One Knight's Story - part 4 (3)

From last time ...

"Aye, M'Lord. I see it. We're for it now, eh?"

"That may be, Squire. Just get me my sword and Habeeb's Scimitar. And tell the fisherman to head in toward shore. I don't think we can fight them off in open water. We need to put the land on our side."

And now ...

Squire produced one of the long swords and and the scimitar. Gwalchmei took them from Squire's hands and tucked them into the sash he wore around his waist. With the small fishing vessel now running toward shore, Gwalchmei knew it was a race, and one they could not afford to lose.

Gwalchmei stood at the stern, watching the pirates come inexorably closer, muttering under his breath.

"If a man ever needed a bow ... "

The fisherman, who stood next to Gwalchmei, manning the rudder, heard.

"Bow? Bow?"

The fisherman gestured to Gwalchmei to grab the rudder, and scrambled over the stored cargo on the deck. He reached under the gunwale amidships and pulled out a long object wrapped in rags, held it up over his head for Gwalchmei to see.

"Bow! Bow!"

"Squire!! Come relieve me here!! Habeeb!! Ask him what he is about."

Habeeb spoke quickly to the fisherman, who then unwrapped the object in his hands, and handed it to Gwalchmei.

"Habeeb! A bow. A Welsh longbow. How ....???"

"Part payment, Man of the West, from a sheik. For a load of fish."

"We may be saved, Habeeb. Though I think I should not be pleased to know how the sheik came to possess a fine Welsh bow. With finely fletched arrows, no less."

Habeeb spoke again to the fisherman.

"He knows not how the sheik came to possess such a weapon. He says he has never been able to string it - it is too big and too stiff. He says it is yours, if you wish it."

"Wish it? I prayed for it."

Gwalchmei placed the horn cup at one end of the string over an end of the bow, placed that end on the deck, stepped across the bow and pulled it against his hip, bending the bow so he could place the other end of the string over the end of the bow.

"Habeeb, tear the wrappings into strips and soak them in lamp oil. Hurry. We have not much time. Squire, bear to port! A gauche!"

"M'Lord, will that not slow our approach to the shore?"

"Yes, Squire. And theirs. I want them to stay under full sail as long as may be possible."

"What is your plan, Man of the West?"

"Plan? An idea, Habeeb, only an idea. There's little time. We must make fire arrows. Quickly."

Soon they had a half dozen arrows with strips of cloth wrapped around the end, and that cloth soaked in lamp oil.

"Squire!! How far astern are they?"

"About three hundred yards, M'Lord."

"Habeeb, light the arrows and hand them to me as I need them."

"These arrows will not burn down their ship, Gwalchmei. I do not understand."

"Not their ship, Habeeb. Their sail. Arabs seal the seams of their sails with pitch. My goal is to light a seam and destroy their sail."

"May Allah guide the flight of your arrows."

Gwalchmei lit an arrow, notched it, and drew it back to his cheek.

"In sha allah."


Tara R. said...

I welcome the return of The Knight.

Joyce-Anne said...

Ditto what Tara said.

Nan Sheppard said...

YAY! My fave story! You know I'm so into this stuff... I love the characters, and I'm glad the bow has come to the knight!