The Knight’s Day Off

The knight rose late from his slumber. The sun waking him as it penetrated through his curtains. With a groan, he rolled up and pulled the curtain back. He was immediately assaulted by the sun pouring into the room through the window. He blinked rapidly and climbed out of his bed.

The day before he’d come back from a month-long trip with his king. It had been a small party and the need to keep the king safe had led to him being on edge for most of the trip. By the time they’d ridden into the city the evening before his nerves had been well and truly frazzled. The king had taken one look at him and said, “take a day for yourself.”

The knight had tried to protest by the king had stepped closer. “Take the day, my friend. Relax , gather yourself together, this trips been hard on you.”

The knight had nodded grateful for the respite. “If you’d taken more men, then it wouldn’t have been,” he replied in a low voice. It was carefully pitched to go unheard by the people moving around them.

The half-smile that accompanied the words took any sting out of them. The king laughed and clapped his knight on the shoulder, “get some rest,” he ordered as he walked away.

Now the knight was rising long past sunrise and completely unsure what to do. He called a servant and ordered him to bring him breakfast, ignoring the strange look sent his way. As he waited for the food to arrive he dressed quickly, forgoing his armour but still belting his sword to his side. There was relaxed and there was suicidal. Finally the food arrived and he sat down to break his fast half thinking of taking a stroll through the lower town.

By the time he finished eating he was sure, and leaving the servant to tidy his room, he headed out to the town. As he passed through the gate to the citadel the guards nodded to him in greeting. “Business in the lower town?” One of them asked him.

The knight shook his head, “the king ordered me to take a day for myself,” he replied. He caught the look that passed between the guards and smiled, “unheard of I know,” he said drawing a laugh. Still laughing the guards waved him on.

The knight walked, pausing every now and then to study something closer. The problem was without anything to do he was wandering aimlessly, something he hadn’t done in a long time. Even during his self-imposed exile, which everyone spoke of but never mentioned the reason for, he had been aiming for something. Now though he had a day to himself and no clue what to do with it.

He helped an old lady carry her pile of parcels to her house where he tried to turn down her offer of a drink. She’d insisted, claiming she had little company, and he’d caved. They talked for a while as he slowly sipped the water she’d given him, after he turned down the ale, and he found himself enjoying himself. When he left it was with a promise to come back a visit when he next had time and a few coins pressed into her hand. He’d learnt that money was stretched tight as her son raised a child and she smiled gratefully at the extra few coins.

He brought some bread from a stall and lent against a post to eat it while he watched a group of men working on the construction of a house. Suddenly one of the support beams fell and he rushed forward to help lift it off of one of the men. Around him chaos swirled as the men tried to save the rest of the structure and onlookers tried to get closer. Once the man was pulled free the knight turned to shooing the onlookers away before he turned back to the injured man. Approaching he saw another man crouched before him studying his leg, “I’m not sure what I can do,” the man said shaking his head and looking up at the injured man.

“Take him up to the court physician,” the knight said quietly but all of the men working on the building stopped to look at him. “Say I sent you if anyone asks.”

“And what knight shall the rest of us do while two of my men are gone,” the man in charge of the build asked with a glare.

The knight turned to him his eyes narrowing for a moment at the man’s words. “I’ll help until your man gets back,” the knight said simply. The man stared back at him and he met his gaze easily. “Put me to work. We have a house to build,” he said when no response was forthcoming. The man seemed to visibly shake himself before he nodded and started snapping orders. The workman who’d assessed the injured man was sent off supporting said injured man with the knights name to tell the physician. The knight was set to work doing much of the heavy lifting. He put the pillar back in place and helped build up one of the sides hefting the stone considerably easier even than people who made their living doing so. Even when the man returned the knight kept at his work.

Suddenly a break was called an all the men ceased working immediately. The knight glanced up at the sun and judged it to be well into the afternoon, “I have to be on my way I’m afraid,” he said to the men he’d gotten to know over the past few hours. “I will ensure your friend heals fully.” He left with calls of thanks after him and aching limbs.

He was on his way back to the citadel when he saw two young children by a well. They were struggling to turn the handle to raise the bucket so he approached. “Can I help,” he said softly. They nodded enthusiastically and launched into a story about their friend going down in the bucket but them not being able to get him back up. The knight reassured them that everything was find and he wasn’t going to tell their parents what they’d done, as he turned the handle. Finally the bucket was high enough that the knight lent over the rim of the well and pulled the young boy to safety.

“Stay safe,” he told the children, ruffling the boy’s hair, before he walked on his way. When he finally got back to his chambers it was to find a note on the table telling him the king wished to eat with him. It seemed his day off didn’t included a peaceful meal as well.

The knight waited till his king had started to eat before he made any move to eat himself. As he did so he could feel the king’s eyes upon him but he waited in silence, how was your day?” The king asked at last.

“Peaceful and relaxing,” the knight replied. “Quite dull actually.”

“I wouldn’t call building houses and rescuing children relaxing or dull,” the king said with a smirk. The knight groan well and truly caught out. “But,” the king went on, “it was a day for yourself so I can’t argue. Nor do I really disapprove.

There we go, the knight and his day off. It was still a busy day for him though. Written for the daily prompt:Sparkling or Still


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