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7. The Knight’s Wife – The Struggle

Where the knight must finally overcome his foe. Maybe more than one…

The dragon and the serpent. Image © Eta George

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The Temptress swung her head sharply in the direction of the cave.

A roar.

She was sure she had heard a roar emanate from the cave. How odd. Was her prey putting up a fight and giving her son a hard time? She wouldn’t be surprised if it were so. The Knight was the only man who had managed to resist her dubious charms so far. It made sense he would try and fight her monstrous son too.

Silly human, she chuckled to herself. But of course, he didn’t know. Braver and stronger men than him had failed against the pair of them. It wasn’t by mistake that they had managed to jealously guard this valley against outsiders for hundreds of years.

No matter, she thought, idly flicking her tail, undisturbed. She would visit her son, this once, just to be sure. There was always a possibility, that her all powerful son could still allow things to get out of hand.

And she dipped her head back into the water and started snaking her way towards the underwater rocky passage that connected the lake to her son’s lair. Towards that dark secret cave, which had been her little hideaway at one time.

The very same place where she had birthed her son.

+++

Isabel stood at on top of the heaps of coins, an arrow notched in the long bow, looking at the dark sanctum in dismay.

She could not see the beast very well. She could see a vague monstrous shape shift restlessly in the darkness. Especially when it roared in frustration. But it was clear she could not aim for his heart from this angle. If only she could see!

“ We have to get closer M’lady” a ghostly voice murmured close to her ear, making her jump. “It is neigh impossible to slay the beast from here.”

“Will you quit trying to frighten me?” Isabel snapped at the voice, still feeling jumpy. “You are spoiling my aim.”

But she had to acknowledge the Squire was right. She would have to get closer to the beast. Much, much closer. She felt loath to leave her handy vantage point.

Another deafening roar and the crash of gigantic teeth smashing together.

The monster had missed nabbing the Knight, who had come up for air, once again. What a nightmare it must be for her poor husband. Half burned to death, unable to breathe, with a monster on his tail.

Isabel took a deep breath. She could do this. For her husband’s sake if nothing else. The Squire had already died at the monster’s hands, she could not let her husband be the next victim. She would not let such a thing happen.

And she started descending into the pitch-black pit once more.

+++

The Knight was now feeling dizzy and disoriented.

He did not know how much longer he could go on. He was ready to let go. Of life, of hope, of everything.

All he had to do was stay underwater. Drowning was a peaceful way to die he had heard. He only had to allow the water full entry into his burning lungs. And it would all be over soon.

He relaxed his body and prepared to let go of his very last breath, when the water over his head was disturbed as the monster’s tail briefly dipped into it.

Was the monster not waiting for his return to surface then?

The Knight felt a brief flash of hope. If he could see the monster’s tail, its face must now be elsewhere. Thinking so, he kicked his way to the surface. When his head broke water, amazingly, unbelievingly, he was able to take large gulps of air without disturbance. As his greedy lungs joyfully sucked air, the Knight allowed his gaze to wander.

And he saw what had distracted the monster.

In the scant light which came from outside, he saw a small shape holding aloft a graceful bow, almost as tall as the figure holding it, aiming at the advancing monster.

Could it possibly be Isabel? He was astounded. Had to be, he thought, the shape was much too small to be the Squire’s.

The twang of an arrow being let loose.

The figure was shooting arrows at the monster, bravely standing ground, even as the monster advanced.

But the sound was not quite right. The twang sounded too wobbly, too weak.

And judging from the restless activity of the small figure, Isabel was also running out of arrows.

+++

Isabel stared in panic between the empty quiver and the advancing enraged monster.

She did not know what to do anymore. How was it possible that she had already used up all the arrows? Surely there had been more of them!

Meanwhile, the monster roared in rage, eyes glowing fiercely.

He had thought he would show Isabel some kindness, some mercy. He had wanted to keep her safe from his mother’s wicked jaws, impressed as he was by the beautiful maiden who had attempted to defend the Squire and avenge her horse’s death.

He had intended to keep Isabel as a companion, tired of the centuries of lonely existence it had endured under its tyrannical mother. But now, she was attempting to save the Knight and the monster’s jealousy was getting the better of him.

He saw no reason to keep the unworthy maiden safe anymore. Why even wait for his mother? He would have Isabel for himself, even if it meant inside his belly.

Isabel, meanwhile, stared dejectedly at the empty quiver, lamenting her non-existent archery skills and the ancient longbow whose equally ancient string kept sending the arrows flying in the wrong directions. Her aim was so bad, the arrows had not even managed to skim the monster’s skin.

“Help!” she screamed into the darkness, hoping the ghostly Squire had not vanished, leaving her to a dismal fate. “Help me, Squire!”

“M’lady,” the ghostly voice spoke at once close to her ear. “Look at your feet. There’s still one left.”

Isabel squinted at the dark floor and saw the faintest gleam of an arrowhead. Hope pounding fiercely, she swooped down and triumphantly grabbed the very last arrow.

The monster’s head was already looming over her, salivating, large wicked teeth on full display.

“Aim away from it M’lady and lower,” the ghostly voice instructed her. “Make the best of your last arrow.”

Isabel notched the arrow and took aim just left of the glowing red eyes. She said a prayer to a God she did not believe in before pulling the notched arrow and letting it loose.

A deafening roar. The glowing eyes disappeared momentarily as the monster thrashed his tail in agony.

Isabel felt her heart leap with excitement. Had she finally got him in his heart? She would never have believed it of herself. That she had struck the bulls-eye on the very day that she had picked up a bow and arrow.

One fiercely glowing red eye suddenly loomed over her again. And with a sinking heart, Isabel realized she had not got the monster in his heart.

She had only managed to puncture one of his eyes.

Next: The Escape

Contents

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Adventure, Classic Literature, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal

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