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Hell Comes on the Wind

Hell Comes on the Wind

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Published by calli_cowboy

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Published by: calli_cowboy on Apr 29, 2010
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08/05/2010

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 11
Prologue
England, June 10
th
 , 1110
(A small secluded village somewhere in the south of England)
The birds sang merrily that warm hazy morning, as if rejoicing in some magnificent eventof which only they knew. A robin fluttered down from the tall apple tree and perched on theopen windowsill of a small, thatched dwelling. The proud-winged creature, with its brightred breast worn as if a medal, hopped down onto a small oaken table next to the bed. Itlooked about the bedchamber, chirped, ruffled its fine plumage, and fluttered to the bedpost beside Philippe’s head.Poppa smiled at the bird then gazed lovingly into the face of her sleeping father, PhilippeDomfront. He was just a few days away from his seventy-ninth birthday. She knew the datewell because her father and his long-departed brother, Alan, had never forgotten eachother’s anniversaries or those of their children, Emma and Poppa.Philippe opened his eyes to gaze back at his red-breasted friend staring down at him.“Thora and Alan, they’re waiting for you, Philippe,” the robin chirped fluffing itsplumage. “Come along, we have a journey to undertake.”“Just a little longer, old fellow . . . I’ll come with you in a little while. I wish to remembermy friends,” whispered the old man, smiling at the feathered messenger sitting impatiently beside him. Poppa gestured around the room, her pride shining like a beacon into her father’s eyes.“We’re all here, Father. Cedric is here, too, as are your beautiful grandchildren, Cynwiseand Hereward. They’ve come to say goodbye to the sweetest, bravest, gentlest man that everlived.” Her face was wet with tears.Philippe scanned the room and noticed Cedric step forward, and he grasped his handgently in his own. Philippe gazed deeply into Cedric’s azure blue eyes and smiled. “You’renow a full-grown man, the son of a great warrior king, and the good father of mygrandchildren. I knew you would never let your father down, or my daughter.” Philippestated, as he squeezed Cedric’s hands with affection.“Your hold is still vice-like, sir,” Cedric said, smiling. “When you visit with my father,would you tell the king that he is always with us?” Cedric’s eyes filled with the glisteningwetness reserved only for such great men.Poppa’s hand reached out across the bed to place it upon that of her husband as herchildren slowly surrounded their grandfather.Emma moved beside Poppa. In her arms, she held a baby girl; the child was not morethan a week old. Emma leant over her Uncle Philippe
,
to show him his first great-niece. Theold man’s hand rose to touch the sweet softness of the sleeping child’s cheek, and smilingproudly, he nodded his patriarchal approval of the family’s latest addition. “The child shall be called Aleine. Alan would appreciate such a beautiful name,” Philippe said as he lookedinto the face of the child he would never see run and play.
 
 22
“Father,” Poppa said softly, “there are people from the village outside. They have come tovisit with you, to say thank you for being their friend—might they come in?”Philippe again nodded his approval, his eyes widening as a multitude of people from thevillage began gathering around his bed to pay homage to a legend. Each visitor kissedPhilippe’s hand and said ‘
thank you
’, before moving on to allow the next to show theirappreciation to the man who was the only living soul that knew the entire truth.After a while, the room quieted once more and Philippe looked at the robin still sitting beside him, and he winked impudently at the impatient bird.Philippe closed his eyes and drifted into a deep sleep, to remember again his brother,Alan, his friends, and the adventures they’d shared.From the clouds, Philippe’s long dead wife, Thora, looked down to her husband.“My sweet husband, you might begin to tell your story,” she whispered.“I think this would be a good time, my beloved,” Philippe replied.
 
 33
HELL COMES ON THE WIND
A novel by Antony E Bradbury © September 2007CHAPTER ONE
ESCAPE FROM HELL
A small French border village: August 20
th
1065
 Philippe leaned upon the half-gated barn door, his idle gaze wandering up the steep hill.The morning bustle of the adults up and down the thoroughfare had subsided to the peaceand relative quiet of birdsong. Mid-day summer afternoons were always sleepy in the villageof Briare. It was the time when the adults dozed in the shade out of the hot afternoon sun,rising again in the cooler part of the day to resume and complete their work in the evening.On the hot breeze, Philippe's ears caught the distant, barely perceptible, yet nonethelessraucous sound of frivolity as children danced and played, while others swam off the banksof the Loire River to challenge the children of Bédoise on the other side. From the Normandy bank, the Bédoise boys threw sticks at the swimming French youngsters. They jeered at theplayful jibes of the opposing force, as they clambered up the steep, muddy banks toparticipate in mock fighting games with their Norman counterparts across the border.Philippe smiled then momentarily glanced over his shoulder toward Alan, his brother,who was using a new grinding wheel that Philippe had bought the previous day, beforereturning his gaze to the bright, sun-lit yard. He noticed his brother’s wife, Maria, with herdaughter, Emma and his own daughter, Poppa, strolling down the hard-rutted dusty streetthat during a rainy season became a quagmire. In Maria’s face Philippe saw her twin sisterThora, his long departed wife. Like Maria, she had been voluptuous, pretty, so natural andevery bit a woman. Her deep brown eyes and dark, almost black hair glistened in the sun.Tears welled up in his eyes as he recalled that fateful day when Thora had died giving birthto their daughter, Poppa. “Thora,” he whispered, as he so often did when he was alone.Philippe removed his tunic to reveal the sweat glistening upon the rippling muscles on histall, athletic frame. He hung his tunic on a peg and began lifting an anvil five times above hishead. He returned the anvil to the wooden block and turned once more to gaze at his elder brother, Alan, who was swarthy and similarly built and with a single year between theirages. Philippe’s body was supple, and he was physically the stronger of the two through histwo years training with the French king’s vast army at Orleans. He practiced every morningthe exercises he’d learned to remain fit, and was proud of his strength and abilities in thefield of warfare.He noticed that Alan had a gleam in his dark brown eyes; Alan’s jet-black hair glistened,glinting blue-black as the sun shone through the slats in the barn walls. His brother had a beaming smile as he caressed the blade of a scythe while seated on a three-legged stool, hislegs astride a large stone-sharpening wheel. Philippe looked on as Alan began to pedal thetreadle once more against the perfectly balanced wooden frame to turn the spindle, almosteffortlessly spinning the attached sharpening stone.Philippe moved to stand over him, motionless for a few moments. His attentionmomentarily diverted, he gazed out of the door at the fast flowing stream next to the barn,daydreaming of a water wheel doing much of the work for them, then snapped back to the

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