Christopher Key, chapter five, scene two

At this point, I shortened my chapters drastically, following what I suppose might be called the Patterson Maneuver. So this chapter only has two scenes, and here’s the second:


Long past midnight.

Christopher couldn’t sleep.

His magicians … they were out there somewhere, and he couldn’t believe they wouldn’t be back. In the quiet cold hours before dawn, it was easy to understand why they’d abandoned him. If it had come to a fight with knights-royal, the house would have been wrecked—that whole quarter of the city might have been wrecked, the knights were that powerful—and everyone could have been killed. So his magician-guardians had retreated, but they’d come back for him. No doubt about it.

The girls—all those girls—would they always be in the same room with him? They had bedded down like servants in the prince’s bedchamber—his bedchamber—on blankets around the hearth where it was warm. He’d heard them rustling and turning over; he heard their breathing now. Nothing separated them from him except the bed-canopies. One had a snore like a kitten.

He parted the bed-canopies, and looked through with one eye. Just one candle burning on the far side of the room to see by, but there they were, all those dark hummocks of blankets near the hearth. Not one moved. Christopher slid out of bed and walked barefoot and soundless past them to the chamber doors.

He slid one door open, barely making a sound.

Lamps burned along the length of the hall. A long slice of light fell across the chamber floor, and outside, two big men in armor turned at once to look at Christopher. They’d set up a table, and had been quietly engaged in a game of triumph.

“Go back to bed, Christopher,” said one, and Christopher shut the door and retreated from it, biting his lip.

The knights. They were standing guard outside in the corridor.

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