For Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt. Another bit inspired by the WIP I’m afraid.
The leader, sergeant or whatever of the Welsh bowmen peers through the leaves at the sky then looks at Art. He yawns theatrically.
“When did you say this army was passing by here? This week, was it?”
“He’ll be here.”
The yawn becomes a stretch. “It’s just that if I sit here much longer I’ll be so old I’ll have forgotten how to string a bow.” The breatnach grins insolently.
“If you’re not ready when they come I’ll wrap that bowstring round your scraggy Welsh neck and you won’t have to worry about getting old.”
The bowman spits on the ground and calls out to one of the other surly bastards. They both laugh. Art can’t make out many of the words of their speech but he guesses it is a joke at his expense. He can’t help glancing at the sky in his turn. The sun is getting low. Any lower and it will be lost among the trees, and the Northman will be making camp for the night. This is the only road through this part of the mountains, and this is the only bridge over the Urrin. The Northmen will have to cross in single file. It is the perfect place for an ambush. He grinds his teeth. So where are they?
“I’d say your man has gone a different way,” the breatnach drawls.
“Why would he do that? To take in the scenery?”
“Been here before, has he? Knows the country well? Trusts the locals to put him on the best road? He could be wandering anywhere between here and the coast.”
The worst of it is, Art knows the bandy little péist could be right. Well, if he is, he won’t be wearing that mocking grin for much longer. If there’s no assassination to be done, Art has no need of a band of idle, insolent Welsh mercenaries who would likely murder them all in their sleep should they find out they’re not going to be paid with their freedom after all.
“Get your men together. We’re moving.”
The sergeant opens his mouth so make some clever remark. Connla, Art’s cousin closes it with his fist.
“Just do what you’re told, sheep-fucker.”
The bowman rubs his mouth with the back of his hand and glowers. The Welshmen, six of them, assemble with a bad grace. They are terrible horsemen and hate the idea of riding again. Cairbre brings over their horses but stops when Art catches his eye and puts his hand slowly on the hilt of his sword. The Welsh are gathering up their affairs, grumbling, hanging back. Connla too has got the message and moves to the far side of the group.
“Get on with you, or we’ll still be here at nightfall.”
One of them straightens up, his mouth open with a retort, and Connla slashes his throat open. Art and Cairbre draw their weapons and in less than a minute it is over. Art steps over a body and peers out across the mountains.
You’ll not spoil for keeping, Richard de Clare. Then you’ll learn how we deal with usurpers.