Chapter VII: The Nightmare and the MaidenMature

Over the next three years, Alexander was a Knight of the Round Table, fighting alongside King Arthur and the other Knights against outside forces and vicious monsters. However, one night, everything changed.

Alexander had a nightmare... a nightmare in which he saw a being with a face completely concealed by the darkness of his tattered cloak. The being seemed familiar to Alex for some reason, though he did not know why. The creature pointed a long, sharp finger at him, and spoke in an eerie voice: "Your soul is forfeit, mortal... you cannot escape the darkness. I am coming for you... soon...".

The figure vanished, but another stood nearby. This one was vastly different from the first, as he could be seen clearly. He was dripping with blood of the recently slain, and dressed in white armor over black cloth. He wore a white mask on his face, and he wore an ebony black cloak with a fur collar which floated in the wind like hellfire. His hair was white, and his eyes were white on black schlera... his left eye was slitted as well. The being spoke, and the voice echoed Alex's own voice: "Behold... your bloody future...".

Alex awoke with a start, breathing heavily and grabbing his left eye in pain. When he removed it, he saw that his left eye had blood dripping from it. Alex wore an eye patch the following morning, concealing the wound.

Around this time, King Arthur had asked that some of his knights go and claim the Holy Grail, the chalice of Christ. Before then, Alexander had no interest in the expedition, but the nightmare had severely changed his mind. It is said that the Grail had many magical gifts that it can bestow upon the one who claims it... what if one of these gifts was everlasting youth and eternal life? Alexander wished to escape the fate his nightmare had shown him... and so he declared that he would join the quest, alongside fellow knights Gawain, Percival, and Lancelot.

They set off the next morning, Alexander standing apart from his fellow knights to think. "I determine my own destiny... and I will not be swallowed by the darkness. I swear that as long as I fight for myself, not relying on others, I will not be defeated by mere shadows."

Alexander would later learn to regret his selfishness...

When they landed, Alex and the other knights traveled eastward, searching for the Holy Grail... but destiny had decided otherwise. Alex was soon separated from his comrades, and went on alone, following his own path. Eventually he came across two giants, one of ice and the other of flame. The two of them were arguing over a young woman, with golden hair and dressed in rags, her hands bound behind her back and tears streaming down her face.

Alexander saw the young woman and grabbed his chest, and he began to breathe heavily. He had never seen a woman so beautiful in his life, nor had he ever felt this way before in his life. He walked up to her when the giants noticed him approaching.

"What do you want, pathetic mortal?" The ice giant spoke in a voice like shattering icicles. "The girl belongs to me, so go away before I tear your head off."

The flame giant turned and growled in a voice that roared like wildfire. "YOUR girl? She is mine by right, Ymir! You have no claim to her!"

Ymir turned to his rival. "I did most of the work! I deserve the girl, Surtr!"

Alex interjected, annoyed with the way they were talking about the girl. "She is not anyone's property! She has a life of her own, so let her live it!"

Ymir and Surtr turned to face Alex, stunned by his audacity. "You dare speak to us in such a way?" Ymir responded. "She was the payment for our work on a gigantic fortress. You have no say in the matter!"

Alexander folded his arms, staring directly into the giant's eyes. "Then I shall buy her her freedom back from you two."

Surtr laughed at this statement. "What can you, a mere mortal, possibly have that would interest us? You have nothing to trade for this girl!"

Alex smirked. "Maybe not now... but I will be back with a treasure large enough to satisfy both of you. You have my word that I will return before the end of the year... until then, neither of you are to lay a finger on this woman. Do we have a deal?"

The giants looked at each other for a moment, mumbled inaudible words to each other, and finally, Surtr spoke: "We agree to your terms, mortal."

Alex bowed and then faced the maiden once more. He knelt down so he could see her at eye level, and said: "I am Alexander Gerard Kahner, a knight of Britain. May I ask what your name is?"

The maiden stared back at him and responded in a gentle voice: "Gwendolyn Winterhaven."

Alex placed his hand on her shoulder and said reassuringly: "I will be back to bring you freedom. I promise."

The End

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