“A DARK AND STORMY KNIGHT sets history straight and leaves no prisoners. Succession, the power is in the family. Ride through England and Scotland, be there when God doesn’t save the Queen.”
"Split an arrow and see how James I became King."
This adventure runs the gambit from 1565 to 1569 to establish an heir to the English Crown before Elizabeth passes. Historians know the salient milestones, but aren’t sure the path taken. This tale combines elements of secret agents and medieval romance, concerning a time-traveling knight, dispatched to adjust history before it skews. Spies spy, greedy bishops lie, swords, and archer’s arrows are thrown voraciously into those battle torn days that made history. This story is best read with a pint of ale in one hand.
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John Wolf Books
John Wolf Books
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It was a dark and stormy knight that moved through a misty forest of towering trees and wet grass with frightening speed, atop the strong back of his Percheron stead, glistening with sweat caused by running from unpleasant deeds. The mud flew from the hooves in rhythm with the pounding, galloping pace. The heart of this man on a mission was as dark as the inside of a bruised raven.
Glimmering shafts of light flickered through the trees that were emanating from his armored breastplate as he passed. These eerie pin-points of brilliant light pierced the night, lighting the way, and illuminating clouds of steaming breath that was forced from the nostrils of the powerful horse with each rhythmic set of hoof beats. There was just enough moonlight to bring this engine of power into focus as the knight and horse dodged in and out of forested shadows.
This was no ordinary sight in 1565 on the moors of England, north of York. First of all, moving fast at night through rutted pathways and unlit forest bogs was considered very dangerous indeed. This knight had advanced technology for his time. In fact, he was from another time and place.
He slowed his stead to a trot as he neared his destination. He stopped beside a stone wall and looked down at Castle Brookside, a sturdy but not ostentatious residence in the country side of northern Yorkshire, near the small village of Helmsley. He dismounted swiftly and pulled a crossbow from a leather tube attached to his saddle. The bow was swiveled and locked into place. The cord was pulled back with an odd grinding sound coming from an internal mechanism. The bolt emerged from the inside of the stock piece and popped into place. It centered itself in shooting position. He steadied his aim on the stone wall and released the bolt. It sizzled through the air spitting water from its feather fletches and imbedded itself into the door of Castle Brookside with a dull thud. He quickly broke down the weapon, stored it and mounted his stead. He turned westward and thundered into the darkness. The fading sound of hooves, alternating, splashing and thumping on wet and muddy ground until only the rustling leaves from the midnight gusts of wind could be heard. All was quiet again. The only witness was a barn owl in a large oak tree. Like duty calling, he gave out a low hoot, hoot as if to say, go away and stay away, you treacherous villain.
By eleven o’clock the Archbishop was well on his way to York. He was just south of Easingwold and just east of Tollerton. Sir Osbearn was in a thicket of trees pulling tight on his restless Lord Byron that was pawing the ground impatiently. The Black Knight rode away from the shadows as the carriage passed at just the right angle where the driver could not see him. He came up to the side of the carriage. He saw that the bishop was asleep bobbing back and forth inside the carriage. Widsip moved swiftly onto the carriage, opening the door and slipping in quietly. He closed the door unnoticed while Lord Byron dropped behind and turned northward back toward Manor Gilthmore.
“Good morning, your Lordship,” Widsip said loudly with a short sword in his grip, pricking the Archbishop’s bare chest that was showing through a gaping robe.
“Ah!” The bishop pushed himself back upright and drew both hands to his chest. He looked at the man with the sword and saw only a hooded suit all black with a swath of leather across his chest and a narrow strap of leather around an extended hand with three keys jingling brightly from it. He could see the determined eyes of the assailant.
“Recognize the keys to Chapel Grey?”
“My God, how did you get them?”
“You must give them to me. I demand it!”
“You will die first. Let me tell you how to get the keys for yourself. With so much at stake you mustn’t trust the Lords of Helmsley Moor. They seem happy to see you dead. They hired me to do the deed, but don’t be alarmed my Lord, I have a plan that may please you and save your neck.”