A fire blazed across the enormous ornate hearthstone.  Above a great fireplace on the smoke-worn and stained granite wall, hung the standards of England and Ireland, wafting to and fro a little in the breeze of hot air rising invisibly from the flames. Honed fat logs of beech, fractured by heat, spluttered towards imminent flaming destruction, coughing as sparks flew here and there, abandoning all sense of ignition. Tapestries of battle scenes hung from the walls, splendid in their horror, depicting shadows of spectres long passed, dancing in half-light. Beeswax candles dripped from a candelabra, pungency filling the air, already heavy with smoke from the fire, mingled with incense and overladen by the stale aroma of roast venison. Empty platters adorned the great table. Crumbs of bread and ribs of a deer picked clean, lay discarded among the elbows resting thereon, full bellies digesting in silence. Several well-fed men with splatter of food and wine staining their fine clothes sat slumped around the table. At the head, in a great chair, sat the newly crowned King Henry of England and Ireland. Several paces behind him, two armed soldiers sporting the Royal Crest across their chests, stood motionless with eyes staring blankly into a space only they could know.

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The King seemed greatly troubled, his features strewn with deep lines of worry, creating the appearance of a spider’s web, etched upon a tanned face, almost the colour of a blacksmith’s apron. He portrayed a tiredness through lack of sleep, together with wine, rather than blood, running through his veins. He stared silently up into the rafters with eyes as black as Whitby Jet, no doubt reflecting upon some aspect of his obsession with power. His face, scarred and pock-marked by disease, made him look much older than his years. He raised his hand and with a grubby nail perched on the end of a chunky finger, he picked and scratched at a spot on his cheek until it bled. Then wiping the bloody finger across his chest, he left a trail across his blouse, as would a leech questing succour. Henry coughed and grabbed his stomach, moaning under bated breath, causing the digesting silence to come to an abrupt end.


“You are unwell, My Lord?” Edmund Holland, Earl of Kent, who was seated to his left, enquired. “Perhaps a drink of water may assist?” Edmund beckoned the King’s glance towards the flagon on the table.

“Blast you, Edmund! For an educated man, you are a dullard, sir. A buffoon!” Henry berated the Earl of Kent, spitting contempt at the mere idea of such a thing. Drink water, indeed! “Fish urinate in water, Edmund, and I will not touch as much as a drop.” He spat on the floor to add theatricals to his disgust. “I will have wine. Bring me wine!” Henry called for service. “Water indeed!” He laughed and sniggered at his own joke.

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Thank you for dropping by……………………….






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