Did I leave the sleep soundtrack on all night again?
The sound of the wind blowing through the trees…
While half asleep, I tried to recall which of my sleep app soundtracks was based on forest sounds. I knew one was by a babbling brook and another had the sound of cicadas but just as I heard the wind again… I felt it.
It was cold, humid and it immediately chilled me to the bone, so I pulled up my blanket and rather than grabbing a handful of Egyptian cotton, I felt… course linen? Hemp? It was at that moment that I became fully awake, and I found myself on a large bag of straw and hay, in the center of a crudely built wooden structure.
Was I abducted? Was this some sort of practical joke? Panic started to rise, as I looked around the little cabin in the hope of finding something or someone familiar. Instead, I found a little fireplace and a young man laying nearby. As I sat up, I felt my bedclothes twist in a way that gave me a wedgy, which was surprising, as I slept naked, and it was at that moment that the young man stirred.
“Gōdne mergen (Good morning)”
It wasn’t the fact that he spoke in old English that was weird. It was the fact that we began to converse in old English!
“Where… Where am I, young man?”
“We’re in the barn that we had been sleeping in for the last few days, my lord. Is your head not feeling better?”
Asked the young man with a little concern and it was then that I touched the side of my head and felt a bruise. Throwing the blanket off me, I had a better look at myself and firstly, I noticed that I wore a linen… undergarment. I didn’t know what else to call it, but they certainly weren’t the bikini briefs that I was accustomed to, and my legs were hairy? OK… That had to be the weirdest thing, as I shaved my legs as part of my road bike riding regimen.
“I don’t think that I’m well at all… What’s your name?”
“It’s Dwayne, my lord. Your Page?”
Hang on a sec’… a Page was like a medieval apprentice to a knight. Looking around the small room, I found armor, saddles, swords, shields and a broken jousting stick. No wait… I think they called them lances. I still remembered ‘my’ name, which was Harold Jacobs but maybe it’s not my name… ‘here’.
“What is my name, Dwayne?”
Dwayne seemed even more worried when he answered.
“Sir Richard Edmonds, my lord. I have been your page for over a year now and I have only ever seen you injured once in all that time, until a few days ago… We were at King Richards castle when he requested that all available Knights, participate in games, to demonstrate their skill and chivalry. The final contest to determine the victor was against yourself and Sir James Williams…”
“And I lost?”
I interjected, to save the poor kid the embarrassment of telling me that I had lost a medieval contest that I had no recollection of.
“No, my lord! You won but both your lances broke against each other’s shields and while you unhorsed Sir Williams, you were able to stay on your horse! However, as Sir Williams lance broke, part of it smashed into your helmet. King Richard then awarded you the price, which was a purse that contained fifty gold coins and allowed us to stay in the castle for a few days.
The physician had attended to you a few times and you had gotten better, apart from a sore head but once we got back onto the road to return home, you started to feel unwell again and…”
It was that point that young Dwayne raised his hands to indicate ‘here we are’. Rather than freak out that I’ve been somehow involved in some sort of ‘Freak Friday’ thing with what appeared to be a seven-hundred-year-old knight, I decided to let this nightmare play out.
“OK, young Dwayne. We will continue our journey home but as I am not yet well, I will need your assistance. In this way, you will be able to demonstrate to me that you are developing into a worthy knight.”
“Thank you, my lord!”
It was at that point, that we decided to commence our journey. Getting into all the chain-mail and armor took ages and it weighed a ton but then there was the matter of getting onto the horse! His name was ‘Champion’, and he was a black stallion, while Dwayne’s horse was smaller and chestnut colored. It took me a few minutes to remember how to ride, as I had only ridden a real horse once when I was a teenager.
A short time later, we stopped by a stream to drink some water and it was then when I looked at my reflection and saw… myself. Except I had long hair and a beard. I was twenty years old and struggled to grow facial hair so the beard must have been a long time coming.
It was about noon when we decided to stop by an inn that was located by the side of the road and the only reason I knew the time, was the sun was at its highest peak. Thanks to lack of smart watch, clock, or mobile phone.
The first thing that hit me was the smell of roasting meat and turning toward the rear of the tavern, I found a wild boar, roasting on a spit. Next was the sound of laughter from three scraggly looking men with long hair and beards who seemed to be tormenting a young woman and a man that appeared to be her father.
The owner of the inn and another man, stood nearby and seemed to be both afraid and worried but when they saw me enter, became immediately relieved.
“Sir knight! We beseech your assistance! These three vagabonds have entered my establishment, stolen our money and are now wanting to dishonor that poor young girl!”
The three men heard the interaction between the innkeeper and myself and made their way toward me. I immediately knew that they meant me ill will, so I instinctively drew my broadsword and did a fancy spin with it. It must have been some sort of muscle memory thing because until today, I hadn’t even held a sword before! Luckily, the three men halted their progress and I found myself… emboldened! Not afraid at all, as I would normally have been, so I proceeded with the show of force and said,
“The three of you… Leave the money that you have stolen, then leave this establishment. If you do not, you will all feel the kiss of my blade!”
I hadn’t noticed but young Dwayne stood slightly behind me while holding a dagger. He too exhibited no fear and we both watched as the three men carefully walked out of the inn, after they had left the few coins that they had stolen.
The Old man and his daughter then approached me and began expressing their thanks.
“Thank you, sir knight! We are indebted to you for saving us. How may I repay you, my lord?”
It was then that I allowed myself to look at the young girl who seemed very pretty, even without the use of makeup! She seemed very demure and hadn’t raised her eyes once to see me.
“No thanks necessary my good sir. Do you live nearby or are you travelling?”
“We are travelling to our home in Birmingham, sire. Returning from the king’s games… Wait. Are you Sir Richard Edmonds?”
I had to take a second to remember if that was my name…
It was then that the young girl looked up at me. Not for very long but even in those few seconds, there were a few sparks.
“It’s an honor to meet you. Let alone be saved by you! Please allow me to purchase some food and ale for you and your page, as a small token of my appreciation!”
I allowed the gentleman to pay for our meals and we talked for a little, apart from his daughter who remained very shy and only answered direct questions. The man’s name was James Brickenden - A wealthy merchant who had been widowed for just over a year. His daughter’s name was Beatrice, who was sixteen years old and in search a husband. It was at that point that James leaned over and added,
“I know that she is a little old now, but she had been caring for her dying mother for the past few years.”
It amazed me how he thought his daughter was getting a little too old to get married because where I came from… sorry, ‘when’ I came from, women looked to settle down in their thirties! Young Dwayne then whispered to me,
“Sire… Your home is near Birmingham…”
I then nodded my head and said,
“It will be my honor to escort you and your lovely daughter to your home.”
Once again, the young girl glanced up at me for a few seconds and James almost exploded with gratitude. After finishing our meal, we continued our journey but while Dwayne and I rode on horseback, James and Beatrice rode in a covered horse drawn carriage, pulled by a two sturdy looking horses. On top of the carriage sat their driver, who seemed to be in his late forties, but something told me that he was probably in his early thirties.
As night approached, we decided to make camp in a little clearing, with Dwayne doing most of the work. He then helped me out of my armor and chain mail, and it was then that James and Beatrice were able to see my entire face. Once again, I felt a few sparks flew as Beatrice and I locked eyes for a few moments, then James announced,
“I had no idea that you were so young, my lord but what happened to your head?”
I placed my hand on my temple, remembering the injury.
“Oh! Yes, I had sustained an injury during my last match, so I ask that you bear with me if I seem a little confused.”
“Well… I’m sure that your wife will take great care of you once you arrive home.”
James seemed to be fishing to know if I were married, so I briefly faced Dwayne who quickly shook his head.
“Alas. I’m not married, sir.”
James’ eyebrows were raised so high that they almost disappeared into his hairline while Beatrice did her best to not react at all. Night fell quickly and a blanket of stars were pulled over our little corner of the world. We made sure that there was enough wood in the fire to last the night, but it was early in the morning when I heard the horses whinnying in distress.
Instinctively, I rolled out of my makeshift bed, grabbed my sword, and searched for a sign of danger. Just a few feet from Beatrice, I found the glow of three pairs of eyes, staring back at me and before even I knew what I was doing, I ran and leaped over Beatrice, just as she awoke to see what was causing all the noise.
Slashing my sword in the direction of the eyes, I heard a yelp then the sound of running. Once the sun rose, I found a dead wolf laying not far from where Beatrice slept but we quickly and quietly packed up and resumed our journey.
We stopped for a meal around noon, and I found a hidden, discreet spot in a nearby bush to relieve myself. It felt wrong, as I was in the open and there wasn’t a toilet paper role in sight, then on my way back, I encountered James who asked,
“May I have a word with you, my lord?”
I nodded and he proceeded to talk softly but he considered the weight of his words as he spoke.
“As you know, my daughter needs a husband, and you are unwed. I wish to offer you my daughter to be your wife, along with an extensive dowry. What say you?”
My brain had been scrambling to understand what the hell had happened to me since yesterday as before then, I was an accountant working for an insurance company in Sydney, Australia. Fortunately, I had enough sense to respond appropriately.
“Thank you for this tremendous honor, sir. I will give you my response very soon.”
Then we both walked back to the horses and carriage, where found Dwayne and Beatrice waiting for us. I once again looked into her beautiful bright blue eyes and felt that electricity once again, then considered the fact that in the medieval times, people didn’t marry as a response to romantic love. It was out of necessity, in most cases and arranged marriages were the norm…
I considered that while riding silently beside Dwayne, before quietly asking,
“Am I single or engaged to be married?”
“No, sire. You ‘were’ married but your wife died during childbirth. Both her and your son died at the same time, but you have been recently looking to remarry, which was one of the reasons that you had accepted the invitation to the king’s games. In the hope of finding a prospective wife.”
We fell silent again and I was appreciative of Dwayne’s help and understanding. Having thought of the best way to word my next question, I asked,
“Would young Beatrice be a suitable wife?”
“Yes, my lord. Excuse me when I say that being a knight isn’t… profitable and her father is a wealthy merchant. She is of the right age and seems to be fond of you.”
Somehow, I found myself being more comfortable in this new life and whether I was dreaming, or not, I thought it would be best to proceed as if this was normal.
We arrived at James and Beatrice’s estate, where I told James that I would meet him the next evening, where I would accept Beatrice’s hand in marriage, then Dwayne and I proceeded to my home. It was a large house that looked to be in need of repair and after a hardy meal, Dwayne and I went to sleep.
Alarm clock buzzing…
Was this real? Had I dreamed the whole medieval knight thing? If I had, it was the most realistic and vivid dream of my life! While pondering this question, I slid my legs over the edge of my comfortable queen-sized bed and headed to the kitchen, but this simple act seemed strange ‘and’ routine to me.
Looking at my laptop, I saw it was Monday morning, but I decided to call in sick as there was no way that I could function normally today. I spent most of the day sitting on my couch, unplugged from my laptop, mobile and television and felt… sad.
Sad because, I preferred the life that I had dreamed of, to the one I was living because in my dream, I was confident, brave, and respected, where I never felt that in real life. Maybe that was the whole point of the dream.
I kept thinking about that, as I headed to the gym to work out and while using the rowing machine, I noticed a young girl with bright blue eyes on the elliptical beside me. I had seen her there once and a while and we smiled at each other a few times, but I was always to chicken to talk to her… until now.
“Good morning! I like your towel. Are you a Parramatta ruby league supporter?”
The young girl smiled and responded,
“I am! That is, I am when they don’t suck!”
We both laughed and I used some of my Sir Richard Edmonds charm and confidence to continue speaking to her then I asked Brenda, who liked to call herself ‘B’ out on a date. Once I returned home, a thought occurred to me. Could what I had dreamed been real? I fired up my laptop and decided to go onto one of those ancestor websites.
A few weeks went by, and I forgot all about requested history of my ancestors but the… ‘residue’ of Sir Edmonds clung to me! My friends and family had remarked how confident and happy I had been lately while B and I were getting along very well. Then one afternoon while checking my Emails, I found one from the ancestry place that I had signed up with.
It was interesting to see all the countries that my ancestors had come from, including Spain, France, and England. It was the details of my English ancestors that I was most interested in, but I felt the blood draining from my face when I read the name of… Sir Richard Edmonds and Lady Beatrice.
Did I somehow access… memories, passed down through my genes? Was it some sort of supernatural occurrence? Obviously, I will never know the answer, but I will always be grateful for being shown a different way to be, from a member of the family.
Over the years, I dreamed of Sir Edmonds, riding his beautiful black stallion with his faithful page by his side, in search of adventures, damsels in distress and brigands.
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Good Story! I can definitely see that you did your research when writing this piece. I might suggest you refrain from using 'then' all the time. It made me feel like I was being led along in the story instead of feeling like I was there. It got repetitive at times.
Thanks for the feedback! :)