Ch. 6.2 — Eli raced through the castle searching for his brothers. He found Matthew and Mark in the fencing room, practicing furiously with their vorpal swords. Eli told them the news.
Matthew and Mark wiped the sweat from their faces and shook their heads.
“We’re old enough to train in the barracks now anyway,” said Matthew. “We’ll have real swords there. Don’t worry, Eli, we’ll keep you and Ezra safe.”
“This is all that stupid dragon’s fault,” said Mark.
Matthew brandished his sword. “I swear that I will kill the dragon for doing this to our brother.”
Mark pointed his sword to the sky. “And I swear that I will help you!”
Eli grabbed a staff from the rack of weapons. “I’m going to help too.” He could barely lift the heavy wooden pole above his head.
Matthew grinned. “You? Ha.” He picked up Eli by one foot and dangled him in the air. The staff clattered on the smooth, wooden floor. “What can you do? You’re no bigger than a mouse.”
“Put me down.” Eli struggled in vain to get free, kicking and punching at his brother, but Matthew held him out at arm’s length and laughed. Mark laughed with him.
Finally, Matthew turned him over and set him on the floor. “Sorry, little mouse, but you’re too young. Now go play with Esther. We men will protect our family.”
“Yeah,” said Mark. They returned to their practice.
Eli blinked the tears from his eyes as he watched them.
Head down, he turned and trudged down the hallway. He almost ran into Cudgel, the Master of Arms.
“Here now, watch where you’re going, young Sire.”
“Where is my vorpal sword?”
Cudgel frowned at him. “You mean the one with the dragon’s blood on it? The one that has turned blue? It’s in the armory, under lock and key, and it’s going to stay there until the king sends orders for it to be destroyed.”
Eli folded his arms. “I order you to give it to me. Now.”
Cudgel raised an eyebrow. “No. That sword is poisonous now. And isn’t it past your bedtime? Go back to the nursery, boy.”
“I’m not a baby.”
Eli ran down the hallway and out into the courtyard. The sun had set, and it was beginning to get dark. His mother would be wondering where he was. Right now she was probably telling his guard to search in the yard for him.
Eli stared out at the dusky courtyard. Old Pat appeared from the yawning castle entrance with his lamp and pole, and began to light the lanterns along the walls. If Old Pat saw Eli, he would tell him to get home to his supper.
Eli’s stomach growled. The pie he’d taken from the kitchen hadn’t lasted him long. It would be so much easier to go back to the nursery, eat a delicious meal, and go to bed like a good little boy. He could forget about his vorpal sword and the dangers to the kingdom, and let his brothers and the grown-ups handle the whole thing. They would keep Ezra safe. Right?
Eli turned and slipped away into the shadows.