Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors

Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors by Conn Iggulden

Book: Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors by Conn Iggulden Read Free Book Online
Authors: Conn Iggulden
Tags: Fiction, Historical
gone out and the port of Lynn was quiet. No one seemed to know what to do in their tiredness, their minds made lead. Hundreds of horsemen milled around, talking in low voices and always looking up for those who pursued. Richard glanced to his brother, knowing Edward should have had some word for them. They had not deserted the king, to the end. Yet Edward sat bowed over his saddle, lost and sullen and far from that place.
    With a groan at his tortured muscles and stiff joints, Richard dismounted. The pain was just about unbearable and he wanted to curl up in a doorway and sleep. Instead, he peeled off his cloak and left the thing to drip down the flanks of his overheated horse. Richard staggered as he approached amerchant vessel and hailed the master. The man was there to oversee the loading of cargo. He had observed the arrival of the weary band of soldiers and riders with barely hidden fear.
    ‘In the name of King Edward, we demand safe passage,’ Richard said. It could not be for all. Eight hundred would need a fleet even if they had a day or two for loading. He wanted Edward to dismiss the men, to say a few fine words and then get on board. His body hurt terribly and he was so tired even death had become enticing, as a chance to just
rest
.
    Like a pale ghost, Richard stood blinking at the captain. In reply, the man took a step back, shaking his head before he could even speak and holding up empty hands.
    ‘I am just a trader, my lord. I want no new enemies. I have broken no laws.
Please
, leave me to my business.’
    ‘I will not ask again,’ Richard said wearily. He dared not look behind, though his back crawled at the thought of Warwick’s men spilling on to the quays. ‘Instead I will cut your heart out and leave you dead on this dock. My name is Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester. My duty is to preserve the king’s safety. Do not doubt my intention.’
    He knew Edward had come to stand beside him by the way the merchant looked up, then nervously at the white rose of York embroidered on both their tunics. Edward too had left his cloak behind. As well as the symbol of York, his tunic was set on the breast with seed pearls in the design of a sun in flames. The merchant stared at it with wide eyes.
    ‘May I send the horses on board?’ Edward asked. The man could only nod mutely. Edward gestured to Lord Rivers and the man began issuing sharp commands, driving the animals to the ramp. The horses clattered on to the deck and the merchant winced at the sound. Richard clapped him on the shoulder.
    ‘There are traitors close behind us, captain. If you havenot cast off and retreated out of bowshot by the time they reach this dock, I do not doubt they will set your ship ablaze with arrows dipped in oil. It is what I would do.’
    Richard turned then to his brother. Edward still loomed, but some vital spark had been taken from him. He was red-eyed as he met Richard’s gaze.
    ‘Dismiss your men, Edward. We cannot take more than a few.’
    Without another word, Richard climbed the ramp to the deck. Behind him, he heard Edward take a breath. When he addressed them, it was without flourish or booming call. He spoke as a man rather than a king.
    ‘You have brought me safe to this place,’ he said. ‘You have my thanks. God willing, I will seek you out once again and I will reward you for your loyalty. Until then, go with God, my brothers.’
    It was all that had held them on the docks and they bowed and remounted, trotting away in every direction. The poor Earl of Worcester would surely have been taken by then, miles behind the rest.
    Edward watched the loyal men depart, until there were just a few of his lords remaining with their servants and guards. A dozen men, no more. They walked their mounts on to the ship, leaving Edward to stare at the country he was losing.
    Ropes were untied that bound them to the shore. The ramps were pulled in and the sail run up on to the mast. A yard of water appeared between the

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