Gavinaugh looked across the Brimshire Plains to the Boundary Mountains. He then turned and scanned northward toward Cameria, and finally west to the Forest of Renault and beyond where the Chessington Valley, Kesson’s Territory, and the Great Sea lay. All he had really known was the city of Chessington and the surrounding regions, but his mind was slowly awakening to the enormity of the kingdom and his mission to reach all lands and all people with the story of the Prince.
Gavinaugh filled his lungs with the sweet, crisp morning air of the country and felt small. He slowly shook his head.
“You are troubled,” the Prince said as He stood before Gavinaugh, ready to mount His steed.
“I am but one, my Lord, and I ache to reach all of Arrethtrae. I worry that my legs might not endure and the days of my life might not be numerous enough to reach them all. Where do I start?” He looked upon the royal face of the Prince.
The Prince smiled. “You start and end with Me, Gavinaugh. You are responsible for your service to Me, not for the decisions of others. Fulfill your duty one day at a time, and leave the outcome in My hands.”
Gavinaugh understood and nodded.
“Your fellow knights do not trust you. Your journey to the ends of the kingdom must first pass through Chessington. They need to know that you are truly a Knight of the Prince.”
“Yes, my Lord. But how am I to travel–”
The Prince held up His hand to silence him.
Gavinaugh knew that the Prince could hear something he could not. He strained to listen. A moment later he not only heard the rumble but felt the pounding in the earth of hundreds of horses. Out of the north he saw the growing mass of a mighty army approaching. He felt a swell of anxiety in his stomach and began to draw his sword.
“They are Mine,” the Prince said as He mounted His steed.
He looked down at Gavinaugh, and in that moment Gavinaugh felt the gaze of a King upon him. Soon an army of mighty warriors enveloped them. They saluted the Prince and waited in silence for His command. The Prince’s horse reared, and He led the force southward to the Great Sea. As the massive steeds and their riders passed by on each side, Gavinaugh recognized one warrior among them. Porunth broke off from the rest and came to him.
“You look well, my friend.” Porunth smiled as he spoke above the thundering sound. The last of the warriors passed like a rush of wind, and the sound of beating hooves quickly diminished.
“I am well… Finally, I am well.” Gavinaugh returned the smile.
Porunth nodded. “You have partaken of the character of the Prince. It is easy to tell when one has been with Him.”
“I am humbly grateful and a privileged man.”
“As are we all.” Porunth looked toward his retreating force. “May your travels be fair and your battles sure, Sir Gavinaugh.”
“And yours, good sir,” Gavinaugh said. “You don’t perhaps have an extra horse about, do you?”
“Strange you should ask,” Porunth said. “You are not the only one who has skirted death.” He smiled again and bolted away toward his army without another word.
Gavinaugh was confused, but he was learning that the messages of the Silent Warriors were oftentimes more like riddles. He watched the Prince’s army diminish in the distance.
“I guess my travels will begin on foot,” he said aloud and looked toward the forest from which he had come weeks earlier.
Just then a horse neighed loudly a short distance behind him, and Gavinaugh nearly jumped out of his armor. He turned to see a sight that delighted his soul.
He ran to the horse and could hardly contain his joy. “Triumph…it is you! How can this possibly be?”
Triumph seemed pleased to see Gavinaugh as well. He stroked the horse’s neck and felt as though they were once again a team. In examining the horse, he noticed the scar on Triumph’s shoulder, but otherwise he seemed healthy and whole.
He mounted Triumph and looked forward to his course back home.
After many days of traveling, Gavinaugh arrived in the Chessington Valley. He timed his arrival at dusk, for he was unsure of the status of the city and of the Noble Knights. He knew he must face Kifus one day, but now was not the time, for such an encounter would only hinder his call to the greater purpose of life.
He took the back alleyways to the home of a man named Tarill. He dismounted and knocked quietly at the back door, as he had done many times before. The door opened slightly, and a stout-looking man with a scraggly beard peered out.
“What in the…” The man opened the door to allow Gavinaugh entrance and then looked outside after him to confirm that no one was watching. He quickly closed and locked the door and turned to face Gavinaugh. This was no joyous reunion.
“I heard you were dead…or worse,” Tarill said bluntly.
Gavinaugh did not respond. He produced a small bag that jingled with coins. “Where do they meet now?”
Tarill laughed. “So you’ve come to finish the job you started, eh? I guess I know which rumors to believe.”
Gavinaugh was becoming uncomfortable, for here in the home of his old informant he was dramatically facing the reality of his former life.
“Just tell me the location, and I’ll be on my way.”
“Double the fee, and I will hand their leaders to you on a silver platter!” Tarill seemed thrilled with the prospect.
“An acquaintance of mine has gained the trust of two of their leaders, Barrett and William. He told me that there is a meeting arranged with one of the Followers from an Outdweller haven. With a little persuasion I can convince him to tell me the location. You and your men could take them with ease.”
Gavinaugh thought for a moment and realized that this would be his best opportunity to reach the Knights of the Prince.
“Very well. I will agree on one condition. No one else, not even the Noble Knights, are to be told. Is that clear?”
Tarill’s eyes narrowed. “All right, I can agree to that. What have you got up your sleeve, Gavin?”
Gavinaugh looked at the man fiercely. “If you betray me, Tarill, my next hunt will be for you.”
Gavinaugh paid the man and left.
Two nights later, Gavinaugh cautiously approached a shop in the northern part of Chessington. He found an alcove and watched from the shadows of the night. The air was thick and still. He spotted the door that led to the chamber where the meeting was to be. The sounds of a city settling down for the night mixed with the chirp of crickets and an occasional barking hound. He was apprehensive, for he was not completely confident that Tarill could be trusted. He was a man who made his living on deception and on bartering one deal for another. Loyalty was not part of his character. Even if Tarill chose not to betray him, Gavinaugh wasn’t sure how the Knights of the Prince would respond to him. Although he carried his sword, he knew that he could never draw it upon a fellow Knight of the Prince, even if it meant the end of his life.
After a long wait, Gavinaugh was fairly confident that no one was nearby. He walked to the door. He looked up and down the alley one more time, took a deep breath, then opened the door and stepped inside.
As he closed the door, his back was to the room.
“Finally, you’ve arrived,” a man said.
Gavinaugh turned and faced the men.
“Were you delayed, Sir–”
Before him stood two men in tunics bearing the mark of the Prince. One was a bit shorter and nearly bald. Gavinaugh immediately recognized the taller, dark-haired knight as one of the first men he captured a long time ago. Gavinaugh had questioned him in the cells of the prison. The recognition was mutual, as evidenced by the look of shock on the man’s face.
Both men immediately drew their swords and looked to the doors of the shop, apparently expecting a full ambush to crush down upon them.
Gavinaugh held up his hand. “I am alone, gentlemen. Please do not be alarmed.”
The tension in the room was thick. Both men were poised in a fight-ready stance. Gavinaugh wondered if they would run him through and flee, but they did not attack.
The shorter man slowly moved to the front door.
“Check the street,” the taller man said.
The other man opened the door a crack. “Two Noble Knights!” he said in a hushed tone.
“They are not with me. I didn’t come to fight you. Please believe me,” Gavinaugh said.
The two men gripped their swords tighter and took a step toward Gavinaugh.
“You are Sir Gavin, the Tyrant of Chessington. Why should we believe you?” the taller man said as he pointed his sword at him. Just then the door behind Gavinaugh began to open, and dread filled his heart.
Tarill must have betrayed me!
He turned toward the door and drew his sword. Only then did he realize his error. He was in the presence of men who regarded him as an enemy. With his sword in his hand, their perception was undeniable.
“It’s a trick!” the shorter man exclaimed.
As they rushed upon Gavinaugh, he turned to face them and lowered his sword. The two men brought their swords back to strike. For a moment Gavinaugh wondered if his mission would be over before it began, but they did not finish their attack. It seemed to Gavinaugh as though they could not attack one who would not defend himself.
“We are among friends, gentlemen. Please lower your swords,” a familiar voice said from behind Gavinaugh.
A Knight of the Prince entered and stood among the odd trio. The tension in the room abated somewhat.
“Weston, this is Gavin, the Noble Knight. He is here to either kill or capture us!”
“No, Sir William. I can assure you that he is not here for that,” Weston replied.
The two men were clearly struggling with seeing Gavinaugh as anything but a ruthless persecutor of the Followers of the Prince. They did not lower their swords.
Weston walked between his friends and Gavinaugh. He turned his back to Gavinaugh and opened his arms to the two knights. Now their swords were pointed at Weston’s chest.
“He is a fellow Knight of the Prince. I give you my life as my word.”
They lowered their swords but did not appear convinced. Gavinaugh sheathed his sword.
“Barrett, check the door again,” William said.
“All clear,” Barrett replied.
Weston turned to face Gavinaugh, and the two embraced. “It is good to see you again, my friend.”
“And you,” he replied. “Your timing is impeccable.”
“Sir William, Sir Barrett, meet Sir Gavinaugh of Chessington,” Weston said.
With a sober heart, Gavinaugh spoke. “I have caused you and many others great suffering, and for that I am truly sorry. Were it not for the transforming power of the Prince, I would not be standing before you this evening. Please know that my heart beats with the sole purpose of proclaiming the Prince as the true Son of the King. I join my sword and my life to yours in this great mission.”
Gavinaugh extended his left hand. William hesitated and then took it.
“The ways of the Prince are for everyone, even for one such as you,” William said, and Gavinaugh remembered William speaking those words from long ago when he thought William to be a crazy man.
Barrett also accepted Gavinaugh’s hand.
“I am no longer Gavin of Chessington, but Gavinaugh of Arrethtrae, for the Prince has made all things new in me. I apologize for the abrupt meeting, good sirs. My association with the Knights of the Prince is rather limited at this time, and I had no other way to contact you.”
Barrett sheathed his sword. “Your disappearance was a great mystery to many in the city.We would love to hear your story.”
Gavinaugh smiled and knew in his heart that this was the first of many opportunities he would have to share his story.
“I have been with the Prince…” As Gavinaugh told all to William and Barrett, his zeal for the Prince spilled into every word that came from his lips, and soon the men had become his loyal brothers as well.
“We must take you to Cedric. He will want to know of the great work the Prince has done in you,” William said. “Weston, bring Gavinaugh to the haven tomorrow evening, and we will prepare Cedric and the others for his visit.”
William turned to Gavinaugh. “We hope your next encounter with the Knights of the Prince will not be quite as intense.”
Gavinaugh laughed. “Indeed!”