The Adventures of Rupert the Bold: The Unlikely Tale of the Raven Prince: III-IV
The Azure Knight
Chapter III - The First Bridge and The Azure Knight
After a three day journey, Sir Rupert and Aurelius came to the first of the three bridges. The bridge ran over the great and rushing river named The Koval. Upon the bridge stood a knight dressed in blue armor. The appearance of his face was that of a man in mourning, and his eyes appeared haunted with deep grief as he beheld the mouse and the prince approaching him. His voice boomed like thunder as he said, “Turn back, I bid you, good sir knight for I wish you no harm, but I am bound to the duty of guarding this bridge. I shall suffer none to pass nor shall my brothers, who guard the other two.”
Aurelius stepped forward and said, “I cannot turn aside for my lady love, the Princess Sigrun, lies imprisoned in the tall tower beyond the bridges. I wish you no harm, good sir knight, therefore I bid you step aside and let me pass.”
“Would that I could,” the knight replied, “but I am The Azure Knight and guardian of the bridge. None shall pass.”
“Then it seems that we must do battle for neither of us shall yield,” Aurelius said.
“You seem a noble sort,” the Azure Knight said. “It grieves me greatly that I must slay you.”
“You have not yet tried your steel against me,” Aurelius said as his hand went to the hilt of his blade.
“None have ever overcome me,” The Azure Knight replied as he drew his sword, “and even if you were to overcome me by strength of arms, my brothers shall not be so easily defeated.”
Aurelius bowed his head and offered up a quick prayer unto the Creator. Then he drew his sword, and letting out a savage battle-cry, he rushed down upon The Azure Knight. Their swords came together with the sound of thunder, and so the two bold men moved and struck at each other. Finally, Aurelius struck a blow upon The Azure Knight’s helm, which shattered the helm, and the knight exclaimed at once, “Stop it. I yield unto you, good sir, my savior.”
At this Aurelius was taken aback and said, “What do you mean by this?”
“It was not by my choice that I was set to guard the bridge,” The Azure Knight replied. “Once I was Fidelis, a knight of Zephyria, but I broke and betrayed my sworn word and oaths. A self serving lie did come unto my lips, and so it was that the Lady Dagrun imprisoned me within a cursed suit of armor, which bound me to her will. In breaking the helmet, you have freed me.”
Sir Rupert at this point approached and said, “I take it that the other two are also enslaved so?”
“Indeed, they are,” Fidelis said with a sad shake of his head. “They were my brothers, and each of us for our own faults were cursed and enslaved by the Lady Dagrun.”
Aurelius bowed his head unto Fidelis and said, “Then I shall also free your two brothers from her foul grasp.”
“Nearby,” Fidelis, bowing his head in thanks, said, “is a fountain. Bathe in it and your wounds shall be healed.” Then he held up a key. “To enter the tower, you shall need the three keys. My brothers each have one as well. I give mine to you.”
The Vert Knight
Chapter IV - The Second Bridge and The Vert Knight
After bathing in the fountain that Fidelis told him of, Aurelius with Rupert continued on to the second bridge. There upon it stood a knight dressed in green armor that shone in the sun. His face was hidden behind the visor of his helm, but he spoke in a booming voice and said, “I see that you have defeated my brother and brought him low, but now I bid you turn back. I am greater in skill than my brother, The Azure Knight, and you shall not stand against me.”
“I freed your brother from Dagrun’s curse,” Aurelius said.
“For that you have my thanks,” the knight replied, “but I am the Vert Knight and guardian of this bridge. None shall pass. Turn back and live.”
“I have given my word to protect my lady love imprisoned in the tower,” Aurelius replied, “and I have given my word to your brother to free his brothers. I cannot and shall not turn back.”
“I will not go easy on you, lad,” The Vert Knight said. “The magic of the armor shall not allow me to. Therefore a third time, I bid you. Turn back!”
“I have not yet given up my hope,” Aurelius replied as he drew his sword. “I shall free you, and I shall free Sigrun from Dagrun’s grasp.”
“Then battle we shall have though it is no desire of mine,” The Vert Knight said as he drew his sword.
The two knights did rush together. Their swords met with the sound of thunder. All that morning they fought, and blood flowed from each of them and soaked the ground. As midday drew near, they both stepped back from each other. They were panting and tired. For a few moments, they gave each other room and rested. Than The Vert Knight said, “You see that your cause is hopeless. Even if you beat me, my remaining brother, The Gules Knight, who guards the third bridge, is stronger than me. Turn back I bid you, lest you die.”
“I have not given up hope,” Aurelius replied, “and I shall keep my given word.”
Then they both raised their swords and rushed together again. Aurelius redoubled his efforts to strike with ferocity, and finally as the sun set, his blow connected. The green helm broke, and The Vert Knight shouted, “I yield, I yield to you, my savior.”
“What is your name?” Aurelius asked.
“I am Elpidius, a knight of Zephyria,” The Vert Knight replied. “I set forth to rescue my brother from the clutches of Dagrun, but as I wandered in the woods, despair filled my heart and overcame me. Than Dagrun imprisoned me within this cursed armor and set me to guard the bridge.”
“Your third brother is stronger than you, you said?” Rupert asked.
“Indeed, I do not believe there has ever been a stronger knight than he,” The Vert Knight answered.
“Yet I shall save him,” Aurelius stated.
He bathed once more in the fountain to heal his wounds, and then Elpidius gave him his key and wished him farewell.
The Gules Knight
Chapter V - The Third Bridge and The Gules Knight
The next morning, as Sir Rupert and Aurelius came unto the third bridge, they saw a knight dressed all in red armor. His face also was hidden by the vizor of his helm. When the knight saw Aurelius, he let out a scream of one in deep sorrow and anguish. Then he roared, “Behold, yon knave, you may have overcome my brothers and laid them low, but you shall never overcome me for I am The Gules Knight.” Then The Gules Knight drew his sword and rushed at Aurelius.
Aurelius was startled by this for the other two brothers had tried to warn him away and treated him with honor and nobility, but The Gules Knight’s voice was full of venom and hatred. With savage fury The Gules Knight struck and drove Aurelius back. All morning they fought, but as it drew close to midday, the strength of The Gules Knight waxed and did not wane for such was the magic that Dagrun had laid upon the red armor of The Gules Knight. And then, one of Aurelius’ blows struck the helmet of The Gules Knight, and it broke. “You are free,” Aurelius shouted over the din of their furious battle.
“And when I am finished with you, I shall exact my vengeance on Lady Dagrun,” The Gules Knight bellowed in his fury as he drove Aurelius back.
“Why are you angry with me?” Aurelius asked.
“You, who slew my brothers, wonder at my anger and my rage,” The Gules Knight bellowed. “I came to rescue them from Dagrun’s foul grasp, but I was mortally wounded and near unto death. My courage fled from me, and Lady Dagrun came to offer me life in exchange for my service. I became her Gules Knight.”
Hearing this, Rupert said in his squeaky voice, “Hold him but a little while, and I shall return with your salvation.” Then Rupert scampered back across the bridge.
Aurelius’ strength was waning as the day drew on, and he found that he could not stand against The Gules Knight. The Gules Knight then swung a mighty blow, and the sword that Krikik had forged for Aurelius shattered. Aurelius stumbled backwards and tripped over the root of a tree. Falling on his back, he stared up at the sky and thought that he had failed Sigrun, but even as The Gules Knight raised his sword to slay Aurelius, a voice bellowed across the field, “Stay your blade, Valens!”
The Gules Knight glanced up and beheld his two brothers Fidelis and Elpidius standing there on the field. “I was told you were dead,” he said in shock.
“We live,” they replied. “This brave man saved us from Dagrun’s curse as he has also saved you.”
The Gules Knight, Valens, sunk to his knees and began to weep. When he had regained his composure, all three brothers knelt on the ground before Aurelius and pledged themselves to his service. Then Valens gave his key and sword to Aurelius, who with Rupert turned and walked towards the tower.