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It was an unmitigated disaster. Kenyon had told the commander that the lad wasn’t ready, lacked the discipline demanded for such a task, but he had been overruled.

Still, he couldn’t exactly go back to the Commander and say “I told you so.”

He glared at the boy. “What in blazes were you thinking?!”

Durward had, at least, the good grace to look ashamed. “She… she was so scared, ser. She just wanted to go home.”

Kenyon rolled his eyes. “Of course she did! What did you expect her to do? Thank us kindly and skip her way to the tower? Cover us in kisses?”

Durward swallowed hard and raised his eyes cautiously to look up at his superior. “I didn’t expect her to cling and scream so,” he said. “I didn’t expect to have to tear the child from her mother’s arms!”

“Oh, I suppose you expected the woman to murmur a fond goodbye and hand her child over to us without a single tear?”

Durward looked down again, unable to find an answer. “What will happen to her now, ser?”

Kenyon sighed. “I’ll send word to the Commander, and he’ll send some more experienced brothers for her. She’ll be taken to the tower, or she’ll be killed.”

Durward stood suddenly, his hand – unbelievably-  on his sword, as if ready to draw. “They can’t,” he said, too loud, too forceful. “She’s but a child!”

Kenyon placed his hand reluctantly on the pommel of his own sword. “A child who could kill us all, if her mind strayed to it. Think of your vows, lad. Think of what we swore to protect.”

He watched the boy’s eyes, and hoped his aging muscles would still let him draw his sword first.

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: The words from Three Word Wednesday this week are Cling, Murmur and Taken.)

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