Cadell mounted his horse and started down the lane, hearing the men swear and coming up behind him. They were on foot, and he laughed as he rode on. The lane up to Clewth Hall was long, and twisting. He was half way to the post road when he heard another horse coming fast. Cadell tried to turn, but the trees were too thick. He tried to go around the other horse, and almost made it.
Artur held on with his bad arm and leaned out as Cadell passed. He grabbed the bridle of the horse and pulled hard. The horse nearly stood on it’s nose and pitched the rider out onto the road. Artur and Lew dismounted and wrestled the rider to the ground.
“Aye Artur. Kill ’em now or haul him back?”
“Killin’ ’em now be too easy. Tie ’em up and drag ’em back to Mael ifin he’s at the Hall.”
Artur nodded. He and Lew tied him up and hitched the rope to the saddle of the horse. They let him drag behind them at a slow trot.
A few moments later, they heard footsteps on the road and soon met up with Jon, Coel and Sam. The lot of them kicked and spat on Cadell and the five men walked back to the hall with their prisoner. When they reached the hall, the stable lad stood watch in the doorway.
Git Mael, laddie!” shouted Lew.
The lad ran and soon came back with Mael. They all stood over Cadell.
“Lucky for you, my friends here found you.” Mael nudged Cadell’s head so that he could look the man in the face.
“You’re just a horse thieving arse of a brigand!” Cadell cried and then spat towards Mael. It missed.
“No, I be your doom. Your judge. Your ticket round the wheel of life. I’ve chatted a wee bit with our Sian. You cut her, but you didn’t kill her. She be a might upset and asked me to spare her father, but you…” Mael stood up. “She left to you lads. Just don’t leave the mess where it can be found.” Then he kicked Cadell in the crotch, making the man double over in pain. Mael walked off to take care of Sian.
“Cut her did you?” asked Artur.
“He beat her too,” volunteered Coel. The five men looked at each other in the moonlight and moved in closer. They dragged him down to the barn, and pulled him up onto one of the wagon wheels and tied him tight. Each man took turns using Cadell as a punching bag. When he fainted, Artur poured a bucket of water on him to wake him up.
Mael went back in to where Sian lay. He’d checked the cuts on her body. While shallow, they still hurt. He washed them off and then with the help of the lad, bandaged her up.
“Ah lass, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault Mael. No one could have seen Cadell showing up like that. Is Megan alright?”
“Aye. Finn and Artur be injured, but they’ll live. I gave ’em Cadell.”
“Will they kill him?”
“I doubt it. That would be a kindness. Will you be able to live with what they do? Or should I just have him killed?”
“You said you’d spare my father. That’s enough.” Sian shivered as much from pain as from the thoughts of what the men would do to Cadell.
Lord Idris listened to the cries of Cadell. He wondered if he was next. He’d tried the door, but it had been barricaded. He sat, waited and tried to ignore the screams.
Cadell felt the crunch of bones. After the men had beaten him, one started to systematically break bones. First his feet. Then his hands. His voice was raw with screaming. When the hammer from the blacksmith’s shop hit his shin, he screamed and then passed out.
Artur rinsed off his hands in the horse trough. Cadell didn’t wake when they threw water on him. It made it easier to break his arms and legs as he didn’t scream. They worked quickly. The last thing Artur had done was pull the knife out of the fire and brand Cadell’s cheek with a T for thief.
Sam and Coel bundled Cadell none too gently into a blanket and slung him over a horse. They mounted their own horses and then headed out toward the monastery a few ridges from Clewth Hall.
“Give me that knife, Artur.”
Artur handed the knife to Lew and started to unwrap his arm. He knew the only way to save it right now was hot steel. He sat and bit on a strap as Lew placed the knife against the still bleeding wound. The searing heat cauterized the wound. Artur screamed and passed out. Lew bound his arm up again and covered him with his cloak. Jon sat with Artur as Lew walked up to the hall to check on Mael and Sian.
Lew found Mael cradling Sian in his arms. She was asleep. He crouched down next to Mael. “It be done. Ain’t dead, but’ll wish he was.”
Mael nodded. “To the Monastery?”
“Aye. Artur’s injured, but the rest of the lads be okay.”
“Good. We’ll be off as soon as they get back. We’ll take Sian to Briar Rhos.”
“Is that what ye want Mael?” Lew looked at the way Mael was cradling Sian.
“No, but it be the right thing to do. Give her time to heal, and let the ruckus settle down. Don’ be taking a thing from here.”
It was Lew’s turn to nod.
The doorkeeper at the monastery heard a noise at the gate. When he first looked out, he saw nothing. As he closed the peep hole, he heard a moan and opened the door in the gate. There on the ground was something wrapped in a blanket. He took a closer look and then cried out for his fellow monks. Carefully they carried the broken man in to the infirmary.
“Brother, will he live?” asked the doorkeeper.
“Mayhaps,” said the monk in charge of the chirurgie. “We need to set his bones best we can and then hope. If it is the Lord’s will, he’ll live. If not, we will bury him in potter’s field.”
The doorkeeper went back to his post. He could hear the screams come from the chirurgie for a long time.