This Flash Fiction Fridays is dedicated to fantasy romance author Nicole Zoltack and her medieval fantasy romance series Kingdom of Arnhem. I'll be interviewing Nicole on my blog Monday, and I should have reviews of her books Woman of Honor and Knight of Glory by then too.
The destrier's hooves thundered while Sir Richard adjusted his lance. The other knight's war horse raced until the two met in the center of the list field. Richard's lance smashed into the knight's chest armor. The oak pole cracked from the impact while the other knight's lance fell far from its mark. The horse continued galloping forward while the knight tumbled over its rear and landed with a metallic thud. The knight's squire sprinted to his knight, and a few men helped carry the man to the side for medical attention.
Sir Richard brought his steed to a trot and halted in front of the king. Removing his helmet, he heard the crowd's roar. "Your Majesty." He bowed his head, placing a closed fist over his heart in respect.
The king smiled. "You have done very well, Sir Richard. You truly are the King's Champion." King William rose to his feet. "Does anyone dare to challenge, Sir Richard? Or shall we proclaim him the winner of this tournament?"
The people were hysterical now, claiming no other could defeat the knight. In a wave, the multitude fell silent when a knight and horse entered the list and dropped a gauntlet upon the ground. A collective gasp filled the silence, and all eyes searched out Sir Richard and his reaction.
The King's Champion motioned for his squire to help him down from his horse. "You challenge me?" Sir Richard was five inches taller and broader than the other man. "Are you even a knight or just a squire seeking fame?" The man spoke no words and stared at him through the helmet's slits. "Very well. I accept." He picked up the gauntlet, and the crowd cheered again. "Get me another lance, Squire James." The lad sprinted for another lance while Richard mounted his horse and led him to the end of the list.
The other knight mounted his charger with the help of an older gentleman. His lance rested upon his lap while he waited for Sir Richard.
The squire returned with the heavy lance and offered it to Sir Richard, who lifted it into position as if it was an extension of his arm. With his helmet secure, he glared through the opening and focused on the knight ahead. A trumpet sounded. The crowd chanted Sir Richard's name, although the helmet dulled the sound.
The signal flashed, and Sir Richard spurned his war horse forward. The other knight rode a charger, which was a smaller, more agile horse. Yet, Richard knew his horse and lance would do the greater damage. With the lance raised, he readied the blow.
The other knight shifted in the saddle when Richard's lance struck a glancing blow to the shoulder. The other lance, however, turned and struck the King's Champion in the stomach and pushed upward. Richard wasn't expecting a blow, and he lost his grip on the horse's reins. The knight teetered sideways on the horse before sliding to the ground with an "oomph."
The crowd "oohed" and "ahhed" the performance. Sir Richard stood up and tried not to clutch his stomach in front of the spectators. "Who are you, knight? Reveal yourself."
The smaller knight leapt down and stumbled before regaining his balance. Lifting his uninjured arm, he removed the helmet and shook his hair. The raven trusses fell mid-way down her back, and the crowd once again collectively gasped at the unforeseen victor. "I am Lady Knight Catherine, Order of the Hatchet."