All too soon, it was time to join the rest of the King’s army. Led by Lord Snookington on horseback in a full suit of armour, his knights followed on their horses. Villagers waved flags and cheered. Trumpets reverberated the air and church bells rang. A ragtag rabble of semi-trained peasant soldiers brought up the rear in leather and chainmail. Toward the foot of the High Street, they turned right to march North. Once beyond the village, Lord Snookington called a halt so the knights could take off their heavy armour and load it all onto horse-drawn carts. Feeling lighter and more comfortable, the noblemen mounted their horses and continued. Orders were shouted at the soldiers laden with bags and weapons to speed up.
Lord Snookington led his men over territory familiar to Ned. Heading North through the trees, it took the direction of the death march. But he was a boy back then. Now he was a fit and strong young man. Some of the soldiers fell behind, while others strained to keep up. Ned ran and walked with heavy equipment, settling in just behind the horses. He enjoyed the hardship and looked forward to the fight. Seeing parts of the forest and river he thought he would never set eyes on again, raw feelings were close to the surface. Ned took a deep breath, knowing he had to keep his rage under control.
When the moorland stretched ahead, they headed in a North-Westerly direction instead of directly to Malaxia. Along the way, Lord Snookington’s men met many other battalions to form an enormous army. The march slowed as the fighting men spread in a wide line to walk over the uneven terrain. Horses found it difficult to pull the carts. Ned helped to push a cart over the clumps of heather. After many days, the army arrived at a vast encampment where the King gathered his Lords and Generals to a tactical meeting. Lord Snookington marched away the dusk to hear how the experienced King and Generals would lead them into battle.
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