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Wars of the Roses 02 - Trinity by Iggulden Conn

Wars of the Roses 02 - Trinity by Iggulden Conn

Author:Iggulden, Conn [Iggulden, Conn]
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
ISBN: 9780718196370
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Published: 2014-09-24T23:00:00+00:00


Part Two

1459

The realm of England was out of all governance … for the king was simple … held no household, maintained no wars.

Anon. [15th century English chronicler]

18

Derry Brewer stood in sheeting rain and watched the column of armed soldiers ride the great avenue towards the castle of Kenilworth. On the open land, there was no protection from the downpour that hissed over them. They rode with their heads bowed, seven score of men in full plate armour, carrying banners so drenched that they had wrapped around the poles. Even so, they were alert, ready for an attack. Despite four years of peace, the entire country seethed, jangling and clashing like a pot-lid on a fire.

Derry stepped into the path of the men, taking up a position in the middle of the drive. He had chosen six big lads to stand with him, just to form a decent-looking group. Two white plough horses went some way to block the avenue, enormous animals with twice the muscle and weight even of a warhorse. The way things were, Derry doubted any of the visitors would stop for just one man. The foul weather didn’t help, nor the fact that the castle was in sight, with all its promise of warmth and safety. He raised his hand, palm out, standing tall and with as much confidence as he could muster while the rain stung his skin. At his side, his friend Wilfred Tanner raised the royal banner, a splash of red and gold that could be seen from far away. The bony little smuggler stood with quivering pride at being allowed to hold the king’s colours.

It was barely an hour past noon, though the clouds overhead had reduced the great drive to a dark grey. Derry stared ahead at the approaching riders, observing the moment when they spotted him and called back to the duke they protected. Derry could not see beyond the first couple of ranks, but somewhere in the mass of soldiers was the man he needed to reach.

‘In the name of the king, hold!’ Derry bellowed over the wind. He muttered swear words at the lack of response.

The column trotted closer, jingling towards him with no sign of slowing. If the man who led them gave no order, Derry knew they would ride straight through his miserable group, scattering them. God knew, there was suspicion enough in England that year. Every minor baron, every knight and his neighbours seemed to be gathering men and buying weapons. The cauldron was likely to spill, with so much heat under it.

When the front rank was just paces from him, Derry heard another voice snap an order. It rippled down the line, though they had at least expected it and halted before he was knocked off his feet. When they stopped at last, Derry could have reached out and touched the damp muzzle of the closest mounts, though he decided not to do so. No rider liked to see another man reaching for his reins.

The



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