Isabelle nodded her head, slowly. "Yes, Sir Humphrey," she responded, quietly, "I am well."
"Are you quite certain, my lady?" he asked, genuinely concerned for her welfare.
She took another deep breath, and said again, "Yes. Yes, I am well."
Humphrey knew that she had witnessed the short lived, deadly battle, and that seeing it had somehow upset her, but he also knew there was no time to spend explaining why he had killed the guards at this point, so he nodded and before she could protest, he easily lifted Isabelle into his arms and quickly carried her past the spot where the bodies lay.
He set her down and once again knelt before her, so he might look directly into her eyes. "My lady, do you remember how I taught you to saddle Chestnut?" he asked, hoping the change of subject would take her mind away from what she had seen.
Chestnut was her favorite horse--actually, a dark brown, short-legged and shaggy haired highland pony, but he was just the right size for Isabelle to ride comfortably. Humphrey had taught her some months ago how to prepare and saddle the mountain cob, so she could do so herself if she felt the need to go riding, of a sudden. Isabelle thought for a moment, then nodded. She looked deeply into his dark eyes, and forced herself to think through the steps she would need to follow in order to saddle her horse, rather than dwell on the growing stink of death that seemed to surround them.
"Well done, my lady," Humphrey told her, giving her shoulders a gentle squeeze. "Now, go ahead on and saddle Chestnut. I shall be right behind you." He stood and removed a glowing lantern from a nearby post and handed it to the princess. "Go quickly, my lady," he added, softly. Humphrey watched as she backed a few steps away from him, then turned and hurried down the corridor toward where Chestnut was stalled. He sighed and went back to the dead guards, then bent down and dragged them both into an empty stall.
While quickly checking the bodies, Humphrey found and removed a short dagger from one of the men and shoved it into his own belt. He then covered the bodies with loose straw, as well as a discarded horse blanket, and returned to the site of the battle. There was too much spilled blood to readily conceal the evidence with only a bit of straw, but he did the best he could to hide the death scene. He then removed the only lighted lantern in that area, so perhaps darkness would do more to secrete the drying blood than merely a bit of straw, and moved quickly to follow after Isabelle.
1 2 3 4 5 6