Howard and Stanley were occupied with their personal matters while Richard carried on with plans that he thought would add layers of protection to his shaky rule. He took a huge risk and stepped across boundaries that he normally would never have ventured near. His control and his popularity were nowhere near as certain as he had assumed it would be. People that he had originally trusted implicitely were beginning to turn against him so he looked to other sources for the assistance that he would need to hold on to his new crown… some of them of much doubtful character, but he reasoned, no less doubtful than those whom he felt had already betrayed him.
The serious concerns of witchery that abounded within the court would seem minor if people would ever discover the side which Richard chose to approach for help and would ever then be indebted to. When Richard agreed to his bargainings with Gerard DeJewel, he had no idea who he would end up owing great favors to…
Gerard returned to a secret meeting with Richard and brought with him documents from a faction which had agreed to take the boys into safekeeping. This faction was a much secret and silent group that was seldom heard about but to those who knew of them, they represented far greater power and fear. Richard was highly uncomfortable with this new path but now that he had stepped his foot on to it, he really had no other recourse but to follow it.
As he read the documents, he inwardly shook with the fear that many others felt when being reminded that they were not in such control as they assumed themselves to be. His fear was balanced though with a contempt for Gerard. His thought was, yet another who had betrayed him.
At this point, there was little he could do about the latest betrayal either. Gerard had betrayed him to the highest and most dangerous source possible. While he pored over the letters, he looked up and glared into Gerard’s calm appearance. He finally set the papers down and angrily confronted Gerard, “You have done me a great disservice, Sir. I trusted you and now I find myself in even deeper waters than before.”
Gerard icily answered him, “No, Sir, I have not betrayed you. You asked for assistance, and I complied with it. You have betrayed yourself in this entire matter and the responsibility lies with you. What you choose to do next is still entirely up to you. They will not interfere or intervene on either side beyond this act, which was done in the interest of saving those two young boys.” Gerard tapped his fingers on the table and waited for Richard’s response, “You asked for two favors… for the boys to be gone but safe, and for the Lady Marie to have no further hold over you. Those have both been accomplished. Now, it is on you to move forward in a manner that will fullfill what ever debts you have incurred with those who have aided you.”
Richard rubbed his forehead and his face clearly showed his frustrations. He picked up the letter and stared at the broken wax seal. It bore the dark blood red and black of the current leader of this group. The correspondance had come with two seals upon it, the blood red of the DeWare family and the silver of the even more secrative and powerful Higher Proctectorate or council.
For his part, Gerard did make attempt to allieve some of Richard’s fear. “Surely, you knew that in taking this step of gaining the crown, you would be putting yourself in their judgements… I believe they have made it much clear that they will not make any further judgement on you or your actions. I had to take a grave chance and risk to my own self and family in order to gain this benefit for you. They were initially of the opinion that this was not an affair that they should intervene in.”
Gerard shook his head, “No, you do not owe me personally for anything. I was doing my own actions to save my foolish sister from herself. You not to blame or fault for that. The matter of the boys though is on you. The Vampyre faction has stepped forward to keep them safe within their realms and for that, Yes you do owe them whatever fielty or alliegance they have set out for you. You also owe the Higher Proctectorate and I would strongly advise that you follow what they put forth. I can assure you from personal experience that should you dishoner this debt with them, You would most likely prefer to take your chances with the Vampyres!”
Richard had no choice but to go along with the proposed agreements. He would make no accusations at any time in the future of witchcraft, nor bring out any evidence that would cause them harm or suspicions. He would grant the Vampyre faction the lands and estates which they were requesting within the realm of his juristiction and not bring any suspicions upon them either. The rest of his course to follow would be of his own making and he would not be judged by the council for it, unless he brought greater harm to those around him.
As part of his agreement, he must see to the safety of the remaining Royal children, most mainly right now, the little girls who were still in confinement with their Mother. It was no place for such small ones to be. They were innocents and did not deserve the harsher conditions that their Mother continued to place upon them. His frustration with this was of where to place them out of harm’s way. They were not to be used as pawns by any one side, either their Mother’s or his. Richard groaned loudly when Gerard stepped forward with another plan. “Please, spare me… Look what your last plan has cost me. You think I need or want further assistance from you?”
Gerard had sighed in understanding, but continued, “Sir, I have but merely suggeseted that you find a remote place and relative to place them with for the time being.” He paused to think for a moment and then added, “You spoke of owing me a personal debt… While I stated that you owe me none, you could look at this as clearing your conscience on that front. I would look upon this as a balancing of the scales.”
Richard studied Gerard carefully then replied, “Well, go on then… You must explain to me how this would be considered as a payment to you.”
Gerard shared his reasons, “The Lady Leona Woodlyon is a distant relative of Elizabeth’s through her Mother Jaquetta’s side. She is also my wife and the Mother of my children. I want no suspicions or doubts forever lingering over them about these whispered accusations of witchery. If you as the King were to place these children in her care, it would go far to show that there is no hint of scandal attached to her name.”
Richard gave thought to this as Gerard went on, “I have ever ensured that there is no suspicion hovering about my wife’s family. I can vouch that she is above reproach and is of a noble quality to care for the girls until they be returned here. She is in a distant enough and well guarded estate so that there shall be no contact with Elizabeth or with other factions seeking to use the girls for their own benefits.”
Richard pointed his finger and stopped Gerard, “So, you want the royal approval of your family… what else should you want along with this? And, what do I know of Leona’s family loyalties. I need to know which side their loyalties are, not just hers- which I would assume, but not presume for sure are with you.” He paced back and forth, “I have had far too many of late who would personally avow their undying loyalty to me but yet hold dear to the previous loyalties of their families.”
Gerard understood this well, “Sir, I must tell you that my personal loyalties are to the Higher Proctectorate and to the safety of my family. What ever the loyalties of my wife’s family, I can assure you that she will abide with mine and not theirs. Her family is far flung and widespread out among the lower valleys and the highlands of Scotland… At this time, they are far more concerned with their daily survival than which King to swear their loyalties to.”
At Gerard’s comment of his wife abiding by his rule and his loyalties, Richard gave a harsh laugh, “Haaaa I have heard that much recently from those such as Thomas Stanley, and even Lord Buckingham who keeps insisting to me that his wife is not an influence or threat even though she is Elizabeth’s beloved youngest sister. So, do not assume that you know your wife’s intents fully and completely. For all you know, she could have the deepest , darkest of secrets and misintents that reach far beyond your back.”
Gerard nodded his agreement and replied, “Which is why she remains ever well guarded and controlled in a remote place from which she can do little on her own authority.”
Richard smiled at this, “Ahhhh, finally a man who is not so swayed by his wife’s pretty words, looks… or other such attributes. I sometimes wonder if there is a woman on this earth who we should ever trust completely. Of course, of recent events, I am beginning to wonder if there is any man who could be trusted either.”
Gerard kept his personal thoughts to himself on this matter, now was most probably not the choicest time to point out to Richard that he was not such a man to be trusted either. When it came to games of power, could anyone truly be trusted? Gerard did not think so. The wisest course was to keep all sides well guarded at all times.
The close of their meeting saw Richard sending his Royal missive out Lady Leona Woodlyon, and Gerard sending out his own personal one to his wife. He left Richard’s company with thoughts of his strong willed, stubborn wife who so constantly went against his council and drove him often to the point of rage at her. No, he did not trust her completely, in fact he trusted her not at all most times. This was why she was kept under tight control on their small estate. She constantly put them all in danger, even those ancients whom she was entrusted to protect.
As he thought about her, he sent out another personal messenger to those ancient ones of the forest. He knew they would listen to his words of dire warnings and consequences more than his wife would. H e frowned sadly at the irony of their situation. Leona was suppose to be their guardian, their protector but in reality, they were the ones who reigned her in when she would not listen to him about the ever present dangers in their world. She would never stop with her insistance on flaunting the old ways… in that respect, she was much like her relative Elizabeth.
Gerard knew that she would obey a message from all of them together, and one that came from the higher protectorate. She was not so naive or foolish that she would deign to disobey a direct order from them. He only hoped that she arrived in a duly suitable and quiet manner.
He left the Castle quickly to finish his one last mission in this place. Richard had agreed to hand over the child, Eleanor DeGuille with no further questions about her importance. He should just be well eased that she would no longer be of any possible threat to his rule, much as the boys no longer posed a threat.
Richard told no one of this meeting with Gerard. Even in his dealings with Brackenbury, he simply told the man that he had made arrangements with a relative of Elizabeth’s to take the smaller girls into safekeeping.