Ian W. Cooper
The waggon lurched and bounced. The air inside was hot and sticky, with midges and flies and the smell of manure prominent. They were changing households, for her father was an important man.
Roland of Barris must be seen in his demesnes in order to be respected, in order not to be cheated by his stewards and baillies. With properties scattered over three counties, this meant moving periodically. His worship and his dignity demanded it.
Beatrice pulled back the curtains, her maid’s face white and frightened.
The thuds of hooves were all around.
Their driver reined in the animals.
Someone was shouting peremptory commands, but she couldn’t quite make it out.
“Who are you, sir?” It was William, the waggon-master.
Her attendants, sounding scared, were all talking at once.
There were men on horseback, but that was all that she could see. They quickly moved out of her sight.
There was the twang of a bowstring, and there was a groan from up front.
Heart pounding, she reached for the curtain, her maid grabbing her arm to try and stop her.
One would think she had learned something about her mistress by now, but apparently not.
Young Thomas lay on the ground, his sword halfway out of the scabbard. His hands scrabbled at the shaft in his chest, and his eyes were locked on hers—
He was clearly dying, feet kicking at the soft moss and turf.
“Mistress…mistress…I have always loved you—”
“Who are you people?”
The forest went very quiet.
Her face was red and stern.
“That’s none of your concern, my lady.” Bowing from his saddle, a bearded ruffian in hauberk and greaves brandished his bow, strung but with no arrow nocked. “Round them up.”
His riders kicked their heels and her train, maids and lads, were screaming and running through the woods.
The man before her slowly toppled out of the saddle, mouth in an ‘O’, a clothyard bolt and a spreading red stain the only clue to what was going on…the outlaws were all shouting at once.
There was plenty of screaming, and Beatrice ran forward to pull Thomas’ blade.
There was going to be hell to pay for this.
Their lives and their chastity would not come cheap.
So, anyways, ladies and gentlemen, that's all we've got so far. We'll work on it. I've got a few days and this one is supposed to be a short story for self-publication.