We entered the smoking town at full speed. Jane went off towards the burning barn, jumping off her mare and heading straight for the still-smoldering man on the ground.

Sam, Barn, and I didn't even hesitate, going straight for the man who was no longer holding off the soldier's blows. He was slumped on the grass, leaning heavily on his staff, right arm gushing thick, black blood.

"Jane, he needs help!" I shout over my shoulder, drawing my sword as I turn back to the sneering captain. I stopped Black Jack in between him and his victim, pointing my blade at him, trying to restrain myself from attacking without warning as he had.

"Who are you? You have no business here!" His voice was contemptuous, sure of itself in each and every syllable. My blood ran hotter just listening to it.

"We saw you attack this man with no provocation! A true knight fights for the people! You have no right to wear the colors of The Lionheart!" I have to take a breath to keep my sword from quavering. My ears are roaring with blood, I can barely hear the sounds of metal clanging behind me as Sam and Barn kept the other soldiers at bay.

"I do not serve that coward of a king." he sneered, feathers ruffled "I serve his royal highness King John."

"King John?... You must be joking. God forbid the day that spineless prince becomes king." I can't help but smirk at the look my statement gives him, as if he's been served a heaping pile of fresh manure. I hop down from the saddle and pat Black Jack's backside and he moves off to stand near ane and the injured man.

"How dare you insult the King!" His grip tightens on his sword's hilt, and I crouch, reading for an attack. "He stayed here with his people while Richard went off to play God's advocate in a wasteland! His people suffer and starve as he plays the hero!" A harsh barking laugh is torn from his lips mid rant. "And the poor bastards love him for it! They praise his name and fight in his honor as they fall to the dirt, dead like flies in winter."

"We suffer because of that snake that sits on King Richard's throne! He's the one taxing us into our graves!" The injured man was sitting up against Jane's restraining hands, glaring at the knight, even as his face drained of color. Barn leaves the fighting to Sam (who's having more fun than he should be) and rushes over to help Jane keep the man down.

The knight's face reddens to an impossible color, and he turns a roar to round on the man, but I shift, blocking his path. Our blades crash, ringing loud enough to pass for a cathedral bell.

"Impertinent boy!" He swings over his head intending to use his height to knock me on my back. It was a move I'd learned when I was five. My recently-healed bones groan in protest as I dive to the side at the last minute, not giving him time to correct his momentum. but I push through, ignoring it. I come back up for a strike at his back and he barely manages to dodge, spinning around to roll with sword thrown out in a weak attempt to block the blow. My sword glances off the edge of his and knicks his cheek leaving a long line of red in the wake of the metal. To say he looked unhappy would be understatement.

I smirk, eyebrows raised, "Not bad for an Impertinent boy, huh?" Barn's barking laugh sounds across the field, but stops when Jane smacks his arm to get his attention and put more pressure on the injured man's arm. The knight's face was contorted, he looked like he was about to pop.

"M'lord!" A soldier off to the side called out between exchanging blows with Sam. "The King wished us returned by sundown, what shall we do with them?" He indicated Sam and the rest of us.

The captain swore, eyeing me. "We'll have to leave them be. The king has another job for us tonight." He sheathed his sword and backed away from me, heading toward his horse and men. Sam and Barn glanced back at me as their opponents did the same, and I jerked my head toward Jane. We would regroup and help the villagers.

"I'll be seeing you again boy, then I'll return the favor." He gestures at his now bloody cheek before kneeing his horse into flying off down the dirt path leading to the castle. The castle where we all happened to live.

"We're dead men." I can't say I've ever seen barn's face so green before...




I know your out there... Please review. Hello? Anyone? :'(