Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
When I opened it Patrick and a couple of men were there, “Yes?”
Patrick smiled, “The guards are searching in the city. The thief struck again and stole everything the new duke Brasalow had.”
The other men nodded and I opened the door wide to show I was in a night shirt, “build up the fire and start the stoves. When the guards show up have them escorted so we know they don’t take anything.”
The men nodded and left. Patrick grinned, “Have a fun night?”
I smiled, “actually I did.”
I turned to get dressed before following him out. It was almost noon before the guards got to us. Their search was through if done reluctantly. We had wagons and runners out when Patrick found me working on the loft in the tannery. He grinned, “I have a few customers.”
I nodded and straightened before using the new stairs and going to my room. I quietly uncovered one of the chest as Patrick watched from the door. I scooped out what he needed and then covered the chest again. He grinned and slapped my shoulder before leaving. I went to check some of the other projects including the new wagon some of the men were building. I also moved four large empty barrels to the edge of the river inside the city.
That evening as we ate I called a meeting and after everyone gathered around I had different people give reports of how things were going. We had another dozen families join us during the day but they were settling in. All but one dress shop in the city had gone out of business so I suggested starting one here. Several times the guards walked by or came to the fire to warm their hands.
It seems my brother was pissed and heads were rolling. A new curfew law was in effect throughout the city. It was supposed to start as soon as the sun set. As it grew dark everyone went to their beds and I slipped into the shadows, I waited and moved towards the river. The older boys had been hunting snakes along the banks all day. There were only a few snakes moving as I stripped and hung my clothes on the corral of another abandoned warehouse.
I slipped into the water and swam out to the middle of the river before turning to let the current carry me towards the wall. I ducked and swam down and under the bars before surfacing on the other side. I was careful swimming to the side with the waiting barrels. I quietly moved the barrels into the river and started swimming across. I let the current pull me down the river a little as I swam until I finally reached the old half sunken boathouse.
I used rope to pull up the chests of money and secured them under each barrel. The swim back up the river towing the barrels was accompanied by loud grumbles and flashes of lightning. I sank the chests again and let the barrels go before swimming down and pulling each chest under the bars. I surfaced on the other side of the wall and looked around as lightning lit up the area.
I swam to the bank and walked out before using a rag to dry off. I got dressed and carefully slipped along the wall and down to the tannery. I saw guards several times but managed to reach the safety of my room. I lay back thinking and grinned before getting up. I carefully went through the door in the wall and moved hay back to cover the grain door before slipping through the city as it began to rain hard.
It was easy to get into the gatehouse and cross over. All the guards were huddled together under whatever they could find. I moved through the silent streets straight to the king’s keep. I slipped around the outside walls to the river fork before going to the small door hidden in the wall. I used a long thin dagger between the door frame to lift the inner locking bar.
I closed the door after I was in and used sulfur matches I keep wrapped to light a tiny lantern on the wall. I checked the floor for snakes before stripping out of my wet clothes. I used the lantern and followed the narrow way into the keep. This was one of the old hidden escape routes out of the keep. When I came to the other end I hung the lantern before blowing it out.
I pulled the wooden lever and the thick panel opened. I stepped into an old dusty room and looked around with a smile. Once upon a time this had been my room, now it was just another small dusty room left unused. I closed the panel and crossed to the other door. I turned to pull a small dusty cloak from a peg and wrap it around me before slipping into the hall.
I moved down the hall and glanced up the stone stairs before quickly moving passed them. At the other end of the hall was a small linen closet. I opened the door and glanced towards the stairs as I heard footsteps. I slipped into the closet and closed door before feeling for the back wall. I pushed on the right side and the wall pivoted. I slipped into the small space and carefully pulling the wall back into place.
The space I was in was a bare pace wide and two long. What it had was a wooden crosspieces like a ladder. They led up behind each of the linen closets on the upper floors. I moved up in the pitch blackness and used my hands to feel along the wall. On the third floor I pulled and tugged to pivot the wall. I carefully slipped into the closet and closed the back wall.
I listened before opening the door and looking around the empty semi dark hall. I closed the door and walked down the hall to a room at the end. I listened before opening the door and slipping in. I glanced at the man and woman sleeping on the bed before moving to the side of the fireplace. The embers of the fire still gave off light so I was able to find the stone I was looking for.
The sides of the fireplace extended out before angling towards the wall. I pushed the stone in and the one below it had a hole like a handle. I looked at the sleeping couple before pulling on the lower stone. The wall grated a little as it turned and pivoted. I glanced at the bed before slipping in on one side carefully. I held the rough stones and pulled the wall closed.
I shifted over in the pitch blackness feeling with my feet. The small hole seemed a lot smaller then I remembered but I managed to climb down through it. I listened for a long time after I reached the floor below. I finally felt around until I found the stone lever and pulled. I pushed and the wall opened to another room with glowing embers lighting it.
I slipped into it and glanced around at my brother’s study. Against the far wall was the treasure chests with crests on the wall above each. I went to the large desk and looked around before taking the pouch of gold to one side. After that I moved each of the chests into the space beside the fireplace. I had to stack them to make them fit and then I went to the wall that held my father’s sword.
I took it down and put it with the chests before climbing onto them and turned to pull the wall closed. Going back the way I had come seemed to take a lot longer but the thunder and heavy rain seemed to cover any noise I made. When I reached my clothes I dressed and opened the door to see the river swollen. It was almost to the door as I turned and slipped a dagger under the locking bar.
I closed and locked the door before moving along the keep walls. It was simple to get back to the bridge and cross over. When I reached the inn and the stables I almost walked into three guards huddled together in the stables. They were trying to stay dry so I had to slipped back into the shadows. I managed to climb up to the stable loft window and climb in.
I stayed there and listen to the guards grumble angrily. It was almost morning before the rain slowed and they left. I slipped back into my room and locked the door before stripping. I put warm, dry clothing on and lay back on my bed. I woke to knocking on my door and went to help get the day started. It was late morning when the rumors started.
The king was furious and the guards were tearing apart every hiding place in the city to find his treasure. Patrick glanced at me as he talked to a merchant wringing his hands, I shrugged and he shook his head. I went into the city and locked the door in the granary as well as block the granary door completely. I put an old rusty lock on the door in my room and made sure there were no signs it had been opened.
I sent all the older boys out along the area beside the river to watch for snakes and they were returning with dozens when the squad of guards showed up. A tight lipped duke Brasalow watched as they searched everywhere. While he was there I stayed back so he didn’t see me. When they searched my room they broke the lock off the door and tried to open it. When they couldn’t they tossed everything in the room around and left. Even the soldiers and guards quarters were searched which made them angrier.
My brother ordered constant patrols and people stopped and detained. There were quiet rumors and whispers of the barons talking together. That night after everyone was asleep I slipped out and went to the river. I carried an oil wrapped package with my clothes and weapons. I spent an hours pulling chests out from under the wall. When I finished, I swam down river letting the current move me.
When I got to the king’s keep and swam ashore I opened the package. I dressed and used the hidden door and moved through the keep. Even before I reached my brother’s chambers I heard his drunken bellows. The guards that were supposed to be guarding his door were nowhere to be seen. I opened his door and walked in to see him and duke Brasalow drinking by the fire.
Brasalow turned to snarl, “We said don’t disturb us!”
I bowed and walked towards them. He swayed when I reached him and pulled my dagger and struck. It slid up under his jaw and into his brain. I let him fall and turned to kick my brother as he stood. I moved after him as he struggled to find the dagger on his belt. I grabbed his hair and slammed his head into the wall and let him slump to the floor.
I glanced around before walking to the filthy bed and pulling the sheets off. I cut them into strips and tied them together before going to my brother. I lifted him to my shoulder and carried him out. I used back hallways until I reached the door up onto the wall. As I walked around the wall towards the front of the keep several guards looked at me and stepped aside before following.
When I was over the gates I dropped my brother and tied one end of the sheets to a metal stanchion before kneeling and making a loop. I put it around my brother’s neck and lifted him and dumped him over the wall. As he jerked and strangled I turned to the guards, “My name is William Edward Kingson. My father was King Henry.”
I gestured over the wall, “That rotten piece of dung was my brother.”
I looked at each of them as they stirred, “I am King now. Does anyone have a problem with that?”
They looked at each before looking back at me and shaking their heads. I nodded, “First I want your officers, all of them. Next I want every noble brought to the great hall.”
I gestured, “We have work to do.”
They straightened before nodding and murmuring together as they split up. I walked back along the wall leaving my brother swaying and jerking on the end of the sheets. I walked down to the great hall and found several officers waiting. I walked towards the new gilded throne my brother had used and kicked it off the platform. I gestured to one of the officer, “bring that chair behind you.”
He turned to see a common chair the footmen use and grabbed it before bringing it to me. I set it down and sat, “Now gentlemen we are going to put this realm in order.”
I looked at them as a couple more walked in, “I want the army and every guard assembled before the keep gates. As of now you work for me and the people, the curfew is over.”
I glanced at the doors where dozens of guards and soldiers stood, “As soon as we speak with the nobles they are returning to their estates. Your job isn’t and has never been to gather around the king to guard him. Your job is to protect the kingdom.”
One shifted, “what about the king’s treasury?”
I smiled, “I’ll worry about paying you. The first thing I want to see is the border deployment plan back to the border forts.”
I pointed one old officer I knew, “Captain Trent, you are now the army’s Marshal. Get with the other captains and start making movement plans.”
I pointed to the senior city guard, “cut the guards back to regular shifts. No more stopping citizens just because they are walking.”
He nodded and I sat back, “As soon as the army and guards are gathered I will speak to them.”
I glanced at the door as a couple of barons struggled in, “go ahead and get with your men.”
I waited as the barons walked to me, a few looked like they wanted to say something. It was another hour before the rest of the nobles came in and I stood, “My name is William Edward Kingson. My brother is dead and I am king.”
I let my words sink in before looking at each of them, “the time of corruption is over...”
A baron I didn’t know stepped forward, “why should we follow you?”
I smiled, “Because if you don’t I will strip your title and cut your throat.”
I looked at the other nobles, “our kingdom is dying. You and my brother have strangled the common people until we have little commerce and many farms lay fallow. It is your responsibility to care for your people and your lands. The fewer people there are the fewer taxes. We need to provide them enough to live on and not take everything they have or they will leave and you will have nothing.”
They were looking at each other as others joined us. I looked at each of them, “I want each of you to return to your lands and do an accounting. We need to know how bad it is through out the kingdom.”
The morning was spent talking to people before I began to walk through the city. People came out to see me since the I had a couple of guards with me and a clerk taking notes. When I walked into the warehouse the people stared and whispered. I gestured to Patrick and he grinned as he walked to me, “your highness.”
I lifted an eyebrow, “return to your estate and find out how much damage that idiot did before returning.”
I gestured to the old scribe and then Jacob. They came to me slowly and I smiled, “you two are in charge here. Make sure everyone is cared for, if you need help let me know.”
They started to bow and I caught them. I looked at the scribe, “in my room I buried a treasure, use it.”
She nodded and I looked around, “I might visit for a nice dinner sometime.”
The weeks that past were not easy, there were a few nobles that didn’t take me seriously. I did as I had threatened and hung their bodies. I also recovered the money in the river and added it to the treasury. It only took a few years to bring the kingdom back from darkness. A few times every week I slip away to spend time at the warehouse but many of those that had come here had homes again.
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