Christopher Key, end of chapter one

Christopher’s eyes flew open. One of the knights was pointing in his direction. Sir Surrey. He was shouting something—Christopher couldn’t catch what—but definitely pointing straight at him, and now the second knight, Sir Gawaine, was riding back past the princess and her betrothed. Sir Surrey kept pointing. Soldiers converged on the two knights, from both the front and rear of the procession. The whole crowd was craning, trying to see what the uproar was about. Sir Surrey struck Sir Gawaine on the arm, wheeled his mount and spurred it right into the crowd.

Straight at Christopher.

The Master Ward had seen, too. His face, already white, became hard with determination. He spoke, in words as cold as howling sleet; the sound twisted in Christopher’s ears so he couldn’t understand at all, and yet he couldn’t stop listening, couldn’t keep from sliding down the chain as fast as possible. He let go and dropped the last two lengths, and the manservants caught him. They swung their bodies between him and the knights, as if to protect and conceal him. Master Ward kept speaking. His hands wrote on the air. Glowing lines wove a shield around them, and then Master Ward finished, with one last swift gesture. “Go,” he commanded. “To the house. Fast!”

Taking Christopher with them, they went.

Behind them—Christopher managed one final horrified glance—the celebration broke up in a swirl of horsemen, both knights breasting the crowd, horses shouldering citizens aside in a froth of haste. But they would be too late.

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