The knight freed himself and his faithful steed from the final, thorny grips of the enchanted wood to emerge before his goal – the tower fabled to imprison the land’s fairest princess. And there! In a windowsill near the tower’s top sat a girl of unparalleled beauty.
“Good day to thee, maiden!” he shouted.
“Is it?” the lady replied.
“I beg your pardon, milady, but couldst thou repeat that?” said the knight as he swung off his horse.
“Is it a good day?” she repeated.
“Truly it must be! For this is the day that you are swept away from captivity and into happy matrimony.”
The princess shook her head. “And why should I marry thee?”
“I fought through horrors undreamt of to reach thee,” he said, raising his sword toward the sun, glinting where it was not stained with ichor.
“My future happiness cannot be based on the sort of trials thou hast presumed to undergo in my name.”
Just then another knight emerged from the wood, shouting, “Princess! I have come to rapture thee away from this…”
“Hello then, who art thou?” said the first knight.
“The lady’s hero,” replied the second knight with all confidence.
“Perfidy! For I have arrived as her rescuer first!” shouted the first knight.
“What sort of life canst thou give me? Persuade me of thy worth,” called down the princess.
“My love shall span the ages for you, my princess,” swore the second knight. “For the tales of your beauty were deservedly told with reverence reserved for the godly or mythical.”
“Ha!” she laughed. “I certainly cannot marry a man who hasn’t the common sense not to put himself in mortal peril just because he heard tales of a woman’s beauty. And thee, sir?”
“I can offer you a place on my horse as I take my leave presently. Should you refuse it, I shall leave nevertheless. I should never doubt my own merit, nor shall I take a companion who would.”
She smiled. “Thy spirit is strong, sir knight. Tarry there a moment. I come anon.”
Moments later she was on his horse, and the two rode away together. Beyond that, they took things day by day.