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The Black Knight (Watty Awards 2012 Finalist)

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For several seconds, Nan stared at the stranger standing before her, his features concealed in the shadow of the alley as he confronted her attacker.

“What poor manners you must have, to force a woman to your will out here in the open.” The stranger spoke, his tone casual and easy, like water running over stone. As though, he saw the drunken Michael as nothing more than an overeager dog growling at its master for having taken away its favorite bone.

“Sod off ya blackguard! The wench is mine!” Michael snarled, knife at the ready to cut the stranger down where he stood.

“Really?” The stranger questioned, his tone feigning interest. “Has this man paid for your time miss?” the stranger asked, looking to Nan. Fervently, she shook her head, still too stunned to speak.  “Well, with that being said it seems she is not.” The stranger replied with a single short shake of his head. Stepping back just in time to avoid the stab of Michael’s knife as he came at the stranger with an angry yell, tripping over his own two feet when the stranger hooked his ankle with his cane, causing Michael to stumble several feet out into the open. Turning back at the man with blind fury he charged for him once more, only to be pelted across the face with one of the empty bottle’s Nan had gotten from Tom’s Pub. 

Like a sack of potatoes, Michael fell to the ground unconscious, his face battered and bleeding worse than it had when he’d ran into the wall outside the pub scarcely an hour before. With a barely leashed rage, Nan tossed the neck of the bottle she’d used to hit him with aside and slammed her foot into the drunk’s side. One, two, three times before the stranger’s cane braced against her leg to stop her.

“He’s down love. You needn’t kill the fool. Though, I understand why you’d wish to.” He stated, her eyes jumping to the vicinity of his face at his words. In the meager light of the street lamps, Nan could not make out his face merely his form and some of his attire. He was tall nearly a head taller than she with wide shoulders, his long coat clung perfectly to his body which along with his polished boots, top hat, and impeccable speech told her he was gentry.

“Ya have me thanks, Sir.” Nan spoke, coldly staring down at the drunk’s still form as she nodded to the man standing before her.  

“Consider us even.” He replied, in turn, stepping over Michael’s body with ease as he started past her. Nan’s head jerking up after him.

“Even?” She questioned.

“You warned me of the tide.”  He answered as he walked on.

Before Nan could even consider her words they flew from her mouth.  “You’re the scarred man!” She announced, knowing full well why he had stopped and was now turning back to her. Removing his hat to show that he was indeed the scarred man from the beach that afternoon, though in the light of the lamps his scars looked far more severe than they had under the afternoon sun. It made his face look warped, and unnatural, almost ghoulish as he glared at her with far more ire than he had shown her when she had woken him.

“Tell me miss you do make a habit of insulting you rescuers?” He practically growled at her, the anger in his tone blatant. 

“I’ve not had many rescuers to insult.” She replied, guilelessly as she watched him. “And it was not meant as such, Sir. I’d gladly call ya by your name. If I but had one to know. As it is, my calling ya by your scars is no different than you calling me by me eyes, or hair. T’was the thing I remembered the first.” She explained with a shrug, turning to face him fully.

“And if I were to call you the dirt little girl from the beach, you would not take offence?” He bit back.

“I’ve naught to take offence, Sir. I am dirty and wee.” She smiled small and weak as she lifted the edge of her tattered skirts to prove her point. “Though, you’ve an odd sense of balance.” She added a moment later looking at him slightly puzzled, with a slight tilt of her head.

Once again, the man was taken aback by her comment. “Excuse me?” He snapped.

“Call’ in us even, Sir.” She remarked. “Ya saved me from rape.” She cast a hand down to Michael, giving the bugger one last savage kick for good measure. “Where all I did is save ya from walking home in wet trousers. Don’t seem like the two measures up is all I’m sayin’.” She shrugged casually as she bent to pick up her basket walking toward him, looking over its meager contents, making sure nothing was broken. Aside from the lone bottle she’d bashed into Michael’s face, her fare was none the worse for wear. Stopping just short of the stranger, she covered her basket back up and smiled up at him. Soft, and gentle, and… somewhat sad.

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Cast

Kevin McKiddas William Horton
Emily Bluntas Nan Harris
Jeremy Renneras Nathan Hoss
Bob Hoskinsas John Baringer
Kate Winsletas Sophia Horton
Nicole Kidmanas Carrie Mckenna
Sophia Mylesas Clara De'Mont
Ed Sandersas Jamie

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