When the six hundred- and fifty-foot soldiers of Wendomme were ready, the travelers and Jobarie’s fifty started out for the farm. The charge came, and Elder Stow and Sukki, both invisible and flying at tree-top level, gave the enemy something to think about and maybe softened them up. They burned the ground, the trees out front, and no doubt some of the archers in those trees all along the line. Those men were already retreating when Lionel’s pikemen arrived.
Sukki flew back to the travelers who quickly got out of range of the melee, but Elder Stow had another idea. As long as he was invisible, he thought to get out his sonic device. The squeal sent the enemy horses into a panic. Many ran off, but even the ones that did not run were too panic stricken to be ridden right away. The enemy had no way of making that quick getaway, and with Jules and his two hundred coming up from their rear, they would do well to surrender.
When Elder Stow rejoined the travelers, they had just made it to the farmhouse. The house was empty, but the archers fought with a dozen men out by the barn. Those men fought with a fanaticism rarely seen on a medieval battlefield. They took about twice their number of archers before they died, even with Decker, Katie, Lockhart, Tony, and Lincoln all taking shots when they had a clear target.
“Check the barn,” Lionel yelled, upset with the loss of his good men.
“Wait,” Lockhart also yelled, and Lionel amended his command to “Wait.”
Decker, Katie, Lockhart, and Tony went to the barn door. Lockhart and Tony each grabbed a handle to the door and Decker and Katie raised their rifles to the ready. Lockhart nodded as a signal, and he and Tony swung the double door wide open. They saw people. Two men had their arms up, showing no hostile intent. One big red-headed man looked unsteady on his feet, but he shouted.
Decker and Katie lowered their rifles.
One soldier sat on a horse, and it took a moment for the travelers to realize it was the girl, Joan. She handed her banner to the big red-head and said, “I won’t be needing this now.” She walked her horse forward and the travelers got out of the way. She stopped just outside the doors. “To whom have I the honor of speaking?”
With the girl’s voice identifying the rider, Jobarie rushed up and said “The Masters,” and they would have their way with her. He shouted something about rape and death. He reached up and dragged her off her horse, but the big red-headed man was right there. He whipped out his sword, fast as a gunslinger, ready to remove Jobarie’s head from his shoulders, but Decker pulled the trigger. Jobarie grabbed his chest and collapsed.
“Quentin?” Lincoln asked.
“Hold,” Lionel shouted at the same time to keep Jobarie’s men from acting as any man would. “Stay where you are and put down your weapons.” He saw the travelers turned their guns to the archers and he knew the archers would not stand a chance. He spoke to the travelers. “A servant of the Masters?”
“Yes, Lincoln,” Quentin said. “And yes. I smelled the masters even if he did not open his mouth. There is a deeper, spiritual struggle going on here than just your French and the English all fighting each other over a perishable crown.”
He let his hand down to help Joan up. Joan brushed herself off but refused to look at the now dead body. She turned to Quentin as he sheathed his sword. Quentin also whispered, “Ouch by the way,” and that made Joan smile between her tears.
“The man may have had a wife or children,” Quentin spoke to Lionel, the only one still on horseback. “They should be helped but watched. They are probably clean.”
“I will compensate the man’s family,” Lionel said.
“I return this to you,” Joan interrupted, her eyes only on Quentin. “Will you return it to Saint Catherine’s?” She removed the sword from her side, thus disarming herself. She handed it to Quentin.
“I will see it gets to where it belongs,” Quentin said, and the sword turned ghost-like before it disappeared. Several of Jobarie’s archers saw and took a step back, uncertain now what to think.
Joan turned away so Quentin would not see her tears. She remounted her horse and faced the man still up on horseback. “To whom do I have the honor of addressing?” she repeated.
“I am Lord Lionel of Wendomme,” he said, and expressed genuine surprise. “Why, you are just a child.”
Jules trotted up with four of his men in his trail, even as the rest of the travelers, having dismounted, brought their horses and mule toward the barn. Quentin took another step forward and almost collapsed. Katie quickly grabbed him to help hold him up as he spoke. “She is a maiden, and a child, pure, and she better remain so under your hand. If any defile her, there is nowhere on God’s green earth where they can escape my wrath.”
“And who might you be?” Jules asked.
“Quentin the Scott. Of late, the Highlander from Lord Bedford’s inner circle. Your Philip calls me the dog that won’t let go once I’ve got my jaws on my prey. So, you better hear me.”
“Do not be afraid,” Lionel said to Joan. And to Quentin he added, “I pledge on my honor I will do all that I can to keep her safe for as long as I can.”
“And I,” Jules added before he turned to Lord Lionel. “The men are coming up with prisoners.”
“Lockhart?” Quentin asked without detailing his question.
“These last few days we traveled together. He seems a fair and honest man who will keep his word. He knows who we are, and who you are, so he knows what you speak is true.”
Quentin nodded and sniffed. Joan returned the nod and had a sniff of her own before she spoke to Lionel. She lowered her eyes appearing most humble. “As the Lord wills, I give my life into your hands, Lord Lionel of Wendomme. I am your prisoner.”
“I accept your surrender and pledge myself and my men to your safety and security,” Lionel said, graciously, before he turned to Jules and the men with him. “Let the archers stay here and turn any of the enemy they see. Let the two hundred escort us and the prisoners to Lord Jean’s camp. We need to deliver the prisoners to him.” He turned back to Joan. “Might you ride with me? I have so many questions.”
The travelers chuckled, as Joan moved up to ride beside the man. Jules and his few fell in behind, like an honor guard. The remains of Jobarie’s men turned their backs on Quentin and the travelers. It was an uneasy peace, the tension in the air felt thick, but the men saw what the travelers could do and had time to think about it, much as they might have liked Jobarie.
“Sukki,” Quentin said, as he opened his arms for a hug. Sukki came, tentatively, but hugged Quentin with a good will. Quentin said, “The hug is for you with as much love as my old heart has left to me. But you must also give my hug to your sister, Boston, when you see her again.”
“I will,” Sukki said, a big smile etched across her face.
“Good, now come,” he told the travelers. “I will introduce you to Bertrand, de Metz, and Henrietta, the cow, then I think it wise for us to get out of here.”
Three days later, when the travelers were well on their way to Saint-Catherine-de Fierbois, the English and Burgundians drew their troops up on one side of a wide field. They figured with the capture of the Maid, the French would be demoralized, and the city would fall. The French, for their part, were not exactly happy, and some did say the war was lost. But Quentin would not have it. He gathered the Scotsmen from among the French troops and put them in the center when the French lined up to face their opponents.
“The question is, who will charge first and expend all their energy crossing this wide field?” He knew the English commanders would wait in the hope that the French would tire of waiting; but Quentin had another idea. He had Joan’s banner, and with de Metz and Bertrand, he walked out, the three of them, all eyes watching.
Quentin stopped at what he judged to be the outside limit of where the Welsh Longbowmen could reach. He planted Joan’s banner in the soft mud. Then he took two steps out in front of the banner. De Metz and Bertrand knelt to each side, like men in prayer, one step back from where Quentin planted the banner. Quentin drew his sword and planted the point in front of himself. The message was clear. He was taunting the English and Burgundians to come and take it.
Everyone watched. Several attempts were made to shoot the men around the banner, but Quentin judge the distance right. The arrows, even from the vaunted longbows, mostly fell short. One appeared to strike Quentin in the chest, but the ancient armor of the Kairos, made under the watchful eye of the god Hephaestus himself, repelled the projectile. It did not penetrate, and while Quentin whispered “Ouch,” to his companions. he remained unmoved.
Finally, three knights and a dozen footmen came out from the English line. They had to know who he was, and they had to be steaming mad. Quentin had no doubt their orders were to kill him and get that banner. He heard noise begin in the French line behind him. The closer the enemy came, the more noise he heard. De Metz and Bertrand stood, picked up their shields, drew their swords, and prepared to fight and defend the banner. Quentin did not move.
When the enemy arrived, the sound from the French line sounded fever pitch. Quentin cut down three of the pikemen in quick succession. De Metz and Bertrand both faced English knights, but the third knight thought he was smart. He grabbed Joan’s banner and began to wave it like a conquering hero, no doubt for his own side, but the effect cannot be overstated. The entire French line charged screaming death to the English. This was not a typical inspired group of soldiers. This was wrath of God stuff, and the English and Burgundians knew it.
Quentin killed the foolish knight and grabbed the banner before it touched the ground. He risked getting stabbed in the back to plant the banner again in the mud. Fortunately, the Englishmen who attacked the banner ran away as fast as they could. The French went right around the banner, screaming madmen. The English and Burgundian lines almost immediately began to disintegrate. Quentin knew some French soldiers would continue to follow the enemy well into the night. It would take that long for the tempers to cool.
“That was quite a risk,” Bertrand said after the screamers all passed them by.
“It was,” Quentin admitted, but the Siege of Compiegne was finished as of that day.
MONDAY Episode 9.2 The Called
Castile is divided and Aragon and Portugal are fighting to decide who will rule the country, but of course, the Kairos Catherine has a bigger problem being broadcast into space. Until then, Happy Reading.