Chapter 1 The Old Code
A sword shone in the sun. ‘Not bad!’ shouted Sir* Bowen. Then he pulled out his sword and started to fight Prince Einon. The prince fell to the ground. ‘But you’ll have to fight harder than that, or you’ll die!’ laughed Sir Bowen.
Sir Bowen was one of King Freyne’s knights. Prince Einon was the king’s son. He was fourteen years old and a strong young man. He liked fighting but he didn’t like losing. He got up quickly and took up his sword again. ‘That’s better,’ laughed Bowen. The young prince smiled. Then suddenly he felt Bowen’s sword, hard, on his arm. ‘Dead again!’ laughed Sir Bowen.
Einon started to fight again. His face was angry now. ‘Careful!
Careful! Fight with your head, don’t fight with your heart, boy!’ shouted Bowen.
The knight wanted to make Einon a good fighter. But he also wanted to teach him the Old Code. Sir Bowen and all the kings, princes and knights before him were Knights* of the Old Code. For thousands of years kings were kind to peasants and knights helped kings. This was the Old Code. Life was good, and everybody in the country was happy. Then everything started to change and the peasants were angry. Bowen didn’t like this. He loved Einon and he wanted the boy to remember the Old Code all his life.
After the sword-fighting lesson, Bowen and Einon sat down. ‘Never turn your back to somebody when you fight, Einon! Why can’t you remember that?’
Suddenly they heard the sound of a horse. They looked up and saw Brok, one of the king’s knights, on his horse in front of them. Bowen didn’t like Brok and looked at him angrily. Brok didn’t live by the Old Code.
‘We’re fighting the peasants,’ Brok told them. ‘We’re winning, of course. King Freyne wants his son to come and watch.’
fighting the peasants,’ Brok told them. ‘We’re winning, of course. King Freyne wants his son to come and watch.’
‘It’s not good or clever to fight the peasants,’ answered Bowen. He really hated Brok.
‘They’re stupid! The king says they have to die. He wants Einon to come now. And you too, Bowen,’ Brok shouted. Then he turned his horse and rode away fast.
‘Why did he shout at you?’ asked Einon. ‘You’re a Knight of the Old Code! You’re not afraid of him!’
‘No, of course I’m not afraid of him. I hate him. He doesn’t live by the Old Code. He enjoys killing the peasants. He’s the king’s man.’
Einon understood. Bowen hated his father, the king, too. He smiled at Bowen. ‘When my father dies, I’ll be king. And you’ll be my man, Sir Bowen.’
Bowen looked at Einon with love in his eyes. ‘I’m your man now, my Prince,’ he answered warmly.
Chapter 2 The Battle
Brok rode quickly back to the battle. When he got near the fighting, he heard the sound of swords. He laughed loudly when he saw hundreds of peasants, dead on the ground.
In the middle of a field, Brok could see King Freyne on his horse. The crown on the king’s head shone in the sun. On his coat was a picture of a dragon’s head on a sword. The king looked down at the dead men below him with hard eyes. With a cruel smile on his face, he pulled out his sword. The peasants on his right and left were afraid. They ran away fast but the king followed them. He loved fighting and killing. Nothing could stop him now.
High above the battle, Sir Bowen and Prince Einon sat and watched. Bowen hated the fighting but Einon was excited.
‘I want to fight down there with my father,’ he said.
‘No, you don’t, boy,’ Bowen answered sadly.
‘I do! I do!’ Einon shouted. ‘And I want to see you fight too, Sir Bowen.