Paladins Tale

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Chapter Fifteen. A Dark Turn.

The stairs that corkscrewed into the earth were dusty, very dusty, and unlit.

“I don’t know how we will get the sick beds down here the stairs are to tight.” Viktor said has he clouted himself against the wall for the umpteenth time.

“I don’t think there is any intention to bring them down here. Am I right Good Brother?” Tomas asked.

“Yes I’m afraid so. All we can hope for is that the Bishop shows mercy.” Patrik replied.

“We’re coming to the bottom of the stairs. Be careful the bottom few are broken.” Bonnyface called up.

“If anyone didn’t know we were coming they do now.” Muttered Samantha to herself.

They filed out into a sort of anteroom containing several full drums.

“I wonder what these contain?” Bonnyface mused as he looked them over.

“Right Bonnyface and Ferret examine the next room forward, Viktor and Gregory take the right room, Samantha with me for the left room.” Tomas slipped easily into command. “Holy Brother stay with my sister and mother and guard them.”

In mere moments silence fell.

“How are you Lady Sophia?” It seemed a stupid thing to say when standing in a black room underground during a siege but Patrik could not think how else to phrase it.

“I am bearing up Holy Brother. My destiny is now most clear.” She turned and looked down on him with sad eyes. “I will meet her soon and then there shall be a reckoning. I hear you my Lady I know what I must do.”

Patrik was about to question Sophia about what she meant when the others returned to the hall.

“Nothing in the east wing except some more barrels.” Gregory reported to the newly emerged Tomas.

“Yes the same here. I managed to open a barrel and found it full of what looks like molasses.” Tomas told him.

“Tomas I think you will want to see this?” Bonnyface beckoned him to follow.

Patrik guided Sophia and Elizabeth through the rubble and broken barrels to where the young men were examining something on the ground. They parted to reveal a skeleton reaching out for the door.

“Whoever it was got trapped in here and died trying to get out. A state of affairs I don’t intend to happen to us. Examine the walls and floors for traps, I’ll have a look at the door.”

“Do you know what you are looking for Tomas?” Patrik asked him sure in the knowledge that he hadn’t taught him advanced trap removal.

“No Brother but I can hope.”

The reply didn’t calm Patrik’s stomach at all.

“Can’t find anything Tomas?” Bonnyface called.

“Gregory, Viktor find someway of wedging the door we came through open. Once you have done that I’ll try this door?”

The two young men searched around on the floor for anything they could use before finally deciding to man handle a wooden keg up against the door.

“We’re ready Tomas.”

Tomas tried the handle. As it turned there was an almighty crash behind them as the doorway tried to shut splintering the keg in the process.

“Well that went well.” Tomas laughed.

“Do we try one of the other rooms?” Samantha asked.

“No I don’t think so.” Instead of pushing or pulling the door Tomas slid it into the door jam. “After you my dearest love.”

Samantha went a delightful shade of puce with embarrassment before squaring her shoulders and going through. The others followed.

There stretched before them a long dark tunnel with niches from which skulls silently watched their progress.

“Some form of burial chamber. What do you think Brother?” Tomas asked.

“Possibly. I know that in the past powerful men were buried with their retainers to serve them in the after life.” Patrik carefully stepped around a noisome fluid on the ground.

“I don’t think the retainers would have been that enamoured with the idea.” Viktor muttered.

“In the lands of ancient Arab many Kings were buried thus along with great riches. Tomb raiders have tried to defile the tombs only to die themselves by the spirits hands.” Ferret told them in a deep doom laden voice.

“Thank you for cheering us up Aziz.” Samantha admonished.

“A thousand apologise my lady.” He replied.

“You would think so wouldn’t you, but many saw it as a sacred duty to die with their master and have a guaranteed entrance into Heaven.” Patrik concluded.

Up ahead came a low eerie moan.

“Probably just the wind.” Tomas said but his hands tightened around his weapons grips.

“Be careful my son.” Elizabeth implored.

“As always mother, as always.” He turn to his fellow students. “Ferret, Samantha scout ahead but no risk’s understand.”

“Most assuredly my friend Tomas as this humble soul wishes to stay alive.” Aziz smiled warmly and led Samantha into the darkness ahead.

Tomas motioned the remainder forward.

“Bonnyface guard the rear, Viktor and Claude just behind me. Sophia is Our Lady able to talk with you?”

“She talks to me all the time but so do a hundred other voices. I find it hard to hear her because of the noise.” Sophia shook her head as if to clear it. “She cannot help you here. Sorry brother.”

“Do not worry yourself over it, all will become clear with time.” Tomas said sadly.

For the next five minutes they continued along the tunnel in total silence though the moaning was getting louder and was starting to grind on their nerves.

Out of the gloom two figures slowly appeared.

“You will not like what I have to tell you.” Aziz looked visibly shaken. “Up ahead are those poor souls that death has not been a release. They are unclean.”

“My eyes aren’t as good as Aziz’s but I could make out figures moving about.” Samantha reported.

“Then my love it is time to put them to their rest.” He signalled to the new comers to flank him.

“I don’t wish to doubt your words friend Tomas but how are we expected to put them to their rest.” Aziz fussed.

Tomas lifted his sword which was glowing fitfully.

“By force if need be.” He said deep in thought.

Suddenly a foul smell permeated the air making them retch and vapours stung their eyes.

“What on Earth is that!” Elizabeth coughed.

“Nothing on Earth I fear mother.” Tomas’s pulse was starting to race.

A tentacle slapped wetly on the floor not far from where he stood sending up a chocking vapour as the acid bit into the ground.

A strange shape waddled comically into sight on three truncated limbs.

The body was rotund like a barrel, with four stomach’s hanging down the outside that exuded tentacles soaked with acid.

A probe extended from just above the stomach into the acid corroded spot and sucked up any nutrients.

The head, if you could call it that, was a smooth dome from which ten eyes of different sizes, shapes and colours scrutinized the area myopically.

“How are we going to get passed that?” Samantha asked in a whisper.

“We try and creep passed. You first Aziz, we’ll cover you.”

Tomas nodded to Samantha and she drew back her bow in readiness.

Aziz crept passed without any obvious reaction from the creature. Soon all save Tomas and Samantha where on the other side.

“Now you Samantha.” Tomas told her.

“No it should be you so I can cover you.” She argued.

“We haven’t time for this, just go will you.” Tomas commanded.

Samantha stepped back in anger knocking a metal plate out of one of the burial holes. She instinctively made a grab for it but only succeeded sending it faster and further than before.

It hit the ground with a mighty crash.

The creature swivelled around on its stumps and spied the remaining two with its multitude of eyes.

It set up a teeth jarring wail as it threw it’s acid soaked tentacles at them. Tomas instinctively moved in front of Samantha swinging his sword in a mighty arc toward the creature.

Acid splattered against him as the tentacle was cut clean off to land squirming on the ground.

Tomas stepped inside the creatures range delivering thundering blows with his mace to the creatures curious head.

The creature lashed at him with its remaining tentacles until with a curiously sad sigh it sunk down on its limbs and died. From a pouch on its side miniature versions of it tumbled out.

“It was a mother.” Elizabeth said sadly.

“It was probably trying to protect its young.” Tomas replied waving Samantha off. “I’m covered in acid at the moment so I shouldn’t come too close.”

Samantha nodded and crossed to where she could see a burial shroud dangled from a burial hole in the wall.

“Forgive me resting one but my lovers need is greater than you own.” She made the sign of the living ankh and took the shroud over to where Tomas waited patiently.

“Thank you for the courtesy young woman.” A noble looking figure stood shimmering beside the burial nook its voice echoing.

“We are sorry for disturbing your slumber my Lord.” Tomas called.

“Do not concern yourself with that young man. You have met one of our guards I see.” The apparition pointed at the creature as its babies fed off her and were visibly growing.

“Yes my Lord I am sorry for its demise.” Tomas said wiping himself down with the shroud.

“Yes I can see that what you say is true.” It replied. “A word of warning young man. At the next set of doors take the left one, then middle and lastly right if you wish to avoid getting lost in the catacombs.” He looked at Sophia. “You carry a large burden child. I am so sorry that you are inflicted so. Send to Our Lady my best wishes and my earnest request for release.”

“I will my Lord but I do not know your name.”

“How soon are we forgot.” It sighed sadly. “Why I am the creator of all that you see round you. I am Baron Camille du Prey.”

All save Patrik looked blank.

“Forgive my students My Lord we have yet to cover your greatness and your impact on history.”

The Ghost waved a hand dismissively.

“Fear not Holy Brother it is the prerogative of the young to forget the past for them the future beckons.” It glided closer to Tomas. “I see something in you, something special, something that will carry on the du Prey name.”

Camille took off a signet ring and dropped it into Tomas’s hand.

It drew back to its burial chamber like smoke on the wind.

“Good luck children.” And then he was gone.

Tomas slipped the ring onto his finger and felt its warmth as it settled in.

“I don’t understand your armour is intact I expected it to be riddled with holes from the acid?”

“I shouldn’t worry to much about that Samantha just be thankful that it is intact. Lead the way Tomas before these guards grow any bigger.” Brother Patrik said.

Ten minutes later they faced the first set of three doors to be confronted by another skeleton partly crushed laying on the floor.

Wordlessly they took the left door and dropped deeper into the earth toward the moaning sound. Though there was no skeleton at the next set of doors they took the middle set of doors dropping ever deeper.

At last they came into an amphitheatre where holy services had been held.

“They must have been persecuted for their faith for them to build a church this deep.” Patrik said examining the murals upon the wall.

Tomas could see that they told the stories of the gospels but with a male protagonist.

A spider the size of a dinner plate watched from the deeply shadowed area behind the altar as the youngsters examined the area.

“Is there a way out? There should be another set of doors?” Tomas called trying vainly to keep their minds on the job.

Patrik was proud how he carried the strains of being in command but feared that it may become to much.

“I think I’ve found them?” Bonnyface called a few minutes later from the Ladies chapel.

Tomas joined him to find not three doors but two. One was a heavy oak strengthened with metal bands whilst the one on its right was lighter and devoid of metal bands.

The left one looked much like one that leads to the outside and the other to a room or office.

The thing that was bothering Patrik most was that there was no reason to have such intricate traps down here after all there was no likelihood of anyone coming down here.

Sophia smiled at him with a smile that melted his heart.

“You must remember Brother that these tombs and church were from a much more hostile time where such protection was deemed needed.” Sophia said as if she could read his mind.

Tomas was about to open the right door when a shout from Aziz stopped him.

“Tomas we have two doors here where their should only be one?”

Soon everyone was trying to see which blotted out any attempt to see them at all.

Tomas soon realised the problem and gave orders that swiftly cleared the area.

Before them was a glass mirrored door that reflected their images darkly.

Tomas was about to dismiss it when at the corner of his eye he spied another door reflected in the glass.

“Ah you have spotted the anomaly my friend. There are three doorways reflected in the mirrored glass two, one each side of the main one, that can only be seen when you are not looking for them.” Aziz was correct and made Patrik most intrigued.

“I have heard of this effect.” Patrik said. “It’s used in mystery plays to fool the audience into thinking that they can see the Holy and Infernal planes.”

Tomas carefully reached across behind his right side while watching the left hand of the image from the corner of his eyes copying.

His hand reached where the reflected metal doorknob should be only to encounter a wooden handle. Tomas paused a moment to consider his actions, but it was Patrik that voiced them.

“Though you have reached around to your right it will be your mirror images left as we look at it so perhaps it should be the other hand, the mirror images right.”

“Yes I agree Brother but I need a clue as to which one is the safe one? Any ideas Brother.”

“No I wish I had.”

“Tomas it’s mother.”

“Yes mother?”

“Do you remember the old nursery rhyme about the wind miller.” She said as calmly as her nerves would allow.

“Yes mother but I don’t know how it will help us now.”

“It wasn’t which choice he chose it was about having a choice in the first incidence ”

“It was a fairy tale mother but I do take your point. I should step back if I was you.” He gave the left one a mighty pull and it swung open with ease.

Now with the illusion gone they could see the doors clearly.

Inside the one Tomas had opened was an empty small room. There was a circular plate on the floor and a small handle set into the ground beside it.

In moments they were all crammed onto the disc and Tomas pulled the lever. Slowly the circle of metal rose up out of the floor and through the ceiling to a room above.

Samantha was the first off and across to the rooms exit.

She peered outside into a more formal graveyard.

She popped her head back in.

“I don’t understand this but we seem to be back where we were when Aziz and I first saw the undead. Aziz have a look please?”

The swarthy Arab looked carefully around the door jam for a few moments.

“You are right my good friend but we are seeing them from the other side.” He turned to Tomas. “What are we going to do Tomas? I value your judgement?”

Tomas calmly walked out of the door and called across to the figures in an equally calm tone of voice.

“Can you direct weary travellers to the exit my friends?”

For a moment they seemed to take no notice then one of the group flew across to confront them.

“What do you want in this cold place warm blood?” It asked as it bobbed in the air in front of him its soul jar swinging on its chain.

“Just the way out good sir?” Tomas said brightly. “I’m sure you can help.”

“There are many ways out warm blood but only one that is true.” It said its transparent body making Tomas’s eyes ache.

“And that is my friend?” Tomas tightened his grip.

“Why in death boy, in death.” It lash out with it soul jar as the others flowed forward. Tomas executed a perfect block.

“Don’t let them touch you with the soul jars as you’ll change places with them!” Sophia called as she ground her knuckles into her temples in pain.

The ghost flew at Tomas hoping that he was distracted only for the jar to be shattered by an arrow from Samantha.

The effect was immediate. A body fell to the floor screaming only to whither and desiccate to a shrivelled corpse.

Tomas, his armour blazing white, crashed into them his sword and mace causing the apparitions to flow desperately from him.

Aziz had successfully dispatched one of them but was now hard pressed and tiring fast.

Viktor and Gregory stood back to back with three corpses at their feet testimony of their skill.

But the inevitable had happened one of the apparitions had slipped behind the defenders and was making a bee line for Sophia, its soul jar swinging on its chain.

Patrik threw himself in front of her taking the blow on his distorted chest.

The creature that now inhabited Patrik’s body shrieked in agony as its hosts flesh began to fail.

The ghost that was Patrik saw its chance to return the favour, smashing the soul jar on the twisted back with such force that it splintered as the transference took place.

The ghost stunned to be back in her own form was too slow to avoid Sophia’s mailed fist smashing the already cracked soul jar to pieces.

Suddenly silence fell over the scene allowing the defenders to catch their breath and look over the floor strewn with the decayed corpses of the dead.

“These ghosts still held some intelligence but that seeps away over the years to leave a mindless wailing creature of the deepest shadows.” Sophia said regaining her breath.

Elizabeth helped the monk to his feet.

“Are you alright Brother?” She asked worriedly.

“Yes Elizabeth just a little shaken. It appears that only I can occupy this bodies short comings.” Patrik’s face was chalk white with fatigue and sorrow.

“It was not your body that the creature could not stand it was the purity of your mind Brother. No one in their right mind could stand that.” Bonnyface mocked gently.

Patrik nodded he’s appreciation.

“Their may be something in what you said.” He smiled a warm smile.

There was a sighing sound as the corpses slowly, clumsily, got to their feet.

“Take them two on one and quickly.” Tomas thundered forward with Samantha by his side.

His sword decapitated one and the mace stove in the head of another but still they came on. Even the most devastating of injuries seemed only to halt them a moment. Decapitated limbs snaked across the floor like serpents to grab or trip the unwary.

“We’ve got to try something else.” Tomas yelled as arms and bodies joined together to form a hulking brute of a creature. “Gregory, Vicktor try and keep that one occupied.”

As the two young men ran too obey Tomas threw his sword up in the air to catch it by the blade.

He thrust it forward as if it was a holy symbol.

“Avant foul creatures, return to the Devil’s home where you belong.” He yelled but still the creatures came on.

“Tomas use your Ankh!” Sophia called.

Tomas scrabbled for his neck chain cursing his clumsy mailed gloves.

Wearily the corpses began to advance getting ever closer to them.

At last the Ankh came free. Holding it in front of his face he called out not to the undead but to the Saint instead.

“Holy Lady give me the strength to do your will this day.”

Patrik noticed how the enemy tried to go round Tomas.

“All of you get out your holy symbols and pray like you have never prayed before!” He yelled. “It’s your faith that will keep them away!”

Sophia got up and walked over to join Tomas.

“Together brother?”

“Together sister.”

The two of them held their ankhs high.

“Be gone back to the dark places! Return to hells grip.” Sophia called as her holy symbol began to glow. “Leave this plane and return to your rest!”

Suddenly a white beam of light came out of Tomas’s symbol striking the homunculus squarely in the chest.

It screamed a horrifying wail that threatened to unman Tomas as the parts that went up to make the whole slid apart to writhe on the floor.

From Sophia’s symbol came a fierce white light that burnt through the corpses like a hot knife through butter.

As swiftly as it had begun it had ended.

The floor was covered in scattered body parts all exuding a foul smell of burnt pork.

“Let’s move on out of this charnel house.” Patrik suggested.

Tomas nodded his agreement and led the way out of that section.

After five minutes of walking they found themselves back where they had started or so it seemed.

The difference was that there wasn’t any corpse parts scattered around and the smell was of lavender and honeysuckle.

“Take an hour break. Samantha and I will take the first watch.” Tomas took the girl paladin to his chest and kissed her. “Take the way behind a few paces whilst I do the same forward. Don’t challenge whatever it is just come back and tell the others.”

“I can handle myself Tomas!” She replied angrily.

“Yes I know you can but I want you safe so I can marry you!”

“Was that a proposal?” Samantha was stunned.

Tomas scratched the back of his neck embarrassedly.

“Yes I suppose it was.”

Samantha glared at him a moment.

“You do pick your moments Tomas.” Bonnyface said with a shake of his head.

“Shut your mouth beloved before you swallow flies.” Tomas said gently.

“I accept your offer my love but we will discuss this later.” Samantha said in obvious shock before disappearing into the darkness.

Alexander watched the Bishops men from the castles battlements his astute mind calculating the odds and planning appropriate strategies.

They were out numbered but they had experience on their side.

“How many are fit to ride and fight?” Alexander asked as Julian came up to join him.

“With the Men at Arms ten my Lord.” Julian knew his leader well enough to know not to add anything else.

Alexander sighed.

“Go and find me the Smith while I work out what must be done?”

Julian left only to return moments later with the blacksmith.

“Good Master.” Alex said respectfully. “Is there anyway to your knowledge of stopping those culverin being fired?”

“We could spike them with metal driven into the fuse holes my Lord.”

“How long would it take?” Alexander asked his mine full of idea’s and plans.

“To block the guns mere moments, finding the appropriate metal for the spikes much longer. There is the remains of an old forge here you never know it may have what we need.”

It was almost an hour later when Julian returned to Alexander to report progress.

“Sir Alexander?”

“Yes Julian. What news my friend?”

“The blacksmith has been successful my Lord in producing the spikes. Four of the militia have been trained in their use, they know what to do.” Julian told him. “I have had the Knights and the men at arms drawn up ready my Lord for you to speak to them.”

“Very well.”

Downstairs Alexander mounted his steed and turned to face the men and women drawn up before him.

“You all know how important it is to stop those guns. They must be our primary target.” He could see them drawing themselves up ready for the conflict. “The Knights will provide a protective wall against attack. Archers try to hit those that work the cannon. Remember all of you that our Lady is with us.”

He turned his horse round and signalled to those at the gates to open them up just enough for the defenders to pour out.

Working swiftly and efficiently the Knights carved a path to the guns protecting the Men at Arms that were selected for the task of incapacitating the cannon’s.

Arrow’s flashed passed Alexander and hit those that controlled the guns.

The defenders were holding their own against the attackers and for a few fleeting moments Alexander allowed himself the hope that they could succeed in defeating the Bishops men. Suddenly those at the guns were fleeing toward him.

“Retreat my Lord sound the retreat. Quickly!” The blacksmith called.

Alexander to his credit didn’t argue and soon had them back behind the castles gates.

“What happened Good Master Smith? Were you unable to put the guns out of action?”

“We were more that successful my Lord.” The blacksmith voice was drowned out by a tremendous explosion that shook the castles gates.

“What in all that is Holy was that?” Alexander exclaimed.

“That was hopefully the sound of the guns exploding.”

“Come with me to the top of the tower, you can explain on the way.”

As they ascended the artisan explained.

After spiking the guns they had filled them with all the gun powder they could find. They then plugged the barrels with so much wadding that it was blocked. A slow match, a length of rope soaked in slow burning materials was added inside to ignite the powder.

They were at the top of the tower when the smith had finished his explanation.

Alexander looked out at the carnage below. The barrels had pealed open like some obscure flowers. Their ends jagged and torn, surrounded by injured men and women of the guard. Cut down by the jagged pieces of flying metal.

“Julian take a few stout people with you out under the flag of truce and get those most seriously injured to our nursing beds. Send a runner to the Abbott to tell him to prepare.”

The two men looked at him askance.

“Those men are not my enemy, only the Bishop is.”

Alexander watched as a group of villagers came out to collect the injured.

“Kill them, destroy the heretics.” The Bishop screamed only to be met by his remaining troops grounding their arms. “What is this? Attack I say!”

The leader of the Bishops men looked at him in open disgust.

“They are under the flag of truce and I will not violate it. They have come to help our injured not to plead for themselves.” The man glared at the cleric causing him to quail. “They act with honour and will be treated with honour.”

The Bishop fumed but realised he could not change the mans mind.

“Very well, but once the truce has ended I want that castle taken and the heretics put to the sword before their vile poison can spread.”

The Abbott moved from sick bed to sick bed offering what comfort he could and advising the monks, nuns and laity in the care of their patients.

He stopped at the bed of Jacques de Velour only to find his hand tightly gripped by the man.

“Your Grace.” He said. “Thank you for treating my men.”

“You are all God’s children. Their is no difference in our eyes.” The Abbott wheezed.

“May God bless you Holy one. I am not long for this world, no don’t deny it I can see it clearly writ plain upon your face, and beseech you to end this foolish conflict before others have to die.”

“I will do what I can. Do you wish I should hear your confession young man?”

But it was to late the mans head lolled to one side his eyes rolled up in their socket and he had gone.

The Abbot shut his eyes and began to give him the last rites only to be interrupted by a call to another sick bed but he didn’t forget what the man said.

“Where are the children my Lord?” He asked Alexander as the knight checked on his own men.

“Far from here I pray your reverence.”

“How so?” He asked.

“Through the catacombs back to the abbey.”

“Oh you foolish man there is a reason why they are sealed. Oh why did you not come to me before starting on this venture.” The Abbott was wringing his hands in worry.

“What is wrong your grace?” The colour was draining from his face.

“The way was sealed to prevent the devils spawn from escaping. A chancellor long ago called up demonic aid, aid that killed him and threatened all that was Holy. we managed to seal them in the catacombs for all eternity.”

“But that is just a myth, a legend, surely your Grace.” Alexander’s face showed his doubt.

“Did you not hear what I said? I said we trapped them. I was only a curate then, a novice, but I too was used to seal them away.” The Abbott was beside himself with worry.

“I will send some of my men to bring them back. Have no fear they will be safe.” Alexander was going to say more but was interrupted by a young woman acting as a runner for those up the gatehouse tower. “What has occurred that needs such haste Eleanor?”

“Master Benot sent me to tell you that the Bishops men are preparing to attack. He is preparing any of the people able to bare arms to follow your knights.” The young woman gasped.

Alexander looked down at the girl with a heavy heart.

“Thank you child.” He said. “Go back to master Benot and tell him to draw up those with arms behind my Knights in front of the gates.”

She scurried away.

“Your Grace will you bless us all before this undertaking?”

“Need you ask my old friend. It shall be done and may God have mercy on our souls.”

It was a noble, and some would say futile action, that lead to Alexander leading out the defenders to meet the Bishops remaining troops.

The towns people fanned out behind the remaining Knights.

The Bishop rode forward.

“Have you come to give up that evil harpy and her deluded brother my Lord or are you still intent on this foolishness.” He looked over the crowd with barely concealed contempt.

“I would ask the same of you Bishop. Are you willing to lay down your arms and enter into debate about the future of us all.” Alexander knew the answer but felt he had to try.

The Bishop laughed a demented laugh.

“I admire your cheek my Lord. I assume that is what it was rather than rank stupidity.” He turned his horse and rode through his men at arms. “Kill them, kill them all and burn them to stop their evil spreading.”

With a scream of defiance the men at arms streamed forward.

Alexander’s horse rose up on its hind legs and kicked out with its hooves while Alexander set about him with his sword.

At first they were able to hold their own but soon the pressure began forcing them back towards the old castles walls.

Attackers and defenders both paid the price and lay in a bloody swathe before the ancient battlements.

Twice Alexander caught sight of Duke de Anjou commanding the new troops and twice did he call for the man to stay his troops.

“Do you think I would waste my energies in saving you.” The man cried. “Your time is over along with the power of the Abbey.”

Alexander was just making his peace with God in his mind, knowing that he was surely doomed, when a great shout went up and new troops with white cloths about their arms flooded the field attacking defenders and attackers both.

The battle degraded into a massive free for all as the new troops pushed forward resulting in defenders and attackers standing shoulder to shoulder fighting for their lives.

Several tried to flee the field only to be cut down, two of them had dropped their weapons in acceptance of defeat only to be slaughtered where they stood.

Every man and woman was fighting no longer for some noble reason but was trying to survive.

The Bishop rode though the mass of fighting bodies toward De Anjou.

“Betrayer!! You pledged your arms to me!” He screamed.

De Anjou with calculated cruelty struck the man with his mail fist knocking him off his horse.

“You think I would ally myself to a fool like you, you were just a means to an end.” The bishop tried to roll away only to be trampled on as De Anjou drove his horse forward.

“Fall back to the castle its our only hope.” Alexander called.

Suddenly flights of arrows thudded into these newcomers bringing them low.

The Rangers under Chief Ranger Françoise Venison came into view peppering the troops with the white bands with arrows before moving in for the kill.

Alexander with what remained of the defenders and some of the bishops men withdrew into the castle for safety.

Once inside the Bishops men threw their weapons down and asked for mercy something Alexander was reluctant to give.

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