Sumunguru the Leopard

         Tancred had seen such a place like this, though it was in ruins in his native Normandy. A place built on the coast by the Romans to guard against the sea raiders.  It fell,ironically, to the rage of the father of the Grande Guillaume who conquered England some two hundred years ago. Both like most of Normandy, the descendants of pagan Norse marauders.         The fortress here was meant to control the traffic in the pass. So well it did this, all but a few traveled today on the lower road in the valley that went around these peaks.    Tancred saw the gates begin to open as they approached. Ferdinand was scratching his uncut hair, having removed his old style helm.   " This is my last work for these folk here, Tancred. Something about them. Something doesn't flow the way it should with them."  " I only seen that pasty faced bear, but you're right Ferdinand. He struck me as odd that night we first met him at the frontier. This place though, it's not as large as the old fortress in Normandy, seems understrength, judging by the light up there. I count seven, no, eight, up on the ramparts."  " Getting ideas Tancred?"  " Far from it,old friend! I want to drop this off, collect my fee and head home to marry an eligible widow with a fief needing a strong grip upon it. "  "There's plenty in the Holy Land I here," Ferdinand said before putting back on his domed helm with its nasal bar sloping off his nose.  " If I wanted that kind of action I can stay here in Spain!"     They rode into the open gateway, with a hasty look upward to catch any action in the murder holes. Coming through, they noticed the three guards on either side of the entrance. They exchanged wary looks.   Then, with two guards carrying torches in front, four spearman behind these, Tancred saw the one he called " the pasty faced bear" accompanied by a female wearing a mask as if she was about to go to some fete in the city in the valley.

The End

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