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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)

TITLE: Great Bold Fools.
By Josiah Kane


Sir Michael Steelhand had gingerly stroked the stiff wooden support that prevented his arm from completely falling off. It was unthinkable that the most powerful lancer in the great nation of Germania had been unhorsed and disabled by a well-aimed stone. But now he was the sole defender of a lonely outpost against infinite hoards of enemy troops. His buttressed arm, he found, made a beautiful club to help his sword to fend off the foe. In spite of himself, he smiled.

He’d slipped out of his daydream to hear his mentor, Sir Swordbreath, who was not smiling. He had not broken any bones, but had sustained a few significant wounds in a recent skirmish, and Swordbreath was chastising him for them: “I have told you again and again that you will not be called bold if you fail, as two-fifths of knights do. Then you will be only a fool. You must stop placing your young body in places where it will be destroyed. I cannot continue to pull you out of skirmishes. Now wait here while I attend to the affairs of state.”

This was the lecture Michael Steelhand had received thirteen minutes before. He crouched outside the great doors to the castle meeting chamber. There were six distinct voices coming out of the room. There was Goldmouth, Dispatcher, and Sir Plunderer, as well as two guards and his mentor. Michael listened harder. This was not the most patriotic of talks.

Goldmouth began, “It is quite obvious that in order to capture those French lands, we must first crush the French army. I propose that you, mighty Swordbreath, take a small force and do battle with their border guards to prompt an invasion in response - and then pull back as soon as our good King arrives. The Royal army will destroy the French army, but will take tragic losses, including, if Dispatcher’s assassins are successful, both the King and his prince. Plunderer will receive the crown, and will secure the love of his people by capturing the craved, but now undefended, province of Lorraine. Swordbreath will be rewarded with the government of Lorraine, and I should have a moderate amount of gold for my services, as well as a government seat should you wish for my continued services. Under this plan, I trust that all conspirators will be duly rewarded for their services. That is all.”

“I refuse,” thundered Swordbreath. “I pledged my loyalty to the king, not to some knight who wishes to become the king. You can find some other knight to take part in your dastardly plot.”
“You are a mighty warrior, but a fool,” said Goldmouth. A guard hewed the hilt of the great man’s sword from its blade, and took a sizable portion of his leg off with it. “You will never be able to warn the king. And as you said, I can find another knight to take your place. Enter!”

Michael walked in. Without pausing, he knocked the two guards to the floor with a swinging blow, heaved Swordbreath onto his shoulders and retreated. Any self-satisfaction that he may have had was quickly dispelled by the seriousness of the older knight’s voice. His loss of blood had already forced him to speak less vigorously, but his urgency was evident. He explained that though he was foolish to attend that meeting in the first place, good had come of it. Michael must ride at once to warn the king against assisting the army trying to repel this French invasion force. “They will find a new knight. But you must reach the king first. I will die. But please ensure that when the annals are written, my name appears under the bold. And the snakelike Goldmouth will have his advice remembered as that of fools.

The King, and the kingdom that already exist must triumph to prevent more trouble in Germania. Go now, young knight, and goodbye.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 09/08/07
I like the medieval atmosphere here.

The names didn't seem quite right for Germania and France, but I could be mistaken. They're certainly in line with the fable-like tone of the story.

Followers of this genre should really love this piece.

Beth LaBuff 09/09/07
I liked this historically based story. We would like to think that history records events correctly and that the real heroes get credit. Is this based on a true story or perhaps on period writings? Nice work!