Many years ago, a young man, King Arthur, sat on the throne. He had drawn Excalibur from the stone, the sword which could not be drawn by anyone but the next and future King. He planned to marry Guinevere, his childhood friend, and all was right with the kingdom.
The Roman Empire had fallen in England a hundred years before, but one spring day an army marched on the kingdom of Camelot.
A hundred men came with swords and shields and when Arthur saw them coming, he knew something was wrong. Arthur was a good and brave King and went out to meet them himself.
"Who comes to my kingdom?" he asked.
"The power of Rome to dethrone the pretender, Arthur", a man said. He stepped forward from the crowd, a tall man with a thick black beard and a shield as tall as he was.
"I am Arthur, King of Camelot." Arthur said. He could see that the men had fashioned the symbol of Rome, entwined eagles, on their shields, but they had been hand-made. These were not soldiers of Rome.
"Rome fell long before I was born", Arthur said, "I am the one true King."
The man looked amused by Arthur's words.
"You are a boy", he spat. Arthur drew Excalibur from its scabbard.
"The boy who drew Excalibur from the stone", he answered.
The men murmured among themselves at the sight of Excalibur and the man in charge took a step back to consider.
"That is nothing but English lore", the man said finally. "You will prove yourself by solving our puzzle, or you are no true King."
"I am Arthur", he boomed, making the well-armed knights step back at the power of his confidence. "I need not prove myself to men with no character who make false symbols of Rome and claim to be something they are not."
The men looked angry, but the man in charge held them back. "You will prove yourself to us, or we will attack. Some of your people will be injured and killed. Is that what you want?"
Arthur had no greater concern than for his people and he frowned. "I accept your challenge", he said. "We meet here tomorrow." The man smiled as if he had already won.
"It is done", he said and the man led his soldiers away.
That night the men gathered around their leader. "We must come up with a puzzle he can never solve", the man said. "Arthur is said to be an honorable man and he will try to solve the puzzle honorably. We must make it an impossible Challenge."
The men nodded their heads and laughed in agreement and began creating the puzzle.
Arthur was an honorable man but he was a smart one too. He knew the army would not play fair and he knew there was only one person wise enough to help them.
Arthur walked out to the great lake late at night. He stuck Excalibur into the ground.
"Lady, you have helped me before. I ask you to help me again, Lady of the Lake."
Suddenly a lady came out of the forest and smiled at Arthur!
"I know why you are here", she said, "You were right to come seek my council. The army seeks to discredit you and take over Camelot."
"What must I do?" he asked.
"Use all your wisdom, all your resourcefulness. This puzzle will be something other than what it appears to be. Good luck, Arthur." With that, she was gone.
The next day Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable rode out to meet the army. "Can we not just fight them now?" his friend Lancelot asked with a smile.
"No", Arthur said returning his smile, "I said I would complete this Challenge and I will."
Both Arthur and the leader of the army stepped forward. From his cloak, the man drew a bunched up piece of rope - a knot.
"If you can undo this knot, we will recognize you as the rightful King of Camelot", the man said.
Arthur took the knot, remembering all the Lady of the Lake had said.
Mere moments passed and Arthur solved the puzzle.
"That's not how it was supposed to be!" the man shouted in anger.
"I undid the knot. That was the Challenge", Arthur said with a smile.
The army knew they had been bested and that Arthur was as wise and resourceful as he was powerful. They turned and left without a word.
"Let everyone know that I, Arthur, am King of Camelot and I protect my people", he shouted after them.
We have given the secret of the knot to Counselors so our Scouts to tie to solve it. Good luck!