You lost your mind in the sound

Rid of the monsters inside your head
"Yes," he replied eagerly, his voice just above a whisper, "yes, it's me."

I've missed you he wanted to say. He wanted to reach out to her, to offer comfort, reassurance, anything she needed. But the gulf between them held true.

"I don't really know," he replied instead, shrugging stiff shoulders. "I think...I think it must be the Omniety, but I don't know how I got involved. I was in the forest and some guards were chasing me. They set fire to the trees and...and then..." Tristan broke off, shaking his head. He managed a smile. "I met Merlin, Thea! The Merlin! It was...he was..."

He broke off as the floorboards above their heads began to creak and groan anew. More booted feet trampled over their heads, sending down a flesh flurry of dust-snow. Tristan dropped his voice again.

"I wish I could tell you everything."

But he couldn't. He was upsetting her. Tristan took a step closer and then hesitated, stopped, his brows knitting together in a concerned frown.

"He can't do anything to me like this," he told her, gesturing at his grandfather's body with his borrowed hands. His smile widened. "Not Mordred, not any creature he keeps in the walls. I can keep you safe, I can keep us safe, I..." Tristan stopped again and looked her up and down.

"Has he hurt you?" he demanded, voice laced with concern. "I swear to God, if he's hurt you..."

He couldn't see any obvious indications. There weren't any cuts or bruises. She held herself a little stiffly but out of fear, not pain. Tristan raised his eyebrows, trying, straining to understand.

"Why didn't you come?" he asked her, his voice catching, "you don't...you didn't...believe him, did you?"

He hadn't considered for one moment that she might. But why else had she stayed away so long? Why was she dressed in Mordred's livery, in the same blue that chased him through the forest. What had she done in the months he'd been away? There were too many questions, too much uncertainty. Forcing himself to look up, Tristan met her eye, waiting, wishing for an answer that would make sense.

"It was my father's birthday yesterday," he told her, tears building in his eyes. Driven on by nagging doubts he felt to try and convince her that his side of the story was true. "Someone's planted a tree at the edge of the forest. I go there sometimes, to think. That's where the guards found me. He'd sent them to wait, knowing what day it was, knowing I'd come. I think it was the first time I properly realised...he's never going to stop until he's killed me."

Tristan ran his fingers through his hair as he watched her face for any kind of tell.

"Is he?" he prompted. Tristan shook his head. "What if...what if we killed him first?"

Put all your faults to bed, you can be king again

Paul Johnston


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