So the 1990s turned out to be a vivid hallucination brought on by an ancient earth tablet. And William finds himself back on Medieval terra ferma, at the mercy of vindictive coutriers. Meanwhile, Mugwhah, now branded a sympathiser with the devil, awaits execution.
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I find myself staring at two pairs of boots. I recognise them immediately as being those of Ulric and Fendrel. Ulric’s are a soft black leather with a wide laced front, snaking to wicked points at the toes. They suggest a kind of polite malevolence. Fendrel’s are sturdier, with different coloured leather overlays tightly bound to solid brass lace studs at the sides. These boots do not suffer fools gladly; they have grace and poise but reject the idea of unconditional amity.
I suspect both men of having some contempt for me. They resent me, consider me good for nothing; to them I am but the spoilt son of a powerful man. They despise my lack of interest in military, political or mercantile affairs; they stifle titters when I speak of the things of the soul and nature.
I could never tell them of my vision under the influence of the drug. I’m not sure I could explain it even to a close confidant. A box with light emitted from it showing images from my life; an older woman in strange clothes sitting contemplating it all. What did it mean?
I raise my head which makes the two men start. I couldn’t swear to it, but I believe I see Ulric quickly put something in his pouch.
Fendrel offers me his hand, an act that only seems to serve to highlight my fallen grace. Nevertheless, I am weakened and readily accept it. I rise unsteadily to my feet. I’m covered in mud and standing reminds me that I still have one disproportionate leg. Only the three of us remain outside Mugwhah’s humble cottage. I’m desperate to find out if the witch is still alive. But I know I must be careful and so I ask about my father first.
“Where is my father?”
“He’s headed to the castle to prepare for tomorrow’s festivities,” Fendrel answers in his gruff voice, dropping the common courtesies he would observe in from of Lord Bohun, my father.
“Festivities?” I say breathlessly.
“Well, your rescue from the clutches of one of the devil’s followers is surely something worth celebrating.” Ulric smiles; could they know of my affection for Mugwhah and therefore delight in my current situation?
“Indeed.” I notice the two glancing at my large, swollen leg. This will no doubt provide them with endless amusement. Then in a more sinister turn of thought I wonder what it was that Ulric put in his pocket. My unease is hard to place, but I realise it stems from the fact that I am alone with two guardians who might gain a great deal from my demise. And to think they had me at their mercy while I lay unconscious.