Chapter Four: Queen Guinevere

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chapter four

queen guinevere

“Overhand, back, block, hanging guard—good job, lad! Keep it up!”

            I was sparring with Gawain in the lists, tired, but exhilarated at the same time. I had been in Camelot for a week now, and, while I was still not nearly a master of the sword, or really even up to the standards of most of the other squires, I felt I had improved, and Sir Gawain’s encouragement and assurance on that matter gave me pride and belief in myself. I didn’t cry myself to sleep anymore for which I was thankful. Though some nights, when I felt alone, I would take my blankets and sleep across Gawain’s threshold like a favored servant. He had never said anything about it, and I was grateful for that, and all the care he had given me.

            He had been nothing but kind, though, as Arthur had told me, he was not afraid to work me hard. Indeed, I had worked harder than ever I had in all my life in that first week I was in Camelot. I started my day with Sir Gawain at the crack of dawn, helping him into his armor, and finding him breakfast, before we would head out to the lists so he could train with the other knights. Then he would either take Fenna to the lists to train for upcoming tournaments, or he would take me for a ride and teach me and my horse, Elith, combat maneuvers. Then came my training with the sword, and by the time we were finished with that it was time for supper. After supper, I left Sir Gawain to his own devices, most often drinking and playing games with the other knights, and took his armor and weapons into my own small room and cleaned, sharpened, and repaired them for the next day when the cycle would repeat. It might be monotonous, but it was a welcome monotony, that gave me a peace of mind I had not know for years, since the news of Arthur’s rise to the throne had come to the remote mountain cabin of Lady Morgan.

            But I was happy in Sir Gawain’s company, in fact, I had begun to think of him as something of an older brother, for he treated me so, working me hard, often jesting at my expense, but always there to offer encouragement with an easy laugh. And I would not forget that he had been there when Sir Lancelot would have given me a beating.

            Lancelot had not bothered me again at that time, though our first meeting was in no way the only one we would have the pleasure of as will later be seen. Apart from him, and Sir Percival who I trained with on occasion as well, I got to know the other knights from Arthur’s inner circle, and marveled at the vast differences in character the men had, but who came together as the best of brothers with their love of Arthur and determination to serve him unto death.

            There was Bedivere first who was one of Arthur’s top knights among the others, having a huge amount of loyalty and devotion to his king. I could see that they had likely grown up training together for the friendship between them surpassed duty. Then there was Sir Caradoc who had gained a crippling wound in one arm, but still managed to fight well enough to defeat most of the fresher recruits and would certainly never be the first to fall in battle. Among others were Sir Tristan and more too numerous to mention in this tale but they were all brave and all gallant and they loved their king above all else. Each day my desire to be like them grew so that it drove me onward in my training to new levels.

            That day, though, Gawain and I were training by ourselves while the other knights were having their own duels, looking as if they would run each other through, but I had learned while watching them, that their training was something of a dance. The swords flashed close to cutting, and sometimes did leave small nicks or bruises that we squires would have to patch for our respective knights in the evening, but no one was ever injured beyond laughing it off.

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