The rich clanging of bells rang through the hall, bouncing off the stone walls of the chapel and reverberating through her skin, to the very core of her. A shiver ran up her spine and her hand instinctively shot up to the back of her neck, rubbing the base of her skull absentmindedly as she hurried toward the door at the end of the corridor. All around her, men hurried to their positions along the large archways, great stone openings yawning wide to allow them to roll their cannons into place. They readied for fire, and she raced along to the shouts of, “Hurry, get into the castle, woman!”
They weren’t supposed to attack now. Not for another week or two. Though told nothing directly, the women eavesdropped on men’s conversations as stealthily as a lion stalking its prey, learning all vital information to then pass on amongst themselves like a flock of doves in their sewing circles. Even Generys, whose military husband whispers all the secrets of their army to her while they lie tangled in bed at night (and who, of course, then relays all information to us by mid-morning the next day) said nothing of expecting this attack. How should she have known not to wander to the chapel just outside the fortress?
She was left with nothing to do but race as quickly as possible toward the safety of the castle, passing through the exposed walls of the fortress. Forced to see a flood of enemy cavalry spilling over the peaks of the not-so-distant rolling hills, the vibrantly green grass swiftly swallowed up by the grey sea of armour, the brown of horses kicking up the dirt beneath their hooves as they swept toward them. Each soldier she passed who readied himself for battle, who pulled the arrows back in their quivers preparing to fire… each one of these men may die.
“Ready, men!” The cries of the oncoming battalion, the shouts of the soldiers she desperately hoped to protect her and everyone in the town, the voices all mingle together into a chaotic cacophony of terror as she neared the entrance to the castle, neared safety. She was so close. She could feel the wind wrap around her stockinged legs as she ran, feel it whip across her face and bring stinging tears to her eyes. She felt the hard ground pounding beneath her feet with each leap forward. Her vision narrowed to the single door that she must make it through to reach safety. It was so close.
Another ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five yards.
She pulled the heavy door open and slipped through it into the darkness, into salvation, leaving countless men on the other side of the door to die protecting her and her city.