Before there was the novel, there were the stories...

by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Stories: Shannon and Lorin Rejoin the King's Forces (Happened with Changes)

“Where be the king, for all the saints?” Shannon shouted as he came into the encampment drawing a horse by the lead behind him. Mounted on the horse was a still badly injured Lorin.

Men shouted and pointed to where the king’s command tent was and went on preparing for the assault on the fortress gates.

Only Horsa was in the tent, giving orders to his captains and pointing to a rough map of the assault side of the fortress. He looked up when the Irishman came in breathing hard. “Shannon! Did you find the duke?”

“Aye,” Shannon all but gasped, and someone handed him a cup with wine. He looked at it a moment, then drank it down. Wiping his lips with the back of his hand, he went on. “He be outside. Och, still in bad shape he is, poor man. But he is here. he will be after needin’ help getting’ down off that infernal beast.”

Horsa gestured to a captain who dashed out to help the duke. He himself went out after him, followed by the others. Shannon looked longingly at the pitcher of wine, but turned and followed as well.

The older man stepped quickly to help the captain as Lorin as much as slid off the horse. He had one arm in a sling and was wincing as the men caught him around the chest. The bruises on his face were now faded, but there were stitches on cuts on his cheek and forehead.

“Your grace, we are sorry to see you so injured, but also glad to see you here,” Horsa said in a gentle voice.

Lorin looked up as he was set on his feet where he swayed but put up a hand to refuse any further help. “I am healing, and I am here.. where is the king? We had heard that he was dead.”

Horsa smiled grimly. “Everyone thought he was dead, everyone but himself and Lord Jehan.” At Lorin’s puzzled look, he said, “That is a story for another time. The king is leading a small band to your hidden escape route in the wall.”

Lorin looked startled. “He is? Is that even still there?” He lowered himself painfully to a log. “Is that why you are preparing for an assault? Is he going to open the gates?”

“Aye, that,” responded the commander. “And to find the queen and their children before the assault, your grace.”

Lorin and Shannon exchange quick glances.

“The queen, is it? He doesn't know then?” Shannon blurted.

Lorin answered Horsa’s puzzled look. “The queen my sister is not there. She escaped. The children as well.”

Dumbfounded, Horsa stared at him.

Shannon filled in one of the details Lorin had not, “She and Elerde and his mercenaries just rode out of the gate and headed north.”

The tall robust commander made the sign of the cross. “To the River Humber?”

Lorin shook his head, “We know not. And even if so, whether they continued into Northumbria or took ship east or west we cannot tell.”

“No one said anything in the town, your grace. We had no idea.” Horsa sighed. “But then the king has been in such a rage methinks they were loath to give him any tidings, no less bad.”

“’Tis not necessarily bad. It means she and the children are alive and out of Gaylorde’s reach.”

One of the captains asked, “My lord, then you trust the mercenary lord?”

Lorin’s smile was wry. “Nay, I do not, but however changeable his loyalties are methinks my kinswoman and the children will e’er be safe with him. And, after all, he did save my life.”

“Shannon told us the tale, but methinks the king is not so confident in Elerde’s trustworthiness.”

Shannon shook his head and said to Horsa. “Och, aye, he is. He would not care to admit it but he knows the bastard loves his queen at least as much as he himself does, God rot the mercenary lord.”

Horsa nodded sadly. “I fear what will happen when he goes to find her in the fortress and she and the children are gone."


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About the author

Nan Hawthorne now writes under the name Christopher Hawthorne Moss. You can contact Christopher at .