Chapter 6: In Which the Sort-of Knight is Mostly Helpless, but the Princess is Quite Useful

When the Knight finally awoke from his fainting spell, Madison Jayne had torn a strip of his cloak and used it to carefully remove the broken glass from her not-so-brave Knight’s arm. The cut was not deep, and she used another piece of cloth to make a kind of crude bandage to stop the bleeding.

“Oh, what happened?” the Knight asked as he was waking up. He rubbed his head as if he had been asleep all night instead of just a few minutes.

“You fainted,” Madison said simply, tying the bandage.

“Oh, how embarrassing,” the Sort-of Knight said. “What would all the other heroes say?”

He looked up mournfully at Madison through his mask, then covered his face with his hands and began to weep. Madison rolled her eyes, and patted him gently on the non-injured arm, saying “there, there,” the way her mother, the Queen, would console the Prince when he had a slight injury. She wasn’t sure if this was exactly the same situation, but she thought it might work.

Meanwhile, shouts of soldiers continued outside the castle, and Madison became worried they would be trapped. She needed to move things along, and the only way to get going was to encourage her Knight to stop crying and spring into action. She was starting to feel like being saved was a lot of work on her part.

“It’s okay,” she said compassionately. “I won’t tell anyone.”

The Knight patted her hand in thanks, but still continued to cry. Madison tried a different approach.

“Well, I do need saving now, don’t I?”

For the first time, the Knight perked up a little and began to dab his eyes. He then blew his nose loudly on Madison’s sleeve. Madison thought this was disgusting, but the shouting outside the window was getting much louder, and she knew she needed to keep going.

“And it sounds like things are really dangerous outside. I thought you were my Knight in Shining Armor?”

The Knight perked up at the idea of a complete catastrophe that needed a hero.

“Yes!” he shouted jumping up and brandishing his sword again. “We must away.”

“Yes, the away thing,” Madison said, picking herself up chapel floor.

“Grab your things, Princess.”

Madison looked around. She had nothing but a princess book which was filled with circled letters, and the empty book, the strange journal where she found the first secret message. She shrugged, picked up the book with no words, and took the Knight’s offered hand.

Just as they turned to run, there was shouting in the hall, the only entrance to the chapel.

“You will never take the castle!” they heard a brave soldier shout with more confidence than he really had. Madison knew that this soldier was protecting her from the attacking hordes, but also closing off her only way of escape.

“Let’s turn him into something,” Madison heard another voice say, a high-pitched man’s voice, like someone whose finger was always caught in a mouse trap.

“What kind of thing?” a woman answered with a growly, grumbly voice.

“I dunno,” the first one said.

“Please,” the soldier begged. “Nothing embarrassing. My friends would never let me live it down if you turned me into something … girly.”

The two attackers, obviously some kind of witches or magicians, laughed out loud, the man in his pinched, pained yelp, and the woman in her gravelly hiss. Madison was curious about the fate of the soldier, in part because she had never seen magic before, and wasn’t sure it really existed. But the Knight brought her attention to the moment.

“Princess!” he whispered loudly. “Is there any way out of this room?”

Madison looked around. She had only been in the room once, for the wedding of one of her distant cousins.

“No, I’m afraid not,” Madison said glumly.

“Oh, no!” the Knight cried.

And again he began to weep. Madison rolled her eyes and looked around the chapel. They could hide, but a careful search would reveal their hiding place quickly, and she didn’t want to be found and magically turned into something unnatural. There was a fireplace, but it was quite small, and only a pixie or imp or Halfling child would fit inside.

The windows were a way out, but as she looked up into the open hole the Knight has made in the stained glass window, Princess Madison saw a red-bellied dragon fly overhead with a half-eaten soldier hanging from its mouth. She marveled at the sight of its deep emerald scales, and thought about the bed of gold it slept in every night. But with a dragon circling overhead, going up was not a solution.

They were stuck.

The Knight seemed to understand the dire nature of their circumstances clearly and threw himself against the fireplace, weeping and banging his fist against the stone.

“Oh no!” he yelled. “My first mission as a hero and we are about to be turned into three-legged purple-spotted lizards by those two witches outside the door. And they aren’t even nice witches! Nooooooo!” He continued to wail and pound the stone. His tears fell mournfully to the stone floor at the base of the fireplace.

Madison watched the tears fall, curious at how they exploded when they hit the ground. As she looked down, she noticed something on the floor she had never seen before.

“Hey…,” Madison spoke, unsure what to call her weeping protector. They had never been formally introduced. She decided to be formal. “Sir Knight.”

“Yes dear,” he said, wiping his eyes with the back of his flowing, black sleeve. “Do you have something to say as your last words before being turned into a southern Nigerian frog that sings out of tune?

“Well, maybe. But I’ve found something on the floor.”

The Knight was curious. They both knelt down on the cold stone floor, and Madison brushed away bits of dirt and ash and tears from a single, ornate piece of stone. You might have something ornate in your house, like a special plate with small, beautiful pictures painted on it, or a piece of jewelry with many expensive jewels, or a silverware set with small designs carefully carved into the handles.

Princess Madison’s house was filled with ornate things, but she knew immediately that this stone was from another time in history, long, long ago. It was beautifully carved, but the carving was not perfect. In the simple and crude marble carving was a miniature scene of a castle, much like Madison’s castle today. And the castle was being attacked by giants and faeries and dragons, much like Madison’s castle was under attack at that very minute.

“There’s some kind of drawings around the picture, like a pattern,” Madison said. “Is it writing?”

“Yes,” the Knight said, under his breath. “It is ancient rune.”

“What does it say?” Madison asked. Her brother, because he was a boy in the court, would study runes. She, however, had only studied smiling and waving. She knew if her strange friend could read runes, he was connected somehow to the royal family.

“Well, my runes class was some time ago, but I think I can understand it. Give me your book there. Perhaps there is a spare page.”

“There are plenty of spare pages,” Madison said, handing it to him.

He looked at the book, then leafed through it.

“What kind of book has no words?” he asked.

Madison shrugged, so the Knight pulled a dramatic plume feather pen from his cloak and began to scratch inside the book. Madison waited impatiently as the witches outside the door bargained over what they should change the fearful soldier into a one-eyed dog that chases his tails all day or a giant fuzzy caterpillar with an itchy back. They argued back and forth, and Madison could imagine the poor soldier quivering in fear.

Finally, the Sort-of Knight spoke out his translation of the inscription:

men look up at me

clouds look down at me

soldiers look back to me

if you get too close, you’ll look inside me

I have scales, but no music

fire, but no match

gold for my bed

full of magic and dread

Who am I?

If you think you know the answer to the riddle, then you can find out the next part of the story. Simply type the answer after your website’s name: For example, if the answer was lettuce—and it really  is not, but you can go ahead and try it if you really want to!—you would type, The only hint I will give you know is that the answer is only one word, and no longer than your own name.

Now, if you happen to get stuck trying to solve the riddle, and none of the adults nearby can help you with the riddle, you can find a special clue by typing in Good luck!

Published in: on July 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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