Because the tournament enthralled him so much, Arthur could not look away from the arena. He dearly wanted to be on one of the horses as it charged forward carrying its rider.
A nobleman lowered a flag. The two riders kicked their horses.
Arthur held his breath as Sir Hector lowered his lance and his horse burst into action. Both lances splintered as they hit the shields. The force of the blows knocked both men backward, but Hector righted himself. His opponent wobbled for a second then fell off the horse. He was either dead or unconscious when he hit the ground because he did not move. The crowd cheered.
As Sir Hector rode toward the stands, a chain of events that would change history forever began.
At first the applause thundered down on Hector so loudly that no one except for Arthur heard the low rumbling coming from the bowels of the earth. The ground shifted suddenly and rocked riders, horses, and the spectators.
Arthur saw his guardian struggling to keep his horse under control. The animal staggered sideways as if it teetered on the edge of a cliff. Without hesitating, Arthur rushed forward. Many spectators, fearing the stands would collapse, milled onto the arena grounds.
A huge boom, like thunder in the skies, created even more chaos. While Arthur raced forward, he saw the ground bulge outward. Hector’s horse stumbled.
An explosion ripped open the ground and steaming water spewed from the hole.
Hector’s horse fell and rolled over him.
The geyser died almost as soon as it started. Arthur did not notice the huge stone falling to the ground. It had been spat into the air by the water, and once the water died, it now hurtled to the ground.
Meanwhile, the knight whom Hector had knocked off his horse stood. He motioned to his squire who gave him a sword.
In an instant, Arthur knew what he intended.
Just before he reached Hector, the huge stone crashed in front of him. Arthur twisted sideways to avoid dashing himself against it.
The knight approached Sir Hector. He held his sword over his head.
Tournaments of that time were known for their brutality. Usually, a contest did not end until one knight snuffed out the life of another. Wars had begun because of tournaments.
Then Arthur noticed it: a sword, halfway buried in the stone. Its handle gleamed in the sunlight.
He didn’t stop to think about who owned it; he only thought of his beloved guardian. He climbed the stone and grabbed the handle of the sword.
The knight was upon Sir Hector. Arthur slid the sword out of the stone.
The knight raised his blade over Sir Hector’s head as the crowd roared.
Arthur had but one chance.