Read Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court Online
Authors: Chuck Black
Barrington put his arm around his son's shoulder, and the two men left the terrace to join Lady Deonne. Bentley had discovered no answers, but strangely he felt better… at least for a time.
Later, in the still of the night, Bentley heard his name called once again.
“Kill them, Bentley!”
Bentley stood between York and two Followers he had cornered and disarmed. His sword felt heavy in his hand, as did his heart in his chest.
“For what crime?”
“Do not question me!” York's face became red with anger. “I gave you an order, and you will follow it!”
Bentley turned part way around to face York, who was now striding briskly toward them. “For what crime?” Bentley repeated, his determination bolstered by York's absurd order.
York's voice was harsh. “Step aside or I'll cut you down with them!”
“No!” Bentley hesitated just an instant before raising his sword and turning to fully face York, knowing that the action would bring dire consequences in one form or another. His back was now to the two Followers, but he was no longer concerned about their actions toward him. The real threat came from his own mentor.
York hesitated, his eyes wide, as if he couldn't believe what he had
just heard and seen. He yelled, and two swords of the Noble Knights collided. York was experienced and strong, but Bentley was young and quick. He had learned York's swordsman skills well and was able to defend against each cut and slice. What was different this time was the strength with which they came.
At first Bentley was preoccupied with simply surviving the fight. But as he adjusted to York's intensity, Bentley began to consider what was happening and why.
Everything his father had taught him about true knighthood was being tested at this very moment. Everything he had thought and considered over the past weeks was shifting into place. In an instant, he came to understand that York's response and fight were efforts of sheer desperation to kill not just the Followers, but the truth.
The Noble Knights had killed the Stranger, but His message lived on.
They had imprisoned the Followers, but His message lived on.
They had killed the Followers, but His message lived on.
Only truth could be this resilient. As of yet, Bentley could find no contradiction in what he'd seen and heard… only noble pursuit.
York brought a wide powerful slice from the left. Bentley deflected it and countered with his own. York parried and made a quick thrust that sliced through Bentley's tunic just beneath his left arm but met no flesh. Bentley slammed his sword downward on York's to keep it from wounding him on the retraction. He immediately followed with a diagonal slice across York's sword arm that met its mark.
York screamed as the razor edge of Bentley's sword sliced across his upper arm. His sword clanged as it hit the cobblestones beneath.
Bentley stood panting, momentarily stunned. Three other Noble Knights ran toward them.
“Traitor!” York screamed, covering the gash with his left hand. “Your days as a Noble Knight are over!”
Bentley stepped backward, wondering what he was supposed to do next.
“Come!” Bentley felt a tug at his tunic. He turned to see one of the two Followers. The man looked anxiously toward the approaching knights.
“Quickly!” The man pulled again on Bentley's tunic and took a few steps toward the open alleyway where his companion was now waving for them.
Bentley half stumbled in their direction, still numb from the fight.
“You're a dead man, Bentley!” York yelled from behind him.
Bentley began to run, knowing he could never go back. No one would defend him against York, especially Lord Kifus, who believed the Followers were slowly destroying the order of the Noble Knights.
Bentley followed the two men through streets and alleyways; they stopped at the back door of a candle maker's shop. The three men were breathing hard. One of the Followers looked up and down the alley searching for their pursuers. He opened the door. “Inside.”
What if I discover these Followers are truly madmen?
He sucked in a breath, then crossed the threshold into a jumbled storeroom.
“Thank you for saving our lives,” said the man who had tugged on Bentley's tunic. “I am Esmond, and this is Trae.”
The one named Trae nodded slightly but glared hard at Bentley with dark brown eyes. He grabbed Esmond's arm and pulled him off to one side of the room. They conversed in agitated whispers, at last returning to where Bentley stood.
“You are Sir Bentley,” Esmond stated.
“Trae here is concerned about your true intentions. There is much at risk if we believe you.”
“Then we have something in common. I am also concerned about my intentions, for I know not what they are, and I have risked much already.” Bentley began to shake his head as the reality of his actions fully gripped him.
“What then shall we do?” Esmond walked away a few steps, pondering what course they should take.
“We can't take him to the haven.” Trae nodded at Bentley “No offense.”
“None taken. I understand your concern. I must get to my father.”
“Why?” Trae asked. “Isn't he a Noble Knight?”
“Yes, but… I just need to see him.”
Esmond walked back to Bentley. “You shouldn't go home. That is the first place they will look for you.”
“Perhaps, but it is a risk I must take. He and my mother deserve to know what has happened.”
“What will you do then?”
Esmond's question fell heavily upon Bentley's heart, for it was a question that asked so much more. And he had no idea what the answer was.
Bentley sought Esmond's eyes. “Is He real?” They were words he had pondered in his heart for years and dared not ask a soul. The answer to this simple question was the substance of all purpose and existence in life, and he finally knew it. It was why he had risked everything and was standing before these Followers this very moment.
Esmond's countenance slowly illumined with a smile that spoke his heart. He turned to look at his friend, and even Traes countenance had softened. Esmond looked back at Bentley. “A Noble Knight who seeks the truth—'tis a rarity. Listen, I have an idea, but we must move quickly. First I must speak to the council. Trae, will you take him to his father?”
Trae looked at Bentley and smirked. Bentley could hardly blame him.
“It's all right,” he said. “I will go by myself.”
Esmond shook his head. “You'll never make it alone. Every Noble Knight and many citizens will be looking for you. You aren't exactly an inconspicuous fellow in Chessington.”
“So what do you—?”
“We have people throughout the city who will help us. We've become… experts at hiding people. You need us now.”
Trae sighed. “I'll take him.”
Esmond put his hand on Traes shoulder. “Be careful. Have him meet me at Swallow's Creek at dusk.”
The men separated, and Bentley followed Trae back through the door. After hours of stealthy maneuvering through the city they neared Barrington's estate. Trae looked about anxiously as they entered through a gate at the back of the walled courtyard. After giving Bentley directions to Swallow's Creek, he turned to leave.
“Trae,” Bentley called after him.
Trae turned, anxiety on his face.
“Thank you for helping me.”
Trae simply nodded and disappeared through the gate.
Bentley cautiously crossed the courtyard and entered his home, gazing at the ornate moldings and marbled floor as if he had never seen them before. White columns stood guard along the wide hallway that led to the foyer. He already felt like an intruder. His heart began to ache as he considered the grief his actions could bring his father and mother.
“Bentley!” Lady Deonne's voice came from the top of the banister, and she hurried toward the curved staircase. “Barrington, Bentley is here!”
Bentley greeted his mother in the foyer at the bottom of the staircase. She grabbed both of his arms, her eyes filled with angst. “What has happened, Bentley?”
Bentley looked up as his father appeared at the top of the stairs, looking larger and fiercer than Bentley had ever seen him. For a long moment his father stood there, staring at him. Then he started down the staircase with purpose in each step, his cape flowing behind.
Bentley had only seen his father truly angry once in his life, and he had never wanted to see it again. Even now, part of him wanted to
shrink back into boyhood and wish away all the consequences of his decision. But he was no longer a boy He forced himself to stand tall and meet his father's gaze.
Deonne stepped aside as Barrington came to stand before his son. His eyes were piercing and full of inquisition. Along moment of silence passed.
“Is it true?” Barrington asked.
Barrington closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened them, they were moist with tears of pain. “I can't protect you, son. Kifus is too strong.”
“I would never ask you to, Father. I've come only to say that I'm sorry for what this will cause you.” Bentley felt his mother's hand on his arm and looked down into her pleading eyes. She was slowly shaking her head. Bentley put a gentle hand over hers. “And to say good-bye.”
“Sir Barrington!” A servant rushed urgently into the foyer. “Sir, Noble Knights are approaching in the distance!”
“When they come, occupy them, Oakley,” Barrington commanded.
“Yes, my lord.”
“Come.” Barrington turned to his wife and son. “We haven't much time.”
The three went to the stables where Barrington's big gray gelding was already tacked up and ready for travel. Barrington grabbed the reins and thrust them into Bentley's hand.
“You'll need the best horse there is, son. I've had Thomas pack your traveling gear.”
Deonne grabbed Barrington's arm. “Surely there's another way,” she pleaded as she wiped tears from her face.
Barrington touched her cheek sadly. “They will try him, and he will tell the truth. Then they will—”
A servant appeared at the stable door. “They're coming into the front courtyard, sir!”
Bentley leaned down to his mother, and she threw her arms around him.
“I'll be all right, Mother. And one day I'll return.”
Barrington gently pulled Lady Deonne away, and she sagged against him. “He must leave now.”
Bentley looked at his father. “I must know.”
Barrington nodded, then put his hand on his son's shoulder. “Wherever this takes you, know that I love you.”
Bentley put his hand on his father's. “I will honor you!”
“And I you!”
Bentley mounted Silverwood, looked down at his parents, and launched the powerful steed into the kingdom… a kingdom waiting for one young knight to discover the truth of a Stranger.