"Who goes," the man in shadow asked.
Humphrey stopped, a hand going to his sword. "It is Humphrey, and a friend," he replied, quietly. "Who asks?"
The man stepped into the light. "Sir Humphrey," he said, also speaking softly. "I feared you would not make it."
"We met an unexpected delay, Bruce, me lad," Humphrey explained, and extended his hand to the man. In his younger days, Bruce had been squire to Humphrey, but as the dark knight grew older and no longer required anyone to tend his armor, he had offered Bruce the opportunity to squire for another, more active knight. Bruce had declined, however, preferring to stay on as Humphrey's personal companion and servant, thus allowing the knight to continue his training in the use of arms, as well as horsemanship. He was a likeable lad and an apt pupil, so Humphrey had agreed to this proposal. As they grasped each by the arm in way of greeting, Humphrey noticed a pair of boots sticking out into the torchlight on the other side of the gate house. "Did you have any trouble?" he asked the young man.
Bruce followed the knight's gaze to look at the boots, which belonged to the now unconscious gate guard. "None to speak of, my lord," he said, with a smile. He turned back to examine the shadows behind Humphrey. "My lady is with you?"
Humphrey nodded and beckoned to Isabelle. She led the horses into the light and Bruce moved to take the reins from her. "My lady," he said, touching two fingers to his forehead and smiling at her.
Isabelle smiled back, somewhat shyly. She liked Bruce, though she felt rather uncomfortable around him--a feeling she did quite understand, since she did not feel this way around other people who were slightly older than she herself was. Regardless, she was pleased that he was helping them.
"Have you a horse, Bruce?" Humphrey asked, as he took Bastion's reins from him.
"Aye, Sir Humphrey," he said, and turned reluctantly away from Isabelle. "She is tied up and ready, just beyond the gate."
"Good. Let us be off, then." Humphrey helped Isabelle to mount Chestnut, then moved over and aided Bruce to remove the wooden bar that locked the gate shut. After pulling open one side of the gate, Humphrey mounted Bastion, who was pawing at the ground, eager to be away. Bruce pulled the gate shut after the two of them had ridden through and untied his own horse, which had been tethered nearby. He swung himself into the saddle and all three rode quickly away from the castle, Humphrey going first and Bruce bringing up the rear.
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