The Chest of Spells

A dying king reveals a secret on his deathbed which has been passed down from king to king throughout history.  Out of the only two people in the room with the dying king, one holds the secret and the other holds the clues.   

When William finds a book in his mother’s attic and accidentally casts a spell, he has to get the secret of the dying king in order to save his life.  

William must face new challenges as he embarks on another journey to a dangerous historical era.  How will he save his life and how will he react to Raven, who is also after the secret which will give her more power than anyone could ever imagine?

The Chest of Spells is the third adventure in the ‘Between the Trees’ series.

Here’s the first chapter of ‘The Chest of Spells’.

CHAPTER 1

“The king is dying! The king is dying!” began the whispers as they swirled among the palace walls. “Find the queen!” ordered a courtier. A servant dashed through the palace and headed straight for the queen’s chambers.

Upon arriving at the queen’s chambers, puffing and out of breath, the servant banged on a big wooden door. “What is your business?” asked a young woman as she opened the door. “You are in the queen’s private chambers, your presence is not permitted.” The young woman, named Margaret, was the queen’s number one lady-in-waiting. She had long blonde hair in a plait that went all the way down to her waist and she flicked it behind her back for she was very annoyed at the servant who had interrupted the queen’s day.

“M’lady Margaret,” whispered the servant, “the king shall not live much longer. I have been asked to bring his queen to his bedside.”

“Oh my!” Margaret scooped up the bottom of her long dress and scurried back into the room. A few moments later she reappeared, stood at the open door and waited. As the footsteps grew louder, the servant flipped off his cap and bowed as the queen walked past him with several ladies-in-waiting following behind.

The group scurried through the cold, dark corridors. As a dozen footsteps pounded on the floorboards, the noise bounced off the wooden floors and around the walls. When the queen approached her husband’s bedroom, two guards swiftly opened the doors and closed them behind her, leaving her ladies and the servant standing in the hallway, gossiping about the events that were unfolding. Margaret raced around the other side of the king’s quarters and stood in an adjoining dressing room where she could hear conversations from within the king’s bedroom. She waited a few seconds then turned to the ladies who had also followed. “Hush!” she said angrily. “I cannot hear.” The ladies quickly stopped talking and stood silently against the wall. When Margaret heard footsteps coming she returned to the main doors guarded by the soldiers where a priest stepped out of the room. He gave Margaret a stern look, then bowed his head as he began walking down the corridor. Margaret followed. “Please,” she said, “please tell us your news. Has he passed?”

“No,” replied the priest, “He has not passed, but he will. Very soon. There is nothing more I can do for him.”

“Who is with him? Is he alone with his queen?”

“Yes she is alone with him. But I understand the queen’s brother is on his way.”

“Her brother! Pray, tell. Why is this so?”

“I cannot say,” replied the priest. “My purpose is to ensure our poor dying king is comfortable in his last hours. His personal matters are of no business to me.”

The priest continued walking as Margaret stood in the corridor, alone, wondering why the king would want to see his brother-in-law in his final hours. This made Margaret all the more interested for she was known as the nosiest courtier in the palace. She had to know all the palace gossip and had to be the first to know, for it could prove advantageous if she wanted to remain in the queen’s inner circle. If she relayed palace gossip to her Majesty she would be rewarded with gold coins and a seat next to the queen at dinner. This was a most prestigious position and every lady-in-waiting fought each other for such an esteemed role.

When Margaret rejoined the ladies outside the king’s door, a man came charging towards them. He had wavy, light-coloured hair that hung just below his ears, his moustache was also blonde with a little flick at each end. He was around forty years old and wore big heavy boots that looked worn, just as he did, for the lines on his rugged face told a story of the battles he had fought to keep invaders from taking over England. “Open this door!” he bellowed. “I have been summoned by his Majesty the king.”

“Yes, sir,” replied a guard who quickly opened it.

Margaret had placed herself near the door so she could peer inside as it opened. When the guard noticed her snooping he shooed her away and slammed the door shut. This particular guard had a keen dislike for Margaret as she had promised to marry him when she was 18 but when she became a lady-in-waiting at 22, she no longer wished to be the wife of a guard. She had her sights set on bigger things and broke off her engagement. The guard was still very upset with her and did her no favours in the palace.

When the queen’s brother entered the room, he rushed to the bedside where the king lay in a big bed with four posts at each corner. Long red velvet drapes hung from a canopy over a big wooden frame and the king looked very small in the huge bed.

“I have come, as you asked,” said the queen’s brother as he bent down next to the bed. He glanced over at his sister and motioned for her to leave the room. The queen didn’t want to leave her beloved husband so she stood up and sat on a chair under the window on the other side of the room so the men could talk in private.

The king slowly lifted his arm and placed it on his brother-in-law’s hand. He slowly opened his mouth and spoke. “My trusted brother-in-law, listen carefully. I will not live to see morning. I have no children, no heirs. I must appoint a successor as England’s new king, be it a blood relative, earl or a duke.”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“I have considered this carefully and my wish is that it is time for the duke to come to England.”

Not long before the king became ill, he told his brother-in-law to visit the duke and tell him he would be England’s next king. He did what the king asked and visited the duke. However, when he returned to London, he did not give the duke the king’s message, for he wanted the crown for himself.

The king’s trusted brother-in-law went along with the king’s dying words and said he would get word to the duke immediately, but underneath his false devotion to the king, he was already planning his own coronation for the following day. He was going to wear the English crown on his head, hold a sceptre in his hand and inherit all the riches and power that the title of a king would bestow upon him. There was no way he was going to let another man take his crown.

“There is one last thing,” said the king, his voice quivering, his hands shaking. His brother-in-law bent down and the king whispered something in his ear, away from the ears of his queen and prying courtiers. As the king whispered, his brother-in-law raised an eyebrow and looked over at the queen, who was dabbing the tears from her eyes with a silk handkerchief.

Just before the king closed his eyes for the last time, he told his brother-in-law about a chest. It was a small chest, much like the size of a rectangular box but it wasn’t the chest that was important. The chest was merely the keeper of a very special book which had been passed down from king to king for centuries. However, there was one very small problem. “You must find the key,” whispered the king.

When the king’s brother-in-law was told about the chest he was very interested to find the key in which to open it. “Where is this key you speak of?” he asked.

The king spoke very softly. “It was lost many years ago. Nobody knows where it is. The chest cannot be opened without it and the book will be meaningless.”

“Where do I start?” asked the king’s brother-in-law.

Before the king could answer he closed his eyes and his soul left the earth. King Edward the Confessor was dead. The very next day, on January 6, 1066, his brother-in-law, Harold Godwinson was crowned King Harold II, and little did anyone in England know he had denied the king’s request for the duke to become England’s next king. Unbeknownst to King Harold, the duke – the French duke of Normandy – had found out that England had a new king, for he already knew that he was promised the crown many years before the king’s death.

Over the coming months, an enraged Duke William of Normandy began preparing an army of soldiers for he was going to fight for the crown and nothing was going to stop him. The ensuing battle would be known throughout time as the greatest conflict ever to occur on English soil, and would reshape the course of English history forever.

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