Sir Duncan sat in the soothing warmth of the midday sun, absentmindedly polishing his leather saddle. The sun glinted off his shining armour, and warmed the leather straps which held it, taut against his muscular arms. His skin was olive tanned, and wore the patterns of countless pale scars.
Neither the heat on his back, nor the laughter of the passing children could distract him from his thoughts of the previous day. He glanced at his left arm, at what would no doubt become his latest scar – he had been lucky yesterday; the gods had been on his side.
He was distracted however by the sight of Sir Giles, hurriedly limping from the nearby tavern. His hand was clenched over his right arm, inadequately trying to cover a gaping wound. Dropping the aged saddle, Sir Duncan rose and darted to his falling companion, as Sir Giles slumped to his knees like a falling tree.
Sir Duncan knelt, and through gritted teeth, demanded, “Who?” Enraged and frustrated by the inadequate response of his friend, he persisted, “Who?”
Determined eyes darted upward towards the opening tavern door, as a giant of a man ducked to pass under the beam. He strode forward aggressively, and seeing no one but the two knights rested his hand against the butt of his sword. He stopped short of Sir Duncan, his manner changing instantly. He dropped to one knee and held out a curled and tattered parchment.
“I bring a message,” he barked, in a voice as deep and rumbling as the winter thunder in the hills. “I tried to tell him,” he said apologetically, “my king has urgent need of your services, and will reward you handsomely.”
“Sir Duncan took the parchment from the outstretched hand, and began to read.