Where wounded Templars seek refuge from fighting at the Battle of Dunbar.
Friar Mungo’s chin snapped forward with a start, as he woke from a most un-Christian dream. Snorting to clear his sinuses, he braced his hunched back against a jagged boulder, ready to doze again in spite of the biting chill. Highland cattle grazed along the windblown hillside. Faint thunder caught his attention…
He spotted movement in the distance. Friar Mungo grudgingly picked up his staff, suspecting something was amiss. Reluctantly, he ascended the slick shale steps to St. Catherine’s well to gain a clearer view of the approaching party. Drowsily, he swung his skin of ale and coarse haired bag stuffed with mutton ham over his thick shoulder. He preferred to leave the weight of his provision behind. But he could not tolerate theft of his prize meal, provided by a ewe who died in lambing two months previously during the pagan festival of Imbolc. He smiled at the thought of savory lamb stew melting on his tongue.
Lethargy slowed his pace as he climbed. At the summit, he ascertained by the direction of the band’s direction that was indeed bound for Soutra. He cursed under his breath, grimacing at the delay in his midday meal. He yanked a strip of mutton from the shank before making an about face to trek back down the trail, walking more swiftly in his imagination than his feet actually carried him. Bitterness permeated Friar Mungo’s countenance as he grumbled, “If I d’nae prepare for the worst, Friar Eli will find some excuse to exact punishment. The slightest infraction brings down the iron fist!” he scowled.
The ragged party on horseback approached Soutra gate just as the winded Mungo scurried to the entrance, with his hand greased with mutton ham. “Halt! Be ye bandits or beggars! State yer business before ye enter these hallowed palisades or be off with ye!”
Stunned at the monk’s lack of hospitality, the weary men lost all expressions of relief, recoiling at Mungo’s bark. A bloodied man in a saffron tunic covered with mud gathered his wits, “We seek medical aid. Open the gates and summon Prior Eli, and be quick about it!”
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