The FiresWithin
By Virginia Cavazos

Chapter 12

As Will’s steed entered the crowded courtyard,  he was met by his father already astride his steed.  He was preparing to leave the castle, determined to see for himself the damage on his land caused by the fires.  “May I go with you, father?” Will cautiously asked, as Chloe silently rode off. Geoffrey silently nodded his approval to his son.

“Are you not taking some guards with you sire?” Agatha asked Sir Geoffrey, as he began to ride out, her face a mask of concern for the man she loved.  He quickly brushed her off,  “I’ll be all right, woman.  My son will be with me, we shall return shortly.”

Agatha bowed to her lord, but the look of concern stayed in her eyes. Waving a farewell, he brushed his heels on his horse’s flanks, urging it on.  Will followed silently after him.  As they rode out of the gates, Sir Geoffrey noticed the longing look Will gave Chloe.  His lips parted to a small knowing smile. The day was bright and clear, the smell of burnt wood permeated the
woods. Will rode alongside his father…Father and son, unaware that both were silent about the same thing. For Geoffrey did so love Agatha, a servant in his employ,  as Will did love Chloe, a servant of the same class.  So alike in some ways, yet so different in others.

Will was first to break the silence,  “I wanted to talk to you father,” Will hesitantly asked.

“I guess then, it is good we are alone.” Sir Geoffrey sighed. He did so love his only living son. He would do anything for him, but he also loved Agatha, for she gave him something that Will could never give. Before Will could begin, Geoffrey started the conversation.

“I know how you feel about Agatha, Will. I can almost feel the hate you have for her.”  He bowed his head in thought of what he wanted to tell his son.  His steed began to slow down, he kicked his heels to his sides, speeding it up. He wanted to reach the sites before afternoon. There was much damage to view.  Staring ahead, he continued, “But I have to say this to you my son. I do dearly love that woman, and nothing you can say will ever change that.”

Will began to say something; Geoffrey cut him off with an icy glance. “Let me finish!”  he sternly said. Will’s mouth shut tightly, he slowly nodded his head.  Geoffrey smiled gently at his son, he seemed so like a small boy now.  He missed that.  Will always looked up to him when he was small, since he grew up, he had always fought him at every turn.

Bringing his attention to the road ahead, Sir Geoffrey continued.  “I also loved your mother Sarah. I don’t think I shall ever love another the way I had loved her. She will always have a special place in my heart.” Geoffrey’s words broke as he spoke the word heart. He tried to compose himself in front of his son..

“Will, one day your mother mentioned to me, that if she ever died before I, she wanted me to find another. She said she would worry about who would care for me when she was gone. I told her I could never love another as I did her.” Geoffrey pulled the reins on his horse, it neighed as it dug it’s hooves in the dirt road, Will followed suit. Sir Geoffrey turned to look at his son. His eyes were penetrating, “Do you know what she told me, my son?”

Will silently shook his head.

“She said....” Geoffrey began to quote the very words his wife said to him on that day. Will closed his eyes. He could see and hear her speaking the words.

“When a soul mate dies, the other fades away and soon follows. I do not want that to happen to you, my love.  If I should  go before you? I want you to find another, you are too good and kind a man to live alone. I know there is another out there for you. Someone that will love you, and care for you as much as I.”

Geoffrey snickered as he said this, this confused Will. Sir Geoffrey explained to his son. “Little did I know, that Sarah and Agatha had made a secret pact. She had Agatha vow to watch after me, if something happened to her. For Sarah and she were so much like sisters.” Geoffrey sadly sighed as he remembered the two together, whispering amongst themselves their little
secrets they kept from him. He let out another sigh

“It did take me time, but I found another soul mate. I do not love her as I loved your mother, for she will never replace that space in my heart, but I do love her in another way. For with her help, I found room in my heart to love again.” Sir Geoffrey warmly smiled at his son. Will returned his smile. He did understand what his father said. He felt the same with Chloe. He began to realize that Agatha was not replacing his mother. She was there for his father. As he was about to say this to his father, he heard a low chuckle.

“Now isn’t this touching…Father and son.”  Will whirled around to find Sir Hugh laughing at him. There were six of his men with him. Four had arrows cocked, pointing directly at Will’s and Sir Geoffrey’s heart.

“What is the meaning of this?” Sir Geoffrey roared out.

“The meaning is revenge, Geoffrey. Revenge for you taking Sarah from me! Revenge for your son humiliating me.” Hugh pointed to the wound on his arm that Will had inflicted during his duel in the castle. Will also noticed that Sir Hugh now sported a scar across his treasure - his face.  Sir Hugh gave a signal to two of his men. They brought their horses alongside Will. One grabbed Will’s arms. He tried to pull them back, Will jerked out of the man’s grip.

“Uh uh uh! None of that young Will, otherwise...” Sir Hugh snapped his fingers. One of his men let  loose an arrow. It flew towards his father, just clipping his right sleeve. Will stopped resisting. The man pulled out a rope, tying Will’s hands behind his back. Taking the reins on his horse, he pulled Will’s horse towards where Sir Hugh waited impatiently.

Hugh began to chuckle as he saw the anger burning in Sir Geoffrey’s eyes. “I will be taking your only living heir with me now, Geoffrey. He will be a guest in my castle, until I hear that you have signed over all of your land to me.”

“Father, no!” Will cried out. “You can’t do this. I would rather die than let this snake control your land.”

Sir Hugh pulled his hand back slapping Will in the back of the head.  “That can be easily arranged, boy!” he roared out, clutching his bandaged left arm. He grimaced at the pain he still felt from the wound Will had inflicted on him. Pulling on the reins to his horse, he hissed at Sir Geoffrey. “You have until tomorrow, Geoffrey. Otherwise your son will not live to see another sunset.”

With that, Sir Hugh rode off, with Will in tow. Sir Geoffrey swallowed hard, as his only living son was taken from him.  Left alone, his mind began to race. How was he going to save his son? Then it came to him…Robin Hood! He would be the only man that could save him. Geoffrey kicked his horse’s sides. He flew down the road, searching for the young outlaw, hoping beyond hope that he would be able to save his son.

Will’s head hung low as he rode towards Sir Hugh’s castle. Sir Hugh let out an evil chuckle. “You know, you could have been my son. - if Sarah had consented to marry me, and not your worthless father.”

“My father is a good and kind man!” Will snapped back.

“Like I said,” Hugh chuckled. “Worthless!”

Will pulled at the ropes that bound him. He could not let Sir Hugh take him to his castle. Once he entered there, there would be no escape for him. As they rode on, one of the men cried out,  “Riders ahead!”   Sir Hugh raised his hand to stop the others. They all armed themselves, thinking it might be the outlaw Robin Hood. Sir Hugh’s look of concern turned into a large grin, as he recognized the men riding towards them. Will recognized the lead rider, it was Corporal Thaddeus. Apparently he must have been freed from the cabin. There were at least 25 men with him now.  He gave Sir Hugh a big smile as he saw that Will was their prisoner.

“Well done Sir Hugh!”  Corporal Thaddeus exclaimed. “The Prince had us looking for this man. I’ll just take him off your hands.”

 Sir Hugh pulled his horse between Will, and the Corporal. “I think not, Corporal,” Sir Hugh strongly disagreed.

Corporal Thaddeus let out a small chuckle, “Sir Hugh Beauforte, I’m not asking you if I may take the man.” Throwing his arm out, a knife flew out of a hiding place, imbedding itself to the hilt in Sir Hugh’s chest.

At first there was a look of surprise on Sir Hugh’s face, “Why?” He gasped as he fell off his horse, onto the road.  Thaddeus made a tsking sound, as he shrugged his shoulders, “Direct orders from the Prince himself, Sir Hugh. With you gone, and no heir, your land will automatically be turned over to him.”

Thaddeus’ men encircled Sir Hugh’s men. One took the reins to Will’s horse, pulling it towards the Corporal.   He gave a small bow to Sir Hugh. “And now, with Scatlocke’s son in my
possession, I will soon have his land under the Prince’s control as well. There is no longer a  need for the fires.”

“The Prince promised after the fires were set, he would give me control of Scatlocke’s land!”  Sir Hugh moaned out.

Corporal Thaddeus wickedly laughed, a evil grin parting his lips, “The Prince helps no man but himself…Sir Hugh. You above all in England should know this!”  Snapping his fingers at the Sir Hugh, showing the last vestige of disrespect for the dying man, Thaddeus rode off towards Sir Geoffrey’s Castle with Will in tow. Sir Hugh Beauforte placed his hand on his chest, lying in the middle of the road. He  listened, as the world around him went silent.

End of Chapter 12

Chapter Thirteen

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