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A Knyght Ther Was by Robert F. Young

A Knyght Ther Was

_But the Knyght was a little less than Perfect, and his horse did not have a metabolism, and his "castle" was much more mobile--timewise!--than it had any business being!_

by Robert F. Young

_Illustrated by Leo Summers_

_A Knyght ther was, and that a worthy man, That fro the tyme that he first bigan To ryden out, he loved chivalrye, Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisye_

--THE CANTERBURY TALES

* * * * *

I

Mallory, who among other things was a time-thief, re-materialized the time-space boat _Yore_ in the eastern section of a secluded valley in ancient Britain and typed CASTLE, EARLY SIXTH-CENTURY on the lumillusion panel. Then he stepped over to the control-room telewindow and studied the three-dimensional screen. The hour was 8:00 p.m.; the season, summer; the Year 542 A.D.

Darkness was on hand, but there was a full moon rising and he could see trees not far away--oaks and beeches, mostly. Roving the eye of the camera, he saw more trees of the same species. The "castle of Yore" was safely ensconced in a forest. Satisfied, he turned away.

If his calculations were correct, the castle of Carbonek stood in the next valley to the south, and on a silver table in a chamber of the castle stood the object of his quest.

_If_ his calculations were correct.

Mallory was not one to keep himself in suspense. Stepping into the supply room, he stripped down to his undergarments and proceeded to get into the custom-built suit of armor which he had purchased expressly for the operation. Fortunately, while duplication of early sixth-century design had been mandatory, there had been no need to duplicate early sixth-century materials, and sollerets, spurs, greaves, cuisses, breastplate, pauldrons, gorget, arm-coverings, gauntlets, helmet, and chain-mail vest had all been fashioned of light-weight alloys that lent ten times as much protection at ten times less poundage. The helmet was his particular pride and joy: in keeping with the period-piece after which it had been patterned, it looked like an upside-down metal wastepaper basket, but the one-way transparency of the special alloy that had gone into its construction gave him unrestricted vision, while two inbuilt audio-amplifiers performed a corresponding service for his hearing.

The outer surface of each piece had been burnished to a high degree, and he found himself a dazzling sight indeed when he looked into the supply-room mirror. This effect was enhanced no end when he buckled on his chrome-plated scabbard and red-hilted sword and hung his snow-white shield around his neck. His polished spear, when he stood it beside him, was almost anticlimactic. It shouldn't have been. It was a good three and one-half inches in diameter at the base, and it was as tall as a young flagpole.

As he stood there looking at his reflection, the red cross in the center of the shield took on the hue of freshly-shed blood. The period-piece expert who had designed the shield had insisted on the illusion, saying that it made for greater authenticity, and Mallory hadn't argued with him. He was glad now that he hadn't. Raising the visor of his helmet, he winked at himself and said, "I hereby christen ye 'Sir Galahad'."


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