Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sword in the Stone -- Oneshot

The Sword in the Stone
Author: Yung

In the heart of a small town in southern England by the name of Garrish there is a small creek which bent sharply around a hill in the center of the town. The creek was the lifeblood of the small town and most of the houses were built on the banks of the fresh water source. Children would play in the creek during the warmer months and the soft smooth stones of the creek bottom proved endless entertainment to the youngsters. On top the small hill in Garrish stood the church of the town with a bridge on either side crossing the creek. The Church, like the rest of the town, was made from old smooth stones featuring a wooden shingle roof and solid oak door. The Church in the center of the town featured a small garden off the west side of it. This garden had over time, become more of a graveyard than a place of rest for the living. Warriors often asked to be buried here as near the center of the garden as possible. Tombstones could be seen with various names etched into them as faded as the stones they were carved on the many years before. 

In the center of the garden, buried deeply into a stone that itself resembled a tombstone, was a sword. The sword was simply referred to as 'The Sword in the Stone,' by the people of Garrish, despite the word 'Excalibur' being clearly etched into the blade. Away from the garden of graves was a wrought iron fence of both delicate and fancy design. The fence was quite visibly rusted, however that merely added to the overall design. Wild ivy grew rampantly through the garden of graves and the sword could scarcely be seen by anyone passing by, unless they were looking for the sword. The stone plaque at the foot of the Sword in the Stone was covered with several inches of dirt given the time that had passed since one last read the words. Despite this, the words echoed in the mind of every citizen and denizen of Garrish and had since their childhoods.

For whosoever pulleth out from
this stone, this sword.
Then he shall forevermore be,
King of England.

Years upon years had passed, yet not a single challenger proved worthy to pull the sword from the stone and claim their rightful place as the King of England. At one time warriors had come from the far corners of the world in massive groups, bearing semblance to invasion armies in the hopes that one of them could pull the sword. None ever did. The Sword in the Stone stood miraculously unscathed with not a trace of rust upon the scabbard, the hilt, nor the blade itself. The people of Garrish claimed that the timeless sword did not age because God had thrust it into the stone from the heavens in a bolt of lightning. The sword had tried to be removed through other methods, but excavation of the sword proved impossible. To the disbelief of the people, just a few inches below the topsoil the ground grew so hard that neither shovel nor pick-axe could break through. Not even legendary blacksmiths could devise methods to remove the stone from the sword despite years of effort.

As with most towns of the era, the small town of Garrish hosted jousting tournaments and was one of the towns that had rankings for the annual jousting competitions. The steady stream of warriors had nearly all visited the Sword in the Stone in their younger years, and often as squires themselves of other forgotten knights. The Sword in the Stone seemed forgotten by all, save for the youngest children. Lined like little soldiers, they would stare through the rusted old wrought iron fence. There, they would all daydream about being the one to pull the sword from the stone.

On one such bright, early autumn day, this tradition was repeated. Older children, mainly squires, were also nearby and discussing how life with their knights were. The sun had just set and the light of it still lingered in the air in the dusk of the August night. Squires were all but slaves to their knights. It was their duty to wait on their knight hand and foot, to learn how to become one themselves one day. It was grueling as some of the knights were quite cruel, while few among them were kind. Some of the squires spoke whispers of the horrors of their knights beating them and some even seeking nighttime companionship, as is often sought of a woman. Most of the squires were off duty as their knights were attending to the woman of Garrish after a long day jousting in the tournament.

One of the squires spoke boldly about the day he'd shed the world of his cruel knight by slaying him with that. As he spoke he pointed sharply at the Sword in the Stone. The squire was a husky lad, with brown hair that was clearly unkempt. His attitude matched his hair, unkempt. The dirt under his nails and on his neck showed clearly he was unbathed. With a heckle, one of the other boys challenged him to go pull it. Excitement was heavy in the air, as all of the squires rose and entered the garden of graves. The first boy walked up to the sword and removed the ivy growing from it, yet he could not help but to admire the beauty of the sword before him. The last bit of sunlight glistened off the polished blade as though it was an ornate ceremonial blade kept solely on display. The young squire gripped the pommel of soft, black leather and pulled up. To his great disappointment, the sword did not budge and he grunted loudly as he pulled harder. The other boys began to heckle and jeer as he strained against the sword. After a few seconds he gave up; stepping aside, the blade remained in the stone, as it had for centuries.

"I'll give it a go." Another boy proudly stepped up and the procedure repeated. He was not as stocky as the first boy though slightly taller. His brown hair was unkempt as well though it was evident that he had bathed that day. As he approached the sword he too admired the blade, felt the cool feel of the soft, black leather on the pommel, and he too failed to pull the sword from the stone. Several other squires tried as well, and even a young girl who was watching the boys gave it a go. The boys had stopped heckling and began discussing how absurd it was to try and pull the sword from the stone. Despite their admonishments they kept taking turns nonetheless. Several more boys took turns, each stopping to admire the blade now in the light of fire rather than that of the sun. Each squire failed to even get the sword to wiggle. 

One of the younger squires walked forward for a turn at the sword. Unlike many of the other squires this one had blonde hair, and a sharp hairless chin. The squire's hair was well kept and slicked down as though it had been brushed within the day. More notably the lack of dirt anywhere showed a recent bath as well. The plain leather clothing seemed to fit tightly around the squire's chest though looser around the legs than most. The light twinkled in the squire's eyes as the squire approached the sword. The squire, as those before, also admired the blade, the scabbard, and the smooth cold feel of the black leather pommel. He turned his hands downward and gripped the sword firmly. With one swift move and the sound of a loud ding the sword slid smoothly and freely from the stone that had held it for centuries. A gasp rang out through the boys and the squire who had pulled the sword free stared in horror at the sword. 

Fear swept through the boys over the deed they had done, no doubt if the knights found out it was a mere squire who had pulled the blade they would be severely punished. A loud clang could be heard as the squire who pulled the sword dropped it on the very stone that had been its home for so long. In fear the squire ran as did the other boys. They were all too terrified to confront what had happened.

Several of the boys hid immediately and then eventually moved to the barns, where they would sleep in wait of their knights to awaken. The night had grown chilly and a fire was blazing to keep them warm, yet despite this, they all shook. They shook with fear over what would proceed the next day when the town awoke. Among them there were two young squires, both with light brown hair and matching jerkins, who sat very close to the fire and discussed whether they should run away or not. Leave the life of a squire behind them and forget this awful deed which they'd witnessed.

"Don't be foolish," A boy sat down besides the first two, his cloak was dark and matched his hair. His eyes shined with an unusually bright blue, which contrasted the rest of his appearance. He pulled the cloak looser revealing yellow bruises around his neck and collar, "Giving up an apprenticeship to a knight would be a grave mistake for any of us to make."

"Aye, but they'll rightful kill us when they learn know of this deed. When we know who pulled the sword." As one of the pair spoke, the other shook his head in disbelief. The boys were all scared but the older ones were helping coax the younger squires to see the lesser of the two evils. The logical conclusion made was to keep quiet about who had finally relieved the sword of its stoney prison. The deep rooted fear of what would happen to the one who pulled the sword from the stone, shook the fortitude of many of the boys. That emotion paled in contrast to the punishment of those who did not pull the sword. To be among the crowd of squires when the king pulled the sword from the stone but failing to do so yourself would certainly infuriate a knight. In the rage of the knights jealousy for not pulling the sword himself, nor his squire, there was no doubt the squire would be badly beaten. 

A few of the older squires had decided that they were not likely to all survive the proceeding day, and proposed a toast of mead. The younger boys quickly agreed and thus the plan to steal the mead from the inn began. The plan was quite simple, the two timid boys would go in and state to the innkeeper that their knights requested mead and they were to deliver enough for them to enjoy. While the innkeeper would no doubt deny them, two of the other boys would break into the cellar; the boys breaking into the cellar were tasked with stealing two bottles of wine and four loaves of bread. These items were selected because two boys could move them under their cloak without spilling them, or having to hold for all to see what they were carrying. Surely it would be suspicious if someone saw them carrying mugs of mead up toward the squires camp by the barn.

The boys gathered together and split the bread and wine evenly amongst them all. Despite the weariness of the day, and what was to proceed on the following day, all of the squires drank with merry. The squire who had pulled the sword from the stone could not be found and the other squires surmised that the young blonde squire was no doubt hiding. The lashing they wanted to give that squire for putting them in this predicament only added to the amount they were heartily consuming. The wine itself was a very sweet wine, as it had not aged for very long and the berries used were among the sweeter berries found in the local valley. The squires had no trouble drinking the slightly fermented liquid until they could hardly even stand. 

It took them only two short hours to finish off all they had stolen from the inn. Whispered debates began regarding whether they should risk another bottle of the delicious beverage. After several minutes the dark brunette duo were nominated to sneak into the cellar for more of the tempting beverages. An older squire elected to take watch and warn the pair if anyone was coming as they were in the cellar. The three strode off down the lane, as the midnight hours crept on slowly. The whole town seemed to be asleep so the boys hardly paused to check corners as they approached the tall building towards the center of town. The older squire smacked the two on the shoulders and slumped lazily against the wall of the building they were standing near. Looking around uneasily the two ran quickly to the cellar doors.

The older squire, who was escorting the two younger boys, strode off to the side of the building to relieve himself. The boy was very tall, but lacked the broad shoulders, beard, and muscles that many of the other squires who were seventeen years of age displayed. He wore a lazy tan jerkin and brown leggings. His old worn shoes had the appearance of being made from cowhide, but the shambles they were in gave no credit to the beast they had come from. He rocked on his heels as he continued to relieve himself listening to the signs of the night. Crickets chirped, fires crackled, a baby cried, an owl hooted from the forest beyond the town, and another baby cried. In a moment the fogginess of his mind cleared as he realized the second baby crying was close by outside. Quickly dignifying himself, he ran to the corner and saw to his dismay the innkeeper dragging the two brunette squires out from the basement. The boys struggled to free themselves but the innkeeper had a firm grip on both. A knight came stumbling out door of the inn and saw what was happening.

"Aye, catch some thieves have ye?" The innkeeper nodded enthusiastically to the knight and threw one of the boys to him. With his free hand the innkeeper grabbed a switch of hickory branches and gave some to the knight. Both men could have passed for the other, save their ensemble, as both were large men with red hair and beards. Round faces with matching bellies betrayed their love of ale. Their massive hands were almost larger than the squires heads they had grips on. With a sharp whistle the hickory switches sung through the air as the boys were lashed mercilessly. Both started crying loudly as the switches started hitting them as they tore to get free from their attackers. The older squire who was supposed to be keeping watch rushed forward and knocked the innkeeper to the ground with a jumping leap. The innkeeper fell with such force that he broke the first step leading up to the door for the inn. The knight let go of the young squire he was thrashing and looked around confused at the situation.

"Aye, are ye a'ight there old chap?" As he spoke he strode forward and pulled the innkeeper to his feet. During the brief distraction all three boys ran with terror on their heels, quickly back to the barns.

"Aye," sighed the innkeeper. "That was embarrassing no doubt. Lets keep this between us. The boys got lashed anyhow. I doubt that they'll be back."


The older squire apologized to the younger two and then to the others and explained that he had to relieve himself and was hardly gone. The innkeeper must have been watching and seen the two sneak into the cellar after the ran across the street. With disappointment the boys all slumped back, but the two who had been thrashed angrily shoved the older boy down together. This naturally caused a rise from the other squires, who laughed at the trio and the trouble they'd caused. 

Several of the older squires got together close to the fire and developed a sensible plan to steal a couple more bottles that involved one of them purposefully getting caught and running with the innkeeper in pursuit. The remaining two squires would then sneak in and take the bottles before the innkeeper returned. The red head squire who had let the two get thrashed was selected by the others to be the bait. In the event he was caught he deserved getting lashed, so the other squires all felt it was fair.

As the three left the other squires began a heavy discussion regarding the situation they were in with the sword being pulled from the stone. Centuries had passed with the sword in its rightful place and despite the legends that it could be pulled none of the squires thought it ever would be. It seemed like a fun story, but no one was ever supposed to actually remove the stone from it's stoney sheath. In the end the squires all concluded that despite the punishments they were no doubt about to endure it would do little to compare to the shame they would endure for betraying one of their own; another squire. The squires continued to mingle, gossip, and whisper while waiting on the three to return with their stolen treasures.

The three went to the inn and seeing the innkeeper standing in the shadow of the inn building, the older squires shoved the redhead out who then ran for the cellar door. Before he could reach it the innkeeper stepped out, switch in hand, and as planned he chased the squire down the lane. The other two broke cover the moment that the pair was out of sight and dashed for the cellar door. Just as they were about to reach it the door swung open and out bounded the blonde haired squire who had pulled the sword from the stone. The squire was holding two bottles of wine and two loaves of bread. Without pausing at the site of the two older squires the blonde ran quickly past and towards the barnyard. Surprised, the two followed pausing only to listen to the sobs of redhead being lashed across the way. Serves the lad right for letting the younger two get thrashed as he did. 

When they all returned to the barnyard the excitement was heavy as the squire who pulled the sword passed around the wine and bread. As the squires all raised a toast for the young squire, they were surprised to find that the squire had disappeared. It was surmised that the squire must have brought the wine and bread as a peace offering to the others. Despite the fear of what would happen when the sword was discovered displaced, the boys all drank heavily and soon fell asleep under the stars.

The squire who had pulled the sword from the stone sat slumped against a shed, tears freely falling while softly sobbing. The squire had made the decision to steal the booze and bread for the others in the hope it would help to sway their opinions on keeping quiet. It was a vain attempt no doubt, but it was worth trying to avoid the inevitable. The squire began to think of home, of the quiet meadow and growing up with brothers and sisters. The meadow was offset from a rural farming town, and the most dominant feature was the laze of trees growing along the small creek. The creek was always running, except during the winter months, and was filled with small tan stones as smooth as butter. 

The squire's thoughts drifted to the day that the knight came in to their home and purchased the squire from that loving home. The knight was older and despite being firm and strict, had turned out to be quite the father figure. The romanticized depiction of a knight in all his chivalry; never once did the knight raise his hand to the squire, nor was the squire ever abused in the night. All in all, despite being separated from loved ones, the knight had helped the squire find acceptance in this new life. This life which was about to change forever.

It wasn't until morning that anyone noticed that the sword had been pulled from the stone. A drunken knight had stopped beside the church to relieve himself. The knight was unsavory in demeanor with a swagger in his step and an attitude of cruelty. This was a tall knight, even compared to the others. He sported black hair as dark as night itself and a thin narrow face. His hair was unkempt, though, visibly clean. He wore a light armor of thin chain-mail and a sword hung from his belt. As he relieved himself he began gazing lazily throughout the garden of graves. He noticed the ivy had been moved from the sword. His eyes adjusted to the early morning light and he realized the sword had been pulled. He cried out for the town to come see and soon enough the entire town stood in silent vigil. 

Every knight, commoner, and noble alike stood staring in disbelief that the sword had been pulled from the stone. The squires were seemingly all in attendance as well, despite their grogginess due to the revelry the night before. The sickening feelings they all had in their stomachs was only heightened by the dread of what was to follow. At long last, the priest of the church walked forward amongst the crowd. The priest wore a modest leather jerkin and it was a surprise to none that the old man had grown completely bald. This was after his many years of dedicated service to the church. The priest was by far one of the kindest souls in the procession. It was no small secret that he had dedicated his life towards helping better the lives of the people of Garrish. When he spoke, all listened.

"Whom among you has pulled the sword from the stone?" There was murmuring among the crowd, but none stepped forward to claim the sword. To claim the deed. After several uncomfortable minutes a visibly drunken knight, wearing only a pair of trousers, stepped forward. This drunken knight claimed that he had come by in the cover of the night and pulled the sword. As the crowd began to congratulate him a young voice spoke out over them all.

"That man is a liar!" The young girl, who had been with the squires the night before, stepped forward and gestured at the squires who all stood by with terrified looks in their eyes. "It was one of the squires, they were all here, and they all tried but only one pulled the sword out of the stone." An angry murmur rippled through the crowd as knights began grabbing for their squires and threats and curses were heard clearly over the rabble. The priest cleared his throat loudly interrupting the angry knights and the terrified, groggy, squires.

"Should this be true then he be your king. Lest not one among you lay finger to the boys." The knights all in one movement let go of their squires. The priest was correct, should any of the squires turn out to be the king of them to have hurt him would be an act of treason and a swift execution lay in wait for the perpetrator.

"How do we know who pulled the sword?" An older knight spoke out, his long beard had long since grayed and his old eyes betrayed his drunken state. He was known to be a gentle knight and a happy drunk. His armor was light and damaged from the tournament the day before, though, the state of disrepair was also due to his lack of funds, 

"Lest we beat them, we will not know. They will lie and say it was they to not have their hides tanned." The priest shook his head slowly, but did not speak. There was no way for them to know who the squire was that pulled the sword from the stone. While contemplating on how to proceed, they had all the boys move and stand in line before the sword and they questioned them one by one. All of them denied seeing anything, denied pulling the sword, denied being present when the sword was pulled, and several even claimed to have witnessed a knight pull the sword, but was too abashed to point out a knight besides their own to bolster their claims. 

The crowd grew angry and discontent over the process and began to speak ill of the squires, and of the sword. One was heard saying they should just put the sword back and have them all pull from the stone. The morning light twinkled in the eyes of the priest as he heard the comment. Reaching down he picked up the heavy sword and walked back the stone. There was a small slit in the stone but the sword looked as though it would not fit in such a hole. As the set the blade into the slit he was then not surprised that it wouldn't go back in.

"Boys, each of you take a turn and put the sword back to the stone." Fear ran visibly through the line of boys as they approached. One by one they each failed to put the sword back. Every squire attempted until there were none left to attempt the feat. Confused, the priest looked around at the squires and then to the knights.

"Is every squire here? Come now. Stand by your squire claiming him." As he spoke the priest gestured for the knights and they all came quickly and stood by their squires.

"Eh. My squire is not here." An older knight announced solemnly. His features displayed that of concern rather than surprise nor anger.

"Aye, nor mine." A vast giant of a knight retorted as he stomped his mighty boot down onto the ground. The echoing stomp resounded off the city walls and the knight ran his fingers through his red beard. His brown eyes angrily searched the crowd for his squire. Not seeing him among them he moved to search for his squire. As he started walking his heavy broad armor clanged loudly. The broad plate on his shoulder cast a shadow over his face which only added to his demeanor of anger. As he approached the crowd, they all stood aside.

In total there were four squires not accounted for amongst the large group of them. After a brief discussion, most of the town spread out to search for the missing squires. Among those they found one was found asleep in a hay loft. The hay he was found in was deep, but they'd followed his footsteps to the barn and one of the knights started digging until they uncovered him. The next was found hiding in a woodshed, just behind the door. Another one was found sleeping beside the daughter of a noble in her private chambers and the last squire was left unaccounted for. The three they had found were brought before the sword for them to set it back to the stone. 

The other boys stared in great fear as the squire that had pulled the sword was shoved forward and tasked to put the sword back to the stone. The squire's small body seemed delicate compared to the large sword. Bits of wood hung in the squire's blonde, straight hair, and the well kept look from the night before was gone. The squire lifted the sword and placed it to the stone then quickly pulled it away and handed back to the priest. 

The squire's apprehension to set the sword down with any force had gone unnoticed, even by some of the other squires who stared on at the blonde squire in wonder and awe. The crowd began to murmur again as the discussion began about the missing squire. The priest dismissed the boys to wait inside the church while the whole town began their search once more. As the doors closed behind them they all turned and looked to the squire who had pulled the sword.

"How did you do it?" One of the other squires asked in a severe tone, an average looking boy with black hair. Maybe twelve or eleven with a squeaky voice and straight jaw. The squire who had pulled the sword shook softly at the question.

"I do not know. I took my turn like the rest of you and when I pulled up on the sword, it just came out as though it had been set in butter." The squire's weary eyes sadly looked around and betrayed the lack of sleep in them to the others.

"Nay. We all saw you pull it. I ask you, how did you not set the sword back?" The eyes of the young squire who pulled the sword from the stone grew wide and with a visible tremble the squire slumped to the floor.

"I just set it to the hole, but I did not press down. I feared it would slip in and then all would know." The other boys murmured amongst themselves, as the squire who had pulled the sword sat with a look of horror still etched visibly across the face.

"He doesn't even look strong enough to pull the sword out." Another boy sneered while forcefully shoving the blonde squire's shoulder. The boy had dark red hair and freckles, but stood taller than some grown men. His beard was already covering most of his chin and the lad was barely fourteen years of age, "Look how big the rest of us are and we're near the same age."

"I don't see what that has to do with anything." As the squire who had pulled the sword from the stone spoke, the others grew silent. "The adults are much bigger than all of us and no knight, nor man has ever pulled the sword." The squire stood up and with a chest puffed out in defiance started to speak, but quickly pulled back and returned to the usual withdrawn demeanor.

"Exactly!" The sneering boy continued, "My uncle and my father have both come on multiple attempts to pull the sword, yet it never budged even when they are both very large men." As he spoke he spread his hands apart and upwards indicating the size of his relatives. As the red headed boy began to gesture, some of the other boys began to argue about just telling the town and the knights who pulled the sword. They might all be punished still, but even then it wouldn't be as badly as dragging this situation out further. 

The blonde squire who had pulled the sword looked ever the more terrified at the proposition of the others revealing the truth. Several of the squires which had partook more generously than the rest, the evening prior, were more apt to admit the truth and take their beatings so they could simply lay down. The waves of nausea was evident on their faces, which was only heightened by their fear of what more was to come. Even so, what was more worrisome was the sound of the crowd returning outside. One of the older squires whistled loudly.

"Now lis'n 'ere. Ain't not one of youse are gonna sayin' any'thn to no grownups youse 'ere? We all in 'is toge'her yeah? We don' le'eve non' of ou's behin'. Na' eva'" As he spoke, his eyes scanned the room, sharply observing the reactions of the others. Even the other older squires seemed to agree with him. The squire was already seventeen years of age with broad shoulders. He sported his own set of used chain-mail, which he wore with great pride. His dark black hair and brown eyes withdrew the eyes of many of the other squires when they made contact. He stood proud, his years of following his knight were shown in how he demanded obedience. 

The boys all stood and quietly waited, as the Priest entered to usher them back outside. As they stepped out from the dim church, the blaring light of the sun caused all of the boys to squint and cover their eyes. What they witnessed when their eyes adjusted was brutal. The missing squire was bloodied and bruised. It seemed that the townsfolk were no longer concerned over the potential of hurting the future king.

Two knights were forcing the young squire to place the sword back in the hole but the squire was screaming and refusing to even touch the blade. One knight grabbed hold of the squires hand while the other pinned the arms and legs of the young boy. The first knight forced the boy to grab onto the sword by the blade; the sharp edge cut deeply into his hand and blood started pooling on the ground. 

The other squires all cried out in protest, but a sharp look from the priest reminded them all that only one of them was the king and the rest should mind their place. It was just a matter of time. Satisfied that the boy they were pinning down wasn't the correct one they released him. He landed in a heap, crying and clutching his hands.

"Bring in the next child." The larger and older of the two knights spoke with command, as two more knights came from behind the squires and grabbed one of them at random. It was a younger squire, who was only eleven years of age. Light brown hair and soft blue eyes betrayed his timid nature. He wore a light colored jerkin and his torn sleeve revealed old bruises, no doubt left from the rough grabs of his knight. The other squires reacted in a manner revealing that they were all visibly disturbed. Several of the boys grabbed their own arms where their own bruises caused them to wince.

"What?! No! Please?" The boy started sobbing and tried pointing back towards the squires, but a swift kick to the back of his knees dropped him before the stone and the sword. In the same fashion as before, the pair both pinned and forced the squire to grip the sword by the blade. Forcing the blade downward, while also holding the edge of the sword cut deeply into the tender flesh of the young boy's hands. The sword refused to enter the stone and the knights sighed visibly. Releasing the squire, he too landed in a sobbing heap next to the first boy.

"Bring in the next."

"No stop! It's 'im. 'e's the one youse want!" The large boy from before stood pointing at the boy who pulled the sword from the stone and all the other squires stepped aside. The feeling of terror swept through the squires betrayed one of their own. Though, it was just the one boy that confessed, they all felt the weight and shame of the decision that had been made. Each of the squires in the procession hung their heads in shame. Without hesitation, the knights grabbed the squire and threw him at the feet of the larger knight holding the sword. The other knight pinned back the squire's arm and legs. As he did so the large knight forced the blade into the young squires hand. 

A murmur rang out through the crowd when no blood poured out from the squire's hand. Shocked, the squire stared in horror. The large knight tightly gripped his hand over the squire's the blade downward, back into it's place in the stone. With a gasp, the crowd all fell back and dropped down in a low bow. The large knight placed his hand on the pommel and with a strenuous tug, he confirmed that the placement was the same as before. Gesturing towards the sword,

"Now pull the sword from the stone." Looking at his hands and not understanding the lack of blood, the young squire gripped the pommel and lifted the sword from the stone with only one hand. The sword was removed with such ease it was as though it were a feather being lifted by the wind. The crowd all bowed and a soft chant rang out,

For whosoever pulleth out from
this stone, this sword.
Then he shall forevermore be,
King of England.

Shocked, one of the oldest of the knights strode out from the throng of people. His old armor had wear of decades of work and battles, and his long white beard had started losing its traces of grey. The deep blue of his eyes contrasted the rosey red cheeks on his face. This was the knight whom had been training the young blonde squire.

"You once served as my squire; Now I serve you." As he approached, he leaned in close so that only the squire could hear, "My queen."