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"A Squire's Tale"
Sir Thomas waited in the small copse of trees. He had sent word to His Majesty that he needed to parley with him in private, outside the castle. His Majesty, King Constantine II, was angered at being required to leave the castle on the eve his son Constans had returned from his seclusion and the end of his monastic life.
His Majesty, believing his Captain of the Court held no ill toward him agreed to come alone, unguarded and disguised. Thomas was waiting. Little did he know that His Majesty had been followed. Sir Thomas' own squire, William, had seen the king leaving after having made his mind up to tell His Majesty of the unlawful demands his knight had placed on him. William remained hidden as His Majesty approached Thomas, his knight. What he saw next frightened him. After a few moments of talking, when His Majesty had turned to look at something Thomas had pointed out, Sir Thomas unsheathed his blade and stabbed His Majesty several times. The King fell, dead.
Frightened out of his mind, William turned and ran. His legs kept moving as if his mind had no control over them. In what seemed like no time at all he found himself approaching the entrance to the former kings' residence. He heard himself yelling at the guards stationed there "He's Dead! His Majesty King Constantine is DEAD!"
The guards seized him. "What are you going on about boy? What do you mean His Majesty is dead?" William recounted what he'd seen. He was taken before the now deceased Constantine's eldest son, Constans who had just returned that afternoon after leaving the monastery.
Constans stood appraising the lad. William bowed low. "Your Highness, I was in the woods outside the city walls. I happened across a clearing within a copse of trees. I saw your father, His Majesty, conversing with Sir Thomas, my knight, when Sir Thomas unsheathed his blade and stabbed His Majesty several times in the chest. His Majesty fell to the ground and I could tell he was dead.
By this time the remaining knights currently in the castle had been gathered. Lancelot spoke to Constans. "Sire. Should what this lad says be true, you are by right our new Sovereign."
To say Constans was taken aback would be an understatement. Truth be known, Constans was severely lacking in intelligence. He turned to his adviser Vortimer who whispered in his ear. Then Constans spoke.
"Thomas is hereby to be considered an enemy of the crown. He is to be apprehended and brought before us." The assembled knights left in search of their former comrade.
Reggie, Rupert, Arthur, and Miles had heard the commotion whilst in their chambers. They quickly dressed and surreptitiously hid in a corner of the assembly chamber listening to what transpired. When Reggie heard that his Constantine was dead he nearly collapsed. He was literally overcome with grief. He truly loved the king. Miles grabbed him and held him tight. Tears were falling down the all of the boys' faces.
Vortimer had been advisor to the boy Constans for some time; since it had been determined that Constans was lacking in intelligence. Vortimer was secretly pleased knowing that Constans would do his bidding. He saw in his own mind power he'd only dreamed of for himself.
After only an hour, the knights reassembled in the chamber, Thomas who was returning to his keep, expecting nobody would be the wiser as to the fate that had become the King, now found himself bound and in custody. The former Kings three sons were in attendance. Vortimer turned to now King Constantine III (Constans) "Your Majesty, if I may?" Receiving a nod Vortimer turned to the assembled and pronounced "Thomas. You have been accused of killing our beloved King. There was a witness who saw you kill him with his own eyes. What have you to say?"
Thomas spat at Vortimer. "He was running our kingdom into the ground. Had I realized that the idiot behind you would be crowned, I would have dispatched him first!"
Vortimer, in his own mind, knew that at some level Thomas was correct. Constans was in no way qualified to lead the kingdom. He, Vortimer would need to do something soon. But for now he had to put on airs. "Having admitted to this deed, Thomas, by order of His Majesty, King Constantine III, you shall at sun-up tomorrow be taken to the village square to be hung by the neck until you are dead. May God have mercy on your immortal soul."
Reggie was inconsolable. He simply lied on the bed and sobbed. The others tended to him as best they could. "What shall happen to me now? It is known that I was the special boy of His Majesty, but it is also known that his son does not care for the company of boys. What is to become of me?" Reggie wailed.
Rupert said nothing of what was in his mind. Instead he took leave of the others saying he needed to check with his knight to see if there were any duties he was to perform. He returned to the keep finding Lancelot there, sitting at the table staring into space at nothing.
Rupert approached and quietly said "Sir. Is there anything I should do for you?"
Lancelot turned and saw the boy. He opened his arms and Rupert went to him. Lancelot pulled the boy into his lap and wrapped his arms around him. He bent his head and cried into the top of his squire's hair. Rupert sat quietly allowing his knight to regain his composure.
After a time, Lancelot, still holding the boy, began talking quietly, "We enter dangerous times, young Rupert. I know not what will transpire but we must be careful."
"Sir, if I may ask a question. Reggie was the special boy for His Majesty however the new king does not care for the company of boys. What will happen to my friend and tutor?"
Lancelot thought for but a moment before he said, "I shall request that he become one of my squires. It is not usual for a knight in my standing to have but one. Even so, I shall request it." Rupert turned in his knight and lover's lap and kissed the man.
The morning air was chilly, not typical for this time of year. With construction of the gallows completed, the hangman tested the apparatus to make certain it was performing as it should. Even with more than an hour until the hanging there was already a crowd gathering. It's not often the common folk get to see someone of nobility dispatched in a manner usually reserved for the more downtrodden.
Lancelot is awoken by the first light of the morning sun. He looks to the left side of his bed and sees his squire nestled in cuddling tightly to him. Almost a mirror image is on his right as Reggie snuggles up trying to garner more warmth from the body, or should it be said bodies sharing the bed.
Lancelot wakes his squire with a kiss and whispers for him to get Reggie awake. Breakfast will wait until after the hanging. He then extricates himself from betwixt the two. Rupert makes an effort to get out of bed to service his knight but Lancelot smiles at him telling him to get Reggie and himself ready.
Minutes later Reggie and Rupert join Lancelot by the hearth. Lancelot tells Rupert that since Thomas is no more, the challenge is forfeit. It will be up to the king to decide what happens to Thomas' possessions. The trio, fully dressed in their finest leave the keep heading for the site of the hanging. Arriving there, Lancelot takes his seat in the Royal box behind the King, the two lads standing behind.
Minutes after sun-up Thomas is brought forth wearing rags; all indication of nobility stripped from him. He shall expire as a commoner. He is lead up the steps and placed on the trap door that will fall out from under him at the prescribed moment. The crowd is growing restless hurling insults and rotten fruits and vegetables at the condemned.
A trumpet blast is heard and the crowd grows quiet. Vortimer bows to His Majesty and cries out to the assembled "Thomas, former knight of the realm, for the crime of murdering our beloved former king you have been ordered stripped of your possessions, all properties owned by you or those in your family are hereby forfeited. His Majesty, King Constantine III shall dispense with them as he sees fit." Vortimer is interrupted by the King. He leans down listening then resumes, "Will the Squire, William, step forward. His Majesty wishes to speak to you."
William steps forward and bows low to His Majesty. The King stands and says to the boy, "William, you have done a great service to myself and for the kingdom as a whole. Honesty and fealty such as you have shown deserves reward. Step forward William and take a knee." William approaches. His Majesty takes a sword from the table by his throne. He places the tip of the sword on William's shoulder and as he is moving the tip over the boy's head from one shoulder to the other he says "I hereby dub thee Sir William, Knight of the Realm. You are granted the status of nobility. One Quarter of that which formerly belonged to the criminal Thomas is now yours. Rise, Sir William!"
Thomas is angered by this more than anything he's seen, but the gag that has been placed in his mouth prohibits him saying what he so dearly wishes to say. The King sits and Vortimer resumes, "Thomas, it is the order of the Crown that you be put to death this day. Hangman, proceed." Vortimer takes his seat on one side of His Majesty. Sir William takes his seat of honour on the opposite side of the King.
The crowd again starts to go wild as the hangman places the noose around the former knight's neck. He tightens the knot making certain it is placed at the proper place and stands back. The level of excitement in the crowd increases until the lever is pulled and the assembled witness the floor under Thomas give way. He drops and where there was a cacophony of noise one instant, the next it is silent. Those close to the gallows can actually hear the bones in Thomas' neck snapl; they can see the man's eyes bugged out. The body kicks twice and then is still. There is then an uproarious cheer emanating from those assembled.
Lancelot has an idea. He turns to Reggie. "Lad, the new knight, William, will be in need of a squire, would you have interest in the post if William so desires it?"
Reggie looks at William. In the past, William was a bit boastful of his position, however, he was never actually mean. He turns to Lancelot and nods.
Lancelot approaches now Sir William. "Well done, well done. Congratulations! It is my hope that you and I can become friends, Sir William."
William himself held no ill toward Lancelot. In the time he'd known him, Lancelot had never treated him badly. He extends his hand in friendship and it is taken in kind by Lancelot. "Thank you, Sir. Lancelot. His Majesty's action came as a complete shock to me. I would like that we should forge a friendship. The ways of the Knight and Nobility. whereas not totally foreign to me, may require some tutelage, I hope you would be willing to teach me."
"It would be my honour, William. I assume you will be in need of a squire. The former king's boy, Reginald, is now without a posting. Would you have interest in conscripting him?"
Secretly, William had kept an eye on young Reginald. His desires of the flesh knew no limit as to the sex of his partner. Turning to Lancelot he smiled and said, "I believe I would have interest. But would the boy be willing?"
Lancelot turned and motioned Reggie to them. "Reginald, Sir William would have interest in your being taken as his squire. Would you be willing to swear your loyalty and fealty to him?"
Without further inducement, Reggie took a knee in front of William, "Sir William, I hereby swear an oath before you. I swear that I shall protect you from any and all enemies, I pledge my fealty and loyalty to our king through you."
William reached his hand down and lifted the boy to a standing position. "I hereby accept your oath, young squire. I will say that having been a squire myself, I know what is required of you. You will be expected to excel in all that you do."
"I shall endeavour to serve you to the best of my abilities, my Knight." William then took the boy into a deep embrace.
Lancelot turned to see Vortimer standing awaiting him being finished. "His Majesty wishes an audience, Sir Lancelot." Vortimer then turned and led Lancelot to where his Majesty was awaiting him.
Coming Soon -- Chapter 6