Cold the gathering storm winds across the English Black Hills. The flurry of winter biting deep into the horses fetlocks as his rider bent over in the saddle was dead .Shot by the arrow from outlaws in the forest.
The Kings road was no place for honest traders and the forest was alive with vermin not just animal but human garbage. The chill night cut into the slowly moving mount as the dead could not sound the alarm.
Soon the riders caught up with the prey and relieved the saddle bags of its treasure. The rider fell to the frozen earth as the horse was led back with the outlaws of Somerset valleys and forest trails.
That treasure stolen from the Kings tax man went a long way to feed the many hidden in strong ales and meats. The invading revenge finding nothing. The outlaws grew in number and became the deadly threat to safety along the highways of old England.
It was 1343 and not a man would venture into the wilds even for trade without an army of armed supporters. Then the visit of Count Fairfax and his daughter Lady Alice was well guarded but the capture of her was planned to perfection. From the rear outlaws dressed as Fairfaxs men divided the progress by means of fallen tree and the six riders took hold of the reins and raced off with the prize. By the turn of hoof and men it was too late as forest was silent and not a trace of his daughter was found.
For days his men searched the forest glades for the camp of the thieves but not a sign was to emerge from the dark folds of trees. It was end of day three and Fairfax livid with the town officials for allowing outlaws to exist on the Kings highway and Forest Royal was handed a ransom note. 6000 golden nobles for the return of Lady Alice.
In the glades the fires burned roasting the Kings venison and in a cage hanging from a tree sat the silent Lady in pure terror a captive. The man feasted and drank and talk was of Fairfax and the cash load demanded. Lady Alice began to fear her fate at the hands of drunken villains and as the night went on she was made to dance nude around the fires all touching her as he cried and tip toed softly trying to hide her shame. Then she was handed around to all of them in turn. it was hell on earth and her bloody body was made ready to return to her father either way. for two days it went on but Fairfax made sure he had the cash sum. He with some sixty knights rode in the forest with shouts to bring in the enemy. Nothing happened and so Fairfax lay the money bag across an oak tree branch knowing he was being watched and with drew a half mile .He waited
A half hour, then they all rode back to find the Lady Alice hanging from the tree and the gold vanished.
Fairfax roar of pain could be heard across the county .Her lifeless battered body in his arms he ordered the forest to be torched. Fire raced through the undergrowth into the trees flames leaped.The wind fanning it until at length it reached the camps as a burning inferno. Gases and smoke and coughing as the outlaws crawled out to be shot by sixty knights all around the line of last ditch defenses. Arrow and sword stopped all but three men who almost almost escaped but riders cut them down like wheat corn in the ripening fields.
A blood bath ensued and so it came to be the end of all as Fairfax answered to king John upon the loss of his hunting grounds in Taunton. He was executed on Tower Hill without mercy in February 1345
Her ghost is said to haunt the cross roads near the town road to Bath and other way to Midlands. Her form is of a lady in white with a Blue riding cape with hood mantle up.
Many have reported seeing s vision or just a glow against the road side but one account of 1932 do tell of a man who fell off his cycle in daylight near the cross road cross. he was demented as he told the men who tried to help him that her face was all bloody and torn and she came near him to show her face well to him. He told the police that her eyes as bright as bobbins but her torn flesh hanging from her cheek full of blood made him feel guilty and terrified. He never recovered it seems.
This in part, a true story. Yours Sir Kevin
Copyright Kevin Parr Bart 2020.