The Price of Protection

Chapter 7

Richard and Katherine stopped outside a door where the rooms were located in the servant's quarters, which was just a sectioned off part of the castle. Richard knocked on the door softly.

"Really, Your Highness, I am fine," Katherine protested.

"Your continuously bleeding wound says otherwise," Richard shot back.

Katherine sighed, knowing he was right. She kept her hand on the wound to give it pressure, and now her hand was covered in blood. A few moments later, the door opened to show a familiar looking maid.

"Lanie?" Katherine questioned.

"Good evening Katherine," Lanie responded , giving her a questioning look.

"You two know each other?" Richard asked.

"Oh, good evening, Your Highness." Lanie curtsied. "Yes, we meet in the kitchens in the mornings." Katherine chuckled recalling the conversations she and Lanie had while they both ate a quick breakfast. "What brings you here this evening? Is everything all right? I heard the alert sound and stayed in here."

Katherine scowled at Richard. "See? She is able to obey orders."

Richard waved a dismissive hand and addressed the maid. "Katherine was wounded while fighting, she needs to be looked at immediately."

Lanie nodded and ushered for them to come into her chambers. "I keep all my medicinal supplies in here," she explained. "Now sit," she ordered Katherine, patting the bed.

Katherine sighed. "This really isn't necessary."

"I will be the judge of that," Lanie said, her voice firm. Richard shot Katherine a smirk, which earned him an eye roll. "Now, show me where the wound is." Katherine then removed her hand from the wound. Lanie lifted up the brunette's shirt slightly and frowned. "This is definitely not a flesh wound, but it is nothing I cannot fix."

Richard sighed in relief. "Good."

"I must ask His Highness to leave."

"Why?" Richard scowled, clearly not wanting to leave.

Lanie rolled her eyes and spoke calmly. "In order to take care of the wound, I need to remove her wrappings."

"What? Oh." The prince frowned. "I guess I will wait outside then."

"You do not need to wait for me, Your Highness," Katherine objected. "You should go back to your room and rest."

"I wish to make sure that you are in full health," Richard assured her.

"Okay, now out you go! The quicker you leave, the quicker I can treat her." Richard nodded, before giving Katherine a small smile and leaving. Lanie then walked over to her dresser and picked up some leaves and a pestle. "It seems that the prince has taken a liking to you."

Katherine shrugged."It is only because I am a novelty. His fascination will wear off soon enough."

"Perhaps," Lanie hummed. "Remove your shirt and begin to undo your wrappings." Katherine obeyed, wincing a little as she felt pain from the wound. "I do not know. He seemed pretty concerned about you."

"It is only because I am a woman, he probably thinks I am still a little weak." Katherine frowned. She hoped she had proven the opposite that night.

Lanie rolled her eyes, mixing the leaves with water. "Well, whatever it is, he seems to be paying more attention to you than he has to anyone else." Katherine frowned. Was what Lanie said true? "Now, lay on your side so I can use this on the wound."

Katherine obeyed and wrinkled her nose when a foul scent filled her nostrils. "That smells awful."

"I know," Lanie grumbled. "However, it helps the wound heal faster." Katherine then felt a paste-like substance come in contact with her wound. After ordered the brunette to sit up, Lanie wrapped a cloth around Katherine's torso, covering the wound. "There you go, all set."

"Thank you." Katherine then hopped off the bed, dressed herself, and headed for the door. When she opened the door, Richard was standing there, smiling.

"Are you okay?" he asked, his tone full of concern.

Katherine nodded. "Yes, I am fine. Now I suggest you go back to bed, Your Highness."

Richard rolled his eyes. "I am not tired. Besides, I rarely sleep at night."

Katherine rolled her eyes. "Well, I must be up in a few hours, so I plan to sleep."

Suddenly, Kevin entered through the doorway that led to another hallway. "Actually, you need to go to the throne room, Katherine. The king wishes to see all the soldiers. It is probably a good idea for you to go too, Your Highness. The king does not know where you went."

Richard nodded. "We will be there in a minute, Kevin."

Kevin nodded, before returning to the direction he came from.

"Shall we go, m'lady?" the prince asked with a playful smile.

Katherine nodded, trying not to show how nervous she was. If the king wanted to see the soldiers, it was probably not good. She and Richard walked down to the door to the throne room and she held her breath as the prince opened the door.

Richard sighed as he opened the door. The room was dead silent as the soldiers stood in the middle of the room. Katherine immediately rushed to join them, but not before bowing and apologizing to his father. Richard knew that his father had an even temper, but the prince still hoped that the man was not angry at the soldiers. Everyone stood at rapt attention as the king began to speak.

"I assume that you all know why you are here tonight," the king started, his voice calm. "I am not angry, I would just like to know what happened and how the intruders got into the courtyard."

Captain Montgomery then stepped forward, clearing his throat. "We believe that a traitor is in our midst, Your Majesty." The king raised an eyebrow, wanting the captain to continue. "It seems that whoever lowers the draw bridge let the intruders in without hesitation."

The king nodded. " I feared as much. Is there anyway to confirm this?"

Another soldier stepped forward. Richard vaguely recognized the man, but he could not recall his name.

"Your Majesty," the soldier began. "When I went up to where the bridge controls are, the room was empty. It seems that the person fled, most likely returning to Lord Bracken."

The king nodded. "Well, I am glad that you were all able to defend the castle and that no one was harmed." The king then turned to Richard. "Where were you during this whole affair?"

Richard frowned, knowing his father would not like his answer. "I was trying to fight one of the intruders who had entered the castle." The prince then saw a flicker of anger and distress in his father's eyes.

"Did you not think of the consequences of doing that? You could have been seriously hurt or killed!" the king exclaimed. "Where is the intruder now?"

"Dead, Your Majesty," a familiar voice stated calmly. Richard smiled as Katherine stepped forward. "I saw him sneak into the castle, fought him, and killed him. I believe the body is still upstairs." There were a few murmurs among the soldiers as she said this.

The king nodded. "Excellent work, Katherine, you have proven to be a valuable asset." Richard watched carefully as some soldiers gave Katherine looks of awe, others of jealously. "Good work everyone, I bid you good night and you are dismissed. However, Richard, I wish to speak with you." The prince sighed, knowing that this was going to happen. As the soldiers left, Katherine looked at him and gave him a small smile, which made Richard's heart quicken a little, he then returned the gesture.

Once all the soldiers were gone, Richard spoke. "Yes, Father?"

The king sighed and scratched the back of his neck. "After the incident that has just occurred, I believe that it no longer safe for you to be here at the moment." Richard furrowed his eyebrows in confusion as the king continued. "I think that you should leave for Lockwood sooner than originally planned."

"But Father," Richard began to protest.

The king held up his hand, silencing Richard. "No buts. I want you to leave here in two days at the most. I am also going to increase the amount of soldiers that protect you on your journey."

Richard frowned. He knew he must obey his father, even though he did not want to leave. He hated leaving for long journeys, especially for people he did not really know. However, Richard knew how he could make the trip more interesting.

"Yes, Father." Richard nodded. "However, I do have one wish though."

The king looked at his son, clearly puzzled. "What would that be?"

Richard smiled and mischievous glint formed in his eyes. As he began to tell his father his request, a surprised expression formed on the king's face. When Richard was done, he stood there, hoping that his father would agree to the prince's wish.

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