23. Sweet Sap

As Sir Balin continued north on the highway on foot, he was soon caught up to by Sir Lanceor and his maiden, Lady Colombe. They were seated upon the same horse.

“Halt, criminal!” Sir Lanceor shouted at Sir Balin’s back.

Sir Balin sighed, then turned about to face the both of them. Behind them, Sir Lanceor’s halfling squire Truonq rode up and dismounted.

Sir Lanceor also dismounted and, when he did, the squire began checking all of the straps that held the many shiny, metal plates that were mounted upon the knight’s body. Then, the squire handed the knight a long and pointed lance.

‘That’s a long shank,’ Sir Balin thought.

“Still your weapon, Sir Lanceor!” Sir Balin cried out from down the highway. “We can settle this at a tournament at a later date. Right now, I’m on an adventure. I have to find a way to get King Arthur to forgive me!”

“King Arthur will never forgive you for what you did, criminal!” Sir Lanceor cried out as he ran at full speed towards Sir Balin. “Even if you capture King Rience for him!”

‘Hm,’ Sir Balin thought. ‘That’s actually not such a bad idea—whoa!’

Sir Lanceor lunged forth with his lance, but Sir Balin sidestepped the sharp tip and proceeded to draw both Excalibur and Tyrfing in one deft motion. He held the former out in his lead left hand, and the latter in right high above his head and poised to strike.

Sir Balin easily parried the next strike with Excalibur, and nearly followed up with frightening blow with Tyrfing in his other hand. However, he restrained himself and stepped back with Tyrfing raised to strike.

“Please,” Sir Balin said. “We don’t have to do this. I have no reason to fight you. Let me pass, Sir Lanceor.”

Sir Lanceor huffed, then jabbed with his lance. Sir Balin parried the obvious thrust, but decide to disengage and keep his distance. He still did not wish to kill the good knight. It was unneccessary. Sir Lanceor attacked from long range—thrusting his lance again and again—and Sir Balin continued to parry with his swords with quick and dexterous motions.

“I beseech you!” Sir Balin begged. “Stop this at once!”

“Fight me, you coward!” Sir Lanceor cried out as he poked with his lance again. “You must pay for your crimes! The king himself has ordained your execution.”

Sir Balin slipped under tip of Sir Lanceor’s lance and backed off. Then he turned about completely and ran off the highway, into the forest, hoping to lose the knight.

“Oh, no you don’t!” Sir Lanceor cried out as he gave chase.

Amid the thick trees, more of the same continued. Sir Lanceor continued to stab with his lance, and Sir Balin continued to parry or dodge the blows. Sir Balin danced around Sir Lanceor, causing him to have to spin about to get at him. Suddenly, Sir Lanceor’s lance got stuck upon a stray tree trunk.

Sir Balin took this opportunity to slip past the shaft of the lance and ram his shoulder into the heavily armoured knight in the hopes of felling the knight so that he could make a quick getaway.

Sir Lanceor stumbled backwards, tipping his quiver and spilling his arrows as he tripped over a stray tree root. He was about to fall upon his own splayed arrows, but one of the arrows had stuck into the ground tip-first. Sir Lanceor’s neck dropped directly on top of the nock, and the shaft of the arrow drove between the knight’s heavy armour and through his soft neck. 

“Ouch, that smarts!” Sir Lanceor gargled, and proceeded to grab at his throat until he quickly bled out. Very promptly, he went limp as the puddle of blood by his beck grew in size around the leaf litter on the ground. Unbeknownst to Sir Balin, Tyrfing had sensed the spilled blood nearby, and yearned to taste it upon its cursed steel. Sir Balin holstered Excalibur back into the scabbard on his right hip, and Tyrfing back into the sheath upon his back. He pursed his lips at the sight of the dead knight.

“My love,” Lady Colombe screamed in horror as she emerged from some shrubbery in the distance. “My Irish Rose!”

She ran towards Sir Lanceor’s corpse, knelt beside it, and began to wail uncontrollably.

“I cannot, I shall not, stay on this world without you, my love,” she wept as she grasped the dead knight’s sword from the scabbard on his armoured hip. She slipped the blade out.

Sir Balin leapt forth and grabbed woman’s hands, which were wrapped around the weapon’s handle.

“Stop!” he cried out. “Too much blood has already been spilt on this day!”

She struggled to free her hands.

“Please,” she cried out. “Release the épée de cour!” She resisted, and slipped out from his strong grip violently, dislocating her wrist in the process. She stepped back with her one free hand dangling freely at the wrist, and placed the tip of the blade over her heart before falling forward upon the tiny sword. The blade drove through her chest, and emerged out the back of her as she fell.

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