- the study of flags.
Callis could feel his pulse quicken. His grip instinctively tightened around his sword at the suspicion of a possible threat. He lowered the blade in an slight attempt to follow the king’s order to stand down, but he was ready for battle. King Lucius was a wise man with an uncanny ability to gauge the environment, but Callis wasn’t one to be caught unaware. His friend was wise. Callis was cautious.
“It is safe for you to come out,” the king said. “Show yourself.”
The sound of twigs breaking in rapid succession alerted them to retreat by something bigger than an animal, sending them men racing through the forest.
Callis played varying scenarios over in his mind. Was this person leading them farther into a trap? How many men would he have to fight in order to save the king’s life?
He rode hard, skillfully averting the wispy branches that tore easily at the skin and the harder limbs that launched riders off their horses.
Both men followed the sound of raspy breathing, unable to see exactly who they were chasing until they hit a clearing.
The person was small, but covered in filth and mud, making it easy to blend in to the forest.
“Stop,” Callis shouted. “Unless you’re prepared to take your last steps.”
He pushed his steed forward as he and the king drew closer, cutting off any possibility of escape.
Visibly startled, the person began to retreat, but King Lucius and Callis were already circling, orbiting like planets around the sun. They slowed their horses to a stroll and for the first time Callis noticed they had been chasing a woman. She was covered in earth, but still very much a woman.
“Leave me,” she growled between strained breaths.”You have no business with me.”
“Do you know to whom you speak,” Callis demanded, allowing the sun to reflect off the blade of his sword.
She didn’t need to be acquainted with vexillology in order to recognize the mammoth maroon and gold flag on the armor of the King’s horse. So sure and plenteous had been the king’s victories that Callis doubted anyone could be ignorant of the Kingdom of Marigol at this point.
King Lucius held up his hand, signaling Callis’ silence.
Why the king would extend so much patience with someone so disrespectful was beyond him, but Callis kept his mind and senses focused on the environment around them. He was leery of a trap involving this filthy woman. She didn’t have the appearance of a leader organizing rebellion, but could very well be bait.
He looked at the green eyes that shone despite the scowl and mud, noting the distrust that seemed to be fermenting in his gut. Callis took note of her stance and demeanor. She wasn’t afraid.
The king’s instincts were usually right, but Callis had a feeling he would regret this days for months to come as his mind incessantly screamed one word–”Leave.”