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HOME > Classical Novels > Love Among the Ruins > CHAPTER 42
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 Dawn rolled out of the east, red and , its spears streaming towards the zenith. Over the far towers of Gilderoy swept a roseate and golden mist, over the pine-strewn heights, over Tamar silvering the valley. A wind piped through the , like a to the organ-throated roar of war.  
The landscape in the broadening light, green arabesqued with gold. To the east, Sir Simon's multitudinous squadrons ran like rare terraces of flowers, dusted with the dew of steel. Westwards the long ranks of the Lauretians. On the heights, Morolt's shields in the sun. About a hillock in the valley, the rebel host stood massed in a great circle, a whorl of helmets, bills, and pikes; Fulviac's red pavilion starred the centre like the red roof of a church rising above a town.
On the southern heights, Richard of Lauretia had watched the dawn rise behind the towers of Gilderoy. He was on horseback, in full of war, his gorgeous harness and trappings dazzling the sun. , nobles, trumpeters were round him, a splendid pool of , while east and west stretched the ranks of the grim and gigantic soldiery of the north.
Hard by the royal standard with its Sun of Gold, a from the branch of a great fir. It swayed slightly in the wind, black and against the curtain of the dawn. It was the body of Sforza the adventurer from the south, Gonfaloniere of Gilderoy, whom the King had hanged to grace his double treachery.
As the light increased, along the glittering of war, Morolt of Gorm and Regis stood forward before the King. He was a lean man, tall and vigorous as a bow of steel, his black eyes fire under his of close-cropped hair. The nobles had put him forward that morning as a man born to claim a upon the of battle. Fierce and , he bared his sword to the sun, and with mailed hand to the rebel host in the valley.
"Sire, a boon for your loyal servants."
The King's face was as a mask of steel heated to white heat, and pitiless. He had the spoilers of his kingdom under his heel, and was not the man to at .
"Say on, Morolt, what would ye?"
"We are men, sire, and these wolves have our kinsfolk."
"Am I held to be a lamb, sirs!"
A rough laugh up. Morolt shook his sword.
"Give them into our hand, sire," he said; "there shall be no need of ropes and ."
The iron men cheered him. Richard the King lifted up his ; his strong voice swept far in the of the dawn.
"Sirs," he said to them, "take the Black of Imbrecour for your pattern, and , let none escape you. Every man of my host wears a white cross on his sword arm. Let that badge only stay your vengeance. As for these whelps of treason, they have butchered our children, shamed our women, clawed and torn at their King's throne. To-day who thinks of mercy! Go down, sirs, to the ."
A roar of joy rose from those rough ; they tossed their swords, gripped hands and embraced, called on the saints to serve them. Strong passions were loose, steaming like the of sacked cities into heaven. There was much to , much to expurgate. That day their swords were to drink blood; that day they were to crush and kill.
In the valley, Fulviac's huge coil of humanity lay and silent, watching the spears upon the hills. Their russets and contrasted with the gorgeous colouring of the feudalists. The one shone like a garden; the other resembled a field lying fallow. The romance and pomp of war gathered to pour down upon the squalid realism of mob tyranny. Beauty and the beast, and scullion faced each other on the stage that morning.
Gallopers were riding east and west bearing the King's commands to Sire Julian, Duke of Layonne, who headed the Lauretians, and to Simon of Imbrecour upon the hills. The King would not the moil that day, but left the sweat and thunder of it to his captains, content to play the Cæsar on the southern heights. His commands had gone to the host. The first assault was to be made by twenty thousand northmen under Morolt, and a like force under Julian of Layonne. The whole crescent of steel was to contract upon the meadows, and its iron wall about Fulviac and his rebels. Simon of Imbrecour was to his chivalry from the first rush of the fight. His knights should ride in when the rebel ranks were broken.
An hour before noon, the royal blew the advance, and a great shout surged through the ranks.
"Advance, Black Leopard of Imbrecour."
"Advance, Golden Sun of Lauretia."
"Advance, Grey Wolf of the North."
With clarions and fifes playing, drums beating, banners blowing, the whole host closed its semilune of steel upon the dusky mass in the meadows. The northerners were chanting an old Norse , a grim, ice-bound song of the sea and the of the sword. Sir Simon's spears were rolling over the green slopes, their trumpets and blowing merrily. From the west, the Lauretians were coming up with their pikes dancing in the sun. The thunder of the advance seemed to shake the hills.
Fulviac watched the feudalists from beneath his banner in the meadows. His captains were round him, grim men and silent, girding their spirits for the of battle.
"By St. Peter," said the man under the red flag, "these fireflies come on passably. A fair host and a splendid. If their courage suits their panoply, we shall have hot work to-day."
"Faith," quoth Colgran, who had returned from Gilderoy, "I would rather sweep a flower-garden than a muck-heap. We are good for ............
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