Sir Lanceor pulled with all his might—and for quite some time—before relenting. He held the sword out towards Sir Percival.

“Here, Sir Percival,” he said. “I am clearly not pure enough a man! Perhaps you will have better luck!”

This brought out loud guffaws and cackles from King Arthur’s court. With a huff and a grumble, Sir Percival grabbed the sword and tried as well, but also did not have any success.

“What’s the matter, Percy?” a noble cried out. “Is your grip lacking lately?”

This drew some laughter from the court. Sir Percival scowled as he held out the sheathed sword toward King Pellinore.

“Here, father!” the knight said to the king. “Have a go!”

“No,” King Pellinore said, patting the sword he used to slay the Questing Beast. “I have no need of another sword. I have my own, and it works just fine. Pass it along to your eldest brother.”

And so Sir Percival passed the sword to Sir Aglovale.

The knight gave the sword a yank, but it refused to budge.

“Here, Kay,” Sir Aglovale said to Sir Kay as he handed him Tyrfing. “Do not accidentally let the blade slip from your hand, lest it fall out.”

This, too, got many laughs from the court.

“Come on, then,” cheered King Arthur. “Yank it out, already! Do it, or I’ll clunk you one o’er the head!”

This got laughs, as well.

Sir Kay grabbed the scabbard and tugged at the sword. The blade remained sheathed. The court groaned.

Sir Kay then stuck the scabbard between his thighs and squeezed it as he pulled at the handle of the sword. Arthur slapped his own forehead as his court cackled and hooted. The knight strained for some time with the stuck sword before surrendering it to another eager knight, huffing heatedly as he did.

“Don’t lose your head, dear Kay,” King Arthur said as he patted the crown of his seneschal’s head softly. “You gave it your best shot.”

Sir Griflet was next but he, too, failed to unsheathe the blade. He passed it to his cousin Sir Bedevere, who also had no success.

And so Tyrfing was passed down from noble to noble, knight to knight, and baron to baron, until it arrived at Balin’s hands. He accidentally flipped the switch on the trick scabbard, and the sword came loose.

Gasps ran through the court.

“Wh—” the Damsel began, but upon seeing the eyes of every member of King Arthur’s court on her, she changed her tune. “Well done, sir knight! You have unsheathed the magical sword, and freed me of the burden of having to carry it with me.”

Balin studied the weapon. It was gorgeous. A tinge of ash along the edges of the hilt, and a smoky wisps up along its obsidian blade.

“There are words on it,” he said. “Whoever draws this sword will be granted great power, and will have to fight for the individual who had bequeathed him this sword.”

“Thank you, Sir Balan,” she said with glee. “Now, if you will help with my quest—”

“I’m Balin,” Balin said. “Sir Balan is my brother. He’s over there.”

Balin pointed at his brother standing some distance away. Sir Balan waved giddily at the Damsel.

“Twins?” the Damsel muttered to herself in amazement. “How whorish of the moor, to bear twins must mean she had slept with two men.”

She turned her attention from the well-armoured Sir Balan, to the more unkempt Balin who was holding Tyrfing up to the light that was spilling through the clerestory windows high up in the stone walls.

“Now,” the Damsel said with an outstretched arm and a bowed head. “May you please return to me the family sword, sir knight?”

“Why?” Balin asked with squinted eyes. “Didn’t you say that whoever could free it could have it?”

“Well, yes,” the Damsel began.

“Then, I choose to keep it,” he replied.

“But, but,” she stammered. “Don’t you already have a sword, sir knight?”

“Yeah? So?” Balin replied with a shrug. “I’ll keep them both.”

“Why, you—!” the Damsel exploded.

“Now, now,” King Arthur said. “You did say that whomever drew the sword could keep it. We all heard you say it.”

The knights and barons around her said aye in unison.

The Damsel cleared her throat.

“So I did. Very well,” she said. “Well done, sir knight. The sword has chosen you for your pureness and valiance.”

“Who, Balin?” Sir Lanceor cried out, before erupting in laughter. “This boy is no knight!”

The court joined in, laughing and pointing at Balin.

King Arthur saw the injustice of this, and sought to rectify it immediately.

“Then I shall change that!” King Arthur said, reaching out for Tyrfing.

Balin looked down at the sword, then handed it to King Arthur and knelt.

King Arthur held the blade out.

“I, King Arthur,” the king said as he lifted up the the blade. “Do dub thee, Sir Balin!”

Balin received the sword upon his shoulders and the crown of his head. It yearned for blood, coveting the molten rivers of red that flowed under Balin’s thick neck.

“Arise, Sir Balin!” King Arthur shouted as he pulled the sword away.

Cheers arose as Balin stood up and received the sword back from King Arthur.

The Damsel left abruptly in a huff. She was enraged. King Arthur was supposed to be her champion. Not this rookie of a knight. How was he supposed to be able to kill her brother Cade Ellison?

Similarly, Sir Lanceor stewed in a corner of the court.

‘How was it that neither I, not Sir Balan could secure the sword,’ Sir Lanceor fumed silently. ‘And yet Balin does? There’s no way in hell that criminal is more valiant than I. That villain is filled to the brim with treachery. How is it that he was able to draw the magical sword and not I?!”

Sir Lanceor cursed to himself, and swore to get his revenge on Balin.


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