The young girls prepared to face their Mother and admit to at least a portion of their supposed guilt in what they chose to describe as a much careless misplacing of the chest. For just this one time, they agreed to set their differences aside and stand together against the woman that neither of them had any great love for, but certainly much fear of.
In the dark of Royals Forest, the other group made their preparations for each their seperate journies. Jasper and Henry Tudor needed to make much haste and be away from this place. They had ventured far too close to enemy territory to complete this mission but deemed it entirely necessary in order to gain the support of Henry Stafford. Jasper was not so sure that any of this was such a wise move but he had run out of options and the whole situation with Richard had become far too dangerous for all of them. He knew more than he let on to Henry about just how far Richard was willing to go.
Young Henry Tudor assumed that this was merely a battle and war for the crown, not that it wasn’t vitally important in itself… but there was so much more to it that Jasper did not feel he dared share with Henry yet. He did not want Henry’s focus to be swayed from the one task at hand for him to complete. In order to make some rights of everything else going on, it was imperitive that Henry succeed in this bid for the crown. For that reason, Jasper kept the other events to himself and prayed that by Henry taking the throne, and taking Elizabeth York to wife, those other events would work themselves out in ways that would not destroy more of their world. He wisely kept silent his knoweldge of the ancient ones, the witchcraft, the other distant and secret realms that were watching to see how this all played out.
Some of those secret factions were still much angry that their previous attempts to place one of theirs on the throne had not gone as planned. They did not mean Elizabeth Woodville either… for even those ancient ones were not happy with her representation of them. All she had done, in their opinions, was cause more danger for them all. No, their intent had been to see the child, Eleanor DeGuille placed upon the throne with young Edward. Had that taken place, many of those silent but powerful factions would have been appeased. They had all agreed that the boy Edward, even if he carried no outward traces or signs of his lineage, would be acceptable in that he was a descendant of the witch’s faction. Those ancients who had observed young Eleanor knew that she would eventually show signs of her own ancient bloodline and that she would well represent the witches and the fairie factions. Their cause had been defeated by the untimely death of King Edward and the resulting chaos that ensued with Richard’s take over. These factions wanted no part of Richard, or for that matter, Elizabeth Woodville having reign in any way. While the witches and fairies were honor bound not to interfere in the current affairs, they did invoke their rights to have some say in events that would cause much danger for all of them in the future.
Even the Vampyres, who really had no just cause to be wary in this situation, and should not have had reason to be involved… even they took it upon themselves to choose sides with the witches and the fairies in this matter. For them, it was simply a way to ensure they gained land holdings long lost to them over the centuries of battles in this area. The Vampyres had been a part of the land as long as those other ancients and their bloodlines ran throughout the areas from many of their Northern, often blood lusting relatives and ancestors. Many of those Northmen, those who had lived in the cold darkness of the wintery climates and ventured into this land so many centuries ago. They had not been entirely wiped out, but had silently acclimated themselves into the cultures and ways of this Britain and of that Normandy that they now called home.
The Vampyre faction chose to side with the witches and fairies in this matter in return for some of those lost holdings eventually being returned to them. They did not care so much over who ruled but rather who would do the least damage and be the most benefit to them. The Vampyres were willing to play both sides against the middle as long it was of some benefit to them. Such was the case with Richard when he had agreed and accepted their assistance. Little did Richard realize that this faction would just as easily turn on him as those others he had put his trust in. What the Vampyre faction truly wanted was their land holdings back. When they quickly saw that Richard’s cause was doomed, they made their decision to side with the rest of the ancients and put their bets on Henry Tudor.
Jasper Tudor knew all of this and remained silent. It was not his place, his duty to share all of this with Henry as yet. First and foremost, Henry must win the war for the throne and he must do it without any interferances or manipulations from those factions. It must be his own battle to win or lose. That was the judgement that had come down from the Higher Council. No one could intervene in this battle, just as they had not been allowed to intervene in other battles reaching so far back as to the last bloody battle that Arthur of Pendragon had fought.
On this dark night, as they were standing in front of the ancient Abbey, Jasper’s thoughts wandered for a few moments to that legend that was Arthur. He only hoped that their final battle would not end such as Arthur’s had… Of course that was all of myth and legend though, was it not? At least that is what most people believed now. Few if any, knew the true history of it and that was how the ancients wanted it kept. Not one person truly even knew the exact place of where it had all happened, where that fabled isle of Avalon was, where that fateful ancient battle had occured. Jasper gave a shudder as a more sudden wind picked up and whipped the air around them. He stood there lost in his thought and to him it seemed as if he could feel those long departed ancient warriors. He heard the wind carry faint echoes of war cries, he smelled blood all around him and beyond that, he heard cries of babes, of women mourning and screams from ancient women and children as they met their own deaths. The sounds and the smell was so real as to cause him to hold his head in anguish.
He thought it was just his own mind playing havoc with him until he turned to the sounds from the others in his group. Catherine Stafford looked about to wretch and fall faint. Her face was a ghostly pale and she clutched at her husband’s arm, “Come, Henry let us be gone from here. I feel something in the winds and the storms about us. This place is not safe for us, though I feel there is nowhere safe for us right now.”
Henry Stafford was feeling his own terror and could not but agree with his wife though he did not put voice to his thoughts. There was no need to terrify her even more than she was already scared. His thought was that the fates were giving him glimpse and feeling of his future and he prayed fervently that the echoed cries of women and children were not those that would be his own wife and children. He made a sudden decision then that he hoped would at least keep them safe, if not him… for he knew there was no safety for him now. Henry Stafford ordered his wife to go to Richard and put herself and their children upon his mercy. She must go to him and disavow any knowledge of his doings, beg for reprieve and swear her loyalty and alliegance to Richard for now. When Catherine made attempt to disagree with him, he was insistant and adament that she do as told. Jasper backed him on this as he told her, “No, what I need to do now is mine to do alone with no part from you. Tis your duty to our children to go to him and deny any part in this. You must put yourself out of this and be where no blame can ever be accused or placed on you. You must do this in much public and in front of witnesses such as the Bishop. For then, he will be able to do nothing more than ensconse you in a tower dwelling for the present time. There you will at least remain alive and safe throughout this ordeal.”
Catherine was in tears and still reluctant to carry this out. Henry Tudor, who had remained silent until now, stepped forward and made his own direction to her, “No, You shall do this. Should you like to be one of those women wailing and screaming over their fate and that of their babes being slaughtered? Should you like to die in agony in a field somewhere and all the while wonder what has happened to your children as they are dragged away to their own torture…” He looked at her ashen face to be sure she was understanding his words, “There has been and will be more than enough blood shed in this fight without you adding your own. You will do as you are bid now and take yourself to what ever safety and sanctuary there is left on Richard’s side for now. When this thing all over and done, when I have a crown safely on my head, I will ensure that you and your children are safe for the future.”
With those words, Catherine had little choice but to make her way back to the snake pit so filled with venom that was now Richard’s court. As she left Royals Forest, she felt an odd sensation that someone was guiding her safely away from this place that filled her with almost as much fear and dread as the Castle did. She still heard the faint cries in the wind and continued to hear them until she was well clear of that Forest.
Much later as the dawn approached, Henry Tudor stared at the open field across from the old Abbey. Something in his soul told him that the battle he had felt previously had taken place there. He knew it had been real, and he also had an awareness that his own destiny and fate would be decided there upon that same field. Henry was not a battle hardened warrior. He was young and most of his life had been spent in escaping from deadly battles such as this. His deepest fear was of not succeeding, of failing all of those who were so determined for him to wear a crown. If truth were told, he was not even sure he wanted such a thing, or was as worthy as they all deemed him to be. Who was he to be so all important, so worthy or deserving of this crown? He could not help but question this in his mind so often. By all rights, that crown should have been the young Edward’s. In his his heart Henry knew this to be true and he could not shake the feeling that he was the usurper in this game.
As they walked softly off into the mists surrounding this place, Jasper sensed Henry’s doubts and knew the time had come to share some of his knowledge… certainly not all of it, but enough it to ease the doubts which could cause him to doubt himself in the future battle. He needed Henry to be well confident in this with no second thoughts or guessing on his part. Henry needed to know enough to be confident that he was worthy, he did deserve this crown. He needed to believe that he was entitled to it.