When we last joined Moxie, she thought she had witnessed a jewel heist, but when the dust settled nothing appeared to be missing . . .
During the rest of the parade Moxie felt accosted by stench. Every few feet brought a wave of yet another foreign smell. A hint of honey or beeswax lofted over the sawdust and dirt, but was overpowered by baskets of over-ripe tomatoes as they passed the fool in the stocks. Then they passed the food booths wafting of all kinds of edibles crisping in boiling oil. Moxie could feel a coating of thick burnt fat forming in her nostrils. As they rounded the bend near the lower theater she smelled damp moss, or was it mold and fungus? And finally, the stinging she recognized from this morning as the smell of horse dung marked their arrival to the jousting field.
At this point the parade disbanded, the majority of participants preparing for their next show at one of the theaters or the town square. Some went to work a shift at a booth. Moxie followed her fellow minstrels to the castle to play background music for the joust. The King and Queen with their court continued their regal show gliding up the front steps to their thrones.
Moxie slipped through the back of the castle and took her seat. It felt good to sit. The thin, black slippers from the costumer let every sharp pebble leave a mark on her foot. She would need to find some real shoes as soon as she got a break. She removed her music from the joust music envelope and quickly looked over all of the pieces. She felt a pang in her gut when she saw a bunch of sharps and flats, but quickly recognized a simple D-minor B pattern. Once she felt sure of the music, she looked up and saw the crowd.
There were people everywhere. It looked like a tsunami of moving colors had hit the front gate and poured down the hill. Moxie was shocked. She couldn’t believe this many people would want to spend the day re-enacting the Middle Ages. From all the people in t-shirts and jeans, she realized they were actually people watching other people re-enact the Middle Ages. She couldn’t decide which was stranger.
The jousters’ introductions caught her attention. There were four knights in shining armor. Each had a squire who introduced him to the King and Queen and to the crowd. A knight on a horse with a light colored blanket had been challenged by a dark knight on a horse with a dark colored blanket. A straight forward battle of good vs. evil, but one light colored knight seemed to have lost his script and was picking a fight with the King.
When Sir Ivan was introduced to the King, he rode his horse to the very edge of the building holding his sword to the King’s nose. The Queen’s cheeks blushed. She looked prepared to leap from her perch.
“The King abuses his power,” shouted Sir Ivan. “He takes what is not of his kingdom. He does not respect the boundaries of the land and does not repay his debts.”
The King quickly stood and moved closer to the Queen. “I believe you have become overzealous in the spirit of battle. It is not I who have brought you challenge,” he said looking to the Queen for support.
“Yes, dear knight. Save thy blood lust for the joust,” she said.
“I cannot hold my tongue any longer, my lady. The King is a tyrant and his moments for this earth are at an end.” The knight lunged forward but his horse and the building kept his blade far from the King who now stood behind his throne.
The crowd gasped and rose to its feet. Moxie was enthralled. That was some incredible acting. She really believed that knight wanted to kill the King and that the King and Queen were afraid. She would never have expected this caliber of talent at a renaissance fair. This place must pay serious bank to get that kind of talent. That reminded her that Pearl had never told her what she was getting paid. In the future, she would have to ask Pearl more questions before taking a gig.
Moxie felt a kick in her calf. Nettles said, “One, Two, Three, Four.” And the first song of the joust began.
The first joust went as expected. Moxie couldn’t watch very closely because she had to follow her music, but it looked like the good knight was hurt, but then he rallied and won. No surprise there. The second joust, however, the joust between Sir Ivan and The Black Knight, Sir Shadivan, took a strange turn. In the middle of the second run at each other, Sir Ivan took a right turn and went straight for the King. The King lunged out of the way a second before the jousting lance pushed his throne over and put a hole in the back wall.
Megan screamed to Moxie’s left. The floor shifted like an earthquake under Moxie’s chair and she worried that the building was coming down.
An announcer came over a loud speaker saying, “There you have it, folks. Wasn’t that an exciting joust? Please exit the grounds in an orderly fashion. The next joust is at 3:30. Enjoy the fair.”
“Wow,” Moxie said. “You guys really know how to put on a show. That was my kind of joust. I’ve only seen motorcycle jousting which is, of course, way cooler. But that was better than expected.”
Megan and Ryan had disappeared. Nettles laughed nervously.
“So what now?” Moxie asked.
“It be the time of the midday repast. Returnest of an hour and a half. Then we will wander the grounds playing until the second joust. Again, I wonder if thou hast read thy prepared materials.”
Moxie ignored everything but that they had a break. “Perfect. Where can I get some shoes?” Moxie held out one of her feet to display the pathetic slipper.
“The cobbler’s booth is next to my jeweler’s booth. I’m headed that way. Prithy walk with me.”
The cobbler wanted to measure Moxie’s foot and make her custom, leather knee-high boots, but that would take a week and $600 and she needed shoes now. Her smallish feet were just the right fit for a sample pair the cobbler had on hand. They were an unattractive pea-green short boot, but they felt like hugs for her feet. Moxie hated dropping $100 for shoes she would never wear outside of this place, but she was desperate and the cobbler had a monopoly.
While Moxie waited for the cobbler to run her credit card, she smelled the sweet smell of honey and overheard Nettles, on the other side of the tent flap, talking to someone in hushed tones.
A girl’s voice said, “Went off without a hitch. No one will ever know.”
“Are you sure? She didn’t see you?” Nettles replied.
“So what if she did? Nothing’s missing.”
“Right. So when’s the exchange?”
“Don’t you worry your little head. I have everything under control.”
“Yeah like last time?” Nettles hissed. “I think I’ll take the lead this time.”
“Sure, Nettles. Whatever you want. But I think this guy could be trouble.”
“Yeah, I think he made that clear to everyone.”
“Fine. You asked for it. He said directly after second joust.”
“So where’d you stash it?”
“Where I stash everything.”
“Guess that’s convenient enough.”