When they got back to the road, Danielle noticed that there were three horses there with Laurent. She raised an inquisitive eyebrow, silently questioning Henry.
"Well, in all honestly, I had not planned to be taking them back to the palace quite yet..." He said a little glumly, "I had other adventures in mind for us, but, everyone knows what happens when one makes plans. Laurent," He addressed his friend and confidant, "We will be taking the lady back to the palace. She requires immediate medical attention."
Silently, Laurent looked toward Danielle as though to ascertain that his lord was not in anyway at fault for whatever required the young woman to need a doctor.
"No, you daft fool," Henry said exasperatedly, "It's not my damned fault." Danielle could not help but to giggle. She appreciated the fact that the prince and his servant were obviously friends enough that they could banter as they did.
Henry led Danielle over to a large palomino mare decked in the royal family's insignia. "Danielle, this is Llamrei my favourite mare" He said, fondly patting the large horses' muzzle, "I had originally hoped to have you ride Arion, my best jumper, but Llamrei's gait is much more gentle and we need to get back to the palace as quickly as we can."
Laurent and Henry helped Danielle up onto Llamrei's back and mounted the other two horses. In no time, they were speeding back to the palace.
The trio made quite a sight: Three of the prince's best known horses racing across the French country side, bedecked in the royal family's finest gear. In fact, most of the people who saw them could have sworn that they saw the prince himself astride one of the horses, and the other man who was riding along was definitely the prince's right hand man. But none of them could identify the beautiful woman who rode the prince's finest mare between the prince and his man. Her beauty was unparalleled and with her hair and fiery red gown flowing in the wind as they galloped past, she could have easily been mistaken for the goddess Athena incarnate.
As they approached the front of the palace, Henry slowed his pace and led the three horses and their riders to the side of the road.
"We need to cover Danielle's face. She must not be recognized by anybody. Laurent, do you still have the veil?"
"Of course, my leige," The second young man reached into his saddle packs and withdrew a long and nearly completely opaque grey veil and handed it to Danielle.
"Should I even bother to ask why Laurent has a ladies veil in his pack?" She questioned as she donned the obviously well used head dress.
"Well," Henry coughed, "You see..." Danielle noted the smug look on Laurent's face as the heir to the French throne struggled with piecing together an explanation, "It's for emergencies."
"Emergencies?" Danielle pressed further, this time addressing her question to Laurent.
"Ah, yes," Laurent helpfully added, "You see, my lady, when the prince wishes to travel incognito, it is much easier for it to appear that I am simply borrowing my master's fine horses for an outing with my elusive lady love. Nobody questions us where as, if it were His Royal Highness meandering about, word would quickly return to their majesties, and they would undoubtedly lock him in a tower guarded by a fire breathing dragon for the rest of his years."
"Thanks a lot, Laurent," The prince glared at his friend as he ensured that the beautiful woman on the third horse was crying because she was laughing so hard and not because her injuries were causing her excessive amounts of pain.
"The pleasure is all mine, Prince," Laurent made a mocking bow as Danielle burst into a whole new round of laughter. "But, my liege, now that we have taken care of… disguises, as it were… we really should get the lady into the palace and to the doctor."
With a nod from Henry, the three of them were off once again, this time galloping though the gates of the palace; the very same gates through which Danielle had sneaked through not a week before to rescue her friend. Only this time the sea of courtiers parted to let them through, making quite a dramatic sight.
Henry and Laurent leaped off their horses, and quickly led Danielle's horse right into the main courtyard. The palace grooms ran up to take the three horses as the two men gingerly helped Danielle off her horse and then guided her right up to the royal family's private wing, ignoring the chattering and curious courtiers.
As they entered the wing, Henry rushed ahead and ran over to the door of his father's office where both of his parents were without a doubt taking their afternoon tea with the usual side dish of bickering.
"Father! Mother! Come here!" He shouted in his most demanding voice as he beat on the door with his fist and then turned back towards Laurent and Danielle who were only just entering the room (the stairs had not been very easy for Danielle). "You!" he said, pointing to one of his father's attendants, "Fetch Doctor Galen, his expertise is needed immediately, and you," he pointed to another, "Fetch all of the things that Doctor Galen generally requires to stitch me back up and deliver them to my rooms as fast as possible."
He then made his way back to Danielle just as his father and mother rushed out of their study.
"Good land, mon fils, what the devil has gotten into you?" His father started, not realizing that Henry was not along. The queen grabbed her husband's arm and gestured to the woman who Henry and Laurent were leading towards Henry's own rooms.
"Henry," she asked, genuinely confused, "What is going on?"
"We need Doctor Galen to take care of Danielle. She has incurred some rather serious injuries," He said as he led Danielle through the doors to his room, his servants rushing to bring what he asked and his parents rushing after him.
"Danielle…?" The King asked trying in vain to identify the young woman.
"It's a very long story, and I wish to know that Danielle is alright before we share details," Henry led Danielle over to the chaise and helping her sit down.
It was just then that Doctor Galen himself rushed through the door, interrupting any opportunity that the king of queen may have had to interject at that point, "Henry, my boy, what have you managed to do now?" He said, already digging though his own bag to acquire the usual tools he needed to put the prince back together after his usual adventures.
"You'll be glad to know that I did nothing this time, Doctor," Henry chuckled as he gestured to Danielle, "My friend here, Danielle, is the one in need of your services, Doctor, and you are the only one I trust to put her right again. She was tortured and has incurred some rather bad lacerations across her back. I was able to clean them and wrap them to the best of my abilities, but they need your careful eye and gentle care, Doctor."
"Yes, Your Highness," the doctor turned to the others in the room, "If you would all please stepping outside for a moment, I am sure that the young lady would be much more comfortable with some privacy."
"Yes, that sounds good," Henry agreed with the doctor, "Mother? Father? If you will come with me? I can begin filling you in as Doctor Galen ensures that Danielle is properly repaired." And with that, he guided his completely bewildered parents and a very bemused Laurent out of his rooms into their livingroom.