The crowd is louder than ever. The arena is packed this year, and it is difficult to sneak in. Luckily me and Varys, who I consider to be best friends, know about the slightly cracked wall that has a hole just big enough for the two of us to crawl through.
We were apple to make it to the middle sections of the arena. Trying to get front row seats would be too risky, as nobels tend to have that area reserved and I may have run into guards asking to see tickets.
The middle seats are crowded and provide anonymity. It also provides a decent enough view of the tournament. The middle and top sections don't have assigned seating; they are designed more like areas for the masses to watch. Even though there are few branches,most of them are old and broken. A few people bring their own wooden stools to sit or stand on and fathers have their children on their shoulders so they can see clearly.
I arrived just when the pre-tournament ceremonies were about to start. Music is being played..there is also dancing and horses tricks providing entertainment to the crowd.
I always find the pre-tournament events to be a good time to discuss tournament strategy and this year's competition with my friend.
After several moments, a horn blasts to signify that the first match is about to begin. I stand up on my toes and strain to see the arena floor. Walking in were two teams,each wearing grab and shields from their respective houses. The team on the left have sigils of griffins with white and black coloured patterns while the team on the right have sigils of horses dressed in brown colours. They are about to do combat with wooden swords, clubs and staff. Vary decides it is a good time to make a bet with me; it's a game I often play with each other, even though we know either of us has the coin to pay the other. Vary is kind enough to let me take the first pick of the team.
I chose the left team(Griffins).
Another horn sounds and the men from the right side, the horse charge. I noticed the left side, the griffins, charge as well, but they are much more organized and make sure they stick together. They soon form a semi-circle facing the enemy.. When the right side charges, one of the eager aggressors runs further
ahead of his comrades. He soon engages in combat with the left defender and finds himself surrounded.He is quickly put down. The fighting continues until only one side remains standing, which happens to be the left sides,or the griffins. Two of their men have fallen, but all in all they are mostly intact. A few watcher boo; this certainly is one of the quicker arena battles that I have seen. Usually It is chaotic, with men having individual duels throughout the arena. People often want to make a name for themselves, as this is the most common way to get into the single matches. It seems the left team decides to use a different strategy instead.
But I find the griffins to be smart, but also foolish as they would probably not be invited to compete again.
In truth, winning wasn't really the point of the team battle. Both sides are compensated well; what really matters is that the crowd is entertained. It is supposed to be a disorganized brawl to get the crowd excited for the main event. By making it a quick fight, some of the people are disappointed. Perhaps the griffins didn't know this, or the simple don't care about it for their own good. There is a brief intermission before the main event.
Vendors walk around sellings foods and stuff. A couple of fights takes place in the top, which result in detachments of guards being sent to break it up.
Next up is my favorite knight, Sir Robert Gale. He is my favorite for a good reason...not only is he considered one of the best swordsmen in the realm, he has the love of the people as well; he often would donate his winnings to the poor or use it in outrageous ways. I fondly remember one of the tournaments where Sir Robert gale tossed a bag of gold up into the stage, causing a riot to break out.Since then he hadn't done it.
Also my father works as a stablehand managing his horse midknight which is said to be the fastest horse in the realm for him,which might be one of the factories for why he is my favorite knight.
My father was farmboy, that's why he loved horses and ended up working for Sir Robert. Midknight was extremely hard to get control of, most of the horse trainers and stable hands refused to work with Midnight saying she could never be broken in.But that didn't stop my father he could take a horse under control and take care of her like no one else. Sir Robert noticed him and hired him immediately.
Sir Robert is going to fight thrill, a noble warrior from the far east. Many people are shocked at Thrall's size. His hand is bigger than someone's face and he also stands around seven feet tall. My initial reaction when I saw him was to feel sorry for the horse. He seems uncomfortable on his mount; for him, the joust is more of a formality. The two knight line up across the arena as the flag and rope are set up to distinguish the sides.I see my father feed a carrot to midnight, which seems to make her forget about the crowd and calm her down. Sir Robert gale is wearing light armour, while Thrall is in heavy plate mail. When the jousting area is fully prepared, Aldrick, who has been the tournament announcer for as long as I can remember, takes the stage and raises his arm for the crowd to be silent.
He introduces Sir Robert gale, who hails from the Northland and the crowd cheers. He then introduces Thrall and the crowd also cheers but with less enthusiasm then before. He reminds the competitor of the rules of the competition, which were very few. The joust will consist of three passes, if it even lasted that long .You receive one point for making contact with your opponent. You receive two points if you hit your opponent and break your lance.
Finally, if you knock your opponent off his horse you receive three points. Most nights who are knocked off their horse do not continue the joust and are allowed to withdraw with honour. There is also a rule that if any knight does not agree with the ruling of the tournament judge they can settle the competition with hand to hand combat. Aldrick examines each of knight's three lances to make sure they are fully wooden, and waves his hand to signal that the tournament can begin. Each knight stands on either side of the arena, looking at the other end ready to charge at any moment.
A flag in the center is waved and both opponents charge on their horses. Sir Robert keeps his lance up in the air but trall lowers him too quickly and has trouble maintaining its aim. At just the right moment, sir Robert lowers his lance and hits Thrall with the perfect strike to the center of his chest, cracking the lance in half. Thrall misses completely.In fact, trall barely moves; his size and weight makes him more like a tank than a human being and even though sir Robert's strike is true but does very little damage.
Sir Robert drops what is left of his lance and grabs another from one of his attendees. he quickly turns around and charges at Thrall again. Trall does the same again but is not as quick as sir Robert. Just like the previous attack, sir Robert lowers his lance at just the right moment. He hits Thrall hard in his shoulder. This time, Thrall manages to slightly hit sir Robert, but it is brushed aside by his shield.The blow Thrall receives seems more powerful this time and causes him to lean back. He has to drop his lance inorder to maintain control of his horse. now comes the third and final pass. Sir Robert gives Thrall a few seconds to compose himself to grab another lance and charge again. sir Robert begins to lower his lance like before, but he does something i have never seen him do before. rather than lowering it all the way he rests it slightly on his shield so it is tilted up. When the two men meet, he hits trall by smashing the endpoint of the lance directly into his face. Thrall loses his balance completely and falls off the horse. for some minutes Thrall lies in the ground and does not move as if he his dead. suddenly he rolls over and gets up. he takes of his helmet, which still has wooden splinters in it and roars something at sir Robert and starts walking forward. sir Robert drops his lance, jumps off his horse and signals someone to give him his sword. Thrall's two attendants run up and give him a huge, two handed war hammer, which he seems to wield in one hand like it weighs almost nothing. Thrall then swings his hammer at sir Robert,
catching him nearly off guard. Raged sir Robert swings his sword at Thrall which hits him in his chest, but his thick armour makes his sword look like a toothpick. with surprising speed Thrall swings his hammer around sir Robert. at the right moment he manages to put his shield up which absorbs most of the impact. his shield cracks under the heavyweight of the hammer, and it causes sir robert to fall on the ground, shield flying down at his side.
Thrall is a beast of a man, but is slow. "If i could move around him and tire him i should be able to get the upper hand" I thought to myself.
Meanwhile sir robert manages to weak spot in his armour and manages to hit Thrall directly in his armpit.Thrall yells in pain and falls to his knees. sir Robert continues his attack, even though Thrall is on his one knee. After some minutes of fighting, sir Robert kicks Thrall in his knees causing him to fall down again, but this time sir RObert manages to put his sword close to Thrall's throat. after a few moments of hesitation, which seems like forever.... Thrall finally yields. sir Robert helps Thrall up and shakes his hand. He then raises his sword in the air and looks at the crowd that is cheering in excitement. sir Robert leaves to take off his armor and prepare for the closing ceremony...