Liam didn’t think he’d ever been more nervous. The heat inside the helmet was stifling.
How can they stand this? Liam thought.
In Brightcrest they never wore helmets, as there the knights believed that showing the pride and loyalty was more important than protection, for the gods would determine whether a knight died that day or not. Jousts were on the other hand more dangerous without a helmet, Liam reflected as he heard the crowd cheer loudly as another knight was knocked out of the saddle.
The heavily sleeping body of a knight lay next to where he stood.
Liam just hoped that the enchantment would last long enough for him to disappear off again before anyone noticed that two duplicate knights were running around, and that the knight he’d chosen wasn’t pathetic at jousting. Suspicions would be raised if a knight suddenly became good at jousting for a day.
A trumpet sounded, and the name “Sir Vidor!” was shouted out.
Heart pounding, Liam climbed onto his horse, reminding himself that he was a knight, and that he just had to copy Blayze, who seemed like a good example. Proudly, he sat on his chestnut steed, and spotted through the visor of the helmet Rethik sitting in the crowd. He took a deep breath. He could do this. He could pull this off.
The opponent, another knight, was raising his lance up in the air, making the crowd go wild. Another trumpet blast, and the knight that was showing off lowered his lance at Liam, who did the same. Then, at the same time, they spurred their horses on and charged. For Brightcrest! Liam thought. The other was aiming carefully, and Liam could see immediately that he was good at this, so instead of aiming for his chest, Liam aimed at his lance.
Both lances splintered and broke, sending wood chips everywhere.
Coming to a stop, Liam turned his horse around, and faced the other knight, who was by now where Liam had only a moment ago stood. Liam was so busy looking around that he didn’t notice the servant until he was being prodded by the new lance. Glad that his blush could go unseen, the warlock exchanged his now broken lance for the new one.
Now he was wishing he’d practiced jousting more as they charged again. This time round Liam remembered the time where Blayze, who was a champion at jousting, had ducked his opponent’s weapon by flattening himself to his horse, and tilting his lance upwards. That move had sent the other knight flying, but Liam had never mastered it, even though he was very good at jousting.
He tried it anyway.
He certainly avoided the other’s lance, but completely missed the other knight. When he stopped and turned again, he realized that the other knight had completely fallen of his saddle while charging at him and missing, and was now being dragged around by his panicked horse. Servants were desperately trying to catch it.
Liam suppressed a small smile at this.
He’d done it. For now.
The rest of the joust was better now that Liam had gotten over his nervousness. The crowd went wild for him as he defeated the other knights, and he was also getting better at jousting now that he knew what he was doing.
Now it was closing into the finals, and he was up against a knight called Sir Gwaine. This made him nervous again, as he’d watched how the knight had defeated all the others, except Sir Arthur and the other two knights left. Realizing he was holding his breath, he let it out again, and focused on breathing.
“Come on, Liam. You can do this.” He found himself muttering over and over. Pushing his helmet back on, and climbing onto his horse, Liam now faced Gwaine, who hadn’t even put his helmet on yet and was joking and laughing with some other knights.
Liam’s stomach clenched. If this had been Brightcrest, then he would’ve been doing the same with his friends, but this was Camelot. He hadn’t even been invited to joust here. Suddenly he felt terribly guilty at what he’d done. It wasn’t right. But he couldn’t back out now.
Bracing himself, Liam sat upright in his saddle, busying himself with the reins of his horse.
A tingling feeling went through his body.
That was not good.
The real Sir Vidor had woken up, and now he looked just like he always did, with slightly long dark brown hair, and pale green eyes. He trembled slightly, praying that Sir Vidor wouldn’t come bursting in on the jousting field.
“Rethik. He’s woken up.” He thought. In the stands he saw his friend stand up and leave. Hopefully he would be able to stop Sir Vidor alerting anyone in time.
As they got ready to charge, Liam’s heart pounded quicker. What he wanted most right now was to have this over with.
Finally, they charged.
Narrowing his eyes, Liam pretended to be aiming, but was in fact preparing to, in the last possible moment, knock the other’s lance away and hit him. Out of the corner of his eye, he suddenly saw Sir Vidor, running towards the jousting field.
“That’s not Sir Vidor!”
“But he’s right there!”
“Sir Vidor’s right there, but who is that who’s jousting then?”
Then the loudest of them all.
“STOP THE FIGHT!”
This distracted Liam, and Gwaine’s lance struck him clean in the chest.
Pain exploded there where he had been hit, and he felt himself falling sideways out of the saddle. Everything was blurry when his head hit the ground, hard, but somehow Liam managed to stay conscious, and even more surprisingly, calm. His foot was stuck in the stirrup, so he loosened it. Now that he wasn’t being dragged along, Liam realized something was terribly wrong. His helmet was missing.
Shouts came again, but they sounded distant.
“Who is that?”
“He’s not a knight of Camelot!”
“Kill him!” came the most savage one. But Liam was already drifting away into unconsciousness. The last thing he saw was the man who he and Rethik had met in the forest.