SS Hampton Sr.
To Guy, a pudgy, balding accountant at Popp & Grubb of Muskogee, it was a dream come true when the large wooden gates of the Renaissance Faire finally opened in the hot, dusty summer hills of Oklahoma.
For one hundred bucks American he rented a real mail shirt and leggings, a padded aketon to wear under the mail shirt, leather breeches, leather boots, surcoat, conical helmet with nose guard, sword and scabbard, and a heavy wooden leather covered shield.
All real, all heavy, and all too damned hot. But it was worth it to live his daydream of being a Medieval knight. It was a daydream fueled by a dull childhood of an overprotective mother and an even more lackluster life of a lonely adult. For a little while he was a knight shaping history, a knight rescuing grateful lusty princesses, a knight slaying fire-breathing dragons.
He was Sir Guy.
Sir Guy...The Accountant...
Through the humid summer day Sir Guy joined the laughing, preening royalty and looked down his nose at the commoners. He drank mugs of sharp ale and wine, chewed on thick strips of hot juicy steak, ogled seductive Gypsy dancers, and roared his enthusiastic approval during jousting tournaments. He snickered at the tourists in their loud print shirts, Bermuda shorts with knobby knees, and sneered at the cowboys with their cowboy hats, tight shirts and blue jeans.
Only the hot, summer dressed shapely young women found approval in his eyes. He flirted awkwardly with the costumed female staffers and flirted shamelessly with visiting female tourists regardless of their age. Any of the females would satisfy his urges, his loneliness.
When the humid coolness of the evening came and torches flickered to life throughout the Faire, he wandered up to the plywood castle trimmed with fake stonewalls and stared at it with a deepening sadness.
It was time to hand over the heavy "rent-a-knight" equipment. It was time to go home to his hot little apartment to prepare for a tournament field of a messy desk and jousting with his weapons of paper, pen and calculator. Just another day, another week, and another month.
He decided there was time for a last battle. He would rescue the beautiful lusty daughter of a grateful king or free a misty fairy princess who would steal him away to her kingdom. He looked around to be sure no one was watching and wandered nonchalantly across the wooden bridge above a ditch into the small castle.
In the pale flickering torch light from the Faire that shone through arched window openings he hefted his heavy shield, drew his sword and carefully examined the surrounding darkness of the enclosing false walls and floors. He spotted misshapen warriors lurking in the shadows and he advanced slowly on the phantoms. The gray painted plywood floors creaked as he darted forward, swinging his sword while using his shield to ward off spear thrusts and sword blows. Huffing and puffing as sweat dripped down his round face, Sir Guy fought wildly, spinning, ducking, or leaping in the midst of his amazed, dying foes.
He began to gasp for air under the hot helmet.
When he felt dizzy and colored spots circled before his eyes he paused and leaned on his sword. Soft laughter floated through the air and he saw a woman in bright white clothing with long silver hair sitting on the darkened steps of the winding stairway that led upward into the round tower. She smiled at him with her chin perched on her hands as she watched him. His face and ears flushed in deep embarrassment and he looked around to see who else might be watching and laughing at him.
"Very good," she complimented him in a soft musical voice. "Does my rescuer have a name?"
Guy wiped his dripping face with a hand. "Uh, me?"
"Do you see another rescuer?" She replied, extending her hands to indicate the deeply shadowed room. She smiled and Guy stood a little straighter.
He cleared his throat. "Uh, Sir Guy."
"Of?" He echoed.
"What land do you hail from?"
"Ahhh," she sighed as she slowly stood up. She crossed her arms and tilted her head to one side as she smiled. Her long silver hair hung to the waist. She wore a shimmering silky white dress, deeply cut across the breasts, and a silky green laced bodice, with long full sleeves and sandals. A jeweled belt graced her waist, accentuating her round hips, and an amber necklace hung around her neck. "England."
"Yes," Guy breathed heavily. She was beautiful. He felt a stirring as he studied her perfect form, like he had so many times before about other women. He expected that his stirring would remain unfulfilled except by his own hand.
"The England of King Arthur and Merlin?"
"The England of Queen Guinevere and Lancelot?" She slowly circled him, looking him up and down contemplatively. Her eyes shone like silvery moonlight in the darkness of the room.
"The England of fire breathing dragons, druids and fairies?"
"Yes." Sir Guy smiled, enjoying the word play. Was it possible, if he had the courage to ask, that this beautiful woman might join him for soda or coffee afterwards? "Who are you?"
She laughed gently. "A fairy princess." She reached into the shadows of her pale deep cleavage beneath the silky bodice.
Guy chuckled. "Do you have a name?"
"Of course. Even fairies have names." As she circled him he smelled her perfume. It was a perfume that whispered of mysterious moonlit seas.
"Well?" Guy managed in a deeper voice as he slid the heavy sword into the scabbard. "Tell me."
"Such authority, such command," she whispered from behind him. Her breath was warm and sweet. It smelled of fresh earth and musky roses. Then she stood in front of him, placing a slim, pale finger to his lips. "Tell no one," she whispered as she drew closer. "The world of Faerie and Human are separate, and the bridges are few, shrouded in mist and legends. Though Human and Faerie have loved one another, such love is unpredictable and nearly always doomed."
"Your name," Guy growled hoarsely as she held up a small amber ball between two fingers tipped by long dark red fingernails. It sparkled in the light of torches spaced along the stonewalls.
"Cyneburg," she whispered. "Every woman, fairy or human, needs a champion. Will you be my champion?"
"You will defend me from errant knights and robbers?" She balanced the amber on a fingernail before it rolled into her open palm.
"You will slay dragons and demons for me?"
"Yes." Guy stared at the amber ball that seemed to float a hair's breadth above her palm and in which pools of light and darkness swirled. Yes, soda or coffee afterwards. And maybe, just maybe, a real date. All he had to do was have the courage to ask this beautiful woman.
"You will bear privation, thirst and hunger for me?"
"Swear it!" She hissed as she stepped closer. He was startled. Her silver eyes beneath her pale arched eyebrows burned into him.
"I, Sir Guy," he said in a trembling voice, "swear to be the champion of Cyneburg the Fairy Princess, until she releases me from this holy, sacred vow."
She continued to gaze at him with a somber intensity that was unsettling. Well, everyone had their quirks.
"I will never release you from your vow," she finally stated. "I will never release such a champion." She smiled, puckered her lips and blew softly. The amber ball floated gently on her warm scented breath past Guy's cheek.
"Wow," he said in surprise. "Will, will you join me for a soda or coffee after I turn all of this in? The guys are probably looking for me now."
"Your vow," she chuckled ominously.
"What?" Guy frowned as she clasped her hands together in front of her breasts and backed toward the winding stone stairway.
"Your vow, my champion," Cyneburg smiled.
From behind him Guy heard the stealthy scrape of leather on stone and the hiss of swords being drawn. He looked over his shoulder.
"Wow," he breathed as his eyes widened. This is a good show."
As a pungent animal-like smell filled the room, grunting and huffing armored, shaggy creatures with half-human, half-simian faces stepped out of the deep shadows. They brandished painted wooden shields, swords and spears, and swayed unsteadily as if standing was unnatural for them.
"Your vow," she repeated from the shadows of the stairs.
Sir Guy backed toward the stairs as Cyneburg clapped her hands gleefully. He heard the rustle of her silk dress and the soft pad of her feet as she disappeared up the round stairway.
"Cyneburg," he called into the pale light of torches further up the stairs, disappointed that she didn't remain to watch him. "Cyneburg?"
With a loud grunt, as if mocking him, one of the shaggy creatures, dressed in a coat of chain mail shambled forward, thrusting a spear at him. Sir Guy put his helmet on and drew his sword as the thing snarled at him.
"Wow," he said as new sheets of perspiration washed over him. "This is good."
The creature lunged and Sir Guy cried out as the spear slammed into his shield. He fell painfully against the stone stairs.
"Hey!" He shouted as it raised the spear above him with hairy hands and howled triumphantly. Sir Guy angrily thrust the sword at his foe and pain shot up his arm from the impact. The creature screamed, shook it's head from side to side and staggered backwards as he pulled the sword free. "Oh shit!" He shouted. A thick rivulet of dark blood ran down the length of the blade. "I didn't mean it! It was an accident!"
A spear zipped past his right ear and clattered against stone as the room erupted with snarls and screams.
"Your vow, my champion," Cyneburg called to him from above.
"But this, this -" Sir Guy shouted as he tried to run up the stairs, not daring to look back as he heard the rushing pounding of misshapen feet on stone.
"Your vow," her musical voice floated down from the tower top above.
"This is real!" He shrieked as he finally turned. He couldn't outrun the monstrous creatures. In the deep shadows of the cramped circular stone stairway he fought wildly until he saw the bright eyed, silver haired Cyneburg watching him through the roof top trapdoor.
"Cyneburg," he gasped as scrambled heavily through the opening. With a desperate grunt he slammed the heavy wooden door shut on the monstrous snarling faces.
"My champion," she greeted him with a darkly mischievous smile. She held his face in her warm hands and stared deeply into his eyes. Within her eyes he could see tiny sparkles of light as if he were looking into the gentle soul of the universe. Sir Guy was afraid to breathe as her face drew closer. He closed his eyes as her warm lips touched his and he felt the teasing probe of her tongue between his lips. Then she let go.
With a tired and happy smile Sir Guy limped to the crenellated wall, dragging his bloody sword and battered shield as heavy fists pounded at the wooden door.
His mouth dropped open.
From the narrow circular tower perched on a wet rocky mound, as far as the eye could see, was the deeply rippled surface of a moonlit ocean. Wisps of grayish-pale white clouds floated across the bright face of the moon like silvery hair blown wind.
"Cyneburg?" He whispered fearfully.
Sir Guy The Accountant looked in vain for the torches of the Renaissance Fair, the crowds of tourists, and the dark green hills of Oklahoma. Finally, in despairing shock, he slowly sat down as he listened to the roar of the ocean and the laughter that came from the bright night sky above him.
Her gentle voice floated on the cool wind to him above the endless angry pounding against the wooden door.
"I will never release you, my champion."
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full blood Choctaw, a divorced father of three children, grandfather of two. He is a part-time photographer and photojournalist, when not working at a regular job that lays him off every six months just as he finally qualifies for health and life insurance.
His fiction has appeared in Dark Fire, Whispering Spirits, Amoret, The Harrow, Quantum Muse, and LiterotiCaffeine, among others. He is working on a non-fiction book about a mildly handicapped young man falsely accused of attempted murder.
Published by permission of the author.