Pulling a knife from his belt, the knight holding the reins, slit the throat of the horse. When the blood from the wound stopped gushing, the horse lay still.
The two knights stood over the beast, both shaking their heads as they looked at the animal. Cook approached them.
“Sires,” she said. She waited for the men to look up at her.
“You require something from us, Madam Cook?” The knight held his knife point down, the blood drying on the blade. His hand around the hilt shook, his knuckles white.
Cook looked at the knight, the man’s blue eyes almost hidden behind his squint.
“Mayhap, I should send the butchers to carry away the body and prepare it as meat for the poor?”
The second knight spit out a laugh.
“Nay,” said the knight. “Prince Otho will lament the death of his favorite horse once he is in his cups tonight, do you not think, Eoghunn?”
“Peredur has spoken true, Madam Cook,” said Eoghunn. “Come tomorrow, His Highness will cry over the beast’s grave and have it blessed by a priest. He will consider any animal of his to be beyond the bellies of his lowly subjects.”
“Tis a great shame,’ said Cook. She nodded her head to the two knights and waddled back to her own domain.
Eoghunn turned to the water trough as Rose climbed out. He held out a hand to steady her as water dripped from her wet frock onto his leather boots. She lowered her head, gave a slight curtsy and ran towards the barn door.
Peredur joined Eoghunn at the water as Eoghunn washed his knife.
“New lass,” said Peredur. He watched as Rose disappeared into the barn. “Comely from what I could see.”
“Save your wenching thoughts,” said Eoghunn. He wiped his cleaned knife on his breaches to dry it and placed it back into its sheath. “Find some men to take the horse away and start digging a pit. Me thinks it best to begin on the orders we know to be forth coming.”
“Where, pray tell, do we dig?”
“Next to the grave of the last horse Prince Otho killed,” said Eoghunn.
“Do we begin the search for the next war horse he will end up killing?” asked Peredur. He spat on the ground.
“It would be wise for you to keep such comments as thoughts.” Eoghunn looked back at the destrier, flies buzzing around its neck. He shook his head and cleared his throat. “I do not wish to bury you today, too, brother.”
Peredur gave a slight salute to Eoghunn, a corner of his mouth upturned.
“Once you have organized the burial party,” said Eoghunn, “gather a hunting party. We must bring the Prince the carcass of a dog before the day is out.”