As the rebels had advanced they had been joined by some of the most powerful thanes in Scotland, and now they were only a few miles from Dunsinane, the castle to which they had driven the King. They set up their camp and prepared themselves for the final thrust.
‘The English forces are close,’ said Menteith. Malcolm and Macduff are burning for revenge and as they marched people were so affected by their cause that they could have recruited the sick and dying – even the dead!’
Angus traced a finger across his map. ‘We’ll meet them near Birnam Wood.’ He pointed to a thick line. ‘They’re coming this way.’
‘Does anyone know whether Donalbain is with them?’ said Caithness.
‘Definitely not, Sir,’ said Lennox. ‘I’ve got a list of all the officers. Siward’s son’s there, and a lot of smooth faced youths.’
‘What’s the tyrant up to?’ said Menteith.
‘He’s dug himself in to Dunsinane. Some say he’s mad: others, more charitable, call it courageous anger, but one thing’s for sure: He can’t keep his suffering country under control.’
‘Now he can feel his hands sticky with his secret murders,’ said Angus. ‘Now, as men desert him in droves, he knows what it was like for Duncan. Those who are still with him don’t have their hearts in it. Now he feels his title hanging loosely on him like a giant’s robe on a dwarfish thief.’
‘He must be as revolted by himself as we are,’ said Menteith, ‘and it’s no wonder he’s behaving like a madman.’
They sat until late talking about how they were going to restore the rightful king to the throne, even if it took every drop of their blood to heal their country.
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