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indifferently, eyeing us as we came up to them. One was large and stout, built
like an ox. The other was leaner but just as mean looking. For a moment, no
one spoke. We just regarded one another, circling.
Finally, the ox grunted a few words in a French I could barely make out. You
are the jesterHugh? The one with the lance?
I am, I replied.
You'rethe little fart who has led the peasants and bondmen against their
lords? the other growled.
We've risen up in the face of murder and oppression, I replied.
Ox snickered. You don't look so big. We were told you were eight fucking feet
tall.
If we have to fight, it will seem that, I said.
The Languedocians looked me up and down in a way I could not read. Then they
looked at each other and started to laugh. Fight you? The big one chortled.
We've come to join you, fool. Word reached us you intend to march on Treille.
We are sworn enemies of that prick Baldwin. We've been enemies of Treille for
two hundred years.
I looked at Daniel and we broke into grins. This is good news... but you're
too late. Treille is already taken. We are marching on Bor e.
Bor e?the thinner one said. You mean against that prick Stephen?
I nodded. The same.
For a moment, the two Languedocians drew their horses close and huddled
together. I could hardly understand the tongue they were speaking in. Then Ox
looked back to me and shrugged. All right, we march on Bor e.
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He raised his sword to his ranks and they erupted-lifting their swords and
spears in a riotous cheer.
You're lucky. Ox grinned through his beard. We've been enemies of Bor e
forthree hundred years.
Chapter 129
STEPHEN WAS IN his dressing room when Anne stormed in and found him, in a
chair, peeling an apple. Annabella, a lady of the court, was bent over his
waist, swallowing his cock.
At the sight of Anne, Annabella gagged. She jumped, frantically replacing
Stephen's leggings as if to hide the evidence. Stephen looked on, seeming not
to care.
Oh, do not bother, Annabella. Anne sighed. When the lord hears what news I
bear, we shall all be amused to see to what size his manhood shrinks.
The lady smoothed her ruffled tresses, curtsied, then scurried out of the
room.
These are my private quarters, not your parlor, Stephen said, hitching himself
up. And do not feign offense, dear wife, since you obviously knew what
business you would find here.
I do not feign offense. Anne eyed him sharply. Only regret, to have
interrupted you from such pressing work.
So. Stephen rose. By all means, let me know. What's the big surprise?
A runner has arrived from Sardoney. He's brought word that your little jester
is on the way. Two days out. With his lance.
Thisis the news you thought would disarm me? Stephen seemed to yawn, taking
another deep bite from his apple. That this poor fool marches on us? Why
should this mean any more to me than a bite of this fruit, I say? But come, he
said, eyeing the bulge in his hose, as long as the table is set, why not put
the little weasel to some work?
Anne crept behind him and smoothed her hands across his chest, even though the
pretense of such affection was as repulsive to her as kissing a snake. She
bent down to his ear and whispered, It is not the fool that I thought would
concern you, my husband. She rubbed her hand near his cock. But the thousand
men who march along with him.
What? Stephen twisted around. He screwed up his face in disbelief.
Oh, has the weasel crept back in his little cave? Anne laughed. Yes, my liege,
apparently an army follows him that is even greater than before. An army of
lost souls,heretics , thanks to you. And thanks to Baldwin, fully armed.
Stephen jumped out of his seat, hot with rage. Impossible! They damn their
souls to follow him.
No, husband, it isyour soul that is damned.
Get out of my way. Stephen shot out his hand. It slashed across Anne's face,
knocking her to the floor. If you have any hope for that little brat you call
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your cousin, you will mock me no more.
If you harm her, Stephen... Anne forced herself up to her palms.
Stephen burned his gaze right through her. He moved as if to strike again. She
did not flinch. Then the color came back into his face, and he softened and
knelt, cupping her quivering face in the palm of his hand.
Why would I want to hurt her, my precious wife? She is a part of you. He
raised himself, smoothing his tunic, the veins in his forehead now calm. I
have merely detained her for her own protection. There are dangerous
conspirators about who plan us harm, even within these very walls. Haven't you
heard?
Chapter 130
LOOK.Men began to point.Up on the hill. There it is. Bor e!
Above the rolling hills of vineyards and farms, its limestone towers rose with
roofs of blue, like lapis etched into the sky. There was the facade of the
famous cathedral, gleaming white; and the castle that I had stayed in, its
donjons reaching to the sky-where Emilie was.
As we neared, the exhilaration spread: I'm gonna take Stephen in one arm and
his largest hen in the other, and squeeze them till they both lay a fucking
egg, a boastful farmer yelled.
Behind me, my new army stretched for nearly a mile. In every row, men marched
in different clothing: tailors, woodsmen, and farmers in their own garb, but
with thrown-together mail and helmets they had swiped from Baldwin. They
carried pennants from their towns, pikes and clubs and bows on their backs.
Some even spoke different dialects.
The vast line included men and horses, carts drawn by heavy oxen, and [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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