Edward III and the Plantagenets: History and Fiction
This the prologue from the novel I'am composing. If you like it, tell me. If you think that it could use something else, let me know. I hope you enjoy.
Traitors in the Mist
A man stalked the chambers of the palace at Whitehall. His was that of the dark henchman, trying to manipulate certain events. One would not look twice at this man without a feeling of dread and fear.
He even gave the appearance of a fearful man. Jet black hair, perching dark brown eyes, and a smile that was more sarcasm than joy, did not bode well for a man’s social life in London. He knew that was his power: the ability to make people fear him without even trying to inspire fear.
At present, his walk around the palace was complete. He now stood in front of the Duke’s apartments. Two guards gazed at him, and then one of them walked into the room.
“My lord” the guard said “The man you inquired after has now come”
“Send him forth” the Duke replied. The guard came back, and waved the fearful man inside.
Once inside, he could not help but gaze at the finery of the Duke’s possessions. Sleeping in the corner were two large spaniels. Laid on the table were various items of gold: a chain of state, several buttons or broaches, and of course the numerous rings. There was one ring in particular that the man always loved to look upon.
He scuffled around the table to find it. No rubies, diamonds, or emeralds could draw his eyes. He was looking for the one ring that the Duke always said had a story behind it. That sense of mystery was all the man needed to be drawn towards an object.
“I hope you found what you were looking for, my tenant.”
The man turned to find the Duke looking at him. He was an older man, almost fifty, but he lost none of that power that came from being noble. He had black hair and a beard of the same color, which made him look eviler still. His frame was not that of a tall man, but though short, the Duke was highly ambitious. Too ambitious for his own good. John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland was certainly that.
“How are you my lord” the man asked as he bowed.
“Save that damned flattery for someone who actually likes to hear it, stupid boy. Have you confirmed my suspicions” the Duke replied, in his usual harsh tone.
“I have my lord. King Edward is near death. He himself knows it. But he is greatly worried about the succession. His sister Mary is a Catholic, and though the people adore her, the king knows that if she becomes queen, his Protestant England will be under dire threat. Besides, he hates her personally”
“And so” the Duke asked.
“And so, the king is in need of a Protestant heir. He will choose a Grey sister. And he believes his choice will fall on Jane Grey, your daughter-in-law.”
“That would make me Lord Protector until Jane came of age. Then she would make my son king. My family would rule England. I would be the most powerful man in the country” the Duke connived.
“Which is why we must make sure Lady Jane Grey becomes Queen of England. In her, we could have access to the throne itself.”
We? I don’t recall a ‘we’ in this plot, my dear tenant. It is just me. Me and power”
The man turned toward the Duke. His face was calm, but soon his evil smile crept onto the calmness. The Duke was appalled by that smile; it was a dreadful curse. Or perhaps, for this particular man, a blessing.
“Let’s not forget it is I who brought you this information. I who has been snooping around the royal apartments to inquire into this. I want in. I want the promise of power too. Besides, you know my employer.”
The Duke backed up towards the hearth. He knew the informant’s employer. Everyone did by reputation; a few knew him personally. Those who knew him personally thought it more a burden that a pleasure. The Duke shuttered at the thought of that criminal.
“Ah, so you do know him. Well he can make yours and yours family lives hell if I don’t get what I want out of this deal. In return, I’ll do your dirty work for you. Killing other nobleman is not something you’d like to get yourself into, is it my lord. Neither is blood.”
The Duke opened a tray, took two goblets, and filled them with wine. He handed one to the informant. The other he took a quiet sip from. The wine would fill his thoughts, and deepen his bloody resolve. The other man merely took a sip and then placed his goblet on the table. He looked up and stared at the Duke. It was not a pleasant stare.
“I imagine your employer would want a reward for your services as well, my dark fellow” the Duke spoke.
“His payment will be to watch London on fire, the city bathed in blood. He doesn’t want money, titles, or estates. He wants to watch the world to burn before his eyes. That is his sole mission in life. So far, it has yet to come true.”
The Duke was taken aback by the statement. It was something a psychopath would strive for. And the man his henchman served was just that. He needed to be hung from the gallows. For his own good, and England’s. But not yet. Not yet.
“Then we have or bargain” the Duke concluded. The informant nodded and drank his wine as the Duke drank his. It was a good plot. And if it succeeded, it would be very beneficial indeed. He smiled
Mark Wytton had just made the deal of his life.