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She seeks out the man who attacked her in the alley.

"Hell, even if we are not careful, we still may be able to meet him! But at any rate, it is her, Arthur. What do we do?"

Gerald sank to the ground, hands on his knees and head back against the tree. "If it is her, Mer, we don't, I don't, have a choice. Anno has outlived his usefulness." He stood up with a huff. "Don't kill him, Bors. Send Percival for the rest of the others. In one week, we will take her from Anno."

It was, in fact, two weeks before the rest of Gerald's group arrived. The twenty warriors, their spouses, children and, sometimes, grand children, arrived on fine horses, gleaming in metal hauberks and carrying weapons, often of ancient manufacture, surrounding the monastery and Anno's encampment. In total, some three hundred odd people showed up, and sixty of them were fully armed and armored. Not all of them were fully trained, or even experienced, but all were enthusiastic. Their search was almost at its end.

As one, the travel weary, yet light hearted group formed a circle around the dale, quietly observing the advance of the red and gold banner of a lion rampant as it snaked through the small tents toward a larger tent, a pure white hide structure with a black crucifix emblazoned on its top. For a moment, it hesitated, wavering back and forth, as though it were being passed hand to hand. A shout, a woman's scream, and soon the flag was racing away from the large tent. More shouts came as the Archbishop's newly arrived soldiers poured from their pavilions with a great clatter of metal as they attempted to equip themselves on the run. One man, on the edge of the dale, could barely make out a pair of large men, a bent man and a figure in a dress hurrying towards him there on the ridge.

Within minutes, armed conflict broke out in the encampment as the banner dipped once, twice, three times and the people on the ridge raced down into the tent perimeter. People were left dead and dying in the melee, and slowly, ever so slowly, the banner and its bearer worked its way through the morass. Eventually, the group of four reached the man on the ridge, and all around, people cheered. As one, the hauberk wearing troops pulled back from the tent city and converged on the flag.
The old man, the one with the beard and red robes, was laughing gently under his breath. "Wart, you have really done it this time. You have taken the woman directly out from the clutches of Archbishop Anno. The last couple of weeks of his trying to get her to fall in line with the teachings of the Church have resulted in nothing but frustration for the monks. She is as strong willed as ever she was."

"Well, we have her now. Look, here comes Anno." The older man came up the slope with a series of monks in tow.

"Gerald, you have betrayed me and your God. Why have you done this?"

"Archbishop, this is a case of something beyond what your beliefs will allow you to comprehend. I suggest that you live and let live, and let her go."

"I will not. You are stealing the property of the Roman Catholic church. What you are doing is blasphemy."

"No," interrupted Mer, "Blasphemy involves the initiation of an idea that is rooted in another, but twists it to the verge of incomprehensibility. What we are offering is a truism that contradicts everything you believe in. I, for one, have enough respect for you to say that I would prefer to save you from a potentially damaging revelation."

"Respect, Brother Mer? Respect? If you truly had respect for me, you would not be supporting this insurrection!"

"Supporting it? My dear man, I initiated it." Mer shook his head. "You really do not have much of a choice. Please stand back. Go back to your monks and your bibles, and live your life. Forget this ever happened."

Some time later, Gerald and the woman were sitting in a hide tent in a forest of pine and fir. "What is your name, girl?"


"Do you remember anything odd, anything that did not happen to you in life?"

And so the questions went, for hours.

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