Chapter Sixteen A Price is Paid.
Outside the castle was a melee of forces striking at each other, the Bishops men that were still out on the field was striking at the Dukes whilst defending themselves from the Rangers who were attempting to plant an arrow in them.
To put it mildly it was an utter mess.
Down in the catacombs things were calmer but no clearer.
“Six times we have left this spot only to return again and again. We are exhausted and lost.” Bonnyface moaned as he plonked himself on top of a grave stone.
“Do you mind.” A querulous voice said. “How would you like it if someone sat on your headstone.”
Bonnyface leapt from is far from comfortable seat and swung round to face the voice.
The owner was a wizened looking creature wilding a hammer and chisel.
“And who do I have the honour of addressing?” Tomas asked politely.
“Well can’t you read?” He said pointing to the gravestone. “No of course you can’t.”
“They’ve spelt my name wrong. Not much to ask is it that you should have it right for your final resting place. Not been able to do it till now because of the ghosts.”
Tomas coughed to get his attention.
“The name is Robert Archer and not what they have put up here Roberta Recher.” The little man snapped.
“Please to meet you Robert Archer. I am Tomas Farmer and these are my friends and family.”
“No your not!”
“I’m not what? I’m afraid I don’t follow you.” Tomas furrowed brow showed he wasn’t joking.
“You’re a Due Prey as sure as my nose.” Robert had a broken nose so didn’t make Tomas any surer.
“Be that as it may I am lost and would relish leaving these caverns and feel the wind on my skin again.” Sophia said.
The little man whipped of his bonnet and clutched it to his chest.
“My Lady I did not know it was you. I would never have let you wander through the maze had I known.” He dashes across to a large family tomb and opened the solid wood door to reveal a staircase within . “This way will lead you out my Lady.”
“You are forgiven dear dear man. Now go to your rest knowing that your true name is known to me and will lie close to my heart.”
The little man beamed and dancing a little jig lead them out.
They exited into the church yard of an abandoned church not far from the citadel.
They could hear the sounds of sword on sword quite clearly on the slight breeze.
“Come we can go to your home and change into travelling clothes ready to leave by nightfall.” Patrik said setting off only for Sophia to go in the opposite direction, straight toward the fighting. “Sophia no!!”
She walked up a grassy hill that looked into the valley and the melee below.
“In the name of our Holy Lady disengage!!” She yelled.
As one the combatants looked up. The sunlight had formed a halo around her head and threw her body into shadow. At that moment she looked like the saint incarnate, like an Angel on the mount.
“Lay down your arms! Our Lady is upset with such foolishness. You should kneel and beg her forgiveness!”
Many of the throng did just that, they dropped their weapons and kneeling began to pray for forgiveness.
The Bishop bleeding from many cuts lifted his arm high and yelled to her.
“Be gone evil spawn you will not have these good peoples hearts!”
“What would you have me do your grace?” She asked as the young Paladins walked up to join her.
“I would have you die witch. I would tear your limbs apart and get you to confess. I would stretch you on the rack until you gave me the name of those you are in league with.” Some of those who had put down their weapons picked them up again but they were small in number.
“What of you my Lord?” She asked De Anjou. “What would you want of me?”
“I do not know if you speak for our Lady or not, but that is not an issue. You and the church have lost your influence which is good and I am what I should have always been, the natural leader of the people. A Baron upon who’s land you all work on.” His voice was getting more strident. “The man you should all bend your knees too.”
“I will bend my knee to no man!!” Tomas called. “I am a Paladin, Gods warrior, and the upholder of the law. Beware of having to face me my Lord.”
“I would relish teaching you upstarts some manners” De Anjou looked as if steam was going to pour out of his ears.
“Come let us be away from here.” Patrik advised.
Soon Patrik and his group had reached the farm of Elizabeth via the Abbey were they got changed into soft leather riding gear.
They packed refreshments for the journey.
“I can’t believe we are just going to run away and not deal with the situation.” Bonnyface moaned.
“Yes I to am requiring an explanation.” Aziz added.
“De Anjou has destroyed the power of the church and the power of the parliament of all souls.” Patrik explained. “You and those Paladins that have survived will have no support or jurisdiction. If you are to challenge De Anjou you need more training and experience. That is why you must flee to Le Hav and the Templers.”
“What of you Brother?” Viktor asked.
“I will return to the Abbey to look after the Abbott and the sick and wounded. I will try and convince Sir Alexander to join you but do not wait for him as I suspect he will remain.” He looked round the group and his heart sank.
“Where are Tomas and Sophia?”
“Sophia wanted some flowers so Tomas has gone to the meadow to pick some.” Samantha told them. “I think Sophia said she wanted to go to the hanging tree and bless the poor souls hanging there.”
The monk’s face lost all its colour.
“Oh sweet mercy no!” He exclaimed. “Samantha, Aziz go after Tomas quickly and bring him to the hanging tree. Go and be as quick as you can. Elizabeth and I with the others will meet you there.”
Tomas had a few gilly flowers in his hand and was busy looking for a Bee’s Orchid to finish it off.
The younger De Anjou was hanging around at the boarder of their two lands, two of his fathers powerful hunting dogs straining at their leashes.
“Where were you when you were needed?” Tomas growled.
“Here.” He replied. “Where else should I be with my father taking over all the lands. Yours are forfeit to.”
“I think not.” Tomas said as he spotted the flower he wanted.
“I think so.” Anjou opened the gate between their lands successfully caging Tomas in.
“I don’t know what your playing at but I haven’t the time to play you’re silly games.”
“Silly games? I’m not playing. Oh everyone thinks the Sun shines out of your arse and think your sisters some sort of angel. But I know what you are. Scum. That’s what you are. Your not fit to lace my shoes.” Spittle dribbled out of his mouth. “You’re just a jumped up farm boy who should know better.”
“One day there shall be a reckoning and we shall meet on the fields of war, but the day is not today. Now move aside and let me passed.” Tomas sounded calm and collected but the jumping pulse in his neck betrayed that image.
“I don’t think you’ll be needing those flowers.” Anjou nodded at the new figure that hung from the tree. “No more listening to her pious prattle. Perhaps I should thank God for that.”
“Sophia!!” Tomas made to get to her only to find that the growling dogs now blocked his way. “Move if you wish to still live.”
“Oh really!” Anjou spied the rapidly approaching students and released the dogs from their leads. “You’re trespassing.”
He looked down at the hounds and said chillingly.
The dogs bound forward knocking Tomas to the ground but not before he had cut them with his dagger. This only seemed to enrage the animals more.
Tomas tried to roll up into a ball to offer little for the dogs to latch onto but he wasn’t fast enough.
A dog shot forward and tried to get at Tomas’s neck and throat to rip it out. At the last second Tomas’s arms shot forward and grabbed the animals thick neck and tried to throttle it.
The creature thrashed about making it difficult to control and making Tomas lose sight of the other one. But it hadn’t lost sight of him. It attacked.
Teeth bared, it attacked the nearest thing in front of him, Tomas’s genitals.
Tomas screamed in agony and fear as the creature bit hard and deep.
Tomas was dimly aware of other voices and suddenly the pain eased as an arrow was plunged deep into the dogs skull.
Samantha was screaming as Aziz dispatched the other one.
She drew Tomas to her breast and took him into her arms. His severed testicle and gland lay in a pool of blood on the grass.
“Stay with me darling don’t leave me.” Her tears mingled with his ones of pain.
Aziz was trying to stem the tide of blood with his neckerchief his face speckled with Tomas’s blood as he watched in anger as De Anjou fled laughing.
Sophia crossed to the first body on the hanging tree and gently lowered her to the wooden floor.
“You are absolved of all sin.” She said making the sign of the living Ankh over the poor woman’s head. “Rest in piece with our Lady in heaven.”
“I’m sure she will.” A voice chuckled behind her.
Sophia turned to confront the hell spawn.
It was lasciviously licking its lips and stroking its sides.
“I suppose you are pleased with your work devil?” Sophia’s face twitched with pain.
“Oh yes. The power of the church crushed and the democratic parliament of souls dissolved and a dictator put in its place, how can I not be.” It laughed cruelly. ” Look at me Sophia. Don’t I make your blood race and your breath quicken. She walked around Sophia and breathed on her neck. “Oh how you yearn to have me between your legs.”
“You can not temped me devil. I am wedded to the Holy Lady.” Sophia’s voice was husky and sweat trickled into the cleft of her breast’s. “I listen only to her voice.”
“How are the voices in your head, loud and clear now?”
Sophia sank to her knees clutching her head as the multitude of voices exploded in her mind.
“Please stop talking I can’t think, please stop it, make it stop.” Suddenly her face became calm. “Yes my Lady it is the only way. None shall suffer to live.”
She turned and looked coldly at the creature. She raised her hand and holding the Holy Ankh out to the creature began to chant in a sweet voice.
The devil shivered as if inflicted buy some powerful ague.
The ropes that hung from the hanging tree began to writhe like snakes ready to strike.
They slithered across to the two women unseen.
“You won’t beat me.” The creature said haughtily.
“I don’t intend to beat you, a stalemate is a better choice.” Sophia replied calmly.
A rope flashed out over the devils neck and rapidly formed a noose pulling tight enough to restrict the monsters breathing.
The second rope reared up in front of Sophia like a snake. She stroked it like you would if it had been a pet.
Sophia placed it over her shoulder and smiled a grim smile of satisfaction as the devil was lifted off the ground kicking franticly.
“Make a place for me at your table my lady.” Sophia closed her eyes.
As Patrik lead the others to the tree he could see an extra body swaying in the freshening wind.
Hanging there was the figure of the devil its eyes bulging and its blackening tongue protruding from its lips. It had an astonished look on its face as if it couldn’t believe what was happening to it.
Hanging beside her was Sophia, at her feet was the body of the woman she’d cut down.
“Viktor cut her down. I just pray we are not to late.”
“What about this one?” Bonnyface asked.
Patrik rose up and pulled out his holy symbol that dangled around his neck. He pressed it against the devils forehead making it scream in agony as the flesh puckered and charred.
Patrik spoke simple words.
“I send you back to the pit infernal in total damnation, in total unending pain for what you have done here this day.”
“Mercy Brother, have mercy.” It writhed as it turned into smoke with the rope tight around its neck for ever more. Then it was gone.
Sophia gave a convulsive breath as if waiting for the creature departure.
“She is still with us. Thank our Lady.” He bent and checked her over. “Her life signs are weak and getting weaker. We must get her to the Abby and quickly. Bonnyface carry her and you two run ahead and tell the infirmary that we are coming then meet us with the offertory box, the one where we keep the holy bread and wine in.”
“Why the box Brother?” Bonnyface asked as he loaded the inert Sophia over his shoulder.
“It stops time, that is why the Holy bread and wine stays so fresh.” Patrik panted.
as he tried to keep up with the loping giant.
Up ahead he could see with mounting horror the group around Tomas.
Tomas lolled in the girls arms the pool of blood testimony to the savagery of the wound. While the Vernon boys and their father tried to stem the flow of blood.
Patrik gently moved Aziz out of the way.
He laid his hand gently on the bleeding point and prayed.
“Holy Mother of God, Holy Lady of Prey hear my voice, my prayer. Let me be the agent of your healing warmth, the conduit of your love.” Warmth began to build in Patrik. “This poor boy is a brave and valiant soul, a knight in your name.”
The warmth poured down his arms into his hands which hovered over Tomas’s wound.
The terrible ruin of his man hood began to seal until a truncated penis lay against his thigh, one testicle pouch devoid of contents.
He could see the others returning with the large box being carried between them.
Elizabeth picked up her son’s mauled flesh wailing in terrible sadness and pain. She rocked backwards and forwards in floods of tears.
“Lady Elizabeth.” She did not respond. “Elizabeth!!”
She looked up at the twisted and stunted monk, at his gentle and kind face.
“Nether are dead my Lady. They have been cruelly beset but they still live if only by the merest thread.”
He turned to the youngsters.
“Quickly empty the box.”
Soon the bread and wine was laid on the grass.
Under the monks guidance Bonnyface laid Sophia in the box curled up like a foetus. They then laid the holy bread and wine around her.
Unseen Elizabeth laid a small bag containing Tomas’s severed genitals in Sophia’s hands.
“That brat of Anjou’s let the dogs off the lead.” The chief ranger raged. “Then the coward fled. Have no fear Lady Elizabeth I will bring him to justice.”
They sealed the box and hurried to the Abbey and an unknown future.
Set in hearts was the cold centre of revenge.