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Chapter Eight

The Tourney

We heard no more of Lancelot for the next month either, and thankfully, I had little time to dwell upon my meeting with Lady Morgan, for there was a tourney to prepare for, and I was busy helping Gawain train extra hard in the lists. I wished that I had earned my knighthood so that I might fight in it as well, but I knew there would be many more tourneys, and for now, I must watch on the sidelines, and keep Sir Gawain in weapons for the duration.

            Tourneys always marked a day of excitement and celebration in Camelot. Everyone, from the lords and ladies to the shopkeepers and even the beggars came to watch the entertainment. A huge cheer rose up as Queen Guinevere appeared in the stands, Merlin acting as her escort as Arthur would be jousting with his knights. I smiled as Guinevere stood for the benefit of the crowd and welcomed them to the tourney.

            “People of Camelot, I am very glad to see you all here today in support of our brave knights. May you feel safe and secure knowing that they have prowess to rival even the most notorious warlords in the kingdoms.”

            The crowd cheered again and Guinevere waited for them to quiet before she raised a hand. “Let the tourney begin!”

            Arthur and Bedivere leapt out down the field to the roar of the crowd and just when we all thought they would joust against each other, they both raised their lances in a salute and filed up to rein their horses under the royal box with the other knights. They all removed their helmets and the crowd cheered even more, as did I, when they saw their king sitting proudly on his black charger, his golden hair curling at the top of his chainmail and framing his face in a halo, making him look like a mighty hero of legend. I adored him. My surrogate father, my king; the man I longed to serve and bleed for as I had bled for Queen Guinevere.

            “My knights shall demonstrate their worthiness!” Arthur called out. “Let us show you what the men of Camelot, my brothers, are capable of!”

            I cheered along with the crowd as the knights filed off and went back to their respective tents. Gawain and Percival would be the first knights up so the big blond man found his way over to me where I stood by his rack of extra lances. He grinned down at me as I stood on a box to make last adjustments to his armor, checking to be sure it was all in place.

            “Ready?” I asked him.

            “Of course,” Gawain scoffed before I clamped the helmet onto his head.

            “Knock Sir Percival in the dust,” I told him and I heard the hollow laugh from inside the helmet as he walked Fenna up to the starting line and then kicked her into a gallop as the flag was dropped.

            The first pass, Gawain knocked Percival’s shield askew with his lance, but the big, young man kept his seat. The second pass nearly had Gawain off his horse, but he held on and turned around for the third pass in which he hit Percival square in the chest and sent him flying off the back of his mount and rolling in the dirt. His squire came out to assist him, and Gawain and I laughed as Percival shouted something rude at his opponent.

            “Language, Percy, the Queen is present,” Gawain scolded and handed me his helmet and lance before he leapt off. “That will get me into the next round. Better luck next time, my large friend.”

            Percival made a face at him, but I knew that only meant he would practice all the harder in the tilts now so that he would beat Gawain in the next tourney.

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