“Won’t you be missed?” Bryan asked. “You won’t be back before dark.”
Gavin shook his head. “Not tomorrow. The king still has a castle to run, my brothers will be out with the knights, and my mother will be busy with the funeral for Aldred.”
The look of concern in his friends’ faces forced him to go on. “I’ll be all right,” he said,
trying to reassure them. “We swore the Knight’s Oath to save the Wild Man. We have no choice. I have no choice. This is my test to see if I can be a true prince of Pembroke.” He paused and then added softly, “I have to do this.”
“We know,” Philip said.
“Be careful. Don’t get caught tomorrow,” Bryan warned.
They shook hands, and Gavin watched his friends go their separate ways. Once alone, doubt edged into his thoughts. The memories of his nightmares made him tremble. He shook off the fear and then stood and stared at the castle, afraid he might not see it again.
“I wonder if this is how a knight feels on the eve of battle?” he said. “You can do this,
Gavin,” he continued. “You are a Pembroke Prince, and the Wild Man’s life hangs on your courage.”
Though he tried to keep track of the turns Gavin made, Philip became lost as they went
down a set of stairs to the right and then took another staircase up and turned left. They seemed to be walking in circles.
Gavin stopped in front of a tapestry whose bright colors had long ago faded. Still visible,
however, was the scene depicting a royal stag. Philip recognized the stag, its proud head held high, its regal stance, and its color...white.
Even he had heard of the white stag. The tales told of kings whose hunts for the animal had destroyed their kingdoms. It was said only the one true king of all Britain would succeed in capturing the white stag. And, if the king released the stag, his kingdom would stand forever, his descendants ruling until none were left. There was talk among the villagers that King Arthur had done just that, and he was the true king of all Britain.
Gavin’s hand on his arm pulled Philip back from his musings. Gavin raised a corner of the tapestry and disappeared behind it. Philip followed, trembling as he touched the cloth of legend.