“You are English?” the farmer said.

“No,” Rhys Chwith said. “I am Welsh.”

“Ah,” Jean said. “So why are you here?”

“Because the King of England took my land and marched her men out to fight in his war with the King of France.”

“Ah, we are the same, then,” said Jean. “We serve the Duc d’Anjou, but the King of France makes us fight for him. In my great-great-grandsire’s time, the King of England did the same when he claimed these lands. Half the men in the village are gone to fight as we speak.”

“Half mine as well,” said Rhys. “All those who could shoot a bow, anyhow.”

“So you are from the English army, then? I had heard it was destroyed at Pontvallain. A very great victory, or so they say.”

“I woke up the night after the battle ended,” Rhys said. He indicated his staff. “This is an unstrung English longbow, you see.”

“Ah! Very clever. You might be mistaken for a simple traveler then, no?”

“That’s my hope,” Rhys said. “I’m trying to make my way to Vaas Abbey, where my kinsmen have a garrison. Do you know the way?”

“It is not far, but do you think you can make it? Not every person you meet will be as easygoing as I am, especially if they’re under arms.”

Rhys shrugged. “I have a shortsword, a bow, and fifteen arrows. What could possibly stand in my way?”

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