Chapter Twelve

Edward and Aurelie arrived and got situated in their thrones on the nobles' side of the tournament field. Moments after they sat, Edward reached over and took her hand in his. She looked over at him. He smiled, and what could she do but smile in return? His was such a beautiful smile that it made her smile.

The first herald walked out to the centre of the field and began to speak. He looked quite familiar. She was sure that she had seen him before. He had fair hair and tan skin. He wore a black doublet over a dirty yellow tunic. Adhemar!

"My lords, my ladies, and all you other people, I give you the son of Phillip Dimitri, son of Gile de Champagne, Master of the Free Companies," he kept on talking, but Aurelie stopped listening. It was Adhemar. She was sure of it.

Down at the field, William was fully sheathed in his armour and atop his horse, ready to compete. "It's a small target, Will, but aim for his heart," Geoff said, handing him the lance.

Adhemar's herald continued to address William's enemy as William himself looked up at the nobles' seats for Jocelyn. Christiane was there. She caught his eye and shook her head. He was not there.

It was then that he noticed that a woman sat by Edward's side. Her hair was brilliant gold and her skin seemed to match the hue. He could not see her eye colour from this distance. She was quite beautiful. Her thin body was covered by a white dress with a fur trim. A ring flashed on her finger in the light of the sun. She was Edward's fiancé. She looked so absolutely familiar, but he did not know why.

The two knights put their helmets on and lowered their visors in place to protect their eyes. The flag bearer walked out into the centre of the flag, preparing to run from the centre. He looked between the two knights. One's armour shone like steel while the other's was black. Both seemed prepared, so he pulled the heavy flag up and ran off the field, out of the way of the knights.

The two horses, brown and black, began to gallop along the fence toward the other side. Each knight lowered his lance to point directly at the oncoming knight. Their muscles tensed as their foes approached. They met, and Adhemar smashed his lance against William's armour, shattering it. The fans of Adhemar yelled all the more loudly and vigourously while William's supporters groaned in dismay. Adhemar was awarded one lance, while William had none.

William's group ran over to the other side of the field to him after he had not ridden back. A large chunk of the wood was embedded in his shoulder.

"Oh, God! I'll fetch the surgeon," Roland said, looking at the large piece of wood.

"Roland! You're the surgeon now!" William insisted. He had to compete. He had to win.

Reluctantly, Roland took hold of the piece of wood with one hand and braced William's shoulder with the other. He swiftly tugged it out so that it would not cause more damage than necessary.

His team looked at the chunk of wood, the sharpened chunk of wood. "He's tipped it," Kate said, recognizing the work.

"Kate, get me back to one. Get me back to one or we forfeit," William said through gasps of pain.

Watt was left standing there with the bloody chunk of wood. He and Geoff looked down at it aghast. "Dirty son of a bitch!" Watt said.

Back up with the nobles, Aurelie was worriedly peering out to see what had happened to her brother. As soon as she saw the large chunk of wood in his shoulder, she had gasped and covered her mouth with her hand.

"He'll be alright. He'll be alright," Edward said comfortingly to her. He rubbed her hand with his thumb soothingly.

Again the two knights prepared to ride at each other. William breathed hard with both exertion and pain. His opponent seemed calm and focused.

Again the flag was raised and they rode forward. The crowd cheered for them, egging them on. Moments before they collided, William dropped his lance from weakness. His supporters gasped while Adhemar's supporters cheered all the more fervently. They met, and Adhemar's lance broke against William's armour again.

Up in the stands, Aurelie was getting more and more concerned for her brother. Right after that round, a man in a dirty tunic felt his way to sit on the other side of Christiane. He was blind. Following him, Jocelyn sat, ready to watch her love compete.

"Father?" Aurelie asked. The blind man turned toward the sound of her voice.

"Aurelie? Is that you?" he asked.

"Yes, father," she said, reaching out to take his hand.

He felt his way along her hand, but stopped when he found the ring. "Oh, so there was a man," he said jokingly. His voice turned serious and he said, "I shall have to meet him."

"Actually, I'm here," Edward said.

"Sir, you sound quite similar to-"

"Prince Edward?" Aurelie asked.

"Yes," her father said.

"That would be because I am Prince Edward," he said, smiling.

"Oh! I sent you off to France, Aurelie, and you come back engaged to the Prince of Whales!" her father exclaimed in surprise.

William rode only to the other side of the barrier. His friends ran over to him again. As they approached, he said in anguish,
"Kate, I can't breathe. I can't breathe." The blacksmith began to remove plates from his armour.

Adhemar rode over to them, his air haughty and proud as usual. He raised the visor of his helmet and said, "As I said, Thatcher, in what world could you have ever beaten me?"

Geoff walked over, interrupting him. "She's here, and so is your father," he said.

Will looked up and over at where Christiane had been sitting. She was still sitting there, but Jocelyn sat near there as well as his father.

His father was talking with the woman by Prince Edward's side, holding her hand fondly. "Geoff... that's Aurelie..." he said, looking at her in wonder. She looked like such a lady!

"What?" Geoff exclaimed, whipping around to look up.

As Geoff looked up at Aurelie in wonder, relief, and admiration, William returned his attention to Adhemar. "Let's dance, you and I," he said.

"Two lances to none. You must unhorse him or kill him. It's the only way to win," Roland said as he led the horse and William back to the starting side with his friends walking alongside.

As soon as they had stopped, Kate took off the armour. "You need more padding," she said in concern.

"No, leave it off. I can't breathe with it on," William said, catching his breath. He tried to move his arm through the pain, but there was no relief to that pain except time and rest. "Lance," he said.

Watt lifted up the lance for him to take. The second William tried to lift, he said, "No. I can barely grip it." He looked at the lance, trying to think of an idea. "Lash it to my arm," he said. Watt looked concerned at that. "Watt, lash it to me arm," William said again.

Watt looked over at Roland, unsure if he should or not. Roland nodded and said, "Do as he says."

Over by the trumpeters, Geoff paced back and forth in concern. He looked over to the rest of his group and say Watt tying the lance to William's arm. The flag bearer was going out to start another round, and William was not nearly ready.

Geoff ran up the steps into the nobles' sitting area. "Good people!" he shouted as he jumped up onto the railing. "I missed my introduction!" The crowd cheered at that, and the flag bearer let the flag rest on the ground as he waited.

"But please, please, I pray you, hear it now. For I would lay rest the grace in my tongue and speak plainly. Days like these are far too rare to cheapen with heavy handed words. And so, I'm afraid that without any ado whatsoever," he yelled. "Excuse me, my Lord, Aurelie," he spoke, stepping onto the armrests of their wooden thrones. "Here he is! One of your own, born a stone's throw from this very stadium, and here before you now, the son of John Thatcher, Sir William Thatcher!" The crowd began to cheer loudly at this.

"That's your name, Will. Sir William Thatcher. Your father and Aurelie heard that," Watt said to William as the crowd began to chant 'William'.

"Godspeed, William," Geoff whispered as he jumped down from his perch.

The flag went up at the two horses charged forward.

As his horse galloped toward his opponent, William yelled, "WILLIAM!" The two met at the centre, and William thrust his arm forward with such force that even as his lance shattered, Adhemar went tumbling off his horse.

Adhemar blacked out and hallucinated of a blue sky with clouds on it. Watt walked up, leaned over him and said, "You have been weighed."

Roland walked up and leaned over him as well. "You have been measured," he said.

"And you absolutely," Kate said, leaning over him as well.

"Have been found wanting," Geoff said, leaning over him as well.

"Welcome to the new world," William said, leaning over him and smiling.

"God save you, if it is right that he should do so," Aurelie said, leaning over him as well.

All of them stood up and walked away, and the hallucination ended.

"YES!" Edward and Aurelie yelled as one. The turned towards each other and kissed.

\ "He's won! He's won!" Jocelyn said to Will's father in joy.

"YES!" the rest of the group yelled, running toward Will.

The crowd cheered and chanted his name.

Even Adhemar's own herald smiled and clapped along with them.

Jocelyn ran down to the field, straight to William. The kissed, and the crowd cheered even louder.

Kate, Geoff, Watt, and Roland leaned against the barrier, watching. As they did, Geoff said, "I think I'll have to write some of this story down."

"Like that part about the prince? And the knights? And you falling in love with Aurelie?"

"All of it," Geoff said, nodding. "All human activity lies within the artist's scope. Maybe not yours," he said, looking at Watt.

Watt smiled, laughed, and put an arm around Chaucer's shoulders like a brother.