“The Queen is nigh, and no doubt will descend like the wroth of God. As will others, I warn you.”

“Like flies to a blown carcass,” Much muttered, from where he was keeping watch by the half-pulled door flap.

Hubert grinned, and continued, “Tout à fait. There are many who will not know, or care to know, why you are here. And there are others who have reasons quite unfathomable… de Lacy, for example.”

That one Robyn didn’t trust as far as he could throw him. And the Baron was no light-weight. Not to mention his brother…

Hubert’s thoughts were running tandem to his. “And de Lacy’s brother, de Lisle lord of Peveril, has, ah, several reasons to seek your downfall.”

“Peveril’s lord,” Marion repeated. “The old Sheriff of Nottingham, Robyn.”

“Aye. Sounds as if trouble’ll be running thick on the ground. All these nobles gathering and waiting like May wrestlers for t’ prize ring and ram.”

“Trust no one,” Hubert said, firm.

Including you, milord? Robyn didn’t fancy how he wanted to believe in Hubert’s integrity. Templars took their oaths in blood and with as much reverence as he received his own into the Shire Wode covenant. Who knew where such vows might lead? Despite the promises Hubert–and Gamelyn–had made to the dryw ardhu of the Shire Wode…

Gamelyn has sworn to Us and the Wode. Do not abandon him, O pwca.

Ah, but what promises has Guy made, O Lady?

Well, and Herself had little answer to that. Marion was peering at him, troubled. Of course she would sense Her presence even if for some reason she heard nowt…

That troubled him, too, and for no good reason; to be hearing what his sister didn’t. What he normally couldn’t.

“The Queen has asked for you,” Hubert said, “and now the King has noticed you. I think it will not be overlong until you are sent for. Until then, in our ranks is the best place for the both of you.” A smile. “After all, a Templar’s first and best role is to protect pilgrims.”

“Even with your Master.” Robyn said it slow, more abstruse senses testing out the flavor of Hubert’s response, undertow upon an icy river.

“Even so,” Hubert acknowledged. “It is with his blessing you remain here.”

“But we’re free to come and go?” Marion asked, her eyes still upon Robyn. Aye, and she’d had her own little run-in with de Birkin.

One more I owe you, Robyn vowed. Not that he’d so much as laid eyes on His Mastership since arriving here—which was fine by him, when it came to it.

“Of course. But hearken this: it is not you who will suffer, should you further chance Master Wymarec’s displeasure.”

Marion puffed up like a threatened goose. “So he waint face us, but take it out on sommun as he’s able? Are we that much of a threat?”

“Oh, Maiden.” It chided, and warned. “All of you, still so young for all your strength. My Master will use, as must we all, what tools lie to hand. He knows as well as you what card he holds in our talented Confanonier. The same trump that you, dryw ardhu, would toss upon a rebel’s fire, to change and mould the worlds.”

“We love Gamelyn!” Marion protested, while Robyn peered at the Templar, solemn and steady.

The Templar merely replied, “Do you think we do not?”

A pause, then Marion said, careful, “I think you do.”


(c) 2016 J Tullos Hennig