The knight stepped out from the shadow of the gatehouse as the chains that raised the portcullis clinked to a halt. Sunlight flashed off the polished plates of his armor as he strode toward the agreed location for the duel. The metal’s weight comforted him, though he could feel some imbalances indicative of loose straps and other casualties of wear. Nothing life-threatening, however. He would send for an armorer after this business was finished.
Two men were waiting as the knight approached. One swung a broadsword with two hands in clumsy movements that reminded the knight of the first swings he took with his father’s blade. The weapon now hung comfortably on his left hip, ready to leap into his gauntleted hand.
The other man took the blade from the first, and showed a much more practiced stroke. He offered the sword back to his companion, who returned to his hacking arcs with an indifferent shrug. A nudge and a nod toward the knight from the bladesman brought the display to an end.
Were these men his opponents? The knight slowed his pace, cautious. Surely not. Their dark, loose linen tunics and breeches belonged to craftsmen. More likely, they were shirking their responsibilities for a bit of fun.
Or perhaps they had come to witness the duel. Spectators were not unheard of, though the knight did understand the thirst for such bloodsport.
“Good day,” the knight greeted them, scouting the area. “I suppose you are here–”
A whoosh of air was all the warning the knight had. He swung his arm up, the clang of metal ringing as the blow connected with his armored limb. The knight stumbled backward, grasping for his own sword, but it caught in the scabbard. Betrayed, he was helpless as his attacker pierced the gaps in his protection.
The knight fell to the ground, blood flowing freely from several wounds. His breath rattled in his lungs. The duel had been a ruse, he realized, as the two men turned and left. The knight rolled onto his back and flipped back his visor. He heard the pounding of hooves on packed dirt. His men were approaching. Leather and metal jingled, and a grizzled face appeared over his.
“My lord, what happened?”
Pens and Swords was the victim of a drive-by this Sunday, courtesy of the Men with Pens. I’ll be making a few changes based on their wonderful (and solicited) analysis and feedback. The first, which I already completed, is the purchase of a new domain. You’ll now be able to access this blog by going to www.pensandswords.com. I’m keeping kameronmf.com; the new URL acts as a redirect.
All the off-site links are moving to a Resource page. And Ben Overmeyer has offered some graphics help with a new banner. Post categories not related to fantasy fiction will disappear from the Archives drop-down, and the categories with ambiguous names or acronyms will be clarified. I also need to try to clean up the CSS, but that’s lower on the priority list.
I’ve flip-flopped on the issue of post title capitalization over the course of my blogging career. I currently follow AP guidelines (as opposed to the Chicago Manual of Style).
I’m interested in hearing what you readers think of the blog design, both those that have been here through past iterations and those new to the site. What works and what doesn’t, for you? Is the banner too plain, or is it clean and uncluttered? Can I do something to better emphasize the content? Do you even visit the site or do you get the content through a RSS reader?