Jasper led Henry out of that forest, all the while feeling as though someone were watching them, hovering above them. He could not shake that feeling and speculated to himself that those silent ancient ones were about keeping vigil and waiting to see if he would be successful in this difficult challenge. Henry Tudor felt much the same and voiced his thoughts, “I am feeling as uneased as that silly Catherine with her fears of this place.” He rubbed his arms, then wave them slightly as if to swat some invisible irritant away from him.
They made their way a short distance from that place and the feeling of being watched over lessened. It still lingered faintly though, and Jasper had the feeling that it would follow them until he resolved this concern and issue with Henry in an acceptable manner. Someone, some spirit was with them, waiting and listening. It did not ever completely go away and they both felt it about them.
Finally, they arrived at the shore and a small boat awaiting them. Once they were in and occupied with the chore of rowing, Jasper broached his needed discussion, “I know of your doubts and your misgivings on this destiny that you are not so sure about.” Henry simply nodded his head and continued rowing as his uncle spoke quietly to him.
“You must clear your head and your conscience. You must accept this divine destiny and know that it is yours. You must trust and believe in this without any doubts on your hear or your mind to sway you from this course. This is not just some obsessive want or dream of your Mother’s making. You have a right and a deserving of this crown. It is up to you to fight for it. This is your fight, your challenge and your course in life. It is not a battle to be fought and won just because you think it your duty to your family and those who support you. You must truly believe that is your right, your calling and your destiny. That is the only thing which will carry you through what is to come. That will be your guiding strength on into the future.”
Henry responded with his doubts. “That is my trouble, Uncle, I just can help but think those second thoughts and ask myself, Why me… There are others who have as equal, or more of a claim than I upon this crown. So, why is it that I should think I am so much more deserving of it than them. My Mother’s passion and obsession borders on the unhinged, I often think it has driven her to the brink of insanity. I can not go simply by her professions alone, nor of yours I think either because in the end, you are so tied to her that you would be ever loyal to her through anything.” He eyed his uncle with a knowing look and Jasper turned his face away to avoid revealing his acknowledgement of Henry’s suspicions.
Henry smiled sadly and sighed, “As to the other legions of followers, most of them would turn their allegiances on a chance. They are discontented with Richard now, but if Richard were to turn and favor them, they would easily turn their loyalties. They have proven such in the past. If Richard were to suddenly have a change of heart or conscience and set that boy on the throne where he rightfully belongs, none of this would matter or have consequence.”
The men continued rowing in silence for a time before Jasper answered those thoughts. “There is much more to it than just that… But, in reality, What chance do you think there is in Hell that Richard would do such a thing. No, Richard has set this whole matter in motion and now we must all ride out the storm. He has gone past reasoning with and it is his own actions which have put you in this place to fight for this crown.” He paused for a moment then went on. “Look upon it in that way, if you must. This is a battle for the sucession and you are the only one in a position to be a contender for it. Yes, there may be others who have a right or a claim, but they are not here, are they? If you do not take on this challenge and win it, then Richard wins by default and will remain in control. He has already proven that he is losing his own grip on reality and that he has little regard for his conscience. Do you want to sit back and allow him to go on?”
Henry thought on this and nodded, “No, I can not in good or clear conscience sit back and watch his reign go on as is. If it were not me in this position, I would back another who was as willing to fight him on this.” It all weighed heavily on Henry’s mind and he could not quite come to grips with the many thoughts bothering his heart. “I only wish that I had as much faith in Divine right and guidance as My Mother does seem to have. I would ask for some sign, some assurance that I truly am that chosen and worthy one. Is that so much to seek from those above, and on the ground who profess to know what my calling is?”
Jasper sighed and agreed with the young man’s questionings. “No, that is never so much to ask. Perhaps the heavens will give you such sign from above… From those of us on the ground guiding you, I can only seek to assure you that we would not put such faith in you if we did not firmly believe that it is your destiny, and ours for you to wear this crown. Your Mother’s passion comes from her true belief in those above that guide her life. She does not veer or sway from that course even though it has cost her much happiness and peace in her life. This is true for all of us. We could easily have disgarded this path long ago and held much happiness on the surface, but there would be no true happiness or peace within our souls or our hearts. You must weigh one against the other and decide which is of the more important.”
Jasper was not sure that his words and his assurances were having much effect. He searched in his soul for what Henry truly needed to hear and know. “Henry, you know all of the reasons and justifications for your claim, you know that you have a valid right and claim to it through your Mother’s bloodlines. No, perhaps they might not be as valid or strong as some other claims could be… but as I have already stated, those others are not here, not in position to fight for this right. You are, and that should be taken as your sign from above that you are the one. The heavens and the fates have aligned in such a way as to give you this opportunity. It is still up to you to fight for the claim. Thus, the fates create a scale of balance, an equal chance for either side to win or lose. If we go forth, engage in this battle and win it, then we have won fairly and honorably. That should be your sign as well… Take up the challenge and the sword, enter into the fight and then let the fates decide. Who ever should win will be the rightful ruler… Accept that as your guiding sign and have the courage to follow through with it.”
The men grew silent and concentrated their thoughts and focus on reaching a larger ship off in the distance. In the dim early dawn mist and heavy fog surrounding them it was difficult to see anything. They also battled heavy waves on the churning sea. Quite suddenly the sea calmed and fog lifted to show a strange sight in the sky. In the heaven with the hazy rising sun, there was an odd star near it… swiping across the sky near the sun and for a moment it stopped it’s flight, settled and appeared to be sitting upon the sun. Then just as quickly, it resumed it’s path across the morning sky… As if it were a leftover star who had missed it’s calling to leave with the others of it’s night time group.
Henry stared up at the sky in some awe, then looked around the calm sea that they were suddenly sitting upon. He let down his oar and raised his face to that sky with hands clasped in front of him in prayer. His immediate thought was that this was his sign… his proof from above that he was on the right course, the divine path. His heart and his soul were filled with a lightness, the dark doubts lifted and he knew that he must fight for this divine right and accept what ever outcome it led to.
With that clarity, he smiled at Jasper and picked up his oar, “Come, let us take advantage of this divine intervention and reach our destiny all the quicker with a calm sea for the moment!”
At Royals Forest, the haunted woman had stood upon the shore and stared out at the small vessel sailing away into the turbulence. She had simply looked up at the clouds, raised her arms to those heavens and offered a small thought of light to guide the way of these men who battled for their destiny. During this time she was in need of that light and guidance herself, being lost in the throes of some deep never ending sadness that seemed to go on through eternity. She could recall nothing of life lived and only felt some peace and comfort when in the nearness of the ancient Abbey. That woman floating there knew not how to relieve herself of the immense, overwhelming pain in her soul… she often searched the forest and the field for some answers, some understanding but usually felt nothing that would allow her to remember or know what her purpose was.
At some times in the past, there had many visitors to this place…coming in remeberance and memorium, paying homage to those souls lost here. Over time the visitors had lessened and even the old Abess of this small chapel had finally gone on to her calling.
She had tried to bring this lost soul with her to that light but the young woman had resisted for some reason. She knew not why she should not go, only that it was not time for her to leave yet. So, she had watched that worn and frail woman leave this world and go to the next…
That woman had been the only one to ever acknowledge and accept her presence here. They had spent some many years in quiet solace together, giving each other some sort of comfort and peace. After that woman’s leaving, the place had been much empty save for an occasional traveler through the woods, a few hunters and wanderers in search of game and wild harvests. Once in a great while a Royal group would arrive at the lodge down the road and stay for short lengths of time.
Most who visited did not stay or linger long. She tried once or twice to reach out in some way to them in hopes they could shed light on her dispair but they seemed greatly disturbed by her presence. They would quickly depart on feeling her near to them so eventually she had given up and spent most of her time in some nether between realm of half sleep, tortured dreams and vague clouded memories which she could make no sense of. At times she had some feeling as if she were bound here by some wicked one’s words or curse. Other times, she felt the binding was of her own making caused by a guilt, a grief and pain that she could not work her way out of. Time had ceased to exist for her as it marched on, faded to and fro, in and out. And, just as time had ceased to exist for her, she had ceased to exist for time… save for being some long forgotten part of an ancient myth or legend.
Her name had been forgotten over the years, even by her… With no on to call upon her or speak it, it held no meaning for her. The only means of recalling it was to read it upon the old stone marker placed near to the Abbey by someone she could not rightly put a name or face to. His memory had worn away as much as the etched words upon that stone he had seen placed there in her memory at some time after that battle which had left her body trampled and destroyed on that field.
That memory was too painful to bring back. Each time she tried, her entire being was so overtaken with the shock, the physical distress and the heart shattering hurt that she could not fight past it. She quit trying after a time, deeming it not necessary and only wanting to avoid such pain ever more.
Now recently, others had begun traveling through this place more often. It felt as if they were in search of something, and many of them seemed to be in such danger as once she had been. Something within her began to wake, a sense that she was needed… that her purpose here was unfolding in some way. She could hear more clearly the conversations and the thoughts of those who traveled here now. Yes, they were in much danger. There was a storm approaching, a wicked and vicious storm of massive proportions, it would be a battle of souls and the river would run red with blood once again. In this place between worlds, between times and realms where there laid an opening which people of little understanding had been using to cross those boundaries… In this place where she had been left to pass into eternity, there would be another battle for a kingdom, a crown.