Katie surveyed the jousting arena and the ground that had been shredded by the hooves of other knights' steeds. It may look soft to the spectators, but she knew that, with a strong enough fall, her liege could break something. Or snap his stubborn neck. She looked up at her liege. Sweat was covering his face, showing his fatigue. But he wouldn't stop. He never did.
"You're a damn fool, Edward," she said to her prince. The other servants shot her warning glances, but she ignored them. She would talk however she damn well pleased. Edward was being an idiot, participating in this tournament when he was next in line for the throne.
He looked down at her and gave a small smile. "I know you worry for me, Katie. But here, I am not the prince I am everywhere else. I will joust as Colville."
Katie sighed. She looked at the opponent. Edward had at least 10 years on him. The lad was still green. But he had enough youth and strength and freshness to knock her liege from his horse. But Edward would do as he willed.
The man on the other side of the arena picked up his lance. One of his servants raced toward the shields. Would he back out as Adheme did? The man took the white flag and placed it over the opponent's shield.
Katie should feel grateful, but, instead, she felt anger rise inside her. Why the hell would anyone withdraw? As far as they knew, Edward was Sir Colville. She saw the opponent move forward on his horse. He wanted to joust. So let him.
Realizing she was contradicting herself, Katie sighed and rubbed her forehead. She looked up at Edward. His face had fallen at the sight of the white flag. She hated seeing her friend in such a state. She sighed in surrender. "Alright," she said.
He looked down at her. He smiled and said, "You're a good friend."
"Though your wife is never going to forgive me," she said and stepped back.
The prince lurched forward and charged down the track. She watched and held her breath as they two jousters drew closer and their lances clashed against each other. She winced and hurried forward as his horse came back to her.
Katie reached up and saw pain on Edward's face. The armor was bent and probably pushing against his ribcage. He wasn't able to breath. She looked up at him. "You need help," she said.
Edward met her gaze. And nodded. "You're right, Katie. But I will withdraw with honor." He turned the horse around and walked back down the track. He stopped next to his opponent and they talked momentarily. After a moment, her liege came back.
"What's going on?" she asked.
A servant brought a lance and Katie stared as he picked it up. He turned his steed around and said, "Trust me." He trotted his horse. The other man did, as well. As they neared the center, both lifted their lances. Katie sighed in relief. A draw.
Then, Edward took his helmet off. Katie groaned as the crowd gasped. Great, now everyone knew. Oh, well. At least he still had his honor, right?
Edward came back and she quickly helped him down. He grunted in pain as his servants carried him to the surgeon. Katie looked at the young man who had saved her liege's honor and smiled. 'Thank you,' she mouthed. He nodded and she hurried after her charge.