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Authors: Elizabeth Chadwick

Tags: #Fiction, #Historical

The Champion

BOOK: The Champion
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‘Quickly,’ Alexander muttered, ‘don’t fight me.’

Monday parted her lips to ask what he meant and was shocked when he covered them with his own, sweeping her into a clumsy but passionate embrace against the stable wall. Her spine was jarred by the difference in their heights. The grip of his hands was bruising, the pressure of his lips flattened hers against her teeth. She struggled in protest.

‘Put your arms around my neck,’ he muttered against her lips, as if breathing love words. ‘Let Richard believe that we are sweethearts, that there is no room for anyone or anything to come between us.’

She hesitated, then did as he wanted, belatedly understanding his reason. As she raised her arms and drew him closer still, she thought to herself that despite kissing’s evil reputation as a pleasure that could lead the weak into the graver sin of fornication, there was nothing here to tempt her.

Also by Elizabeth Chadwick

 

THE CONQUEST
THE LOVE KNOT
THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER
LORDS OF THE WHITE CASTLE
THE WINTER MANTLE
THE FALCONS OF MONTABARD
SHADOWS AND STRONGHOLDS
THE GREATEST KNIGHT

 

Copyright

 

Published by Hachette Digital

ISBN: 978-0-748-12624-8

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 1997 Elizabeth Chadwick

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

Hachette Digital

Little, Brown Book Group

100 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DY

www.hachette.co.uk

C
ONTENTS

 

 

Also by Elizabeth Chadwick

 

Copyright

 

A
CKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

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HAPTER
1 T
HE
B
RETON
B
ORDERS
, S
PRING
1193

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12 N
ORMANDY
, S
PRING
1195

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TAFFORD
, W
INTER
1195

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21 T
HE
W
ELSH
M
ARCHES
, A
UTUMN
1197

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22 L
AVOUX
, S
UMMER
1198

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26 R
OUEN
, M
ARCH
1199

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28 L
ONDON
, M
AY
1199

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31 L
ONDON
, O
CTOBER
1200

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EMBROKE
, F
EBRUARY
1201

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A
UTHOR’S
N
OTE

A
CKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

Writing a book is never a solitary affair, and on this page I would like to thank the people who have contributed to its creation in one way or another. As always, my appreciation goes to Carole Blake and everyone at Blake Friedmann for working so hard on my behalf and being good friends too, and to Barbara Boote at Little, Brown for the same. My husband Roger deserves a medal for his patience in listening to me read aloud the several rough drafts that it takes before my books are carved in stone – or laid in black ink!

Thanks are due also to my many good friends in Regia Anglorum re-enactment society. To Jon Preston for explaining to me the advantages and dangers of using a morning star and letting me try on his ‘cheese-grater’ helm; to Ivor Lawton for the beautiful medieval artifacts he makes and his detailed knowledge about them which he willingly shares; and to members of Deoraby, the Conroi du Burm and the Poor Cnichts of St Chad for patiently posing for my research camera.

The excerpt from ‘Roundelay’ on
p. 84
appears by kind permission of Leslie Williamson.

The excerpt form ‘Foreign Fields’ on
p. 244
appears by kind permission of Vivien Steels.

The excerpt from ‘When Winter Comes’ on
p. 396

7
appears by kind permission of Ken Swallow.

C
HAPTER
1

 

T
HE
B
RETON
B
ORDERS
, S
PRING
1193

 

Hervi de Montroi was in his tent with an obliging whore and a pitcher of the strongest cider he could lay hands upon, when he received the news that his half-brother Alexander had ridden into the camp.

It had been raining since dawn, a damp grey mizzle that concealed the tourney field in the mist and chilled the grumbling knights through their cloaks and quilted gambesons to the bone. It was springtide in the world at large, but these Breton borderlands seemed to be suspended in a time of their own. Hervi would not have been surprised to see Arthur, Guinevere and the entire court of Camelot emerge on shadowy horses through the rain haze veiling the trees. Certainly less surprised than to be informed that the youth he had last seen as a child of eleven years old at their father’s funeral, and whom he thought pursuing a career in the church, was awaiting him at the communal camp fire.

The soldier who had delivered the news, and almost had his head bitten off for his trouble, dropped the tent flap and returned to his dice game.

‘Bones of Christ!’ Hervi swore, and sat up on his straw pallet. His head swam, and he had to concentrate to focus. Raising the stone cider jug to his lips, he took several hard gulps.

The young woman at his side rolled on to her stomach and regarded him through a tangle of greasy blonde hair. Hervi wiped his mouth on his wrist and gave her the jug.

‘You have to go?’ She looked at him over the rim.

Alys was one of the many draggle-tailed women who followed the knights and soldiers from tourney to tourney, war to war, washing, cooking, pleasuring and tending. Some became wives, others belonged to any man with the money to pay for their services. Alys was one of the latter, but ambitious to change her status, and Hervi frequently took advantage of her striving. No more striving today, however.

‘Unfortunately, sweetheart, I do,’ he replied with a mingling of regret and irritation. Mindful of his buzzing head, he leaned over to draw on his hose and attach them to the leather straps on his braies.

BOOK: The Champion
10.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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