Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by Elf at Heart

Chapter One

The City of Coltsburg, two days after the French attack

John Bradford


Bradford blocked an incoming sword blow with his round wooden shield and swung his long sword at his opponent’s exposed side. The man took quick steps backward and parried the blow with the edge of his weapon.  It was raining hard and the droplets of rain were cold but John felt none of it.  All he saw was his enemy before him.   Bradford stabbed, slashed and swung his heavy ironwood shield, hoping to catch his opponent off-guard, but to no avail.  The man was quick even in his cumbersome armor and strong as well, for every blow jarred John’s whole body.  Bradford could feel himself growing tired and he realized he needed to finish this soon or accept inevitable defeat.


Having blocked a flurry of thundering strokes, Bradford raised his sword above his head and was about to bring it down upon his enemy’s helmet when the other man sliced across his chest plate.  Bradford heard a rib crack.  Then the man stepped forward and punched the grill of his helmet with all of his strength.  Hot blood gushed from both nostrils and Bradford fell backward hitting the muddy field with a wet thud.  He lay still for a moment, his entire body aching in pain.  He blinked as a droplet of water fell through his eye slits.  He could hear the clapping and laughing of the crowd.  The anger and embarrassment of his defeat crashed over him, quelling his pain.  He stood, his hand pressed against his dented chest plate.


William Blake, his bitter enemy, stood in front of the stands, his sword raised above his head in triumph.  Bradford thought of striking the man from behind but the King and Queen sat in a sheltered box above and he did not want to disappoint them further.  He picked up his sword and stormed off the field.  He entered a small room beneath the applauding spectators and lowered himself upon a three legged stool.  His squire, a young dark haired lad, placed a hand upon each side of the crumpled helmet and tugged it off.  John’s face was covered in blood, dirt and sweat. His dark blond hair was cropped short so it would not obstruct his vision inside his helmet and his bright blue eyes shown predominately against his battered face. The boy brought a rag, dripping with cool water and rubbed the grime from Bradford’s face as best he could.  Then the lad began to remove the remainder of his armor. 


John’s chest plate was held fast to his body by eight leather thongs that laced both sides of the plate together down the length of his spine. Once his chest plate was lying on the floor, his chain mail shirt and leather pants could be pulled off easily.  After these were removed, he pulled his undershirt over his head so he could study the wound on his chest.  Already, a black and purple bruise had formed over his ribs but he was glad to see that none of his ribs were fully broken.  Out of his armor, he exchanged his dirty undergarments for fresh clothes that were a dull red and golden yellow, the colors of his Lord’s banner.  He buckled his belt fast around his waist and sheathed his blade.  At this moment, he heard someone speaking loudly out in the field and all the spectators fell silent.  The man sounded out of breath as though he had run or ridden a long distance. The man addressed the King,


“Our beloved King, I am full of sorrow to bring you horrible news on a day of great games and feasting.  The French are said to have crossed our borders and massacred the monks in Abbey of the Virgin Mary.  Also, the town of Camplain was pillaged.  All of its residents are said to have been either killed or captured.”


Then Bradford heard the deep rich voice of the King, “You say they killed monks?” 


“That is the rumor, Sire,” the messenger replied.


“Well, if the rumors are true, then the French have done something unforgivable.  Tonight I will send out a group of my best scouts to confirm these stories.  Then, I will call a meeting of all the Lords across our wonderful land and decide our next plan of action.”


Bradford’s heart filled with joy.  This meant war and war meant a chance to earn great honor.  This was his chance to prove himself to all and maybe even win a beautiful woman’s hand in marriage.  He smiled at the thought.


“Boy, take the rest of day and do what you will.  I am going to the Lonely Sparrow to celebrate.” 


“Celebrate what?  Didn’t you lose the tournament?” the boy replied. 


John thought of striking the lad for his insolence but he was still cheerful with the news of war and ruffled the boy’s hair instead. 


“In future, watch what you say to me, I might not be in such a forgiving mood.”






Drinking was Bradford’s one great flaw.  Once he had a single jug of ale it was almost impossible for him to stop.  Now it was early evening and he was already drunk.  He was on his sixth glass of drink and continued to call for more. 


“That son of b***h William Blake is a cheater,” John said in a slurred voice, “Punching me in the face instead of using his sword like a real man.  I am sure that if I kicked him between the legs I wouldn’t hit anything,” he finished laughing.  The nine men in the tavern nodded but said nothing knowing how Bradford could be when drunk. 


“I bet a war is coming boys and by the end, every man, woman and child will know my name.  As for William, he will soon learn that his fancy sword play will do nothing for him in real combat.”


“And you would know something about real battle,” said William Blake. 


Bradford had not noticed him enter and now, hearing his voice, he swiveled in his chair to face his nemesis.  “I suggest you leave here, Blake.  This tavern only accepts men, not ugly cow turds,” Bradford said, sneering.


“Ugly? I sleep with a different woman each night while you sleep with your sister,”


Bradford stood, throwing his chair to the ground.  William had 2 other men with him.  One was a very large man with a hairy stomach that fell out of the bottom of his tunic and another man of medium build with a nasty scar rendering one eye useless. 


“I see you need two men to back up your sorry a*s,” Bradford said.


“You think you can take them?” William asked.


“I KNOW I can,” John replied confidently.


“Well then, fight them,” Blake challenged, motioning for his two comrades to move forward.


Bradford kicked the thinner man in the crotch, picked up a heavy metal jug off the table and struck him over the head.  Meanwhile, the large man closed in on John and grabbed him from behind.  With his meaty strength he lifted Bradford and threw him across a table.  John hit a man sitting there and then tumbled to the hard floor below, fully breaking his previously wounded rib.  As the large man picked him up once more, Bradford thrust his elbow backwards and hit the man in the throat.  The man dropped him, choking, and John rose quickly despite the sharp pain he experienced. Bradford pulled his fist back and punched the large man in the face sending him sprawling backwards.  John wheeled around looking for William Blake, but he was nowhere to be seen.  Then he felt the stunning impact of sword hilt on the back of his head and all went black.














© 2011 Elf at Heart

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whoa, that was intense! i wonder what happens? will he go to the war?

Posted 12 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Posted 12 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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2 Reviews
Added on November 5, 2011
Last Updated on November 5, 2011