Rock Hard pt. 2

Sir Gwyn has served as a loyal knight all his life. He swore that he would fight for his country until his last breath, in the name of his beloved, King Rafe, the Golden Wolf of Altenritter. Now, however, his Rafe is dead, and upon the throne sits Rafe’s arrogant son who wages ware on neighboring Collrine as soon as he has the chance.

A catastrophic defeat at the gates of the capital sends Sir Gwyn, exhausted, hungry, and badly wounded, to the edges of the Fellmire wood where a kind stranger happens upon him and helps nurse him back to health. Being the honorable man that he is, he insists that he owes a life debt and that he must pay more than a pittance for it.

Little does Sir Gwyn know that this debt will change his life forever.

Gwyn looked down at his leather gloves and smiled. They were beaten up and old, nowhere near the quality of what the other squires used, but he was sure there were no other gloves in the kingdom as well-loved as these. He treasured them, one of a handful of gifts that Rafe had given him after he passed the recruitment test on his own merits.

It took two years of monthly attempts before Gwyn was accepted as a trainee knight. Most of the instructors, who were of noble blood, tired of his persistence rather quickly. In the end, only one seemed to want to put up with him, Sir Iwein, who came from a commoner background.

Despite having a grudging respect for Gwyn’s perseverance, Sir Iwein gave Gwyn no quarter. Sir Iwein was a strict and vicious teacher, and his test reflected that. Every time Gwyn made an attempt, he was pushed to his limits, and he did not succeed until he surpassed them.

It had been six long years since then, and the training had not gotten any easier. Because he was of common birth, and because he was admitted into the order on his own merits, Sir Iwein impressed upon him that he would continuously need to prove his worth to the nobles who would like nothing more than to get rid of him. The gloves were a reminder that not all nobles viewed him as an affront to the social order.

"Copper for your thoughts?" Gwyn looked up with a start. Prince Rafe was in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe with his shoulder. Rafe had grown into a dashing young man, with a handsome jaw, hair of bright gold, and sharp blue eyes that were altogether enchanting. Gwyn’s heart skipped a beat whenever he saw the prince, and despite his best efforts, his cheeks still flushed whenever their eyes met.

"Your highness," said Gwyn, bowing his head as Rafe walked into the room. "I apologize. I did not see you come in. Is there anything that I can help you with?"

Sir Iwein had seen the way that Gwyn looked at Rafe. "The church will tell you that you’re wrong for being the way you are," Sir Iwein had told Gwyn, after training, a few years ago, "But don’t listen to those old bastards. The heart wants what it wants, and I struggle to see how anything could be evil about sincere love."

Gwyn had tried to deny it, but he’d known that Sir Iwein would see through the transparent lie, anyway. Much to his surprise, Sir Iwein hadn’t reprimanded him for it. "Only pain lies that way, boy," said Sir Iwein. "I’ve seen the way he looks at you, as well, but it could never be. Nobles have a different destiny than us common folk, and love has little place in it, however much some of them might want it to."

"You don’t have to be so rigid around me, Gwyn," said Rafe. He closed the door to the armory behind him. "When we’re in private, I’m just Rafe. Your childhood friend. Your best friend? Honestly, I have to say, I’m a little bit disappointed I even have to say this to you. You’re supposed to be the person I can be myself around!"

If only things were that easy. Rafe just happened to be the one person Gwyn couldn’t afford to be himself around. For both their sakes. "Apologies, your highness," said Gwyn, putting the lessons in proper speech Sir Iwein had drilled into him to good use, "But I believe it would not be appropriate for me to address you as such. What if someone were to happen upon us? It may not reflect well on yourself to be associating so favorably with someone of my station."

Rafe sighed. He placed a hand on the door. He reached up for the deadbolt and, locking eyes with Gwyn, he slid it into its barrel. "There," said Rafe. "No one will ‘happen upon us,’ now. Would you mind giving me my friend back?"

"My prince, I am afraid I must insist. It is not wise to—" said Gwyn.

Rafe cut in before Gwyn could finish. "Please," he said, his expression leaving no space for contradiction.

Gwyn groaned, stripping the gloves off and setting them on the bench beside him. He scratched the back of his head and rubbed his face. "This is frustrating, you know, Rafe? I’m just trying to look out for you… It’s the least I can do."

Rafe came to a stop in front of Gwyn. The afternoon sun streaming in through the open window of the armory cast the young prince in a halo of golden light. Rafe seemed almost a god, descended to visit with Gwyn. "Why would you think I need looking out for?" said Rafe.

Gwyn glanced up at Rafe’s face and then averted his gaze a heartbeat later. Even so, the image of Rafe was burned into his mind after that moment. He gulped, and hoped that Rafe hadn’t heard it. He’d seen past the loose collar of Rafe’s tunic and glimpsed Rafe’s smooth, muscled chest underneath.

The sight had made Gwyn’s heart quicken. He could feel the blood rushing through his veins, his pulse thundering in his ear. A gentle touch on the side of his face forced him to turn his gaze back to his prince. The inevitable transpired. His cock twitched in his breeches.

"I’m not the crown prince. The only people who care what I do and who I associate with are fat, old, backward bastards that will be dead soon enough," said Rafe. He grinned, looking ever so dashing with the dimple in his cheek.

"But what if, Rafe? What if? People die for no reason every day, and while I hope your father and brother live long lives, it’s far from guaranteed…" Gwyn sighed and looked down at his hands. "I don’t want to be the one to ruin things for you."

Rafe sighed and shook his head. He pulled away from Gwyn and stood up. His figure was striking, even though his garb was simple. His tunic and coat settled perfectly around his shoulders, and his breeches hugged his legs in a way that showed off the powerful muscles underneath. The soft leather boots and the sword that hung at his side only served to tie the whole look together.

"You were always a bit too loyal for your own good, Gwyn," said Rafe, scratching the back of his head. "But trust me. If I become king, what can they do? I’ll be the damn king, and I’ll have every right to associate with whoever I damn well please."

Gwyn sighed. He didn’t know why he even bothered. There was no arguing with Rafe when he got his mind set on something. He’d known the prince for long enough. But he supposed there was a part of him that hoped he would at least be able to talk some sense into him.

"I can’t help it," said Gwyn. "You’ve given me so much. You’ve given me everything and I just feel like I haven’t given you back enough…"

"I did what I did because it was right. And because I wanted to," said Rafe, pursing his lips. Gwyn sighed. He’d heard that line before. Many times. It wasn’t a particularly effective argument against his feelings of obligation.

Rafe was quiet for a short while after that. He just stood there, looking at Gwyn. His eyes seemed to be searching for something, but his expression was inscrutable.

Gwyn tried his best not to look at Rafe. A strange warmth was pooling in his stomach as he felt Rafe’s gaze raking over his body. He kept his eyes fixed firmly on the floor, pushing aside the indecent thoughts that kept trying to assert themselves in his mind.

"I…" Rafe started. He trailed off, soon after. Gwyn had never heard the prince sound so uncertain, before. "There was something I wanted to tell you. I-It’s been weighing on me a while. For a while, believe me. But I wasn’t sure if I should tell you, and…"

A cold bead of sweat ran down the side of Gwyn’s face. He shivered, involuntarily, and pulled into himself, keeping his gaze on the masonry under his feet. "Gwyn…" said Rafe, voice soft and gentle in a way that almost seemed to hurt more than what Gwyn was sure was coming. "Look at me, please…"

Gwyn squeezed his eyes shut. He didn’t want to. He didn’t want to be looking Rafe in the eyes when Rafe told him that he couldn’t stay anymore. But he could never refuse his prince. He looked up.

Rafe’s expression was serious. His eyes were pleading. There was a conflict raging inside of Rafe, and it was clear on his face. He took a deep breath. He steeled himself. Then, he said, "Ah, fuck it." He grabbed the back of Gwyn’s head and pressed their lips together.

The small sound of surprise that bubbled up out of the back of Gwyn’s throat died as the kiss deepened. He would have pulled away, but he lacked the willpower. It felt better than he could have ever imagined, and no part of him could get enough of Rafe’s lips locked with his.

Rafe pulled away briefly. "I’ve always," he said, capturing Gwyn’s lips in his for a moment before continuing, "wanted to do this." Gwyn groaned. He had, too, but he’d at least had the judgment not to act on it. Not that he was complaining now that Rafe had.

"Gods above I want you so badly, Gwyn," said Rafe, punctuating every two breathless words with another kiss.

For a moment, Gwyn could forget his duty and the debt that he owed Rafe because it felt so right to kiss him. When Rafe’s hand drifted down and touched his erection, though, the electric sensation jolted him out of his reverie.

Gwyn pushed Rafe away and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He glanced at Rafe and regretted it immediately. The hurt in Rafe’s eyes made his heart ache. "Gwyn?" said Rafe, softly. "Did I do something wrong?"

"This… It’s not right, Rafe," said Gwyn, through gritted teeth. He fought back tears and looked to the side so as not to show it. Rafe’s silence hurt more than he expected, but before long he heard the sound of Rafe’s breath picking up. The anger was more welcome than the silence.

"What the fuck do you mean it’s not right?!" Rafe raged. Gwyn winced. The prince was being loud. They might not have run the risk of being discovered earlier, but it was certainly a possibility now. "You don’t want a man touching you. Is that it?" Rafe seethed.

"No," said Gwyn, aghast. "Never! Not if it’s you!" Gwyn hadn’t realized how much he’d hurt Rafe. He knew what the church said about the desires that he felt, and how those words always left a cold knot of dread and guilt in his stomach. Rafe, of all people, probably heard endlessly about the evils of loving another man.

"Then how could it not be right?!" said Rafe. "You felt it, didn’t you? Like it was what you were meant to do? Like you’d suddenly found what you’d been looking for all your life?"

Gwyn blinked the tears out of his eyes because every accusation that Rafe had slung at him was true. "I’m…" he started, breath hitching in his throat before he could continue. He swallowed, audibly. "I’m not… I’m not good for you. You’re a prince. I’m not—I’m not worthy of you," he said.

"Fucking idiot," said Rafe. Gwyn looked at him. The prince was crying, too, and not in the composed way that nobles liked to cry, either. "I don’t care. You are worthy of me because I chose you. Don’t you get that?"

Gwyn looked down. "That’s not how they’d see it," he said.

"Who cares?" said Rafe. Gwyn did. Because he knew it would only reflect badly on Rafe. "We can run away. They don’t need me here. We can go somewhere there’s no court, no knights, no council… Where the only thing we have to worry about is what to do next, together."

It was tempting, Gwyn had to admit, but it wasn’t right. Rafe was needed here. "No, we can’t," said Gwyn. "This is where you belong. You have a duty. If something befalls your father and your brother you need to be here to take over. And I know you’ll be great at it."

Rafe laughed, incredulous. He took a step forward. He leaned over, and before Gwyn could stop him, he groped Gwyn through his breeches. "Are you telling me you don’t to be with me? Because this is telling me that you do," said Rafe.

Gwyn chewed on his lower lip. Rafe’s touch felt so good. He felt like he could explode, just with the warmth of Rafe’s hand. "I do, but—"

"Gods above, Gwyn. Could you not think of duty for one minute?" said Rafe, exasperated. He grabbed Gwyn’s wrist with his free hand and pulled it toward his crotch. "Feel this. Feel how much I want this. Feel what you do to me, Gwyn," said Rafe.

Gwyn snatched his hand back. He could still feel where Rafe had touched him. The skin was hot and tingling. He looked up into Rafe’s blue eyes, cheeks heating. "I-I can’t," he said. "I-It wouldn’t be right for a lowly knight to touch his prince."

Rafe growled. "Fine," he said, taking a deep breath. "Fine. If you want to be like that, Gwyn. Fine. If it’s not right for a lowly knight to touch his prince then the prince will have to take matters into his own hands and touch his knight. That’s fine with you, isn’t it?"

Gwyn’s breath caught in his throat. Rafe hadn’t removed the hand between his legs yet. "I-I couldn’t possibly refuse my prince," he whispered, closing his eyes and chewing on his bottom lip as Rafe squeezed.

Lust and duty warred within Gwyn as the twinkle in Rafe’s eye grew increasingly mischievous. "I’m not asking you what you could do," said Rafe. "It’s a yes/no question. If you think you’re not worthy of touching me, is it fine with you if I touch you, instead?"

Gwyn gulped. His training hadn’t prepared him for anything remotely like this. He knew Rafe would stop if he said no, but deep down he didn’t want to say no. "No," was the right thing to say, as a would-be knight, but was it the right thing to say considering what he knew Rafe felt for him, and what he felt for Rafe?

A chill ran down Gwyn’s spine. "Y-You should at least wear a g-glove, your highness," he stammered. He felt like his face was about to catch on fire. "S-So you don’t s-soil your royal hand t-touching a lowly knight l-like me."

"Is that so?" said Rafe. The look in his eyes was dangerous, and the curl of his mouth told Gwyn that he might soon regret not just saying ‘No,’ outright. "By the gods, Gwyn, you really are an obstinate man, aren’t you?"

Gwyn opened his mouth to say something but the look Rafe flashed at him was enough to force his silence. "You stay right where you are," said Rafe. "If you’re going to insist on this, I’m going to find some oil to make things easier."

Rafe left briefly to rummage around in the shelves at the back of the armory. He came back with a pot of oil, which he set down beside Gwyn. He straightened and stood in front of Gwyn, arms crossed over his chest, a bemused expression on his face. "If I told you to do something, Gwyn, would you do it?" he said.

The question was a trap. That much was clear. Gwyn wasn’t dumb. As a trainee knight of Altenritter, he could not even think of disobeying his prince. "Y-You know I would, your highness" said Gwyn. He just had to trust that Rafe wouldn’t order him to do anything too unseemly.

Rafe wasn’t pleased by the response. Gwyn had suspected he wouldn’t be. Rafe never liked it when Gwyn spoke to him like a knight would speak to his prince, but it was just easier in the current circumstance. The Rafe Gwyn had known since his childhood was pure and innocent and kind, if mischievous. The Rafe before him was… incongruous, to say the least.

Leaning in, so close that their noses were barely an inch apart, Rafe smiled and said, to Gwyn, "In that case, I’d like you to remove your breeches."

It was the reasonable next step, Gwyn supposed, but he froze when he heard the command all the same. He lowered his hands to the waist of his breeches and hesitated. He licked his lips. It felt wrong, somehow, to use the relationship between prince and knight for this, but it also felt strangely right.

Gwyn undid the knot in the front of his breeches and hooked his thumbs under the waistband. His cock strained against the linen, unrestricted by undergarments, tenting out the front. As soon as he pushed the breeches down past his thighs, his cock sprang free and thumped against the hem of his tunic.

"I must say," said Rafe. The slow, lazy curl of the corner of his lips as he smirked sent a chill down Gwyn’s spine and made Gwyn’s cock jump. "It’s more impressive than I imagined. And such a good little soldier, too. Standing at attention for his prince…"

Rafe stripped his coat off. He did so slowly, slipping it first off one shoulder and down that arm before pulling it off the other. He didn’t break eye contact with Gwyn the whole time, not even as he folded the coat to set carefully on the bench beside Gwyn.

When Rafe straightened, he had Gwyn’s gloves in his hands. "W-What are you doing, your highness?" said Gwyn, eyes wide as Rafe pulled them on. "A-Are you going to use t-those gloves?" he stammered.

"Of course," said Rafe. Gwyn’s heartbeat quickened. The dangerous gleam in Rafe’s eyes was still there, and he doubted that it would ever leave. He’d faced down men two or three times stronger than him without fear, and yet he quivered in the face of his best and only friend. "You don’t have any objections to your prince using your gloves, do you?" said Rafe.

"W-Wouldn’t a higher quality glove be more a-appropriate, your highness?" Gwyn murmured. Rafe glared at him. Wrong answer, apparently. "I-I didn’t mean t-to o-offend," he stammered, heart hammering in his chest. It just felt wrong and dirty to use gloves that meant so much to him for something so carnal.

"These are the gloves that are most convenient for me," said Rafe, as he finished pulling them on. "It doesn’t matter that they’re old, or worn. What we’re doing is rather vulgar, after all… Don’t you think it would be more inappropriate to dirty a brand new pair?"

Gwyn bit his lower lip and averted his gaze. His cheeks were hot, and the tips of his ears almost felt like they were on fire. There was no arguing with Rafe, and it wasn’t like a small part of him found it strangely titillating to be using those gloves for this.

A gasp escaped Gwyn as Rafe leaned in and grabbed his cock. The leather felt pretty good on his flesh. The texture was pretty strange, but it wasn’t unpleasant. He’d taken good care of the leather so it was supple and smooth, but the wrinkles and cracks added a bit of coarseness.

The cold oil that Rafe dribbled onto his cock made Gwyn flinch. He could feel it rolling down his cock, dripping around Rafe’s fingers. "Fuck," he breathed, biting back a moan as Rafe squeezed him and gave his cock a few strokes.

Gwyn shivered. He could feel Rafe’s hot breath on the side of his neck. Rafe was close. Too close. "But do you want to know the real reason I want to use these gloves, Gwyn?" said Rafe. The tone of his voice sent a chill down Gwyn’s spine. "It’s because I want you to remember the touch of my hand every time you wear them."

A moan, long, low, and entirely involuntary, slipped past Gwyn’s mouth. "I’m glad you like the idea," said Rafe, with a deep and almost-sinister chuckle.

Gwyn whined. Rafe’s hand around his cock felt better than it had any right to feel, especially as the oil warmed up. He’d never been the most eloquent man, but as Rafe’s cock moved up and down his straining erection, he found himself entirely dispossessed of the faculty of speech.

Raising a hand to his face, Gwyn bit down on the knuckle of his forefinger to muffle the moans that spilled out of him. He could feel Rafe leaning over him, breathing heavily while jerking his cock. Unable to resist the temptation he snuck a sidelong glance, saw Rafe’s face, and couldn’t help but think he’d seen the face of an angel.

Rafe’s eyes were lidded, his cheeks were flushed, and his mouth was parted ever so slightly as he rubbed the bulge in the front of his breeches. He looked so beautiful, so comely, that it took all of Gwyn’s willpower not to reach out and touch him.

Gwyn leaned his head back, biting down hard on the knuckle of one hand while gripping the edge of the bench tightly with the other. Rafe picked up his pace, the leather of the glove gliding smoothly up and down Gwyn’s shaft save for the cracks and ridges that caught and sent electric shocks of pleasure through his groin.

Heat rushed through Gwyn’s veins as he fought to banish the profane thoughts of seeing his prince spread out naked underneath him. It wasn’t to be, however much he wished that it could be. This was as far as it would go, he was certain of it. As sad as the thought was, it still somehow made him feel warm.

Pleasure throbbed through Gwyn’s swollen cock as the cum in his balls churned. Rafe’s hand twisted with each upward and downward stroke, threatening to extract a loud cry of rapture from Gwyn’s throat.

Gwyn could feel his release rapidly approaching. He couldn’t help but roll his hips, bucking his cock into the tight circle of Rafe’s fingers as he got closer and closer to the edge. "I-I’m coming, your highness," he moaned through gritted teeth as tension wound in that place just above his cock.

"Look at me, Gwyn. I want you to look me in the eye," said Rafe, voice strained with what Gwyn hoped was pleasure. Gwyn was powerless to resist the command. He looked forward, locking gazes with Rafe. Softly, almost too softly for Gwyn to hear, Rafe murmured, "I love you, Gwyn."

Gwyn cried out as the words sent him over the edge. His back arched off the bench. His toes curled in his boots. His fingers dug into the coarse wood and cock pulsed and throbbed and spewed thick ropes of hot cum all over himself and Rafe’s gloved hand.

Sir Gwyn jolted awake. A cold sweat had broken out on his brow, but his body felt strangely light. He tried to sit up, but pain flared on his shoulder, forcing him back down. His mind was spinning. He’d never had such a vivid dream, especially not of an event that had happened in his past.

Groaning quietly, Sir Gwyn tossed the covers aside. The area that had been over his cock was soaked, and his thighs were sticky with jism. He looked down at his body, sculpted, honed, and pockmarked with scars by decades of harsh combat and training.

Despite his age, Sir Gwyn remained a virile man. His cock stood at attention between his legs, bigger now than it had been in his dream. A single pearlescent bead of cum clung to the tip, dripping down along the length of his shaft when his cock twitched and set it loose.

Sir Gwyn watched his own manhood for a short while. He lay there as it slowly softened, the insistent throbbing need between his legs fading away to something easier to ignore. The fact that he was naked when he should have been in armor didn’t register until some time later when he realized that he was in a bed and not crumpled against the ground.

The alarm Sir Gwyn felt was muted somewhat by the feeling that things couldn’t get much worse for him than they already were. Honor demanded his return to Altenritter to answer for his desertion, but wisdom told him that he was unlikely to find honor in whoever had managed to seize the reins of power from their now-deceased king.

It was inconsequential, in the end. Speculation did Sir Gwyn little good in this new and alien situation he’d found himself in. Decades of training and experience kicked in as he idly rubbed his abs and looked around. The first step in evaluating his circumstances was taking stock of his surroundings. He seemed to be in a domicile of earthen make, and the absence of windows suggested that it was subterranean, or perhaps buried in the side of a hill.

The air was slightly cooler than Sir Gwyn’s preference, but that was to be expected if the abode was indeed underground, as he suspected. He kept an ear out to see if there was anyone else there with him, and from what little he could hear through the rough wooden door, there was probably only one other person currently present.

Sir Gwyn cast his thoughts back to the last thing he remembered. He’d seen an apparition of Rafe in the Fellmire, only to realize that it was someone else who looked similar but was decidedly not the same.

Rubbing his chin, Sir Gwyn estimated that, unless his captor had gone through the trouble of shaving him, it had been less than a day since he was last conscious. In all likelihood he was still inside the Fellmire, or at least nearby.

Sir Gwyn ran his hands over the sheets. They were coarse but comfortable, which spoke to the quality of the linen. The mattress itself was soft but firm enough that he didn’t just sink into it. It wasn’t the kind of bed that he expected to find in such a hovel. In many ways, it was even better than the beds in the knights’ barracks.

A shadow crossing the light streaming through the gap in the door didn’t escape Sir Gwyn’s attention. The hinges creaked and the door opened before Sir Gwyn could pull the covers back over his naked form.

The man from earlier, the one who looked like Rafe, swept into the room. He didn’t have on the ragged cloak that he was wearing when Sir Gwyn first saw him. Instead, he wore a loose tunic draped over his shoulders, belying the corded arms that Sir Gwyn could see peeking out from under the sleeves. His breeches were likewise comfortably baggy, but Sir Gwyn was keen enough to know that they hid shapely thighs.

Despite himself, Sir Gwyn felt a stirring in his loins. His libido had always been a bit of a wild beast, and he supposed Rafe had as much to do with that as the rest of his life. It was a rare occasion when the sight of a comely man, especially one who looked so similar to Rafe, did not cause some sort of reaction in him.

The stranger carried with him a tray of things, which he nearly dropped when he realized that Sir Gwyn was awake and looking at him. The way his cheeks took on a faint pink tinge was altogether adorable. He hurriedly set the tray down on a nearby stool and rushed to Sir Gwyn’s bedside. "Are you well?" he said.

"Better than I ought to be, I imagine," said Sir Gwyn, with a grunt, as he tried to sit up once again. It didn’t escape his attention that the stranger’s eyes were raking over his body as if drinking in every hard inch of his sculpted form. His cock responded in kind, swelling next to his thigh at the attention.

"I doubt that such is the case, but I feel I should ask all the same," said Sir Gwyn, managing a small smile at the stranger. "This wouldn’t happen to be the afterlife, would it? Am I dead?"

The stranger laughed. It was a quiet, sibilant sound. "It isn’t, and you aren’t," he said. He reached over Sir Gwyn’s body. He hesitated for a moment, seeming to be reluctant to cover him up, and pulled the cover over Sir Gwyn’s nakedness. "Are you comfortable?"

Sir Gwyn nodded. He was more comfortable than he had been in a while, all things considered. It still hurt to put too much pressure on his shoulder but he was otherwise glad to be in a bed and not dying at the foot of a tree.

The blood in Sir Gwyn’s veins ran cold as it occurred to him that he didn’t see his armor anywhere. He reached out and grabbed the stranger’s wrist, gripping tightly. "Where is my armor?" he demanded, all pretense of civility suddenly absent from his voice.

The stranger gently placed a hand over Sir Gwyn’s fingers. He made no effort to peel them away, merely squeezing them lightly. "Apologies," said the stranger, "If I had known they meant so much I would not have kept the armor away from your sight. It is currently in a locked chest at the foot of my bed. One can never be too careful when it comes to burglars."

Relief washed the ice out of Sir Gwyn’s veins. He took a breath and let go of the stranger’s wrist. He closed his eyes, sighing, hoping he’d not humiliated himself too much in front of his host. "I’m afraid I’ve been rude," said Sir Gwyn, apologetically, "I am Sir Gwyn, and I think I may owe you a life debt."

The stranger stilled for a moment. He looked at Sir Gwyn, a curious expression in his eyes. "You should consider the weight of what you say, Sir Gwyn," he said. "Such words are heavier than you might imagine. Are you sure you don’t wish to reconsider?"

Sir Gwyn frowned. "There is nothing to reconsider. You saved my life. I owe a life debt. Is that not how it works?" he said.

The stranger smiled. "It is, but rare is the man who acknowledges the debt," he said, trailing off for a moment. "I’m afraid I’ve been remiss as well. I am Nathair, and I bid you welcome to my humble abode, Sir Gwyn of Altenritter."

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