King Stephen, the Silver man and Greta the Witch

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Chapter 64 – Riots reduce

Four things happened the following night that meant the rioting was much reduced.

First the President’s broadcast had calmed things down, second he had made it clear that the National Guard had been deployed to support the Police and they were authorized to use maximum force to protect America’s cities. This was followed by a PR campaign from Sally’s office making it clear that ‘maximum force’ when spoken by the President, meant shoot to kill. An appeal went out to the parents of the rioters, who were mainly young men, to stay off the streets.

But the third thing that greatly reduced the violence was an unseasonably rain sodden night in many US cities. The inclement weather meant people just stayed indoors.

Allied to all this was the fourth reason, that Greta was due to speak at breakfast the following morning, and the rain sodden evening was full of fascinating TV coverage and speculation about what she may say.

A jet-lagged Cathy Murphy was glad to arrive at JC’s and Greta’s apartment. They had stayed before, they were now all good friends.

Bryan set-up his camera in the spacious lounge, with a great view of Central Park and the skyscrapers of New York City in the background. Greta sat in an armchair, and Cathy was set at an angle to her, in a similar but slightly smaller chair. Greta was the star.

The ever meticulous Martha had selected an outfit for Greta. Nothing to outrageous, on this occasion it would be the words that mattered not her appearance. Greta wore a simple white tunic dress. Her hair was uncoloured, but she wore a prominent green jade necklace and Rolex gold watch. JC had negotiated placement rights with the makes of the jewellery and luxury watches. Cathy wore a Chanel business suit in royal blue. Bryan carefully arranged the lighting to highlight the yellow in Greta’s eyes.

The interview was largely recorded in one-take, but Bryan did some editing and asked to film two more sequences. He re-edited these, and then using JC’s secure internet connection uploaded the broadcast to a FTP server.

Job done, they opened the champagne, and JC cooked spaghetti bolognaise. They collapsed into bed at 2 AM. The number of empty wine bottles outnumbered the number of people that had eaten at the table.

Eustace was excellent at what is now called bush-craft. His main role was as Protector to the King. He had been Protector to Stephen even before he ascended to the thrown and had been involved in countless battles and skirmishes where one side or another would parley. They would fight if they had to, but it was much more effective amongst the nobility to pay, or better still be paid, than to fight. He was used to patient negotiations, clandestine meetings, staying hidden, living off the land, foraging and staying alive. These skills saved time and money. Armies were time consuming to equip and move to where they were needed, and very expensive to feed, clothe and arm. But Eustace knew the key thing about negotiating was to choose the time and place. So he was good at staying hidden.

The King tolerated Eustace’s abject cruelty and lude behaviour at Court because he was excellent in these difficult situations. He trusted Eustace totally. He had kept him safely hidden in many hostile situations, even right under the enemy’s noses.

One thousand years on many of these crafts had been lost, but the specialist SAS team tracked the King, Eustace and Keith to their hiding place. But by the time they got there, Trev was highly respectful of their quarries subterfuge techniques. His reputation in the regiment was he had never lost a trail. But he came close today, high praise indeed.

The hiding place was near Fleet Pond, the largest fresh water lake in Hampshire covering an area of over 50 acres. Fleet Pond is about 5 miles from Blackbushe Airfield. Soji called the Hampshire Chief Constable on his personal cell-phone. The senior Policeman was about to ask how he got the number, but stopped himself. Soji gave the co-ordinates where the King, Eustace and Keith were hiding and waited until the Police teams had moved into position. After a brief handshake from the Chief Constable a Police vehicle took the SAS team back to Blackbushe, and the same helicopter they had arrived in, whisked them back to Hereford.

Eustace was no fool and an expert military strategist. As they became surrounded by the Police he discussed their options with the King.

‘Sire, your wounds still need time to mend, and we are now heavily outnumbered by many foes. I suggest we question the tall stranger about these people, and prepare to parley?’

The King nodded his assent.

Keith had been sitting quietly watching the distant Police operation through a gap in the undergrowth. The relationship between Eustace and Keith had now reached a necessary tolerance. Eustace realised that killing Keith would mean losing their insight into this strange new land. Keith was no longer restrained by the ivy ropes, but he knew if he tried to run or move suddenly, that Eustace would use his superior speed and strength to overwhelm him within seconds. But in truth, Keith had really given up on his thoughts of escape, he had turned his captivity into an academic exercise. It was fascinating to study the character of Eustace and the King. He still didn’t know if they were genuine time travellers or if this was an elaborate hoax, but he was determined to find out. Keith also realised that if he answered Eustace’s questions directly, and in some cases lied or bent the truth, so Eustace heard what he wanted to hear, he avoided being beaten. The King rarely addressed Keith directly, preferring to speak through Eustace.

Keith was still more than a little wary of Eustace’s next move. Eustace was a brute and unpredictable, he still felt the effects of the blows to his head and his ribs. His legs and back ached from the horse riding and sleeping on the hard ground. He was little cold from living out in the open, and felt he could do with a shower and to change his clothes, but otherwise he felt OK.

Keith overheard Eustace’s conversation with the King, so was not surprised when Eustace beckoned him closer.

‘What do you know of these people surrounding us and of their intentions?’

Keith answered using language he had heard them discussing, ‘these are Police officers who have the short banging weapons that killed Henry. They will talk to you if you show them you mean them no harm.’

The King sat on the ground, with is back against a tree, holding his injured ribs and to Keith’s surprise spoke to him directly, ’what if we refuse to parley, will they charge us, will they honour a bargain?’

Keith was little taken aback but the direct question from the King, he knew nothing about Police tactics except what he had seen in television Police dramas. He was also no medical Doctor, but he could tell by the grey pallor of the King’s face that he needed medical attention.

Keith’s reply was carefully phrased, copying Eustace’s respectful form of address, ‘Sire, the Police officers are honourable people and will honour any arrangement you make with them.’

Eustace interjected, ‘will you stake your life on that?’

Keith produced a white handkerchief from his pocket, ‘if you allow me to walk out waving this I believe the Police will listen to you.’

Eustace looked at the King. He didn’t understand the white hanky. As far as he was concerned the universal sign of a parley was to reverse your sword. Keith pressed his point, ‘let me go out, if I get shot by those guns, I mean short banging weapons, so be it.’

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