Rusted Sword

A wide smile formed in my face as I watched the scene in front of me. My son—my little bundle of joy, is just full energy as he played with his toy sword trying to defeat his stuffed enemy. Weak sounds of slashing mixed with his childish grunts of force. Since he was born, I already knew the path I want my boy to take. Of course I wouldn't force him into anything he doesn't want, but now five years old, it's clear he wants to follow the same path.

"I'm afraid that it's time to sleep, my son." After the announcement, he looked up to me with a frown.

"But father, I was about to cut his neck." He used his wooden sword to poke the small dummy.

"You know the consequences." At once, he followed me towards his bed chambers. Once in front of the room, it took me to give him a gentle push for him enter. He released my scarred leg when he entered.

Once in the room, I helped him change into his night-gown. As he finished buttoning his clothes, I carried him to his bed.

Underneath the covers I heard muffled sound, "I'm not sleepy yet." He said in whiny voice, with green pleading eyes that could break even my tough wife.

"How about I tell a bedtime story?" Judging from the glint in his eyes, he wanted to do anything to be delayed from sleep. Hmmm, which one... After a few a considerations, I finally decided. "Well our story is about young boy, a boy just like you...

...

"Lady Dufay," the plump midwife said. "It's a healthy boy!" Cradled in her arms is a fragile body wrapped in linen. With eyes tightly shut while wailing in the top of his lungs.

"Give him to me." A hoarse voice came from the bed. A woman with strands of dark hair sticking to her pale forehead stretched her arms in the direction of the baby. The midwife followed the order and gave the crying newborn into the arms of his mother. As the small child felt the touch of his mother, the sobs stopped. His eyes fluttered open revealing the same grey eyes his mother possessed.

A giggle formed as Isabel touched the tip of his nose. "Where is Richard, Thea?"

"His out riding with Oliver, I'm afraid he won't be back till noon." Disappointment grew on Isabel's face.

She turned her attention to her son clinging to her. "It's seems like we have to name you without your father, his too busy teaching your brother". All the baby did was gaze to her mother with expectant eyes. The mother smiled at the thought of how many young women would fall for her child.

"Lady Dufay," Thea said. The mother almost forgot that there was another person in the room. "May I take my leave?" A brief nod was given to her.

She looked back at her son adjusting herself to a better position. "I'll name you... Alistair."

...

"Where are we going?" asked the small boy. He raised his voice just enough for the man dressed in shining clothes to hear him. The tall man just spared him a small glance before resuming on ignoring the seven-year-old. The boy didn't see the hint of annoyance on the adult's face as he continued pestering the man.

They walked through the masses of bushes and across the dark forest. The man wearing the clicking armour kept a straight face when it was obvious he wasn't enjoying the company of the child.

All the boy did was keep asking the same question over and again hoping to pull the answer out of the stranger. Ready to ask another question, his eyes he saw a gleaming sword. It was similar to the wooden toy his brother had except this one's prettier. Hanging from the waist of the man, it created more clicks as it hit his mail. He remembered how many times he asked for one, but his father only showed his brown eyes clouded with irritation.

"May I play with your sword? I've always wanted to hold one." The Knight stopped dead in his tracks and looked back at the boy. Expression laced with a bit of surprise with faint recognition.

For the first time throughout the travel the Knight spoke. "You will someday, but for now you have to wait."

Before the boy could respond he was greeted with the sight of the castle.

...

The scary man, Alistair described, kept grinning at him in a way that could leave you with nightmares. If only the stranger with the pretty sword didn't tell him to behave he would have run back to father. The man with shiny clothes left earlier leaving the scared boy alone with the new stranger.

"Do you know why you're m'boy?" Alistair quickly shook his head terrified in what he might do. "Your father, Richard I believe, failed to pay his debts. I was planning to take it by force but we decided upon an agreement." He halted looked directly at the boy. "Since I'm need of new knights, Dufay agreed on taking you in as one of my pages. In the midst of the conflict between Novandy and Senexa, I would use all the help I need. "

Alistair didn't understand most of the words the scary man said but the part about his father, he did. Growing up his father always favoured his older brother. When one time he sneaked to the kitchens he heard some servant tell the other the reason of his mother's death was because of him. Apparently his mother died a few days after his birth. He put two and two together, figuring his Father felt the same way.

"You'll be addressing me as Lord Aldrich Parry." The old man said pulling the boy out of his thoughts. "If you go straight to the east wing you'll meet a squire that'll guide to where the other pages are. You will be training with them as you work to become one of my men."

...

The years came and left.

The time spent in the Parry Manor occupied most of Alistair's childhood. Though not the same as any noble's son, it was one he was proud of. Alistair quickly mastered basic combat skills, knowing in his mind that someday he would have the same sword the stranger did. In a few swings he defeated most young squires and all his page opponents. Taming wild animals had been done with ease. Alistair's equestrian skills grew as inches added to his height.

What he failed to understand is the need to learn foreign languages that he wouldn't have time to practice in battles. Reading is much harder than speaking some language.

"Now, would you recite this word," Lady Maven said sharply noticing the lack of attention coming from Alistair. The tutor pointed the blasted word.

Quickly scanning the book, bored grey orbs followed the pointed finger on the parchment, Valē. "V-val-le?" He struggled between each syllable. Latin, he noticed immediately; the language that had put Alistair's tongue into different twists. If he had to choose, French would have been easier.

"No, no, no, it's pronounced..." The snooty women started. "...wah-lay not vah-lay. You see the letter V in Latin is..." She continued in a snobbish manner, apparently the reason the boy refuses to absorb any knowledge. Alistair did his best not to show his annoyance for he knows that Lord Parry will be disappointed if he hears Alistair being rude to anyone, especially a woman.

Alistair looked outside the library window, there laid a sundial showing exactly what time of the day it is. In an instant the boy jolted out of his seat because of a forgotten chore. "I hate to interrupt, but I have to leave right know, it seems that I will be late for my kitchen duty." He quickly left the library leaving the woman alone. He had a pace fast enough to show urgency but slow enough to not show his eagerness.

He jogged down away from the dreaded library towards the kitchens. The smell of roast beef showed him that he was near. He stopped dead in his tracks once the big oak doors are in front of him. Opening the door slightly to a size that could fit him, he sneaked purposely ducking to avoid tattle-tale squires and pages but it seems that their too distracted with their work. Seeing his friend, he slipped right next to him who was at the moment chopping vegetables.

"You're late." A harsh whisper was heard from his right ear.

"Latin lessons with Lady Maven." Alistair frowned at the memory of the boring meeting with the stuck-up teacher.

"Honestly Alistair, you're turning fourteen in three months and you haven't acquired a foreign tongue. All the other pages already have, including me centuries ago."

"I'm sorry Darwyn, I happen to value strength and agility than learning some stupid language. Honestly how can knowing how to say Va-lay help you in the battlefield?"

"Actually it's pronounced as – never mind. Just carve the meat will you. We will be serving it to Lord Parry's guests soon." Instead of questioning his blond friend he did what he was asked.

Carving the meat had been the only task he liked in the kitchens because he gets to hold a weapon with an actual sharpen blade. During combat training, pages only use fake ones. He finished serving the sliced meat in an oval dish.

"Dufay! Pevrel! It's your turn to serve," A shout from one of the squires. They didn't wait for an answer as they handed out piles of dishes in the hands of Alistair and Darwyn. Both the two only stood frozen in their spots.

Growing impatient the seventeen-year-old squire pushed both boys towards the dinner hall. Once out of the kitchen, bursts of laughter came from men dressed in long flowing tunics. The bright colours clashing together disgusted both the boys. Hearing the impatient call of the same squire who pushed them, they began to head their way towards the table.

One by one, plates are placed in front of the guests. Sounds of approval were heard once the smell of roast hit their noses. Alistair proceeded to fetch the last of the meals. Going through the kitchens had been hard because of the millions of bodies filling the room, but fortunately it didn't stop Alistair to safely have the hot soup resting in his hands.

Expecting to serve the soup to another hungry man, he was greeted by a sight of a young girl. Waves of red hair framed her pale face washed with a bit of freckles. The unnamed girl turned her head towards him showing her green eyes. There is no denying Alistair will remember this girl for years.

Slowly he made his way trying to hide his obvious attraction. His body sweating at the mere thought of tripping. Once there, slightly shaking hands placed the soup in front of her. When he thought he was safe he tripped over he's own foot causing his hand to collide with the bowl eventually spilling the soup on her dress.

At first, the nameless girl just switched her gazes from the fallen bowl to the big stain. Fire burned in her eyes when she finally registered what happened. Suddenly she stood up and stomped the leather shoe Alistair was wearing. The page instantly hugged his foot with his hands and let out a cry of pain. In the sight of his friend, Darwyn kneeled to help his friend ignoring the fuming red-head.

"I apologize for the accident milady; this one's a bit clumsy." Lord Parry nervously rushed the words out of his mouth trying to keep the problem under control.

"There is nothing to apologize for, my dear friend." A brightly dressed man made his towards Alistair who now managed to stand up. "Pages have their bad days and I've always known my daughter's a bit aggressive"

"Father!" An outraged scream was heard from the girl with hands resting on her sides.

"Zuzana, my dear, why don't you calm down, don't worry I'll buy you a new dress. How about you kindly sit and we'll have these boys fetch you another bowl of soup." Grasping the moment to escape, Alistair hobbled back to the kitchens with Darwyn in his right helping him.

"Curse that woman! I'd be limping for weeks!" Alistair whispered to Darwyn once out of the guest's earshot.

When they entered the kitchens the first thing Alistair did was summon a chair. A younger page carried a wooden stool to the duo. Darwyn then helped his injured friend to his comfort.

"That was quite a first impression. I assure you there are many other men who fell of their feet at the mere sight of her."

"You can hold your tongue now before I punch you." This only made Darwyn laugh as he took the second batch of soup.

...

Few more steps he'd be inches away from the door. The smell of tomorrow's feast occupied his nose. Normally a boy of his age wouldn't think of this drastic plan but the twisting feeling in his stomach has given him courage to continue.

Now in front of the humongous door, Alistair did his best to push the door, only managing to open a few inches. Ready to try again, light shone through the small opening. Confused, Alistair watched the new occupants of the room.

"We'd be here all night," proclaimed the boy with mousey brown hair. "If only William didn't burn the turkey."

"Stop complaining and start cooking. Young Sir Oliver's feast will be in seven hours," said the woman with greying hair.

"What I don't understand is why his feast has to be this grand. We barely cooked for his brother's birthday."

"Alistair is only the second son."

"But mother, we served other families and they treated all their sons equally."

"Well... I did hear from the older servants that Lord Dufay's wife died six years ago."

"But that's the same age as – Oh..."

Quickly Alistair left. In his urgency, he accidentally created noise.

The younger servant quickly turned around to catch a glimpse of the grey eyes everyone knew he possessed.

"Alistair!"

"Alistair!"

The sound of his friend's voice jerked him out of his thoughts. Realizing that he was still tangled with another brunette man, a brute force was unleashed giving him the power to overcome his opponent. His muscles tensed at the thought of brutally assaulting the older squire. Quickly the squire twisted his joints enough for anyone to cry for mercy. He took a moment to consider his options and decided to throw the fight.

The squire immediately pulled himself up throwing his arms in the air showing his victory leaving Alistair lying on the ground breathing heavily. He wasn't surprised that he lost the match, for he knows wrestling is his weakest point. Knowing this disadvantage he did his best to never be left unarmed.

"Are you alright?" The blond boy asked his tired friend.

"I'm fine. Just a little stretch would probably do the trick." Darwyn reached out to grab his friend's outstretched arm. Being pulled up, Alistair's body cracked. "Or maybe not."

"What happened back there? You looked like weren't even awake. If I didn't yell at you would probably be crushed into bones."

"I don't know actually, a flashback maybe. Finlay does look awfully like someone I used to know."

Knowing Alistair's past he decided to let it go. "So... Are you watching the upcoming tourney? I did hear from others that the Great Sir Egbert Heriet will be fighting under Parry's banner."

"Who isn't? I've heard many stories about that knight but nobody really got the chance to meet him."

"Well it seems like everyone will in a few days."

...

The whole streets where covered of many crowds of people, from visitors to merchants and acrobats to fortune tellers. Many gathered at the last tournament of the season. Tents where everywhere as many forges produced fixed armour. Knights checked their newly polished armour for any blemishes.

Alistair sat in the stands with other townsmen. Together with Darwyn, he waited patiently for the long-awaited match. More people filled the edges as the knights took their places.

Dressed in red and yellow stripes, he eyed his opponent in pure concentration. It was hard to believe it was the same man who whispered sweet nothings to his fair maiden while she gave him her handkerchief he now have knotted on his belt.

Hearing restless snorts of a horse, Alistair turned his direction to the source. Bearing the colours of Parry, he was mounted on his destrier. Alistair looked over to Darwyn who was in awe of the knight returning his opponent's burning stare.

He couldn't believe it. It was the same knight who brought him to Lord Parry years ago. Surprise was written on his face. Instead of mirroring his friend's fanatical gaze, he composed a blank look. Seven years didn't change him that much; he still portrayed the same man his memories kept. He heard a few other pages chattering about the famous Sir Egbert Heriet.

The trumpets echoed through the masses of people, the sound silenced the crowds. A load cry broke through the stillness, "Let them go!" The audience cheered wildly. Both the horses dug their heels on the ground and set off a full gallop. Egbert's horse charged as the other drew closer. Both men had their eyes locked in each other, never breaking contact. Egbert's lance met the knight's shield causing it to smash, sending wooden splinters to pierce through his opponent's exposed flesh.

Egbert dropped the useless weapon and made his horse do a sharp turn. With his unarmed hand, he grabbed the helmet of his enemy's horse along with its bridle. The clouds of dust and earth covered the scene leaving the most match unwatched. As the air cleared, it showed the image of a knight laying flat on the ground and a man holding a new lance which used to belong at the fallen knight.

After being promised of his ransom, Egbert left the scene. Egbert removed his helmet completely and quickly scanned the grounds. After locking eyes with a familiar looking boy, he turned his head away and went directly back to his tent.

Alistair stared at the man. It was definitely him.

...

Finally turning into a squire doesn't feel any different in Alistair's opinion. Lady Arietta de Moy made it sound like such a big deal when she was bidding her goodbye; the day where you're not viewed as a child but a young man. In just a few minutes he'll be in the care of real knights, not that he was complaining with the different women that took care of him before. Without them he would probably be slow-witted or sing like a pig being slaughtered, Lady Arietta put out.

The knight he was supposed to attend his apprenticeship was still unknown to Alistair. He requested to meet him down by the stables. Alistair treated this as a clue to what to expect, he assumed his knight wants to see his equestrian skills beforehand. Putting on his brown tunic, he went on his way.

Getting closer to the stables he came across familiar mechanism. It the same one he practiced on when he was still a page. It had rotating arms that had a heavy sandbag attached to them. Fiddling with the weapon the new visitor went unnoticed.

A man cleared his throat earning him for Alistair to turn around. "It seems like you've stumbled upon a quintain." Instead in his usual metal clothes Alistair remembered, he wore a similar get-up. It was almost unnerving to see such a strong figure in casual clothing.

Alistair was too stunned to speak. "Funny. I don't remember you being this quiet before. The last time I met you, you talked for the sake of creating noise." Egbert said noting the stillness of his new apprentice.

The young man immediately composed himself after the remark. "Well sir, seven years does change you."

Satisfied with his answer the knight turned his heel and walked to the stables. While on his way, he motioned Alistair to follow. Beside him, he only stood a foot shorter than Egbert.

"You watched the tournaments?" Alistair nodded. "I want you to mimic the knights' movements when they jousted."

Alistair followed his orders even though he felt unsure to go unguided, the only training he knew with a quintain is using a wooden horse on wheels. He mounted a very tame horse. Egbert gave the fourteen-year-old a lance after he sat comfortably. The horse stepped outside his barrier, the animal's clicks turned it taps as its hooves hit the soft ground. Alistair positioned himself at the starting point. Egbert place himself as far as possible for he knows from experience that first times almost never end well.

Alistair ruffled his short hair, sporting a scared expression. He shot Egbert a nervous glance before Alistair dug his heel letting the horse to rear. The horse charged for the growing quintain. The faster the horse galloped the bigger the spinning device became. His lance collided with his target; it caused the quintain to swing. With his quick reflexes, Alistair ducked the heavy sandbag.

Putting his horse into a halt, he tried to catch his breath.

...

"Come on Darwyn! I know you can climb faster than that!" His muscles flexed as he climbed higher and higher to the steep cliff. Alistair hands grabbed tightly at the rocks.

"It's not fair. We both know that you're taller than me!" His friend foots away from him climbed with ease as he grabbed far rocks any average man can't reach. By now Alistair finished his climb and currently looking down at his struggling friend. His figure grew closer and closer until he reached the top of the cliff. Their long mane of hair flowed through the wind as they gazed at the scenery.

"It's really beautiful here in Novandy." Darwyn declared, trying to ignore his worn-out limbs. They stared at the dawn waiting for the sun to appear and reach its highest. As the sun took its place behind the clouds Alistair turned to his friend with a mischievous glint in his eyes. He looked down at the body water under the steep cliff. He removed his clothes leaving him in his undergarments.

"See you at the bottom." He stepped back and ran to the edge. He took a giant leap and let his body fall. The air rippled his skin as he fell closer to the water. He positioned himself to resemble a sword about stab as he sliced through the water, diving deeply to clear water. Darwyn waited for him to surface. Darwyn grew impatient and started to worry. He called out for Alistair's name. At first no answer, before Darwyn went crazy, a mop of black hair appeared.

"What are you waiting for?" His voice echoed. Instead of just lecturing his friend of how much he worried him, he just mirrored his actions from before.

The splash created by Darwyn's weight made waves of water making Alistair swim back to his previous spot. They raced for while and did a few laps.

"How's Cuthbert treating you? I heard you went with him to battle at north." Alistair asked while trying to float on the strong current.

"Sir Vernon is a very good teacher. Before I got pretty jealous of you when you got the Great Heriet but it seems that Sir Vernon was great himself." He laid flat on the water letting the liquid carry his weight. "It's true; I did get to accompany him to battle. Trust me it was... traumatic." He had a faraway look when he dropped his words. "A lot of people died you know, most where squires. I saw Baul die. You know the one who recently became a squire. He was always the slow one but he never really took the time to improve that – look where it got him. I sent the message to Baul's parents I left immediately because they started crying there's no tomorrow." By now Alistair laid on his back imitating his friend's position. "Novandy and Senexa really hate each other. If they did they would at least care."

"We have to face it. It's not our fault that Senexa's queen found our king more charming than her current. And we can't help that the King of Senexa is a jealous bastard." He turned back to his friend hoping this made him cheer up, but his still wore the same stony expression.

"If I die... Promise me you'll continue. I really don't want you to turn like Baul's family."

"How would you know that I'll cry? You don't know maybe I'll just leave you lying on the ground dyi –"

He was cut off by splash in the face. "I'm being serious here. I know you don't count your family as one, I'm the only you have."

"Let's head back." Alistair said firmly. The man swam back to the shore. Darwyn followed shortly.

"Promise that if I'm gone, make amends with your father." Alistair kept his mouth shut but his eyes showed that he was considering. For ten years of knowing him, he knows this is the best he's going to get.

...

Using a brush, Alistair untangled Altair's mane. The horse's gleaming coat reflected the light shone through the small ray of light. Done grooming the horse, Alistair reached out and grabbed a clean slice of watermelon, Altair's favourite. Together with its rind he fed it to the fair horse. He continued to brush his shiny fur as the animal enjoyed his treat.

"U-ummm... Alistair? The man heard a young boy's voice. He turned around to see a boy of seven years his junior. "I'm here to deliver a message." He handed Alistair a worn envelope. "And Sir Heriet is summoning you." The brown-haired boy left the stables after finishing his errands. Alistair dropped everything he was holding and went outside wondering who the writer is.

He opened the letter.

Dear Alistair,

How are you? I know it's been a while since I've met you. You were only six the last time I've seen you. I know you probably have some other chores to do, especially your knight training, hence I'll make this quick. Your father had become ill, deathly ill. He wishes to see you. Being present for a third of your life, I know you don't have a good relationship with Lord Dufay, but give him a chance, it might be the last time you see him.

You don't have to write back, but at least consider it.

Sincerely,

Thea Danvers

Alistair pocketed the piece of paper and headed towards Egbert.

Three knocks is all it took for the door to swing open. The room was dimly lit with only a few candles lit up for sources of light. Across the room Egbert stood looking out of his window. Hearing the creak of the wooden floor he faced his apprentice. The smell of horse dung radiated from the younger man "I trust that you finished preparing Altair." Alistair stood head to head with the knight. "I need you to put on my armour. There has been news for an attack up north."

Alistair started by getting the armour piece by piece before strapping it on the knight. He looked at the polished metal in front before he laid it down to the nearest table.

He first put on the first piece of the ensemble, the Sabatons. He tied the following parts with leather straps. He worked his way up adding the Cuisses which protected the thigh area. He helped Egbert wore all the metal armour that protected his upper body. Satisfied with the tightness, Alistair later added Gauntlet that arms his hands. Egbert opened and closed his palms to feel the ease of the movement. The back armour was added and Faulds were attached to the breast-plate to cover Egbert's hip, abdomen, and lower back. The Visor later joined the group. The knight awakened every joint he has to feel any sign of difficulty. When pleased with results Alistair covered Egbert's face with his flashing helmet.

The apprentice handed the armed knight his belt already equipped with daggers and his prized sword. The man in shiny clothes picked up his shield displaying the knight's heraldic blazon.

A loud boom destroyed the concentration both men had. Outside the window, chaos rang out. Fire spread through the wooden rooftops. The screams of both genders fuelled the growing catastrophe. Surprise Attack! He watched the foreign knights outnumber Parry's army. Seeing the battle unfold, Alistair sharply turned his head to warn Egbert, but to his dismay, the knight already left.

Alistair looked around frantically for a weapon. He searched Egbert's closed cabinets. When he's mind was set to go unarmed he stumbled upon a familiar sword. Instead of a shining metal he remembered, it was aged with rust.

"May I play with your sword? I've always wanted to hold one."

Not wasting anytime he picked the sword and went straight down to the battlefield.

...

Only in his casual robes he ran into the thick of Senexer knights, ignoring their obvious advantages. He swung his sword like a crazed man, blinded by the instinct to survive. He managed to disarm every enemy he faced later on kill them. He injured five horses but that's wasn't enough for he was outnumbered. He held them off until a sword pierced through his leg.

More knights came from the opposing team. Their flaming coat of arms plastered on their shield popped out of the deranged scene. They entered the battlefield on their horses together in line. Their dark aura only showed that they're here to kill. Seizing the moment, they charged at their Novan enemies, killing anyone in their path sparing no one.

When about to get ran over, crowds of squires burst through the door holding varieties of weapons. Out of the masses of men he picked his blond friend. He sensed Alistair's gaze and nodded at him in return.

The additional skills contributed to the battle making it an equal fight. More flaming objects catapulted to the battlefield loosing valuable knights from each side. Blood stained the ground causing it create an ugly shade of red. More men fell down to the earth below them, some genuinely dead, other faking for survival.

Even with his oozing leg, Alistair continued to fight. Seeing his friend fighting two knights at once he limped towards him to help. He stabbed the knight who was about slice through his friend who currently had his back facing him. The sound of pain synchronized with the moan of the man Darwyn just killed. The duo leaned on each other's back while pointing their swords at the enemies circling them. In long heartbeats Alistair detached himself from his friend and killed all his opponents.

A loud cheer filled Alistair ears as the Senexers forfeited. All the remaining men alive from Senexa ran away before any Novan tried to kill them.

"Did you hear that Darwyn? We won!" He looked at his right expecting to see his friend standing but what he saw made his excitement drop. In the heap of bloodied bodies, a lifeless Darwyn flopped on top.

Alistair immediately dropped to his knees and reached out to his unconscious companion. "Wake up you fool!" He whispered harshly smacking his friend's cheek brutally. Tears sprang out his eyes freely.

Blood spurted out his mouth as he coughed. Thick blond lashes opened revealing his friend's caring blue eyes. "I t-told you... You'd be crying f-for me." Darwyn showed his last smile stained with blood. "Valē, my friend." He closed his eyes permanently.

...

This is it, the finish line of every squire but the beginning of every knight. Alistair walked through across the courtyard to reach his destination. The place was filled with many knights waiting to witness the ceremony. Some were on their saddles while others were on their feet, arms crossed, dressed in full body armour. They showered the seventeen-year-old with attention. Even the horses that normally moved their hooves restlessly stayed quiet.

He turned to the right to see Egbert smiling proudly at the young man. The great hall's occupants flashed their biggest smiles on Alistair ignoring the damages of the battle left.

So far it was everything Alistair dreamed of except for the loss of his dearest friend whom he pictured beside him.

He frowned at the newly cropped hair that took years to grow. The night before, he carefully bathed to wash away all the sins he did. Afterwards, two other younger squires dressed him in white linen robes to symbolize the purity of his body, a red cloak to remind him of the duty to shed blood while defending God, and black stockings to remind Alistair that he won't live forever. He spent the night kneeling before God, praying.

Now here on his knees before Lord Parry he showed his signature toothy grin. He reached for his sword on his belt and rested it on his sides.

"Do you wish to become my man? Lord Parry said.

"I wish it, and I promise to be loyal to God and give him my respect."

"Be worthy, then. I make you my knight." He tapped the shoulder of the young man with the flat of his magnificent sword. His other knights gave him his own sword and spurs. He was finally a knight.

...

After the feast Alistair felt very important. The celebration has made Alistair's body run out of energy, he spent the whole time dancing in the beats of the band and conversing with foreign fellows. After eating everything his stomach could handle he went straight to his bed chambers. Only having a wax candle provide him light, Alistair's feather drenched in ink moved on top of the parchment as he wrote his letter.

Dear, Thea

Right know you'd probably be surprised of my response to your letter. I haven't really connected with the people there. It's true that we haven't met each other in a long time. I remember for the longest time you became my second mother.

As by now you have probably heard the battle here at the manor. I'm proud to say that I survived, though I lost a dear friend. Immediately after the fight, I was dubbed. So you can say I'm an official knight.

I thought about father's condition and I've decided that I will be visiting. He may have been unfair to me, who could blame him. I'm only his second child and I knew about me being mother's cause of death. I'll try my best to not seem disrespectful towards him.

I will be visiting this late June, just right before Oliver's birthday.

I look forward to seeing you soon,

Sir Alistair Dufay

...

"...when the date of his journey arrived he –" I looked over to my son who is now fast asleep. His soft snoring harmonized with the gentle expansion of his chest. His dark hair shone blue under the moonlight. I pulled his quilt higher to cover his body.

"I see that Darwyn is fast asleep." A feminine voice disturbed my thoughts.

Zuzana, my wife leaned against the door frame watching my son and me. The pale moonlight made her green eyes even brighter. Her normally flaming hair died down to auburn.

"Trust me. It took me a long time to shut his eyes." I looked at her nearing figure. Underneath her thin nightgown bore my future child.

"Alistair, let's head back to our quarters. It's quite late." Her standing never left my sight as she spoke words drowsily.

I stroked her cheek dusted with freckles; it was hard to believe she was the same woman who caused me to limp for weeks. "How about you go ahead and I'll just clean up." Zuzana gave me a small nod. She quickly left the room leaving an echo of her yawn.

I turned back to my son sleeping peacefully. "Goodnight."