This is the last readily available chapter i have. I've done various other scenes etc. so I'll update when I've edited and constructed another chapter.
Arthur leapt to his feet at once, knocking the guard off balance. A final shove in the direction of a large patch of nettles sorted him out. He saw Robyn was doing much of the same. She saw him looking, then shouted for him to move. Arthur jabbed his elbow behind him at just the right height to break the nose of the guard behind him. There was a satisfying
crack and Arthur turned round to see two other guards advancing to avenge their fallen comrade. Arthur would never know how he gained so much strength in a instant but he was able to tackle the first and punch him out cold, while Robyn took down the other with a sharp kick in an unfortunate but very effective place.
There was one left. Yet neither Robyn nor Arthur advanced while the fighting spirit raged inside them. He had a knife to Mrs T’s throat.
The guard holding her was small and scrawny. He looked young and frightened. Most likely he was sent to get the boy as a training errand. He would never have expected him to fight back and now he was desperate and at a loss of what to do. He stood there, quivering with the knife. Mrs T was gagged and her wrists bound.
Arthur glanced at Robyn. “Hey,” he said to the guard, sounding a lot more confident than he felt. “You don’t need her do you?”
The guard shook his head, looking as scared as Arthur felt.
“You need me, don’t you?”
The guard nodded.
“Then how about we do a fair exchange? Me, Arthur, in exchange for Mrs T.”
The guard remained still, flashing wary glances from Arthur to Robyn.
Arthur stood helpless, trying to stare him into giving up Mrs T.
“I’m sure the King will promote you if you arrive back at the castle with him alive,” tried Robyn. This seemed to loosen the guard’s grip on the blade.
“Alrigh’,” said the guard. “But I don’t want none o’ that funny business, yeh?” He slowly advanced to Arthur not letting go of Mrs T, until they were a sword’s length from each other. He stopped, then in one swift movement released Mrs T and lunged at Arthur.
But Arthur was quicker. He ducked below the guard’s outstretched arms and grabbed his ankles, causing him to tumble right over Arthur’s head. They ran. They ran as fast as Mrs T could go, which was admittedly no fast than a tired mule on a baking summer’s day. They heard pounding boots behind them. They had to get Mrs T to safety before it was too late. They had to-
“Go,” Mrs T rasped. “I’ll slow you down deary and ye do not need me slowin’ yer down as well as everythin’ else, do you?” She had changed back to the I-know-you’re-not-my-child-but-I’m-going-to-be-your-mother-anyway Mrs T and the slow twinkle in her eye reassured Arthur that all was well. He let go of her leathery hand, took one last look at the worn and weathered face and sprinted off with Robyn. They didn’t dare look back but they heard the guards arrest Mrs T and her shrieking at the top her voice: “But I was only out here looking for my cat. Have you seen my cat? He’s blue with green whiskers.”
Arthur’s legs carried him for what seemed like an age until he was forced to stop and bend over with his hands on his knees to catch his breath. His vision was hazy and his legs gave was as he collapsed in a heap on the forest floor. He wiped beads of sweat from his face and watched the clouds drift effortlessly across the azure sky.
He could see Robyn leaning against a tree beside him and looked up at the sky in a state of comparative relaxation. He only began to panic again when he saw a pinprick of darkness among the fluffy white clouds. It was in front of everything yet miles in the distance. And it was growing, reaching out and sucking the light out of everything around it.
“I’m going blind!” shrieked Arthur, covering his eyes, as if that were going to help.
“What!?” said Robyn, coming to his side. “What do you mean?”
“The black spot! It’s growing. I’m blind!” he looked at Robyn, there was no growing black spot in front of her face. He looked back at the sky, there it was again, about the size of a football right in front of Arthur’s eyes. Only this time it was shrinking, and Arthur thought he heard a bottomless voice whispering his name in his ear, accompanied by a constant ticking. Time.
All of a sudden Arthur couldn’t help himself and he poured out everything about his meeting with Time to Robyn. The words tripped out of his mouth, about the whirlwind, the door, the mistake… “-and he said he’d come back to get me and that’s him right there.” He pointed at the sky. That’s all it was. The sky. Nothing sinister about that. The darkness had gone and Arthur felt Robyn’s mocking glare fall on him.
“It was there I promise! Like a big black balloon.”
“You do use some odd words. Anyway what was all that about time nonsense?”
“It’s Time,” said Arthur, to iterate that it was obviously pronounced differently with a capital ‘T’. “I wasn’t going to tell you about all that stuff because you would have thought me like Mrs T on a bad day. But it’s all true. Time’s a person. He’s trying to get through to me I know he is. But something’s stopping him.”