Sunday, October 7, 2018
Castle Ironrock stood atop the most southern peak of the chain of mountains known as the Frozen Mountains, which formed the northern border. It was a bold move for Lefroy to suggest moving the king so close to the enemy, but one that meant less of the country would be touched by the snow army, for Criland would try to capture or kill the king rather than waste their time on mere peasants. Ironrock itself was known to be an impenetrable fortress, but such a large army moving across the country would not pass unnoticed. Ironrock Mountain was only a mere blue shadow on the horizon when snowflakes began to fall in their path. For the sake of ensuring the continuity of the royal line if something were to happen to the king, Cousin Julian and Uncle Frederick had been sent south, each to a different castle, but Prince Gilbert could not be persuaded to stay behind. Clad in a shining suit of armor, he was riding a sturdy war horse at the head of the army. Toadmila sat on her broom, floating at his side, while her familiars had been given army mules to ride, and were following far behind, along with the luggage. Lefroy, on the other hand, was riding a magnificent stallion, which he was obviously proud of. He had no familiars, but he was followed by a servant, in charge of looking after his horse. At Lefroy's left side, the king rode in a carriage covered entirely in gold, surrounded by royal guards.
When the first snowflakes began to fall, Lefroy looked up at the banners flowing in the wind, carried by the soldiers as they marched. Gilbert did the same. For a moment, both men watched as the wind changed, from west to north-east.
“They're coming from north-east,” Gilbert said.
He turned to the troops behind him and shouted:
“Knights on horseback, come with me! Scouts, go around the storm and see if you can find their camp. Everyone else, protect my father! Toady, you go with them!”
At the same time, Lefroy was leaning over to the royal carriage, shouting his advice over the roar of the army. The king listened, then shouted his orders:
“To north-west! Circle round and get us to Castle Ironrock!”
The army broke in two. Horses galloped into the flurry of snowflakes to north-east, while the bulk of the army veered west, to avoid the snow. Lefroy, keeping to the king's side, saw the reckless prince gallop away into danger. And behind the prince, slicing the air like an arrow on her broom, was Toadmila.