London, England 1275
"Who is that knight in red over yonder?"
"Too small to be a seasoned knight, must be a man-child."
"Whoever he is, has won most of the contests today. Remarkable chap I say."
Everyone in the jousting fields and stands were debating who this newcomer was, that has put most of the competitors to shame. The King has sent his man-at-arms to request an audience with the elusive young knight, that has sent even his cynical courtiers in an uproar. Aye, this is definitely worth investigating.
Meanwhile, the knight in question entered her tent beyond the jousting fields. When she took off her helmet, long auburn tumbled down in a wild mass to her waist. Indeed, Lady Maeve is no boy with her sparkling emerald eyes gleaming with mischief. All her hard work has paid off, she has won many gold purses this day. As long as the King and her parents remain ignorant of her disguise. If she can win enough money, her brother will be spared debtor's prison.
All she requires now, is to win the cross bow competition against the Duke of Hawksworth, the King's favorite. Whoever wins this final contest may ask any boon of his Majesty, anything. if she is victorious, Maeve will request that all outstanding debts against her brother Brock, be canceled. Or all would have been for naught.
So lost in her revelry,, Maeve had just removed her hauberk, when the King's man-at-arms spoke from outside the tent
"Sir knight, in the name of his majesty, King William hereby requests an audience at your earliest convenience." The Guard recited automatically.
"Aye, I shall attend the King promptly." Maeve replied in her deepest voice.
"As you will ten, milord." Came the already retreating reply.
"What am I to do, I will be disqualified or even anger the King, if he was to find out that I am no true knight, but a noblewoman. I must keep my helmet on to guard my disguise, even should the King find it odd." she told herself.
As Maeve pondered her dilemma, she glanced at the ground. She proceeded to smear her face with dirt to camouflage her fair cheeks.
Arriving at the King's tent, Maeve cleared her throat to announce her arrival. A minute later, King William bade her enter. If his majesty found it strange to find the young knight filthy, he kept to his own council.
"Will you share a tankard of ale with me lad?" The King demanded, all the while assessing this youngster, who has so swiftly captured praise amongst the other combatants. He has questioned other knights today, though, no one knows the identity of this lad.
"Aye, if it so pleases thee, my lord. It would be a great honor" Maeve struggled to keep her voice husky.
Meanwhile, she tried not to squirm as the king bore his intelligent eyes the length of her body, coming to rest intently on her eyes. Just as he was about to speak, the flap of the tent opened, to allow Hawksworth's tall muscular body to block out the sun.
"Pardon me, my lord, but the final competition is about to commence." Lord Hawksworth stated.
Maeve needed no further urging to flee the tent, after she excused herself.
She left so quickly, that she missed the gleam in Hawksworth's eyes. "Did she think to fool me with her disguise?" Hawksworth smiled to himself in amusement.
• • •
Unbeknownst to their daughter's masquerade, Maeve's parents reflected on with guilt, the argument with their second child, refusing her request to join them on account of her hoydenism in the past month. Much to her mother's despair, Maeve refuses to learn even the basic wifely skills she will require in the future. Instead, she prefers to ride her stallion astride, and practie wielding a sword like a man. Thus, she is glad that their spirited daughter is safely ensconced in their castle.
Breaking away from her thoughts, Lady Morgan notices the knights taking their places in accordance to rank. Following the others at a further pace, the small knight took his place amongst the other competitors. His gait almost seems familiar in some way....
Two hours later, the finalists were readying themselves for the cross-bow competition, which is the end of the of the tournament. Lord Hawksworth took his place, as he is to begin the fist. He let loose his arrow, narrowly missing the center.
Maeve, then took her turn. She aimed, fired. The arrow hit dead center. Lord Hawksworth, then took his second shot. He let loose the arrow, it hit dead center this time. Maeve needs one other perfect aim, and she wins the competition.
Maeve took careful aim, let loose the arrow. Her second arrow hit dead center, splitting the first arrow in half.
She was so jubilant, that she threw off her helmet, and her hair came tumbling in a wild cascade down her back. the crowd gasped! The King demanded both of them to approach. Maeve grimaced in fear, but Hawksworth advanced with obvious ease. He quickly glanced at Maeve and gave her an encouraging smile.
"Do not fret, little one. William is more amused than angered. Notice the crowd gathering around the King, you have been victorious in many ways this day. Come, we must not keep his Majesty waiting."
"Aye, I must not keep the gallows waiting either." Maeve quipped.
"Who are you, young lady? Women do not don chain mail, and enlist in sword play and such. You look familiar, are you the Earl of Pendragon's daughter? the King demanded.
"Aye, she is mine Sire." Maeve's father said from behind her.
"Father! I...uh...I didnt mean...to..."
"What she means to say, is that she disguised herself as a boy to compete in the tournament for a legitimate reason, milord." Hawksworth supplied helpfully.
"aye, milord father, I needed to earn enough money to save Brock from debtor's prison. The only way I thought of, was to win this boon from the King as a reward."
All the while Maeve was exchanging her stammering explanation to her father, the King saw the earnestness in her eyes, as she refused to backdown or let the tears flow.
"Listen up, all of you! I hereby grant your request on the condtion, that Lady Maeve grants Lord Hawksworth's wish as a second place winner. He requests that you, my charming Lady Knight, give him another chance to win your hand in another round of the cross-bow." The King said slyly.
Meanwhile, Hawksworth let loose three consecutive arrows fly. Each one splitting the last in the center.
"Now, my Lady Knight, I will call you on the morrow." Lord Hawksworth stated as he picked up Maeve's hand to kiss her gently on her smooth skin. Smiles then walks away....
The End......for now...