejection of wits and sense. The miniscule chance to wed such a creature was worth it, I thought, even as I raced to meet my end.
I watched my lance hit Sir Merek full on, failing to unseat him but scoring just the same. His lance found no purchase and slid from my armor. The victory this day would be mine!
As I slowed my horse and prepared him for canter, a lap of celebration my right, an illness befell me. Dizzy and weak, I fell from my horse, my eyes finding the heavenly sky above. I turned my head to look at the Lady, to apolgize merely with eyes. As my last breath expired, I saw her true nature, a demon in this maiden so fair. She winked at Sir Merek, and the nature of vile treachery came clear.
The knight was her partner in evil, in murder, which poison she used to ensure.