Here is what I finally ended up with, though it's not completely finished.
Peter grabbed the rough wooden rail with a calloused hand. He exhaled and straightened with effort. Today marked his third attempt at impressing Cynthia, to no avail. His complete lack of agility made Peter nothing more than a practice dummy for the real knights. He wished there were an easier way to win Cynthia’s heart than combat on the practice field, but gallantry seemed to be the only thing she cared about.
With these thoughts in mind, Peter ignored the pain and puffed his chest out. He nodded at the man who’d sent him sprawling and strutted off the field. Peter kept up the pretense until he was out of sight of the castle, even though every step reminded him of the bruises he’d sport tomorrow.
No matter how often Peter practiced with sword and shield however, his skill never improved. Peter refused to give up. Every afternoon he swung a rough wooden sword at a makeshift target. His daydreams were filled with the sounds of steel upon steel, his body encased in brilliant armor, and Cynthia cheering him on. Every evening however, Peter faced the grim reality of his destitute life. There was no beautiful, wealthy woman to admire his prowess – only barren farmlands and a crumbling home.
Then one evening as Peter was rubbing sore arm muscles and cursing his luck, a knock came at the door. Nobody ventured out here, he thought. Maybe it’s a bandit. He shrugged and headed for the door. He had nothing to steal, and killing him was probably not worth anyone’s time. The well-dressed man at his door was not what Peter had expected. The man caught him off guard, so much so that Peter didn’t even object when the man strode in without so much as a word.
“You are in need of help, young man. And I can provide it…for a price, of course.” The man’s deep voice sent chills down Peter’s spine.
“Sir, I don’t know what you’re selling, but I ain’t got a single coin to hold in muh hand.”
The man touched a finger on the dusty table, clucking his tongue. “Oh, I think we can come to an agreement, my young friend.” He turned to face Peter. “You wish to win the girl’s heart, don’t you? I can provide you with a sword that rivals all others. And all I need is your signature.”
None of this made sense to Peter, but any chance to win Cynthia’s heart was worthwhile no matter how odd. He signed the paper with an odd quill the man provided, and then the odd man folded the document carefully.
“You don’t have a seal, do you?” the man asked. Peter shook his head, so the man said, “Don’t worry, a drop of your blood will do in place of wax. I will seal it myself.” A prick from the man’s long fingernail, and the agreement was sealed. Then the man pulled forth a magnificent sword that gleamed in the faint light. “With this sword, you will never lose.”
Feel free to comment. I've got thick enough skin so don't worry about hurting my feelings.