Chapter Fifteen: Duty

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They departed not long after sunrise the next day. The number of servants helping to prepare their carriage was innumerable. They were able to get going in almost no time.

The whole thing made Damian uncomfortable, even more than it did before he came to. The power structure of the feudal system was unjust and unfair but he was playing right into it. He thought about the lives the palace servants led. He didn't even know how real they really were, but it was still unsettling to him. He quietly thanked each one as they walked passed him.

Damian boarded the carriage, decked in full armor. It was more of a formality at this point, but something about it always seemed to make the people around seem calmer. He sat across from Alexander who had brought some of his maps along to study on the road.

Damian couldn't help but notice the prince was more plainly dressed today than he was on previous days. He wore a rather simple tunic emblazoned with the family crest with tights underneath. God, Damian was so happy he didn't have to wear tights. That was where he drew the line here. The clunky, uncomfortable armor was a far more pleasing outfit in his opinion.

The ride was quiet for the first couple of hours. The prince poured over his documents. The subtle drum of hoofbeats sounded below them. Damian peered out of an opening in the door. Every so often he would poke his head out to see how the caravan was doing.

In all honesty, it got kind of boring after a while.

Halfway through the day, he decided to actually do his job as head of security and parade up and down the caravan, making sure everything checked out. It did.

The first day wound down and Damian felt like he hadn't done anything. Which, he guess, meant that things were going well. A little too well if you asked him.

By the time the second day had arrived, everything had continued to run smoothly. The caravan packed up camp and began to move out. The prince was quiet. Damian rode alongside the royal carriage.

As they meandered, Damian couldn't help but notice Alexander sneaking a peek at him every couple of minutes.

"You know I can see you," Damian spoke up after what felt like the millionth glance.

The prince embarrassedly hid his head. "I apologize," he spoke quickly, "I'm just admiring your--I was never quite able to get the hang of horseback riding. I mean, I can ride a horse fine, but I can't say I've ever had much of a knack for it. You just--you do it so naturally."

Damian shrugged. "It comes with the territory. If I couldn't mount a horse they wouldn't have even let me be a page."

Alexander peeked back out the window. "What's it like, being a knight?" he asked.

"Well, if I may be frank, I've only been one for a day, so."

"Oh, right."

They rode on further. Their pathway glowed with light filtering in from the mass of trees surrounding them. The soft sound of birds chattering filled in the empty space between hoofbeats. The line of trees grew thicker as they went on, light on the path becoming dimmer. Damian scanned the overgrowth.

"Be wary," he called out. "With this much foliage, it'll be easy for--"


From out of the woods, an arrow came flying in, puncturing the shoulder of one of the caravan drivers.

For a nanosecond there was dead silence. Then, the party erupted. Heads frantically whipped about, searching for the source of the attack.

And that's when they came.

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