Sir Jack was thrust to his knees in the stark cobbled courtyard, though there was no living assailant at his back. Chairwoman Zita Goldworthy loomed over him, but his gaze froze on the far wall where his stallion Hengreon stood tethered.
“Oh, your precious nag, is it?” Zita clucked. “Perhaps you will be moved to make amends for your crimes on account of its flea bitten hide.”
Crimes, Sir Jack thought. Trumped up charges, more like.
“You overstep, Madam.” Sir Jack snarled. “The King’s men will be here any moment to demand my release. Do you think he will stand for hags deciding the fate of nobility?”
The old woman cackled and leaned toward him with a sneer. “Do you think the King will stand for his noblest of knights being a known rapist?”
Sir Jack’s blood boiled, and though his hands here bound behind his back he clenched his fists. “Filthy lies. You sent that temptress after me. I wasn’t even capable after drinking away the night in the king’s hall.”
“And yet, she was seen leaving your chamber in tears.” Zita flashed a nasty grin. “I wonder which of you will be believed.”
Sir Jack ground his teeth as he recalled waking from his stupor to an empty bed. He’d wondered then if he’d been duped in some way. “I’ll die before marrying your niece. Not after this treachery.”
Zita only shrugged and turned toward Hengreon. “As you wish.”
The lurching monstrosity which was Sir Jack’s captor, a vacant suit of armor, drew his sword and clattered toward Sir Jack’s mount. The horse screamed as the blade thrust into his chest, echoed by Sir Jack’s cry. He’d broken the stallion in himself, and he was truly a friend.
“What say you now, Sir Jack?” Zita pressed her lips together, and Sir Jack caught sight of a shadow in the stone archway beyond her. Evelyn, he vaguely recalled.
He could just say yes. Get out of the academy’s walls and go to the king. But the Chairwoman was right. Sir Jack knew she would stop at nothing to drag his name through the mud. And witches had something more potent than honor in their favor. Filthy magic and it’s corruption of truth and justice.
“Never. You will go down in history as a murderer and a tyrant, Zita Goldworthy.” Sir Jack lifted his chin. “The truth outlasts us all. It will be your kin who wear the mantle of your disgrace.”
Zita snapped her fingers and the suit of armor crossed the square. Fear held Sir Jack in a deadly grip, and even as he shook, he held the old woman’s eye.
“Very well,” she said. “But death is only the beginning. My Evelyn’s prospects are now ruined, and so shall your afterlife be.”
Sir Jack didn’t have time to puzzle over the words. The sword swung through the air, and he drew one last breath before it landed.
But I suppose it shines a light on what really happened all those years ago. Haven’t read The Head of the Horseman? No problem, check it out here.
Looking for more bonus content? Head back to the episode page where I keep it in the one spot.