Pax Eboraca

As Edmund spurred on his horse, he began to process his father's death. He kept me warm and comfortable in my own little house, he thought, and now he's gone.

He did not, however, regret his choice to betray him. He merely mourned his loss. His thoughts turned to his brother for a moment. He knew that the casualties had been slight and that few prisoners had been taken, so he assumed that his brother was returning to Somerset with the routing army; but he remained worried that he may have been among the dead.

He pulled back lightly on the reigns as the traffic grew more dense when the front of Richard's entourage reached a narrow bridge and became acutely aware of the fatigue he felt following the battle. He lamented his lack of stirrups and the effort required to remain on the horse resulting from it. He was pleased that they appeared to be bound for London.

Riding in the wake of Richard of York, he felt that there was little risk associated with him returning home. He doubted that his brother would've been able to get there first and the local nobility would not want to offend a mob with absolute power over their liege; so he felt quite secure. He broke from the caravan upon reaching the City of London and rode on to Cheapside for some much needed rest.

He guided the mare up the alleyway behind his house, led her into the garden, then tied her to the gate. Picking up the rope hanging from her bridle reminded him of the situation in which he found her in the aftermath of the battle and he could scarcely contain his tears. Despite his exhaustion, he walked out into the bustle that was Cheapside and found a street vendor peddling hay. He bought a bundle, then walked to a carpenter's shop to buy a trough, only to find himself lacking the funds.

He laid the silage on the ground in front of the mare and weighed it at one end with a large stone picked from the top of his dry garden wall. Just as he felt ready to fall into bed, he realised the his horse would need water, and carried a bucket to the cistern to draw some water from the conduit. With his legs aching from the day's exertion, he took a swig from the bucket before laying it on the ground adjacent to the hay.

He tried, and failed, to rekindle the embers in his fireplace and was forced to visit his neighbour in order to light a taper. He walked through his house back onto the street carrying a and knocked on the door of the adjacent house.

"Hello Edmund," replied his neighbour, opening the door.

"Are you bringing news from St. Albans?" he asked, gesturing to his mail shirt.

"There were few casualties, but my father was among them," replied Edmund, in a sombre tone. "May I… light a taper… from your fire?"

"I'm very sorry to hear that, of course you may," he replied. "Might I ask who was victorious?"

"York."

"For whom did you fight?"

"York."

"Good on you son, it pains me to see our good king in the clutches of that petulant Angevin shrew."

Edmund stayed silent and lit the taper, he murmured a goodbye before returning home and climbing the stairs to his bedroom. Using the taper, he lit a fire in the grate; he then pulled off his sword belt and mail shirt, kicked off his boots and fell into bed. He was asleep before the kindling took flame.

It was almost mid-day when he awoke. He pulled his boots back on and staggered to the corner of his room, then lifted the loose floorboard. In a hollowed out beam, he found tuppence and a groat. He had been expecting a payment from his father, so spent recklessly throughout the previous week. It dawned on him that he would have to either find a job or claim his inheritance and; after some brief deliberation, he decided he would need to face his family. He would ride for Glastonbury and his family's land.

John may be a lost cause, he thought. But I may be able to convince mother.

He began to plan his journey, he realised that he would have to choose between food or board. Resigned to sleeping rough, for some of the journey at least, he sat down and turned one of his spare robes into a makeshift saddlebag using the darning needle that proved crucial in his act of treachery. He walked out onto the street, bought a loaf of day-old bread for a farthing, then stuffed it into his bag. He walked home, put on his sword belt, locked the door, threw the bag over the back of his horse, and rode forth to Glastonbury.

He considered first riding north to St. Albans in the hope of retrieving his missing saddle, but he assumed that it had been long since fenced and pressed on without. He rode until sunset and, with cramping legs, dismounted within sight of Bagshot. Unable to afford accommodation, he hobbled his horse off the road before scavenging for firewood. He returned with a large bundle of twigs gathered from the floor of the royal forest surrounding him.

He managed to light an ember by striking a piece of flint against a notch on the back of his dagger. It took a lot of effort to persuade the ember to take flame. He sat by the fire and ate a piece of his rapidly degrading bread before trying to fall asleep on the surprisingly comfortable undergrowth. As he lay awake, he was haunted by thoughts of what could have been had he fought for Lancaster. It soon dawned on him that his circumstances probably wouldn't be dissimilar, other than the potential for animosity at the end of his journey. The realisation set his thoughts at rest.

He was awoken the following morning by the clattering of hooves on the road next to him. A man was driving a cartload of grass past his campsite. In preparation for the journey awaiting them, he led his horse over to a brook from which they both drank. It dawned on him that his horse could do with a name, but none sprang immediately to mind. He decided to leave the issue and return to the road.

After about an hour's ride, the heavens opened. Edmund decided to increase the pace, his horse was happy to oblige in the cooler climate. Both exhausted, they arrived in Thruxton as the sun began to set. The woodland of Bagshot had given way to open fields radiating around a manor, which limited his foraging opportunities. With the area devoid of firewood, he felt forced to pursue local accommodation.

In Thruxton, Edmund found a tranquil little pub called the White Horse and tied his mare to one of the provided posts. He hobbled in through the front door and stood at the counter.

"Can I stay the night?" he asked the barmaid.

"Tuppence for the night," she replied.

"Do you offer a stable?"

"There's one out the back, it's a penny for the night."

"My horse is tied to the post outside, she's the piebald mare."

"I'll tell the stableboy," she replied.

Edmund counted the coins in his pocket, he was down to one groat and two farthings. He begrudgingly handed her his groat and grimaced as he received a penny in return. He staggered up the stairs and found a large communal straw bed waiting for him; after the day's ride, it felt like his own feather bed in Cheapside.

When he awoke the following morning, he assumed a quicker pace and made fewer stops than he had on the previous days as he began to realise that he may not be able to claim his inheritance. If his brother had returned home, and was determined to keep the estate for himself, what could Edmund do? Though he was armed, he had no real experience in martial pursuits besides piking a soldier in St. Albans, John wouldn't hand it over, he would struggle to sustain himself on the journey home.

With both him and his mare exhausted, he arrived at Zeals. There was a small patch of woodland within sight of the old manor building, and he bedded down there for the night. He had mastered lighting a fire using his piece of flint and he opted to toast his bread as it had become quite stale. He was forced to cut away the mould with is dagger as he ate. He loosed his mare on a patch of common ground for the night, deducing that if she wouldn't flee a battle, she probably wouldn't wander too far astray.

The following morning, he found his mare asleep on the border of the forest, mounted, and rode forth for Glastonbury. He ate chunks of the now quite spoiled bread as he rode, in the hopes of reaching his destination before nightfall. His mare seemed well capable, perhaps even eager. His horsemanship had developed over the journey and he no longer felt anxious as upon encountering obstacles, he merely confidently guided his mare around them. He stopped only once on the journey, to water his horse.

With twilight rapidly fading, his family's house gradually rose above the horizon. He was navigating by moonlight when he arrived at the gate.

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