Another short one - chapter 5
Arthur woke, blearily eyed, to Robyn and Mrs Tailor bustling around his bed, muttering remarks. Robyn was clanging a suit of chainmail about the tiny room, and Mrs Tailor was preparing an emergency dressing.
“Arthur, Arthur, thank goodness you’re awake. There isn’t a moment to lose,” said Robyn. “Your match is at noon.”
“What?” spluttered Arthur. “What match? Against who? Playing what?” It was like the meeting with Time all over again; everyone knew what was happening except Arthur.
Without any answer, he was dragged to his feet and stripped to his pants, given a brisk wash with scented cold water, and then a freezing cold, damp cloth was pressed onto his back wounds, making them sting as if they were raw again.
“What was that for?!” gasped Arthur. Mrs Tailor resisted his objections and pressed harder.
“Stop makin’ such a fuss. It’s for yer own good. We don’t want those ole’ scars opening up again do we?”
“I don’t understand. What is all this for? You said you weren’t going to let me out until I’d properly healed!” No answer came from Mrs Tailor as she was humming to herself and mumbling and odd combination of words that sound, to Arthur, like another language.
Robyn took it upon herself to pick up the loose end of conversation. “You’ve been entered in a warrior’s tournament that starts today at noon. Mrs T is dressing your back wounds for protection. Time was late because scary and shocking things usually happen on the stroke of midnight. And this is your chainmail suit that will probably prolong your life a little.”
Arthur paused a moment to take in the list and said “Wait, what did you say about Time?”
“Hmn? Who said what about time? I didn’t mention time, but I soon will do if you won’t let me dress you any quicker than this.” With that, Robyn shoved a rough, tight tunic over his head, followed by a painfully heavy chainmail piece that dug into his shoulders and hung away from his body as if it were 3 sizes too big, while Mrs Tailor grovelled on the floor dressing him in scratchy linen trousers and hard leather boots. Next came a moth bitten, faded blue tunic with an embroidered crest on the front, and the panic began to surge through Arthur as he realised the sun had risen high in the sky already. He gasped as Mrs Tailor tightened the belt around his waist, and groaned at the poor visibility once Robyn had screwed a dented, visored helmet onto his head. Restrictive metal gauntlets were squeezed onto his hands, and a thick wooden shield was handed to him. Finally, Robyn approached him gingerly, carrying a sword in her palms, and there was lull in the bustling from Mrs Tailor.
The pair stood back to admire their handiwork. Arthur dropped his sword, clumsily. He went to pick it up but his visor fell down and he grappled at the floor through thick gloves, merely shuffling the sword hilt around. After assembling the make shift knight once more, Mrs Tailor guided him to the door and whispered through his helmet: “A good warrior wins with the energy from his heart.” She said this somewhat hopefully rather than reassuringly, much to Arthur’s agitation.