Knighthood, 33

It Is Hard to Find Allies When You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

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“So it is this mage’s opinion that the sword is not dangerous, then?”

“No, sir,” Erik said, shaking his head at the knight commander. “It’s her opinion that the sword isn’t dangerous to Edwin, sir.”

The knight commander nodded slowly, as if hearing some hidden implication in Erik’s words that Edwin had missed. In the end, Elena hadn’t been able to tell Edwin much about the magic sword other than that it was magic. Knowing it had come from an angel made Edwin nervous, but at the same time it was, in its way, reassuring. Angels at least were supposed to be good, so Edwin was probably safe if he had one looking out for him.

But then, angels were also always making people go on stupid quests and shit in stories, and Edwin didn’t want that.

The only other person in the room with them was Sir Devin, and the knight commander looked at him, getting a nod, before he looked back. “In that case, congratulations are in order.”


“You’ve been awarded places on his Highness Prince Gavin’s retinue,” the knight commander said, and Edwin felt his stomach drop.

“No…” When all eyes turned to him, Edwin cleared his throat, bright red. “I’m sure there must be a mistake, sir.”

“No mistake, Edwin,” Sir Devin said. “Whatever you said to him during your talk must have made an impression on the prince; he specifically mentioned that he felt you’d do a good job.”

All that red drained from Edwin’s face. He was going to die. Either Gavin or Owen or Erik was going to kill him.

This wasn’t what was supposed to happen.

But what the fuck could Edwin say? He just saluted. “Thank you, sir. I’ll do my best.”

“No need to be nervous, son,” Devin said, smiling in a fatherly way. “Just don’t drop your sword and you’ll do fine.”

“Thank you, sir,” Edwin managed, miserable. He was going to drop his sword, he just knew it.

“Your assignment is likely to take you out of the capital in the next few days,” the knight commander continued, facing Erik. “I understand the prince is planning an excursion.”

“An excursion?” Erik asked. “To where?”

“Unknown. I’m sure you will be informed.” Edwin took that to mean that Gavin hadn’t actually decided and just wanted to go for a joyride and bother his new bodyguards. The knight commander continued. “Formally you’re answering to Sir Elaine, who is the senior knight on the retinue,” the knight commander said. Beside him, Sir Devin huffed a little. “But I think you can expect the prince not to care about that and have you defer to Sir Owen.”

“Understood, sir,” Erik said, expression neutral.

“Good. Congratulations again. You’re dismissed for now.”

“Thank you, sir.” Erik said, saluting tightly.

Edwin’s salute was a little less tight, but he managed it. “Thank you, sir.” His voice sounded distant to him.

They stepped out into the hallway, and Edwin managed to get all the way around the corner before he had to stop and lean against the wall. “What the fuck. What the fuck did I do wrong?”

“I don’t think you did anything wrong. That’s the problem.”

Edwin let out a groan, followed by a whimper. “I hate this. I don’t want this.”

“You don’t want what?”

Erik knew what Edwin didn’t want. “I don’t want to have to spend my life dealing with…”

“Sir Owen and the prince, I know.” Erik was standing in front of Edwin now, arms crossed. “I don’t think that’s really it.”

“Of course that’s…”

“You don’t want the responsibility, Edwin.”

Edwin looked up at Erik, then down to the floor. “Of course I don’t. I’m not ambitious. I’m not interested in being important. I’m not…”

“You’re not good enough.”

Edwin looked up, feeling like he’d been hit in the face. Hearing Erik say that was…

“That’s what you were thinking,” Erik said, speaking softly. “That’s what you always think, Ed. That you’re not good enough.”

“I…” Edwin looked away again. “I’m not. I can’t protect a prince and you know it. I can’t fight demons. I can’t…do any of this, Erik.”

“Edwin,” Erik said, putting his hand on Edwin’s shoulder. “Do you think that angels make mistakes?”

“Well, I guess they must.”

“I think that might be heresy.” Erik’s voice wasn’t usually this gentle. “Sir Devin thinks you can do it. The knight commander thinks you can do it. An angel thinks you can do it. I think you can do it. Are you really going to tell me that all of us are wrong?”

“I…” Edwin just wanted to cry. Everything in his life always felt so big, and he always felt so small. “I just….”

“I know.” Erik surprised Edwin by pulling him into a hug right there in the hallway. “I’m sorry.”

“What? You’re sorry? I’m the one standing here crying like a…”

“I did this to you,” Erik interrupted. “With my high expectations. You’re worried about living up to everything I want from you, right?”

“No,” Edwin said, a tear slipping down his cheek as he let Erik hold him. “No. Because I already know I can’t, Erik. I can’t be what you want me to be.” Edwin was destined to be a disappointment to his brother, and he knew that.

“All I’ve ever wanted you to be is my baby brother, Ed,” Erik whispered. “That’s all. Nothing else matters, I swear to God.”

Standing there, listening to Erik promise that, made Edwin feel a thousand pounds lighter. “Thank you…” he cried. “That’s all I want. I don’t want anything except that, Erik. I never have.”

“Okay.” Erik rocked Edwin back and forth. “Okay. Listen, Ed?”


“I need you do to me a favour. I need you to believe me when I say you’re good enough. You’ve always been good enough. You’re always going to be good enough.”

Edwin choked a little, but he nodded into Erik’s chest. “That’s hard.” He wasn’t. They both knew it.


“I’ll try, but…”

“No but,” Erik interrupted. “If nothing else, you’re going to follow orders. And I order you to try and believe that you’re good enough. I order you to do your duty to the best of your ability, Edwin. And to trust me not to ask too much of you, and to catch you if you fall.”

“Okay,” Edwin said, getting himself under control. “Okay.”

“What was that?”

Edwin looked up at Erik, stepped back. He wiped his eyes, and smiled at his brother. He wasn’t sure he could do it. He still knew he wasn’t good enough. But if nothing else he could trust Erik to make sure he was okay. If nothing else, he knew that.

So Edwin saluted. “Yes, sir.”

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