That early morning saw others involved in their own deep concern. Thomas Stanley was closeted within his personal library with his scribe, pouring over his writings along with old parchments and scrolls from his own family history. His relatives and ancestors were many of the same as John Howard’s and had also spent time as achild within the walls of his FitzAlan and Mowbray relatives. He had been a small child at the time and heard many of the same stories as John Howard had.
The previous evening on his return home, he sat staring at the markings and the same childhood thoughts that came to John Howard entered his own mind. The markings and writings felt somewhat vaguely familiar as though he might have viewed them before. He had dozed in front of the fire place and those long ago memories found their way into his dreams.
Stanley had awoke, tried to dismiss the memories, and made his way to bed. That morning after sleeping on those thoughts, he woke with a sudden and certain clarity of the markings. He had called to his scribe and set him to work in the library on making some sense of the writings and symbols he had copied. For himself, he knew exactly where to search within his library that contained some of those ancient scrolls which had been passed through the generations and ended up in his possession.
Thomas Stanley had no such ablities as John Howard. His abilities were more concrete and tied to the way his mind worked to keep him balanced on the wheel of life. Some would refer to it as luck. Others who resented him accused him of being willing to sell his soul to the devil if it would bring him benefit. Stanley had an inner instinctive ability to walk that fine balancing line between sides, weigh all of the options and choose the best options… What this did was to often put him in the middle of damning situations and cause him to constantly keep his head above water to survive and fight another day. It may have seemed devious and under handed to many but it served his purposes to keep him and his family alive and not facing the block on a continuous basis.
Stanley knew well the secrets of his family bloodlines even though he did not exhibit any signs or abilities of it. He would never have spoken it or admitted it even if he did show such signs. No one in his family ever spoke of it, even to each other. In some rare insistances, there might have been whispered inferances to a family member showing a sign but none would voice it. It was as though, if one did not speak of it, then it would not exist. Of course they all understood that to be untrue, but none of them had ever been accused of witchcraft nor had their religious devoutness been questioned… so this burying and hiding of their personal skeletons did seem to working for them.
Stanley felt he should like to keep it this way. This was a very dangerous matter… far more so than any question or doubt of treason and whose side they might be on politically. He could find ways around those things, but the accusations of witchery or sorcery went far beyond even his balancing abilities. It was not a matter for debate, discussion or bargaining. He would not forsake or risk his entire family, past and future generations in a gamble of this magnitude. He knew that it was imperitive that this family secret never come to the surface and he did not take chances with it. His well trusted scribe was only entrusted with this because he was a member of the family and a member of the clergy. The scribe knew that this would bring them all to the stakes to burn if it was put out, including himself.
In Elizabeth Woodville’s quarters that morning, there was a
war of wills taking place. The woman was still in a tormented storm over having her sons taken from her, then her possessions taken and most recently this morning, her youngest daughters being removed from her care. Guards had come early, shortly after dawn and told her that the King was removing her little ones to better and safer surroundings. Now, she was left with her eldest two daughters with the doubtful reassurance that when she should decide to release herself from sanctuary that the three youngers ones would be reunited with her.
Her ear splitting screams were terrifying to all who heard. She railed and clawed at the guards, reached and swept her arms out towards the girls. She begged and yelled at her older girls to help, to get the little ones. Young Elizabeth and Cecily sobbed and attempted to reach their sisters. The guards held them all back while a woman well known to Eizabeth Woodville came in to take the little girls.
The woman who entered the apartment was a distant relative of Elizabeth’s. Lady Leona Woodlyon was from Elizabeth’s Mother, Jaquetta’s family. Leona had recieved a royal missive a few days prior which had been somewhat unclear other than it’s directive to travel to the Castle and take guardianship of these three young relatives. She normally had little to do with this family or with these royal factions. Her life was one of much secluded isolation within the confines of the small well guarded lands of the outer valley.
Leona was well known to Elizabeth but it was a puzzle as to why she had been chosen to take the girls. She kept much to herself and her region, seldom venturing out of it’s borders. Elizabeth’s family had not kept touch with her branch of the family after Jaquetta’s death some years ago.
Now, Leona was called to this court and directed to take the girls to her remote home far away from the reach of Elizabeth. There had been two messages that day… coming at nearly the same time. One had been the cryptic royal one, while the other was just as cryptic but came from her husband. She dared not disobey either of them, though she trusted neither one. The one from her husband had simply told her to follow whatever instructions she was given from any Royal messages that should come her way. At this point in her life, Leona was not in any position to argue with either a King or her mysterious husband who, even though he was often away for great lengths of time, managed to well control her every movement. With those two messages over her head, she had little thought of refusing. She was hastily trying to prepare for her journey when yet one more strange message had arrived… one which she took even more seriously than the other two. This message was delivered late in the evening as it grew dark in the forest surrounding her home. A lone young woman emerged from the thick woods, dressed in an ancient cloak that covered her from head to foot in the deepest of greens that caused her to blend with the trees. The young woman did not speak, yet called to Leona with her thoughts. Leona walked to the edge of the woods, knowing the girl would not come any further out of the forest. They had stood there together for but a few moments touching fingertips lightly while the girl’s message was delivered only through thoughts that could never be traced.
The message was short and simple… Do as they ask, we are all in much danger… then the girl had disappered back into the forest.
Leona knew the girl well. She was a young priestess of the ancient ones, the old ways. She was one of those whom Leona had at one time been a leader of, until her husband forbade her to practice her calling any longer. If he ever found that she still retained this connection, the consquences would be dire for her… and for those others. He had warned her once that should it ever come down to it, he would willingly sacrifice them all in order to save his own.
She did not know what storms were coming, she only knew that the survival of many depended on her not questioning anything right now. As she made her way to the castle, she tried not to think of anything but to simply put one step at a time in front of her and do what she was told.
In that earliest of morning, she had arrived and been met at the gate by the man, Brackenbury who was waiting to escort her to the sanctuary quarters. It had all taken place quite quickly, if not quietly. The Woodville women had been taken by surprise, having had no forwarning that this was coming. Very few in fact were aware of this plan so recently and secretly made by Richard. Even John Howard, who was generally well aware of Richard’s plans and plots was not privy to this one.