98 The Thread of Life 21 June

John Stanley-21 June 1355

John emerged onto the meadow just before midday, to see members of the bishop’s forces prowling the battlefield and scavenging from the dead.

Horrified by what he saw, his instincts took over. He charged towards them, intending to scare them away. They scattered instantly.

He had just decided to ride on when immediately in front of him a prone figure rolled over and lifted his pike in the air.

John found himself on a fearless horse charging at the point of a pike aimed at the horse’s chest. Without thinking, John pulled Helios to one side and swung his axe at the pikeman’s head. The blow never landed. Helios stumbled over a dead body.

The pike missed Helios’ chest. Indeed, it missed Helios altogether but struck John’s thigh just above the knee. Because of his position on the shortened stirrups, the pike penetrated the whole of John’s thigh, only stopping when it hit his pelvic bone. John was lifted out of the saddle by the impact as the shaft of the pike shattered. Helios followed through with his charge and the pikeman was trampled beneath his rear hooves. John managed to cling on to Helios’s neck, though the pain was intolerable. He rode to the point where he could see the roofs of Monsegur village when a mist came across his eyes.

The most dangerous woman in the world

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