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 Little store of sleep had the Lord of Gambrevault that night. War with all its echoing prophecies played through his thought as a storm wind through the rotting of a ruin. He the high hills red with , the valleys filled with the surging steel of battle. Gilderoy and its terrors flamed through his brain. Above all, like the moon from a cloud shone the face of Yeoland, the Madonna of the Forest.  
He was up and armed before dawn, and on the topmost battlements, eager for the day. The sun came with splendour out of the east, a golden net over the woods piled upon the hills. Mists moved from off the sea, that towards the dawn. Brine laded the breeze. The waves were scalloped and purple, fringed with about the cliffs.
The hours were void to the man till riders should come in with tidings of how the revolt sped at Gilderoy and Geraint. The prophetic hints that had been tossed to him from the tongues of the mob had served to discover to him his own invidious fame. Gambrevault, on its rocky headland, stood, the strongest castle in the south, a black mass athwart the path of war. The rebels would at it. Of that its lord was assured.
At noon he attended mass in the , with all his , his with the purer of the soul. It was even as he left the chapel that Sir Modred met him, telling how a had left the woods and was cantering over the meadows towards the headland. The man was soon under the arch of the great gate, his sweating horse fire from the stones, dropping foam from his black . The rider was Godamar, Flavian's favourite esquire, a ruddy youth, with the heart of a Jonathan.
Modred brought him to the banqueting-hall, where Flavian awaited him in full harness, two trumpeters at his back.
"Sire, Geraint has risen."
"They are marching on Gambrevault."
"Your news, on with it."
Godamar told how the troop had neared Geraint at eve and camped in the wood over night. At dawn they had reconnoitred the town, and seen, to their credit, black columns of "foot" pouring out by all the gates. The Gambrevault company had fallen back upon the woods unseen, and had watched the Gerainters massing in the city meadows about a red banner and one in upon a white horse. Godamar had lain low in a and watched the rebels march by in the valley. They had passed between two hundred paces of him, and he swore by Roland the Paladin that it was a woman who rode the great white horse.
Flavian had listened to the man with a golden of fancy that had divined something of the esquire's meaning.
"Godamar," he said.
"You rode with me that day when we tracked a certain lady from Cambremont towards the pine forest."
"Sire, you me in thought."
"I could even swear upon my sword that it is Yeoland of Cambremont who rides with the Gerainters."
Flavian coloured and commended him. Godamar ran on.
"I threaded the thicket, sire, made a , hard and rejoined our company. The Gerainters were blind as bats; they had never a to serve them. We kept under cover and watched their march. They came due west in three columns, one following the other. Six miles from Geraint, Longsword gave me a spare horse and sent me spurring to bring you the news."
Flavian stroked his chin and brooded.
"Their numbers?" he asked anon.
"Ten thousand men, sire, we guessed it such."
Before Godamar had ended his , a second galloper came in breathless from Gilderoy. He had left Fulviac's rebels massing in the meadows beyond the river, and had kept cover long enough to see the foremost column wheel westwards and take the road for Gambrevault. The scout numbered the Gilderoy force at anything between eight and twelve thousand pikes. Fulviac had been on the march three hours.
The Lord of Avalon stood forward in the oriel in the full light of the sun. Sea, hill, and woodland stretched before him under a peerless sky. There was the of brine in the breeze, the banner of youth was upon the hills. A red heart beat under his cuirass, red blood flushed his brain. It was a season of romance and of lusty daring, an hour when his manhood shone bright as his sword.
Thoughts were tumbling, moving over his mind like water over a wheel. Geraint stood ten leagues from Gambrevault, Gilderoy thirteen. The Geraint forces had been on the march six hours or more, the men of Gilderoy only three. Hence, by all the craft of Araby, they of Geraint were three hours and three leagues to the . Bad generalship without doubt, but vastly prophetic to the man figuring in the oriel, his fingers drumming on the stone sill.
Strategy stirred in him, and waxed like a dragon created from some magic crystal into the might of deeds. The Lord of Gambrevault caught the strong smile of . A great venture burnt upon his sword. It was no uncertain voice that rang through the hall of Gambrevault.
"Gentlemen, to horse! , blow the sally! Let every man who can ride, mount and follow me to-day. Blow, trumpets, blow!"
The throats from the walls, their scream echoing and echoing amid the distant hills. Their message was like the of a into a pool, smiting to foam and clamour the camp in the meadows. Swords were girded on, spears plucked from the sods, horses saddled and in grim haste. In one short, stirring hour Flavian rode out from Gambrevault with twelve hundred steel-clad riders at his back. Those on the walls watched this mass of fire and colour thundering over the meadows, splashing through the , smoking away to the east with trumpets clanging, banneroles adance. There was to be great work done that day. The sentinels on the walls gossiped together, and swore by their lord as he had been the King.
Gambrevault and its towers sank back against the skyline, its banner waving heavily above the keep. Flavian's mass of knights and men-at-arms held over the eastern downs that rolled greenly above the black cliffs and the blue of the sea. A brisk breeze laughed in their faces, setting nodding, banneroles and pensils . Their spears rose like the slim masts of many in a harbour. The sun shone, the green woods to the glittering mass with its forest of rolling spears.
Flavian's pride whimpered as he rode in the van with Modred, Godamar, who bore the banner of Gambrevault, and Merlion d'Or, his . The man felt like a Zeus with a thunderbolt in his hand. A word, the flash of a sword, the cry of a , and all this splendid of steel would leap and thunder to work his will. The star of chivalry shone bright in the heavens. As for this woman on the white horse, the Madonna of the Pine Forest, God and the saints, he would charge the whole world, hell and its legions, to win so rich a prize.
Turning northwards, with in the far van, they drew to wilder regions where the dark and outposts of the great pine forest stood solemn upon ............
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