Balian put himself in Filangieri’s shoes. He supposed that Filangieri thought that by keeping these troops hidden from sight he was keeping them secret. His plan probably entailed luring his attackers into the pass itself, through the narrow chokepoint at the start. The road leveled off a little before it turned abruptly to the southeast to skirt the base of a sharp, rocky escarpment that plunged down from the mountains north of the road. On the south, too, the mountains pressed in close, forming a gap no more than 12 to 15 feet wide. It was the very gap he was looking through now. The more Balian thought about it, the more convinced he became that Filangieri might purposefully allow the King’s army to break through the first divisions to lure it into the pass. It was there, inside the pass with the narrow entryway behind them, that Filangieri expected to destroy King Henry’s army at leisure.
Only King Henry’s army didn’t intend to ride up the main road. It would turn off the main road to take this alternative path, which meant it would avoid Filangieri’s trap. The problem was that, except for the first two to three miles, the enemy would be able to see their every move. It would be able to see how the army became strung out along the narrowing path. They would be a very tempting target.
Of course, if a score of knights could position themselves in the opening of the pass, they would be able to stop the main force from reinforcing. . . .
“Come on, Damon.” He turned Damon off the path and started across the rocky face of the mountainside. It was far too rugged to ride in a straight line, and they had to weave back and forth, picking their way across rock crevices, between boulders, and around stands of trees. Two-thirds of the way, Balian jumped down and started leading his stallion through comparatively dense forest to skirt around a deep gash in the bedrock. By the time he and Damon emerged from the trees to descend slightly toward the sharp bend in the main road leading into the pass, he was out of breath and sweating, despite the cool of night. But it was worth it.
He was not only high above the campfires of the enemy’s first two divisions; he was somewhat above the road on a rocky ledge from which it would be possible to remount and launch an attack at the entrance of the pass. Satisfied, he turned back and started cautiously down the way he’d come, Damon still on the lead.
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