Blood Of The Lion

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Ripon

October, 1290, Ripon

King David II Dunkeld

The battle of Ripon had been a great victory for David and for Scotland. The English had looked as if they were going to win the battle and with it decide the course of history, but David had always had a plan for dealing with such a circumstance. Keeping himself and the better part of his army hidden, waiting for the right time, David had watched as his wife’s grandfather’s men were being overwhelmed and just as it looked as if they might break David had had his men sound the call to arms and had charged. It had been a risky thing and if it had gone wrong, he likely would be dead right now, or being carted off down to the Tower of London. As it were, it was as if God had been with them, his charge had been successful, and the English had been completely surprised and overwhelmed. Sure, they had taken many hits and blows, and David had lost many good men, but there was still the feeling of success. His uncle had disappeared during the frenzy, and the English had fled the field once it had become clear their king was nowhere in sight. Yes, this was a victory to be proud of, it truly was.

His uncle was still at large, and whilst that was beginning to get on his nerves, David had other concerns in mind. Mainly the city of York. That was why he had called the council meeting today, he wished to discuss that damned city and whether or not they could take. Taking a deep breath he begins to speak. “My lords, I would thank you all for coming. It has been an exciting past few months, from what we have seen the English are fighting amongst themselves and are on their knees begging for mercy. Of course, we cannot allow them to get off their knees, otherwise they shall fight back and cause us harm. There is one last bastion that my uncle can use to fight us off, and that lies to the south of us. York, remains a thorn in my side and I would know who is willing to fight to take it.”

There is a deep murmur at this amongst his lords, and Lord Robert De Brus speaks. “Sire, taking York will be no easy thing. Even if the English have lost many of their men, they will still have the walls of the city, to see to their defences. Such defences would takes weeks maybe even months to get the better of. That is time we do not have, for as you know, His Grace, King Edward is still at large, none know where he might be or when he might emerge from the darkness.”

David looks at the man and enquires. “Do you truly think that the English will be considering their defences at this point in time? From what our own sources report, they are fighting amongst themselves trying to decide whether to go to Gascony to fight the French, or whether or not they should work harder to repel us. Those Englishmen who have bent the knee to me are fighting alongside us. Pray tell me my lord, where will their reinforcements come from to aid my uncle should he choose to emerge?”

A murmur of agreement runs through the lords gathered then, but to his credit Bruce does not look shaken, instead he calmly says. “Sire, I do not doubt that the English are on their knees now. But they will not remain on their knees forever. They are a proud people like we are, they will chafe under this, and sooner or later someone will emerge to rally them to the cause of the crown of England. Unless you negotiate peacefully with York, something dangerous will happen.”

“Negotiate peacefully with an Englishman?” John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch and Earl of Bamburgh says incredulously. “Your Majesty, I do believe, Lord Robert might well be going off in his old age.”

“I assure my lord of Badenoch that I am not. I am merely suggesting what I believe to be the most reasonable course of action.” Bruce responds. “York is a strong fortress that has not yet fallen to a rampaging army. It would take too much of our resources to continue the fight, too much would be at risk.”

“What exactly would be at risk though my lord?” Comyn asks. “Please do tell me? After all we know that your own son thought there was much and more that was too dangerous with regards to his king’s campaign here in England, and look how that has gone.”

David wants to laugh at the absurdity of it all, instead he allows Bruce to speak. “Well my lord, what my son has done or not done, is not at the heart of the matter here. The issue is that York is a strong city, a walled city, one that has never truly fallen to the armed aggression of an army. Its people are proud and they will kill us on sight. Such a fight would well weaken our defences and leave us open to attack.”

“And pray tell what army would be coming to attack us? We know that the English are torn between fighting us, and fighting their rivals in France. If they cannot agree on that, how do we know they will even agree to send someone to fight us here? Bohun and De Warenne led their retreat that much we know, we also know De Warenne was close to dying from his own damned wounds. They are down a commander by this point. We must push on. Not doing so is ridiculous.” Comyn responds.

“I will not continue arguing with someone who does not see where the potential risks could be.” Bruce says sharply. He turns to look at David then. “Sire I beg of you, at least consider what I say. We cannot risk pushing our men too hard, and York will require such a surge. We do not have the strength to go on with that.”

David merely looks at the man a moment and then turns to someone he knows his lords have been surprised have been included in his councils as of late. “Sir Ranulf, what do you believe should occur?”

Sir Ranulf Blenkinsopp takes a moment to consider and then he says. “I believe Sire that you should consider moving onto York. The city is there for the taking, and to not go for this opportunity when it is there before you, would be a great shame and a folly into itself.”

“And what wisdom makes you say that?” David enquires.

Sir Ranulf is silent a moment and then responds. “The fact that, you have won a great victory here at Ripon and have defeated all attempts by King Edward’s generals to stir you from here. Your Majesty has shown that you will not be moved by force, and that instead, if they wish to drive you away they shall have to do so with more men than they can possibly think to raise. Not going for York, would be like admitting defeat, in my eyes Sire that is the worst thing you can do.”

David considers this a moment and then looks at Patrick Dunbar and says. “My lord, I would hear your view on this. Durham took time to surrender, and as such we all know what happened when it did finally open its gates. York from all accounts is bigger and more formidable than that place. Do you think the cost is worth the gain?”

The new Earl of Durham looks at him a moment, pondering something or the other no doubt, and when he speaks his voice is filled with certainty. “I am certain Sire, that marching for York would be far more rewarding than remaining here waiting for something else to happen. The English are broken, their king is missing, most likely dead, and a child is now looking on the throne. Their lords are arguing with one another. This is the right time to take the city. Their defences will be high, that is true, but they will be waiting for help. Help I am certain will never come.”

David considers this a moment, and then deciding that he cannot remain like this forever, he takes another deep breath and then says. “Very well, I have reached my decision. We shall march out for York within the end of the week. Sir William, you shall command the main body of the assault. Lord John you shall command the second wave. We shall have no prisoners taken, any who resist are to be killed.”

“Yes Your Majesty!” Goes the call around the room. “Long Live the King!” Goes another shout. David watches all of this and then raises his hand. “The hour grows late,” he says. “You may all go and rest now. Apart from you Lord John, I would speak with you.”

Lord Comyn remains seated, his body tense, David wants to laugh at that, but instead he merely remains silent as the other lords file out of the room, eventually when the last has gone and the door is closed, he speaks. “Tell me my lord, what you make of Bruce’s reluctance to go into battle.”

“I think Bruce is hiding something Sire, I believe he is reluctant to go into open combat with the English because he knows that whatever it is that he is hiding shall come to light and then he will not be able to get out of it. His son is just like him, and would have had to learn the art of lying from somewhere.” Comyn replies heatedly.

“And you are convinced of this are you my lord?” David asks.

“Most definitely Sire. I do believe Bruce’s reluctance stems more from fear of being discovered then any of the things he argued in council today. That family has something to hide, and I know it does.” Comyn responds.

“Watch how you tread John, my wife is from that family, and she is nothing but an honest woman.” David warns.

“I did not mean to imply that Her Majesty the Queen was dishonest Sire, I merely meant that her grandfather and father were two of the most dishonest men in the kingdom. Surely you know that? What with Carrick’s betrayal, and the actions of his father before all of this.” Comyn snarls.

David looks at the young man in wonder. “You refer to what happened during the early reign of my father?”

“Yes. Bruce showed just what a man he was during that time. None have forgotten it, and none will after this. When we are all dead, there will be those who speak of the man and his actions.” Comyn says.

David looks at the man, trying hard to not snap at him, instead he clears his throat and changing the subject says. “You did well during the fighting here John. Truly I have never seen a man fight so passionately or without fear. It was a sight to behold I know, and as such I would thank you for that. Had it not been for your excellent skill, we might never have caused my uncle’s disappearance.”

“It was nothing Sire, I was merely doing my duty to my king. The English needed to be stopped so I did what I could to stop them.” Comyn replies humbly.

David looks at the man and nods. “I am very much indebted to you for that. And as such I would see you rewarded well for what you did.” he holds a hand up as Comyn goes to protest. “No, this is something I have thought long and hard on, and I believe it is only fair. You have fought like a true lion, and as such deserve a reward that recognises that. Sir John Comyn, I would name you Guardian of Scotland. Should I come to die in the fighting before my son comes of age, you shall serve as the head of any regency.”

Comyn looks surprised at this. “Sire, I am honoured.”

“One more thing,” David says holding his hand up once more. “Alexander De Balliol is to be put to death for treason when we return north. He was found trying to flee from Buittle. When he is gone, I shall name you as Chamberlain of Scotland.”

Comyn bows his head. “You do me honour Your Majesty, truly you do.”


November, 1290 The Tower

Queen Eleanor Plantagenet

The war dragged on, there was fighting on two fronts now. King Philippe had chosen her husband’s disappearance as the perfect time to begin getting involved in finishing what his ancestors had started. Her nephew by marriage had certainly done very well for himself, most of northern England now rested under his control, and those who had been left behind in London were panicking, they were terrified that the boy meant to claim the throne of England for himself, he did have a claim and that was something that she knew had the court anxious. Of course Eleanor was of the opinion that the boy was not interested in claiming the throne of England, rather as he had shown by his conquests he wanted the lands his grandfather had given up to her own husband’s father. The war and the failure of the army, would have been weighing heavily on her husband’s mind, Eleanor knew that, knew that Edward was a proud man, a man who did not like losing. She constantly kept trying to remind herself of that and remind herself that he would never do anything that would purposely endanger himself if he could avoid it. And yet still there was no news of him, and she began to worry.

She knew that the lack of word on where he could be likely meant either he was being held prisoner or his body had not been found during the surge of the fighting. Eleanor did not want to face the possibility that her husband was dead, but she knew it was a possibility, and all the while she began preparing herself for the day when she might well be faced with such news. It was hard for her though, so very hard. Her son Edward was only a boy, he was just six summers old and as such she did not want to think about the sort of things that would be done should her husband truly be dead. She had heard from him about the games that had been played during her father in law’s regency and she dreaded the thought of that happening to her own Edward. No she could not allow such a thing to happen.

Taking a sip of water she looks at the men before and speaks. “Tell me my lords, what word do you have of my husband? Has anyone been able to find him?”

Sir Hugh De Cressingham, the man tasked with finding her husband speaks then. “Unfortunately the word is just the same as it has been for some time Your Majesty. It seems that the king was last seen fighting at Ripon before he was submerged in the crowd of Scots and English fighting. Since then no sign has been found of him.”

“You are certain of this?” Eleanor asks. “None of our sources within King David’s camp have reported seeing him?”

“No Your Majesty, they have not. And I do think that if they had, King David would have already let us know of such a thing, after all the man would not want to keep it quiet.” Sir Hugh responds.

Eleanor looks at the man and merely sighs. “That is true, very true. Still where could he have gone, Edward would not sit and wait for the fighting to pass by, he would actively be looking to regroup and bring more men to the cause.”

“Is it possible that he managed to get away and yet has been forced into hiding?” Sir Hugh asks.

Eleanor looks at the man and asks sceptically. “Where would he hide Sir Hugh? The Scots have been looking for him just as frantically as we have. There is no telling what might have happened, nor is there any reason for him to hide when he would know that Sir Humphrey is at York. Nothing would prevent him going there.”

“Unless, he did not have reason to trust Sir Humphrey Your Majesty.” William of March, the Lord High Treasurer says.

“What do you mean? Why would he not have reason to trust Sir Humphrey?” Eleanor asks.

“It is known that the man has often been very vocal in expressing the type of thing he might wish to do to the Scots, and the king had rightly refused to allow him such leave. Sir Humphrey I believe has not been very subtle in keeping his anger to himself on that matter, especially once it became clear what had happened with Neville, Warwick and Arundel. And then there is the issue of what he said last he was here with regards to the Welsh Marches. The man would believe he has more than enough reason to believe he is entitled to more than he has.” the treasurer responds.

“Surely you cannot believe Sir Humphrey would dare risk all that he has for something as small as that?” Sir Hugh responds laughingly. “Yes he is a hot head, but he is not a man to gamble unless he knows exactly what he can and cannot gain by such an action. No, I think you are grasping here Lord Treasurer.”

“Am I though Sir Hugh? We both know the tension that existed between the king and the Lord Constable before the war began, we know that there were many things that he wished to discuss that the king was in no mood to discuss. There is only so much rejection a man can take before he begins looking elsewhere for his rewards.” The High Treasurer responds. “After all from the way the battle is described it does seem as if Bohun left the king stranded and did not go to aid him, why would he do that? Unless he was hoping to gain something by it.”

“Perhaps because he was trying to fight? After all the Scots seemingly poured down onto the field of battle after the initial assault led by the king. The High Constable could well have been trying to get to the king, we shall never know unless we speak with him. And seeing as he is now in York that would be quite a hard thing to achieve.” Cressingham says reasonably.

Eleanor looks at both men, she knows that there is some sense in what both men say, she knows the High Constable somewhat, and she does not believe he would willingly commit treason, he has far too much to lose by doing so. She speaks then before either lord can speak. “Tell me then Sir Hugh, what word has there been from our sources in York? Do the Scots come? Or will they wait the winter out?”

Any hopes she had of some peace during the winter are dashed when she sees Cressingham shake his head. “The Scots are marching out in full force my queen. It seems King David is intent on securing the advantage King Edward’s disappearance has given him. York has been made aware of this and as such is preparing as best as they can for the oncoming attack.”

Eleanor considers this and then asks. “Do we have any more men that can be sent as reinforcements?”

Cressingham looks over his notes and then shakes his head. “No my queen, those that we could send are having to prepare for Gascony, it would not be right to divert them from their course.”

Eleanor thinks over this and then responds. “Very well. What word is there from Gascony, how far has King Philippe gotten?”

There is silence for a moment and Eleanor’s heart begins to quicken in pace then, eventually the man speaks. “It seems Your Majesty that King Phillippe has managed to get Marmande to surrender to him peacefully, and from there has begun planning an offensive on several towns within the region.”

“Where?” Eleanor asks impatiently.

Cressingham looks at her, surprised by the vehemence in her voice. He looks at the map and points at several locations. “Langon and Libourne Your Majesty. It seems he is looking to break off the two border towns left before him, before he advances on Bordeaux.”

That is not good, not good at all. Eleanor muses. “What word has there been from Sir Hugh? What plans is he making for counteracting Philippe’s actions?”

At this Cressingham looks somewhat uncomfortable, and Eleanor feels a trickle of impatience, these men and their ways, she is trying to give help here not hinder, why is it only Edward realises that? The man responds slowly. “He has called men to him and is preparing to mount an offensive Your Majesty. He is looking toward separating Philippe off from his main body of men, as it seems that the young king is looking to take the attack himself.”

Eleanor looks at the man then and asks. “You are certain of this? This does not sound like the Philippe that your own reports have painted. Such a move is something one would expect from his brother Valois, not from him.”

Cressingham looks slightly offended at her questioning of his reports. “I am most definitely sure Your Majesty. I know for a fact that Philippe is planning on leading this attack himself. And that he plans on separating the host he has gathered into two parts, mainly to confuse and divide our attention.”

Eleanor feels a rush of uncertainty then. “And would such a move be successful?”

Cressingham looks at her a moment and then he responds. “It might well be Your Majesty. It does depend on how strong a presence Sir Hugh manages to bring to the field and whether or not he is successful in his chase of King Philippe, if he is, then Philippe’s plan will be crushed and destroyed for he has put his brother Charles in command of one part of the army. We all know what Charles of Valois is like, he will not hold long, not with his hunger for glory.”

Eleanor considers this a moment and then says. “Very well.”

There is a moment’s silence then, and Eleanor senses that Cressingham has more he wants to say, and yet he is also unsure of how to bring up the topic, and so Eleanor waits, and waits, and then eventually he speaks. “Your Majesty, might it be possible that your nephew, his Grace King Sancho might aid us against King Philippe? The strength of Castille would go a long way to ensuring that Philippe’s does not succeed in his plan.”

Eleanor considers this a moment, she knows that her nephew Sancho has faced a difficult time of it during the early years of his reign, she has never doubted for a second that his cause was just, something about the De La Cerdas just never rang true for her. Her eldest nephew was something else not a true man. And yet, Eleanor is not sure whether seeking help from the man would be a wise idea. She considers for a long time and then says. “I shall certainly send a letter enquiring as to the possibility. With Aragon more or less crippled by indecision, there is not much they can do to aid France. Perhaps the time is right for us to use the alliance that my marriage to King Edward brought.”

The High Treasurer speaks then. “Would that be wise Your Majesty? There are those who consider King Sancho a usurper and a man bent only on sating his own blood lust. Would it do us any good to associate the struggle in Gascony with such a man?”

Eleanor looks at the high treasurer and responds. “In such circumstances as we find ourselves in, would it not be better if we took the alliances we could guarantee would deliver results and not the alliances that might ones preferred to others?”

The High Treasurer is silent a moment and then responds. “Of course Your Majesty, I was merely arguing the side of those who would think to question your decision that is all.”

Eleanor looks at the man and nods. “Very well then,” turning to Cressingham she says. “I shall send word to my nephew, but send word to Sir Hugh, tell him he must strengthen his forces before engaging Philippe.”


December, 1290 Stirling Castle

Queen Isabel Dunkeld nee Bruce

Her family was growing, she had two children now, not only two children, but two sons, and that, that was a gift from God. Kenneth and Alexander, they were the light in her life. Kenneth was at three filled with mischief always doing something or the other that would get him into trouble and then wean himself away from such a thing by a smile and a word. He would be trouble when he was older, Isabel knew, but she loved him something fierce, and Alexander, well he was but a few months old, and yet she loved him just as fiercely, her little children, she loved them. She missed her husband, she missed his warmth and his words, and his kind smile. She missed him and she wanted him back home safe and sound. Isabel was proud of all that her husband had achieved, but she worried, she worried for him, for her grandfather and for her brother. Her father, well she did not know what to think about him. Indeed that was one of the things she had come to the High Steward to speak about.

The High Steward seemed to be an affable man, he was certainly very smart, and she knew her grandfather thought highly of him. She looked at him now, and cleared her throat and spoke. “My lord High Steward, I would know what you have managed to find out about my father and his whereabouts. I know my husband the king would most definitely like to know as well.”

The High Steward looks at her tiredly, but his voice is strong when he responds. “I have done my best to look for and find out where your father Sir Robert is, my queen. So far my research has led me to conclude that he spent a fair bit of time in the Bruce estates of Writtle. There he spent time training men, arming them and preparing for the fighting that was to come.”

“But why? Why would he do such a thing? He had nothing to gain from doing as he did and yet he still did it. Why would he risk all?” Isabel asks, the question coming forth before she can stop it.

The High Steward looks at her with some bordering on pity, and her anger grows. “I do not my queen. I do not know your father very well, but I do know that he would have had his reasons for doing as he did. Just as we all do.”

Isabel looks at the man a moment and then says. “There is something more you wished to speak with me about I am sure. You would not have agreed to meet with me, if there was not something more pressing on your mind. Tell me what it is my lord, and if it is within my power, I shall see if we can sort it out.”

The High Steward smiles wanly then. “There is indeed one thing that has been troubling me as of late my queen, and that is the issue of Galloway.” the man pauses then and then continues. “As I am sure you are aware, John Balliol was captured and is being held within Alnwick castle awaiting judgement, his cousin Alexander has also been captured and is awaiting judgement from the King’s Grace. The Balliols are rather diminished in the male line with there being a few competing claims in the female line, I worry that unless the king acts soon, there will be war over the inheritance.”

Isabel looks at the man a moment and then asks. “Do you think so?”

“Yes. The Comyns have a claim through the Lord of Badenoch’s marriage to Lady Eleanor, then there are the various claimants within England itself through marriage to daughters of Cecily De Balliol. And of course there are other competing claims from those who can trace their lines back to the old lords of Galloway. With the king bringing so much change, I worry there might be a press for a wider change.” The High Steward responds.

Isabel considers this a moment and then says. “You need not worry about some Englishman’s get claiming the lands that Balliol has forfeited. My husband, the king would never dream of inviting such a nuisance into Scotland to claim something that by rights is now his to decide upon. As to the Comyns…” Isabel tenses then thinking of them. “I would say they would look to treat cautiously on such a thing, but knowing them as I do, I am not sure.”

“I do not think the young Lord of Badenoch is as ambitious as his father was, but should the time come he might well look to press such a claim. After all he has been named Guardian of Scotland by his Grace, who knows where his intentions might go next, especially if his cousin urges him on.” The High Steward responds.

Isabel grimaces slightly at the reminder of her husband’s decision. “Indeed he might, but from what my husband says, it does not seem as if Comyn has even thought of such a thing. Fergus Mac Tomás seems to be the one my husband is considering for the lands that have now become vacant due to Balliol treachery.” Isabel pauses a moment and then says. “I would believe such a thing might be for the best, after all the lords of the lands that once belonged to those rulers of Galloway have been complaining for some time about the situation they find themselves in. Having Fergus as their lord might well soothe some of their concerns.”

The High Steward looks at her surprised then. “It might be a wise choice that is true. And yet one knows that the Comyns would not look favourably on such an obvious play on their own power, and of course one does need to consider the other lords within the region as well. There will most definitely be arguing over this matter for some time. With the king otherwise occupied for this season, we must consider when such a discussion might be held.”

Isabel looks at the man and says. “There is space before Our Lord’s Celebration is there not?” when the man nods she responds. “Then we shall hold such a discussion then and we shall settle the matter so that when my husband returns he can merely confirm or decide another course of action.”

“Very well my queen,” the high steward responds, and then he stops, and Isabel sees her mother waiting for her. “I shall leave you now.” with that the man bows and walks out giving a cursory greeting to Isabel’s mother.

Isabel looks at her mother, and sees just how beautiful her mother truly is, and once more she wonders why her father would choose to do as he has done. She goes to her mother and hugs her and then they break apart and she asks. “Are you well mother?”

“I am very well thank my queen,” her mother says, calling her by her title despite the fact that Isabel has asked her not to on many occasions. “I have just seen Thomas and Alexander to their lessons. It seems they are growing restless as the days get shorter.”

Isabel smiles. “Ah, I remember such things, it was always a push to get myself and Robert to remain in our lessons was it not? Winter is such a strange time mother, it seems as if you need to wake up very early to enjoy the most of the light and the warmth, and then just as quickly it goes dark and one must come in once more.”

“Aye, the sky works in mysterious ways my queen. I do think that Alexander might be the most patient child I have ever seen, he sits through his lessons not as if they were a chore, but as if he truly enjoys them. Thomas, I know Thomas would rather be outside playing with the others. But I do worry for him.” her mother replies.

That alarms her slightly. “Why? What reason do you have to worry mother? You are mother to the queen, grandmother to two princes of the blood. What reason do you have to worry about Thomas?”

Her mother looks at her then, her face looks as if it has been carved in ice. “There some boys who have taken to asking Thomas all sorts of questions, the things their mothers are known to gossip about and their fathers or family who are too old to go fighting in the south have spoken about in front of them. It has caused Thomas and me a great deal of distress, and I worry he might do something rash.”

Isabel can feel anger beginning to grow inside of her. “What sort of things have they been asking him mother?” when her mother remains silent she says. “I have a right to know mother, if they are speaking about things that are distressing you both I have a right to know. You are my family.”

Her mother takes her hand then and whispers. “They are asking Thomas if he knows that his father is a dead man that he comes from a family of traitors. They are saying all of this to bait him into doing something stupid. But he does not understand, he merely knows they are insulting his family, and they are insulting your father.”

“What father did was wrong mother, it was treason.” Isabel responds stiffly.

Her mother still holds onto her hand as she responds. “I know that, but why should your brothers have to suffer for it? Why should they bear the brunt of it all because of one man’s mistake? It is not right.”

“Have they said anything else?” Isabel asks. “Have they said anything else to Thomas about our family?”

Her mother shakes her head. “No, not that he has told me, and I do not think he would tell me even if they had. I worry for him, he wants to do something but he is too young to truly understand what is happening around him, and why your father did as he did.”

“Why did father leave mother?” Isabel asks. “I do not understand why he would have done such a thing? Surely he had more to gain from staying loyal to David than by siding with the English?”

Her mother sighs, and Isabel sees for the first time just how tired Lady Marjorie is. Her mother it seems has been fighting off something or the other for a long time, and now it seems she does not have the fight left. The thought terrifies Isabel, she wants to know but at the same time she does not want to cause her mother more pain. Before she can say anything however, her mother is speaking. “I do not truly know why your father did as he did Isabel, all I know is that he did it for a reason, and now we must all pay the price for it.”

“Surely he knows that what he has done has put us all in a precarious position? That because of his actions our family is now teetering on something that is not quite right?” Isabel demands. “Surely he knows that by coming back home he might be able to sort this out properly rather than hiding.”

Her mother looks at her then and asks. “Do you truly think the king will pardon your father? After all that has happened? War changes a man Isabel, do not be surprised if the king is not the same as when he left.”

“Surely if father came back and explained himself to David, he might be able to get something out of this other than a banishment or death?” Isabel asks, hating that her voice has become pleading.

Her mother merely looks at her and says. “I do not think so. Your husband’s lords would demand that your father be killed for his treason, to refuse to do so would make your husband look weak. And no king can afford to look weak Isabel, nor can his queen. For then the wolves will begin circling and chaos will ensue.”


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