Before he was even removed from the hall, the revelling began. Wenches squealed as their bottoms were pinched by men when they were served their ale if they were soldiers and wine if they were titled gents. The alcohol was flowing fast and free. Hyd had no doubt he would be hung but judging by the amount of ale being sloshed around, he did not think it would be tonight.
Hyd, unable to stand on his own from the beating he had received upon his cousin's orders, was dragged off and locked back in his prison.
His bruises and injuries did not show as they were to his back and ribs. His cousin, Sucat, during his morning visit to Hyd, had ordered the guards to beat Hyd while he was bound and defenseless. Sucat had stood by telling Hyd about his plans for Hyd and Ranee, going on in detail about how he planned to rape Ranee as he was sure she would not go willingly along with his plans. He talked about how he preferred to dominate women who fought him and that he was getting quite expert at it. Sucat watched his cousin closely as he was kicked and beaten about his ribs and stomach, back and thighs, chuckling to himself as several blows landed to the genitals. While the blows were severe, Sucat did not allow too many as he wanted Hyd to be conscious during his trial.
He lay in the filthy straw on the dirt floor, trying to figure out how he was going to get away, thinking that this time there may not be a way. He felt bad for the girl who had gotten caught up in his feud with Hyd although he realised she was a pawn in Sucat's plans to get more property and gold. His bravado could only get him so far. In the shape he was in he could barely move on his own and putting on a brave front before the assembled judges had taken all of his energy. Well, he could at least rest for the night.
His guards were grumbling about how unfair it was they were missing the celebration. They talked about opening up his cell and beating him more because it was his fault they were not upstairs drinking with their fellow soldiers. Hyd didn't think he could survive another beating, especially from four very angry and sober men. He went off in his mind, thinking about home when he heard the keys scrapping on the lock. Perhaps thinking of better times would dull some of the pain he knew was coming but he wouldn't count on it too much.
He was dreaming of a hunt they had had not too long ago, as he heard Eadward,his groom who was also his best friend and illegitimate half brother, calling hello in the distance. He sounded drunk but Eadward never drank. It was this conundrum that brought Hyd back to reality.
Hyd heard a voice in the hall calling to his guards and the voice did sound drunk and it did sound like his brother Eadward but the guards were answering back as if they knew him. The beating must have damaged Hyd's brain after all, because now he heard Eadward's voice drunkenly singing a lewd song and his voice was joined by two other voices that also sound familiar. The song broke off and Hyd heard Eadward's voice call to the guards as they got closer.
"Brothers in arms," said Eadward's voice, "we have brought you ale from the celebration. You are to go up to the hall and enjoy a bit of fun for a spell while we relive you."
It sounded to Hyd like the men had fallen into the guards as there was a loud thud against his cell door. Then Hyd heard the guards shout but they were cut off by the sound of breaking pottery and flesh being pounded by flesh.
Hyd could only listen as his chains and injuries would not allow him to stand to look through the small window of his cell door. There fighting went on with calls for aid from the guards quickly drowned out by the sound of bodies hitting walls and steel scraping steel. Hyd nearly went mad with not knowing what was happening in the passage outside of his cell. He dared not hope that some how Eadward had discovered he was being held prisoner and he had come to rescue Hyd with some of his men.
Soon the sounds of fighting ceased to be followed by grunting and the sounds of scraping and dragging. Lying on the ground, Hyd rolled to his side and looked at the door. Eadward's face appeared in the small window space. Hyd had never been so glad to see all of that crinkled red hair in his life. Bits of Eadward's beard poked through the window as he grinned at Hyd.
"We've come to rescue you, dear brother," he said. "Get thee to thy feet."
"I can't" said Hyd, "I am trussed like a pig to the slaughter."
"Hindering my efforts as usual." Eadward laughed as he unlocked the door to the cell.
"You do like to make me life interesting." Eadward came in to the small room, his large bulk taking up space in the most comforting way. He helped Hyd to sit up, Hyd grunting in pain.
"See here," said Eadward, "Have you gotten yourself beaten again by that rascal of a cousin of ours?" He unlocked Hyd's manacles at wrist and ankle.
"I know you are the better man, but sometimes it just does not look like it."
Hyd glared at his brother. As glad as he was to see him right now, Eadward sure could be annoying. He laughed at everything although he found so very little really funny. Hyd supposed it was Eadward's way of dealing with the the problems that had always seemed to come up for them. Eadward told jokes and funny stories to make light of their troubles.
"Help me up," said Hyd. "It does seem that I am always at Sucat's mercy in one way or another, but we don't have time to talk about my short comings now. He intends to hang me as soon as he can manage it."
"Well, then let us be gone from this place." Eadward reached under Hyd's arms grimacing as Hyd winced in pain. He lifted Hyd's shirt and gasped out loud.
"Leave it for now," Hyd said. "The bruises and broken bones will heal. A snapped neck is forever."
Eadward had brought John and Stephan with him to aid in the rescue. As Eadward freed Hyd and helped him out of the cell, John and Stephan gagged and tied the four guards and dragged them into the cell. They locked the door and collected the guards weapons and followed Hyd and Eadward out of the cellars. They moved slowly because of Hyd's injuries and they expected to be stopped any moment by other guards.
The court yard was silent in sharp contrast to the loud noises coming from the hall. The doors to the hall stood open to the night and the light from the fires and the candles and lanterns pooled at the foot of the steps leading into the hall. They heard minstrels playing harps and pipes. Men shouted for more ale and more meat and they were answered by the laughter of women who sounded as drunk as the men.
Their horses stood just around the corner from the hall entrance in an alley way between the hall and the building that housed the cellars and other storage areas.
They were just entering the alley when a pair of soldiers with a buxom wench sandwiched between them came staggering out of the hall and headed in their direction. It was impossible for Hyd to hurry. His injuries did not allow him to move normally. He had to hunch over to walk. He was sure ribs were broken, but the sound to the soldiers coming towards them added some urgency to his step.
By the time he reached his horse, he was sweating and shaking. He had no idea how he was going to get up on the nag. He stood by Steel's smooth grey side, gripping the horse's mane tightly to keep himself from falling. The huge war horse did not move a muscle. He simply looked back at his master and waited patiently for Hyd to decide what he would do.
"You've got to get up on that horse," said Eadward. "The guards are almost upon us."
"I don't think I can manage," said Hyd. It cost him to admit that he was too beat up to go on.
"Leave without me."
"I think not, brother of mine. If you do not get your arse on the horse, I will tell you my latest yarn and you will die from the pain of laughter."
"Please do not torture me so. I have been through enough for one day. The three of you will need to help me, if I am to get up on this beast of mine."
Hyd grunted with effort and pain as Eadward, John and Stephan pushed and shoved and lifted Hyd up his horse. Eadward was pushing Hyd up, leveraging his shoulder under Hyd's ass when the soldiers and their girl rounded the corner. Hyd sort of sat on Eadward's shoulder while John and Stephan waited for the other men to notice them. They were so busy with their hands and mouths on the wenches breasts that they only looked up and saw Hyd and his group when the woman let out a squeal of surprise.
The two groups stood staring at each other for several breaths and then the soldiers attempted to sober up enough to release the woman, who feel on her butt in the mud. She screamed in indignation while the two soldiers pulled their knives from their belts. They had left their swords in the hall, not thinking they would need them when they went a-whoring.
John and Stephan engaged the soldiers while Eadward gave a great push on Hyd's backside and shoved him up on his horse. John and Stephan were not having any problems with the soldiers as they were so drunk they tripped over them selves but the woman had begun screaming in a half hearted way and she was scrambling to get up and make a run for it. The bulk of her body and the bulk of her skirts hampered her progress but if Eadward didn't get to her soon, they would be caught.
Just as he got close to her, she yelped and tried to turn and run but the soldier Stephan was fighting tripped over his loose breaches and stumbled into Eadward who fell on top of the escaping wench knocking her over backwards into the mud once again. Eadward landed with his face between her breasts and the struggling soldier splayed across Eadward's back.
The woman had stopped screaming. Once Eadward was able to dislodge his face from her cleavage, he could breath again. John and Stephan gagged and tied the two soldiers and placed them in a corner. Eadward heaved himself off of the wench and helped her up. She tried to pull him back into her bosom and he called for some help from his compatriots. They stood back laughing at him until the woman decided they were laughing at her and she began screaming again. Eadward jumped on her covering her mouth with his hands. John and Stephan finally came over with a gag and some rope and added the woman to the pile of the two soldiers.
Hyd looked on, his smile more a grimace, because he hurt himself when he laughed at his three rescuers. They brushed themselves off and caught their breaths.
"You find us most entertaining, do you brother?"
"I believe you will have another great tale to tell, Eadward."
"Let's not think on that now," Said Eadward. "We have wasted enough time with these follies."
Eadward, John and Stephan mounted their horses and pulled their heads in the direction of the fields they need to cross to make their escape.
"Wait," said Hyd. He moved closer to Eadward. "We have to rescue the girl."
Eadward narrowed his eyes as he looked at Hyd. He shook his head, his bushing red hair, mustaches and beard trembling with his unhappiness.
"Don't look at me like that," said Hyd.
"What girl?" Eadward's voice was low and rough. He was not happy. They had been so close to escape.
"The girl that Sucat married and raped on her wedding day."
"Oh, that girl," said Eadward. "Why is there always a girl?"