Sunday, February 10, 2008


I hear the clang of bronze and steel before he slips quickly into view. He is tall and thin, carrying ancient weapons. He regards me with suspicion and cold calculation. He raises the old sword to my throat. I do not move.

I feel a swoosh of feathers behind me, but still I don't move. The man looks up in shock as the seven foot Gryphon suddenly appears behind me and then plants his huge claws around the guy's neck. Mr. Gryphon crushes the man's armor like it's made of eggshells. The man falls to the ground, clutching his neck. Crimson is everywhere.

The old sword is on the ground and I reach down to pick it up. It's super heavy and sickle shaped, more ceremonial than practical even if the metal still has the marks from the ancient hammer that created it. I have to hold it with both hands even if it's not that large. The handle is made of bronze. I look at Mr. Gryphon.

"Where did he get this sword? It must be over 2,500 years old."

"He probably found it somewhere. It appears completely intact, but geographically it's traveled a long way." I hand the sword to Mr. Gryphon so he can carry it for me. We have only just arrived here and I took a wrong turn and had the misfortune of running into that now dead knight.
Mr. Gryphon and I are in Compiegne in Northern France the night before the state tournament starts. The year is 1272. For some reason I've wanted to come here just to see, or maybe it's because I've been thinking of Heath Ledger and that silly movie "A Knight's Tale" which I like very much, by the way. I am dressed in a nun's outfit having bought one from a kind sister just before we arrived in town. Mr. Gryphon is visible only when he needs to be which is lucky because that means when he's carrying the sword it will be invisible too.

The place is overrun with knights getting drunk and disorderly the night before the tournament. All around the perimeter of this town are hundreds of tents and camps. Wealthy knights hold forth in lavish tents and with their own entourages. Less wealthy country knights have set up simple camps. The smell of food, of overcooked meat, of ale, to sweaty bodies, of horses, burning wood fires and horse manure seeps into my bones. The sound of metal and weapons, horses neighing and men laughing fill the air. I hold a basket and no one pays me any attention. Men usually don't look at nun's faces.

Mr. Gryphon follows, walking regally and slowly. I am ambling to get a feel for the place. I pass a particularly lavish tent set up and run my hands over the fine, brightly colored silks. The edges are a little ratty, but otherwise the silk has held up well. We walk for quite some time then I head toward the square in the middle of town.

"Miss Turtle, this is not a very safe place," Mr. Gryphon says unnecessarily.

"I just want to look around a bit more." I adjust my wimple. The fabric is roughly dyed a dark color, but it's also scratchy and uncomfortable. I'm thankful it's a cool night.

"You got what you came for and we can come back tomorrow when the tournament starts," he says.

"Why are you in such a hurry, Mr. Gryphon?"

"We have to finish this post now so we can go get something to eat, in the real world," he says. He rarely mentions "the real world" to me. I stop and look at him and I realize he's right. I've had fun writing this post, but I did find what I was looking for. Time to stop.

As we prepare to exit a lone faded blue door appears hanging in space. Mr. Gryphon hands me the sword and opens the door for me. We pass through and manage to bring the sword and the nun's habit with us.

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