The unsolved issue with Winnifred’s diseased husband had gone on long enough. Doged had read Melkin the letter from the dead man’s family and Melkin had decided to act both for the love he bore for his family but also for justice.
When Winnifred had been widowed last year many a Marwth had called for quick action, to kill the man who had murderer one of their kin’s spouse. Since the man only had been married to a Marwth, Melkin had tried to investigate what action the dead man’s family was planning on taking, before taking action himself. When he had realised that they were planning on no action at all, even though the cruel slaughter of their kin both had been unprovoked and uncalled for, Melkin had taken the matter into his own hands.
He had arrived at court, and decisively demanded justice for his family in front of count Roderick and sheriff Bedwor. He was concise, direct and mostly self-controlled. The knight accused of the crime however was the opposite. Sir Edyin gave Melkin a contemptuous smile as he finished:
“Sir Melkin is simply mistaken, taking a woman’s word over the word of a knight”.
In the end the matter had been put to a duel, as was sir Edyin’s right. Being quite late in the evening though, the duel was put off until the next morning.
“You’re doing the right thing,” said sir Leo calmly as he walked Melkin through the halls.
“I’m certain I am,” said Melkin his frustration showing even though he tried to hold it back. “But I think that a man like that shouldn’t be given a second chance to walk free of punishment.”
“The duel will show that he was wrong,” consulted Leo looking to Emogen his wife and Melkin’s sister.
They were worried. Melkin could tell they were.
“There is no worry,” Emogen said. “You’ll make sure that he pays for his crime”.
She put a hand on Melkin’s back, which almost made him shudder. The storm of anger inside him was colliding with the fact that he might die tomorrow.
If the duel had been directly after the trial, Melkin felt he would have drawn his sword with a lot more confidence than he was feeling now. He felt he couldn’t think straight with his brother in law and his sister trying to make him talk, and he was getting more and more nervous. Melkin tried his best not to show this to Leo, thinking that Leo would view it as weakness, and also maybe as a lack of love for his family. But Melkin felt tense and knew it must be showing.
Stepping up the stairs towards Melkin’s room for the night they were met by a proud thin figure calmly waiting by the top.
“Sir Melkin,” nodded Amig and looked him over. “I was told you have been challenged to a duel.”
“He has,” answered sir Leo without giving Melkin the time to answer, “sir Edyin has opposed the charges against him”.
“Thank you sir Leo,” said Amig. “I would like a couple of words with sir Melkin alone, if you don’t mind”.
Sir Leo nodded, and took Emogen by the arm giving Melkin a last look.
“I’m certain you will win,” he said firmly.
“If you need anything, just tell me will you?” added Emogen worriedly.
They left and Melkin felt relieved. Turning towards Amig he said:
“Thank you,” and almost apologised. He had to remind himself that he was no longer Amig’s squire and that he could make up his own decisions in these matters. Instead of talking he fell silent unable to find any appropriate words for the situation.
“Come,” beckoned Amig and turned. “You look nervous.”
“I am,” admitted Melkin not at all surprised that Amig had noticed and it didn’t feel too bad that Amig knew. “From the tales about Sir Edyin I was half expecting a duel but I didn’t think I’d have to wait the night.”
“Well, your opponent sure likes to talk. But it’s only talk,” added Amig, “he is not renown for his skills with a sword.”
“Only talk,” echoed Melkin even though he wasn’t sure he believed it.
Amig studied Melkin as they walked the halls together. “So how does it feel?” he asked after a long silence. "Last time you were involved in a duel your word was defended by lord Elad. Now you will be the one doing the fencing."
“I’m… It’s my duty,” answered Melkin feeling determined, “and I’d rather solve the issue like this than by starting a blood feud.”
“That’s good,” commented Amig looking at him. “And so you are nervous, and you should be,” he said more to himself than Melkin, “as long as it makes you focus.”
Melkin drew a deep breath. He did feel more relaxed, been given some space to think and not being told he would win the fight by family that didn’t necessarily believe it. He stopped and turned towards lord Amig.
“If you have any good advice,” he said more calmly. “I would appreciate it.”
“Don’t try to sleep,” he said. “It won’t come, so don’t expect it to.”
“Because I’m nervous,” Melkin concluded a bit dejected.
“Yes,” said Amig bluntly, “but so are all wise men on the night before their first duel”. Amig clapped him on the shoulder. “I’ll see you in the morning sir Melkin”.
The night was indeed sleepless, but as the morning came and Deian was putting on his armour, Melkin felt focused. As he stepped into the ring that had been drawn on the grounds he felt his anger flare again, everything but the knight before him disappearing from the scene.
He fought hard, non-defensively taking every chance to strike at his opponent. He barely felt his own injuries. In the end he pounded his own shield and kicked sir Edyin’s feet out from under him, going for the final blow when the knight shouted:
Stopping confused by this sudden outcry, the world around Melkin became visible again. He had been aiming for the man’s throat but stopped mid-swing looking at the man’s raised hands. The seconds passed, and Melkin was unable to move.
“Yield,” repeated the fallen knight and Melkin saw that sir Edyin was bleeding from an open wound across his eyebrow.
“Fine,” he said finally and lowered his sword. “Instead of your life, I will have you make things right with my steward. You widowed her, and so you will pay her new dowry and you will make sure that she is wed honourably.”
He slammed the sword back into its sheathe and walked off.