He climbed the winding stairs that led ever upwards to the surface. He had been chosen. He was the Challenger. He would not let the Queen down.
He reached the third landing and saw that it was guarded by the Queen’s personal Guard. The best of the best. Not in his league of course, or one of them would have been chosen by Queen Andrais.
“I am the Black Knight with the Dark Shield and the Blood Red Sword!” he declared
“Not the Black Knight with the Dark Shield and the Blood Red Sword?” said the guard’s leader, impassive behind his own armour.
“Yes, the Black Knight with the Dark Shield and the Blood Red Sword!” he avowed.
“You may proceed to the Challenge!” the Guard ordered, and the Guards moved aside to let him pass. He passed through their massed ranks, secure in his chosen position. Look down on him in Court, would they? Ha! The Queen had known of his prowess, and that was enough for him.
The stairs wound onwards. He took them with pride in his chest, and a cruel smile upon his lips. The sound of his armour resounded off the walls as he made his way through the twisting spiral. He slowed, as he approached the second landing. This was manned, so to speak by the Queen’s Army. Pitiful wretches, who barely knew the proper way to hold their swords and repel the enemy. Still, at least they were better than the goblins.
“I am the Black Knight with the Dark Shield and the Blood Red Sword!” he declared to the assembled people there.
“Not the Black Knight with the Dark Shield and the Blood Red Sword?” answered what appeared to be a grizzled Sergeant.
“Yes, the Black Knight with the Dark Shield and the Blood Red Sword!” he replied.
“Heh,” smirked the Sergeant, “I wasn’t expecting one of you lot to come through here.”
He barely managed to restrain himself from hitting the insolent fool, but really, what did he expect? “I am the Challenger!” he snarled, sniffed loudly, and strode across the landing to the stairs upwards.
The stairs were dark, but comfortable for the moment. The stone was strong beneath his armoured feet, and occasionally his sword would swing against the stone walls. He climbed ever onwards and ever upwards.
He reached the last landing, and the goblins swarmed out from their guardpost, surrounding him, poking him with their weapons. He could sweep them aside in a moment, but these were the Realm’s Defenders. The Queen would not be happy.
No matter how bad they smelt.
“I am the Black Knight with the Dark Shield and the Blood Red Sword!” he declared.
“Not the Black Knight with the Dark Shield and the Blood Red Sword?” one particularly ugly looking goblin said, with a leer on his face.
“Yes, the Black Knight with the Dark Shield and the Blood Red Sword!” he answered back, ignoring the mocking contempt he saw.
“Well,” said the goblin leader, “Far be it for me to not let the Black Knight through when the Queen has ordered it.” The other goblins fell about laughing, and his anger grew. These were the Realm’s first line of defense? Bah! He would have advice for the Queen when he returned.
Turning, he ignored the laughing goblins, and swept through the horde assembled there. Reaching the final set of stairs, he strode on ever upwards, never looking back. The stairs seemed almost more cramped, more twisting as he reached the surface, but still he strode on, eager to please the Queen. He would succeed – he was the Challenger!
Finally, he was there. Emerging into the bright, dreaded sunlight, he summoned all his skill, all his power and all his resolve together. “I am here for the Challenge!” he roared. “Bring on your best fighter! He who I will beat into submission and claim this realm for my Queen.”
There was a vague unimpressed stirring among the people present, and a short light haired female came forward. “Bring it on, armour boy,” she said in a fairly bored tone of voice. What was this? What insult was this? He was fighting a female?
"I am the Black Knight with the Dark Shield and the Blood Red Sword!” he roared in anger.
"Never heard of you,” said Buffy, and punched his head off. Literally.
“You know, Giles,” said Buffy thoughtfully, walking back to the car with the head under one arm, “I’m starting to think that bitch Andrais isn’t taking these challenges seriously….”
And it looks like I need to buy a new TV set. Colour bleed is definitely affecting the bottom left hand corner, and it's getting to the stage where I can't not see it every time I look at the screen now. Gah. Still, I reckon I've had that set about 8 or 9 years, so a pretty good run I suppose.