Knighthood, 68

It’s Easier to Ignore Your Insecurities When Your Friends Are in Trouble

Ao3 Link

“I can’t believe you’re abandoning us already,” Leo pouted, leaning on Edwin’s shoulder in the dining hall.

Edwin rolled his eyes, ate some more carrot stew. “For like a few days. Then I’ll be back.”

“Such a world traveller suddenly,” Archie said, kicking Edwin under the table. “Soon you’ll forget all about all of us little people, patrolling one city.”

Edwin chuckled. It was just him and the other squires at the table, including a bunch of the new guys who’d been inducted while he’d been in Pelican Bay. He remembered them from the year below him in the training school, mostly, but they hadn’t interacted much. Luckily, Ashton and Warren and Evan and the other older guys were with them. Like Parry, his friends were all close to being knighted, and probably would be in a few weeks. Edwin wondered if he’d get knighted with them. He was too embarrassed to bring it up—it would feel like bragging, and what if Gavin had changed his mind by the time they got back?

It was nice, sitting with all his friends, just being able to hang out, and be normal with everyone, act like a real person instead of wondering if he was being inspected all the time, talk about nothing, and…Edwin frowned, looking around the table. “Hey,” he said, tapping his spoon against his bowl. “Where’s Rudy?” He’d seen everyone since he’d been back, except Rudy. He hadn’t even been around the fortress or anything. “Are he and Howard out somewhere?”

Everyone fell kind of quiet at that, a notable change in the noise of the hall. “Howard’s dead,” Ty told Edwin, while Leo stirred the soup in his bowl. “Rudy, uh…killed him.”

“What?” Edwin didn’t get it. It obviously wasn’t a joke, but it also wasn’t something Rudy would do. He was…quiet, thoughtful. Not mean or violent. Edwin didn’t even know why he’d decided to become a knight. “Why would he do that?”

“Who knows?” Archie asked. “He must have just gone nuts, or Howard must have done something. Rudy hated him. He told me that Howard made him do weird shit, I guess like fucked-up sex stuff.”

“Something happened to him,” Leo said, pushing his bowl away. “Something happened.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t fucking know. But you don’t talk like that unless something happened.” Leo looked like he might cry. “He tried to kill himself. He wanted to die. He said he was just meat. Just food. He said…” Leo shook his head, got up. “I’m going to…”

“Leo,” Edwin said, reaching up for him, but Leo headed off. He looked over at his friends, none of whom seemed to know what to say, and stood up, following after Leo. He waved down Denver a few spots down when he tried to stand. Leo didn’t need a bunch of people to follow him.

Out in the hall, Edwin caught up with Leo. “Hey,” he said. “Hey, Leo.”

“I…” Leo turned towards Edwin, burying his face in Edwin’s shoulder. Surprised, Edwin held him there in a hug. “I’m the one who arrested him, Ed. Me and Wyatt.”

“I’m sorry,” Edwin said quietly. Leo sounded so upset. “That’s terrible.”

Leo shook his head. “Howard’s head was half off, and Rudy was…he wasn’t there, Ed. I don’t even know if he realized what he’d done. And…” He swallowed.

Edwin gave him time, figuring that anything he said now would just get in Leo’s way. He held Leo until he was ready to keep talking, and Leo looked up at him. “There was a centipede inside Howard’s body. A big one.”

Edwin went cold. “A centipede?”

Leo nodded. “I know it’s stupid, but…I think that’s what Rudy was trying to kill.”

Edwin thought so too. “Yeah, I think you’re right. I’m…he’s down in the dungeon, right? I’m going to go see him.”

Leo swallowed. “They won’t let you. They won’t let anyone see him.”

“Yeah, well.” Edwin shrugged. “I’m going to do it anyway. Do you want to come?” He had to talk to Rudy. It was important.

Leo hesitated, eyes rimmed with red. “I…okay. Let’s go.”

Edwin nodded, and took Leo’s hand. They went down to the dungeons together, which were locked behind a metal door, guarded by a knight named Stan, who was one of Erik’s friends. One of the new squires had been assigned to him, Edwin remembered. Egon, who everyone called Twig. Edwin saluted him. “Sir.”

“Hey, Ed,” Stan said, waving from his chair. “You can’t go in. I know he’s your friend, but…”

Edwin nodded. “You ever met Prince Gavin, sir?”

“Briefly, one of the times he was here with Owen.” Stan seemed confused by the sudden change of topic.

“He’s going to want the details on this murder, trust me. I think it’s related to something he’s working on. You can let me in now, or you can let me in when he gets back in a few days and explain to him why you didn’t let me in the first time.”

Stan raised an eyebrow, not moving. “I have to say, I never expected you to instigate a dick-measuring contest.”

Edwin shrugged. “Look, if Gavin gets back and tells you I was lying, I’m sure Erik will let you help him punish me. But I need to get in there in the meantime.”

Stan sighed, stood up. He unlocked the door. “Ten minutes. Don’t fucking tell anyone I let you in.”

“Thanks, Stan,” Edwin said, patting his shoulder as they went inside. “We won’t be long, promise.”

“Knock when you’re done.”

The door shut behind them, and Edwin took a breath. The dungeon was a row of dark cages lit by weak lamps. “How’d you do that?” Leo asked quietly. “I don’t remember my Edwin having that much confidence.”

Edwin shifted uncomfortably. “It helps knowing that Gavin is going to want to hear about this.”

“How do you know?”

“The centipede. I’ve seen them before, and so have a lot of other people.” Edwin headed down the row of cages, until he found the one that wasn’t empty. Rudy was in there alone, sitting on a bed of hay, shivering in a thin shirt and pants. It was cold down here. “Hey.”

Rudy looked up, saw Edwin and Leo, and backed up to the far wall. “What…what are you doing here?”

“I wanted to see you,” Edwin said, taking the bars of the cell door in his hand. The door rattled a little, a bit loose on its hinges. But it was locked, so he just sat down in front of it, looking at Rudy. “What did you do, Rudy?”

“I…” Rudy was holding his legs in front of him, not looking at Edwin. “I k-killed Howard, Ed.”

“Okay. Can you tell me why?”

“Why do you care? I’m a murderer. I’m…I’m disgusting, dirty. Used.”

Edwin shook his head, each word from Rudy hitting hard. “No. No you aren’t. Rudy.” He wished he could hug Rudy.

“Leo thinks so.”

Edwin looked up at Leo, who had hung back a few steps, and was looking at his feet. “Leo?”

“I don’t…I don’t get why you didn’t tell any of us you were feeling this way. We…we’d have helped you, Rudy.” Leo sounded dull.

So did Rudy. “You can’t help me. None of you can help me. I’m not worth it. I’m…”

Edwin shook his head. “Tell me about the centipede, Rudy.”

Rudy flinched visibly. “I can’t.”

“It’s okay. I know about them already.”

“I can’t. I…” Rudy stopped, abruptly.

Oh. Oh. “There’s one inside you, isn’t there?”

“What?” Leo asked, standing straight. “What?”

Rudy shook his head. “I can’t. Just let me die. They’re going to hang me. That’s…that’s better.”

No, it was not. “You deserve to live, Rudy,” Edwin said, firm. “No matter what happened to you. It wasn’t your fault.”

Rudy just shook his head. “I…I’m cold.”

“I’ll get them to bring you a blanket.”

“Just…just let them hang me, Ed. Please. It’s…”

Edwin took a breath. He stood up. “I’ll be back, Rudy. I’ll be back soon. Promise.”

Rudy didn’t say anything. Edwin headed back, hand in his pocket. “I don’t understand,” Leo said quietly. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.” Edwin pulled his hand out of his pocket, the metal in his palm cool. He pressed it against the dungeon door for a second before knocking for Stan. “The centipedes are really dangerous, though. We have to do something.”

“What?” Leo sounded lost. “I don’t even know where we’d…”

“Don’t worry.” Edwin took Leo’s hand as the door opened. “I know a few people who can help.” Surely, with all the people in Gavin’s coalition, they could figure out how to get one centipede out of one scared boy without hurting him. Otherwise what was the point of all Gavin’s money and influence? What was the point of all this world-saving stuff if they couldn’t help one person who needed it?


Edwin nodded. “Thanks, Stan. Find him a blanket, please? He’s going to freeze to death before his trial.” He pulled Leo away from the dungeon, hand in his. “Listen, don’t tell anyone about this for now, okay?” he said to Leo. “I don’t want them to have a reason to hurt Rudy before I can ask someone to look at him.”

“Okay.” Leo was still looking down. “You really think we can help him?”

Edwin really hoped they could. The idea that they might not be able to help him hurt. “I do.”

“I don’t know how you manage to be so confident.”

Edwin did. He was faking it, because if he didn’t fake confidence, Leo wouldn’t be able to handle it. And maybe that was how it worked. Maybe that was how confidence really worked. But it didn’t matter if that was how it worked or not. It was working for Edwin right now. And he needed it to keep working, or they were going to kill his friend.

And Edwin wasn’t going to let them do that.

Previous (Story)

Previous (Series)

Next (Story)

Next (Series)

2 thoughts on “Knighthood, 68

  1. Oh dear. Scott, what are you up to? And why can’t you do it to people who actually deserve to have awful things happen to them?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s