The crowds departed Sir Duncan gathered the people’s cheers with arms open wide–I swear his head grew two sizes because of it. Meanwhile, Sir Gavin’s corpse was staining the field red. No one bothered with it. Not with all the attention all on Sir Duncan’s victory.
“I’m sorry, Naviro.” Dionna laid her hand on my shoulder. “I know you fancied him.”
“I didn’t fancy him,” I muttered halfheartedly. I felt hollow and disappointed like a light I envisioned was suddenly snuffed out. “I just saw great potential in him.”
“We should go,” Aledon glanced around. “Get your mind off it. It’d cheer you up to slay a monster in the woods.”
“No.” I furrowed my brow. I couldn’t help but notice how no one was bothering with Sir Gavin’s body. Everyone was either departing or celebrating Sir Duncan. There was no regard for the dead man on the field. I bet they plan to throw Sir Gavin’s corpse in the castle moat as if he was some unnamed peasant. For all his wrong doings, he deserved better than that. He was a knight after all. “Cover me.”
I hopped the list posts and went to Sir Gavin. He was facedown in the dirt and when I rolled him over, blood still seeped from the wound in his gut. His face was paled and his eyes were frozen in a state of glaze shock. “You should’ve listened to me,” I sighed softly. He was heavy. I’d have to get Dionna’s help moving him. Maybe Aledon could steal one of Sir Gavin’s banners and we can build a pyre for him or bury him in the woods and mark his grave?
“Were you a friend of his?”
The sudden voice behind me sent a jolt of start through my nerves. The Fairy Queen and her maidens hovered in the air just over my shoulder. A few city guardsmen stood protectively around her. Regardless of who you are, you can’t deny the beauty of the Fairy Queen. She was about as tall as my forearm with stained-glass like wings. Flower petals made her gown and her crown was adorned with tiny crystals.
I stood up quickly. The surprise of her addressing me almost stole the words from my lips. “Your Majesty.” I bowed my head. “It is an honor.”
“Were you a friend of his?” She repeated kindly.
I shook my head. “I just met Sir Gavin today.”
“And yet, others who’ve known him years longer do not show the same affection toward him as you do now.”
Blush dusted my cheeks. I might’ve chosen another word besides affection. “I did not agree with the manner of this joust,” I admitted. “Sir Gavin was undoubtedly skilled. His life could’ve held greater meaning. Instead, he died over pride.”
The softest of smiles graced the Fairy Queen. “I could not agree more.”
To my dismay, we caught the attention of Sir Duncan. He shot a distrusting look at me before flashing a charming smile at the Fairy Queen. “Come, your grace! Let us celebrate the triumph of honor this day. I am told my king has prepared a great feast!”
“You go on ahead, Sir Duncan.” The Fairy Queen was kind in her refusal. “I am still needed here.”
Sir Duncan’s brow furrowed and I caught deeper suspicion in his eyes. “Still needed? Your majesty, the joust is won. You’ve no need to soil yourself on the dead.”
It irked me how he wouldn’t even bother to look at Sir Gavin’s corpse, but before I could speak, the Fairy Queen interjected. “The dead should always be tended to, Sir Duncan. Especially when there is at least one left who cares.”
Sir Duncan looked at me and how I held Sir Gavin’s body out of the dirt. Anger flared in his eyes. “This is not why my king asked you here,” he told the Fairy Queen.
“Your king does not dictate what I can and cannot do.” The queen looked at me and nodded to the body in my arms. “May I?”
I furrowed my brow, but nodded and moved from Sir Gavin’s corpse. Sir Duncan tensed and a scowl of anger tainted his face. I got the feeling the Fairy Queen was here for more than just to support Sir Duncan in the joust. She fluttered down to Sir Gavin’s body, hovering right over it. Then, her maidens formed a circle around her. Sparkles of silver and gold glittering magic swirled from their finger tips as they began a slow dance in the air. The Fairy Queen started to hum.
The magic seeped toward Sir Gavin’s body like a glistening veil. An aura of warmth breathed off it. I’ve never seen fairy magic at work before and finding the words to describe it was difficult. It was humbling and brilliant. Joyful and soft. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder what good this magic could do to the dead.
A bright flash blinded us. I had to shield my eyes, but when I looked back Sir Gavin was gasping for breath! I couldn’t believe my eyes. He had been dead! There’s magic strong enough to reverse that?! Sir Gavin sat up straight as if the whole world was on fire; yet, the wildness in his gaze calmed the longer he looked around. For the fleeting moment he met my eyes, I saw fear in him.
The Fairy Queen faltered and had to be supported by one of the guards. With a spell like that, I wasn’t surprised she was tired. Yet, a warm smile graced her face. “Welcome back, Sir Gavin. Any longer and I would not have been able to save you.”
“You should thank the Fairy Queen!” Sir Duncan snapped in anger when Sir Gavin remained silent. Disdain settled on Sir Duncan’s face. “She should have left you where you fell.”
“But she knows the value of mercy!” I spoke up quickly. With each passing moment, I grew the suspicion that perhaps the real reason the Fairy Queen was asked here was to resurrect Sir Duncan should he have lost the joust. I reached for Sir Gavin to help him up. “Are you alright?”
To my surprise, he pulled away as if I was plagued. Sir Gavin climbed to his feet on his own. He brushed himself off and hesitated to inspect the wound that killed him. It was healed over as a dark scar.
Sir Duncan took one look at Sir Gavin’s scar and scoffed. “Let’s hope next tournament you’re more considerate of honor. I am not unwilling to reopen that wound should you ever defile this field again, Sir Gavin.”
Sir Gavin matched him with a glare. “You won’t get the chance.”
I stepped between them. “The gauntlet is satisfied,” I stated sternly. “Sir Duncan, don’t you have a feast to attend?”
Sir Duncan gave me a hard stare. “Yes and I’d rather neither of you–” He cut off when he looked past me and a growl escaped his throat. “That ungrateful…!”
I followed his gaze and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Sir Gavin walking away. He was walking away! He didn’t thank the Fairy Queen. Didn’t acknowledge much of anything. He just departed from the lists!
“You’ve wasted your magic.” Sir Duncan looked right at the Fairy Queen. “He will be the same as before.”
“Time will tell.” The Fairy Queen watched after Sir Gavin. “And time is what some need right now, but too much time can lead to the dark.” She looked at me. “After some time, it always helps to have a friend.”
I swallowed at her words. Did she want me to be there for Sir Gavin? The knight didn’t listen to me. He mocked me. He just recoiled from me when I tried to help him! Yet, I knew she was right. Sir Gavin would need someone and I was the only one who cared enough to consider helping him. There was no telling how escaping the grave effected him. He must be ashamed for losing and embarrassed that he needed saving from a creature smaller than his arm. Not to mention there was no telling what he went through in those few minutes he was dead. I recalled the fear in his eyes when he first woke up.
“Thank you.” I dipped my head to the Fairy Queen. “On behalf of myself and Sir Gavin.”
She smiled softly. “Make sure he does not waste this fresh chance at life.” She nodded to her maidens and guards before departing from the field. I watched her go with a smile. I hardly understood Aledon’s magic. Who knew there was so much more it could do?
“You’re putting your favor in the wrong knight.” Sir Duncan spoke at me when the Fairy Queen was out of earshot. “Sir Gavin will not amount to anymore than he’s already proven.”
“And you amount to less than what people believe.” I matched his hard stare with one of my own. “Go back to worrying about your own image, Sir Duncan. Since you don’t care about the redemption of others.”
He stepped toward me with a darkened scowl, but I refused to be intimidated. “Some cannot be redeemed. I suggest you heed my warning now or learn the hard way.”
“I do what I want.” I held my chin up. “Farewell, Sir Duncan.” Without another word, I walked away and in the direction of my companions. Sir Duncan once told me long ago that I couldn’t become a knight. Well, I didn’t listen to him then, so I’m not going to listen to him now. I’ll wait a while, then speak to Sir Gavin. In the meantime, I need to speak with Aledon and Dionna. I hope they’ll be openminded about what I have in mind.