The last thing that Henry Thomas Mantoux Edmund wanted to do at this particular instant was to face a crowd, but it looked as if he would have to. Well, he would just have to do as he had always done: smile and pretend to enjoy the attention, then make his escape as soon as possible.
The carriage landed and came to a halt on the paved strip at the center of the long, rectangular courtyard. Henry remained seated until the driver hopped down from his perch and opened the door, at which point he stood up, wincing.
“What is it?” Alasdair inquired.
Henry grimaced. “Can we make this quick? I really don’t feel very well.”
“Of course. I’ll do my best.”
They stepped down from the carriage, Henry first, then Alasdair, who lifted a hand to help Mialina to the ground. The crowds immediately began to press forward, in upon them, hoping for blessings. Reaching their hands out to him, piling their bodies against him, suffocating him. An unpleasant chill crept up Henry’s neck and settled into his cheeks. The ground undulated beneath his feet. He heard Alasdair making some sort of announcement, but he didn’t know what was said. His ears were ringing.
He gave the pocket watch a squeeze. Its metal hinge bit into the flesh of his palm.
Perhaps he could slip away. The multitude was certainly more interested in the Alt-Mage of Murkintsen than they were in him, a mere lord. If he bent his head and pushed through the crowd, he might be able to make it to the edges without causing too much of a fuss.
It was worth trying.
No. Stay where you are. It will pass.
He shook his head, in part to refuse the suggestion, mostly to attempt to dislodge the voice from his brain.
Coward! Don’t you move a—!
The world swam in front of him as he stepped forward. He was so dizzy, in fact, that he didn’t even notice the throwing knife as it flew past his arm, slicing the air where he had been standing only a fraction of a second before.