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By the dispatch of Willoughby to France, she (Elizabeth) definitely committed herself to the policy of supporting him (King Henry IV of France) and from that policy she did not waver, though she laboured as always to reduce her support to the absolute minimum.

Mr. Secretary Walsingham

Conyers Read


The door thumped solidly closed. Denby’s bravo made sure it was latched solidly. The minute that happened, Helmsley couldn’t wait any longer and spun to confront Nick. “The packet you took from Broussard. Give it to me now, you piece of shit!”

The fat man hesitated for a moment. Helmsley could clearly see the calculation on his face, but then, just as Jean made the slightest motion forward, he slumped in acquiescence. Moving slowly, making sure that his hands were in plain sight at all times, he shrugged off his cloak and bent to tear at a seam with his teeth. Shortly, he pulled the small packet of thin folded papers free and handed them to Helmsley.

He couldn’t help himself. He snatched the papers from Nick and triumphantly brandished the packet in front of Nick’s face. “Start saying your prayers, heretic. For God is your only chance of succor now.”

Nick merely shrugged. He seemed tired, deflated like a bladder at the end of a fun fair. “I don’t see how any prayers will get me out of this.” Then, the merest flash of anger. “Besides, my prayers ain’t yours. Isn’t that what this is all about? What prayers a person says? If I was to pray now, you’d gut me for a heretic as well as a spy.” And then the anger guttered out, a candle returned to a mere smoking wick. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 33: HELMSLEY: THE TRIUMPH”


Nazi Zombie by Dragoart

The alley stinks. Piss and rotting vegetables, mainly, along with diesel smoke.

Mirsky looks out of the alley’s mouth to the boats tied to the wharf across the street. It’s the middle of the night, and cold and wet, but the harbor is still busy. Freighters are being offloaded as fast as they can with supplies for the Allied forces to the south and to the east. The workers are mainly North Africans of all nationalities and colors. Americans and British scurry around with clipboards in their hands, adding to the general sense of chaos with a chorus of yells and commands in English which very few of the longshoremen understand.

“And you trust this guy?” Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 32: Next Stop: The Balkans”

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The palace that was originally designed for some nobleman and his enormous establishment becomes first the tenement house and then the rabbit-warren, the plague spot, crowded from garret to cellar with dirty poverty stricken wretches.

Elizabethan Life in Town and Country

St Clare Byrne



The mansion bulked large in the darkness. They were in a small piece of open space that couldn’t decide if it was a field, a garden, a midden, or an orchard behind some houses. From the number of tumbledown sheds and shacks that littered the space, a fair amount of people called the area home. The mansion was at the far end of the space, towards the river.

The group of them, Helmsley and Denby still leading the way, had made their way here via a winding path of side streets and alleys. Nick knew his boots were a lost cause and shuddered to think of what Meg’s shoes and the hem of her dress must be like. He also knew that he was distracting himself with these thoughts of clothes. His situation was grim and there had been no opportunity for escape. That mangy bastard Jean was a constant worry. He was a killer to his bones and Nick felt that even on his best day, he’d have trouble besting the Frenchman. And none of his days lately had been his best.

And then there was Meg. Any chance of escape had to be a chance for both of them. The only bright spot was that these fuckers still had no idea who she was, still assumed she was just some whore. In the end, it might be her who started the blood spilling. Nick kept himself alert for any sign from her. Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 32: NICK: A DECAYING MALIGNITY”

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At nightfall each householder was supposed to hang up a lantern for the benefit of the passers-by; but even when this ordinance was strictly observed these very primitive affairs, with their thick, discoloured horn panes and their guttering candles, did little to reveal either the condition of the path underfoot or the lurking assailant, crouching in the deep shadow, and as willing to cut a throat as a purse.

Elizabethan Life in Town and Country

St. Clare Byrne


Poley was standing so close to Ollie that he could smell the blood dripping from him. “Where’d this happen?”

“Rafe Peckingham’s inn on Cateaten, just by Moorgate.” Ollie swayed a bit. “We’d picked up your man and were out on the street, heading here, when they jumped us. Meg had gotten your note and figured this was the best place to bring him.”

Poley’s mind began to move very fast. Very fast indeed. It was going to be resolved one way or another this very night. He spent not a second despairing on how close he’d gotten to resolving this.

Ralph got a shoulder under Ollie’s arm and walked him to a nearby empty table. He got Ollie laid down and began to pull his shirt aside to see how bad the damage was. Kate was there at his side with rags and water.

Ollie was being taken care of, wouldn’t die soon. The next action was clear. In a few swift strides, dodging the people standing around gaping, Poley was in front of Barnstable. There was a worried look on his face and he opened his mouth to spout something worthless and timewasting. Poley forestalled him with an upraised palm. “The moment’s on us, Art, and it’s lying there bleeding on that table. What’s it going to be? Let some traitorous bastards do Her Majesty grave harm or be a hero? Decide now. In or out?” Poley kept his gaze locked on Barnstable’s, gave him nowhere to turn. He knew that the decision was going to go his way before any words were spoken, when Barnstable closed his eyes for a second.

Barnstable opened his eyes, drained his mug, returned Poley’s gaze. “In. What do you need?”

“Get back to the Tower as fast as you’re able. Get a group of Warders together. No uniforms, but armed. I’ll meet you at the Tower Gate. We’ll sweep west up along Thames Street.” Continue reading “(Broken Instrument) CHAPTER 31: POLEY: FIND THEM!”