The wine's magic was beginning to fade and a pain grew in the back of my head as I, now dressed, rested on my haunches. "So, your much touted devotion to justice is now about to betray you? What of it? You are Lord Arthur. You are as good as crowned as the Rigotamos. Do as you please. No one will argue."
"You know I cannot do that. Vortimer, David, Mordred and the others are always tormenting me. They snap at my heels like a litter of unruly pups, and they are always looking for some reason to challenge my ascent to the throne." David, a lord of the northern lands, the Votadini, was one of a number of cagey warriors, ambitious and sly. And while Arthur still championed the Christ, Vortimer and a handful of other lords led a growing movement of those who believed our troubles came because we strayed from the old gods.
The pain in the back of my neck grew even stronger, and I rubbed it with my one hand. "Go away, my lord. I am no help to you, and even if I could be, give me one reason that I should come to your aid."
Arthur rose and crossed the hut, kneeling in front of me and resting his hand on my shoulder. I looked up into his eyes and saw a sadness in their depths. "The murdered girl is Eleonore, your wife's sister."
Excerpted from The Killing Way by Tony Hays. Copyright 2009 Tony Hays. Excerpted by permission of Forge Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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