“And…..would the word ‘jousting,” be what you are seeking?” Alais chuckled, his heart about to burst from joy.
“It would indeed,” affirmed Gareth. “So I take it you’re not opposed to the idea of learning to be a knight – officially?” he inquired.
Marcus pushed a glass of wine toward each of them, and raised his own toward his son. “I propose a toast. Here’s to Alais – I have always known he would make a great knight, and I am so very proud of you this day, my son.” They clinked their metal cups together and quickly gulped down the sweet, heady wine.
“Then I leave you to it,” Gareth said as he cleared the table, loading up the dishes and utensils onto the tray. “7 a.m. sharp, Monday morning, in the tent,” he told Alais.
“I’ll be there!” the boy responded rapidly. “But Gareth – who else besides Prince Tristan and myself will be in the class?” he wondered.
“Oho, wondering if you’ll be teacher’s favorite, are you?” Gareth teased as he headed back toward the castle.
“No, not at all. But how many students have you lined up?” Alais ran to catch up to him, curious for a true answer.
“Just you and Prince Tristan,” he finally answered. He looked at his young friend with a bit of caution in his eyes. “Be careful you don’t underestimate him. See you Monday!” he finished and marched off, leaving Alais standing there in wonderment.
:”Only two students?” he said, with more than a bit of disappointment in his voice.
“Buck up, now, son,” Marcus walked up and clapped him on his shoulder. “You’ll run circles around him. Just don’t go giving the young Prince too many bruises or scratches, or his father might not think he’s made the best decision inviting you to join in the training.”
Alais looked at him in surprise. “Are you telling me to go easy on him, sir?”
Marcus laughed and shook his head. “No, not at all. Just don’t annihilate him on your very first sword fight, that’s all. And he might just give you a run for your money. Gareth wouldn’t have cautioned you not to take him for granted if he didn’t have some skills of his own,” he added wisely.
Monday morning could not have been slower in arriving, as far as Alais was concerned. He had washed his best shirt and leggings, and shone his only pair of boots until, old as they were, he could see himself when he looked down at them, He was determined to show Prince Tristan that though he was not of royal blood, he was a worthy classmate and contender.
When he pushed back the flap of the tent, Gareth and Belias were standing on either side of Prince Tristan, laughing with him. Alais decided not to be intimidated by their familiarity. After all, the knights had known this boy all of his life. He held his head high and confidently approached the group.
“Ah, greetings, Alais!” welcomed Belias. The slightly overweight, aging knight was still agile in battle, and very cordial in his manners. Though Alais knew him not nearly as well as he had grown to know Gareth, the older knight had always spoken politely with him, and unbeknownst to Alais, had admired the boy’s skill with the sword from afar when he had been sparring with Gareth from time to time.
suffer from the past, to long for the future, but to forget the present.
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