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.She had succumbed too quickly to his flattery and touch.Something insideher, beyond her control, had responded hungrily to his hold on her.Maybe fear of the battle had donethat.Perhaps a part of her had wanted him to defeat her, so that she would have an excuse not to standwhere she did right now.His parting words kept running through her mind, suggesting that the part of her that welcomed this wasbigger than any fear.Was he right? Did she enjoy it? Had playing the lord become an end in itself? Didshe look forward to this battle like a warrior, and not like a woman forced by circumstances to do theunthinkable? Was she, in the end, as unnatural as that? She, who never used mirrors, now had one thrustin front of her soul and she couldn t, for all of her trying, see what was truly reflected there.She found herself in front of the postern door.She swung it open and the sounds of surf crashed againstthe granite vaults.Her army followed her to the beach.The cliff rose ragged and uneven, at places soaring above the beach, at others dipping down to scalableheights.A mile north she turned to a path that led up the jumble of rocks to the forest above.She heard the soft whinnies before she reached the clearing.Carlos had brought twenty horses from thefarm.He pointed her to one tree.Tied there were three magnificent coursers with the lean lines andslender legs that bespoke their strong Saracen heritage.They were the fastest horses and would be themounts used by Carlos and herself and Louis.She slid her sword through the leather loops on her saddle s left side.She swung herself up, then bent toattach a quiver near her right leg.Hands reached out and began tying the lower thongs to their saddle rings.She gazed at the bright eyes ofthe man who owned those hands.Morvan looked back, the flickering torchlight making his face appearstern.Memories of last night s intimacies passed silently between them.He rested one hand on her knee. Stay close to the wall.Within our archers ABC Amber Text Converter Trial version, http://www.processtext.com/abctxt.html range, he commanded roughly.She would not be effective then. I will be careful. If things go badly, ride back.Gregory will be looking for you.He will get you inside.She hadn t known that he had given Gregory special orders.She should have guessed that he would. If you are in danger, remove your hood.They cannot afford to harm you.He was telling her to let Gurwant take her alive and unwounded.She had already decided that she wouldnot.He reached up and pulled her shoulder down.His hand found her head, and he pressed her mouth to his.Carlos began to lead the men from the clearing.Morvan stepped back to pull on his gauntlets. Do not blame yourself for not stopping me.And do not get yourself killed worrying about me, shesaid. Carlos will be nearby, and is better at this than you would think.God go with you, Morvan. And with you, my lady.He mounted his bay.It was a fine horse, she reassured herself, with more stamina and speed than adestrier.In an action such as this it might serve him better than a warhorse.They made their way through the forest.Finally Carlos gestured that they had arrived.The foot soldierstook positions to the right and left and formed their lines.She, Carlos, and Louis moved their horses tothe northern edge of the group.Everyone silently waited.Slowly, the blackness beyond the low fires of Gurwant s camp began to change.Rough shapes emergedthat formed into sleeping men and restless horses.The bodies by the central fire grew distinct first, andshe saw to her dismay that not all of the men were sleeping.A few, including Gurwant himself, werealready up and armored.Something beyond the camp caught her attention.On the southern field motionless shadows loomed thatcould only be the English archers from Brest.Suddenly a silvery gray light spread over the field.The distant shadows grew arms and legs and strodeforward together.A whistling sound broke the morning silence as volley after volley of arrows from theirlongbows flew toward Gurwant s camp.Anna s own archers ran from the forest and joined the onslaught, aiming as they had been told at theclutch of horses by the forest edge. ABC Amber Text Converter Trial version, http://www.processtext.com/abctxt.htmlHell broke loose.Battle cries rent the silence.Her knights and men-at-arms charged toward theconfusion of Gurwant s camp.She galloped past the camp with Carlos and Louis close behind.As she dropped her reins and began tolet her own arrows fly, she saw Haarold and a small force pour out of the castle gate.Their surprise attack had at least evened the odds.Many of Gurwant s sleeping soldiers never rose, andmost of the others fought on foot, unarmored and unprepared.Gurwant and his knights had managed toget horses, however, and the blond head of her adversary could be seen towering above the battle as hehacked with his ax through the melee.The battle began spreading out.Controlling her horse with her legs, she galloped along the northernperiphery, aiming her bolts carefully, trying to bring down the mounted enemies by hitting the horses thatcarried them.Over and over she made her sweeping runs.Her blood coursed with fear and exhilaration.Despite anoverwhelming sensation of danger, she had never before felt so gloriously alive and clearheaded.She galloped toward the castle on another pass, then turned her horse.Her heart jolted.One of Gurwant s knights had broken away from the battle and now charged toward the northern field.He raised hissword as he bore down on young Louis, who didn t see the danger behind him.She sighted an arrow to bring down the knight s horse, but suddenly Louis was between them and in theway.Slinging her bow onto her saddle, she unsheathed her sword and spurred her horse.The knight hadjust reached Louis when she ran her mount straight into his, swinging her sword just in time to deflect thedeath blow aimed at the youth s neck.The blade grazed Louis s arm.His horse bolted out of the way, but hers and the knight s joined in atangle of legs that sent them both crashing to the ground.The impact stole her breath.Pain spread through her hips and legs.As the horses righted themselves, theknight moved laboriously under his armor, pushing himself up.She jumped to her feet and grabbed thereins of her horse, but he skittered nervously and she was not able to mount.She smelled death behind her.She dropped the reins and turned.The knight had risen.He lowered hisvisor and faced her.She grasped her weapon in both hands.The battle suddenly seemed far away, and the field very big.She heard the knight laugh before he moved toward her.Morvan knew exactly that moment when the outcome of the battle was decided.As he wielded hissword, forcing his way through the foot soldiers to meet the mounted knights, he noticed the enemy fallingback.That meant moving toward the castle wall.The fate of Gurwant s army was sealed with those firststeps of retreat.It was Gurwant himself whom he wanted, and he worked his way toward that towering blond head.A movement to his left caught his attention.He reared his horse just in time to knock down a swordsmanthrusting at the animal s legs [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]