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."But I'll say this much, 'tis such a pity," she said."You're far too pretty to be saving yourself for a bit of dead wood." She winked at Alymere then.Flustered, he bowed clumsily in return, but she was already bustling off toward the kitchens."Watch yourself around that one, lad," Bors said after the maid left them."She's more dangerous than anything you'd meet on any battlefield, trust me, and with a damned sight less honour; a woman who knows just how to stop your heart dead with a single look, a single smile, a single word.So let this be lesson one, my young conundrum.A true knight must be pure of heart and mind, always, and it's damned hard to be pure of anything if your head is full of that woman.And that, young Alymere, is the wisdom of Bors de Ganis.Do with it what you will."Alymere really couldn't tell whether the big man was joking, or deadly serious.There was no reading his mannerisms, no deciphering his tone of voice, and Alymere wondered which of them was truly the enigma.The stairs climbed through the full height of the seventh tower, high above the rooftops of Camelot, to the aviary.Every fifteen feet or so, arrow slits offered glimpses of the town below, the rooftops getting further and further away until it felt as though they had climbed all the way to the clouds themselves.They passed seven heavy oak doors, each leading on to some other landing, some other passage or chamber, before stopping at the eighth and final door at the top of the stairwell.Bors knocked once, rapping his ham-hock of a fist on the oak.A moment later the door opened, and through it Alymere saw the rich red of the sky, so close he felt as though he were truly part of it as he followed Bors out onto the rooftop."Breathtaking, isn't it?" Bors said.Alymere had never seen the land from such a height."This is what it must feel like to be God Himself," he barely whispered, "looking down upon all of creation."Bors nodded approvingly."Look at this and tell me how a man could ever give his heart to another."Alymere moved toward the parapet, more and more of the world opening up before him.The first thing he saw was simply the colours.There were so many shades, even in a single field.Every leaf bled into every other leaf, becoming part of the mosaic of creation, and yet somehow remained utterly unique."Albion.Have you ever seen anything quite so beautiful?" Another voice asked.Alymere turned to see a man emerge from one of the coops, a hooded falcon tethered to the leather wrist brace on his left arm.He was taller than Bors by three fingers, blonde where the knight was raven-black, beardless with a pitchfork moustache that grew past his chin, with the most beautiful, piercingly blue eyes.Where Bors was barrel-chested, this man was wiry and compact.He was older than Bors, and not by a little; the years he'd lived lined his face.And even over those few paces he moved with the confidence of true power.This was Arthur Pendragon, he realised.This was the king.His king."No, sire," Alymere said, realising some sort of answer was expected of him.But, as Arthur stood before him, it was the king who found himself lost for words.He looked as though he had come face-to-face with a ghost.All colour drained from his face, leaving his complexion waxen where moments before the sting of the wind had made it ruddy."Can it be? Truly? After all this time?" The king asked, caught between reaching out to touch Alymere's face - as though to confirm he actually stood there - and flinching away from the apparition stood before him.He shook his head as though he couldn't quite bring himself to believe the truth of his own eyes."I believe so, my liege," Bors said.For the first time there was nothing jocular about his tone.Alymere didn't understand what it meant."Roth's blood runs strong in him."Why were they talking about his father?"It's uncanny is what it is," Arthur said, not taking his eyes off Alymere for a moment."It's like he's found his way back through the veil to come before us again in the flesh.I understand why you called the boy a puzzle.""Indeed, sire."Arthur snapped out of his reverie."Well, Alymere, son of the forgotten knight, whatever are we to do with you?" There was unexpected gravity to the question.Arthur, unlike Bors, was not merely filling the air with words.Alymere had practised this moment many a time on the road.He knew exactly what he intended to say, and how he hoped to say it: like a true knight, with humility and honour, underpinned by courage.He assayed a deep bow and spoke to the stone floor."I have come to serve in any way that I might, sire.""Have you now?"Straightening, Alymere nodded earnestly."How do you suppose I might put you to work?" Again, it was a serious question [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]