Chapter Thirty-Three

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"He's still alive." Myrddin's voice was calm despite the chaos that had erupted around them.

With surprisingly fast motions, they undid the clasp to their cloak and spread it out beside Luc. Ser Bors and Lamorak lifted Luc's limp form onto the fabric, and picked up the edges of the cloth between them, creating a sling. The crowd was held at bay by the rest of the Alt Clut as well as Artorious' other soldiers. Riona gripped Aidan's hand tightly in her palm; they looked dazed and afraid. Someone in the crowd spit. The saliva caught Aidan in the jaw, and they flinched. Riona's nostrils flared as she stared down the horde, silently daring anyone to come forward past the line of men. She quickly reached up and wiped the mucus away with the sleeve of her dress. Aidan stared down at her, their golden eyes wide like a frightened deer.

Myrddin's beautiful cloak was already soaked in dark patches of Luc's blood. Just when Riona thought they might never breach the mob, Ser Tristan pushed open the flap to a nearby tent and ushered the small group inside.

"Lay him down." The old druid motioned. The Knights carrying Luc did as they were told, laying their commander down upon the ground, gently.

"Riona, I will need your help."

Riona's lips parted in surprise. Myrddin nodded firmly. Riona swallowed hard, and then agreed, kneeling and waiting for instruction.

"Lamorak, start a fire. I need boiling water. Tristan, please find as much clean cloth as you possibly can—"

"Luc!" the queen screamed as she burst into the tent.

"Get her out of here!"

Riona startled at the sudden anger in Myrddin's voice. The flap flew open again, only this time it was Ser Palamedes and one of Gwenivar's ladies-in-waiting.

"My queen please—"

"M'lady we must ask you—"

The queen's wailing drowned out their pleas. Lamorak, once again, caught her as she tried to throw herself over Luc's body.

"Enough!" Myrddin stood slowly, a grey shadow over their features.

The queen quieted, her fingers trembling at her lips. Lamorak's arms grew loose and awkward about her quaking form.

"He is alive," Myrddin was trying to keep their voice low as it shook in frustration, "but if you wish him to remain so you, and your hysterics, must be as far away as possible."

Gwenivar's mouth twitched as she tried to sniff back the tears that flooded down her cheeks. Before she could protest, Palamedes had her arm gently through the crook of his elbow, leading her away.

Aidan stood still as stone in the corner of the tent, their eyes vacant as they gazed down at Luc's crushed shape.

"Riona, help me remove this armor." Myrddin intoned.

Riona's slim fingers slipped beneath the bent edges of Luc's spaulder, finding the leather straps that fastened it to the breastplate. Gingerly, she undid the knots and tried to pull it away from his flesh without causing further damage. Myrddin was murmuring something below their breath.

"Is that Druidic?" Riona asked in a whisper.

Myrddin paused at the question.

"Yes," they said simply as they pulled together on Luc's breastplate, lifting it off the knight and tossing it to the side where it landed in a heap.

The mail beneath was slick with blood. Aidan had brought down their staff with such force as to drive pieces of Luc's armor through the shirt and leather vest

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