"Stand up, all of you", the prince advised with a kind smile that didn't make Katherine relax at all. How can he act so innocent directly after killing a person? He isn't even seventeen yet! "Better treat your wounds than keep on kneeling."
Some of the guards were still injured from the fight, but in the tense situation earlier, they ignored it. With the remembrance of the prince, they started cleaning and dressing the wounds.
Somewhere in between, Jack had appeared behind Katherine like a dark hawk, towering next to the even bigger Pete. There was blood on both of them from their earlier fight, but none of it was theirs.
When Katherine was still thinking about the consequences of the person that resembled the patient being a prince, exactly that person reached her already.
"I suspect this girl is your maid, milady? I'm afraid she won't wake up in the next few minutes."
Though the question was simple, Katherine first inspected the prince's expression, before answering. His face was all smiles, but in Katherine's eyes, he held her maid a bit closer than necessary. He waited for this long to save her and now he dared to have weird thoughts about her?! She pressed her lips together.
He might be young, but that didn't excuse the fact that he could have saved her maid some of her fears. If he was grown-up enough to kill with a smile, he should be old enough to know that her maid was nearly dying of fright. Never would she let her innocent Hazel next to him longer than absolutely necessary!
"Thank you for saving her, your highness.", she said nonetheless politely, and decisively gestured for Pete to take over Hazel. "I will take over from here. We can't waste your highness' precious time."
The prince's grip seemed to fasten a bit, before he laughed it off lightly. "Of course. Here."
After the prince gave Hazel to Katherine's guards, he went over to Sam's side.
"Where is he? Did he see my awesome entrance?", Katherine heard him ask. Her brows furrowed. Didn't he know about the earl being away? Or did he mean the patient? But the patient was unconsciousness! How this question seemed to be filled with unexpected innocent excitement made her feel that she may have overestimated him, but she wouldn't let her guard down this fast. After all, he already proved to be capable of killing without batting an eye. And he probably had the earl's blood running through his veins.
To Katherine's worry, Sam only swept a vary look around, before surprisingly guiding the newly arrived into the carriage of the patient. Nervousness ignited in her. What if the prince did something to her patient? He was asleep and defenseless to any kind of attack! Why must Sam guide the prince - obviously a highly dangerous mage to boot - to the patient, when he was this vulnerable?!
But on second thought, she found her own reasoning to be a bit ridiculous. The prince and his men just helped them out of a hopeless situation. Though he was late, he still helped. Furthermore, it was the trustworthy Sam that lead the prince into the carriage. Sam wouldn't do anything that would put the patient in danger after trying hard to keep him alive all this time.
Still, it did not feel right to let some stranger be beside her patient, even if it was a cousin. No, especially if it was the cousin. She knew that a scheming person could be even more dangerous to their family than any outsider. And she was responsible for the patient's health after all! He just moved again for the first time since forever. She didn't want to destroy this progress. Furthermore, her fate was still bound to his recovery.
Oh no, in all this mess she forgot to tell Sam about it! He didn't know yet that the patient was close to waking up. Was that enough reason to follow them inside? Maybe the patient was even fully awake now...
Sometimes she had imagined how it would be when the patient woke up. That he would open his eyes, see her, and look at her with unending thankfulness for saving his life. Sadly, that was only a wishful dream. How she knew him from that one encounter, he would roll his eyes at her for having such a thought. Still, she wanted to be by his side when he woke up. To see the result of her hard work with her own eyes. To make sure that he was alright. But Hazel was unconsciousness, too...
Katherine bit her lip, her gaze drifting between Hazel and the carriage of the patient. She might be responsible for the patient's health, but the same could be said about her maid.
"Milady", she heard Pete say, "Let's bring her to the carriage."
A decision formed in her. Hazel had Pete and Jack with her, so she should be save. Meanwhile, the patient might not be safe with this prince around. Resolutely, she said: "You go, I'll follow soon. Guard her well. I need to speak with Sam first."
Without waiting for a response, she went over and knocked on the carriage door. "Sam? Sam, there is something I need to tell you. It's about the patient!"
Pete and Jack looked at each other, then the latter shrugged and carried Hazel away. Pete remained. He had still another job to complete. After the attack he knew exactly who the spy was... and that Sam expected him to take care of that problem as soon as possible. With a dangerous glitter in his eyes, the veteran went over to a soldier that stood at the side, looking at the forest with a troubled face. If he was thinking about fleeing, it was already too late for that.
If he didn't have the confirmation, Pete would've never expected it to be him. This man was with them for years already. He had never showed a flaw. Now he'd fallen into a trap they'd only laid out for confirmation. They never thought there really was a spy. With how experienced the soldier was, him falling for this trap felt strange, somehow too simple. Pete's palm landed lightly on the soldier's shoulder. "Can I have a chat with you, Bernhardt?"
The soldier slowly raised his head and smiled up at him, his eyes empty. "Sure. Let's have a talk."
Sam opened the door a little and smiled at Katherine. "Apologies, milady, but there are some important things the prince needs to be informed about. If it's not too important, would you be willing to wait in your carriage? We will move out again soon."
"I know, but...." She wanted to tell him that it would only take a bit of his time, but stopped. That was not the right approach. If she said that now, Sam would come out and leave the prince alone in the carriage with the patient. Anxious, she tried to peek into the carriage, but Sam's body very effectively blocked the way.
Frustrated, she breathed out. "I just wanted to know if the patient is alright after the attack. It's my responsibility."
Sam's smile lessened a bit, as the exhaustion showed in his normally keen blue eyes. The longer the patient was unconsciousness, the older Sam looked, Katherine realized with sorrow. "Don't worry, milady. I'm sure, he'll wake up soon."
It was obvious that Sam was even more worried than her. Maybe it was for the best if she didn't tell him, Katherine mused. If she gave hope now and the patient still didn't wake up, Sam would be devastated. As for the prince, she had to trust Sam that he knew what not to do and who not to trust.
She forced herself to a bright smile. "Of course he will."