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Not The Sharpest Sword in the Armoury

It was mid-afternoon, and the day had become sunny and warm. Afalon huffed and puffed as she brought the axe down over and over again on the blocks of wood she was chopping up into logs for the hearth and stove.

The rays of sun glinted on the sharp edge of the axe as it split log after log into smaller and smaller pieces. It was a tough job, but Afalon was used to it, was pretty good at it, even. It wasn't exactly ladylike, the kind of thing that would make her mother sniff in consternation, but Afalon wasn't the type of girl who cared about that. She could get the larger logs split down the middle usually in only two swings, sometimes one if she really put her back into it. Sometimes, when the isolation of the farm started to get to her, or when her mother's criticisms made her doubt herself, Afalon would focus on harder work like this, to remind herself she wasn't helpless.

Her concentration was broken by clopping hooves and metallic clanking. Puzzled, Afalon paused what she was doing, leaving the axe embedded in the stump. She wiped sweat from her brow and looked in the direction the sound was coming from. At the edge of the yard, on the side nearer the road, was a sight very unusual around their remote little orchard; a knight on horseback. Straight-backed and proud, with a sword at his hip. His full suit of armour was polished so bright it practically glowed in the sun, looking like the edges of the protective metal plates might slice just as easily as his no-doubt equally polished steel blade. He was steering his horse in her direction, his eyes set straight on her. He was shiny and fancy, head to toe. Even his horse looked noble. Afalon said nothing yet, still trying to even her breathing, her feet still planted wide and back still slightly bent, her hands propped heavy on her hips. She squinted against the bright light. Sans helmet, Afalon could see the knight's face. His features were exactly the kind the other girls from the village would describe seeing in their fantasies of handsome, noble knights and princes that might one day come and sweep them off their feet and whisk them away to a far-off castle. The perfect, imaginary man which the actual boys they knew never could measure up against.

With the real deal right there before her, in the flesh-- and steel-- Afalon couldn't help but think she couldn't see what all the fuss was about.

It was thoughts like those that made her mother tut about how she'd never find a husband in time.

"I say, good afternoon, fair maiden!" The knight called out, his voice clear and loud even though he'd come close enough to not need to shout. He dismounted his horse with a series of audible shuffles and clanks and clangs. Afalon, perturbed at being addressed that way, continued to just squint at him in confusion. "This lovely orchard is your family's, is it?”

"Uh..." she started, voice flat, "Yeah. But our apples aren't ready to sell yet, if that's what you're after."

The knight laughed heartily, one hand on his hip, the other flopping around in a dismissive wave. "Oh, no, goodness! I purchase my apples from the market in castle town, of course! Not here out in the country."

Afalon's confusion only mounted. The brawn over brains type, it would appear. "Where do you think those apples come from in the first place?" She asked, genuinely wanting to know if he maybe beleieved fruits and vegetables, too, were simply carried straight to people's homes bundled in the beaks of magical storks. Though, she wanted to know what he was actually doing there more.

"You know, I never really thought about it," the knight admitted confidently and jovially, like his ignorance didn't bother him at all, and he didn't plan on actually thinking about it at any point in the future, either. He walked towards her, chest puffed out and strutting like a fancy bird. His armour rattled with every movement. Afalon had to resist snorting at the silly way he carried himself. "Anyways," he breezed right on, "My name is sir Cadogan the bold. I've been given special orders from the queen to investigate the number of unusual disappearances that have been happening around here. You wouldn't happen to have seen anything suspicious transpiring in the area, have thee, fair maiden?"

Bold is certainly one word to describe him, Afalon thought. She set her posture a little more casually, putting her hands in the pocket of her apron. She thought of the scarecrow from a few hours before, but knew that kind of suspicious wasn't what the knight was asking about. "Your last name is Thebold?" She said, admittedly with a light undertone of snark, instead of answering. The knight chortled.

"Silly girl," he grinned. "Of course not! It's actually Theoboald.”

Yeah, right over his head. Which was impressive, given how tall he was. But then, Afalon was tall, too. "Cool," Afalon said with no enthusiasm. "Well, I haven't seen anything. Even you had to have noticed coming here how out of the way we are. The kidnappers would've had to drag their victims right by us on purpose in order for us to have seen 'em, and if they were that stupid, they would have been caught already."

“Interesting,” Sir Cadogan hummed, raising his eyebrow and exaggeratedly stroking his chin. “Kidnappers, you say? So you believe there is more than one culprit, and that the culprits, plural, are people, not monsters?”

“Uh,” Afalon blinked, “yes? Obviously?”

“And what makes it so obvious?” The knight questioned, his tone thoughtful and serious, like this was some fantastic breakthrough he’d just made. Afalon felt a little off-balance, she wasn’t sure what was going on— was he suspicious of her? He was acting like she was about to confess something monumental. If this was the guy the queen had specially assigned to get to the bottom of this, then Hyrule’s future looked bleak.

Or maybe Afalon wasn’t the only one who thought this man was a little dull under his armour, and the Queen just didn’t want him underfoot in the castle.

The seconds stretched out uncomfortably as the two from the same kingdom and completely different worlds stared at each other, one disbelievingly, the other expectantly. Eventually, Afalon caved, and shrugged, “common sense?”

“Aha!” The knight snapped his fingers like she’d just said something very sharp. “Of course! I sincerely thank you for your unique perspective, fair maiden. The folk wisdom of commoners must not be discounted, after all, even in unprecedented times like these!”

Afalon kept the remark that absolutely nothing about the times they were in was unprecedented to herself. “I am happy to be of service,” she lilted sarcastically, performing a short, inelegant curstey. “Now if you’d be so kind, I have work to do.” She stepped back up to the stump and it’s axe, and the neglected pile of firewood in various stages of completion.

“What’s this now,” Sir Cadogan declared, leaping to her side so quickly that Afalon startled backwards.


“Cutting wood for the fire? That’s a man’s job! Fret not, fair maiden, for I shall remove this burden of labour from your dainty, feminine shoulders!”

Good grief-- bold is the word. Affronted, Afalon could only gawk as the knight shuffled his feet and lifted the axe, raising it high above his head with a deep breath. She overcame her stupor when she noticed how wrong his grip on the axe was, and in that instant it was so clear that this man had never actually chopped wood before even once in his entire lofty life, accustomed only to handling weapons, not tools.


Her warning came too late, but it wouldn’t have mattered because it’d also been very clear that while they both might have been speaking Hyrulean, Sir Cadogan had so far not comprehended one single word she’d said. He brought the axe down too fast and not hard enough, glancing the sharp edge off the bark-y side of the log, and both the log and the axe went flying through the air. Afalon shrieked and ducked down low lest she be beheaded by the spinning blade or cratered by the soaring wood.

Afalon sprung back upright and opened her mouth to scold the foolish knight so hotly that he’d think he’d been dropped into the maw of death mountain, but once again she was too slow. Before any of the choice, extremely unladylike words she had in mind could erupt from her mouth, Afalon’s mother, Eithne, came tearing around the side of the house. She was in her nightgown, and a wool coat. Her face was red and thunderous, her spindly hands white-tightly clenching her coat closed.

He’d awakened the beast. Gods help them all.

Afalon paled, and even sir Cadogan the brave noble knight looked cowed. He didn’t need to be the sharpest sword in the armoury to fully understand the world of hurt he was in for.


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