Entering the Palace had been easy enough. I doubt that we even needed the disguises that we had obtained from the Royal guards – most of those on duty were either asleep or dozing off. It seemed so strange to me – the condition of a soldier in battle being of constant alertness and fear, while the condition of these guards being a little more than leisure and passing time.
Why were they even being paid?
I could see these sentiments clearly on the face of Sir Shagor, every inch of his face turned in a scowl at the sight of the lazy guards.
We trod passed the sentry ‘on duty’, and into the Palace. I feel the need to say that the decorum did not meet the expectations that I had in my mind’s eye. But then – what did I know of Palaces?
I could see Sir Shagor become more tense, uncomfortable in his surroundings, his eyes searching here and there for any sign of his beloved wife and child. A guard on patrol saw us and raised a hand in greeting.
He climbed down the steps and asked, “New here?”
I nodded as Sir Shagor said, “Yes. Here as guards for the Prince Phillip, God save him.”
The guard snorted, “Indeed, should the Shadow find him.”
Oh, the irony.
“Oh, big gossip around the Palace, mate. The Prince’s stolen the poor knight’s wife and son. His father, the King, don’t know about it yet – but he’ll be plenty upset when he finds out.”
“These are troubling things, sir.”
“Aye, that,” the guard nodded, “but your job’s not to offer opinions, it’s to guard. You’ll find the Prince’s quarters towards the left wing, the second floor, eighth door to the right.”
“Thank you, sir.”
The guard shrugged, “Just doing my job.”
We followed the path that the guard had directed and found the room. I could hear quarrelling from within and the sharp warbling of a child, and looked at Sir Shagor. He was listening intently, the colour of his face growing darker and darker the more he heard.
“I’ll not be disgraced again, Phillip!” said the first voice. Lady Nancy’s, presumably, “Not tonight! My son needs attention!”
“Oh, is that so?” bawled a second voice, “Your son won’t live to see your attention if you keep up that attitude!”
“Oh, how dare you!”
“I tried to be nice, Nancy – but you seem to have a queer aversion to kindness. It seems right of me to use a different means.”
“It’s no wonder that you aren’t married!” Nancy barked, “A man like you is undeserving of a life-companion!”
“I am the Prince of England! How dare you–!”
“Oh, indeed! Want you lack in masculine genitalia, you clearly make up for in your social status!”
There was a hoarse shriek that followed and the Prince barked, “You go on like that and I’ll cut him deeper, you hear me!” the baby howled, his cries stifled momentarily by his intake of deep breathes. It was a painful, helpless cry.
“Please, leave him!” cried Lady Nancy, a sob in her throat.
Sir Shagor could stand by no longer, his face a shade of purple fury, and opened the door with a slight click.
I saw him stand in silence, the head of Prince Phillip turning to look at him in frustration, unappreciative of the disruption. Master Crion was held in one of his arms, bleeding from his leg.
Lady Nancy looked at her husband, recognising him immediately, and cried out, “At last! At last you come!”
The Prince looked from Lady Nancy to Sir Shagor, and his face blanched.
I shut the door, hearing Sir Shagor crack his knuckles.
“S-stay back!” said the Prince, scrambling backwards, holding a knife to the baby’s throat, “Stay back, or I’ll kill him!”
Sir Shagor stepped forward, cracking his neck, loosening up his joints.
“Guards! Guards!” called the Prince in a panic, but his voice was drowned out by the constant warbling of Master Crion.
“I promised to wring the neck of the man that stole my family,” said Sir Shagor, “and I am nothing without my word.”
Sir Shagor leapt at him, feinting a blow to the Prince’s head, but kicking his shin instead. The Prince gasped, loosening his grip on the child and my lord caught the boy before he fell. Being near at hand, I took the child and handed him to his more-than-grateful mother. Sir Shagor went on to lash out a few vicious kicks to the Prince’s groin, making the man groan.
“You god-damn, bloody knave, you!” barked Sir Shagor, punching Phillip to the side of his face. The Prince looked up helplessly, frozen with shock. Sir Shagor took his neck in one hand and raised him up, “Pray to whatever God you worship. You will not out-live my stay at your Palace!”
“G-guards!” the Prince tried a second time, “Guards! Help…!”
“So be it,” there was a sharp, sickening snap, before Sir Shagor let go of the Prince’s body to drop into a crumpled heap on the floor.
My lord had ran up to his wife, taking a moment to embrace her.
“Come,” he said, “we shall save our sentiments for when we find safer grounds. We must leave. Now.”
We reside in a run-down inn at present. Getting out of the Palace had been slightly more difficult than getting in. When the shifts change, the guards would find a lot of their comrades sprawled over the ground, dead. And a Prince too. Lady Nancy rests, her hysterics and tears seem to have worn her out, and her soft snores resound as I write this entry. My lord, Sir Shagor, holds his son close to him – Master Crion in a sound slumber – kissing his forehead and soothing the bandaged area where he’d been cut.
“No more allies,” he mumbled, “No more enemies. Just one loyalty.”