I Traveled To Medieval Times

Story by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge
13th SC(E) Public Affairs

Sand flew through the air as the two men raced toward each other, one aiming a great sword at his opponent's throat, the other swinging a flail above his head, preparing to split the other knight's skull. The sword darted out, glancing off its target and sending sparks flying as metal struck metal.

The blue knight swung the flail at the yellow knight, barely missing the knight's head as the yellow knight parried the blow, sending the flail flying through the air.

The blue knight's squire ran to his side, holding out a sword for the knight to use. The blue knight took the sword and turned to face his opponent.

Slowly, the knights began to circle one another, waiting for the exact moment to make their moves. The yellow knight moved first, striking out at the blue knight with agility and speed.

As dust settled and sparks died down, the yellow knight looked up at his opponent through a curtain of hair and sweat. The blue knight's sword delivered the decisive blow, sending the yellow knight sprawling in the sand.

Lords and ladies cheered as the yellow knight was taken off the field and the blue knight knelt before the king and princess. But the games had just begun…

Earlier in the evening, just as the sun began to set in the west, men, women and children gathered in the castle arena to celebrate the knights' victorious return from battle. Six knights from six cities throughout the kingdom gathered in the arena as the king's noble guests cheered for the knights from their various cities.

The princess had prepared a feast for all the lords and ladies of the kingdom and the castle swarmed with activity as serfs and wenches seated the king's guests and began to serve the first course of the meal. The smell of hot soup and garlic bread reminded me how hungry I was and I began to eat, using a bowl like a cup in the absence of utensils. As I drank my soup, I watched, over the top of my bowl, as the entertainment began and the king's Andalusian stallions performed their age-old dance.

Soon, Jerome, my serf for the evening, arrived with baked chicken still steaming from the oven. I ate the meat, savoring every bite, as the knight from my city, the City of Calahorra, joined the other knights in sporting competitions. The six knights rode their horses expertly, charging across the arena to thrust javelins into a target and to snag rings hanging overhead.

As the competitions continued, Jerome served ribs and sliced potatoes. By this time, my stomach was becoming comfortably full and I became more focused on the games. I realized there was great tension between several of the knights and the competition was becoming more intense.

Jerome returned once again, this time bearing apple pastries. I couldn't even touch mine, though, because I was enthralled by the drama unfolding in the arena. The king's wizard and old friend had just delivered some terrible news and the kingdom was in an uproar. The Lord Marshall, head of all knights in the kingdom, spoke with the king and together they decided to hold a tournament to the death to find the best knight.

By this time, adrenaline was flowing through my veins and I was sitting on the edge of my seat. I was surprised to hear myself screaming at the top of my lungs as the knights gathered, two at a time, to face off in combat.

Challengers rode out into the arena, armor-clad and weapons ready, to face their opponents…

My friend and I arrived at Medieval Times in Dallas at around 5:45 p.m. - and the doors don't open until 6:30 p.m. for the 8:00 p.m. show. I'd been before and loved it, so we decided we just had to get there early to be sure we got a great seat.

By great seat, I mean one where we could see all the action, be relatively close to the king's dais and maybe be assigned a knight who would actually win. Last time I visited Medieval Times, my knight won one round but got his tail kicked shortly thereafter. Then I was lost - I had no one to cheer for. So, I cheered for the bad guy and nearly got myself into an awkward situation with my friend's mother who was visiting from out of state.

This time, though, I scored big. I was seated literally two seats over from the king. At one point during the show, he actually leaned over and spoke to me. Now, I know he's not a real king, but that really didn't matter to me at the time. I was flying high and enjoying myself 100 percent.

After all, it had been a great day. My friend and I got up early and rode to Arlington. I had never really paid attention to Texas' landscape, but I realized on my way to the Dallas/Fort Worth area just how beautiful Texas really is - maybe I just had to look for it.

I was swept away by the bluebonnets lining the highway and the small ponds that were scattered across the countryside. As we drove north, the smell in the air changed slightly, becoming more earthy and clean. We rolled our windows down and I drank in the sunlight and the fresh smell of grass and wide-open spaces.

As we drew closer to Arlington, I spotted a huge, orange rollercoaster stretching out in the middle of a concrete jungle. Six Flags!

Our first ride for the day was Runaway Mountain. For those of you who have never been on Runaway Mountain, please let me describe it for you. While standing in line for this particular ride, things seem normal enough. There's a large rock wall - and by large, I mean about 50 feet tall and at least twice as wide - but maybe I'm not so good with eyeballing things.

The point is, I thought I was going to walk inside and get into a little mining car. Then I thought I would get to sit in the car as it moved rather slowly along in an air-conditioned cave. And I thought maybe there would be a few lanterns on the cave walls.

Was I wrong!

I sat down in the rollercoaster seat and pulled the guard down onto my lap. Then the coaster began to move and slowly entered a cave and began climbing a small incline. I tried to look around, but I could see absolutely nothing.

Then the fun started as the coaster took off quickly and snatched me down a hill and around curves and on and on through the darkness. When it finally stopped, I was excited and ready to tackle the rest of the rides on Six Flags' property.

We grabbed a souvenir bottle of soda and headed toward the Titan. From what I understand, the Titan is the largest coaster in the state of Texas. Let's just say I believe it. I thought we'd never stop climbing the first hill, but we finally did and then within seconds we were back down again and flying into a dark tunnel!

When we were back on our own two feet, we decided to slow things down a bit and enjoy a leisurely ride. We settled into a rather comfortable log and laid back to enjoy the shade and the scenery. After what seemed like several minutes of relaxation, we realized we had been mistaken about the "logs." Our log went over a nice little hill and sent us splashing into a pool of water. With our clothes good and damp, we got off our log and went in search of another form of relaxation.

We finally found what looked sort of like an oil rig and stood in line to ride the elevator to the top. From the top, we looked out over all of Dallas and Fort Worth. I was excited about the cool breeze that came with the higher elevation.

After several hours at Six Flags, my friend and I decided we should head on over to Medieval Times - despite the fact we had reservations, we had been informed to arrive early to get the best seats.

We arrived at Medieval Times in about 20 minutes or so - and we didn't really know the area that well. We pulled into the Times' parking lot and looked across the street at the World Trade Center. Just a few blocks down, the infamous grassy knoll lay as a reminder of the cruelty of some human beings and the greatness of others.

But the Medieval Times castle stood out as an entryway into the past. I could walk inside and forget the hustle of the 21st century. I could smell food being cooked naturally rather than being nuked in a microwave. I could step into a world where men were treated like men and women were treated like ladies.

In the middle of Dallas, Texas, I forgot the Global War on Terrorism. I forgot Lebanon and Iraq and North Korea. I forgot the cares of a modern, forward-thinking society and went back to a time when right was right and wrong was wrong and justice was won at the end of a sword.

I traveled to Medieval Times.

 

news photo
U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge