As I sit here writing this, my lord Sir Shagor sleeps fitfully. We’d checked into The Full Pint Tavern earlier today. Several months have passed since our search for Lady Nancy and Master Crion had begun. We had little luck in our pursuit for them. No doubt, Sir Shagor has been called to service several times – but he has never gone back to serve His Majesty’s Army.
“The King,” he had told me, “has many soldiers. My wife and son only have me.”
Sir Shagor’s intentions were correct, I knew, but perhaps his priorities were mottled. The King could have his head for his lack of response when called to service. Lady Nancy, however… she could not touch him with harm. There were plenty more women in the world who would faint at his feet, and plenty more children he could have.
This, of course, I did not say aloud, but merely queried, “Any news, my lord?”
“There has been a hint here, a whisper there – our struggles have scarcely paid off,” he’d replied grimly, sipping at his flagon of ale, “Strange whisperings, I’m afraid. Ideas I could not have thought of.”
I waited for him to continue.
“Nancy, as beautiful as she is – had many suitors, but none of whom she fancied,” Sir Shagor explained, “Several of these suitors were the sons of businessmen: wealthy enough to hire mercenaries to wreck our home; others were soldiers: strong enough to band together to ruin the Manor – but one,” he paused, “one was the son of His Majesty Richard IV, Prince Phillip.”
“You had not known this before?” I asked.
“No. Nancy did not like to flaunt her various suitors and I had no interest in knowing about marital rivals.”
“I hate to press, sir – but what has this to do with our search?”
Sir Shagor straightened in his seat, “A man among my eyes and ears has told me this of late. He suspects that it is one of the jealous suitors that have taken my wife.”
“Who is ‘he’?”
“I cannot disclose him to you, my friend,” said my lord, “he fears for his life – for the things has told me – and I shall grant him the courtesy of secrecy.”
“Very well, my lord. But these are a great many suitors, surely we cannot point a finger of blame on them all?”
“You are right, Watson. However, I’ve done a little speculation, feel free to give your thoughts when you see fit,” he took another gulp of his ale, “I doubt it were the soldiers – for they would have been amid our ranks when we fought with the Italians.”
“But they could have had men hired from before, anticipating the war.”
“That is true enough…”
“What of the sons of businessmen?”
“They are all already married off.”
“And men cannot be more cruel? More lecherous?”
Sir Shagor’s shoulders sagged, “You’ve scattered my ponderings, young man.”
I paused a moment, before saying, “Sir… were you to point the finger of blame on Prince Phillip?”
He regarded me for a moment, a sad look in his eyes, “I’ve thought on it, Watson,” he said, “He was the most sore at losing to me. He’d visited the Manor more than advisable, when I was not present, to talk Lady Nancy into eloping with him.”
“What gossip is this!”
“Nancy would write to me of such happenings,” he replied, “And it would be the perfect timing for him, when I was at war. He would be floundering at home, the other suitors busy with their cares or with war. The jealousy he had for our marriage… I do think it’s him, Watson.”
I thought on the image I had of Prince Phillip – the wiry, thin, coward of a young man; holding nothing of the virtue or merit of his father, who’d would surely be called in the future as a Warrior King. It was a good timing. His father would be out warring also, and his older sister, Princess Edith, had been made a temporary regent: giving Phillip the leisure of any sport he fancied. And no-one would dare suspect him…
“But, my lord,” I said, “you simply cannot storm into the palace and accuse the Prince of such a thing. The King would see you beheaded for treason and slander on his family.”
“And what of the shame and disgrace on my family, Watson?” he countered.
“You know it is not the same.”
“No,” he said, getting up and looking hurt, “but it should be.”
I do not know what he plans to do. I fear he may take leave of his senses. I know that the fair Lady Nancy means much to him, and that bright Master Crion is the apple of his eye… but would he sacrifice his life and pride for them?
I had seen Sir Shagor put his life on the line for much less.
I just hope he forms some sort of plan, rather than work on his impulses. Sir Shagor was a fearsome man in battle and nobler than any lord at heart, but he was no less prone to err than any other man.