It was cold; a shudder ran through my body. I wanted to pull up the blankets, but my arms, my body, just wouldn’t respond. My jaw was clenching.

“The ague has spread throughout his body.” That was Gaspard’s voice. “The arm—”

Who were they talking about?

“I know.” Madeleine. “But there is so much risk. It may make no difference at this point; the benefit is balanced by . . .” I was having trouble following her French; the words were swimming together.

“No,” I said, “Please. Don’t cut off my arm.”

Gaspard appeared at the drape. Madeleine looked over his shoulder.

“Don’t cut it off,” I said. Or tried to. I reached out for Madeleine, but I got nothing but a twitch of my fingers.

Madeleine leaned over and looked into my face. “It is nothing,” she said quietly, glancing back at Gaspard. “The mutterings of the fever.”

Oh my God. They were going to do it. There was nobody to stop them; I was alone in this world. “No,” I said again. “Please!” But nothing came out.

Thanks to everybody who contributed to the search for a name for Martin’s horse. There was a whole slew of clever and appealing entries, but after a lot of hemming and hawing I’m going with Harley. Maybe not as geeky as I thought I wanted, but it’s a great reference to modern pop culture and it just seems to fit. It especially works in contrast to the good-natured but not too challenging Roos, Harley’s predecessor. Congrats to Ronin_Randy; you have yourself a spiffy new subscription to the totally awesome Dungeon a Day! I’ll pass your handle on to the good folk at DaD, but it couldn’t hurt to also drop me a line with your contact info. The email address is my first name at my domain name.

And the rest of you? You get a spiffy new 13-chapter omnibus edition of The Mason of New Orleans (a working title, for those new to this), with everything that’s been posted so far between one set of virtual covers! Including the back half of Chapter 13, which is new this week.

This chapter and the bit that precede it comprise a sort of low-water mark for Martin’s 12th-Century experience—at least so far. Hey, it can’t all be butterflies and candyfloss and lukewarm porridge! And Martin’s story arc requires that he hit some low spots before he can really start to be at home (insofar as that ever happens) in his situation. So if it seems like a bit of downer this week, don’t despair. It’s always darkest just before the dawn, or whatever.

Besides, it ain’t all bad: Things take a bit of a personal turn for Martin in this section. This is new territory for me, so I’m particularly interested in your feedback. Does it work? Is it not quite right? Or embarrassingly painful? I await your comments!

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