The Guild – Chapter 180 – Andrei

I wake up to a pounding headache. With a groan, I roll over, nearly on top of Kat. I should have listened to her last night and walked. I don’t know why I didn’t listen. I guess it was just too much fun bugging her like that. I now feel like I could sleep the whole day away, but I know I should probably get up and move.

I smile when I see Kat still sleeping soundly despite me having almost crushed her. I wonder if she’s getting a better rest here in the past without any nightmares. I doubt I could visit the Veil now, having used up all my magic again. That’s a bad habit I’ve got to stop. It leaves us vulnerable, in more ways than one.

I can’t help but reach a hand out to touch her face, brushing a strand of flaming red hair away. She stirs at my touch, inhaling that first morning breath. It makes me smile wider. My thoughts are quickly darkened as I think about how Heath- No, lava… as she keeps insisting – I hardly see the difference. Maybe I’m biased, but just thinking about how he might have touched her… how he did touch her, knowing that she is mine, brings back the bubbling anger in my blood. I wish I had been there to stop him… but now that I think about it, that was probably around the time I was so fixated on myself, I failed in my duty to keep her safe… again.

Why can’t I seem to do anything right for her? I try to push the self-doubt down. I can’t let that get in the way, but still… I need to try harder, for both of their sakes.

I lower my hand, hovering over her belly. If I’m not mistaken, I think I see the faint hint of a bump. It brings the smile back to my face, remembering how last night Kat said she thinks it’s a girl. Our girl… My girls. I feel a little giddy. Am I really ready for this? Can I be a good dad? A good husband? What if I mess up? Well… I guess one benefit of moving into the apartment my parents prepared for us would be having them close at hand to fix all the mistakes I’m bound to make. That would be nice… and annoying. Man…

I look back to her face to see her eyes watching me, glowing with a refreshed brightness. I grin. “Good morning, my goddess.”

She beams, “Good morning, my hero.” The name seems to stick, though it really puts the pressure on to live up to it.

“How do you feel?” I ask, hoping she’s got enough sleep. I hope I didn’t wake her prematurely.

She yawns, stretching her hands above her head. I notice the baby dragon curled up on the pillow above her head. “I’m gonna guess better than you feel,” She smirks, knowingly.

“How can you guess?” I laugh, cringing as the motion makes my headache slightly worse.

“You passed out standing up,” She reminds me.

“Oh?” I think back to last night… I don’t remember how I got into bed… “I can’t remember,” I say awkwardly.

She hums sarcastically, “I bet you don’t, silly Andrei. You skipped back to the room when I told you not to and you nearly broke your face on the floor.”

“Is that what happened? I seem to remember walking to our room and then… nothing,” I joke, knowing perfectly well she’s absolutely right… except for the ‘breaking my face’ part. That I have to trust her on.

She rolls her eyes and shakes her head, “Maybe I need to take more lessons from Caroline.”

“Oh no, I don’t want that. Anything but that! You know she’s borderline abusive, right?” I whine.

She grins, “And yet, Kaede rarely ends up almost killing himself.”

“Hmm, you have a point. Guess that’s what comes of being a hero though. Most often, the hero dies, and I’ve already done that once, according to you and Selene,” I grin cheekily.

She groans, rolling away. “That’s not something to be proud of.”

“It isn’t? I saved us back then, didn’t I?” Did I make her mad? I hope she’s not mad that I brought it up…

“I don’t want to argue about this again,” She sighs.

“Okay, okay. I’m sorry. Forget I ever mentioned it. In fact, let’s forget it ever happened, hmm?” Anything to make her not angry…. please!

She glances over her shoulder, and gives me a small smile, “I’d like that.”

“Like what?” I wink. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Do you like… this?” I brush my fingers lightly down her arm, raising goosebumps on her skin.

She shivers, “Yes, that’s what I meant.”

“Or… Do you like….” I grin, trailing my fingers down her back, along her spine. When I reach the spot just above her tailbone, she shivers, arching her back. My grin widens. “Oh, what was that?”

Her cheeks turn pink, “I don’t know.”

“Hmm,…” I start back at the top, repeating the motion. Her back arches again and I chuckle, “Oh my.” She giggles, squirming under my touch.

I grin evilly as I get the idea of a tickle war. I start with her sides, grabbing her exposed side with my hand and tickling her ferociously. My sisters know not to entice me, I am a fierce warrior of tickling. Kat squeals, rolling over onto that side to hide it from me.

“What are you doing?” She demands between giggles.

“Why, I’m tickling you. Haven’t you been tickled before?” I ask with a laugh.

Her brows pull together, “What is it?”

I smirk. “This!” I sit up, both hands up and ready. I dive for her sides, reaching under her body to get her with my fingers. The room is filled with high pitched squeals as I make my efficient attack. I move to her stomach as she hugs her sides trying to bar my way. When she can’t take the tummy assault I strategically move to her armpits. She throws her head back with a full-bodied yelp. I love the sound of her wild laughter. It also makes me smile. Everything about her somehow makes me smile. 

“Stop!” She begs, tears streaming down her face. “I can’t-!” 

I laugh, holding out for the finale. She can totally take more. I move back to her exposed sides with an evil grin. When she tries to block me, I move down to her knees. She starts kicking and screaming. It’s way too fun. I forget how hard she can kick though and suddenly I feel a blinding flash of pain to my chin as her knee collides with it with a solid thunk.

I stop immediately, seeing stars. “Oww… oh, that’s gonna leave a mark,” I chuckle while cringing, not to mention my ebbing headache. I flop back, holding a hand to my chin. “Ok, I call surrender. You win.” 

She breathes heavily, flipping onto her stomach with eyes wide. “Are you okay?” She gasps, touching my chin gingerly.

“Yea, I’ll be fine. It’s just a kick,” I grin, passing it off. I can handle that. I move my hand to let hers touch. I flinch a little but place my fingers on top of hers, holding them there. “You could heal it, if you want,” I suggest with a hopeful smile.

She nods, taking a few deep breaths to catch it. She closes her eyes, and a warmth spreads from my chin, up my cheeks, to the top of my head. Not only does the pain from the kick fade, but so does the headache. I wasn’t expecting that. I sigh with relief.

“Thanks! You even took care of the fall from last night! You’re amazing,” I smile, still holding her hand there.

“That’s good,” She chuckles. “I’m glad.” 

I pucker my lips, looking for a kiss. She leans in to press her lips against mine happily. 

I just about commit myself to another passionate morning when a knock comes at the door, making me tense under Kat.

“M’lord, M’lady. May I enter?” A soft voice comes through the door.

I look at Kat, rolling my lip and swallowing the disappointment. She nods, rolling off of me as I sit up, pulling the sheets up. “Yes, come in,” I call.

The door sweeps open and the brunette serving lady comes in with new clothing. “If you wouldn’t mind, the Lady Halsey has invited you to join her for the morning meal. She wishes to discuss important events with you,” She stands stiffly by the table.

I look at Kat, wondering how hungry she is. I could eat, that’s for sure, Now that she’s mentioned food my stomach gurgles loudly. Maybe the food is helping replenish my magic. She’s already on her feet, ready to get dressed. How does she move so quickly?

I wait as the serving lady dresses Kat first in a semi-casual dress which still takes maybe twenty-seven minutes to affix. When she’s finished she moves to the fireplace, holding Scoria in her hands.

I slide off the bed, still nervous to be seen nude by the serving lady. I let her do her work as she dresses me in a burgundy men’s suit in this time’s fashion. I feel stiff and restricted. I wish we could wear the clothes we had on for the trip to Polynesia. That was a nice style. Even Kat thought so. I make a mental note to ask Edward to have another set brought to me for later.

When we’re dressed, she excuses herself and I move to Kat’s side by the fire. “Ready for second breakfast?” I chuckle, referring to Lord of the Rings. 

She tilts her head, not catching the reference. “Sure,” She laughs anyway.

I decide to enlighten her. “Did you know hobbits have seven meals a day? We’re only on number two, we better get cracking,” I smirk.

“Oh!” She gasps, playing along. “Let’s not keep the lady waiting then!”

I slap my palm against my face as I shake my head… She’s hopeless. We need to watch more movies.

I follow her out, walking through the halls toward the formal dining room. When we enter, we’re directed to two seats prepared next to Edward and Charlotte. We sit at the same time, tucking our chairs in. 

“Good morning Kaitlyn, Andrei,” Edward grins. “I hope you are well-rested.”                    

“As well as we can be,” Kat smiles back. “Andrei is still recovering from his overuse of magic at the feast.”

“Ah, yes. Understandably so,” Edward nods. “Quite the display it was. Please, let me know if there is anything we can do to help.”

“I am still wondering how it is you did those things,” Charlotte adds, her bright blue eyes fixed on me. 

I grin nervously at Kat. “Well, apparently I was using time, space and gravity. Maybe others. We’re not sure, and I’m not totally aware of how. I just sort of… did it by instinct,” I shrug.

“I see,” Charlotte’s gaze shifts to Kat. “You two might want to be careful with this, yes?”

“Yes,” Kat nods once. Servants bring trays of food out to the table. The food doesn’t distract me as to why I need to be careful. All I did was use a bit too much at once. It’s not like I got hurt… bad. Just weakened.

They lift the covers from the trays and the room is filled with the exotic smell of a Polynesian-style breakfast. I should have guessed they would have got some local delicacies while we were there.

Edward clears his throat as he finishes a bite. “I’ve received news that our great king will be holding a small tourney tomorrow. My wife and I are expected to attend and I had hoped you two would join us.”

“A tournament?! What kind?” I ask excitedly, sitting straighter.

Edward laughs, “His favourite kind – a joust.”

“Don’t you dare get any ideas,” Kat snaps, giving me a hard look.

“Aww, but I’ve always wanted to joust!” I whine, actually disappointed. Why can’t I? I’m not the one who’s pregnant.

“Absolutely not,” She growls. “Do you have any idea how dangerous it is? If you don’t die, you’ll at least lose a body part.”

I scoff, “Are you kidding? I’ve done much more dangerous sports in the past. Jousting is way less dangerous than sparing with a Viking with real steal.”

“No, it’s not,” She says, dead serious. “Jousting should never have been considered a sport. It’s just bored knights who want to kill each other in the most brutal way.”

“The girl has some sense after all,” Charlotte snickers.

“Well, maybe I am a bored knight who wants to kill someone in a brutal way. I should jump back and bring a friend with me…” I frown with mock amusement. Kat doesn’t seem the least bit amused. Did I really expect her to be?

“Either way,” Edward interrupts, “I’m afraid you’re not an anointed knight, my good friend. You would not be permitted to enter, nor would I allow either of my favourite guests to put themselves in harm’s way.”

“Not in this time, at least,” I mutter under my breath. I sigh with disappointment. “Fine, watching should be just as fun,” I submit.

Kat lets out a long sigh, focusing on her plate. She takes turns between feeding herself and feeding the dragon. “I don’t know if fun is the right word, but it would be interesting.”

“You’ve never been to medieval times, have you?” I ask. “It’s great! Dinner and a tournament, where four rival knights fight for the princesses kerchief, jousting with bravery and skill to earn her affections. All for one night. And the food is wonderful. Of course, I think it’s more based off of King Arthur’s time of jousting. But the idea is essentially the same.”

“The idea, but not the safety,” Kat disagrees. “Nearly every single knight that participates in a joust, leaves missing something if they survive at all.”

“Yea, their pride, usually. If they lose,” I pout.

She looks at the Halsey’s, and Edward returns it with a strained smile. “Pride isn’t a body part. How many knights are permanently disabled?”

“Actually, it’s been proven that pride is found in a little organ right next to your heart, the size of a golf ball,” I joke, pointing at my heart. I can hardly hide my smile as I look at Kat’s face.

She shakes her head. “You’re going to be quite traumatized after this tourney,” She mutters.

“How do you know? You’ve never been to one, except for the one where you nearly killed-“ I stop short, coughing over my words. I nearly let slip too many details. Pay attention!

“Andrei, there’s only one thing I’m an expert in,” She reminds me. “I’ve studied the histories of every style of fighting, in every detail that exists in record.”

“And I’ve lived among their people, watching them since I was seven. I’m not discrediting your expertise, I’m just saying you’ve only read about it, you’ve never seen it.”

“Have you ever witnessed a real joust?” She challenges.

“No, but-” She cuts me off.

“And you haven’t studied every historical account of a joust, every injury, every accident?”

“No, that’s beside-” I grit my teeth as she cuts me off again.

“Then you don’t actually know what you’re talking about,” She dismisses.

“You won’t let me finish!” I complain.

“You have no basis to argue on the subject,” She states stubbornly. “Going to a staged show in our time has nothing to do with how it really happened. You’re romanticizing a brutal, disgusting practice.” She turns to the pair across from us, “No offence intended.”

“Story of my life,” I mumble under my breath as I grouchily take a bun from the tray.

Edward gives me a sympathetic look, “Perhaps you won’t feel so bad when you see the show. You might thank your lady for her advice.”

I slide my eyes in her direction with a frown. I am reluctant to do so… I feel cheated. I remain silent. It feels childish, but I can’t convince myself to thank her quite yet. Not when she thinks my opinion is ill-informed. The rest of the meal passes with my silence.

***

The following morning, we are dressed to the nines in Renaissance peak fashion, being loading into the carriage for another long trip to the tournament grounds. The Halsey’s sit across from us, chatting to themselves. I turn to Kat, who’s been grouchy with me all morning. I can’t for the life of me figure out why.

“Please… Kat. Let’s talk. This ride will be awfully boring if we don’t talk…”

“Talk about what?” She asks with a bored tone, staring out the window.

“I don’t know.. anything…” I try. I sigh when she doesn’t turn to even look at me. 

“Do you want to lecture me about how you know more than I do without study or experience?” She asks, monotone.

“Are you still on about that?” I start, surprised that she would bring that up again.

Her gaze shifts slightly, but still not looking directly at me. “I have one thing, Andrei. One thing I can honestly consider myself an expert in, and you completely disregarded it because you think you know better when you don’t.”

“I did not say it like that…” I groan. “You’re taking this way too personally.”

“How am I supposed to take it?” She scoffs, turning her face further away. “Please enlighten me,” She says, sarcastically.

“I don’t know if I want to now…” I pout quietly. “You said my experience was not valid. Maybe I’m not an expert in all fighting but I know some things…” I try to defend.

“You said yourself you’ve never seen a real joust, not done any research on the topic. How can you possibly have any experience or knowledge, let alone more than I do?” She asks bluntly. “Why is your experience in completely unrelated subjects more valuable than my knowledge on this specific one?”

My jaw moves soundlessly as I process her question, flabbergasted. Did I say it was more valuable? I can’t remember anymore.

“So sorry to interrupt, but I wonder if I might ask a question? It’s been on my mind for some time now,” Edward pipes up, cutting the tension. 

“Go ahead,” Kat replies boredly.

Edward smiles at me, “I know you said you hadn’t heard our family name in your time, but I have been meaning to ask you, Kaitlyn, if you had? You did not answer when we met, and I couldn’t help but see some recognition in your eyes.”

I freeze, caught off guard. I suppose it’s alright to say. We’ve been here a while, we can trust them, right?

“I have,” She answers without hesitation.

“Oh?” Edward perks up. “Do tell.”

I turn to her, worried about her response. I feel itchy in my outfit again, not that she’d care… I just hope she doesn’t say too much. Then again… what is too much? Does it really matter if they know? I never told my grandparents in Romania, when I met them. I was worried it would change events that would lead to my birth. Is it really safe for them to know now if they’ll have descendants? Do they even have children as of yet?

“Kaitlyn Halsey is the name I was given at birth,” She admits freely, never taking her eyes away from the window.

“What?” Edward gasps, looking at me. “Did you know this?”

I shrink in my seat, blushing. What should I say? There’s no point in lying. “Y-yes, I knew” I admit. “But I told her to keep it to ourselves, at least until we knew more. Travelling in time, we have to be careful not to cause any… paradoxes.”

“I understand,” Edward nods thoughtfully, turning to Kat. “Your family? Are they well?”

“Never knew them,” She shrugs. “My last name had been changed when I was small, and I didn’t know until recently.”

“How unfortunate,” Charlotte muses. “What happened to your family, that you did not live with them?”

Kat shifts her eyes, looking at the statuesque woman in front of her, “They died.”

The Halsey’s share a look and they fall quiet, looks of concern on their faces. Kat goes back to staring out the window silently. Now everything just feels awkward. The rest of the trip is silent and uncomfortable.

***

The carriage pulls to a stop and jerks as the horses shuffle outside. We wait for them to settle before exiting. The Halsey’s go first, and before I can move, Kat follows close behind them. I hesitate, feeling uneasy. I may regret now what I said earlier, though I still don’t quite get why she’s mad. Honestly, jousting can’t be all that horrible and dangerous, can it? I’ve done plenty of dangerous things and gotten scars. What’s so different about jousting? If you’re skilled, you walk away fine… right?

I finally get out of the carriage and find them all standing there, waiting for me. As soon as I’m out the carriage departs and a large man in metal armour approaches the Halsey’s and, well, us.

Kat starts muttering to herself, a worried look on her face, I hesitate, leaning in closer to hear her, but afraid that she’s still mad at me. Before I can hear though, she turns to me. I flinch, a little scared.

Her face spells worry and she draws close to me, whispering in a hushed tone.

“Andrei, I know what’s about to happen. I know when this is!” She hisses.

“You do? So now suddenly you’re the time mage? Great, you won’t be needing me then,” I snap.

Her eyes narrow. “Would you just listen to me for once? It’s not always about you,” She retorts. I flinch back. That hurt… a lot. I shut up and listen. I don’t like it when she’s so… like this. Whatever this is.

“You said we’re in 1536, right?” I nod. “The King hosts a tournament in that year. He gets knocked off his horse, and it falls on him. The injury never heals. He’s in constant pain for the rest of his life. This is the moment that changes his reign forever… Do you understand?”

So this is why she doesn’t like jousting? She thinks I’ll become like King Henry? I guess I can see where her fear comes from. I wouldn’t want to end up like him… if what the history textbooks say is true. I don’t recall the whole jousting injury though. I feel like I need to look that up when I get back.

“Andrei? Earth to Andrei?” She prods, drawing me back to the present… well.. past present-ish.

“Yeah, sorry. Got lost in my thoughts. So he’s going to get injured, but it’s not like we can do anything about it. I mean sure, we could try and stop it, but that’s a major point in history. If we changed that, it would change how he rules the country and change the way we all know him to have… well- been, which was mean.” Kind of a dead end. What good is knowing if you can’t, or shouldn’t change it?

“I’m not telling you to change it,” She hisses. “I’m warning you not to get involved. When he falls off his horse, you can’t help him.”

“Wait, you don’t want me to help?” I confirm. I didn’t expect that. “This can’t be the only reason why he’s mean. The guy had like, six wives! Clearly, he just wasn’t good with people,” I shrug. I definitely expected her to ask me to stop it, somehow. It would be easy enough, just make sure he doesn’t fall, or… the horse not falling on him. If what Kat says is true, and I have gravity magic too, I could make the injury much less…

She told me not to get involved… why am I already devising a way to do just that? But… what if she didn’t know it was me? Can I affect something from a distance or do I have to be touching it? That’s something I’ve never tried before, not even with time magic. I bite my tongue, keeping those thoughts to myself. If she didn’t know, she can’t blame me. It could still look like he fell and got hurt, but maybe less so. Sure, I don’t like the guy, but it’s not like I think he deserves a painful life, even if he does take six wives. 

“Right. How could I if I’m not in the joust anyway?” I dismiss.

“You’re you,” She scoffs. “You’ll try anyway. By all accounts, he was a good man until today. After the fall, and…” She pauses, clearing her throat, “If you do anything to change it, you’ll rewrite everything that history knows about him.”

“Would that really be a bad thing though?”

She gawks at me. “You’re the one who says we can’t alter history, and you’re considering rewriting the history of England’s most notorious and infamous king?”

“I said nothing of the sort! Besides you shouldn’t put ideas into my head if you don’t want me to try,” I grumble angrily. I hate that she thinks I would… even though I was considering it, but that was only after she brought it up! Geez!

She grits her teeth, not bothering to hide her annoyance. “I only told you so you would know ahead of time not to get involved. I’m sorry for trying to help.”

“And I’m sorry for wanting to,” I huff, turning on my heel. I don’t even know if I can stand being at the joust anymore. It’s just becoming an argument.

“Even if you do, you won’t change him entirely,” She calls after me. “The injury isn’t the only thing that drives him insane today.”

I stop, glancing over my shoulder. “What else do you know about him that I don’t?” I sniff.

She glances around, making sure we’re alone. She doesn’t meet my gaze and her voice is so quiet I almost don’t hear. “The Queen miscarries today, while he’s here,” She bites her lip, “A son.”

Well isn’t that just grand? I can’t be in two places at once… or… can I? No, I’ve never tried a spell like that before. I don’t even know if I have enough energy to do that, but I read about it once. It was sort of similar to that time turner Hermione had. I wonder… No! What am I thinking? She’s absolutely right… I’d be breaking so many of my moral codes in regards to jumping… but the more I think about it, the more I wonder, was it really fair that King Henry had it so hard?

I groan, sagging where I stand. “Well, are we going to watch the joust or not? We can’t stand here arguing all day over something we can’t even change,” I huff.

“Can’t,” She steps up to my side with purpose, “Or won’t?”

“See, when you say things like that I get the distinct feeling you want me to. Why do you say it like that?” I frown.

“I want you to promise me you won’t,” She rolls her eyes. “I know you want to help people, and I know it’ll be hard for you not to because you’re a good person. I also know you’ll regret it.”

“Then why’d you remind me of all the bad things that happen today? Maybe I wouldn’t have even considered it if I hadn’t been told about it,” I suggest with annoyance.

“Yes, you would,” She sighs. “Your instinct will be to jump in and do something.”

“And how do you know? Can you suddenly predict the future?” I look at her, still avoiding my gaze.

“You’re Mr. Hero, remember?” She reminds me with a hint of a smile. “I don’t need to see the future to know you’ll want to do something heroic.”

Man, when she words it like that she makes me feel guilty. “Fine, I promise I won’t change history,” I sigh heavily… ‘much.’ 

She glances up at me from the side, and I see the corner of her lip curl up just a bit. “I’ll hold you to it,” She offers her arm to me and waits. If I do try, I’ll have to make it real subtle… I don’t even know if I can. Shit. I take her arm with a strained smile. Maybe I should drop it. That sounds like the best idea.

We walk through the crowds, making our way to the stands which have been set up for the jousting. We find the Halsey’s again and follow them up to the reserved seating. The crowd settles shortly after we sit and the knights begin to make their appearance. 

The first few matches are pretty boring. The spears break upon impact, splinting into a thousand pieces, which must be bloody annoying for the knights. I tense in my seat as I watch. It looks like it could be easy enough.

Eventually, the more well-known knights come out and the matches take a dark turn. The first knight falls off his horse pretty hard and it’s clear he might have a concussion from the way he landed. The second match results in both knights taking a hard blow to their armours. One of the spears jams right in between the plate and the seam between the arm. I flinch at the impact. The other, dents the armour so hard it looks like the guys having a hard time breathing.

Maybe It isn’t so easy…

By the fourth match, I’ve witnessed two more falls, one ending with a broken leg. I lean back in my chair, a bit sick from the sight. I really want to help them… Why can’t we go down and at least heal them?! This is torture!

The fifth pair come out and I wait anxiously, eyes darting around the crowds. How can everyone be so cheerful? Is it just my eyes seeing their faces so cheery or are they really happy about this?

The horses begin the charge, the lances go up. I lean forward, hands clenched together between my knees. I dart a quick glance at Kat to see if she’s looking at me or the joust. I’m a little surprised to find her eyes closed. Good.

The knights are about to connect and I twitch my finger, as a test. The spears both glance off the armour and slide in the opposite direction leaving both unscathed. I’m not sure if that was just luck, or really me, but I sigh, relieved no less. The crowd boos as they line up their horses and adjust their holds on the lances. Round two. They get three chances to knock off the other knight before it’s considered a draw.

I tap my knees nervously, watching. They start their charge, lances at the ready. Just as they connect, I see the angle of the one spear and can already tell it’s going to knock the other knight’s helmet off pretty brutally. I twitch my finger again and the spear miraculously taps the side of it, but glances off without removing it from his opponent’s head. The crowd gasps with the sudden save. I sigh again.

The third round starts and this time I see Kat’s eyes open, turning to me. I move to lean back and flinch with surprise as I feel her hand grab mine and squeeze it firmly. Giving me a warning look. I smile weakly, sighing. I guess I’ll leave the final blow to them.

I look back down as they start the charge. I feel my arms tense as I watch the trajectories. Somehow I can already see how it’ll end. The knight in red is going to lean left in the saddle, piercing through the shoulder of the yellow knight and he’ll topple off the side of his horse from the impact. I cringe as the red knight leans, I flinch as the spear impact the shoulder. I grit my teeth as he falls off the back of the horse. The crowd cheers and I frown, knowing I could have prevented both the shoulder wound and the concussion if I’d only weighed the spear a little in the tip, causing it to dip out of reach of the shoulder zone.

Kat’s hand squeezes mine encouragingly. I don’t know why she’s so proud of not helping. This is not fun to watch… Was that the point she was trying to make? I shoot her a pained look.

“I know,” She answers my look. “It’s supposed to be this way. I told you; it’s a barbaric practice, but if you keep trying to save them, you’ll start a riot.”

“I’m not trying,” I pout. She doesn’t need to know I was. I’ll have to wait a couple rounds perhaps.

“Right, and my hair isn’t red,” She scoffs, turning her gaze back to the arena. How could she tell!? I used so little magic, and she didn’t even have her eyes open!

I turn back as a young boy servant comes by with mugs and bread rolls. I try to distract myself with the refreshment, hoping to relief the growing tension in my chest.

The next two matches go by without my aid, ending in a broken shield and the arm of the knight as well as a wounded horse. I rap my left hand nervously on my knee as the next line up comes out. I can see the injuries before they happen, not sure how. It’s sort of just become clearer and clearer to me when and how each knight is going to get hurt, sometimes even before they’ve lifted their spear. 

I gulp nervously as the blue knight tries to calm his mount dancing in the sand below. I see it in my mind’s eye, his helmet will get torn off, twisting his neck and ending in death upon his horse. I feel my face drain of heat. I can’t… I… I slide my eyes to the right to look at Kat. She watches my face from the corner of her eyes like a hawk. I have to risk it. I can’t watch this… 

They charge.

The crowd screams.

The spear aims.

I flick my left hand.

Kat stomps on my foot. 

The spear slides to the left without impacting.

The crowd boos.

I sigh, relieved, pulling my foot away from Kat.

“Stop it,” Kat growls.

“I couldn’t let that one hit! Kat, he was going to die of a broken neck! We should be down there healing them! Not watching them maim each other.”

“You know damn well that’s not how life works,” She snaps. “People die. Knights line up to do this for honour. They know exactly what the risks are. If we go down there and heal them, we’ll be the ones dying today.”

“Do they know they’re wasting their lives? It’s not right and you know it. It doesn’t justify watching them. Besides, these are hardly history-altering saves,” I protest.

She shakes her head slowly, “Who are you saving? If they don’t die here, they’ll be in the town later, beating and raping whores to get out their frustrations. The crowd will be angry, drunk, and violent. Let the stupid men ride their stupid horses and kill each other. They have nothing else to live for, as far as they care.” She sounds more bitter than I’ve ever heard her before.

“That’s a gross exaggeration of events and you know it. When did you become so bitter?” I ask her.

“Knights and chivalry, as we hear about in stories, never existed,” She pouts. “I would be shocked if there’s a shred of real decency between the whole group of them. Besides, the people in this time have little to enjoy in their lives, outside of these tournaments. You’ll be ruining their only source of happiness.”

I look away as she takes a hit at the code of honour. I grew up believing that code with every jump. The tales of King Arthur were dreams I had every time I jumped. I finally got to go there, with Kat no less, and found out just how much of a player he really was… But still, that doesn’t mean the code is a lie. I refuse to believe that. Maybe it’s just her hormones talking. 

The knights charge and I cringe as I see it before it happens. The grey knight gets knocked off his horse and it rears in fear, stumbling. The knight tries to shuffle, but he can’t seem to move fast enough. He’s larger than most of the other knights. That’s when I realise who it is.

“No…” 

“Don’t,” Kat squeezes my hand painfully. 

“I can’t,” I whine, leaning forward. I can see the way the horse will land, I can’t stop it without being obvious… but I could lessen the impact. Kat grabs my face in both hands, forcing me to turn to look at her. I can barely see the field out of the corner of my eye.

“No,” She holds my gaze.

I don’t need to see it to affect it. I flick my pointer finger ever so slightly, lightening the horse by half while still watching her. Kat’s jaw clenches.

“Fine, you want to be that way…” Her left hand moves, the right keeping my face turned toward her. I feel her hand shoot between my legs, grabbing my balls and squeezing hard.

“Christ!” I shout, feeling tears in my eyes and curling up in my seat.

“You. Promised,” She growls in my ear. “Stop altering history, damn it!” She twists her hand and I cry out in pain as it spreads through my groin. I want to die. I can’t even protest. Please, just let go!

I hear the crowd gasp as the horse falls and I know the spell was broken too early. Even if it was lessened a little, it wasn’t enough to prevent the effects of the damage. I whimper in my chair as she holds me in a death grip. Her eyes shift without moving her head to look down at the grounds. Minutes pass before I feel her hands loosen their hold on me, stands and storms off. I weakly turn to the field to see the knights carrying the King away. Damn it!

I should have just left well enough alone. I’m still in pain when the tourney is called to a close shortly after the king is carried off and we have to return to the carriage. I have no idea where she’s gone off too, and sadly, I find myself hoping we don’t see her. I can’t unfeel the pain.

By Kayla West

One thought on “The Guild – Chapter 180 – Andrei

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