Chapter Sixteen: The High Road to Carviliet (4)Mature

Fiona caught the Lord of Carvil as he stumbled free of the crowd, saving him from falling on his face.  She tried to haul him upright, panic grasping at her throat, but he went limp in her arms, his weight dragging her to her knees. 

          “Someone,” she begged.  “Help!”

         People milled about, their faces expressing curiosity and mild concern, but showing no signs of recognizing the urgency of the situation.  Was she the only one that had seen the black-cloaked man forcing his way towards them, malicious intent clear in his stride and in the belt-full of knives that he had exposed briefly when he had drawn back his cloak?  Had she been the only one to notice the throwing knife as it glinted past Henry to stick into the side of the carriage with a sickly thud?  There was an assassin in their midst, and his target had to be concealed.

            She looked down into Henry’s face, which was as white as a sheet.  His eyes were rolled back in his head and his mouth was slightly ajar. 

            “Weel,” she muttered dispiritedly.  “You chose a braw time ta swoon.  Just…fine.  Damn you.”  Then her helplessness turned to rage, and she slapped him, hard, across the face.  “Wake up, dammit!  Wake up!

            Henry blinked, his mismatched eyes returning to their natural position to focus on her.  “Do I know you?”

            “Yes.  Come on.  No time for dawdling.”

            She tugged at his arms, trying to move him.  He remained where he was.  “I don’t feel well,” he complained.

            Fiona let out a snarl of frustration.  “No time, you eedjit!  There’s a man after you, an’ he means ta kill you, sae shift yerself!

            Recognition finally registered on Henry’s pallid features, and he attempted to scramble to his feet.  He was, unfortunately, too weak.  His knees gave out, sending him back to the ground.  The young lord landed in a seated position on the lawn.

            “I…can’t.”

            She was about to respond when her eyes caught a movement behind him.  She froze, mouth open, and stared.

            The black-cloaked man slowly drew a knife from one of the many sheaths on his belt, standing over his target.  A scarf concealed the lower half of his face, and he had pulled his hood forward so that the rest of his countenance was lost in shadows.  Still, she could tell he was grinning, more by the way in which he held himself than in anything she might have caught in what little she could see of his face.

            He was moving slowly, unseen eyes fixed on her, knowing that she could do nothing to stop him.  Drawing it out.  Taunting her.

            The assassin lowered his knife until it was a mere finger’s-width from Henry’s head.  Henry hadn’t seen him yet, but he must have realized what was happening.  The young lord’s face grew even paler, if that was possible, and he squeezed his eyes shut. 

            Fiona looked around desperately.  There were hundreds of people here, and yet none of them seemed to have noticed the terrifying scene that was playing out right beside them.

            No one was going to help.

            The black-cloaked man flipped his knife with a flourish and swept it down toward Henry’s throat.

The End

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