The morning dawned cold and bright over the valley. As the sun crested over the western hill, it illuminated a lone knight, the formidable and intimidating Sir Mason, on horseback, his red and gold bear crest stark against the cloudless skies. The bear knight’s soldiers emerged behind him, the sun to their backs, creating one solid silhouette of impending warfare.
Gallant and beloved Sir Noah, on the eastern hill, blinked against the rising sun. His army stood at his back, silently menacing, an array of soldiers and mounted cavalry, each wearing his green and silver heraldry. Two great and shaggy wolves slavered beside him, eager for battle.
Each knight rode purposefully and unattended to the center of the valley which was delineated by thick, black tape. Sir Noah led his horse one step over the taped boundary and sneered under his slitted helmet.
“Stay on your own lands,” the bear knight bellowed. “Those are the rules.” He rushed his horse to the line, stopping almost face-to-face with the wolf knight.
Sir Noah led his horse back over the tape with a rude gesture. The mighty armies stood atop the opposite hills, silent, each knight’s respective banners waving in the breeze.
Sir Mason flipped open his visor and looked at Sir Noah’s limping nag of a steed in disdain. “My horse is much cooler.”
“Hey!” Noah pulled the plastic helmet off his head and looked in dismay at his frayed old stick horse. Mason’s stick horse was newer and wasn’t missing an eye. “You always get first pick, and it’s not fair.”
“Because I’m the oldest,” Mason said proudly.
“Just by four minutes!”
Sir Mason ignored Sir Noah’s protests and calmed his majestic and healthy horse with a quick scratch behind the ear. “The Queen demands that we settle our differences, and unite our lands once more.”
“She knows not what she asks of us,” Sir Noah responded, unceremoniously plopping his helmet back into place.
“Nevertheless, we must come to an agreement as gentlemen, or we will suffer dire consequences.”
“I spit at your notion of gentlemancy, Sir Mason.”
Mason jumped back in horror. “Did you just spit on the floor? I’m telling Mom!”
“No, wait, Ma-”
“Mom! Noah’s spitting!”
The Queen’s footsteps echoed strangely through the valley as she approached. She appeared as if from nowhere, inserting herself between the two brave knights. Though she had no horse of her own, she towered over them.
“I thought I told you two to get this sorted out before dinner,” she said, the sunlight gleaming from the jeweled crown on her head. “And we’ve talked about this, Noah. No spitting in the house.”
“Ugh, this is a battlefield, Mom,” Noah whined.
She sighed. “Just hurry it up, and come downstairs to help me with dinner.”
The Queen departed the battlefield as quickly as she had arrived.
“Our armies grow restless, Sir Noah.”
“Perhaps it is time for us to truly settle our dispute as the Queen suggests.”
Sir Mason nodded solemnly. “Admit that you ate more than your share of the pizza rolls, Sir Noah.”
“Then you must admit that you drank the last soda again without offering to share it.”
“I shall not.”
“I shall not admit to any wrongdoing either.”
Sir Mason shook his head and lowered his visor. “Then peace talks can progress no further.” He dismounted, unsheathing his sword. “Taste my steel, knave!”
“That’s a brontosaurus.”
Mason grimaced at the blue plastic dinosaur in his hands. “Yeah, well, you broke my sword last week, and this is what I could find.”
Noah pulled out the plastic cutlass from last year’s pirate costume. “You would have broken mine if you could find it.” He pointed the sword at Mason’s chest.
“Very well. Have at thee, scoundrel!”
The knights flew into combat that would be sung about for generations by bards and pretty tavern wenches. Fire sparked off their swords as the blades collided over and over. Sir Mason was the stronger knight, that was clear, but Sir Noah was clever and quick.
The armies cheered and rushed down the hills to join the battle. Without an intervention, the two knights would surely fight to the death to preserve their honor. A lone priest, modestly clad in a fuzzy brown robe, approached their duel with his hands in the air.
He raised his holy symbol to catch the attention of the dauntless knights, and, with a mighty swing, Sir Noah cleaved the hapless priest in two.
“You ripped out Mr. Bear’s stuffing!” cried Mason, picking the ruined teddy bear off the floor.
“I thought he was attacking.”
“He was a member of the clergy and should have been spared the horrors of war. That’s just good manners.”
“Then you shouldn’t have thrown him over the line.” Noah readjusted his stick horse and straightened his spine.
“Your priest should never have ventured onto the battlefield. He had no place here.”
“You have signed your own death warrant with your unchivalrous actions, fiend,” Sir Mason growled. “Such diabolical behavior will not be tolerated in this realm.” He dismounted and gave his steed a meaty swat on the flank, sending it away from the battle.
Sir Noah shook his head and said, “We shall settle this like men, then.” He jumped down from his horse and shoved the one-eyed nag back towards the eastern hill.
Before Sir Noah could take a fighting stance, Sir Mason tackled him to the ground.
“Get off, you’re on my side of the room!”
“Screw your side,” Mason said venomously as he sunk his fist into Noah’s stomach. “You murdered Mr. Bear on purpose.”
“Oof!” Noah gasped, the air almost knocked out of him. He pushed Mason off him to sit up and started sobbing.
Mason stood up quickly. “Don’t call Mo-”
“Mom!” cried Noah.
The Queen appeared on the battlefield, hands on her royal hips, gazing with annoyance at the carnage. “Why have my knights not sorted out their land dispute?” she demanded.
Sir Noah stayed on the ground in tears while Sir Mason ran over to the Queen to beg forgiveness.
“Mom, Noah killed Mr. Bear!”
“Well, Mason drowned Admiral Wolfington in the toilet last week, and now he’s punched me,” Noah wheezed, clutching his stomach and trying his best to look pitiful.
Their mom threw up her hands. “Boys, for Pete’s sake. Clean up this mess, and come downstairs to help.”
“But-” protested Mason.
“No buts,” she responded. “Don’t come crying to me about your endless fights unless there’s blood. And get that tape off the floor.” She turned to Mason. “How did you expect Noah to get to the bathroom if the door’s on your side?”
“I was gonna use the window,” Noah said quietly, standing up.
“What? No. No one goes out the window. Is that understood?”
“Yes, ma’am,” they agreed.
The Queen looked around at the once peaceful valley, now strewn with the debris of war. “My loyal and stalwart knights,” she began, “I trust that you will acknowledge a peace this day, for I require your services at the castle.”
Sir Mason looked at Sir Noah and nodded. The two brave knights shook hands, swearing to put aside their rivalry and reunite their lands and armies as was right and just. At least for tonight.