Chapter XCIII

‘My Lord! My Lord!’

The messenger ran swiftly to the tent, his chest heaving, eyes wide at what he’d seen. ‘My Lord, the flag burns! The Lady and her men have succeeded!’

‘Thank the gods,’ Lockspate murmured, running a hand through his hair. He turned quickly then to Hathering, who looked as lost as a dog right out to sea, struggling against the waves, succeeding for a time. But eventually the water batters it into inexistence, its numb body food for crabs.

‘Have you orders, My Lord?’

Hathering said something no one heard.

‘Your Grace?’

Gently, Lockspate took his hand, helped him to a chair on which he sat. ‘Hathering. Beatrix and the outlaws have broken into Aaron’s fortress. We should act now. But I cannot do so without your consent.’

Hathering blinked once, twice. ‘Yes,’ he said quietly. ‘Do what you must. Leave me, now.’

And so it was that Lockspate left the tent, shouted to his men the order to attack, which was taken up and carried as a battle-cry as they hurtled towards the tall, forbidding walls of the fortress. But even as they did so, the battlements of the fortress filled with guardsmen.

Lockspate gritted his teeth. This would be a battle indeed. But it might just be one they could win.

‘Careful, Beatrix,’ he thought. ‘We’ll be with you before much longer. If you can just hold tight...’

But that was exactly what she was not doing.

The End

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