With a bright, yellow-silk shirt over his coat of mail, Stanley led Earl Edric's men into the streets of Beaumont. The newly risen sun lighted their way as they moved toward the castle. The castle had its drawbridge up, so Stanley set archers to watch it while he organised his men to ravage the village that had grown up around it. Godfrew stood at Stanley's side and listened. Following orders, the men fanned down the streets and waited at the doors of the more prosperous houses for Stanley's signal.

"You have learned a lot, young Stanley." Godfrew undid the leather thong that held his helmet to his belt. The eye hole in the face protector that matched his blind eye now sported a piece of red glass that had come from a destroyed chapel. A metal smith had skillfully made gold tongues to hold it all in place. "You have certainly come a long way from when I first taught you how to use an axe and it was all that you could do to keep your balance."

"Circumstances have just worked my way, Wulf. All men's fate is already written. We just can't always see the cloth for the threads." Stanley looked at the castle. "I do not think that it is our fate to take that castle. That looks like a full siege job." He looked at Godfrew and gave a lop-sided smile. "I know, Wulf, I am all too familiar with the stories about how you almost took Hereford and Shrewsbury."

"You were there at Shrewsbury, young Stanley." Godfrew put on his helmet and adjusted it so that his good eye was looking under the rim of its eye hole.

"Yes, I was ... and I remember that we failed to take it ... lost a lot of good men in the process." He looked down the main street and saw the last of the men get to their target "Unlike you, Wulf, I am not willing to risk it." Stanley left Godfrew and stood in the middle of the street. He took a very deep breath, then called out at the top of his voice: "WE ARE THE BOYS WHO MAKE NO NOISE!"

"OOH-AAH, OOH-AAH," came the shouted reply. The Shropshire men stove in the doors of their target houses.

Godfrew joined his men in the side street that had been allocated for them. He watched as they crashed through the fragile doors and chased out the occupants, letting them climb out through the windows and back doors in various states of undress. Like most of the other villagers, the majority headed for the village church, rather than the open fields. They could see others from Stanley's band rounding up cattle and sheep.

Godfrew's attention was pulled back to the main street by the sound of clashing swords and shields. "Leave them, wolves. TO ME, TO ME." As he ran down the street, he banged on the broken doors and repeated the cry. In the middle of the main street was a knot of English with their coloured shirts over their mail. They fought with ring-mail coated French, tangled in a heaving, bloody shamble. Godfrew and his men took the French in the flank and shattered them. Despite the ache in his shoulder, Godfrew took down a mail-coated opponent with his axe, splitting the man's head in twain. He freed Neckbiter, saw a Frenchman with his back to him, and cleft him apart from shoulder to waist. From the castle came a sharp trumpet call, but there were no Frenchmen left to answer the signal for retreat.

Godfrew stood over Stanley, his bright, yellow shirt spoiled with blood. Dunstan hobbled over with a broken sword in his hand. "Is he all right? He looks pretty .. you know .. thing." Dunstan moved around to look at the other side of Stanley's shattered face and head.

Godfrew knelt and flicked pieces of broken bone away from what had been the young man's nose and examined the damage. "He may live, but he will never fight again. 'All men's fate is already written'." Godfrew stood up and cried out: "Destroy it all. Take no prisoners. Pull everything down. Leave nothing and no one standing."

The men went and set about their task with a grim will, looting the houses and killing all within. The church, they surrounded and burned. The archers picked off any who tried to escape. All the time, Godfrew stalked the village to ensure that his orders were being carried out. Meanwhile, his wolves went about their own purpose.

The cottage was dark. The only light came from the smoke hole in the roof. That shaft of pure light struck the naked-white body of the young girl lying on the rough wooden table. Of no more than ten summers, her bound copper hair contrasted sharply with her alabaster skin. She was held face down by members of the wolf pack, but she made no sound. Clunn the Earless stood at the end of the table furthest from her face, looking over her body-examining it like a master chef before cutting the first slice from a prize joint of meat at a king's banquet.

"Such perfection," Clunn sighed. "It is almost a shame to touch it." He tugged at his black and brown beard and moved his head, checking the girl's body over from all angles. "But then, how can one know if it is perfection or not, unless one samples it?" He flashed a yellow-toothed grin.

"Get on with it, you little rat." Tosti tightened his grip on the girl's wrist. "My britches are bursting."

"I thought I taught you patience, young man. A good meal should be contemplated. It should be mused over ... the flavours should be anticipated ..."

"And it should be thing," intruded Dunstan, holding the girl's other wrist. "You know ... thing ... consummated."

"All right, then." Clunn ran two dirty thumbs down the crack in the girl's buttocks "My, this reminds me of that sweet fruit we sampled in Caen. What was it now? Tosti?"

"A peach. Now hurry up. I want my turn."

"A peach! That was it. You ran your thumb nails down the crease and opened it up, so ..." Clunn peeled the girl's buttocks open and Swein and Magnus, at her ankles, spread the girl's legs. Clunn looked at the girl's anus. "Yes, a peach. It even has a little stone." Clunn blew on it, causing it to tighten. "Now, should one attend to the stone first, or should one enjoy the fruit first?"

"Get on with thinging her, Clunn, before I am past thing." Dunstan fidgeted, his face becoming a reddish colour. "She does remind me of my wife .. not my current missus ... the one I have just left ... Adia my first one ... beautiful white skin and thing ... I remember ..."

"Dear Dunstan! At last the truth. You are past it!" Clunn gently caressed the girl's flesh, refusing to be hurried. "Now look at that, no hair, just soft silky skin."

"No hair, eh? Just like those whores in Caen. They had no hair either," said Magnus.

"The difference, my ignorant young friend, is that they shaved it off so that you could see if they were poxed or not. This one is natural ... surprising for a girl whose breasts are budding up ... be they ever so small." Clunn continued, stroking wistfully.

"Clunn!" Dunstan wriggled a bit. "Hurry up, before I make a mess of myself!"

"Oh the problems us connoisseurs have with the ignorant." Clunn finally parted the girl's labia. The girl at last opened her eyes and stared into the dead face of her father, slumped against the cottage wall. "Now, will someone let my tail out so that this little rat may make his nest in this warm, inviting hole?" A pair of hands came around the front of Clunn's britches and undid the belt. "Ah, thank you, friend. A further favour. I am loath to loose my hands from this delectable fruit. Could you be so kind as to point me in the right direction?" The hands tugged the britches down, pulled Clunn's erect penis out and lined it up with the spread-eagled girl's body. "So kind. A final task: unhood me." A hand pulled Clunn's foreskin back, but the other hand placed a saxe under the scared head of the penis. "Ahhhhh," was all Clunn could say when he felt the cold steel sharply contact his member.

The saxe slowly circumscribed the head of Clunn's penis, leaving a red ring of blood. Clunn looked at the others in the wolf pack for enlightenment, but they had released the girl and were edging toward the door. After once more checking that the head of his penis was still attached, Clunn chanced a look over his shoulder and looked into the face of the wolf.

"Ah, Master Wulf. I take it you are not amused by my private interests?" Clunn kept his breathing slow and gentle, not wanting to risk the saxe cutting any deeper than it already had.

"Keep your perversions to yourself and your activities to whores." Godfrew tightened his grip on the little man's large penis and pulled it down again onto the blade "I've warned you before about upsetting me. Once more, you rat, and you will have no 'tail' to tell!" Godfrew released his grip. Clunn, after a quick visual examination, pulled himself together and redressed.

Godfrew went over to the girl, grabbed her wrist and pulled her up. The child threw herself at him and wrapped herself around his body. Godfrew pulled the wolf-skin cloak over the girl's nakedness and left.

With the girl still entwined around him, it was with great difficulty that Godfrew managed to mount his pony. As he rode toward the wagons, the rain bit into his face, then flowed down and joined the tears of the sobbing child clinging to him.

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