An exciting Historical entry from Elizabeth Ellen Carter! She’s @EECarterAuthor on Twitter…
The flare of a pitch-soaked torch lit the corner of the timber long-house. Lying on the floor, its yellow-orange flame licked greedily at the timber, igniting it. Roiling black smoke billowed up, filling the room and obscuring the entrance to the hall. The acrid smell mingled with the bitter, metallic tang of freshly spilled blood.
Sebastian coughed and doggedly followed his Norman Lord through the rapidly thickening miasma within the burning building.
The young man’s heart pounded wildly.
The excitement of the battle fought through the afternoon still thrummed in his veins. And although he knew the foe was well and truly routed, there were still dangers as the rebellious Saxon Earls of Northumbria fiercely defended a retreat that brought them all closer and closer to the Scottish border.
As a squire, Sebastian took his role of guarding his Lord seriously. Already here, in this still unfamiliar country, he protected the flank of the warrior both on foot and horseback, using his training, agility and skills to ensure the forces of King William of Normandy vanquished their enemies.
William was the newly crowned King of England and Sebastian had lived and fought for him in this land for two years but never before travelled this far north.
Here, the wild moors were strewn with rocks and sharply cut escarpments, covered with gorse and purple heather. It was without question one of the most wild and beautiful features of this uncivilised region.
Sebastian’s adjusted his sweat-slicked grip on the pommel of his sword to keep it slipping from his grasp.
“Seb!” his Lord called through a smoke rasped throat. “Outside!”
Sebastian rushed to where he had last seen the door.
One or two well aimed kicks saw the hinges gave way. A roar of air rushed in, fuelling the flames which grew in size and heat, propelling the two men outside.
Screams of terror and pain filled the night air as the Norman knights laid waste. Not even this village’s only stone building – a church – was immune from the ransacking and arson.
Sebastian knew a number of his compatriots had broken ranks, that some of the screams he could hear came from women being raped in the flickering firelight of destroyed houses and out buildings.
Disgust filled him at the thought. Fighting men in the field of battle was honourable. Raping, looting and pillaging like the worst of the Vikings was vile.
Despite the heat from the fires, the burden of the mail across his chest and legs, and the fatigue of many hours of fighting, Sebastian kept his eyes on his Lord, watchful for threats.
They reached another corner of the burh marked by a boundary palisade of sharpened logs.
“The hay barn,” said the Knight. “There may be more men hiding. Secure it. We’ll need fodder for the horses tonight.”
First Page Feedback from The Historical Team!
This is vividly written. There’s a real sense of the warrior fighting his way through the flames – and you can feel the adrenaline of the hero still pumping in the clear, expressive writing. A great start!
It’s an interesting take as the Normans are winning – it can be hard to maintain a sympathetic hero when his fellow soldiers are the ones destroying, looting and pillaging. However, the hero’s morals are made clear here, which reassured me. I was intrigued to know what might have shaped Seb’s point of view, perhaps a hint of a darker past – this would have really hooked me on an emotional level as well, but there was plenty to keep my interest.
The reader can admire Seb’s loyalty to the King and his Lord and can get on side with this, even if feeling uncomfortable with the death and destruction of this village. Although again, a hint of a deeper purpose to his fighting, a cause he really believes in, would warm me even more to this hero. This of course, might come later!
A nicely balanced beginning to an intriguing warrior’s tale! Well done!
Thank you, Elizabeth, for your entry–he feels young, but there’s certainly room for growth!