The Baron’s Deceitful Wife

Eleventh-Hour Clause

”Guards! ” The man resumes his howling for guards who did not even appear after a minute of calling. Those guards should be fired if they are this lousy with their guarding position.

Nicholas might look odd gawking at the noisy elderly, however he could not muster himself to fix his expression. ”You know Sir, I was only tasked by Mr. Jackson to purchase a jar of chocolate marbles rolled in powdered milk. They are heavenly for the palate. The kind merchant who sells them would give me the broken ones, ” he paused for a moment. The man quietened.

”I did not remember Mr. Jackson giving me a task of assassination, ” Nicholas thoughtfully added. Then and there he was ascertained that he said the wrong things. The elderly man paled beyond in comparison, making him worry for a second. The bleeding from his head might have stopped but it does not mean he is well. The wound needs a tending.

”Guards! ” The elderly screamed once more, making the hoarse in his voice pronounce as he did so. Nicholas wondered if a King would usually scream like this every time. It is a taxing action.

”Sir, I am not an assassin. I was merely passing by when I saw that fine horse on my way to the stream, ” Nicholas pointed at the stallion, now peacefully grazing the grass on the bank of the stream. You would not believe how the animal hoofed his master a while ago with how peaceful he grazed.

”Ho, lies! You hit me a while ago, not once but twice! Ill have my guards behead you, just you wait, ” and the man screams for his guards once more.

Nicholas scratches his head in annoyance. This is delaying him further. He looked up and found the sun already working its way down the sky, maybe past two in the noon. He has a mile left to cover in the towns direction. If he did not make it on time, his trip would be for nothing, and he did not fancy missing dinner. Well, if Mr. Jackson would give it to him.

”Sir, I only hit you once on the shin. Your fine horse hoofed you on the chest, I did not, ” Nicholas once again pointed. This time he points in the direction of the elderlys chest with the hoof shape on it. It does not look painful but he is certain a bruise would appear on it later on.

The man looked down and had this surprise look on his face, he looked like he found an enlightenment. ”Devil did? ” He inquired, poking his chest and wincing in the process.

”Yes, Sir, although, I doubt its possible, mayhap, your stallion was indeed possessed by a devil to hoof you like that. He might be fine but he sure is deceiving, ” Nicholas glances at the tall stallion eating the grass with relish. He initially thought he was a mild-tempered horse.

”What are you even doing in this place, Sir? I have been around here for some time but you do not venture into this part of the forest if you do not know the way, it is dangerous. Are you perhaps lost? ” he asked the man who was still wincing while he pokes at his chest where now a bruise is forming. Why would he poke it in the first place when he knows it aches? Being a human and its stupidity is beyond Nicholas comprehension. The old man is muttering under his breath about some undisciplined horse.

”Ho, I wanted to take a dip because the sun was scorching hot. I am not lost. I know this land like the back of my hand. I am the King, ” he answered, poking his bruise a final time before he glowers at Nicholas.

”You indeed look familiar Sir, however, if you are what you say you are then why are you here? The whole Clevon knows the King is on a trip somewhere far from the country. ” Nicholas prodded. He was actually looking at the old man like he is senile.

”Coming from a lad who is not from my land, I will not answer that, ” he retorted, looking around the forest.

”I was jesting. I was born in the Central Region of Clevon, Sir, in Dulta, ” Nicholas offered. It was pointless explaining his situation. He needs to leave to complete his task, still, he could not leave the old man to the elements, injured and seemingly senile. His parents might have left the world early but Nicholas was instilled with compassion since he was a babe. He has to make sure he is safe. If it is true that he has guards, and Nicholas doesn believe he is a King for a fraction of second, the old man must at least be a noble, considering he owns the Andalusian stallion grazing away in a distance.

”Dulta is a commoners district, ” the aged man hums in thought.

”Aye, Sir. I suggest you wear your garb to refrain from catching a cold. It might be sunny in this region but one is still guaranteed to catch a bout of illness from time to time. You are also bleeding from the head. I can help you tend to it, ” Nicholas offered, spying a Kamu in one of the root systems of a tree just behind the injured man.

The suspicion coming from the old man was met with understanding from Nicholas. He is a commoner after all. A stranger, and he has a valuable thing with him, the stallion. It would fetch a handsome price if one could sell it without being discovered.

Another suspicious look came from the elderly as he gently reached for his garb and donned it haphazardly. Nicholas shakes his head as he watches him make a mess of it, a typical noble. They can even dress themselves right without their servants.

”Sir, I have errands to attend to with haste. Nonetheless, I need to see you safe first. If you have indeed guards we can wait for them while I tend to your wound. Do you see that fan-shaped leaf behind you, Sir? It is a useful herb for infections, ” Nicholas slowly explains how the treatment would go while the glowering man listens keenly, still suspicious of his motives.

While explaining the process in detail, Nicholas procure the leaves, washing them thoroughly in the stream along with a fist size smooth rock. When all of it is done, Nicholas keeps on babbling about the process while crushing the leaves using the now cleaned rock he picked earlier. The silence from the old man is preferable over the screaming.

Timidly, the old man admitted after a while. ”Ho, I might have been mislaid by a wild pig from my entourage. I am a well-traveled man, lad, however, the Southern region appears to be a challenge. The scorching son proved an excess to my voluminous garment, I was sweating like a pig. Imagine my exhilaration when I happened by a stream? The excitement got the best of me and I slipped on a rock. Ho, Devil is also of no help, that evil animal, ” the sudden bout of quivering confession from the man took Nicholas aback. Quivering in a sense that the old man is about to weep. He glances at him from his peripheral vision.

”Old man, I can only attend to your wound, and not your weeping, ” Nicholas gathers the crushed leaves, carefully approaching the old man. He also grabbed a hanky he saw atop the crimson garments, washing it earlier along with the leaves to clean the wound. The blood has already crusted around it and needs to be removed first before applying the poultice.

The old man glares, eyes misty, ”Ho, I am not weeping! I am only sad for my daughter, my granddaughters and the womenfolk. They have to wear such voluminous dresses under this kind of heat. It is suffocating, ” he lamented, glaring at Nicholas and the blasted crimson garments on the ground.

Nicholas chose to keep silent and labored on tending to the wound. He was done with it and was only securing the poultice with a scrap of cloth he tore from the shabby clothes he wore, thoroughly clean, when the ground shakes a little. The mount name Devil neighed and Nicholas was quick to grab the old mans shoulder and his garments.

Streams, any body of flowing water is not to be trusted. A stream could be peaceful first then terrifying the next. Nicholas hearing sharpened to listen for any changes in the air. Even if there is no rain today to cause a rise in the water, the stream is a never ending body and, perhaps, somewhere in the Southern region there must have been one. A traitorous rise in the water is always deadly and could sweep the area around it with no one the wiser. He had seen it happen before.

”Sir, we need to leave the banks. I felt the ground shake just now. I reckoned it is a massive torrent, a flood. We need to leave, ” Nicholas all but dragged the poor old man just to safely leave the banks. He was also beckoning Devil, the horse, to follow, fortunately, the horse heeds. The senile man quietly let Nicholas drag him away from the stream.

Nicholas did not notice his surroundings in his fight for survival. They burst out of the forest in a snap, heaving, glancing behind him. He was vaguely familiar with the sound of metals being unsheathed, however, he did not give it one thought and fussed over the injured man to check the bandage. They were already far from the banks and now safe.

”Are you alright, old man? We are fairly safe from this distance, ” He assured, checking his pulse.

”Keep your insolent hands away from His Highness! ” Someone hollered from behind Nicholas, and he stiffened when he felt something sharp slide a hairs breadth away on the side of his neck, nicking it.

Nicholas throws his hands up, eyes wide in confusion.

”It is the guards and their cavalry that caused the ground to shake, lad, not a flood. McKenna at ease, you are making him bleed, ” the old man ordered, gone the senile character, and right away Nicholas felt the absence of the sharp metal from his neck, he surmised it was a sword.

Today is truly an unfortunate day for Nicholas, indeed.

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