The following is one of the chapters in the book
Anastasis - The Forbidden Book Concealed
(Even the Dark Ages could not extinguish the Light)
A running theme is the romance between the Queen and a high lord
More information: http://smithsk.com/anastasis.htm
Deliverance from Evil
(King James Version)
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
The crowd buzzed outside the gates of Aurelius Castle.
“Any word?” a peasant asked.
Another repeated what was whispered to him, “They brought up charges against the Queen for crimes against the Realm … then witchcraft and heresy against the Church.”
The rumors spread rapidly in the curious crowd like a wild fire overtaking a dry field during a drought.
“She will not live long.”
“I hear the lords are deciding her fate.”
“Long live the Queen!”
* * *
As the court hushed, the Cardinal asked, “My lords, have you come to a consensus?”
Lord Osmont, the lawyer, spoke for the group. “Your Grace, the unanimous consensus of the lords is to find Queen Anastasia Aurelius guilty on all counts - consorting with the devil, witchcraft, abuse of power, recklessness, endangering the kingdom.”
The Queen bright blue eyes remained wide open and fixed.
“For the record, let me poll the lords,” the Cardinal made his perfunctory request. “What is your verdict, my lords?”
Lord Osmont replied with a nod, “Guilty.”
Lord Fyrth shook his head with a feigned look of sorrow. “Guilty.”
Lord Blount stuttered, “G-guilty.”
Lord Weymont’s right eye twitched. “Guilty.”
The Cardinal announced with a deliberate sigh, “The votes have been cast, and unfortunately it’s unanimous. All the lords have spoken. Queen Anastasia is to be removed from the throne. According the Rights and Liberty Laws, the Fortunate Five Lords of the Kingdom will choose her successor.
“For the Queen’s crimes against the Church … witchcraft … heresy … I regret as the Church’s representative in Opulentia to condemn her as a dangerous heretic as well. As a noblewoman, she will be spared the anguish of being burned at the stake and will be mercifully beheaded. The lords will decide her execution date-”
“Your Grace!” Bishop Sinjin arose in the back of the Great Hall and challenged with a loud voice. “As a high ranking holy man myself, I challenge your conviction of heresy. And I will personally appeal your decision to our superiors in the Mother Church.”
The Cardinal raised his eyebrow in surprise that the Bishop was even allowed inside the Great Hall. “Bishop? Are you aware that you are teetering at the precipice of heresy yourself and are in danger of hellfire?”
The Bishop stood up tall and boomed with conviction. “I am eternally secure in the arms of the Lord Jesus, Your Grace, and you … or any other man … as our Good Lord has taught us, are not able to pluck me out of the palm of my Father’s hand.”
“What heresy is this that you proclaim in front of all these witnesses?” The Cardinal’s face reddened.
“You call the words of our Lord Jesus Christ heresy, Cardinal? I would not think you be so ignorant of the Holy Scriptures.”
“You have the impudence to lecture me, Bishop? Here?”
As the crowd in the Great Hall was mulling over these words, the Bishop continued, “I would not dare to question the Lord’s anointed leader on Church doctrine, here. Yet, I do question civil matters on following lawful procedure such as this trial, Your Eminence. Not all the lords have voted, therefore the guilty verdict is not unanimous and hence invalid.”
“Are you senile, Bishop? As you have witnessed, all the lords have voted. Now, sit down, or I shall have you removed from the court for contempt and have you locked in the dungeon and put you on trial for treason and heresy.”
“Lord Crippen, one of the Fortunate Five, did not cast his vote,” the Bishop’s voice boomed over the chatter in the Great Hall. “And it is not contempt to point out that this court has not followed lawful procedure.”
“Again, are you senile, Bishop?” The Cardinal got in a laugh. “We all know that Lord Crippen is dead.”
“Lord Crippen is not dead, Your Grace,” the Bishop insisted. “In fact, he is right here in the Great Hall.”
Cardinal Pius twitched. He raised his ringed hand toward heaven. “Then let him show himself, Bishop, if he’s really here among us.”
* * *
Brother Augustin arose from the lower level of the Great Hall and stepped out in front of the court below the throne. He removed his gray robe and dropped it on the floor.
Lord Adryan Crippen bowed and presented himself to the court, dressed in his formal clothes, his black tunic, bearing his coat of arms.
The Great Hall filled with gasps and murmurings.
“It’s a ghost!”
“Blessed Virgin of the Incarnation!”
“It is really him, I tell you.”
“He’s an imposter.”
“This must be some trick.”
“Maybe the good Bishop raised him from dead?”
“I am here, very much alive and in the flesh, Your Grace.” Lord Crippen looked up at the Cardinal, lifting his hand to show his signet ring. “And I have the ring passed down to me from my father to prove who I am … the heir of Crippen Manor and one of the Fortunate Five Lords of the Kingdom.”
The Cardinal, for the moment, had all the air sucked out of his lungs.
“And I have listened to the entire trial and have seen all the evidence.” Lord Crippen surveyed the four lords who gaped at him. “I, too, have deliberated and would like to present my verdict.”
Lord Weymont shot up, pointing his finger at Lord Crippen. “So our suspicions were right! The Bishop was hiding you … you outlaw! And he facilitated your escape from the dungeon … all crimes against the Realm. Guards! Arrest the Bishop for treason! As for Lord Crippen-”
“Belay that order!” Adryan countermanded.
The guards froze and left their swords in their sheaths.
“My verdict?” Lord Crippen turned to the crowd. “Not guilty!”
The Great Hall vibrated with murmurs.
“I am still a member of the Five Lords.” Lord Crippen addressed the witnesses in the Great Hall. “These four lords do not have the five votes to remove the Queen from the throne none-the-less sentence her to death.”
He swept his hand toward the monarch. “The Queen has correctly stated that the true motive for this trial was driven by pure greed and these charges you have trumped up … especially those of heresy … are ludicrous. I am sure the Bishop can attest to that.” Then Adryan looked right at the Cardinal. “Under the Rights and Liberty Laws, you must set her free.”
Lord Weymont’s face burned with indignity as he pointed an accusing finger. “You believe the words of an embezzler and a whoremonger?”
Adryan glared at Lord Weymont. “You extorted a false confession of my alleged crimes from a helpless peasant girl, Mistress Rose Wylde. She spent her last days at St. Luke’s Infirmary and passed away there. We have her death bed confession recanting her testimony.” Adryan looked to the back of the Great Hall. “The Bishop can attest to this, also.”
“I can!” The Bishop bellowed out over the crowd.
“You bribed and threatened her, Lord Weymont, to make those statements against me.” Adryan’s loud, strong voice penetrated the hall. “And the accounting records of the mines … the real accounting books … show that the missing pieces of gold went back into the pocket of Lord Deryk Weymont-”
Lord Weymont shook his fist at Adryan. “You have besmirched my honor, Lord Crippen, and I challenge you to a duel to defend my honor!”
“You have not behaved in an honorable way, my lord.” Lord Crippen raised a dark eyebrow. “There is no honor on your part to defend.”
Lord Weymont pulled out a sword. “I say you are a liar … a common rouge … and worst of all an illegitimate bastard. And we settle this, now.”
The other lords and the Cardinal had looked terrified by Lord Crippen’s sudden reappearance. Now, with this sudden turn in events, they seemed relieved. It was common knowledge that Lord Weymont could easily best Lord Crippen in a sword fight.
Lord Crippen drew his sword, ‘Freedom,’ the one the Bishop had given him, and wrapped his fingers about its finely crafted handle. Quickly, he prayed, “Merciful God in Heaven. Fight this battle for me, give us the victory, and let justice prevail.”
The swords of Lord Weymont and Lord Crippen flew as they blocked each other’s blows, generating many sparks flying upward toward the vaulted ceiling. The witnesses inside the Great Hall held their collective breath, enthralled by the drama playing out before them.
Each lord seemed equally matched. The clanging of vigorous cuts and blocks rang throughout the Great Hall as spectators moved out of harm’s way of the two engaged opponents. Both lords became drenched in sweat fighting this high stakes match.
In a fateful move, Adryan caught Lord Weymont off-guard and flung the sword out of his hand. Adryan quickly brought his blade up to Deryk’s throat. “Yield!”
Breathing hard, Lord Deryk swallowed as the blade’s edge scraped against his Adam’s apple. His blue eyes glazed over as if he knew the life that he had planned as king of Opulentia had suddenly evaporated. For the first time, he was at the mercy of Lord Adryan Crippen. And he had nothing to say.
Adryan urged, as he pressed the sharp blade against Deryk’s vulnerable flesh. “Swear to Almighty God that you put Mistress Rose Wylde up to that false confession against me. And it was you who took the gold pieces from the Queen’s mine. This time, tell the truth.”
Deryk carefully formed his words. “I confess to Almighty God, my Queen, my fellow lords, and gentlemen in the court that in my passion to marry the Queen, I had acted unbecoming a lord. I used a peasant maid to coerce a false confession to remove Lord Crippen from the Queen’s good graces and clear the way to marry the Queen. In my passion, I have sinned against Almighty God, wronged the Queen and fellow lords, and for this I beg your forgiveness.”
Adryan nodded at his foe. “I am confident that the most merciful God in Heaven will forgive you for your sins.” After Adryan released the pressure of his sword against Deryk’s throat, the Great Hall quieted down to hushed tones.
Adryan looked up at Queen Anastasia, whose blue eyes opened wide as her mouth dropped. “I appeal to the guards to release our Queen, and I urge the Cardinal and the lords to drop all the charges against her for crimes against the Church and the Realm. Since all the lords did not vote for her removal from the throne, I pray we ask for the Queen’s forgiveness and pledge our allegiance to her. And most important, I urge us all to confess our sins to Almighty God … sins that have brought us to the brink of committing a grave injustice this day.”
Lead by Jacob Bailey, the guards unchained the Queen and prostrated themselves before her. Jacob got on his knees and kissed the Queen’s ring, which she offered to him.
Then Adryan turned to the crowd of witnesses in the Great Hall. “Before the court, I appeal to Her Majesty to declare my name has been cleared … especially with the evidence we will present of Mistress Rose Wylde’s death bed confession and the real accounting records from the Mines that it was not I that did the embezzling.”
“Lord Crippen,” the Queen spoke up. “Indeed, I find you no guilt in you.”
There was silence. But only for a moment.
Suddenly, a whirling noise cut through the dead air. A dagger - launched from the court - found its target, Adryan’s tunic on the crest of the wave of the troubled sea. The people were frozen. Except Cardinal Pius. His full flung arm betrayed that he was the assailant. In the window of confusion, he escaped through the secret door behind the tapestry, the one that the Queen would often use when entering the Great Hall.
Adryan felt a sting, then a sharp piercing pain in his chest, as he looked down in disbelief at the dagger that had penetrated well into his flesh near the heart. Then, Deryk Weymont struck quickly as a snake. He snatched the sword from Adryan’s weakened grip.
“Now, die, you bastard … the bastard son of Lord Crippen, the elder!” Deryk raised his arms to swing the sword, aiming to lop off Adryan’s head.
Adryan ducked the sword the last second, so that Deryk lost his balance when he missed his target. Ripping the dagger out of his chest, Adryan turned the sharp blade around and plunged it deep into Deryk’s soft belly, beneath the crest of oak leaves on the green tunic. With his remaining strength, Adryan pulled the dagger up as if he were gutting a pig.
While the knife ripped through his torso, Derek’s eyes and mouth opened wide from shock and surprise until the dagger hit his heart. A few seconds later, Lord Deryk Weymont dropped to the floor, twitching, as blood and the death rattle spat out of his mouth.
* * *
Ward shot down the platform to his master’s side. Instinctively, he bent over and checked the fallen lord’s pulse. There was none. Clearly, Lord Deryk Weymont, the younger, was dead, with the glazed look in his open eyes … frozen before he stepped into eternity.
God have mercy on his soul.
As Ward closed Lord Weymont’s eyes shut, he saw large drops of fresh blood hit the ceramic tiles in front of him.
“You are wounded, my lord. You are bleeding,” Ward cried out as he looked up to his master, who was still standing.
* * *
Lord Crippen gazed at the Queen. In his clouded vision, he could make out that she had become very pale. Then she shouted as she made her way down the steps. Adryan could barely hear for the ringing in his ears as sickness filled his stomach. He felt all his strength draining from his limbs.
Adryan heard Ward exclaim, “I got you, my lord!” as he collapsed into the steward’s arms.
On the floor, resting his head on Ward’s knees, Adryan glimpsed at the Queen, Anastasia Aurelius, now kneeling down beside him. There were so many things he wanted to tell her. Before he had loved her for all the wrong reasons - what she could do for him. But now he would die to protect her.
The Queen put her clammy hand on Adryan’s cheek as he opened his mouth to say all these eloquent words. Instead he coughed blood over her white gown. She screamed and recoiled in reflex.
This did not go as planned.
Meanwhile, the Bishop had maneuvered through the pandemonium in the Great Hall to reach the fallen lords, one dead, one wounded. The Royal Physician rolled Adryan on his side.
“Breathe, brother!” The Bishop slapped Adryan’s back. “Don’t suffocate on your own blood!”
The roaring in Adryan’s ears crescendoed and numbness washed over his body. The Bishop shouted, again, as he slapped Adryan’s face, “Stay with us, my lord! Don’t you dare leave us!”
Adryan felt his tunic ripped off him and wads of linen pressed to his chest. He gasped for breath, feeling like a snake was wrapped about this chest crushing him. Through his blurry vision, he glimpsed the look of horror on the Queen’s face with his blood on her white gown. Then Adryan spiraled into the blackness of nothingness.