Excerpt from The Cross and the Dragon

“We, too, are bound by Church law,” the king said, gesturing toward his archchaplain. “Fulrad said this marriage depends on the consent of the bride. While the bishop of Bonn has an interest in whom Lady Alda marries, Fulrad has no stake in this matter. Our judgment is this: the betrothal between Lord Hruodland and Lady Alda is valid.”

Mouth agape, Ganelon stared at the people about him. His baneful gaze fell on Hruodland and Alda. Alda trembled in Hruodland’s arms.

Hruodland remained steady. As the nobles step aside, he handed Alda to Alfihar and stepped into the clear space they had made. He pushed back the sleeve to reveal the scar from the Lombard and crossed his arms.

“Well, Ganelon, what will you do?” He made no attempt to mask his contempt.

“I shall leave this den of wolves,” Ganelon said through clenched teeth. He turned his hate-filled gaze to Alda. “And you, strumpet, you are worthless to any man without your dowry.”

“No one insults my wife,” Hruodland shouted.

He lunged at Ganelon and punched him in the gut. Ganelon returned the blow before a dozen guards separated the two. Alda leaned against Alfihar as Hruodland and Ganelon shouted new obscenities at each other.

When their curses were finally spent, Ganelon called to his servants. “We are leaving post-haste,” he barked. “Anyone who tarries will be flogged.”

Ganelon’s servants, bone-thin and clothed in rags, hurried to do their master’s bidding. Ganelon went out of his way in Alda’s direction. Hruodland raced toward Ganelon.

“I will be avenged,” Ganelon muttered. He turned on his heel and left.

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