Galahad and Lilly rode for a few hours pretty much in a random direction. At midday they stopped near a large tree and finished the still soggy provisions they’d brought with them.
After the meal they sat for a while uncertain how to proceed. Galahad looked to the mountains on the horizon and cocked his head. He stood up and pointed toward them while mumbling to himself. Then he pointed toward the plain off to his right. He turned to Lilly with his arms spread wide and almost shouted, “I know where we are!”
As soon as he spoke an arrow pierced the wrist of his right hand, coming out the other side.
Four riders came into view. One more finely dresses than the others shouted, “Protect the princess.”
The archer, one of the four, shot a second arrow that tore into Galahad’s shoulder. Galahad slumped to the ground as Lilly screamed and ran towards him. She covered his body with hers as the riders circled them.
“Stop it!” she shouted. Then turned back to Galahad and his wounds.
The riders formed up, each taking a position at the four corners of a square with their horses facing inward.
The leader, the finely dressed rider, said, “You must come with us, my-” he faltered for at that moment the princess looked up and stared at him.
“What cause have you to shoot my protector?” She asked in a commanding voice. She turned her face toward each of the riders, one of which, a notoriously weak-stomached soldier, puked off the side of his horse.
The princess stood and focused on the the leader. “I said, what cause have you?”
The leader stuttered and stumbled over his words, but eventually got out, “My Lady, by order of Lord Trapsfield… He feared you had been kidnapped and sent riders out to all ends of the kingdom. We are here to protect you.”
“I do not believe such words would come from Lord Trapsfield.”
“If you believe it not then you doubt good Roddie’s bow,” he pointed to the archer, “or even the horse I’m sitting on. I know not what he may have wished but I know what orders came.”
“Are you friend or foe of the King?”
“I am his friend, may the maker rest his soul, as I am yours.”
“And Lord Trapsfield?”
“He is your regent, is he not? And therefore my liege.”
“What is your name, brave knight?”
“I know you, or at least your reputation. You served my father well.
“And your companions?”
“My master of arm’s Guile Haversham, his apprentice young Julius, and our archer Roddie of the Scarlet.”
“Do you trust these men?”
“More than with my own life, my lady, I’d trust them with your life.”
“Will you take me to Count Riverton?”
Sir Doyle looked down at the ground before returning to her gaze. “Lord Trapsfield was very specific that you be brought to him immediately.”
“Is it he you serve or I?”
“We shall see,” Sir Doyle said. He looked at each of his men.
“I shall take you, let no one else bare blame for this decision. If you men choose to come I would gladly take any punishment that might be doled out, but it may be beyond my ability to prevent you bearing it.”
“I come of my own accord and will not let you bear any punishment that’s duly mine,” Roddie said.
Guile, however, said, “If I ride with you there will be no one to distract. No one to ensure you have time to get there.”
“You are well named, Guile,” said Sir Doyle. “We part friends. And you, Julius?”
“I go with my master,” Julius replied.
“Let us be off then,” sir Doyle said.
“My protector must be set right first.”
Galahad let out another pitiful groan.
Sir Doyle wrinkled his lips. “If you insist, my lady.”
With quite a bit of whining from Galahad, Guile and Roddie removed the arrows. Then they made a sling for Galahad’s arm and set him on his horse. Then Guile and Julius took their leave and Sir Doyle, Roddie, Lilly, and a whimpering Galahad set off for Count Riverton’s castle.
To Be Continued…