Part 13: A Scotsman In Egypt - Chapter 12Edmund of Amersham sat glowering at the Scottish Diplomat before him, who met his gaze with an earnest smile upon his face. The English Noble growled low in his throat, he hated it when people weren't cowed by his sneers.
"I'll hear your words, Scotsman," he grunted,"But be aware, this is not York where my late King held only a small garrison and your coward Prince come with thousands. London is the mightiest City in England, and my forces number amongst 500 of the finest veterans in the world. I'll hear no arrogant talk or insults from you, speak your piece so I can reject it and have you gone from my City, and my servants can wash away the stink of Scottish filth."
Dauid Besat's face remained earnest and open, even as he thought to himself with an inner smirk that English Diplomacy appeared to be somewhat different to what he'd been taught in Scotland.
"Noble Lord," smiled Dauid,"I regret that the words spoken to ye former King were spoken so harshly, and it is my fondest hope that Scotland and England can come together again in a more... familial relationship."
Edmund's upper lip curled in an approximation of a smile, this was more like it. The cur was practically on his belly and begging, just like a Scotsman should before his English betters.
"Demands were made of ye former King, demands he rightly rejected in rage," continued Dauid,"Truly have we in Scotland learned the error of our ways, never would we demand of ye again, as if ye were a recalcitrant child to be disciplined. Rather we have come to realize that England is nae small, angry spoilt child.... and we hardly parents to offer discipline."
Edmund frowned, where was this fool going with this line of diplomacy?
Dauid smiled,"Aye, we know now that England is but a feeble old man, past its use and too addle-minded to realize it has become a subject of pity. So we make no demands of ye, we will not force ye to kneel before us and become vassal to our will. Rather, Scotland comes to ye like a loving brother, and offer ye to submit willingly to our will and become a vassal state, so that we may care for ye, and keep ye from further embarrassing yeself before the world. That is Scotland's offer to ye, and we suggest ye take heed that this is ye last chance for peace with us."
Edmund of Amersham, Governor of London and the last member of the English Royal Family actually based in England, gripped the sides of his chair and gritted his teeth, hissing out words as he forced himself from tearing across the table and beating the Diplomat to death,"Get. Out!"
Dauid - face still earnest and open - stood, bowed and left Edmund to sit fuming in fury.
Later that night, Edmund entered his room still furious. It wasn't just that the mind of the Scottish Prince was still so addled from the Egyptian sun that he thought he could make England a vassal.... but that their diplomat had likened England to a feeble-minded, doddering old man.
"How dare they!" he roared, kicking a chair,"They're SCOTTISH!"
"Aye, we are," hissed a voice, and Edmund spun about in shock. From the dark recess of his window appeared a hooded figure, unfolding a long, thin frame like some kind of human spider.
"What treachery is..." started Edmund, and then the figure was closing the distance between them, moving like liquid, a gleam coming from his hand a....."UGH!"
"Ye should have taken Scotland's pity," whispered Fearghus Maknab, sliding his blade expertly into the startled English noble's chest,"Better a dog begging for scraps than a proud corpse."
Edmund started to collapse, Fearghus easily holding the heavy man up despite his thin frame. The Assassin deposited the dead Noble into his chair and slid it against the desk, pinning the body upright. He wrapped Edmund's hand around the hilt of the blade and returned it to the wound, spilling wine all about and carefully placing Edmund's own notes and reports about the Scottish Army's strength about the desk. Let them think their Lord had despaired of facing the Scots and taken his own life like a coward, it would drive fear into the hearts of the English, and turn the Scottish into devils in their mind.
As far as Fearghus Maknab was concerned, that was just fine by him.
Far away, on the other edge of the world, Crown Prince Finguine stared in disbelief at the small force of men approaching through the desert.
"What madmen would ride in such small numbers to a city cursed by the plague," he growled.
"I know not, my Lord," replied his second-in-command and adopted son, Comgell of Carnavarane,"But they come, madness or not, and we must protect our city, whether the plague kills our people or not."
Finguine nodded, wondering once more why God had seen fit to curse his city with the plague when he had always strived to serve Him well. His was not to reason why though, his was merely to take victory, no matter what the cost, for God and Scotland.
Two of Alexander Canmore's sons were dead.
He wished he could feel sad, he wished he could feel pity or rage or grief.
But he was happy.
He had adopted two sons before leaving Egypt, a matter of expedience only, to create nobles loyal to him that would act on his behalf while dealing with King Edward and Prince Edmund. He had to admit that he had given them little thought once he'd reconciled himself with the concept of Edward as his King, and accepted his own fate as being a King in his own rights in his beloved homeland of Scotland. Raudri Broune and Donald Stewart had died taking the small desert settlement of Jedda for Scotland, casualties of King Edward's campaign against the Rebels.
But Prince Alexander could not bring himself to spare more than a moment's thought for them, because today was his son Adam's 16th Birthday, and today Adam was a man.
His son smiled at him as he stood, the gathered Scottish nobles cheering. They stood on the field outside of Edinburgh, Adam dressed in armor, having just been given the rank of Commander by Alexander. The rest of the gathered soldiers cheered too and his son blushed, causing Alexander to bellow with laughter and clap his son on the shoulder in good fortune. The boy had been given the finest tutelage, taught language and art and literature and warfare, strategy and tactical thinking, diplomacy and military discipline. He was as fine a son as Alexander could ever have hoped for, and he meant to enjoy this day, because it could well be the last day he would ever see his son.
Because tomorrow, he marched on London.
London had seen great hosts before the city walls before, but they were usually English, and they had never, ever been Scottish. Despite the poor history between the Nations, Scotland had never before threatened the greatest City in England, and only a year earlier no Englishman would ever have thought it would. A year ago, England expected to swallow up the remains of Scotland while their Nobles forged an Empire on the other edge of the world.
A year ago, no one had seen this coming.
"Bring down that gate, men!" roared Prince Alexander,"Then bring down that wall and the cowards hiding on it! I'll nae have anything stop us this day! Today London is ours!"
His men roared in approval and bashed their swords and spears against their shields, taunting the English on their walls as the catapult blasted rocks at high speed against the fortified Gates of the city, bashing and buckling the wood, warping the metal bands and putting enormous stress on the only thing between the English and the Scots.
"Reinforce that gate!" screamed Barnaby Lambert, the General to whom defence of the city had fallen following the cowardly suicide of Edmund of Amersham,"Keep those devils out!"
"Break down that gate!" roared Prince Alexander, his face alight with glee,"We'll show these English a taste of the hell that awaits them!"
"DEFEND THAT GATE! DEFEND THAT GATE!" cried Barnaby,"KEEP THEM OUT!"
"Hold the line," Alexander ordered his commanders,"No one rides till we deal with the English on that wall!"
The men manning the catapult turned the machine and pulled it back to adjust their aim, then fired, smashing massive rocks against the hard stone of the city walls.
The English manning the walls stood their ground.
The English manning the walls were confident that the massive walls would hold as they'd held for so long, that not even the Demon Scots could break through this defence.
The English manning the walls were wrong.
The English were no longer manning the walls.
"FORWARD!" roared Alexander, and then cried out a variation of the cry that had become the motto of Scotland,"ENGLAND FOR THE SCOTTISH!"
The fall of the walls had driven fear deep into the hearts of the English, and seeing the potential for his men to break and rout, Barnaby Lambert did the only thing he could do. He ordered the men deeper into the city, cutting off their own avenue of escape so that when the Scottish entered, they would have no choice but to fight the invaders. But the militia escaping the crumbling walls had barely gotten down to the ground when the Scottish entered, and they had no choice but to turn right at the entrance to the City and fight for their lives against an overwhelming force of baying Scots, demons from hell come to wreak horror and wrath upon them.
Seeing his chance, Barnaby Lambert rode his Knights around the side-streets of London, keeping the buildings between him and the Scottish army as they wiped out the English troops. Coming up on the inside of the Eastern Wall, he charged his men into the side of the Scottish, hoping to cut them off from the broken down gates and shattered wall, isolate the Scottish trapped inside and wipe them out. But the Scottish were without end, or so it seemed to him, as he charged in and found himself instantly surrounded, and the Scottish kept coming and coming, and he cast about with his sword but for every Scotsman that fell, five more took their place, and they were screaming and laughing and they kept coming and coming and.....
Prince Alexander rode over the dead, staring around at the massive City, thinking to himself that in his youth he'd never been able to imagine a greater city than London. But he'd seen Cairo, travelled to Jerusalem, seen sights that so many had never seen nor would ever see, and all he could think as he rode down the street towards the remains of the English army was that in the end, London was just another City.
The only difference being, this was ENGLAND'S city, and that fact made this all the sweeter.
In the massive square that separated London-town from London Castle, the English waited to make their final stand. Prince Alexander rode in, ordering his men forward to deal to the last of the English, and that is when they finally surprised him.
A massive bolt of flaming death tore through the air and exploded amongst his Bodyguard, sending men scattering and horses screaming. Instantly men were riding in front of him to protect him, while he himself took a moment to gape at the dead and dying men lying in flames only yards from him.
He shook his head clear, he couldn't ever let himself forget he was a Prince and General, the men relied on him to command them.
"Charge that ballista!" he ordered his men,"Don't let them fire it again, our infantry can handle the rest!"
They rode forward, seeing the English hastily reloading the ballista, lighting fire to the massive barbed bolt and winching back to fire it.... and then the Scots were amongst the English manning it, swinging swords and hacking into them, cutting them down where they stood.
When the last Englishman lay dead by the ballista, which by now had caught alight from its own flaming bolt, Prince Alexander turned and looked with pride upon his men as they washed over the remaining English Knights, who had formed a knot of survivors desperately trying to eke out a few moments more of life.
"It's over," he hissed with a grin, and threw back his head and laughed,"LONDON IS OURS! LONDON IS SCOTLAND'S! NOW LADS, KILL THE LAST OF THESE ENGLISH BASTARDS!"
King Edward sat in his Chambers at his desk, frowning as he stared at the latest correspondence from the Pope. The former Pope, Gregory, had been a good friend of Scotland's and wrote often to the King about his religious musings, most of which Edward only paid momentary attention to before passing them on to Edmund, who said he found them a fascinating insight. The current Pope, Stephanus, wrote just as often, but usually to complain or chastise some action Scotland had taken. Recent events in England seemed to have driven the Pope to distraction, and now the letters were becoming harsher in tone and more threatening.
The word ex-communication had been touched on in the latest letter, and that wasn't something Edward was very pleased with.
"My King," whispered a messenger, entering his Chambers with a bow,"I come bearing a message from Prince Edmund the Honorable."
"The Hono.....? Haha, is that what they're calling the bastard nowadays?" laughed Edward, glad for the distraction. It had been too long since he'd seen his Brother, why his nephews must be almost men by now! He took the letter from the messenger and dismissed him, opening the letter and raising an eyebrow at the abrupt nature of the message.
Dearest Brother, I believe I have found a solution to our problems with both Pope Stephanus and the Turks to the North.... join me in Cairo as soon as humanly possible.