The field had once been lush and vibrant, covered from hill to hill, horizon to horizon with a rich array of wildlife, wild flowers, soft, emerald-hued grass and the cooling shade of old trees. Only a desolate battlefield now remained, charred from the fires of battle and littered with the bones of the dead. A few fragments of arms and armor remained; everything else having been scavenged. A lone knight on horseback charged across the scarred landscape searching in desperation as black clouds loomed in the distance, his armor gleaming with blood from the previous melee. Soon, the knight arrived at a hill, upon which a solitary tree stood, having survived the chaos, as well as another knight.
“Sir Alastair!” he growled, throwing down a letter. “What is the meaning of this?”
“Brother Nathaniel. Were my words not plain enough?” asked Alastair.
“This is treason! What art thou thinking old friend?!”
Alastair watched the dark clouds as they drifted on eastward. “I think this was coming for a long, long time.. ‘old friend’.”
Nathaniel cried out, “Thou hast sworn an oath to thy liege! Where is thy honor? Thou wouldst abandon thy king in his hour of need?!”
“He is NO KING, Nathaniel,” Alastair said sharply. “He does NOT BELONG here. His ways are outlandish, his method of ruling abnormal. He is NO true Sosarian King. Lord Mondain is the rightful heir to Akalabeth, regardless of his crimes.”
“‘Regardless of his crimes’, he says! Brother, listen to thyself! Mondain is a cold, cruel, evil man. He desires only POWER! Just look at the evil he has unleashed! See plainly the monstrosities he fills his legions with!”
Alastair growled impatiently, “Because he HAS to, fool! Because all of ye have been swindled by the fraud, British! Thou sayest well thy king’s propaganda, and surely many more shall say the same should a victorious Lord British be permitted to write the tomes of history, but I know it, thou knowest it, the truth is far more complex than what the bards of days to come shall be able to fit in rhyme and verse. Mondain is not the villain that Lord British has made him out to be. Thy king has lied.”
Nathaniel could only shake his head in disbelief. “Mondain has lied! Dost thou not see? Even now he fills thy mind with dark thoughts. I will not allow thee to fall into his hands!”
Alastair pulled on his helm. “Thou shalt have to vanquish me, brother, to see that done.”
The knight of Lord British pulled on his own helm and couched his lance. “I had hoped it would not come to this, brother. This is foolish! Thou art no match for me.”
Alastair replied coolly, “We shall see.”
Each knight charged the other, lances couched and shields held forth. Despite riding uphill Sir Nathaniel was a force to be reckoned with, one of the most accomplished knights in Akalabeth, whereas Alastair, despite his downhill advantage, was considered by many a lesser knight in strength and constitution. The two knights clashed, each lance striking the other. Alastair’s lance exploded against the force of Nathaniel’s shield; the impact sent him falling from his steed.
“Yield, Sir Alastair!” called out Nathaniel.
Sir Alastair stood, drew his sword and called back, “I do not yield!”
As he charged once more, Sir Nathaniel muttered under his breath, “Do not make me do this, my friend,” and aimed his lance for Sir Alastair. The ground trembled beneath the powerful hooves of Nathaniel’s horse as he came charging upon his once loyal friend and Sir Alastair, unmoved by the deadly odds against him, stubborn to all logic and reason and instinct, remained rooted to the ground only by the strange principles which now guided him. As the unstoppable juggernaut that was Sir Nathaniel came perilously near, Sir Alastair raised his shield and prepared to swing his sword…
When the dust had settled Sir Nathaniel, dismounted from his horse, approached the failing body of Sir Alastair. A large fragment of lance jutted from his chest as Sir Alastair struggled to breath. Streams of blood flowed from wound and mouth. Sir Nathaniel knelt beside the dying man and removed Sir Alastair’s helm, seeing his still fearless, vengeful expression.
“Brother, why did it have to come to this…”
Sir Alastair gave no reply, for the serious wounds with which he now struggled, but only looked upon Sir Nathaniel with anger and hatred. Tears welled up in the eyes of both knights and Sir Nathaniel wept.
“Farewell old friend. It is better this way.”