WolfeStrike (De Wolfe Pack Generations #2) - Kathryn Le Veque


Year of Our Lord 1284


Lioncross Abbey Castle, The Welsh Marches

It was dawn.

From the rains the previous night, the fields were green but the road was muddy, thick and uneven, like a puddle of congealed gravy. It made for difficult travel as the two-thousand-man army from Lioncross Abbey Castle returned from a nasty battle for control of Goodrich Castle, several days’ journey to the south. The English held it, a local Welsh lord wanted it, and the Lord of Goodrich had called upon most of his allies, including the mighty House of de Lohr.

It hadn’t been a long campaign as far as campaigns went. They’d been on longer, but this one had been particularly brutal because of the Welsh tactics. They didn’t want to give up Goodrich and the English had to beat them back repeatedly. But in the end, the banner of William de Valence, Lord of Goodrich and half-brother to the king, flew proudly alongside the de Lohr blue lion standard.

The battle, for now, had been won.

But it was a battle that had taken a toll on the knights of de Lohr. William de Lohr, son of Chris de Lohr and the great-grandson of the great Defender of the Realm, Christopher de Lohr, had sent out most of his knights to answer the call of service. Those who rode out were some of the most elite knights on the Marches – his own sons, Curt and Lucas, were leading the army along with Jorden de Russe, a mountain of a man from the legendary de Russe family, Rhun du Bois, son of Maddoc du Bois, and perhaps the best knight out of all of them, Thomas “Tor” de Wolfe.

Though it was an impressive group, the toll on their strengths and spirits had been substantial.

The men from Lioncross Abbey been gone almost three months to Goodrich, long enough so that the Welsh grew weary of fighting and of losing good men, and three months away from home was a very long time for them. All of the knights had families, including Tor, who was expecting his first child with his wife, Jane.

God, he’d missed her.

Therefore, the three months away had been difficult for him. As the army crested the rise to the south, with the massive fortress of Lioncross Abbey on the horizon up ahead, he felt a considerable amount of relief.

Finally, he was going to see Janie again.

In spite of the muddied roads and exhaustion of the army, they seemed to pick up the pace when the great stone bastion of Lioncross was sighted. Tor, who had been riding mid-pack with the wagon carrying the wounded, spurred his mud-covered warhorse forward, charging up the line until he reached the front.

His heavy Ardennes stallion kicked mud on nearly everyone within a ten-foot radius as he brought it to a halt. Mostly, men moved aside anyway when they saw Tor’s horse coming because it was the biggest, most muscular horse anyone had ever seen, with legs as big around as a man’s body and a chunky, powerful build. His name was Enbarr, after a horse of the old Irish gods, but Enbarr had a secret – he may have been big and powerful, but he had two distinct personalities. In battle, he was hell, but out of battle, he behaved like a puppy. He was the sweetest, most docile animal and he’d been known to follow Tor into the keep, much to Lady de Lohr’s horror.

However, Enbarr was exhausted on this day, like the rest of them, and he was edgy as Tor reined him near his liege.

Curtis de Lohr, or Curt, was nearly the exact image of his famous great-great-grandsire. He had thick blond hair and a blond beard, and a size that was purely de Lohr. He was a proud tribute to a great family and as mud came flying at him from Enbarr’s hooves, he turned his head away quickly so he wouldn’t get hit in the face.

“Keep that big, ugly dog away from me,” he said. “The last time he came too close, he tried to nibble on my face.”

Tor fought off a grin. “That is because he loves you,” he said. “You should be flattered.”

“Yet, I am not.”

Tor’s grin broke through. “Then I will remove him from you completely,” he said. “Would you mind if I went on ahead? Jane should have already delivered our child by now and I would very much like to see to her.”

Curt looked at him, his eyes twinkling wearily. “I was