Sir Sander sur Helcrom did let go of Phillipus, so he could draw his sword. Phillipus took the opportunity to get out of the middle of a sword fight before the actual fighting started, backpedalling away from the visiting lord and his men while taking care not to stay between Sir Sander and the king’s men. Sir Wendell and Captain Bouche, for their part, took stock of their opponents. Sir Sander and his vassal men at arms had all drawn swords to face them, with Sir Sander looking confident that their numbers would carry the fight. Sir Sander’s two hireling men at arms had not drawn their swords though and Phillipus thought they looked worried.
Phillipus knew he had no place in this fight, his best weapon for hand to hand fighting was a cudgel or a knife and the archery skills he practised on the green twice a week with the other menfolk of the village weren’t of use here. Besides, he didn’t have his bow and arrows with him. There was one thing he could do though, and he did it. He threw back his head, cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “’Ware foes! ‘Ware foes! ‘Ware Foes!”
“Fie, go to! There are more of them?” That was one of the vassals, drawn sword at the ready.
Meanwhile one of the hirelings was hissing, “Your lordship, these are the King’s men! You can’t draw on them!”
“No-one’s going to go back and tell His Majesty who did for them, let alone the pig farmer or his peasant sons! That’s two of them against seven of us, if you two milksops do your part,” Sir Sander snapped back.
“That’d be seven of us against Brien Bouche and Sir Wendell ald Grenham,” replied the other hireling. “I think I prefer to take my chances on the King’s Mercy.” Some of the vassal men at arms looked at him with odd expressions, those names apparently meaning something to them.
At that point the soldiers of Captain Bouche’s troop charged out from behind the new cow byre and took their places behind Sir Wendell and their leader.
“So, gentlemen, before we begin,” drawled Sir Wendell, “anyone like to reconsider their position?”