She was alone in the pub. Even after all this time, she still wore her armour and carried her sword. True, the armour wasn’t as polished as it had once been nor the sword as sharp. It couldn’t be helped. They were no longer being used regularly. She was no longer a knight.
Her majesty had cast her aside at the behest of the nobles. They had considered her too common and found her rise through the ranks unsettling.
Her majesty had been kind, granting her some small lands and enough wealth to live comfortably. It was hard to take comfort in that. She no longer had a purpose. She wasn’t even granted the right of seeing her majesty in person.
“Poor child. I see your exile from court weighs heavily on you.” She looked up. She recognised the noble. He was a Duke. He had been there when she was dismissed from duty. He had spoken on her behalf.
“It has been a trial,” she agreed.
“Of course it has,” he nodded. “You worked so hard to get your position. Only to have it so cruelly wrested from your grasp.”
She didn’t know what to say in response. She looked down at her drink.
She felt his hand on her shoulder and was contemplating breaking it when he caught her attention. “What would you say, if I could get your knighthood reinstated?”
She looked directly at him. “You have that power?”
“I will, and soon,” he said. “Come, walk with me.”
She did as he asked. He sounded confident and she had to take a chance, no matter how small, to regain her life.
He led her to the poorer area of town to a small Inn. It didn’t appear to be open for business. He knocked thrice and spoke in a clear voice. “Guide to the future and prosperity.”
The door creaked open. He led her inside and into the basement. There were two dozen other men gathered around. Many of them were part of aristocratic families. Some were knights she had trained. Why were they all meeting in a place like this?
“The time draws near,” The Duke informed them all. “Soon, we will take control of the palace. The Queen will find her head on a pike and I will become King. And then all our wishes will come true.”
There were murmurs of agreement. The former knight realised what she’d stumbled into. She listened as the Duke detailed his plan, including what he wanted her and the other gathered knights to do.
She decided she was done listening. She moved over to the staircase leading back up. She positioned herself firmly in front of it. Then she took a dagger from her boot and hurled it, deliberately missing the Duke by a very narrow margin.
“You speak of treason,” she stated, drawing her sword. “None of you will live to see it done.”
“A pity you weren’t more reasonable,” the Duke said, making an audible effort to sound composed. “Kill her!”
She stood her ground and fought. It wasn’t easy. They all surged towards her at once. An early stab in the left shoulder worked against her. A little later and a fierce swing across the stomach further slowed her.
She ignored the pain, ignored the blood. Even as further blows found their marks against her.
She had to keep fighting. Her majesty could not be allowed to fall to a ploy like this. After what felt like hours but was, in reality, only around thirty minutes, she propped herself up using her sword. It was chipped and cracked at that point. The Duke and one fat aristocrat were all that remained.
She forced herself on, putting them both to the sword. She knelt down, breathing heavily. Her sight was starting to go.
Guards rushed in, investigating the commotion. They found her bloodied amidst the corpses.
“Her majesty is safe…” She had more she wanted to say but she fell onto the floor. Her injuries had been more severe than she’d noticed. She did not survive.
The guards found the evidence of the plot against the Queen and put together, mostly accurately, what had happened.
The Queen was shocked to learn of the plot. Delighted that her knight had still been working on her behalf. Remorseful that she had mistreated her and devastated by her loss.
She ordered a marble statue be built for her knight in the hall of heroes and vowed never again to let the humble circumstances of a person’s birth blind her to the true nobility in their heart.