The Fates decided the knight will warn the villagers.
And so, by your divine decree, the knight will have to deal with this blast from the past carefully, trying to keep the village of Little Hope safe as he does so.
What are you whispering about? Is that a betting pool? Unbelievable. Can I see the board? Hold it up, please. Higher. Yes, there you go. ‘Will someone die in this segment?’ I see the yes’s are leading. You’re a pessimistic bunch, aren’t you?
Put me in for a ‘yes’ too. Thank you.
“Helia, we need to cage her. Now,” the Eternal Knight says. “She’s a dangerous witch from Ritain. I remember her from my past life, she’s one of the cultists who bound me to this armor.”
The nightmarish memory of being stabbed and having his heart ripped out of his chest flashes through the knight’s mind. He pushes it aside. This isn’t the time for reminiscing.
Helia looks around at the other fishermen and laughs nervously. “Cage her? Like a lobster, metal man?”
The Eternal Knight isn’t amused when he says: “Helia, I don’t know if I can protect you from her if she wakes up. I don’t even know whether I can protect myself. Especially if there are more of them around. Please, help me bind her.”
In truth, he wasn’t sure what to expect from this encounter, but so far whenever his shrouded past revealed itself, the consequences weren’t rainbows and happiness. Over the past two weeks, he’d grown to like the villagers — enough for him to regret staying with them and bringing this danger to their doorstep.
“All right, metal man,” Helia says, picking up on the knight’s tone. “We’ll get a chain to bind her with.“ He waves his hand at two other fishermen. “Rehman, Hari. Go scout the coast and see if there are more armors walking around. And wear a damn mask so you don’t catch the Noxis curse.”
Rehman and Hari leave immediately while Helia oversees others untangling the handmaiden from the fishing net and binding her arms behind her back with a rusty old chain.
“We can’t loosen her grip on that sword she’s carrying,” says Helia, frowning. “Will this do, metal man?” Helia asks.
“It’s a start,” says Ren, turning for the healer’s hut and then stopping again. Dawn. What would Dawn think of an Imperial handmaiden washed up on the beach? He hadn’t told her about his vision, about the villainy of the Queen in turning him into an Eternal Knight... ”
Helia is speaking behind him: “Honestly, you taking the protection of the village so seriously gives me hope you might—”
A deafening screech fills the air. Ren whirls back to the handmaiden. She is on her knees, head thrown back, screaming. The fishermen gathered on the shore clasp their hands around their ears.
Her armored arms twist behind her, wrenching this way and that, trying to get free. If she was, Ren is certain he would be dead already.
Then she speaks, her voice a deep whisper, metallic and inhuman. In many ways — he realizes with distress — it’s similar to his own.
“Traitor! Murderer! Prisoner! You thought you could escape your punishment for plotting to kill the emperor? You thought he wouldn’t dare send his army to the cursed land of Ferax? That you could hide here forever? But I, Lydia the Sixth Sword, have found you and I swear to take your treacherous soul back to Ritain to face your emperor’s judgment!”
“Metal-man...?” Helia says, backing away from them both..
“I...” Ren Londaar is lost for words. Her accusation, cutting deep, left Ren feeling naked and defenseless. The few things he remembers from his past don’t contradict the handmaiden’s accusation. Did he already act on the knowledge of queen Thyra’s betrayal? Or did he deserve her punishment too?
“You plotted to kill the emperor?” Says a meek voice behind them. Dawn has come out to the beach, holding the knight’s oar in her hands. Her eyes are wide, unfocused. “I’ve been assisting an assassin?”
Ren steps towards her, but Dawn recoils, fearful and disgusted. She lets go of the oar like it was a murder weapon, further incriminating her each second she holds it. It drops to the sand at the knight’s feet.
“Dawn, I don’t remember those things. The only thing I know is that I was made an Eternal Knight against my will. I could have been framed for the betrayal! I wouldn’t have harmed my brother or the empire.”
Dawn’s lip trembles. “How do you know?” she asks, “If you can’t remember?” She backs off further.
The fear in her eyes makes Ren feel more alone than he can bear. He picks up the oar and turns back to the handmaiden. “Tell her I have not betrayed the empire,” he growls. “Queen Thyra is the one who—” but he can’t remember what exactly she’d done, aside from steal his body.
“Disgusting lies!” The handmaiden seethes. “More treachery! And a fallen sentinel, no less. Free me, child, and you alone will suffer for this transgression — for aiding a traitor to the empire. Free me, and I will not pursue your family when I return home.”
Dawn sobs behind the knight. His gauntlet tightens around the oar’s shaft. Fury rises in him, blinding him, fueling him. He runs at the vile witch, swings the oar, aims at her head and strikes. But the handmaiden had anticipated it. Too late, Ren sees her shift her weight. The oar hits the rusty chain wound around her arms and midriff and the chain cracks. With the fluidity of a dancer, she twists up and out of the knight’s range, and then answers his next blow with her nimble sword.
The handmaiden skillfully dodges his raging, relentless attacks. Ren never lands a blow, but she doesn’t either. Then the handmaiden dodges another swing and darts behind him.
“Not so fast!” Ren roars and swings.
She sidesteps the oar which scatters sand as she continues running onward like an arrow, straight at Dawn. The sharp, pointed fingers of her left hand bury themselves in Dawn’s hair, pulling her head back, her right hand holding the blade to Dawn’s exposed throat. The elf looks like a crying rag doll in the handmaiden’s iron hold, powerless, and terrified.
”Drop your weapon and surrender peacefully,” the handmaiden says, “or I will execute this traitor here and now. If you obey, I might leave her and let her live the rest of her worthless life here. In return, you will remove your remaining arm and become my prisoner as I take you back to Ritain to face your judgment.”
And so the battle between passionate fury and calculated skill ends. Emotions may be the spice of life, but cold calculation will get you where you need to go faster. That said, it’s nice to see the knight get in touch with his feelings for once. And I seem to have lost my bet. Oops.
But enough rambling. How do you want Ren to handle this... sensitive situation?
Option 1: The Eternal Knight negotiates with the handmaiden. After all, they both want to return to Ritain empire. They should work together for now.
Option 2: The Eternal Knight tries to free Dawn. It’s a risk, but his fury powers his actions. No one threatens his friends.
Option 3: The Eternal Knight surrenders to the handmaiden and agrees to her conditions. Seeing Dawn threatened sobers him up and extinguishes his wrath.
The chapter voting closes every Monday at 8:00 AM WEST (Lisbon, Portugal time).
Welcome to another episode of Silver & Kaya's author notes! We hope you enjoyed this week's Book of Fates and we're glad and excited to see where you Fates will take us with the handmaiden story. There are many possibilities, many bad endings... and a few good ones. :)
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