Hawk's Fate
Hawk was a quiet warrior. No bragging passed his lips but the tales of his deeds were legend. He was a great friend and a terrible foe. Mighty strength and great intellect made his sword swing often for the Nobles' causes.

But Hawk had one small downfall to mar his perfection. He didn't believe all the stories told about himself... because while he seemed calm, cool and collected during battle, in reality he was sickened and scared of dying.

Hawk fought grimly...at least that's what he thought.

The fruits of his labors had increased to the point where retirement seemed near. Yet there was always one more besieged castle to save, dragon to kill or maiden to fight for.

All Hawk really wanted in life was a cottage, a plough horse and a family.

But fate made a mockery of Hawk's endeavors...each time he had what was nearly enough money set aside... disaster would happen.

Such as the time he had a king's ransom in jewels, stolen from a dragon's hoard, and his boat capsized.... taking his jewels and his dreams to a watery grave.

Or the time he had beaten a giant at a game of chess and the prize was a sack of gold coins.... the local barmaid, Zelda, she talked Hawk out of a goodly portion of that.

But Hawk was determined that the good life would be his. So when he saw the Tourney notice posted at The Hen-Pecked Hubby's Hideaway...he signed on the dotted line.

First prize was the hand of Her Royal Highness, Princess Sweetcheeks. Second prize was a yearly stipend of 40 Roks..which was just the amount needed to keep a family and taxes taken care of.

Hawk wanted second prize so badly that he could taste it. But to lose and on purpose??? This would take some serious thinking and planning on his part.

"Zelda,my dear... how would you like to earn a little money?"

Zelda's eyes brightened and her body began to quiver. "Oh, you're thinking what I'm thinking? I thought that you didn't..."

Hawk interrupted her " No!! Not that. I need a little help with the Tourney."

"Oh, ok." Zelda gave a little moue of dismay.

"Now I'm not the least bit interested in marrying Princess Sweetcheeks, I've heard she's quite the shrew. What I want is that yearly stipend. I'm such a great fighter that it will be very hard to not win. That's where you come in."

Zelda considered Hawk's request for just a minute and replied " I would love to help you. But what can I do?"

Hawk walked up close to her and began to speak urgently.

The tourney tent was stifling hot but Hawk considered himself lucky to have it all to himself. If Zelda happened to stop by he would have no worries of tale bearers.

Hawk was ready to fight.. as many and as big of men as necessary to insure that yearly allotment was his. He was willing to sacrafice his pride to get what he wanted..and the Princess could be damned...

"Heh" Hawk thought out loud, " No, it wouldn't be the Princess damned, it would be whoever wins this Tourney,"

The thought of not being Master of his "castle" and having to answer for his every thought and action sent a shudder through Hawk's manly frame.

Outside the heralds blew their horns. The loud blast was the summons he had been waiting for all day.

He put on his leather helmet and checked his sword one last time. Then he stepped out into the bright sunlight and headed for the tourney field.

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