Erros opened his eyes slowly, the bright light making him squint. He was lying on something soft. It felt like a mattress but that couldn’t be. Was this some sort of afterlife? He had felt the blades pierce him. The dagger should still be in his back.
“Relax. You’re back in Kardaal.” A voice said. He knew that voice. He liked that voice. It was familiar. Something blocked some of the light and he could focus better. It was Rylan, and she had pulled the curtains partially over the window. He was in a room. The colour of the stone and style of architecture said it was the Queen’s palace in Kardaal, but no chamber he recognized. His own quarters were much more spartan than the opulent room he saw around him.
“Where am I?” he asked. His tongue felt three sizes too large, causing it to come out more like “Whuu amah?”
“You’re in Kardaal. The Queen’s wing of the palace. After she healed you at the inn we had you carried back to Kardaal where the healers could get to work. You’ve been sleeping for a while.” She placed a cup of water in his hand and sat on the bed next to him, putting her hand over his.
“Rest. The Queen will probably be here soon. I sent for her when you woke.” Said Rylan.
“Am I interrupting anything?” the Queen said, knocking on the door while walking through it. She sat on a chair next to the bed.
“No, your Highness. Swordsman Mardaak was about to ask me to accompany him to the Solstice Celebration, and I was about to accept.” Rylan said. She winked at Erros.
“Excellent. Saves me from ordering him to do it. Young man, I owe you a debt. You found my daughter and kept her safe even though it would have cost your own life. You will always have a place in my Queen’s Swordsmen. Rylan here tells me you were very impressive, facing all of them by yourself. She said you accounted for a great many of them before we arrived to chase the remainder off.”
“I was doing my duty your Highness.” Somehow Erros got his tongue to work properly again.
“If more people felt their ‘duty’ was that important then my life would be much easier.” The Queen said. “You’ll have to attend the Solstice Celebration, as I intend to hand out some medals. Until then, rest. I’ll leave you two to catch up.” The Queen rose and left. Erros grimaced as he tried to sit up at attention. Rylan pushed him back down.
“You will rest. Your Queen commands it and I’ll hit you if you don’t.” she said. Erros looked up at her, and realized he had never actually said ‘yes’ to the Solstice Celebration. Then again, when a pretty woman who has no qualms about stabbing people in the back says you’ve agreed, arguing is a bad idea.
* * *And that concludes A Swordsman's Duty. Hope you enjoyed it. There will be more. Not sure when, but the stories of Erros, Rylan and Queen Gensieve are not yet over. Leave a note in the comments, and thanks for reading.