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Prince Dead
So Many Secrets
The Gates of Nottingham

Prince Dead:
Anlon rang the bell on and on, warning everyone, and while he did he watched the patches of fire on the beach as they spread and gave birth to new flames. What could the Northmen want in his village, he asked himself? The people were so poor and even his father’s home was badly appointed. The monastery. The monastery held all of the gold, silver, jewels and manuscripts.

Father Bryan burst into the bell tower in his night robes. “What is wrong, son?” he demanded.
     
Anlon loosened his chapped hands from the bell’s rope. “The pagans have come from the far north, Father.”
     
Father Bryan moved to the window and looked down. The torches were moving toward the monastery. The raiders would burst through the doors any moment. “God help us,” the priest muttered. Father Bryan and Anlon watched as the torches moved toward the doors. They could make out figures now, tall, lean figures running. They could not see the faces save for flaxen hair and large noses, but they knew from that and the fact that they had attacked by sea that it must be the Northmen and not the warlord Orson’s men.
     
“The books,” Father Bryan exclaimed. “The books!”
     
The old man picked up his robes and ran down the curling staircase to the main story. Anlon did not know what to do.

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So Many Secrets   “Does your sister not realize that if she does not follow through with this wedding, we will find ourselves at war with our neighbors within the week?” my mother shouted at me. “What am I supposed to tell Lord Le Greniere? What? ‘I’m sorry, duke, but my daughter simply could not be troubled to honor her engagement of seven years standing.’ Tell me where Claudia has gone, Jane. I know she told you.”
“She did not, Mother. I do not know where she is anymore than anyone else does,” I repeated for at least the third time. She had not asked Agnes, my other sister even once. Agnes was simply allowed to stand silent behind me, while I took the brunt of my mother and father’s fury. She and Claudia had fought like wild cats ever since they were born one year apart to the day. Claudia would never confide in her but with me, my parents assumed there was a chance.
My father stepped forward, when mother had no luck, and handled things in his usual manner. I received a stinging slap to my face and a voice roaring in my ear, “You are a liar!”
      “I would not lie to you, sir, or to my mother. I do not know where Claudia is,” I said. My voice was steady, but I could feel tears stinging at the back of my eyes. I told myself to hold them at bay. The only affect tears ever had on my parents was to worsen their anger.

     “If you are lying and if you do know, you won’t be long for this world Jane, so help me. It isn’t as if we ever needed a third daughter,” Father informed me. Again, this was information that had been repeated to me throughout my childhood, by my mother at every available opportunity and by my father when he was lucid enough to raise a hand against any of us.

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The Gates of Nottingham

Jon’s fingernails bled as he dug them into the wooden floorboards of the ship, trying desperately to grab a hold of anything rather than be slammed up against the hull with the three feet of bilge and saltwater he was now submersed in. He was unsuccessful. He hit the side of the hull with tremendous velocity. The Mediterranean tossed his massive body about for another full minute before he could catch the post that held up his unconscious friend’s hammock. He coughed up the putrid water that had found its way into his mouth and lungs as the ship swayed violently to the left. He held tightly. But the wood was rotten. The post snapped and he hit the wall in a bone-crunching body slam.


Back on the floor as the ship settled upright, he grabbed his friend who had fallen to the floor. Together, they flew up to the right side of the vessel. This time, Jon managed to grab hold of an iron ring that was anchored securely in the wall. He held onto it with one arm, his friend with the other. His body, incredibly muscled, stayed thus for nearly fifteen minutes as the sea fought to fling him against the opposite wall and dared him to let go.


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