The Palace of Westminster
The Great Gate was impressive, its ancient stone ivy-clad, its turrets snow-capped and the Royal Standard flapping above in the fitful flurries of icy flakes. The guards in their bright liveries stamped their boots and blew on their hands, puffing out white clouds with every breath. Keeping watch in January was a duty none enjoyed. They recognised Jude and waved him through, ignoring Seb as a person of little consequence, unlikely to endanger King Edward in any way.
The Inner Gate into Green Yard was far less imposing but the solitary guard there demanded to know their business. Mayhap, he was in need of some activity or company to pass the time.
‘Who goes there?’ he demanded, barring the way with his halberd.
‘Walter, you bloody nincompoop, it’s me,’ Jude said. ‘You know me better than your own father – if you ever knew him at all.’
‘Bloody Foxley,’ the guard growled. ‘What brings you back on a Saturday afternoon? And who’s this?’ He nodded at Seb.
‘My brother. He’s a scribe like me and we’ve got work to do for Secretary Oliver – not that it’s any business of yours.’
‘Mind your mouth, Foxley. I can throw you in the lock-up anytime I like and you’ll freeze to death in there afore you can say your Paternoster. And why’s your brother here? He ain’t a King’s Clerk and if he’s half the bloody trouble you are, he’s not welcome.’
‘He has permission; a written warrant.’ Jude took a paper from his purse and offered it to the guard, fully aware that Walter was illiterate as a blind sheep. ‘You want to read it?’
The guard shook his head.
‘Just keep out of my sight, the pair of you. Any trouble and you’ll have my halberd shoved up your arse with a ribbon on it.’
Jude was sniggering as he led Seb to side door.
‘You upset him. Why did you taunt him so, not to mention the lies you told?’ Seb
asked, knocking a dark mess of slush and ashes off his boots against the stone step.
Jude didn’t bother, treading mucky footsteps along the passage within.
‘Forwhy Walter’s an ignorant pig. He knows I have the measure of him, the damned jackanapes, and lying is just the Westminster way – nobody tells the truth here. Besides, this clerkship job would be unutterably tedious if I didn’t have folk like him and Piers Creed to make mock of. Did I tell you about Creed the Farter?’
‘Aye, you did, more than once.’
‘This here is Secretary Oliver’s joyous house of entertainment,’ Jude announced, stopping at a closed door. ‘Scene of my life-wasting scribbling and associated tortures. Coldest place on earth, if I know anything, where we sit and feel our bollocks shrivel and fall off, if we’re not careful. You want to see inside, if it’s not locked? Creed is probably still working like an idiot.’
Jude tried the door, lifted the latch. It squealed open and, sure enough, there was Piers Creed, as Jude had half expected, bent over his desk, pen in hand. Despite the noise, the clerk didn’t look up.
‘Jesu’s sake, Piers, you farting, foolish fucker, can’t you think of anything better to do on our free afternoon? Go play bloody snowballs or something. Hey! Don’t ignore me. How can you sleep in here? It’s too damned cold.’
Jude kicked the clerk’s stool to rouse him from his nap. But Piers did not waken. He slid across his desk and toppled off the stool, the pen yet held fast in his fingers.
‘Wake up, you idiot.’
Jude grabbed his fellow before he should fall to the floor and hurt himself. He shook him but it did no good.
Seb lowered himself to the flagstones with care. He removed his gloves and touched the clerk’s cheek.
‘His skin be icy.’
‘So would any man’s be in this place. See? The brazier isn’t alight. Come on, Piers, rouse yourself, you idle…’
‘Shouting at him will have no effect, I fear.’ Seb put his fingers to the pulse pointunder the angle of the jaw. ”Tis a sorrowful thing, Jude, but your friend be dead. We must fetch a priest to him, straightway.’
Here’s the blurb:
Murder lurks at the heart of the royal court in the rabbit warren of the Palace of Westminster. The year is 1480. Treason is afoot amongst the squalid grandeur and opulent filth of this medieval world of contrasts. Even the Office of the King’s Secretary hides a dangerous secret.
Meeting with lords and lackeys, clerks, courtiers and the mighty King Edward himself, can Seb Foxley decipher the encoded messages and name the spy?
Will Seb be able to prevent the murder of the most important heir in England?
All will be revealed as we join Seb Foxley and his abrasive brother Jude in the latest intriguing adventure amid the sordid shadows of fifteenth-century London.
Praise for Toni Mount’s The Colour of Rubies
Tony Riches, author of The Tudor Trilogy “An evocative masterclass in storytelling.”
Carol McGrath, author of the She-wolves trilogy “I was utterly transported – It’s superb”. “What a plot. What characters. Perfect pitch”.
“I loved the relationship between Seb and Jude”.
“The Colour of Rubies is a totally immersive experience as richly stitched as one of King Edward IV’s gorgeous tapestries. This cleverly plotted novel with its twists and turns will keep a reader page turning late into the night until the book’s final scenes. Sebastian and Jude are wonderfully realised personalities with similar emotions, concerns, fears and hopes we have have today. Their medieval London felt real and intriguing to me with unexpected dangers lurking in alleyways. I felt as if I was walking in Sebastian’s footsteps. With this thrilling novel Toni Mount has shown herself a master of medieval suspense. More please”.
Praise for Toni Mount’s Sebastian Foxley Medieval Murder Series
Tracy Borman, historian and broadcaster “An atmospheric and compelling thriller that takes the reader to the dark heart of medieval London.”
Matthew Lewis author of Richard III Loyalty Binds Me “Toni Mount continues to delight with the superbly crafted Seb Foxley mysteries. Impeccable research and sculpted characters combine with an engaging narrative to create another irresistible story. This series goes from strength to strength, and I’m already looking forward to the next instalment”
J.P. Reedman, author of the I, RICHARD PLANTAGENET series: “Sebastian Foxley is the Cadfael of the 15th century”.
“The Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery Series by Toni Mount is not only filled by dastardly murders and gripping intrigue but contains many well-researched historical facts from the Wars of the Roses era”
Samantha Willcoxson, author & historian “Toni Mount is simply brilliant”.
“If you love CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake (and I do) you will love Toni’s Sebastian Foxley”.
“From learning how a 15th century scrivener created illuminated manuscripts to venturing within the dank tunnels beneath the Tower of London, Toni is an artist who completely immerses the reader in another time and place and always leaves one eager for the next book.”
Stephanie Churchill, author of historical fiction and epic fantasy “Leave it to Seb to unravel another international spiderweb of intrigue, betrayal, murder, and deceit. Our flawed, loveable hero has done it again. And at the end of it all, his future is looking brighter than ever. I cannot wait to find out what happens to him next!”
Sharon Bennet Connoly, author and medieval historian “A beautifully crafted mystery that brings the dark, dangerous streets of medieval London to life. Toni Mount is a magician with words, weaving a captivating story in wonderful prose. The Colour of Evil is, to put it simply, a pleasure to read.”
Rosalie Gilbert, medieval historian and author “The author’s knowledge of medieval history shines through the narrative in the small details which enhance the story woven into it. The details about the inside workings of medieval trade practices lent themselves perfectly for a background to murder and deceit”.
“Recommended for lovers of historic fiction.”
Joanne R Larner author of Richard Liveth Yet trilogy: “I always look forward to a new ‘Colour of…’ book. I can’t wait to see what escapades Seb Foxley and his brother, Jude, get up to next. They, and all the characters, are endearing and colourful. The books are always well written, conjuring 15th century London into the reader’s mind and the plots are excellent!’
Mel Starr bestselling author of the Hugh de Singleton chronicles: “If I believed in reincarnation I would be willing to think that Toni Mount lived a previous life in 15th century London. The scents, the sights, the tastes of the late Middle Ages are superbly rendered.”
Connect with the author, http://www.twitter.com/tonihistorian
The Colour of Rubies is available now.