Chapter 5: In Which We Meet the Sort-of Knight

Well done. You have found the next chapter of the story. I do apologize for the long wait. I was unfortunately delayed at the Iberian border control, and was tortured by imps for fourteen days before being accidentally set free when pixies stormed the border on their way to a Hannah Montana concert. Needless to say, it was an adventure, and I will never try to smuggle penguins across the border again.

But I suppose you are more interested in the story about Princess Madison Jayne than my unfortunate imprisonment.

Well, if you remember, Princess Madison Jayne had found a secret letter in a hidden book within her own room. She thrilled at the letter she held in her hands, and immediately snuck through the castle to find a secret message hidden within a princess book given to her by her music tutor—Lady Cathy, who has been summoned to a faraway land to provide organic foods and medicines to the people of that country. The princess book was in a large, abandoned room that was once a chapel, which was filled with ancient stained glass windows telling the stories of ancient legends.

And when she finally found the book and read the message, she followed its instructions, but it was not anything she could have expected. When she opened up the princess book, she began writing down letters that she noticed were circled, but the message was quite strange.

First, she found these four letters:

D U C K

Princess Madison tilted her head doubtfully, and kept hunting for the clue. When she was done, she looked at her notebook:

DUCK. YES, REALLY, DUCK NOW. SERIOUSLY! DUCK!

Sometimes when you are concentrating on one thing, like reading, or deciphering a secret code in an abandoned room of your family’s castle, you can still hear other things going on. And just when she realized the message meant that she should really duck down and get out of the way, she heard a tinkling sound that she knew was breaking glass.

Madison ducked.

As threw herself to the floor, a cloaked figure burst through a marvelous stained-glass window picture of the Imaginary Nocturnal Mountains at Sunset—window art that was nearly a thousand years old, and valued as highly as the entire castle. He swung on a rope directly toward Madison. She felt the tails of his cloak rustle in the wind just above her head, and if she had not ducked, she would have gone flying herself, but not in a good way.

The cloaked stranger jumped off his swinging rope a few feet away from Madison, clumsily drew his sword, and shouted “En garde!”

Madison looked around the room. Except for the window-breaking swordsman in front of her, she was entirely alone. She waited an awkward moment as the masked man pointed his sword in random directions.

“Who are you talking to?” she asked him.

The man’s mask was turned sideways, so that his right ear was peeking out one of his eye holes. Awkwardly holding the sword in one hand, he struggled to straighten his mask so his eyes lined up with the eye holes.

“Ah, Princess. I am glad to see you are safe. Come, we must away.”

Princess Madison crinkled up her eyes and nose in doubt and confusion. Who was this stranger who arrived suddenly, wearing a bad mask, breaking a priceless window, and who used phrased like “Come, we must away” instead of a simple and beautiful phrase like “Let’s go”?

“Who are you?” Madison asked.

“I am your knight in shining armor who has come to rescue you,” the man said proudly, puffing up his chest and looking meaningfully into the middle distance.

“But you aren’t wearing armor,” the Princess pointed out. She was good at pointing these kinds of things out.

“Well, not exactly…,” the stranger began.

“And I do not seem to be in any danger,” Madison added.

“Well, you see…,” he stuttered.

“And are you a real knight? I know almost all of the courtiers, and I don’t think I’ve ever met you before.” Madison had her hands on her hips and pressed the stranger for an answer. When Princess Madison Jayne was looking for the truth, she was not someone to be trifled with.

“Okay, okay,” he answered when he finally got a chance. “I’m not an official knight, and I’m not wearing armor. It was a saying—you, know, “Knight in Shining Armor—that’s all.” The stranger seemed to pout a little bit, and his chest was no longer puffed up in pride. Madison felt quite sorry for him.

“That’s okay,” she said compassionately. “You are sort-of a knight, then. That was really quite a knightly entrance.” He seemed to become more proud again at her compliment.

“However,” she added. “That window was one of a kind. It was quite precious.”

“Ah,” the Knight shouted, jumping into action again. “But you are in grave danger. We must fly immediately.”

“Woah, wait a minute,” Madison protested. “What danger?”

“Haven’t you heard?” the Knight continued. “The magical creatures have begun an attack on the humans of the land. Apparently all the giant-catching got them quite upset, and all of the forest people and sprites and faeries and dwarfs and giants—well, mostly the giant teenagers; the adults are quite lazy—anyway, they are all planning an attack on the castle. It has been entirely evacuated—your tutors having been looking for you all afternoon.”

“Oh,” Madison responded. She wasn’t sure what else to say. She was hiding from her tutors, after all, so perhaps it was true. And the castle did seem abnormally quiet. The Knight did not wait for her to think through all of the questions inside her head.

“We must away,” he said, scurrying about in urgency. When Madison Jayne failed to move, he resorted giving up his fancy way of speaking and said, “Let’s go!”

“I’m not sure I trust you,” she said, finally.

The Knight stopped his hurried activities and looked straight at her. She thought he might be offended, and though it is difficult to tell from behind a poorly-constructed mask, he looked more impressed than offended. At least for a split second, before he continued his pleading.

“You must trust me, and know that you will be quite safe if you come right now. The castle will soon be in the hands of the magical creatures. I am a brave protector of the innocent and long defender of the King and Queen. I pledge all of my courage and obedience to protect thee with mine own life, Your Highness.”

Madison looked at him, determined to doubt him, but getting the increasing feeling that he may be right. As she was deciding, she heard the shout of the tower guard, and an explosion shook the castle. She had only read about explosions, and actually experiencing one was quite frightening. It was time to move, and the Knight was her only chance.

“Okay,” she said finally. The Sort-of Knight breathed a sigh of relief. “But we can’t go anywhere until we deal with that wound.” She pointed to the Knight’s left arm. A piece of purple glass was sticking out, and blood was soaking his black sleeve.

“What? A wound? Where?” The Knight looked frantically at his arm, and when he saw the blood, the brave Knight, protector of the Princess, fell straight to the ground in a dead faint.

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Published in: on June 24, 2010 at 8:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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