The battle of Mossley.
Morgan and the Duke met up with Elfwine as they were leaving the Mayor's house. "This is the Duke of Lovat. He is the man the mayor called for and he has forty warriors with him."
"Good to see you, Duke. Now we can finish this mob of rats once and for all."
"And it's good to see you, Elfwine. You might not remember me, but I was a close friend of your father."
"No, I don't remember you. But he had a few close friends; just a pity some of you were not around to stop what happened to him."
"That's not fair. We were...."
Elfwine interrupted him. "That's in the past and we have other things to occupy our minds. I need no further details of the past. I know all I need to know. Now I'm off to the Bull Inn."
The inns of the town were doing a good trade with the duke's men adding to the locals to fill the inns to capacity. Baldwin joined Morgan and Elfwine in The Bull Inn intending to stay only for a short while, but the ale kept flowing and his companions talked him into staying longer. The Duke had been invited to join them but he declined, preferring to drink wine in the company of the mayor and his wife at their house. Elfwine went to the toilets and Morgan grabbed the opportunity to speak to Baldwin alone. “I’m worried about Elfwine,” he said. “I think he is going a bit crazy. He let a prisoner go free today just so he could kill him as he ran off.”
“I know what you mean we had a similar thing with a spy on the left peak. I think he is still in shock after losing Arabella to the pirates and I’m sure he will get over it in his own time.”
“Perhaps,” Morgan said. “But I can’t help thinking it is something more than that. He’s out of control at the moment and that could be dangerous not just for us but for himself.”
“We best keep an eye on him then,” Baldwin said. “Though most of the time he seems like his normal self.”
“I’ve brought some more ale,” Elfwine said as he returned and he put two large jugs on the table. “And I’ve got Flora to book you a bed.”
“I am supposed to be going home, Elfwine.”
“You are home, Baldwin,” Elfwine said and laughed as he sat at the table.
The following morning Baldwin woke in a room at The Bull Inn feeling a bit sorry for himself. He tried reviving himself with cold water from a bowl in the room but had little success. He left the inn and walked across to Morgan and Flora’s dwelling. Morgan and Elfwine were enjoying eggs, boiled ham and fresh bread.
“Just in time,” Morgan said. “Take a seat.”
“I might as well open an eating house and charge for my food,” Flora said.
“I won’t stay. I just popped in before I go back to The Flashes.”
“Don’t be silly, Baldwin,” Flora said. “I’m only pulling your leg. You’re always welcome.”
“Maybe just bread and some ham if that's okay.”
Baldwin looked at Morgan. “So what plans has the duke got then?” he said.
“Don’t think he has any plans,” Morgan said. “There is a meeting with the mayor later this morning so we can work something out. Maybe we have seen the last of the Vialians.”
“If they don’t attack,” Elfwine said. “With the extra men the duke has brought we should be able to hunt them down like rats.”
“Let’s just wait and see what the duke has to say,” Morgan said. “Anyway, we'll talk more later. I’ve got to get off to my post at the back gate.”
“I’ll walk up with you,” Baldwin said. “Erica will be getting worried.”
“I’ll come as well,” Elfwine said. “I’d like to see the folks.” He looked at Morgan. “I’ll be back before dark though and you should know by then what is to happen.”
They finished their food and as they walked out from the dwelling, the town's warning horn started sounding. The three men ran towards the mayor’s house and met the mayor and the Duke in the street. "Vialians,” the mayor said. “Coming from the forest and it looks like they are making for the main gate. Get ready to open the gate,” the Duke shouted and he began to gather up his men. Morgan and the two friends went to the ledge near the gate.
“Looks like twenty-five to thirty raiders,” Morgan said. “This must be another hit and run raid.”
“I don't think so. There are at least ten with rope coils and probably grappling hooks,” Baldwin said. “This is a serious attack, but I don't understand why there are not more of them. The good thing is the Duke’s forty men will annihilate them. The bad thing, Oliver will know we have re-enforcement here.”
“Who cares,” Elfwine said. “Now we have enough men to take the fight to his camp.”
The Vialians veered to the right with their grappling hooks and ropes. They did not get a chance to use them. Elfwine's arrows had already started hitting them and the gate was opened and the forty swordsmen and some of the mayor's guards charged at the Vialians. The Vialians fought well, but their slaughter was inevitable. Elfwine had dropped three but had to stop once the close combat was engaged for fear of hitting one of the Duke’s men by mistake. He looked across to the forest where there was a solitary horse and rider. “Oliver,” Elfwine muttered to himself. “I trust you are enjoying the show."
Baldwin and Morgan were looking down at the battle. “Not too much for us to do today,” Baldwin said and gave a laugh. Suddenly the town’s warning horn sounded again.
“There’s another attack,” Morgan said. “Some of the bastards have gone through the forest again and must be attacking the back gate. That’s only sparsely protected. We’d best get over there.”
The Duke was watching the fight from the gate and Baldwin shouted down to him. “Send men to the back gate as soon as they are free. Tell those two guards with you to come with us, you don’t need protecting here.”
As Morgan and Baldwin ran off Elfwine called out. “I’ll join you in a little while,” He looked back over the fight and picked off any Vialians that were trying to run away.
At the rear gate the Vialians went to the side by the marsh and threw up their grappling hooks and soon six men had climbed the ropes onto the ledge. The nearest guard took one out with an arrow but lost his life when two Vialian archers hit back at him.
Another guard was running up and the two archers crouched down, waiting until he was in range before loosing off arrows at him. Three raiders ran along the ledge to the gate and an archer killed the guard who only had a sword. Two guards were making their way towards the gate but were too far away to stop the men from dropping down, putting out the walkway and opening the gate. Fifteen more raiders crossed through the gate into the town. The two guards confronted the raiders but were set upon by a dozen swordsmen and stood little chance.
Not knowing of their disaster at the other end of the town the raiders split up into smaller groups and wandered the streets causing havoc and attacking anyone they came across. Morgan, Baldwin, and the two guards spotted a group of six raiders who began to run at them. Like a flash, Morgan’s dagger struck one in the chest and he went down reducing the odds. Morgan was a formidable fighter and straight away took another down with his sword. The guards were holding their own until one of the raiders made an error of judgment and the guard ran him through. Morgan blocked the sword of his next opponent and then brought his sword down on the raider's head splitting his skull open. He turned his attention to help the other guard who was being forced away from the group and would soon be outclassed and killed. Baldwin took a blow to his left shoulder and was struggling with one hand. The first guard ran to help Baldwin, he came behind the raider and forced his sword into the raider's back. Morgan saved the other guard and they all turned as they heard a lot of running footsteps coming their way.
The battle at the main gate was over and the Duke’s men were filling the streets. One of the surviving leaders from the Pavillion uprising recognised Morgan. “Do you want any prisoners, sir,” he said.
Morgan shook his head. “No prisoners.”
He looked at Baldwin, "Elfwine would only find a way to kill them anyway."
Baldwin laughed as he put his free hand on his wound.
“Let’s go and get that seen to,” Morgan said. “He turned to the two guards. “Well done you two. Make sure you meet up with us at The Bull Inn later tonight.”
Morgan took Baldwin to the hospital building. There were many casualties there, some were warriors and some were civilians who had been attacked by the raiders from the small gate. Some were badly injured, some were slight but some were beyond help. More civilians were turning up all the time.
Baldwin looked at the chaos. “My injury is not that bad, I’ll come back later,” he said.
“No you won’t,” Morgan said. “Doctor, this is one of our main warriors. Look after him.”
“Of course, Morgan.”
Morgan walked off to the front gate and when he got there Thomas shouted down from the ledge. “Morgan, come up here quickly." Morgan hurried over and Thomas pointed to a solitary man walking out across the meadow. “It’s Elfwine.”
Morgan noticed the man on a horse at the edge of the forest and Elfwine was making straight for him. He jumped off the ledge. “Follow me, Thomas,” he called back and they ran out after Elfwine. When they got near Morgan shouted out to Elfwine and he looked back. Morgan ran up to him. “What do you think you are doing?”
Elfwine laughed. “I’m going to see to that man on the horse.”
“If he is the leader, do you think he is on his own? You’ll get near and he will turn and go into the forest.”
“I’ll drop his horse and then I will catch him up. Shouldn’t be hard. He’s an old man.”
“You will follow him into the forest and you will be ambushed,” Morgan said. “You will achieve nothing except your own death and he will walk away laughing at you.”
“He has to be killed. If he gets away he will gather more men around him and will eventually be back.”
“Okay, he has to be killed. But you won’t see that if you are dead. This is not the time. If you want to hunt him down then I will go with you, but we’ll go after him on our terms, not his.”
“All right,” Elfwine said. “But we go tonight. Me you and Baldwin.”
“Agreed, now let’s get back; we’re a bit vulnerable out here. But Baldwin will not be with us. He has been injured.”
"Injured, how badly?"
"He took a blow to his arm. It will heal, but he may be out of action for a while."
They got back in the town. “I’ll have to report to the mayor,” Morgan said. “We’ll meet up at The Bull tonight and work out what we are to do to stop the Vialians reforming.”
“Okay,” Elfwine said. “I want to go and see how Baldwin is. I’ll see you two later.” Elfwine walked off towards the dressing centre and Morgan and Thomas headed for the mayor’s house.
“He seems obsessed, Thomas. He made a good point about Oliver building up his men again, but I think there’s more to it than that. And it was the pirates that killed his wife, not the Vialians.”
“Don’t you know about his father?” Thomas said.
“What about his father?”
“One day when I was exercising Weasel, we were talking and he told me Oliver Fenglast was the one who killed Elfwine’s father.”
Morgan looked at Elfwine walking away. “Well then, it all makes a bit of sense, I suppose.”
That night as Baldwin was resting in a hospital bed and Morgan was going to meet the Duke at the mayor's house, a pirate ship was anchoring in a cove about a mile from The Flashes.
"Get ready to lower the longboats," the captain said. "Squid, you go first and check that the Duke's men have gone ashore. The ship left its port with an army of warrior's. So if they seem to be still aboard we will have to wait a day or two."
"We could still overwhelm them while they sleep," Squid said.
"Shut up you idiot. We would be wiped out, and worse, I would never get my hands on the hoard of gold I know the Duke is carrying."
The pirates lowered four longboats and twenty-four pirates set off under the cover of darkness for The Flashes and the Duke's ship.