Chapter 2:

A King, A Knight, A Challenge


Jude, the king of Mercia, had perched on a highchair along with his wife and other important officials of the royal court. Men and women dressed in colorful dresses and masks danced on the glossy floor. The ball was arranged every year by the king to celebrate his birthday. He invited nobility from all over the empire.

 Some guests maintained their dignity. Some engaged in pretentious talks, and some lost their senses to alcohol and behaved like animals. Still, it was a lively event everyone looked forward to either drinking expensive royal wine or showing off their privileged lives.

The guards posted to guard the event wanted to bask in the glamour and splendor, but they are, after all, commoners. They won't experience such a thing and will always stay where they belong. Outside the castle, the moonlight shone on the silver helmets of spear wilding guardsmen who shivered in the relentless cold of the winter night. The guard with a messy dark beard turned to his pock faced companion and said, 

"You know today is my birthday,"

"Good for you," the other guard replied.

"Yet here I am guarding in this damn cold on one day I am supposed to be comfortable,"

"What would you do if you got the day off?"

"I would probably rest all day and taste the special lamb stew my wife makes every year."

"It is probably the only day my beautiful wife doesn't want to rip my heart off," He laughed but his laughter got cut short when he heard the footsteps and iron clanking. An armored figure donning a round hole less helmet emerged out of the darkness with an unsheathed long sword, held by both of his iron gauntlet covered hands.

"Stop right there, stranger," The bearded soldier ordered, and the armored figure stopped and took a long stance.

" Fuck, it's an intruder," the guards circled the figure. The archers at the castle's walls rushed to the walls of the entrance after hearing the shouting. They aimed at the armored figure to shoot. The pock-faced soldier tried to pierce the knees of the intruder. The intruder moved out of the way and thrust his sword at the back of the pock-faced soldier. The archers released their drawn arrows, and they struck the armor and bounced away. The bearded soldier thrust his spear forward. The armored figure with one swift cut chopped it in half. The guard unsheathed the dagger, but the armored figure with quickly decapitated the bearded guard and the guard's head rolled on the ground, leaving a trail of blood. 

The archers rained the arrows, and not one of them managed to pierce the armor. The armored figure entered the castle and climbed the stairs. The archers fired at the figure, and again not one of them managed to put a dent in his armor.

The figure moved slowly, killed the archers one by one, beheaded them, cut their stomachs open, chopped their arms off. It was a brutal fight, and the armored figure was miraculously unharmed and emerged victorious. The armored figure chased a soldier who ran into the ballroom. He in front of everyone chopped him in half, albeit the soldier was fully armored. The guards charged at him only to be cut down by his sword. He got through them, cutting them like fabric.

"How dare you!" The king bellowed and unsheathed his sword. The armored figure then spoke in a voice that didn't sound masculine or feminine. It was a demonic voice that was unbearable to hear the embodiment of suffering.

"Your grace," he said and paused for a few seconds and continued,

"I am the faceless knight who bothered your men these past few months. I am here to challenge you to a duel,"

"Who are you?" The king asked. The king was a handsome middle-aged man with blonde hair and ocean-blue eyes. "I told you who I am,"

"Remove that strange helmet and reveal yourself, intruder,"

"Eleven months from now, you will come alone to the forest of mazes and fight me. All you need to do is to disarm me, and I will reveal myself to you and prevent a disaster,"

"A disaster? "Blood flowed through the queen's nose and ears. "What did you do!" The emperor bellowed, 

"She will be fine within a few moments. If you don't come to me eleven months from now, your entire empire built from blood and tears will face a similar disease but remember next time I won't be so merciful." The armored figure answered with a cold calm tone.

"Eleven months? No! I will end your life here and now," The armored figure, with one swing, cut the king's sword in half and knocked his teeth out by hitting him with the sword hilt.

"I will be waiting for you," he whispered and immediately his body turned into ashes and landed on the ground. The king glared at it while gripping his fallen teeth.

Joe Gold