There is a fine line between love and hate. Those are two of the most brutal forces in the universe, as intense as fire, both produce disastrous consequences for those who feel, in case they don’t know how to tame them.
Edward was an impulsive man, passionate fighter, visionary. He had both love and hate inside him, flaming like no other man. Edward knew how to contain these destructive forces, but he preferred not to. He’d rather aim them towards his enemies during the battle. He fought for love and for hate, so one force nourished another. That was the Black Prince’s secret.
France, September 19, 1356.
The axe came from above. Edward leaped sideways, watching as the blade passed before his eyes and buried itself in the ground. The man who delivered the blow stood beside him, his body exposed. His arm was still holding the axe handle when the Black Prince’s sword cut it off. The sword buzzed a second time and the Frenchman’s head rolled across the grass, a few seconds passed before his body followed it to the ground.
The British men could keep their rights to the city of Tours at significant cost. Edward looked around: his men were dying, he had already killed dozens of enemies, but he could not win alone. His army needed to compose itself. It was with a heavy heart that he cried:
– Back off! Flee to the woods! – and suddenly he remembered the time he had to flee for the first time.
He was 10, and she was 12.
– That’s beautiful, Ed, I don’t know what to say – their hands touch, the two younglings look at each other, their lips come closer, when a loud laugh and a deep voice interrupts them.
– Come, Joana, this way.
– What are you doing, Edward?
– Here, look! – he had prepared a feast for her in the woods, by the moonlight, including many types of candies and beautiful candles he could steal from the king’s table. The girl gapes, and he hands her a red rose.
“Of course not, asshole,” continued Thomas dryly, “it’s our secret.” One that you will keep, do you hear me? I always see you following her like a puppy, so I’m telling you, because I feel sorry for you. She is a lady and needs protection. Can you protect her, Edward? – Thomas said that and drew his sword, threatening Edward.
– How cute, the little prince is in love – it was Thomas Holland, a young knight in the king’s service – didn’t you tell him, Joana? Were you afraid of breaking the heart of the future king? – he looked deep into the frightened Edward’s eyes – she’s going to marry me.
– That’s impossible – Edward shouted – you are much older than her. Nobody mentioned it in the castle.
Joana takes Edward’s hands and pulls him far from Thomas’ sword. With tears in her eyes, she kisses him and says:
Edward stepped back, frightened for a moment, but soon he grabbed a long branch from the ground and attacked Thomas. The knight deflected the stroke using the sword and kicked the boy away, Edward fell on his back on the ground.
– You can’t even protect yourself, Edward. She is mine!
The boy takes a handful of dirt in his right hand and tosses it in the knight’s eyes. Roaring in pain, Thomas blows his sword blindly, cutting nothing but the air.
– I’ll kill you! I will kill you!
– Run, Ed. It’ll be better this way, I don’t want you to get hurt. I’m sorry.
– Hold on! No more running. Leave all the cargo wagons and join me. I want a report.
He ran, crying, hurt, feeling like the darkness was taking his heart. He swore that, from that moment, he would become the best knight of all, and would never be defeated again.
Now, 16 years later, he was running through the woods again, fleeing from the French. He couldn’t let that happen. He felt within himself the love he had for Joana, the love he had for his country and his brave knights, and also the hatred, the hatred for having lost the love of his life, for being humiliated, the hatred for his enemies. He let all of those feelings burn inside him and then he called out to his men.
– Sir – one horseman began – the French are on our trail, they will catch us before we reach Poitiers.
“Not yet,” Edward said as he broke a Frenchman’s jaw with one punch and the ribs of another with the toe of his metal boot. The enemies were furious, and the British kept retreating furthermore.
– They outnumber us and they are motivated by the victory – said another – King John II is with them. They will bring everything they’ve got to the battle, we cannot face them again, or we will all die.
– We will not go face to face with them, not all of us – said the Prince – we will hit them while they are distracted. Archers, hide in the forest, on the right and on the left of the trail. Wait for my signal.
Minutes later, the French were on top of them. Swords clinked, armours broke, and blood mixed with the dirt on the floor.
The English knights retreated little by little; the men looked at the Prince in anguish and retreated more and more each time.
It was September 19th, Joana’s birthday.
– Now! – shouted Edward, and from the right and the left the English archers started shooting and a shower of arrows covered the enemy’s army. French armours were very rough in the front, but fragile at the sides and back. Most of the enemies fell, the horsemen took care of the rest.
The army that had been almost defeated by the morning, had King John II of France as a prisoner by the end of the day, returning home victorious. All the men were celebrating, except for the Black Prince.
He wished he could send her a letter, dedicate this victory to her, say that his love for her gave him strength for the fight and that he had become the most skilled warrior in the kingdom. But even if he could do that, it wouldn’t do any good. Joana was Thomas’ wife. Edward had to blacken his heart even more and turn that love into hatred against his enemies, in fire to use another day, in another battle.