How To Warn a Prince, and Totally Fail at It

So we’re back again with our favourite knight. The one who was utterly disgraced and then managed to win back his honour. The one who is twice bound by oaths to protect his king and to protect a key gifted to that very king. This story takes place before the prince became a king, before the knight became the first knight of the kingdom. He’s regained his honour but he’s still not really trusted, he’s still not really believed. The one thing everyone agrees on though is that this knight, once disgraced for running, will never flee from danger even if it means his certain death.

Step one: make sure you don’t know all of your enemies banners, so it takes you a long time to realise there is a threat.

The knight was out alone on a patrol, when he saw it. A huge army heading towards him with great banners flying high above it. He scanned the colourful fabric searching for a banner he recognised, some sign that this army wasn’t a threat. There. A banner flapped in the breeze opening as the knight looked at it and a spark or recognition was lit inside him. His heart sank, this was an attack not a mustering of allies. He turned his horse and spurred it in the direction of the city.

Step two: When trying to deliver the message that there is a threat, make sure you get delayed.

In his haste to get back he wasn’t paying enough attention as he rode though the trees. A low hanging branch pulling him out the saddle and he fell to the forest floor with a loud crash. His whole body was encompassed by pain and he lay there for a moment, panting as he tried to regain the breath that the blow had driven out of him.

With a huge effort he rolled onto his hands and knees, before he struggled to his feet. A hand flashing out to support him against a tree, as he nearly fell back down. His sword, always strapped to his back, was still with him, but he had landed on it, no doubt bruising his back, and the pressure of the weapon now caused him constant agony. His knees started to shake with the effort it was taking for him to stay upright and he looked around quickly for his horse.

The knight groaned as he realised his horse was nowhere in sight and nearly collapsed back to the floor. He shook his head though trying to clear his mind before he pushed away from the tree and managed to walk forward a few unsteady steps. As he walked, he slowly managed to straighten up and pick up the pace. Finally he was walking at a reasonable pace, the pain pushed far from his mind and the agony of the landing forgotten as he focused on getting back to his city and his prince.

Step three: Get delayed again because the first delay has yet to delay you enough.

The knight barely had time to draw his sword when he was attacked. He’d been nearing the end of his walk from the forest when the bandits swarmed him from all sides. He backed up quickly parrying swords until he had a sharp cliff protecting his back. Then he focused more intently on his attackers holding them off just barely. He was lucky that none of them had bows to attack him with, meaning they had to close in to injure him in any way. That allowed him to rely on his skill with a sword to hold them off but even with that small advantage he still found himself being injured as he strove to hold off three opponents at once.

He was about to be overwhelmed when help came in the form of arrows coming thick and fast from the cliff above him. The bandits fell to the floor with the deadly arrows sticking out of their corpses and more hitting them even as their corpses began to cool. The knight made quick work of dispatching the final bandit after that but just before he struck the final blow a spike of pain shot through him and the bandit got in a lucky strike injuring the knight’s leg.

The knight sagged against the cliff as he surveyed the carnage around him. Still when his savours approached he pushed himself upright and planted his weight evenly, just incase he had to fight them. Despite his valiant effort to keep the grimace from his face it was clearly seen as one of the men dashed forward quickly to support him and offer admonishment to him for putting weight on his injured leg.

Step four: When resolving the resulting problem from the delay in step three, make sure you are delayed further.

The knight found himself being lowered to a small boulder by the man support him. Around them the archers had spread out to create a protective ring. A handful had scrambled skilfully up the trees to settle in the high branches and watch for any form of danger. From below they were impossible to watch as they lay flat against the high branches with bows half drawn.

The man poured wine onto the knight’s injury causing him to let out a small gasp. The knight grimaced and then gestured for the man to continue as he focused on forgetting what was happening. It was a good thing he did because the man was soon focused intently on his task as he stitched the wound closed with practised hands. Finally he pulled the last stitch tight before he bound the wound with a strip of fabric in a half-hearted attempt to protect his stitches.

The knight looked down as he felt the stabbing pain in his leg recede slightly and nodded his thanks. He tried to stand but was shoved roughly down with an order not to ruin the stitches that had only just been put in place. The knight impatiently explained that he had to get back to his city as quickly as possible causing the man before him to frown. Finally the man turned to the archers and snapped something in a harsh tone. The meaning became clear when two of them approached and sat either side of the knight pinning him down.

The man nodded to him once more before vanishing into the trees leaving him in the care of the two silent archers. He tried to start a conversation but got no reply for his efforts and soon fell silent himself. Without a distraction the throbbing of his leg seemed a million times worse and the pain from his earlier fall was returning.

He was just starting to wonder how long the man was going to be, when the man returned leading a horse. The knight looked up sharply as he realised it was his own horse and he surged to his feet. Luckily the two archers were quick because they managed to take all his weight before he had chance to put it on his leg. The man shook his head disapprovingly before he gestured for the knight to mount his horse which became more him being lifted onto it that actually mounting it on his own.

The knight took the reins in one hand as he slumped forwards in his saddle with eyes glazed over with pain. He heard the man wish him good luck on his mission, before he urged his horse away and back towards the prince he had to warn.

Step five: When you arrive back make sure you collapse so your needs are seen to before you have give your report.

When he arrived in city, he was slumped against his horse’s neck unable to keep upright in the saddle anymore. He sped though the streets without really knowing where people were around him, the horse’s hooves clacking on the pebbled streets. He didn’t even pause as he rode through the gates to the citadel despite the guards’ shouts for him to stop.

Finally he reined in. The whole courtyard around him was frozen at the sight of a knight slumped against his exhausted horse with a bloody bandage around his leg. The knight pushed himself up with his uninsured arm and swung his leg over the side of his horse. As his feet hit the ground, his legs buckled under his weight and the arms that grasped the horse’s saddle to hold him upright gave way under the strain, leaving him falling in a heap to the floor.

That was all it took to unfreeze the courtyard. The sight of a knight collapsing injured and exhausted to the floor having an instant effect. Two of his fellow knights rushed forward to lift him off the floor, wincing in sympathy at the wounds they could see and suspecting more when he let out a soft gasp of pain despite their careful handling. A third knight snapped at a servant to tell the physician he was needed before he jogged off to find the prince. There was no doubt that as soon as the prince heard one of his knights was injured he’d be searching to find out who it was.

The knight was half carried to his rooms in an attempt to keep him from being in any more pain. On their arrival his fellow knights lowered him onto his bed and tried to get him to lay down. The moment he did though his back flared up from the injury he’d sustained when he fell from the horse. When the physician arrived and demanded to know why he wasn’t lying down the knight wearily explained that due to an injury on his back he was unable to do so.

That caused the physician to burst into action and order him out of his armour which he did, with the much needed help of his fellow knights. His bruised back had just been exposed when the prince rushed into the room demanding to see his injured knight. He stopped short at the sight of the knight sitting on the bed with his face distorted by pain. The prince’s eyes scanned him swiftly taking in the open sword cuts and the bound wound on his leg before coming to rest on the bruising on his back. The knight tried to tell him of the approaching army but the prince cut him off ordering him to wait until his injuries were seen to before he explained what had happened.

The knight had fallen silent at the direct order knowing better than to continue to protest. Instead he succumbed to the physician’s treatment allowing him to rub a foul-smelling paste onto his back and to clean the wounds scattered across his body. When the physician unbound the strip of cloth around his leg wound to reveal the two remaining stitches he paused. It was with a curious lilt to his tone that he asked who had stitched the wound, a curiosity that was echoed in the prince’s eyes and the knight’s reply that it was a friendly group of archers seemed to satisfy none of the rooms occupants. Never the less the physician restitched the wound quickly stemming the blood flow once more before he cleaned away the dried blood around it. After that he bound it tightly and with an order for the knight to remain bed bound he left without another word.

Step six: finally warn the prince in a halting, not at all direct, kind of way.

The knight looked up and his prince and went to speak but he was cut off with a demand to know how he was. He tried to brush off his injures as nothing and move on so he could tell the prince about the approaching army but only ended up being ordered to explain how he got them. He was going to start at the beginning but the prince looked at him angrily and gestured to the worst wound, the stitched closed sword cut on his leg.

The knight grudgingly conceded and told of how he’d been injured and tired and on his own against a group of bandits with only a cliff to protect his back. He went on to describe the arrival of the archers and how, as he struck the killing blow to the last bandit, he was in too much pain to avoid the last blow as the bandit fell to the ground. The prince grimaced and nodded to his back, asking about that injury next.

The knight replied that he had been riding fast through the forest and hadn’t seen a branch which had then unseated him from his horse. Finally when the prince asked why he was in such a hurry he was able to speak of the approaching army. Unfortunately that only led to demands as to why he hadn’t said so earlier and the prince storming from the room. His fellow knights gave him sympathetic looks before they followed, reminding him to stay in the bed as they did so.

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