CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS CHAPTER

It was nightfall and the vast English Army had finally come to a halt and pitched their camps on a wide plain a day and a half’s journey into the Scottish borders. The soldiers were resting after a very busy day of heavy fighting, slaughter, and plunder, but the mood in the camp wasn’t exactly one of joy and gladness. The mood in the camp was tense and morals were low. The soldiers had been marching all over England, fighting battles for months and most of them hadn’t had any real rest or even been home to their families in all that time and it looked like there was more war to come with winter only months away. No one in the Army was happy, least of all their Lord.

The Black Wolf, first Duke of Claymore, Earl of Rostow and Lord of Oakwood, Lord Royce Westwoodmond, was in his war tent deep in a meeting with his top knights trying to draw up an alternative battle strategy to deal with the formidable problem of the impregnable castle of Maltonrose which lay ahead of his army. It was the key to the whole of southern Scotland, the home of the most powerful Scotish Lord in the south. Taking that castle could even unlock the whole Scotland itself and save him and his army many months of bitter winter battles. The Duke knew all this too well and so he was throwing all he had against that Castle.

Two of the three scouting groups the Duke had sent out to spy on the lands around the castle had returned but the last was still to come in. The information the two teams brought wasn’t good at all which way why the Duke was in a war council and not eating supper in his personal tent.

The Castle of Maltonrose was receiving reinforcements from somewhere to the northeast where the highland clans were. Fresh fighting men, a lot of them. The two stone bridges across the wide Maltonrose river, the only major bridge connecting the road north had already been destroyed and this meant that his already battle-worn men would have to cross the river under heavy siege.

The Duke wasn’t happy at all.

The eight knights were the most senior members of the Knights of the Golden Spurs, the elite band of hard fighting men within the Duke's army famous for being the toughest and best warriors in all of England. The Knights of the Golden Spurs were commanders over the Duke's army and served as his personal bodyguards. The eight senior knights, all still clad in their battle armor, stood around the central table in the war tent with the Duke, staring down at the crude map of Southern Scotland on the table. The Duke, a powerful built tall man in his late twenties with midnight black hair and a hard-handsome face that bore the forbidden expression of a man in whom a lot of power had been vested, stood at the head of the table, dressed all in his trademark black, tonic, breeches, and boots. He was completely unarmed.

The knights waited patiently for their Lord’s final decision, which didn’t take long in coming. The English army would march on Castle Maltonrose at first light the next day.

Surround by his personal guards, the Duke left the war tent and strode back across the camp to his personal tent where he settled down to supper, served by his squire.

The Duke had barely touched the cold turkey when his attention was drawn to a slight disturbance outside the doors to his large tent. The flaps were thrown open and three men strode in dressed in the dirty garments of common travelers but their boots, which stuck out from under the garments was of high quality with the trademark golden spurs of the Knight of the Golden Spurs.

Two of the man carried heavy burdens over their shoulders.

“Put them down right here,” said the first knight to his two companions with a flourish, pointing the spot in the middle of the tent.

“What the hell is this, Lance?” demanded the Duke incredulously, still seated at his dining table.

“I got you a gift,” replied Lord Lancelot, younger brother to the Duke.

The two man laid their burdens down, loosened the ropes around them and unwrapped the sack cloth used in covering them up to reveal two frightened nuns.

“The devil’s death!” cursed the Duke angrily, getting to his feet and going over as he started at women in disbelief. He looked at his brother. “I send you to spy out our enemies and you bring me back two wretched nuns!”

“These are not nuns, Royce, they are novices, and no ordinary ones at that. What you are looking at is the key to Maltonrose castle. Isn’t that what you really wanted?”

“What in the world are talking about?” demanded the Duke.

Lord Lancelot waved a hand at the girls. “Say hello to the two daughters of the Earl of Maltonrose.”

The Black Wolf turned his head slowly and stared at the two girls huddled together on the floor before him, shivering with fear. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly then began to smile.




To Be Continued..... (Three Times Each week, Only King Eze's Blog)
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