This is the third part of my new novel ‘Blood of Ironside.’ Edgar Atheling has survived the Norman attack and must now decide upon his course of action.
We turned and climbed up the hill. We found ourselves on a narrow causeway with puny sheep munching on scanty grasses. A small village clung a little way along, huddled against the walls of an ancient, decaying church as if attempting to shelter from the wind.
The village appeared to be deserted. Only one old man was brave enough to watch as we passed by. His pale eyes regarded us with as much indifference as he might have gazed upon a flock of sheep.
Siward Barn took him by the shoulder. ‘What is the name of this place?’ he asked.
‘This is the middle town,’ the old man answered.
Siward Barn swept his hand around. ‘And this land?’
‘The island of the stag?’
The old man nodded.
‘Is it an island?’ I asked.
‘It is when the tides are high,’ he answered. He glanced up at the sky. ‘You should be able to wade across by now.’
I looked where he was pointing. A narrow channel separated us from the mainland to the west.
‘Can we buy horses here?’ I asked.
The old man looked confused. ‘We have no horses. The priest has a donkey.’
‘That will have to do for now,’ Athelstan said. ‘Anna and Freya can take turns to ride it.’
‘The priest won’t loan you his donkey,’ the old man said. ‘He needs it.’
We ignored him and headed towards the church.
‘We have a long journey ahead,’ I said to Athelstan. ‘We shall still need horses.’
‘I’m not so sure,’ Willard said.
Willard glanced at the heavily forested land beyond the coast. ‘Not if the country is forest or high country like where we wintered. Men walking with a will can go as swift as horses on such ground. Horses only make good speed on the Roman roads and if we take those we’d be spotted by anyone pursuing us. We’d be wiser to head into the wilds and go by paths that horsemen cannot follow.’
I weighed up what he said. ‘The words of a woodman like you should be heeded,’ I said.
‘A donkey might be all right,’ he said cautiously. ‘For the young women.’
I stared at his sharp face and wiry frame. He had saved my life more than once already. I had a sudden image of the day I first saw him, deep within the forest. At that time I had felt the usual suspicion of such an outlaw. There was good cause as he had been aiming an arrow at my heart. There was no such doubt now. For either of us.
‘Will you come with us, Willard?’ I said. ‘I value you greatly.’
Willard gazed at his men. ‘Hog and I will,’ he said. ‘I cannot speak for the others. I’ll talk with them.’
He took a step towards his men then paused. ‘Where shall I say we are going?’ he asked.
‘To Scotland. To the palace of my brother-in-law, King Malcolm.’
‘Blood of Ironside’ is the third novel in The Lost King series. It is available on Kindle for $3.08, £1.97 or €2.68. You can buy them by clicking on the links below or through Amazon outlets in your own country.
Amazon US link is: http://t.co/X4nLHHXnQX
Amazon UK link is: http://t.co/KRNth65wNY
It is also available on Smashwords and will be available on Kobo, Nook, Sony Reader and other devices shortly. I will let subscribers to my email list know as soon as it is available on these devices.
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