Aldric has been riding toward the coast for days.|
Several times he has considered turning around
to return to Gwendolyn, his heart with love ablaze,
but his mind reminds him there is to be found
no safe place for them in this treacherous kingdom.
He makes the coast and seeks passage upon a ship.
Aldric makes discreet inquiries, heeding the wisdom
of not drawing undue attention to himself, for one slip
could lead to his capture or death at the hands of his
enemies. Then late one night he hears the hushed
words of men at the door of his room. “I swear it ‘tis
Aldric himself. I saw him once at court. He brushed
by me in the Great Hall, not a foot away. ‘Tis he
and none other.” Aldric grabs his sword and stands
beside the door, ready to unleash another killing spree.
There comes a knock on the door. A voice demands
entrance, “My lord, we seek a word with thee. We come
as friends and allies and bring you news of great import.”
Aldric opens the door to see a group of noblemen, some
of whom he recognizes from King Edmund’s royal court.
“We have sought you for many months. You have left a trail
of dead men for us to follow in your wanderings. We bring
news of an army assembling near Portsmouth. We can prevail
over the king’s forces if our troops believe there’s something
“extraordinary about our army and if all the noblemen unite
behind a leader greater than they. The answer, my lord, is you.
Only Aldric Chadwyk has the reputation necessary to incite
unwavering loyalty and bravery. This only you can do!”
Aldric readily agrees to lead this army against the corrupt king.
By the tens of thousands, men rally to the cause. Upon learning
their leader is to be Aldric, the king of France decides to fling
diplomacy aside and sends troops and weapons. He is yearning
to avenge the treachery that befell his royal cousin King Edmund.
A formidable army takes shape and trains rigorously for the battle
to decide all their fates. Aldric is everywhere, getting things done.
“In a month, we’ll fight well and not be slaughtered like cattle,”
all the nobles agree. But then, their enthusiasm wanes as word
arrives that the army of the king approaches. “We are not ready!
We must retreat,” they all proclaim. Aldric refuses. “We gird
for battle now. Our army must not run. My lords, keep steady.
“The men need to see your courage. Have faith that good must
vanquish evil. Rally your troops into a frenzy for victory. Verily,
the fate of our country will be decided on the morrow. Put trust
in me. I shall lead us to a great triumph,” Aldric says confidently.
The battle plans are drawn, and the nobles go to prepare their
troops. In the privacy of his own tent, Aldric faces reality and
knows defeat is the likely outcome of the battle. “I do swear
to die a death befitting a king’s champion this time. Let no man
“say that Aldric failed his king a second time.” His thoughts turn
to Gwendolyn…Isolated in the nunnery Gwendolyn has grown
despondent. She knows nothing of events transpiring. Her concern
is for Aldric. She fears his death and that to her it will go unknown.