Published by Neil Smith at Shakespir
Copyright 2017 by Neil Smith
It was a bright sunny day, sunlight cast itself down on the road, with the trees on the sides of the road swaying in sweet mutual song to the received sunlight. Aaron rode atop his brown and white-spotted horse Duster. He petted his horse’s mane and then hailed the guards of Sunhammer who let him in based on familiarity, this time he was ready to participate in the annual sword fighting tournament that the city was hosting. Fae, the red-haired baker whom he was in love with, came rushing out of her baker’s shop to greet Aaron in the most rushed manner.
“You’ve been gone for hours out there.” she said surprised.
“To get meat.” he stopped his horse and returned with a switch of the inventory to the cooked meat.
“Who needs meat when you got bread?” she raised up a loaf of bread in her hand.
“I know. You’ll never stop trying to get me to buy your bread, huh, sweets?” he smiled purposely at her.
“It’s the way of things, I suppose. A lass can’t stop trying, can she?” she bit down on the bread and ate it unceremoniously, “So you’re going to the tournament? It’s the only reason I can imagine that you’d visit a big city like Sunhammer, you know, besides seeing me.” she said as she chewed a mouthful of bread.
“You know I’d come here just for you, but right now I’m here to collect the diamond prize of the tournament.” he started riding his horse forward into the city, with Fae walking by his side, catching disdainful looks from the townspeople, who all too often didn’t like Aaron, since he looked like a bandit from the outside.
“You are quite the rogue, Aaron; dashing a girl’s hopes like that.” she said as she walked.
“Not my fault. It’s you who liked me in the first place. Duh.” he laughed afterward.
“No need to be cruel, there are plenty of other boys if you are asking me to see them.” she did a little twirl around to see other people, mainly if other boys were watching, as she walked.
Duster neighed at her expression on her flustered face.
“Oh, no. No. It’s quite alright. I could never let you go, my Fae. Sorry to have stirred you.” he smiled reassuringly and reached his hand out at her.
“You’re gosh darn right that you’re sorry, hmph. I’ll cheer for the other guy at the tournament. I hope he smacks you good with his sword, too.” she walked into the entrance of Aaron’s horse shop, with Aaron setting Duster into his stable along with the other horses, before going in to meet with Fae.
“Can I interest you in buying a horse, my fair maiden?” Aaron said snidely.
“Oh, trying to get back at me for my offer of bread. I wager I get more customers daily than you do in a lifetime.” she retorted.
“Such sadness. Much wow.” he replied.
“I hope you’ve brought some armor. I heard the knights of Sunhammer will be decked in diamond armor at the tournament.” she pointed out as she looked around his shop for weapons and armor.
“All I have is a wooden sword and leather armor.” he said in disappointment.
“You’re going to get yourself killed! Call it off.”
“I can’t. I need to at least try. Maybe then the people here will love me.”
“You already have my love! Don’t be a fool.” she rushed at him with arms and held him.
“I know. I know. But it couldn’t hurt to have a little more fame.” he kept her close.
He stepped apart from her, the tournament was getting nearer. He had to prepare. Fae left out the door, “I still hope you lose a heart or two at the tournament to teach you a lesson.”
“Some inspiration, you are, my love!” he shouted out after her.
Day turned to evening and it was time for the tournament. Aaron stared at his equipment chest, knowing he was going into a losing fight, then he slipped on his leather armor and took out his wooden sword, heading down to the tournament arena. The cobblestone boxed castle arena was giant with guests seated high above watching the thirty-something participants in the fighter’s pit duke it out. An exchange of sword clashes were seen from fierce fighters in the free-for-all. The fighter’s official waved him in, and soon Aaron was standing outside in the arena with the crowd cheering. Each person had one introduction, saying a one-liner or doing curtsies. Aaron’s one-liner was, “I will NOM NOM your hearts.” drawing cheers from the crowd, with Fae laughing, shaking her head. Practically every fighter here was either in iron armor or diamond armor, and had a matching sword to boot.
“Maybe you should go home. This place is only for the strong.” asserted Elder Knight Walter, “We’ll make quick work of you.”
“You think I won’t win? That’s to be decided.” boasted Aaron.
“There’s no doubt in my mind.” said Elder Knight Walter in a quiet humorous manner.
The match had begun and the fighters charged towards each other, swinging their swords. Many fell in the fight. Aaron tried a jumping tactic, getting close and then jumping back swinging, he danced around the opposition and had swung his sword as they kept trying to catch up with him. After a while, the fighters were defeated to his tactic, unbelievably. The crowd was in awe. Aaron was proclaimed the winner and awarded the diamond block. Fae rushed over to give him a kiss.
“See, I did win. And now they love me.” he said to her, waving to the crowd.
“It isn’t all about the affection of the crowd. You still have me to attend to.” she kept kissing.
“That I do.” he smiled and kissed her back.
Princess Erina approached, “Well, if it isn’t the grand winner. Perhaps you’d like to spend time with me instead?”
“Hands off, Princess. He’s with me.” Fae returned.
“I was just stating that he could do better for himself, with an upgrade is all.” Princess Erina kept going on about herself.
“Uh, hi, Princess Erina, not bad seeing you.” Aaron managed.
“Not bad seeing you win. And I like being with the best. Maybe you’ll come to see things my way.” Princess Erina informed.
“Stop trying to seduce my boyfriend, princess. I’m all he’ll ever need.” Fae took Aaron by his arm and hurried him away to his horse shop.
“It’s all right, sweets. If someone likes me, they can’t help it. For real.” Aaron explained.
“You say those words, but I don’t believe you. You have a problem with people liking you. That doesn’t extend to girls.” Fae countered.
“Princess Erina sure is pretty.” Aaron shrugged.
“And I’m not pretty? Are you trying to anger me, Aaron? I love you dearly. There are certain limits to what two people can entertain, and another girl in the picture is not happening.” Fae said fiercely.
“I must be an idiot then. I can’t help but see the benefits. How about I make it up to you? Let’s go for a boat ride.” Aaron said as he gave her a small wooden boat from his inventory.
“Let’s go then. I’ve had enough talking about the stuck-up Princess Erina. Sheesh.” Fae replied.
They went for a romantic boat trip at the lake outside of Sunhammer, gliding water on their two boats under the moonlight. When they returned to town their goofy friend Potion Merchant Stevens came running to them, “Princess Erina has been kidnapped by bandits. You need to come help. The knights have been dispatched and everyone else has been asked to pitch in with the search effort.”
“I’ll find her.” Aaron readied his sword.
“Not alone, you won’t.” Fae took out her bow and arrow, “We do this together.”
“Can risk losing me, can you, Fae?” asked Aaron.
“You know it.” said Fae.
“I’ll join.” Potion Merchant Stevens raised up a stick.
“Good enough.” said Aaron.
Aaron retrieved the horses Duster, Merry, and Spin from the stables, and soon him, Fae, and Potion Merchant Stevens were riding out of town to search for the princess in the middle of darkness. They passed grasslands, went over mountains, and encountered a few skeletons and creepers, dealing with them quickly on horseback. They followed the traditional signs for tracking a person down, looking at open spots on the map. Soon, they found the bandits camp, their presence alerted the bandits, who quickly surrounded the princess.
“Give us your valuables, or the princess gets hurt.” said the bandit leader.
“Okay.” said Aaron as he got off his horse and then tossed the diamond block to the bandit leader.
“Great stuff. She’s all yours.” the bandit leader motioned the princess forward, who came running into Aaron’s arms, kissing him.
“I knew you’d come for me.” she kept on kissing as he barely held her, shrugging at Fae.
“Hey! No kissing. No holding.” Fae grimaced.
Aaron gently pushed the princess aside, letting her take his horse Duster, while he walked on the way back to Sunhammer.
“She must be starving, that Princess Erina.” addressed Potion Merchant Stevens.
“Here. You should eat.”Aaron handed her a cooked porkchop, which she began eating right away.
“Delicious. Thank you.” thanked Princess Erina.
“All this trouble for one princess. And what did we get out of it, one lost diamond block. Pfft.” Aaron retorted.
“Not to worry. My father will make you all knights for this. You’ll get to see more of me in perpetual servitude!” went on Princess Erina.
“A knighthood? Could be good. Could be bad.” wondered Aaron.
“Oh, dear. The knights will steal us away indefinitely.”said Fae.
When they returned to Sunhammer, they stabled their horses and then drew cheers from the local people as they approached the castle of Sunhammer. Once in the throne room, King Seward hugged Princess Erina, and then greeted Aaron, Fae, and Potion Merchant Stevens, “You have my sincere thanks for saving my daughter. Rarely have a few ever managed to engage themselves in royal affairs.” King Seward turned to his daughter, “What would they like in return?”
“Make them knights! Make them knights!” cheered Princess Erina.
“Oh, okay then. As king, I now take you three as knights of Sunhammer, and don’t let the life and death thing scare you, it’s the boring menial tasks, such as guarding that will be worrisome, I assure you.” joked King Seward.
“Now, I’m a favorable knight. I’ll be famous across all the cities.” said Aaron.
Fae bonked Aaron across the backside of his head, “Don’t let it go to your head, will you?”
“Ow.” said Aaron, rubbing his head.
“Much appreciated, your highness.” said Potion Merchant Stevens as the three of them bowed and then left the castle.
“That went amazingly well. Maybe next time we’ll get the castle.” said Aaron as they walked back to their homes.
The next day, Princess Erina came to Aaron’s horse shop.
“What can I do for you, princess?” asked Aaron.
“I just had to see you, with the royal ball coming up.” said Princess Erina.
“Oh.” said Aaron.
“I need someone to dance with. And I thought about my heroic savior: you.” explained Princess Erina.
“I might have to talk to Fae about that.” said Aaron.
“Talk. But when I see you there. We’ll dance.” confirmed Princess Erina.
Princess Erina left, and Aaron was left wondering if he would take up Princess Erina on the offer to dance. She was obviously trying to get with him, but he already had Fae. It wouldn’t be bad to end up with a princess, but he knew Fae much longer, and she’s always been there for him. Aaron approached Fae about going to the royal ball with him instead, “Would you mind joining me for a dance at the royal ball?”
“I’d be delighted, Aaron.” Fae smiled.
They went to the royal ball and the mass in attendance danced away to the beat of music discs. Aaron and Fae started dancing in sync with the music, looking stunning. As the music pace increased, Princess Erina butted in, pushing Fae aside, so it was just the princess and Aaron dancing.
“Hey!” shouted Fae.
“I’m so glad you could make it, Aaron. Shall I tell you a secret?” she danced along with him.
“Which would be?” Aaron questioned.
“My heart desires you. I even had those awful bandits kidnap me to get your attention.” Princess Erina leaned on him.
“Whaaaaaaat?” exclaimed Aaron.
“It’s all true. I can’t deny that there’s something between us. There has to be something between us. Understand?” Princess Erina stressed.
“I really don’t need this in my life.” eased Aaron.
“If you can’t think of me, think of the rest. We’d make the ultimate power couple. Your expert swordsmanship and my beautiful grace. What’s not to like?” Princess Erina advanced.
“You know that sounds a lot to my liking.” reassured Aaron.
“Aaron!” Fae grabbed Aaron by the hand and hurried out of the royal ball with him.
“Are you going to see her?” asked Fae, on the verge of tears.
“I might. With the way you’ve been acting. Always knocking me down.” said Aaron.
“It’s just the way I am. How I was raised. I’m from the wilds. I didn’t start in a city like you.” Fae started crying and left.
“Show a little more mettle, girl.” called out Aaron before he headed back to the royal ball to be with Princess Erina. Princess Erina smiled proudly, “It seems you’ve made the proper choice for yourself.”
“Yeah. I’m a dreamer for sure.” He leaned in and kissed Princess Erina.