Chapter 27: Knights

Chapter 27 - KnightsThe Knights with No Lords
Chapter 27 – The Knights With No Lords
By Rock Kitaro

Cups crashed and plates shattered as Morgan fled down the dark corridors like a runaway slave. She dragged down ornamental armor and tipped over chairs all in an attempt to create obstacles but the laugh persisted as if it was always just creeping over her shoulders.

Every time she stopped to throw a fireball down the hallway, it would hit absolutely nothing, lighting up the corridor until it reached a dead end. And just as the scarlet flames fizzled out, she’d see him. The ghostly image of Algayre, with his black hollow eyes, grinning from ear to ear with that creepy smile that flashed all fifty-two of his crooked teeth.

For a moment, he’d just stand there, taunting, toying with her. Then, he’d glide forward with startling speed, standing vertical without any gait as if he was levitating just an inch off the ground with his heels glued together, closing the distance so quickly. Twice now, she was only barely able to dodge the glint of his impaling blade, the glimmer of steel just inches from her face.

Morgan jumped from a window, fully aware of the adjoining rooftop just six feet below. She landed and scraped her knee on something awful. Almost immediately, she picked herself up and continued running along the narrow wind-scraped rooftop, focusing to ignore the perils of plummeting 200 feet into the alleys below.

A sharp pain seared across her right thigh. Algayre had just fired a crossbow, slicing through flesh. The pain was too much. The arrow hit her in midstride so she fell.

Propelled by the forward momentum, Morgan spilled into the nearest open-air terrace and crashed through a wooden table. Her hair was frazzled. Bruises galore. She sat up and gawked at the excruciating gash throbbing from her leg. It hurt to move but she had no choice. The laughter drew near. Thus, she forged on, biting her lip with angry determination.

Morgan entered the 3rd floor of the citadel and spotted two Lothian knights at the end of the corridor. Both had blood on their shields. They seemed strong and eager for more action. Morgan shouted that a villain was after her. And just as she pointed towards the door, there was a flash of gray light. Someone had entered and closed the door.

“Fear not, milady! We’ll handle this!” the knights declared.

One of them charged headlong into darkness and soon screeched out in pain. There was a hard stabbing sound followed by the thud of a body dropped. The second knight ran to avenge his comrade.

Morgan watched in horror as Algayre grabbed the knight’s neck and sliced him six different ways all while smiling at the seventeen-year-old enchantress. He threw a dagger her way and it was out of sheer luck that she managed to evade it by staggering against a pedestal. Blood from the dagger dripped to her cheeks. Morgan snarled with rage.

“YA!” she shouted with the hurled a fireball.

The grinning Algayre held out his open palm. The fire vanished inches from contact. Morgan threw another and another but it had no affect. Algayre’s own magic intercepted the flames. Each time Morgan summoned her magic, it exhausted her, bringing her closer to fatigue and dehydration. It got to the point where she felt light-headed and saw double vision. Algayre laughed.

“All witches must die!” he hissed.

Again he came at her, levitating off the ground.

“AYE!” Morgan yelped as she dashed into the connecting corridor.

Hobbling as fast as she could with blood, sweat, and tears draining from her face, Morgan raced for the nearest open window. Algayre was right behind her, so close that he could reach out and wrap his entire arm around her neck.

“AHHH!!!” Morgan screamed as she threw herself out another window.

This window was unfamiliar. She didn’t know if she’d splatter on a roof, a body of water, or the streets below. Anything was better than death by Algayre. She flailed through the air for what seemed like an eternity until finally her back hit a cushioned surface. Her lungs bounced as if she just was body-slammed and it took a few seconds to regain her bearings.

By some miracle, Morgan had plummeted eighty feet and landed in a wagon full of sheep’s wool. As she gulped and struggled to breathe, her weary eyes gazed up to the third floor window she jumped from. Algayre leaned out of the window with that haunting smirk and it pissed her off to no end.

Still dazed and gaping for air, Morgan instinctively rolled out of the wagon and plopped to her knees. She was in the Northern Ward. There was still fighting going on in the plaza, the commerce district where tradesmen and artisans had taken up arms to drive out the enemy intruders. Common citizens were pushing back the Hibernians. The Lothians formed a line by which they continued to sweep north towards the main gate.

Morgan peered through the chaos, searching for someone, anyone with a familiar face. Her eyes stopped at the front door of the citadel. She couldn’t believe it. Somehow Algayre managed to come down from the third floor to the front entrance in a matter of seconds.

“NO!” she shouted.

Morgan cringed from the pain as she hustled for the northern gate. This time, Algayre didn’t levitate. He took off in a full sprint, throwing his arms forward with each stride like a trained Olympian.

The open lot in front of the castle’s northern gate was where the violence was at its worse. Over 200 men-at-arms clashed swords and banged shields like a mosh pit with no single discernable knight standing out. Everyone was swinging and yelling. Blood and severed limbs littered the scene.

Morgan hesitated only for a moment before she dashed in and took her chances. She kept her low and weaved through the thick of it, bouncing off of men like a farm girl caught between giant pigs during a feeding.

Suddenly, a loud bang echoed from the ruckus. A large Cornish knight just took a massive blow from a hammer and fell backwards onto Morgan. Her chest hit the ground with a muddy splatter that blinded her eyes. The weight of the knight sunk her further into the soil. And as he picked himself up, he stepped on Morgan’s wounded thigh with his metal boot. It was like an explosion of hot acid ruptured in her hip. Morgan unleashed an intense scream with veins bulging from her neck.

Sweat and tears trailed down her grimy face as Morgan elbowed her way along the ground until she came upon a dead man whose eyes locked with hers. The man’s eyes suddenly moved, looking past Morgan almost if to warn her. She rolled to her side and there was Algayre, standing over her with a rapier in one hand, a dagger in the other.

Morgan scurried back like a cat from water and limped as fast as she could. Algayre was elated. He knew Morgan couldn’t go far. He pursued her in a steady march, slaying everyone who got in his way.

At last, the open gate was in sight. Morgan flattened her back against a paved wall and screamed desperately over the intense fighting, “VEBBY!”

“Lady Morgana?” said Sir Keddel.

Morgan turned with shock. She didn’t recognize the voice or the knight.

“What are you doing here? We have to get you out of here,” said Sir Keddel.

The Cornish knight took Morgan by the arm and began escorting her through the mob. Two more knights recognized what was happening and raised their shields to protect them.

A long arm slipped through the crease of their shields. Algayre yanked a man’s chin and slit his throat. The second knight swung at Algayre, but Algayre used his power of illusions to replicate three versions of himself. The knight’s sword cut through one of those versions like an apparition of thin air. Before he realized what happened, Algayre drove his sword through the bewildered knight’s back.

“Not today, vermin!” shouted Sir Keddel.

Sir Keddel made a downward sweep aimed at Algayre’s forehead but stopped mid-swing, anticipating Algayre would cast his illusion tricks. He was right. Algayre multiplied into three clones and Sir Keddel adjusted by changing his vertical cut into a diagonal slice. Algayre blocked the slice and grunted with annoyance. Sir Keddel proved to be more than just a middling swordsman.

As Sir Keddel fenced with Algayre, a wave of groans and outrage erupted from the mob. Morgan turned to see her gray spackled horse carving through the midst of the rabble. Morgan slung over Vebby’s saddle just as Algayre was removing his rapier from Sir Keddel’s chest.

“YOU’RE MINE!” Algayre blared.

“Yah!” Morgan yelped.

She spurred northbound through the castle gates and out onto the city streets. Within seconds, Algayre was behind her, mounted on his own horse and picking up speed. Despair sunk in. Algayre would follow her straight to hell if need be and she was out of ideas.

Just then, she spotted a robin hovering above. With one hand gripping the reins, Morgan raised her right ruby jewels. The robin swooped down and latched to her fingertips.

“Find Gawain. Help me. Come to the cove. Go!”

“Damn! What do we have to do?” Agravain shouted.

In the market plaza just west of the palace where residents would convene around an exquisite stone fountain, an exhausted Pellinore and Agravain had backed the monster into a corner. A gathering of their peers, young boys and girls, were watching in awe from the 2nd and 3rd floor walkways.

Pellinore and Agravain glossed with sweat. Every joint and muscle in their bodies burned. Morholt was bleeding from head to tow. Gashes were split open all over his body like stripes on a tiger. Still, he stood soldierly with two swords in hand. Each breath he drew sounded like the grind of a grain mill, but still he was ready to mount another assault.

Just as he reared for another charge, an arrow whistled by and penetrated his heart. Agravain looked over his shoulder to see Gaheris perched on the shoulders of a marble statue.

“ARR!!!” Constantine shouted as he led Kersey and the four lancers in to attack.

Morholt swung at them in a wild erratic fashion, but he was too disoriented to make aim. Agravain and Pellinore stood back and watched while Constantine hacked at the monster’s chest, as Kersey and his boys drove their lances into Morholt’s massive girth. When they had the monster back against the wall, the lancers gave a forceful heave to nail him in place.

Barely coherent, Morholt raised his right arm to swing. Gaheris fired an arrow to pin the hand into the wall. Morholt raised his left arm to swing. Again, Gaheris let sail to pin the left hand against the wall.

Morholt was crucified and skewered but he kept struggling.

Gaheris leaped from the statue and came to stand between Pellinore and Agravain. In a fast relentless cycle, Gaheris put four more arrows into Morholt’s chest until his quiver was empty. He then broke the bow over his knee, furious that he couldn’t keep shooting. Agravain smirked. It was good to see he wasn’t so different from his brother after all.

At last, Morholt resigned and acknowledged his defeat. His exasperated breaths came in short gulps. His beer-stained eyes scanned the plaza before a perplexed look befell him. He couldn’t believe Pellinore and Agravain caused so much damage. They were all so young. To the monster, it didn’t make sense.

“What are you? You can’t be humans?” Morholt wheezed.

Gaheris stepped forward with an attitude that would make Morgan proud.

“We’re the Knights with no Lords, you bastard! The world is ours and it’s high time you relics bowed down before your superiors,” he declared.

His comrades were impressed. Constantine’s heightened brows seemed painted in place to hear such surprising remarks from the one guy in their clique who was known to keep his cool.

Pellinore approached with his long serrated sword resting over his shoulder. “Knights with No Lords. I like that,” he grunted.

In a sudden burst of ruthless aggression, Pellinore clutched his sword with both hands and spun for a flat horizontal swing. It was a magnificent execution. His speed and power kicked up a gust of air that blew at branches nearby. Spectators moaned and groaned, some with disgust, others with praise.

“That was for Tristan and my brothers. Black Blood for life,” Pellinore said just as Kanish and Balto arrived.

The battle was over. Tintagel had rallied to defeat the Hibernians. A moment of silence washed over the entire castle as everyone stood back and reflected on why such blood had to be spilt.

“Where’s Gawain?” Agravain asked.

With a heavy heart, Gaheris looked up to the clearing sky. The gray clouds had rolled on. The sun was now shining with an optimistic true blue filling the ocean above.

“Where do you think?” He groaned.

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