chapter four;

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TW; slight description of blood/injury

Darryl's heart thudded at an almost irregularly fast pace as he led Zak away from the main square with Vincent in tow, hand tight around the prince's wrist. Honestly he had no idea how he was supposed to handle a situation like this one once it had already reached this point. He had been taught to prevent situations, not exactly fix them.

Despite his lack of experience and expertise, he was determined that he would find a way to correct his mistake, especially since said mistake had led to a very shaky and bleeding prince. It wasn't exactly the best-looking situation for Darryl.

Or Zak, he supposed. The prince still appeared to be in a mild state of shock, trembling slightly under Darryl's grip. So much so that a wave of pity washed over the knight. He could have prevented this if only he'd been giving Zak and Vincent his full attention.

In a lot of ways it had been Darryl's fault, and he felt awful.

Once they had reached the outer corner of the square Darryl approached one of the shopkeepers in the area, politely requesting admission on behalf of the crown. Then, dragging Zak inside, he turned back to the shopkeeper.

"Close the shutters please. I don't want anybody to know where we are."

After receiving a short nod of confirmation and hearing the rattling sound of the shutters being lowered, Darryl pulled out one of the chairs from beneath the checkout and sat Zak down on it, using the grip on his wrist to lift his arm up a little and pushing his sleeve back so Darryl could see the wound more clearly.

Though the dart had grazed the skin and not punctured it, it still appeared to have done a great deal of damage. Blood had bubbled up around the broken skin and showed no sign of slowing, which was alarming. Normal wounds would begin to slow and scab quickly, so that was warning sign number one.

Darryl could only hope the dart had been a normal one and not something far more complicated.

Ignoring Zak's pained noises (they had faded into whimpers by now), Darryl motioned to Vincent.

"Please get me some water and two pieces of cloth. I need to clean this out."

For a second Vincent hovered, looking like he was about to say something. Then, without another word, he turned on his heel and headed into the back of the shop presumably to look for what Darryl had requested, the shopkeeper scurrying after him.

"Zak?" Darryl asked, tapping the prince lightly on the shoulder. "Eyes open please. I need to know you're not-"

Not dying of some poison or other that I can't stop.

"Not sleeping."

Zak huffed at that, hands curled into fists in an attempt to curb some of the pain. "Yes. Because I really want to sleep right now with all of this pain. That totally makes sense."

It didn't, of course, but Darryl wasn't going to voice any real concern. Not because he wasn't concerned - he really was - but because he was worried of scaring Zak a little bit too much when he didn't even know how serious things were just yet. So he'd wait a little and then, if it was serious enough, he'd let Zak know. Probably.

"Here." Vincent's voice was calm as he appeared from behind, setting down a bucket of water and two pieces of linen cloth. "Sorry it took so long, the taps were hidden all the way in the back of the store. I had to make several trips."

"Doesn't matter. At least we have it now."

It was an easy thing to say, and perhaps also a reassuring thing. Maybe he could trick Zak into thinking things were okay if he was able to see that they had found the appropriate things to clean out the wound with.

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