Dust rose on the battlefield, sunlight flaring off the armour of hundreds of knights beneath us. The castle walls were already pockmarked with craters, cracks branching out from them like spider webs. It was only a matter of time before part of the fortification gave way and the enemy got in.
By mid-morning—clang—the first enemy ladder tilted onto the wall and enemy knights began climbing up. Though I was terrified, I marvelled at the courage of the men who climbed on first. Our guys pushed and shook the ladders violently, and, when that didn’t work, they poured hot water all over the climbers. But it didn’t deter them for long. Ladders and soldiers kept coming all morning. Like a stream of ants headed for the kitchen benchtop.
Eventually, one fighter made it onto the battlements. The knight stepped up alone to face armed enemies left and right. But he wasn’t alone for long. One minute there was one. Then 10. Then 30. Our knights fended off the attacks as best they could, cutting and thrusting and kicking. The sounds of a sword crashing on metal was a noise I’ll never forget.
“What think you, Lady Madison?” Isobella said. “Should we suit up and join the fray?”
We hared off to the sick room, found a couple of wounded knights about our height, and ‘borrowed’ their chain mail. Pulling our helmets down so the other knights wouldn’t recognise us, we climbed the stairs and took up positions.
Terror jellied my muscles, but I locked my knees and gripped my sword, adopting the menacing posture Jester had taught me. Just in time too. The siege tower stopped only metres from the wall. Planks thrust outwards to form a ramp between the two structures. Enemies flowed across like blood from a wound.
My first opponent was at least a foot taller than me and twice as wide. I raised my shield and withstood his blows as best as I could. Bang, bang, bang! Who knew anyone could be so strong? Bang, bang. Each blow made my arms ache, my head ache, even my teeth ache. I parried feverishly, and only then did I remember thatJester hadn’t yet taught me any attacking moves—only defensive. All I could do was keep going—bang, bang, bang—stay light on my feet—bang, bang—and hope I didn’t fall over.