The Stag at Bay. Blood of Ironside Part 5 #SampleSunday #HistNov

I saw Alric’s arrow hanging from the chest of the stag.  The animal was all but spent, its great chest heaving with effort and exhaustion.  250px-Red_deer_stag_2009_denmark

I stared at it.  It stared back at me as if it knew its death lay here.  I took a step towards it and pulled out my sword.  Still it stood there, unmoving and watchful.  It was a beautiful beast, with antlers thick and strong.  The thought came to me how vile it would be to kill such a creature.  I halted in my walk towards it and felt rather than saw Godwin look at me in surprise.

‘We’ll have to kill it,’ he whispered.

‘I know,’ I said and my heart grew heavy.

At that moment the great stag cried out and lowered its antlers.  It pawed the ground and sprang towards me.  It had allowed me no time.

I flung my sword to the ground and blindly made a grab for its antlers.  I caught firm hold but found myself borne backward by the stag’s onward rush.  Its breath was hot upon my neck and I saw its mouth open as if to bite me.

How I clung onto the antlers I do not know, pure terror lent me strength, I guess.  Godwin leapt upon the stag’s neck, trying to plunge his knife into it.  But the beast was too cunning.  With one shake of its head it flung Godwin to the ground and I went careering after him.

I glanced at Godwin.  His head had smashed against a rock and blood gushed from his forehead.  He tried to get up, fumbling for his knife and pointing out the danger.  I looked up and saw the stag begin to paw the ground.  It lowered its head again and seemed to be weighing up where best to strike.  Then, with a bellow, it leapt towards us.

I scrambled to my feet.  A death does lie here, I thought, but it is mine and not the stag’s.

I turned my head, not wishing to see my death face on. As I did so I saw a man leap upon the back of the beast.

The stag reared up, throwing the man from its back and turned, seeking out this fresh adversary.  It was Siward Barn.

He regained his feet and faced the stag, crouching low and feinting it as if it were an opponent in a wrestling bout.  The stag charged and he grasped its antlers.  It bellowed with fury and tried to shake him off but he was a man of dreadful strength and held fast to it.  I watched in horror as man and beast grappled, the antlers slashing at his flesh while he sought to bend the neck back on itself and break it.

Dirt and dust flew in the air and blood, sweat and spit drenched man and stag.  I could not for the life of me see who would be the victor, so matched were they in strength and skill.

I staggered to my feet and plucked up Godwin’s knife.  I dodged round the back of the stag, found the spot where neck joined shoulder and plunged the blade in deep.

I felt the stag tense beneath me.  It gave a cry, hoarse and shrill.  I stepped away, walking as if in a nightmare.

Weary of the battle the stag turned and looked at me.  I stared into its eyes and the life began to ebb from them.  I watched it stagger to its knees and all the time it gazed at me, never for a moment taking its eyes from my face.  Then, with one last keening wail, it crashed to the ground.

I felt like a traitor who had slain a hero.


‘Blood of Ironside’ is the third novel in The Lost King series.  All of the books are available on Kindle for $3.08, £1.97 or €2.68.  You can buy by clicking on the links below, by clicking on the covers to the right (for the UK) or through Amazon outlets in your own country.

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About Martin Lake

Martin Lake lives in the French Riviera with his wife. After studying at the University of East Anglia he worked as a teacher, trainer and company director. A serious accident shattered his arm and meant that he had to rein back his work. He decided to concentrate on writing and is now writing full-time. He writes a wide range of fiction. His main interests are historical fiction, short stories and fiction for young adults. Martin has a series of novels 'The Lost King' which are set in the years following the Norman Invasion of England. They concern Edgar Atheling, last representative of the ancient English royal dynasty and his fight to regain the throne from William the Conqueror. Martin has also published 'Artful' the further adventures of the Dodger and 'Outcasts' a novel about fall of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. His latest novel, 'A Love Most Dangerous' is about a maid of honour who becomes the lover of Henry VIII. Martin’s work has been broadcast on radio. He won first prize in the Kenneth Grahame Society competition to write a story based on 'The Wind in the Willows.' You can get the collection, 'The Wind in the Willows Short Stories' from Amazon.
This entry was posted in Blood of Ironside, Historical fiction, The Lost King and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Stag at Bay. Blood of Ironside Part 5 #SampleSunday #HistNov

  1. Beautiful imagery. I’m sure the stag is going to remain in my thoughts for some time.

  2. Pingback: Return to Scotland. Blood of Ironside Part 6. #SampleSunday #HistNov | martinlakewriting

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