Saturday, October 24, 2009

How The Magna Carta Was Really Signed

In honor of a Robin Hood week that I heard about on a friend's blog, I'm posting the only short story I've written that has Robin Hood in it. Despite the fact that I've always liked Robin Hood, I haven't made many stories about him. I do have an idea for one, though.

Anyway, since this is Saturday, I figured I'd post the story now, as the week will be over in another day.

How the Magna Charta Was Really Signed

“Many greetings, King Arthur!” Prince John exclaimed merrily, raising his cup of mead in a toast to the neighboring kingdom’s ruler. “Welcome to my castle in Nottingham.”

“Very quaint, Prince,” King Arthur replied, “But what stopped you from arranging this meeting in one of your larger castles?”

Prince John adopted a saddened look, which went well with his scraggly goatee. “They remind me of my poor older brother, King Richard, who this very moment is fighting in the Crusades.” John switched to a noble, self-sacrificial look, which didn’t look quite as normal on him. “But I shall carry on his work despite the hardships of kingly duty. Speaking of which, will you join me in a small banquet before we begin the meeting?”

“Very well. My knights and I are somewhat hungry from our journey,” Arthur said as he took a seat and gestured to his knights to do the same.

As the knights sat down at the table, Sir Percivale whispered to Sir Galahad, “This table isn’t as circular as the one back home”. Sir Galahad voiced his agreement.

The food was served, and the banquet was in full swing when a row broke out towards the foot of the dining table. Several knights were complaining about a Jew being at the table, despite the fact that he was as far away from everyone else as he could get. With the King of Camelot’s help, peace was grudgingly restored.

“Prey tell me how yonder Jew came to be traveling with you?” Prince John asked King Arther.

“We picked him up on our way here,” King Arthur told him between droughts of malt beer, “He’s traveling from Venice, where, he told us, he’s business was ruined and he was stripped of his fortune in court. Something about a pound of flesh, I believe.”

Prince John was in a good mood and raised his goblet in a toast.

“To the merchant of Venice!” he cried. Then, he continued his conversation with King Arthur about the vital importance of taxes in the economy. One of Prince John’s cohorts, a Knight of the Templar, whispered to another Knight, gesturing in the direction of the Jew.

Meanwhile, several other knights struck up a conversation with a pilgrim who was on a journey. He was received better then the Jew, as he was a Christian. In fact, Prince John once again raised his goblet.

“To this pilgrim’s progress!” he cried, and was once again heartily joined in a toast.

As the banquet continued, the beer flowed freer and a bit more cheaply. Finally, Prince John opted to finish the food and begin the land bartering that King Arthur had come for. But then, the king suggested that they watch the jester do his tumbling tricks one last time. Prince John was about to agree when he got a closer look at the jester, who was repeatedly bowing his head down until his three- forked hat brushed the ground.

“Do I… know you?” he asked, squinting suspiciously at the entertainer. Then, as the jester straightened and winked at him, “Robin Hood!”

The jester pulled off his hat and raised his scepter in the air. “Merry Men of Lincoln Green, attack!” he yelled.

Instantly, all the entertainers rose as one and brandished their swords. The bard, who was dressed all in scarlet, called to a burly performer, “Little John, guard the prince!”

But Prince John didn’t flinch when Little John held a sword to his throat. He just smiled and said, “I was expecting this. That’s why I had my friends, the Knights of the Templar, bring reinforcements.”

At that signal, many more Knights ran out from various passages. At the front was the Sheriff of Nottingham, yelling and waving his broadsword.

All the Knights of the Templar drew their own swords and began attacking the Merry Men. The sounds of clashing metal filled the large hallway. Prince John looked on, popping grapes into his mouth one by one as he did so. King Arthur and his own knights watched as well.

The fight wasn’t going very well for Robin Hood and his men. Robin himself was fighting two of the leaders of the Knights of the Templar. He was slowly being pushed back. He called to another man fighting near him, “Ivanhoe! Give me a hand here, wilt thou?”

The stout lad joined him in his fight, but the Knights of the Templar were still winning the battle. Prince John remarked to King Arthur, “Well, well. This is better then I thought. We can catch that scoundrel Robin Hood at last.”

“Scoundrel, is he?” Arthur stated mildly, “I’ve heard a bit differently. In fact, that’s why, when he met me on the way here and proposed that I help him on a little take-over plan of his, I agreed.”

“What?” said Prince John.

At that, King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table rose up and drew their own swords, joining the combat on the side of Robin’s men. Sir Kay and Sir Gawaine joined Robin and Ivanhoe in their fight, and soon had the Knights of the Templar on the defense.

Their spirits raised, the other Merry Men redoubled their attack. One, a friar, drubbed three Knights of the Templar with one swing of his quarterstaff. Sir Lancelot easily countered all of Nottingham’s Sheriff’s blows. Even Prince John was forced into action, fighting with Little John. But as the swords rang, the fight slowly shifted towards Robin and Arthur’s side. Finally, Prince John’s sword was knocked from his hand, and he cried, “You haven’t won yet! I thought this might happen. I have backup!” He pointed to the entrance to the hall.

Through it stepped a figure. King Arthur gasped as he saw it. “Morgan le Fay!”

Morgan le Fay grinned at him, then raised her hands. Blasts of green magic shot from them, incinerating all she managed to hit. Luckily, she was a bad shot, and she hit almost as many of the Templar Knights as she did Merry Men or Knights of the Round Table. One of Prince John’s men, named Yorick, was hit and disappeared instantly, leaving only a smoldering skull in his place, and prompting Robin Hood himself to say, “Alas, poor man!”

But the carnage soon ended when Sir Bedivere had the presence of mind to shove a mirror into the path of the magic, making it reflect back onto Morgan. This knocked her unconscious while avoiding the nasty business of harming a lady. The other knights were immensely relived at this.

But now the fight had been evened. It was hard to tell who would win now. But then, yet another person showed up. The sight of this one stopped the fighting entirely. Everyone stopped to turn to him.

“What’s all this?” said King Richard, walking into the hall. He surveyed the scene. Knights of both the Templar and the Round Table stood together with Merry Men. Wisps of magical smoke drifted around them. Then Robin Hood stepped forward, pulling a parchment out from his breeches.

“We came to get Prince John to sign this,” he explained, “And there was a little dispute. We’ve got it settled now, though.” He walked up to Prince John, who was sitting under the blades of several Merry Men, and said, “Just sign right here.”

“What is it?” Prince John asked as he signed.

“A little something we call the Magna Charta.” Robin answered.

Meanwhile, King Richard had spotted King Arthur and greeted his old friend. They talked together, and soon Richard was filled in on the whole story. “It’s too bad Gwenivere isn’t here,” he said.

“Oh, don’t worry about her," Arthur answered, "She’s staying at Joyous Gard with a new friend of hers named Joan of Arc.”

Then, as Robin returned, satisfied with the Magna Charta, and all the others began to clean up their mess, King Arthur added, “Well, we will have to be on our way soon. We’re heading over to Canterbury. Some pilgrims from there told me a tale of a fierce man by the name of Beowulf. He might be able to help me sort out some problems my friend Saint George has been having with a dragon. I hear he has experience in that field.”

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