Roger Ascham and the Dead Queen’s Command (Tournament #1.5) by Matthew Reilly
English | 2020 | Mystery/Thriller Historical Fiction | ePUB | 2.8 MB
A special sequel to The Tournament from Australia’s favourite novelist and the author of both the Scarecrow and Jack West Jr series.
When her life is threatened by an anonymous assassin, the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth I knows there is only one man she can trust to find the killer before he strikes: her unorthodox childhood tutor and mentor, Roger Ascham.
Two hours later, Roger Ascham walked quickly down a dark, forbidding tunnel deep within the Tower of London, accompanied by a fresh-faced twenty-year-old ensign from the Queen’s Body Guard named Jonathan Hopgood.
Ascham had asked the queen specifically for a young member of her Body Guard to accompany him on his investigations and so the youth had been assigned.
Hopgood was most puzzled by the first address Ascham wished to visit.
‘Sir, if I might be so bold, why are we here?’ he asked.
‘It’s nice to know that some of my lessons left a mark on Her Majesty,’ Ascham said, maintaining his vigorous pace.
‘What do you mean?’
‘She kept the bodies of the victims,’ Ascham said. ‘When it was brought to her attention that the manner of the death of the second victim so closely resembled that of the first, she ordered the bodies be kept in the snow-filled cellar here in the Tower. She suspected something was amiss. Now that things have escalated, keeping them has proven to be very wise.’
‘You taught her to keep dead bodies?’
Ascham cocked his head. ‘Let’s just say that on one memorable occasion, I showed her how the dead can reveal much to the living.’
They came to a thick armoured door guarded by two troopers. One of the troopers opened it and Ascham felt a gust of chilly air waft out of the chamber within.
He and Hopgood entered the space. It was actually a prison cell. Snow lined its floor.
Three bodies lay in the snow, in a row. They lay face up and were still wearing the clothes they had been killed in—and each still had an arrow sticking out of its chest: the minister, the Body Guard and Lord Radcliffe.
As Hopgood watched in fascination and horror, Ascham examined them closely for a full hour. At one stage, he removed the arrow from each corpse, pausing for a longer time as he examined the arrow that had killed the last victim, Lord Radcliffe.
When he was done, he stood and frowned. ‘This is most alarming. We are dealing with a formidable and dangerous adversary.’
‘How do you know this?’
‘Several reasons,’ Ascham said. ‘First, each victim was shot precisely through the heart. Second, the depth of each arrow-wound is about five inches; this suggests each victim was hit with substantial force. And third, all the arrows entered their victims’ chests at a downward angle.’