“What now Ti?” Mocked Baldric the Bull. “I have your liege and you have nothing but your pitiful troops. You cannot defeat us or run us off these lands!”
Baldric stood in front of his troops – the filthy Cow Herds. Recently they had made their way into the Northern Fields. They were a pestilence on The Good Land and needed to be beaten back to their own territory. OFG and her fighting forces rode out that day to meet them. Then it all went terribly wrong. Baldric and his Cow Herds proved... troublesome.
“A stroke of luck – that was all.” Col Ti assured himself. But now here they were.
Col Ti held the battle line and they watched in horror as Baldric shook OFG like a rag doll. The Chieftain of the Cow Herds was mountainous. His size alone was Baldric's greatest strength. He was a brute. Dark. Ugly. A massive head. Not entirely smart. But he held OFG in front of himself, across his massive chest, like a short shield.
OFG had been beaten physically but she would not be defeated easily. She kicked, uselessly, and cursed Baldric as a fool. There would only be one way out of this and she knew it. She counted on the iron-strong discipline that she demanded of her troops. Mercifully, the last thing she did as she foolishly rode off that day was to give charge of the battle line to Col Ti. “You have command!” She yelled over her shoulder. Now Ti must hold them.
“This is an outrage!” She yelled. “Col Ti! Tell the war hens to loose their arrows. Shoot these Cow Herds where they stand! I have the best armor in all the Lands! I will not be harmed! Archers! Loose!”
The look between them – OFG and Col Ti – was so slight, so imperceivable that no one noticed. Save one.
“Oh no.” Said Little Mo in barely a whisper. “Oh no.... It can't be...”
Across the field Baldric roughly pulled off OFG's helmet and curaiss with one hand. He didn't even set her down but still held her aloft. He clutched her to his chest like a child's toy. He laughed and looked back to his men. They all hooted and jeered.
“There, OFG, no more armor. What say you now?” Baldric threw back his mighty head and laughed.
The tension was unbearable among the war hens. Would Col Ti actually command the archers to fire? On their Liege? They were already on edge but their mighty discipline held. They would take no action until commanded by Col Ti.
Commander Zander was in a rage and stalking the line like a caged tiger. Furious that his mother was being held by the Cow Herd he cursed and swore. He would have vengeance. He was The Black Death. The night feared him. These Cow Herds would pay. They would learn the full meaning of his name.
The young commander would have charged across the field in an attempt to single handedly rescue his mother had not Col Ti demanded obedience. “It would not work.” Snarled Col Ti. Zander knew it. He also knew that the line would fall if he did not hold his position. There would be chaos. So Zander paced, his fury growing louder and more apparent with each pacing step. He roared his discontent.
“No matter!” OFG spat, laughing. “I have the best mail. I shall feel no sting. Col Ti! Loose the first volley!”
“We can fix that too! What do you say, boys? Who wants this arrow stopping shirt of mail?” Baldric pulled OFG's light mail off her as well, gashing her shoulder badly. She winced but did not cry out. She was looking intently at her army. At someone.
“It's happening. Oh no! It's really happening!” Cried Little Mo. He turned and ran.
Cowardice was a grave offense in The Good Land. Some of the nearby troops knew he would be executed later for leaving the field of battle. None went after him.
Baldric and the Cow Herds jeered louder and mocked OFG's fighting men. Baldric rocked back a bit on his heels. He would win this battle and take the North Field for good. His glory and legacy would be assured. Baldric laughed. His victory was close but he was enjoying this too much. He shook OFG again, his men laughed, and she cursed them and commanded Ti to war.
Col Ti's chiseled face stared coldly across the field. He glanced back, gave a curt nod, and said flatly, “You must do this. It's what she would want.”
“I know what she would want.” Said the big man looking past him.
Baldric watched as a single figure emerged from the line. The man's size was impressive. But what good could a single archer do? Baldric was holding OFG in such a way that not even the best assassin could take him down. It was an impossible shot. He snorted. “Very well,” He thought, “Let them take aim at their own liege.” He laughed again thinking of his glory.
The big man walked purposefully, and unhurriedly, out to the halfway point between the battle lines. He all but ignored Baldric and his taunts. Somewhere behind OFG's line the Princess Kai was screaming. Baldric could not hear what she was saying but no matter. She and her brother, Commander Zander, would be fine trophies for his tribute. To see them in chains would be glorious.
Some of the Cow Herds stopped their mocking and watched as the big man carefully shrugged off his quiver and removed several arrows, inspecting them as if to select a specific one. He still had not even looked up at Baldric and was completely unmoved by the screams of his Princess daughter or the mocking of the Cow Herds. He was intensely examining the arrow, the wind, the distance.
At last the big man squared himself and firmly planted his feet. He held the arrow, nocked, and the bow against his leg. His head still down as if he was gravely in thought. All eyes were on him as if no one knew what would happen next. There was a long silence and even Baldric, once laughing, now uncomfortably shifted his stance. OFG had stopped taunting her captors and stared hard at the big man, the single assassin standing in the middle of the field.
“BELOVED!” She cried in a loud voice. “Do you not see me? This is my faith in you!” OFG tried to loosen the grip of Baldric but could only moved a bit, her body and unhelmted head still in the line of fire.
He did not look at her. The big man seemed to shake his head slightly and quietly said, “Don't.” As if he was pleading with her. But she would not relent.
“Do you not see that your strength is my courage?” She urged across the distance.
He stood alone in the middle of the field. Her army was behind him and the enemy line stretched out before him. He looked up, the arrow still nocked but not pulled.
“End this.” She said, “Now.”