He ran the brush down the length of the mare. Her black coat carried a glossy sheen. Morien always admired the power and beauty of horses. The resort stables housed the highest quality animals. The last time he had seen horses of this caliber he was in Arabia, a territory close to his mother’s homeland in Northern Africa.
The lyrical sound of female laughter interrupted his wandering thoughts. Peering from behind his horse, he watched the two ladies cross the courtyard. He froze in midstroke, unable to tear his eyes from her. She tossed her head back, amused, the sun highlighting the tresses softly framing her oval face. Her golden skin reminded him of warm honey. Her bosoms strained against the green linen of her gown, pleading for him to release them. As she turned towards him, her brilliant smile and haunting gray eyes stole the breath from his chest.
Afraid, he darted behind the animal. It had been many years since he found interest in the opposite sex, but he never imagined it would cause him to react so foolishly. Fear never entered his vocabulary in the past, even in the darkest situations. This day, he cowered in the stables because a woman he had never met stole his fancy. This behavior was irrational and unbecoming of a male, especially a Knight of Arthur’s Round Table. He shook his head to clear his thoughts. He inhaled deeply to regain control of the rapid beating of his heart. His brothers would disown him should they witness his cowardice.
A boy dressed as a page entered the stable. “Good morrow, young sir,” Morien greeted him.
“Hallo, Sir Knight,” the blond lad answered.
Morien smoothed the last stroke down his mare. “Do you know who the Lady across the courtyard may be?”
“I heard she’s the Lady of the Manor this weekend. She is the hostess of the tournament. From America, my mother was saying.”
“Interesting,” he murmured, more to himself than the boy.
The boy stared at the tall knight. “Will you compete to be her champion?”
Morien fitted the saddle on his horse. “I guess I may. I am to compete today.”
“You know, you are very good with the talking like a knight. I try to play my character for the whole weekend, but it’s very hard. My mother corrects me all the time.”
This brought a smile to Morien’s lips. “Thank you, sir. I also try very hard. It took decades of practice.”
“Good luck in the tournament. I’ll cheer for you. I’ve never seen a black knight before.”
“There were many Moorish knights, as they called us during our time. And many of us served as Knights of the Round Table.” He donned his armor emblazoned with the crest of Camelot. Very few would recognize its relevance in this day and time.
In one swift motion, Morien mounted his horse. The page handed him his shield and lance. The heavy weight of the steel felt right in his hand. His lance balanced beautifully. A skilled artisan in Camelot had made it for him. Today, he was a knight again. For many years, he had traveled this foreign land searching for the Grail, as Merlin guided him to do. He almost forgot who he was and from whence he came. He missed the excitement of battle and the adventure of his prior life. But only when he found the Grail could he return to his homeland