Monday, August 23, 2010

Defending Heresy

Gareth, Duke of Hamilton, stopped short as three men stepped out of the cloister fog, two with swords already drawn. Their dress told him they were French but the swords were of Italian make. A man might change his clothes for the sake of politics but a man who changes his sword so easily is on about to die. These were Italians, then, dressed as Frenchmen.

"What is it you want?" Gareth's voice vanished into the mist, the dressed stone dispersing the tones in all directions. "I've no quarrel with you."

"But we have a quarrel with heretics." The speaker drew his own sword, a heavy hand-and-a-half with a barbed tip.

"You're the Pope's men?" Gareth pulled out his side sword, lighter than his foes' but quicker. he struck up a cautious stance in a DiGrassi seconde. "Why waylay me? I've no interest in politics.

"You're the King's cousin and we need you to take a message to him." The speaker smiled through broken teeth. No courtier this, however pretty his manner. More like a hired thug.

"Tell me then and have done." Gareth's eyes flicked from one of the men to the next. "I will pass on your message. You have my word on it."

"It's not your word we require, but your head. It will be a fine message all of itself." The speaker darted forward, his blade falling in an arc. Gareth dodged to one side, avoiding the blade and bringing his own into a diagonal cut that laid open the speaker's left leg from groin to knee. He collapsed, leaving Gareth with space to avoid the cut from the second swordsman, his side sword parading into prime with a muffled ring of steel-on-steel. He thrust forward, cutting through the swordsman's throat the sever the spine. Two down.

The third Italian fled, leaving Gareth in peace to examine the two fallen assassins. Both wore ragged clothes beneath the livery of the French Guard and the speaker had a coin purse with forty sovereigns. Gareth pocketed them, pleased the cost of his assassination had risen since last year.

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