Join the adventure as David and Anna are catapulted back in time to alter history and save the medieval kingdom of Wales!
David and his man-at-arms, Ieuan, find themselves alone and on the run from a company of English soldiers who’ve sworn vengeance for the recent death of their king. Meanwhile, Llywelyn lays on his deathbed, wounded by a traitor’s arrow. And once again, it is David and Anna, and all that they represent, that holds the key to the survival of Wales.
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City of Chester
28 June 1285
Humphrey de Bohun
Third Earl of Hereford
I stalked toward Edward’s quarters. Stalked. My wife tells me I stalk when I’m angry, like a caged lion or trained bear at a village fair. I don’t agree. I don’t get angry. Anger is dangerous. Anger implies a loss of control that I can’t allow myself, not when so much depends on measured thought and careful planning. Edward would agree. Though I despise the man for his cunning and his power over me, cold calculation is more his style and it’s a style I have endeavored to emulate.
Idiots! To bungle the siege so badly as to call my leadership of the Marcher lords into question! To have Edward call me into his presence for an accounting!
I pushed open the door into King Edward’s rooms and stalked the twenty feet to the dais, before bowing. “You summoned me, sire?”
Edward sat, an elbow bent on the arms of his chair, his hands steepled in front of his mouth. He was in his mid-forties, ten years my senior, but still a vibrant man, with a full head of dark hair and a straight back, showing no signs of either a slower mind or body. There was a pause as he left me hanging, waiting for his response, trying not to feel as awkward as one always felt in the royal presence.
“Tell me of Builth Castle,” he said, as if discussing the disposition of a minor estate.
“Prince Llywelyn came behind us with several hundred men. We couldn’t maintain the siege and had to quit Wales. We have retreated to Huntington.”
“Your assumption was that if you took the castle, I would take it as a fait accompli and allow you to keep it,” Edward said.
Yes. I bowed again. “I apologize, my lord. I believed I was acting in England’s best interests.” Damn the man! Why couldn’t he be as malleable as his father? I must remember in future that when I challenge you, I cannot think as my father or grandfather did; you are a different kind of king; you do not respect the old boundaries and honors.
“Did you now?” Edward said. “Had you taken it, I would have had to act in England’s best interests and give it to Edmund Mortimer who has prior claim.”
And who has never fought against you as I have. I learned at Evesham that there is no such thing as honor, no such thing as right or wrong. Only victory matters. You taught me that day to think as you do: no mercy for one’s enemies and hardly any loyalty to one’s friends. There can be no chinks in one’s armor. A sword can find a weak point, even if by chance, and thrust home. Power is fleeting, drained out as my father’s blood soaked the ground around him, dead on your orders. I was only sixteen when my father died at Evesham. The bitter taste of that has stayed with me ever since.
Edward continued speaking. “I realize that you and your forefathers have treated the March as a child’s toy that is yours and yours alone, but you may recall a conversation we had earlier in which I explained that I expected to be notified, in advance, of any major offenses into Wales.”
“I misunderstood, my lord,” I said. “I intended no slight to your person.”
“I can’t have your activities endangering my plans for Wales. Peckham has requested a meeting between us and the upstart Welsh in Lancaster in August. I have acquiesced, and I expect you there as witness.”
“You intend to acknowledge them?” I said, surprised.
“No.” Edward looked at me coldly. “But until then, you will keep to your possessions.” He paused, and I studied him carefully. There was something else there, something uncharacteristic of him that I’d not seen in his face before. Glee? “You may hold your men in readiness,” he continued. “After Lancaster … then we will see.”