Stuffed Cod (Wars of the Roses)

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Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York

Richard, Duke of York paces the floor waiting for his nephew, Richard, Earl of Warwick. He pokes the fire and adds a few more logs to make sure the room will be warm and comfortable. His cooks have set up a feast with roast venison, eel, wild boar and game pies. He drinks some claret, the best he has imported from France. The king made a grave error aligning himself with Somerset and trying to take Cardiff from Warwick. But the king’s misguided loyalties were York’s gain because an alliance with his nephew meant a large army supporting York. Richard did not want to take the king’s throne, just to show him the folly of always listening to counselors who did not have England’s best interests at heart such as the late de la Pole and Somerset.

Richard see’s Warwick and his men riding up and he goes outside to greet him. His grooms takes the horses and Richard greets his nephew warmly. ” Welcome to Ludlow, I hope your ride was uneventful. Come Richard, get cleaned up and let us share bread.” He nods to his servant to pour the earl a goblet of his best claret and has him take Richard to his chambers to wash off.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick

I’m off to Ludlow Castle. The ride long, I venture to my Elizabeth before heading out with my men to meet the Duke of York. Married to my aunt, the man hardly knows me, but that matters not. We will confer, band with my father as a united front, and deal with King Henry and his favorites. As I lay in bed after taking her hard, I look to the woman who fills me whole. My God, she is exquisite. Our babe now crawling, my heart fills at the sight of her. I laughed when I first looked upon her unruly black curls. Yes, my Elizabeth is loyal. The child can’t be denied. Thankfully my daughter Margaret looks just like her mother. I dare say I will not have any trouble finding a Baron or Earl to marry her, though the dowry will be high for a bastard child. I worry not of that. She is well worth it. I draw Elizabeth in close and run my fingers through her long red hair. Heavens, I can feel her heart beat. I wish I could live in the moment forever, but duty calls. As she gently sleeps, I kiss her forehead and quietly draw myself out of bed. My God, t’is cold. I quickly dress, leave a pretty necklace for my beloved on the bed stand and leave as I have many a time before. Poor lass, what she gives up for me. I dare say I do not deserve her.

For three days and nights my men and I venture forward. Damn this rain. Mud abounds, but we push on through it. With little sleep afforded at the dreary inns we settle for along the way, the sight of Ludlow in the distance is most welcome. God willing, the good old Duke will have baths drawn, as a more filthy, cold and wet band of men there never was.

As we ride up, I notice the Duke awaits us. Ahhhhh, t’is a good sign indeed when a Duke awaits outside for an Earl. He must be wise to why I am calling, or at least hopeful. I smile wickedly. These men of high places. They always are seeking the advantage. I snicker. Well, so do I. Not satisfied with the meager crumbs the King throws my way and irate at what His Grace has stripped from me, I look another way. The Earl of Warwick bows to no man unless it suits my purpose. So today, I will bend a knee to the Duke of York. Why? Because he is a better man? No, because he is my way to gain advantage, to retrieve what is rightfully Warwick land, and to make this man Protector of the Realm. Owed much, my power will eclipse the damn Somerset. That pig will fall, and I will push him off the cliff I do swear.

I ride my horse within a mere distance from the Duke and dismount. Here’s my chance, and I will not miss it. I bend a knee, remove my cap and drape my cloak. ”Uncle, t’is my honor to see you fine man.” As he bids me rise and expresses welcome, I smile broadly. ”Thank you, Uncle. Do excuse my appearance. The ride was long, the weather dreadful.”

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Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York

My servant hands my nephew a large goblet of my finest claret, I want everything to be perfect for our discussions at dinner. ” Richard, my servant will take you to your chambers and settle in all your men. I hope you will find everything to your satisfaction. If you are in need of anything, please advise my man and it shall be yours. I shall await you as you get settled, hot water has been put in a tub for you with medicinal herbs your aunt insists soothes wary muscles. Relax and then come join me. I have much I wish to discuss with you. ” I smile and give my nephew a most welcoming hug.

I go into my study looking over requests from tenants and wish Cecily was at Ludwig to manage things so I can give my full attention to the unraveling disaster in France. I feel the bile rising again at the thought of all the land Henry lost to France. The work of our king’s father, all gone with the swift hand of his incompetent advisors and his own weak, spineless will. He is no king but a monk. I slam my fist at the table thinking of the pestilence that has plagued England with Somerset and the French queen at the helm. I hear footsteps and look up as my servant shows Warwick in. ” I hope you found your chambers comfortable and that my man brought you anything you needed. You must be hungry, the cooks have been well trained by your aunt and all the platters have been laid out. ” Richard follows me to the dinning hall and we take our seats, the wine flows freely, and Richard is served the tastiest morsels first. I spear into a large piece of venison and look up into my nephews face. ” Richard, a toast, to family and new alliances .” I smile and touch his goblet with mine.” Oh and let us not forget to the end of the rule of the queen’s lover, Somerset. May he rot in hell!” It is hard for me to read Warwick’s eyes, he gives nothing away but together, with his father we are unbeatable. ” It grieved me when the swine tried to steal Cardiff from you. He is reckless and a fool but the queen listens to every word he utters. It is time for Somerset’s reckoning. But where is our king? No one has seen him since he was given the news of his defeat in France. What say you Richard? What council do you have for all of us who are loyal but seek to remove the king from their influence?” I look at him very seriously, waiting for his thoughts for with my nephew’s help, we can change the failures of the king.

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Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick

This feast and the claret are the finest in the realm, and I feel courted like the long awaited King from a foreign realm sought for powerful alliance. Do I keep the man guessing? Make him grovel for mine resources and those of my great father? No, this is not a game of chess, not an archery match. The Kingdom is in the balance. As the Duke speaks, I nod in hearty agreement with his assessment of the King’s foolish choices and poor battle strategy. T’is a good thing we are not all speaking French this day already, the King’s incompetence is so profound. As the Duke asks for my council, I answer him honestly. If we are to be in this together, our frankness with one another starts now.

”Uncle, mine spies do say rumors fly throughout the court, tongues wagging all around. They say the Queen’s belly is filled with Somerset’s seed, not the King’s. Do the rumors speak truth? I care not. Just the inference is damning enough I dare say.” I take a long drink of claret and add jokingly. ”His Grace and the Anjou She-Wolf have been married several years, Uncle, with no issue. I fear the man’s cod peaks not, shriveled from lack of fornication.” We both laugh heartily, the Duke slapping me in the arm for good measure.

”In all seriousness, Uncle. My father, the great Earl of Salisbury and I met and discussed our situations. While Somerset is granted lands for centuries hence were Warwick owned, my father deals with the Percys, pigs also granted great favor by the King. He throws us not the bone his dog picks from the floor at his feet.” I pour more claret and add, ”And France, t’is a down right disgrace. Somerset, the fool he is, leads men like a woman of feeble mind.” At that thought, we laugh again.

”The King’s gone mad. There is no other rational explanation.” I pause and swallow hard. ”So, with this I tell you, my father and I commit our heartfelt alliance, with all out men, our horses, our weapons, and every resource we have, to you and the York cause.” I raise my goblet in toast. ”God grant us victory, and God save this blessed realm from the leadership of fools and minstrels.”

Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York

” Here, Here, Richard, with all the resources that you and your father bring, we are assured a great victory. England will be the mighty realm it once was when it was the father that led us and not his witless son who is more monk than king.” After hearing my nephews words, I relax and feel the weight of the world lifted from mine shoulders. Warwick and his father are known to be great commanders whose men follow them unquestionably. I pour us both more wine and savor the velvety warmth as it rolls down my throat. I eat with relish now and look forward to the next course of food. The smells from the kitchen and the heat of the crackling fire make me want to linger in the dinning hall all night.

” Richard, I agree with you, the king has never been missing for this long, God only knows what Somerset and his French concubine have done with him. I put nothing past them, especially with his evil seed growing in her belly. The good people of this realm have the right to know about the bastard she so proudly carries and as you nobly put it, the monk’s cod peaks not.” We both laugh loudly, the effect of the claret has loosened our tongues. ” Tis a great night nephew, good wine, good food, good company and a strong alliance. Let us drink more and come up with our plans to slaughter the Somerset swine. ”

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Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick

A little drunk now, I rise my goblet in toast and smile broadly. ”Uncle, the Anjou whore rules this realm in truth, both Somerset and His Grace lapping at her feet like dogs. A She-Wolf, that is what she be.” I take a long swig of the claret. ”They are but cockholds, shriveled little dicks, rising only at her command — and then not much, the codpieces stuffed so say my spies.” He smiles, and we have a hearty laugh. ”My wife the Countess and my beloved Elizabeth, they know their place as all women should, deferring to my ways, my choices. If I want a lay, they lay, how we lay, I say — and they lay only with me.” The Duke smiles knowingly, as all real men rule their women same.. ”This She-Wolf whore needs to be put back in her place. She is merely a consort and a lowly one at that. When a woman rules this realm, we will be damned.”

 

~~~~~ Fade To Black ~~~~~

 

 

 

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