Week two of the Friday Flash Fiction Challenge from terribleminds. This week we read through the 500(!!) entries for the opening line challenge from last week and picked our favorite. I had a few options that I really liked, but I settled on one that made me giggle at the possibilities.
The line I loved was this:
It was common knowledge that a knight was in need of a princess to rescue and Sir Gillian Lovejoy McManus had looked high and low for a lady of sufficient title in a sufficient amount of danger.
Why did I love it? Well, because it reminded me of something that I would read. But also, because the line makes you think that the story is going to head in a certain direction. Brave and gallant knight, damsel in a distressing situation. Here he comes to save the day!! Kiss, kiss. Hug, hug. The end. What more could you want out of an opening line? A line that throws you into the story, comfortable with the situation and absolutely sure you’re going to get a happily-ever-after out of it.
Enter: me. Hi, how ya doin’? I can’t just let things happen the way you want them to, ya know? So, I present to you- my as yet untitled… work of flash fiction.
It was common knowledge that a knight was in need of a princess to rescue and Sir Gillian Lovejoy McManus had looked high and low for a lady of sufficient title in a sufficient amount of danger. He was meticulous in his search, ensuring he didn’t miss even the smallest sliver of the kingdom. There was surely a damsel in need; she just needed finding.
This particular Tuesday had started as any other: saddling up his trusty steed, donning his shining armour, and picking a suitable section of his map to scour. His chest puffed and head high, he swung his leg over the top of his stallion. “Onward, Bellguard, a damsel awaits!”
Rescuing maidens was serious business, but he wasn’t overly concerned. Sir Gillian Lovejoy McManus feared little in the world, for he was a brave and gallant knight. Of all of the stories of all of the things that should be terrifying to Sir Gillian, he had only come across a dragon or two. Even they were far from fearsome, tiny hatchlings, barely able to latch on to the tip of your finger- venom only a tingle for an instant. He was sure that the lack of danger in his general vicinity was due to the fear his brave name struck in the hearts of dangerous beasts and beings.
The block he had chosen this dreary day was a brisk trot away, adjacent to the King’s castle and along a large body of water – perfect for a romantic picnic with a freshly rescued dame. He was sure today was his day, and he found himself trying to picture the soon-to-be-rescued lady’s face as he swung, or climbed, or leapt, or swam, or otherwise fought to her rescue.
Sir Gillian was quickly startled from his musing by a shriek coming from around the bend. He rushed into action! He was more than ready to save the lucky lady. Sir Gillian leaned forward to urge the horse onward. The stones and turf kicked off of the horse’s hooves and scattered across the ground behind them. His speed continued to increase as he heard yet another shout. The urgency in the cry pulled him ahead.
He suddenly came upon a disturbing scene. A beautiful woman stood in the middle of the road trying to defend herself from a gang of monstrous bandits. Her long auburn hair was plaited down her back and tied with a green ribbon. She wore a traveling tunic of green and men’s brown leather breeches. Sir Gillian shook his head at the situation; she was being robbed and wasn’t even going to be dressed in the proper attire for a rescue.
“Halt, roguish fiends!” He shouted, pulling his blade from its scabbard and leveling it at the mob. They looked at him with what Sir Gillian assumed had to have been fear. He was, after all, the bravest knight in all the land. They must have been terrified.
The leader of the pack raised his hands slowly and the rest of the men followed. “You’ve got the wrong scoundrel, Sir Knight.”
The rest nodded in agreement, eyes nervously darting between the woman and the knight.
“You lot have been caught raiding this fair maiden’s carriage, surrender or fight!” he demanded, swishing the tip of his sword menacingly.
Another of themen stepped forward cautiously. He raised his hands high, his head ducked slightly and his eyes avoiding Sir Gillian’s own. “Honestly, Sir. It is not as you assume. You have indeed come upon a theft, but we are not to blame.” He shrugged and tilted his head toward the woman. Only then did Sir Gillian begin to notice a few oddities.
The woman stood near the carriage with a look of mild annoyance seeping into her face. Her shoulder leaned on the rear of one of the horses, the toes at the end of her kicked back leg tapped at the ground. She casually observed the debacle whilst picking at her fingernails with a rather unladylike dagger. He noted her arms wrapped in leathers fit for an archer of skill, a bow and quiver rested near her feet, an arsenal of blades strapped to every available limb. She raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips impatiently.
After taking in the scene and deciding that there must be an explanation, Sir Gillian Lovejoy McManus turned the point of his sword toward the woman.
“Is it as they say?” he questioned the lady.
She pushed herself off of the horse, tucked her dagger away and walked toward Sir Gillian, fluttering her eyelashes.
“A knight?” she asked. “It must be my lucky day! They came upon me as I was journeying. I am only trying to make my way back to my family in the next village over.”
One of the men attempted to protest, but the knight was enthralled by the lady’s unfortunate tale. He held up a single finger and insisted upon silence.
“What, dearest, can I do to be of assistance? I am Sir Gillian Lovejoy McManus, and I am at your service.”
The woman smirked and ran her fingertip along the edge of his chest piece. “I’m feeling awfully exposed in this outfit that I am wearing, and I would quite like to cover myself. This looks comfortable.”
Sir Gillian nodded and began to unclip his armour for her. “Of course, lady. You have only to ask.”
He turned away to give her privacy as she clipped the armour over her chest.
A moment later he offered a hand to help her back up into her carriage and she embraced the knight and slipped his money-pouch from his side before climbing up into her seat.
Sir Gillian Lovejoy McManus stood watching her escape, lighter of armour and coin but no less sure that he was in fact the bravest knight in all the land. The men all gaped at the oblivious knight, shaking their heads and getting themselves ready to start the long walk home.