War is brewing, the castle is under threat and Eleanor has made her choice.
She will aid with Princess Adelaide’s plans, but is she ready to face the consequences of her actions?
A Princess, A Knight And A Tyrant King.
When war is brewing she must fight or die…
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“Do you understand?” she asked solemnly.
“But ma’am,” Edward replied uncertainly, “this is treason!”
“We have already committed treason,” Eleanor replied, keeping her voice low in case they could overhear their whispered words. “You and I both know the King, we know he will stop at nothing to get his hands on all the lands and castles of Perrigor, we have been at peace these last three years, Edward, do you remember what war was like?”
He looked at her grimly and then nodded his head.
They both remembered the dark days of the war; calling men from the fields to march on their neighbours, waiting for news for days or even weeks, and the king’s rage as he was beaten back and back by the three Perrigor brothers. The young, handsome champions took first the borderlands and then moved into Bourges; finally demanding surrender at the great siege, where the court spent five weeks starving behind its own fortress walls.
“We will not go back to that,” Eleanor said.
“I will take the message,” he said resolutely, and she handed him the note with Adelaide’s signature upon it. He bowed to them both and turned to go, and Eleanor realised the deed was done. There was no going back; she had betrayed her Kingdom.
She felt a hand upon her arm and turned to see Adelaide smiling at her, and she felt a warmth and certainty rush through her.
“I’ll take you to the drawbridge,” she said firmly, knowing that she was doing the right thing. “We need to make sure they won’t be able to bring it up.”
Adelaide nodded, her jaw set firm. Eleanor had given her some clothes and a cloak; she hoped that with the castle in disarray, no one would look twice at a lady’s maid. But they were still cautious as they edged out of the castle keep and towards the gatehouse.
The bells were still clanging, a warning that the prisoner was still loose, but Eleanor could see that the drawbridge was down, and the Portcullis was up. They just had to make sure it stayed that way.
They were silent as they crossed the courtyard. Not making eye contact with anyone or whispering to one another, hardly even breathing as they crossed the open yard, the most dangerous part of their journey.
Two guards were manning the gates.
Burly men, strong enough to turn the wheels and bring up the drawbridge in seconds, but it was the room above, a small room concealed above the gates that the Princesses needed to get to.
They stood outside the gatehouse for a moment. They couldn’t be seen entering it. They had to be cautious. Eleanor glanced around. Everyone seemed preoccupied. There were a few guards left, having all been sent out to search the local countryside for Adelaide.
Now was their chance.
They slipped inside the door and rushed up the spiral staircase, stopping at the first door. As soon as they were both inside, Eleanor closed it behind them. There was no way to lock the room from the inside; she just hoped there was no reason for anyone to check on them.
‘What now?’ She thought to herself, looking around the room at the network of chains, pulleys and ropes, all linked up to the drawbridge and portcullis.
“Right,” said Adelaide. “We need to cut the ropes and lock the chains.”
She grabbed a spear off the wall and tossed it to Eleanor.
“These chains here,” she said, Eleanor followed her gaze. “These are at the back. They must be for the portcullis. They need to be locked, not broken. If they are broken, then the portcullis will fall.”
Eleanor nodded; astonished that Adelaide could know so much.
“And these?” she asked, pointing to an array of ropes.
Adelaide strode towards them. She touched them, looked up to see how they interlocked and then surreptitiously, she looked down through the holes in the floor to see how they joined up with the network of defences below them.
“I think these four here need to be cut, and this chain here needs to be locked.”
Eleanor nodded and got to work, sliding the spear through the chain link lowest to the ground, while Adelaide started slicing through the ropes.
“Stop what you’re doing immediately!”
Eleanor spun around to see, standing in the doorway, with his sword raised, Geoffrey de Tours.