Chris looked over his soldiers—all loyal men willing to die in his service and in the service of Camelot. He and Vin would be leading this group into combat. Josiah and Nathan were in another part of the tunnels ready with a small force of more soldiers while Buck and JD stood ready in another area with even more men. Everyone was in place.
Chris sent one of his men as a relay, passing the order on to Josiah and then to Buck. Chris looked at Vin. His friend returned the look with a cocky grin. Chris nodded. They were ready. He pressed the stone that would open the secret panel. “ATTACK!”
Ezra heard the sounds of battle throughout the castle. It had begun in earnest. In truth, the fight had already started. Ezra had been using the night to quietly dispatch as many of Morgan’s men as he could. He knew Chris would give the order to attack soon and he didn’t want the king having to fight more men than necessary. Whatever he could do to give Chris the edge.
He followed the din of clashing metal and angry shouts until he came to the closest fight. It seemed Buck, JD, and their band of soldiers were in need of little assistance. Nevertheless, Ezra joined in the fray.
JD looked up in surprise to see Ezra there. Who let him out of the locked room? Knowing how tricky Ezra could be, JD bet he found a way to get out of there on his own. He was glad the other man really did want to stop Ella. JD gave Ezra a little salute with his sword before he turned to block the chop of an opponent’s blade.
Buck was relieved to see Ezra fighting on their side. He really liked the young lord and had been so angry at himself for being taken in by Ezra’s deception. But Buck believed what he’d said in the tunnels. It didn’t sound like he wanted to help Ella out at all now. For just a moment when Ezra had come around the corner with his sword drawn, Buck had wondered whom he’d use it on. He was ashamed that the thought even crossed his mind.
He glanced over at Ezra, giving him a nod and a smile of thanks as he pushed one of Ella’s men away with his shield arm.
After several minutes of intense fighting that seemed to last for hours, Buck and JD’s group overwhelmed Ella’s men and secured that section of the castle. Ezra wondered where Morgan was at the moment. She must be seething with rage, ready to strike out against whomever she could. Ezra had taken the servants from her view to protect them. That left her soldiers—which she still needed. Who would she blame for all her troubles? “Where is the king?”
“He and Vin are leading a bunch of men through the main hall and throne room areas. That’s where he figured Ella would be—or here in the living quarters. We couldn’t seem to get reliable information on her whereabouts from spying through the tunnels. Chris didn’t want to wait because we don’t know when her reinforcements were coming.”
Ezra had not been privy to that information, either. He hoped that young Mistress Casey had been successful. They would need King Orrin’s aide at some point.
The young lord had a bad feeling the king was in trouble. He hurried through the halls on his way to the throne room. He tried not to look to closely at the dead bodies he frequently found in his path. Some would be Chris’s men, some Lot’s. Either way it would grieve him. He’d just started to become familiar with Camelot’s guards and soldiers and he was even more closely tied to some of Lot’s. They weren’t the faceless, nameless enemies he’d fought on campaigns in the Orcades. No. These were men he’d played cards with, shared conversation and drink with. A few of the soldiers Lot had given Morgan were men Ezra had even fought beside. He’d already killed several of those men making his way to Buck and JD. Their blood was on his tunic—an item he could later discard or have laundered—but their faces would stay in his mind for a long time to come. Ezra hoped this battle would soon be over. He had no desire to add more lifeless faces to his memories.
He closed his eyes for a moment, took a deep breath, and pressed on.
There should have been another way.