A Dishonorable Knight
Author:Morrison, Michelle

Chapter 26

"My liege," said the burly man who knelt before Richard in the main hall. The man was covered with dirt from the road, his hair sweaty, his armor a strange combination of leather and metal, with French and German styling. The three men who knelt behind them with heads bowed were garbed in equally motley armor. "My liege," the leader said once again, finally gaining the king's attention.

"What is it?" he asked shortly.

"My liege, we report to you upon orders of the Earl of Brackley."

Richard surveyed the men briefly, visibly disbelieving their claim of service. "We have no need of mercenaries. We have twelve thousand loyal troops to attend me should We need them. Be on your way."

"My liege?"

Richard turned back to the man. "What is it? Do you not understand God's English? I've no need of mercenaries."

"We are not mercenaries, my liege. We have spent these last weeks in Wales."

Richard’s brows raised in understanding. “Did you learn aught?”

“We learned the rebels held a meeting in Aberstwyth. A host of Welsh malcontents met to plan their attack on your grace. Rumor has it that Lord Stanley attended.”

Richard choked on his bile. He had long suspected Stanley would betray him, had demanded his son as hostage to prevent such an action.

“Who else attended?”

“Welsh rebels–“

”Names, you fool. I know they were Welsh!”

The man wiped a dirty hand across his sweaty brow, leaving a muddy streak. “We didn’t–we could not find the meeting’s location. We thought we came across one man, but he–that is, the Welsh helped him to escape.”

“Did you see Lord Stanley there?”

“We spoke to a barmaid who swore she had waited upon the man, your grace.”

“But you did not see him, did not speak to him.”

The man shifted his weight. The floor was no doubt hard on his knee. “No, your grace.”

Richard sighed heavily and leaned his head on the high back of his chair.

"See Sir Jasper. He will assign you duties." The men stood and bowed before backing away. "And do not dare to present yourself to me filthy from travel again.”

The four men hurried out of the hall in search of Sir Jasper.