The Swordsman Cometh by Kate Wallace

The man cursed in French as he pulled his horse to a stop. He knew what the matter was without having to dismount. He thought his luck would have held as he rode away from Dover and towards London. To him this was a sign, a sign that God was displeased that he would be the one to strike off the head of an anointed Queen.
An Inn came into his line of sight and he hoped that they would have a horse he could use for the rest of his journey with the promise to return it once his work had been done.

The lanky youth came forward as he came to a stop by the stables. A penny was dropped into his dirty hand as he led the lame horse away. He soon returned with a sandy brown horse already saddled.

Mounting up, he thanked him in heavily accented English, turned the horse and kicked him into a trot. On open ground, he let the beast have its head and soon it was galloping, eating up the green grass as they sped towards the capital. The man thought back to when he received word his services were needed.

When the order came for him to travel to England at the request of King Henry VIII, he thought his younger brother was playing another prank on him. It was not until he saw the great seal of England dangling from the parchment that he realised that he had been picked to deliver the death blow to England’s anointed Queen.
The finely scripted writing told him that he would be paid handsomely for this feat.

From the large oak chest standing in the corner, he took out a wrapped object; Carefully he pulled back the cloth to reveal what laid within. There lay the tool of his trade, a finely crafted sword, its blade razor sharp.
He sat at a table, the candle light giving him enough light to start a task that he could do in his sleep.
The sword was laid upon the table, propped up with a block of wood. Using even measured strokes, he began to roughly shape the edge.

Time and time again he kept turning the blade over until the rough edge started to appear.
From a small pouch he pulled a whetstone and applied a thin film of oil to the surface. He passed the blade over the stone, using a slow and uniform stroke. Back and forth it goes, every once in a while, he stops, lifts the blade to inspect it and then resumes, working the stone over the entire surface of the blade.

Finally, it is done. Holding the sword up, the candle light reflects off the newly sharpened blade. It is lovingly replaced within the confines of the cloth and then strapped in an age worn sling and placed on his back. The time had come for him to depart.

Tugging gently on the reins, the horse snorted its displeasure at being told to slow down. The man looked up at the fearsome structure while still astride his horse, a man dressed in long black robes came towards him.
“We have been expecting you. Let me show where you will stay this night…”

He dismounted his horse and led the animal into the centre of The Tower itself. Moonlight highlighted the wooden structure of the scaffold and its steps. There tomorrow he would end the life of England’s notorious Queen and make himself a rich man at the same time.

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