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The Death of a Traitor [October 1676]


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Long after all guests had departed from Windsor the Northern Secretary remained to wrap up the last details and coordinate efforts from the castle while Prince Rupert took the military situation in hand, stopping a possible passing of French troops over the channel with a show of force, assisted by several lords that had followed him to Dover on horseback or by ship.


Joseph wasn't too fussed. He didn't think the French were really going to cross. In fact, he didn't think it was Le Roi himself who was behind this heinous attempt at the King's life and, for all appearances, his heir the Duke of York, in one foul sweep. The French King ruled his country with an ironfist and so likely there would be repercussions of which Williamson's sources, especially the well hidden one who had warned him this time, would keep him abreast, while the prisoners in the dungeons would be kept alive for months till every last fact was tortured out of them. Interrogations were not to be undertaken with haste, especially after the crux of the matter had played already. There would be executions this spring perhaps, no sooner. Something nice and public, reassuring everybody the King was in full control.


Something else had happened at Windsor. Something of far larger import than most knew, Joseph reflected as he walked through the stormy weather towards the graveyard to inspect the anonymous grave his men had prepared. He checked the body, wrapped in a sheet, once last time. A young face, blond, handsome, with particular family traits for those who knew where to look, including a birthmark. Upon his sign the body, was thrown into the grave and the two men started covering it with dirt with their shovels as Williamson watched. The body, which had been found in the library, was no surprise to him as he had, reluctantly, ordered the death. It had been an execution, of an agent gone rogue.


For decades the Seymour family had served his office well. In fact, some members were still contributing from time to time. Yet in their blood themselves they carried the combined taint of ambition, treason and adventure. When the 2nd Duke of Somerset, son to the protector of Seymour fame, had secretly married and bedded Arabella Stuart, it had not stopped with her being locked up and dying in the Tower. Her twins had been smuggled out, their line continued. Only by cooperating with authorities in legal and illegal ways, had the duke been able during the Interbellum and afterwards to protect his children and grandchildren from annihilation. Being part of the Secret Service had been passed on from generation to generation, suited to their temperament, while the Duke made play at having his own heirs in a more public second marriage. For a moment he nearly lost it when his hidden daughter died in childbirth, insisting on bringing the girl grandchild of the next generation of twins into his own family as his granddaughter. Arlington had allowed it, the fool.


Williamson shook his head as the wind pulled at his hair. Here in this grave lay one of the last potential heirs of the throne, ironically close to his own grandmother, and unbeknownst to many his mother and uncle buried in the same tomb in the chapel. He had signed his own death warrant as he had gone rogue, information that had been confirmed by both Mountjoy and Graas. He had not choice but to act, even against royal blood. It was something he dare not inform His Majesty over, knowing that such a thing went against royal instincts, for they dare not set precedent.


There was one other heir hidden among the gentry, the last of a treasonous line, that he trust would not openly show his ambitions, lest he had to take similar measures. It would be years yet before he had to worry about it though. Something for the next spymaster perhaps.


OOC: A bit late but on request a final episode on this mystery that touches more people than immediately apparent

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