The charging hordes seemed to be baring down upon Daisy. “Move you bloody cows, damn you move!” Weeping in terror, she pulled upon the harness of her bovine servants. Lather dripped from their mouths as they strained against the weight of the rotting cart. Laden down with all her families belongings, it creaked and groaned in protest, wheels firmly held in the wet mud.
The stench of the invaders preceded them by about a mile. Down wind, up wind – the death and smoke could be felt by all those in their path.
“Stupid bloody cows, please pull harder.” She wept. Her parents, looked over their shoulders to the south.
“Death is coming daughter, it comes for us all. Why we had to die on this road, instead of in our home on my land I don’t understand.” Her father scowled down at her, arms folded. Aged and bitter, his strength had left him years ago. With no son to pass on his land to, he had passed down hurt and disapproval to his daughter instead. She had pulled the plows and tended the land for as long as she could remember. But leaving it behind she knew to be the right thing.
“We can build another home Papa, and find new land. Please help. Find something to leverage with.” She flinched as the roar of the horde began to reach her ears. Maybe an hour left. They were slow and thorough in their destruction.
Her mothers eyes lit with delight as the sound of a horse came down the path. Turning she saw a man in the brightest of armor. His steed was a war horse of great lineage, strength and bravery evident in every line. Running along side his man of arms kept pace.
“My lord, please help us. Might your horse pull us free of the mire?” She asked, a dip of the knee and a duck of the head given to his great rank. Blushing in embarressment, she scrubbed the muck from her hands and hid them behind her back.
The sun gleamed off of his armor in the morning lighting, hitting her in the eyes. He removed his helmet and shook out blond locks. She gasped, she was saved. Every girls bed time tale rushed through her head.
He was covered from head to foot in polished armor. The cost could have feed a thousand farmers for years. She knew she was saved.
“Peasant girl, can you not hear the hordes descending. Leave your wagon and run for your life foolish child. Your parents should slow their ravenous advance and provide time for our escape. Here, let me lift you behind me.” He smiled and offered his hand down to her.
“Leave my parents and all my things. I… I can not and will not my lord. Please, your horse is strong and could pull us out of the mud.” She begged, tears spilling free at last.
“Step down into that muck. Surely you jest child. Leave with me now or die with them. I offer rescue for the last time.” Annoyance radiated from his handsome face.
“I will not leave my people.” She whispered. Turning her back on the knight she began to pull on the harness. Her heart sank as the horse galloped away.
“See what you did girl. Shoulda offered ta left yer skirts or something. Useless child.” Her fathers tongue lashed out at her once again. Crying she pulled and pushed at the cows. Suddenly the wagon budged.
“Eh now cows…move your lazy arse.” The rough rich voice could be heard from behind the wagon. Looking back she saw the Man At Arms, knee deep in the mud, wedging wood and grass beneath the wheels. “Go on now cows, move or become dinner fer da horde.” He seemed to cajole and seduce the beasts. Straining like they never had before, they pulled upon the harness.
“Eh now cows, pull.” He rocked the wagon from side to side. Her father, in disbelief, stared as the wagon wheels made a sucking sound and broke free from the earth. The lunge of the beasts knocked Daisy on her back as the wagon rushed past, the wheels slinging mud about her face and shoulders, and down the road.
She looked up into steel gray blue eyes, encircled by lines of wisdom. “Up with ya lass, or your pa will leave us behind.” His strong, rough hands, covered in mud, grasped her and lifted her off her feet. Holding her hand, he turned and ran for the wagon.
“What good was a knight in shining armor,” Daisy wondered, “if he isn’t willing to get his polished shoes dirty to save you?”
“What about your lord?” She asked.
“I believe he took the road that forks to the left.” He drawled, a smile in his eyes.
“But that leads back south, towards the horde.” She said, fearing for the poor knight.
“Aye, that’s what I told him.” The man at arms said.
“But he went anyway?” she asked. “Shouldn’t you have gone with him?” Confused she looked into his eyes as the rode in the back of the wagon.
“It’s possible I tripped and fell and he left me there to slow the horde. Possibly, I was looking for wood for your wagon and he thought I fell. You cant be sure. I’m Garrot Miss. And I guess I’m yer Man at Arms.”
“My…man?” She stammered.
“Aye, bravery and loyalty like yours should be honored. And cowardice…” Waving to the south he grimaced, “has its own end.” He smiled at her again and patted her knee. Then moving forward, took the reins from Papa and said gently. “Eh now cows, get on now. No time to waste.”
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Written around the Thinkingten.com Thursday prompt: A pair of polished shoes