CHAPTER 29

A light tap on the door woke him.

Fayte sat up from his bed to find Rinmar looking at him. The Prince was wrapped in a dull grey cloak. He appeared to be alone but Fayte knew his Scygard was somewhere near. Hylan and Saldara might be at peace now, but not everyone gave their consent to this peace.

"May we speak?" he asked, his eyes flickering to Wilson who was wide awake and staring at him from the other side of the dark room. "Perhaps somewhere private as well."

"Preston will accompany you," Wilson said when Fayte pulled on his boots. "I will stay and watch him."

John was snoring on the bed next to Wilson's, his legs lay spread in an unsightly fashion. Captain Resfield had stayed his blade in the end after Emily commanded that he did. The Captain argued that in light of all that had occurred on their way to the temple, Sera had intended for this man to die here.

"If I am wrong to spare him then let Lady Sera strike me down with a bolt of thunder when we take to the sky."

It made for the most nerve-wrecking gryphon flight they had ever experienced.                                                                    

It was likely not a coincidence that Emily and Rinmar were headed to the temple as Fayte was with John. If anything, Wilson believed that the whole show was for Rinmar.

"It is a message from Sera to you, Prince Rinmar," Wilson had said as they left the temple. "That Hylan is protected not only by the Orders of Rondiar, but by our ancient guardians as well."

Of course, the Scygard took offense but knew to hold his tongue.

"The rebels are broken and weakened after the campaign by the one called Feralina Vladertz," Rinmar had answered Wilson as he held Emily's hand. "Hylan is safe from those in Saldara who oppose our alliance."

Emily was all Fayte could think about as he followed the Prince to the roof of the City Watch headquarters. Emily and Rinmar were both residing within Eres Star Castle, hosted by the new Magister after the previous was murdered by Rinmar's uncle, Lormio La'ou. An awkward meeting it must had been when the Magister met with Rinmar.

The Prince stepped to the edge of the roof, showing no discomfort as the chilly winds swept by. Fayte picked Preston up and hugged the dragon for some warmth.

"I don't suppose you could warm me up without cooking me," he asked.

Preston shook his head.

"You love Emily," Rinmar said, turning around to face him. "And she loves you."

"Love is too big a word for the feelings that we have for each other," Fayte told him. "We were best friends. Close to one another like siblings. No more."

Rinmar smiled but he did not believe. "Were best friends?"

"A Princess has little need for friends in such times."

"Such times is when friends are a Princess's greatest need."

Fayte looked up and found Sera's eye shut to him. "Noble lords and ladies are the only friends Emily need right now. There are still many in Hylan who oppose the alliance."

And some beyond the Northern Gate who might see this alliance too big a threat. Fayte chose not to share this with Rinmar if he didn't know already.

"Yes," Rinmar said, his tone grew solemn. "That is the reason behind the assassination of your friend, isn't it?"

Fayte did not answer.

"Forgive me for bringing it up," he said. "I too am saddened by his death. Emily had spoken about him and his family. He was one of the-"

"What is it about that you wished to speak with me?" Fayte interrupted him, having no desire to talk about Jeremiah with him.

Rinmar apologized for getting carried away. He sighed and looked Fayte straight in the eyes.

"I love Emily," he said. "Just as much as you do."

Fayte nearly scoffed.

"But Emily loves me not."

That got Fayte's attention.

"Emily and I shall wed in name," Rinmar went on, his voice softening, his expression hard to decipher in this moonless night. "But never in heart."

Preston stirred in his arms as Fayte listened on.

"She will bear my child one day, for that is the ultimate goal of our marriage."

Fayte sucked in a deep breath and looked away upon that thought.

"That is what will bind my people to yours," Rinmar told him. "Saldara will truly become a part of Hylan then. And your people will no longer have any fear of us."

"We're done here," Fayte said, turning to leave, for the thought of Emily and Rinmar having a child together was too much for him to bear.

"I will not stand in between you and Emily," he said aloud, stopping Fayte. "I love her and I wish for her to be happy. If being with you is what makes her happy, then I will not be an obstruction to that. I am a Prince and she a Princess. We have our duties and we cannot turn away from them. But I can turn my head away should you two choose to meet in secret."

At this point Fayte was confused, his feelings mixed.

"So long as Emily is happy," the Saldarian Prince said firmly. "All else does not matter."

Fayte wondered if he should be hugging Rinmar for being willing to suffer the shame of his lady wife seeing another man, or stab him for suggesting that he and Emily would commit such an adulterous and dishonourable act. All Fayte knew at that moment was that he felt hopeful again. Suddenly there was a chance for him to be with Emily again. Just as Rinmar said, so long as Emily was happy, all else does not matter… isn't that so?

That was when an arrow burst through Rinmar's chest.

At first Fayte did not react. Rinmar was protected by a seal inscribed upon his heart. The seal prevented any harm to befall him should he be pierced or stabbed through it. But when he saw the Prince fall onto his knees, blood dripping onto the ground, and his green eyes wide with fear, Fayte dashed to him and Preston took off.

He heard a whizz and ducked to narrowly dodge an arrow, hearing it bounce off the ground.

The arrows are coming from higher ground. He searched quickly. Too dark, need more light.

Fayte rushed to Rinmar, drawing his sword, and lifted the Prince with his shoulder.

"HELP!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. "HELP!"

He turned Rinmar around and helped him to the edge of the roof. It would be safer for him to head down by the stairs, but the edge of the roof was much closer and the ledge offered them protection from where the arrow was coming from. At least that was what Fayte thought until another arrow lodged itself right next to his face.

There's more than one assassin, he realized, pushing Rinmar over so that he laid on his side. But he can't see us clearly as well.

Short of throwing Rinmar over the ledge, Fayte knew of no other way to protect the Prince without his shield, so he used himself as bait. He ran off in the other direction, swinging his sword in the air, hoping the blade would catch a little of the moonlight and draw the assassins' direction.

The plan worked… in a way.

He managed to draw one of the assassin's attention. In fact, he drew his attention so well the assassin appeared right in front of him. There was little to say about the assassin. He was wrapped in a dark robe. Slung over his chest was a bow and behind him a quiver. In his right hand was a short sword and with it he slashed at Fayte.

Fayte disarmed him after parrying no more than two blows.

"If it was Jeremiah you were fighting." Fayte lunged and slashed at the assassin, but his sword was stopped by a curved dagger. "You'd be dead already."

Preston screeched.

Fayte swung his left arm to deflect the arrow coming from behind him, a reflex, but he didn't have his shield. Instead he saw a glimmer of gold and heard the sound of steel snapping. The Scygard spun around and Fayte ducked, saving himself from being beheaded. There was a spray of hot liquid on the top of his head before he heard a dull thud on the ground. The assassin he was fighting had fallen limp on the ground.

Beheading a person was easy when acted out in plays. All it took was a little imagination. To truly behead a person took both a sharpened and sturdy sword, as well as an immense amount of force. The way the Scygard beheaded the assassin, he made it look like it was a play. And you didn't need any imagination.

The other assassin that came at Fayte from behind backed away from them, first a step back, then another, before he turned and-

"-NO!"

The Scygard sank his curved blade into the shoulder of the assassin and straight to the heart.

Fayte screamed in frustration. "We needed him alive!"

The Scygard ignored him, ripping out his sword before rushing to his Prince. Soldiers finally arrived at the roof, brandishing pikes and torches. Wilson was leading them and he made his way to Rinmar at once, sending a sphere of light into the air.

They're dead for sure. Fayte turned away from the two corpses and went to Rinmar. "How is he?"

"Normally I would say it is a blessing for an arrow to miss the heart." Wilson snapped off the head of the arrow before he pulled out the shaft from behind. Rinmar screamed but his voice was strained and breathless. It was painful to just hear him wheezed. "But not for our Prince here."

"Save him!" the Scygard yelled, grabbing Wilson by his sleeve. "Save him now!"

Preston let out a breath of fire to force the Scygard away from Wilson.

"Get me the Captain," Wilson said, his hands flaring with light as he pressed on Rinmar's wounds from both the front and the back.

"I am here," said Captain Resfield, staring at Fayte until he nodded to indicate that he was unharmed. "What do you need?"

"Do you know Promella?" Wilson removed his hands and examined the wound, shaking his head before he plunged them in again.

"The herbalist," Captain Resfield said, handing his shield to Fayte before he tightened his sword belt. "Do you need me to bring her here?"

"Where is this Promella?" the Scygard went to the ledge of the roof. "I will bring her!"

"The head of the arrow has torn his lung and airpipe." Wilson ceased his magic and examined the wound again. It was no good. "I have ceased the bleeding but he is still choking."

Rinmar was wide awake now but the Prince was struggling to get a breath, his mouth gurgling with blood that spilled past his chin. Captain Resfield went over and lifted Rinmar in his arms, telling the Scygard to back off and follow him if he was so worried.

"What help can a simple herbalist offer?" the Scygard said, frantic, as he tried to take his Prince away from the Captain. "Release him! I shall take him to another priest in the castle!"

"Then he will die!" Wilson snapped at him. "Captain, take him to Promella now!"

The knight did not wait for the Scygard to approve, leaping off from the roof with the Light the Spirits flaring. Wilson took off to follow the Captain so Fayte went after him.

"Is the herbalist a priestess?" he asked as he chased Wilson down the steps.

"Nay." Wilson said. "But she can cut Rinmar open and mend him by hand."