It was sometime during the battle of Sherwood that the Black Knight started to feel the first twinges of what could he would later describe as ennui.
Maybe it was burnout. Maybe it was overstimulation.
Maybe it was lower levels of testosterone resulting from the inevitable march of Father Time.
But for some reason, the idea of smashing a peasant’s head in with a mace just didn’t hold the same appeal as it once did.
There was a time when the Black Knight reveled in every aspect of his work. The intimidating. The brutalizing. The bullying. The swordsmanship. The cocksmanship. The taking of liberties. The demanding of royalties.
But lately, as he rode his dark black steed into battle, with his finely honed black armor glinting in the sun, he didn’t feel the same stirring in his heart that he once did when terrorizing the countryside.
Whereas before he would giggle with glee, the Black Knight now found himself sighing as he went about his grim business, hacking and slashing his way through another mediocre peasant uprising. Lopping off arms and burning down houses. Punching cows and hurling insults at children.
Time was taking a physical toll, too. When the Black Knight removed his armor after a battle, he couldn’t help but notice a slight paunch in his midsection. He probably wasn’t doing enough core work anymore. His legs sometimes got stiff from riding in the saddle all day. And every so often, the tendons in his sword hand would ache. The Black Knight hoped that wasn’t the beginning of carpal tunnel syndrome.
He tried different things to rekindle the spark that he felt when he first started his work. Jousting with the White Knight (cheating as usual). Looting and pillaging. Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. Stealing from everyone and keeping it for himself.
But nothing seemed to work.
And then, like a bolt of refreshing black in an otherwise dull white world, she appeared.
A female Black Knight. A Knightress, perhaps? She appeared from the glen on the opposite side of the Avon River, riding a sleek gray horse.
And the cruelty! Oh, how his heart skipped as the thought of the way she had threaded her way through the farmers’ guild, swinging and slicing her sword through peasant after peasant. Cool and calm and detached. Lithe like a panther.
The Black Knight had always seen the opposite sex as weak. Something to be enjoyed and discarded. Sure, he’d had his share of peasant girls. And a few countesses, baronesses and earl-ettes, too. Whenever he strode up to the castle, the ladies of the court sent him sly, knowing looks. They wouldn’t dare be seen with him in public, but in private they were his for the taking. Ladies love a bad boy.
But now, things were different. The Black Knight had never thought that he would find a woman that could help him with his work. He never though about settling down and raising a Knight family.
At night, when the Black Knight curled up to sleep, he imagined the two of them riding into battle side by side, their two swords reining blows down on the defenseless population.
But as soon as Black Knight found a reason to live, he also found reasons to worry.
He started to get self conscious about his physique, and began doing crunches at night after dinner, trying to reduce the size of his paunch.
He started thinking that maybe he should cut down on the mutton and the mead, too. Was there such thing as zero calorie diet mead? It was something to look into.
He started to have panicked, jealous thoughts about the White Knight. That hapless turd was usually too little, too late. He always played by the rules, and the Black Knight always broke the rules. That meant he usually won.
But what if she ended up falling for him? The embarrassment! The humiliation! Think about how all the other Knights would laugh at him! No, that couldn’t come to pass.
(To Be Continued)