Three boys find themselves accidently in the 14th century, where they find a land of Dragons, magic and murder. A prophecy has foretold of their arrival. With the help of Zio the dragon they must find the missing crown of England. Will they succeed or die trying?
The sun streamed in through Robert’s bedroom window, he yawned, reached over and switched off his alarm clock. If he had known that one of his brothers would be threatened with death, he would have pulled the bed covers back over his head and gone back to sleep. As he didn’t, he got out of bed and put on the school clothes that he had left in a heap at the bottom of his bed. His father had told him to put them in the wash the night before but as usual he had forgotten, again. Once he was dressed he went to wake up his twin 8-year-old brothers Timothy and Michael who slept in the next room. Michael was awake in seconds and dressed almost as fast. Timothy on the other hand was always a pain to wake as he never went to sleep until he knew his Father was in bed.
Once the boys were dressed they went down for breakfast which they knew would be ready on the table as it always was. Their dad had always done the same thing every morning. He got up at 6am, had coffee before having a shower and getting the boys’ cereal and toast ready for them when they came down at 7:15. The boys’ mother had died when the twins were born and their father had given up a well-paid job working for the government and decided to dedicate his life to bringing up his sons.
This morning, however, was different, the kitchen was quiet and breakfast was not on the table.
“Dad!” called Timothy. “Where’s my breakfast? I’m hungry.” There was no reply. The house was still as the grave. Robert, who was just over two years older than the twins, took charge. “Right Michael, you go and look for dad in his room and in his study. Timothy, you look in our rooms and I’ll check down here and we’ll meet back in the kitchen.”
Five minutes later the three boys were worried, very worried. Timothy was crying, Michael was wiping his nose and sniffing loudly and Robert was trying to be grown-up but was scared. The boys had never been left on their own before. Their father had given up weekends away with his friends; he told everyone that nothing in the world was more important than his boys. Robert always felt himself grow taller whenever his father said that. Today, however, they had checked the whole house but could not find him.
“There is one room we have not checked, the cellar,” Michael sniffed. The other boys looked at him nervously.
“You know we aren’t allowed down there. Last time I got caught coming up the cellar stairs I wasn’t allowed out for a week.”
“Well I don’t care, I’m going to look and if I get told off I’ll say I was scared.”
Slowly the three boys opened the cellar door and peered down the stairs.
“Dad, are you there?”
“Don’t be silly,” said Robert, “the light is off.”
Michael wiped his nose on the back of his hand again. Robert had made up his mind; he reached up, switched on the light and started down the stairs with Timothy and Michael close behind.
The cellar smelt musty and damp and cobwebs hung from the ceiling.
“I’m scared,” whimpered Timothy.
Michael pointed to the corner, “What’s that behind those boxes?”
The boys moved some old boxes and slowly an old wooden door became more apparent. The door was oak, had a big round handle and long black hinges, the sort of door you might find in a church.
Robert was the first to say what they were all thinking. “I have been down here lots of times but I’ve never seen that door before, have you?” Both boys shook their heads.
It was Timothy who made the first move. Slowly, very slowly, he reached out his hand, took hold of the old rusty handle and turned it. There was a clunk as the handle turned. The boys jumped.
“Come on you two give me a hand. I can’t open it on my own.”
Robert and Michael looked at each other, shrugged, and got hold of the door. Together they pulled it towards them. It took all their strength but bit by bit, and with a lot of creaking, the door opened.
As the door opened it revealed a long, dark, stone passage which was lit by flaming torches on both sides. Rats scurried away as the boys looked in. Large creepers hung down from the ceiling and water trickled down the walls and along the floor.
The boys looked at each other, they were all scared. Michael stepped inside.
“Come on, let’s find dad. I want my breakfast.”
“I don’t like rats,” said Robert.
“Neither do I but we must find dad he might be in danger. Come on let’s go!”
The boys pushed their way down the passage. It seemed to go on for ever and as they went further along it started to get cold. Timothy shivered.
“I don’t like this. Please, can we go back?” Michael looked at his twin and shook his head.
“We must find dad. Come on, he can’t be far now.”
Slowly the passage started to widen and became clearer. In the distance a small door came into view. Cautiously the boys approached it. The door only came up to Robert’s shoulders; the handle on this door gleamed proudly.
Robert was the first to smell it.
“I can smell food and it smells like daddy’s cooking!”
“Wait!” said Timothy, as he grabbed at Robert who had been about to open the door. “It might be a trap.”
Robert gasped and swallowed hard. “I hadn’t thought of that, sorry.”
Both boys looked at Timothy. He had turned very pale.
“Whatever’s the matter?”
“L…l…look,” stammered Timothy, pointing behind his brothers, who were facing away from the door. Both boys turned, then Michael turned pale and Robert backed away. Whilst they had been talking the door had been opened, from the OTHER SIDE, and in the doorway stood a very large man. Well, they thought it was a large man. They could only see the bottom half of him because the door was so small.
A big, dirty and smelly hand reached through the door, grabbed Michael and pulled him through. Timothy tried to scream but it only came out as a squeak. One after the other the boys were pulled through. They found that they had come through a door set into the back of a fireplace. The boys looked out into the room in front of them. It was a large room with stone walls and they could see a straw roof above them. The room smelt of wood smoke, pots and pans hung from the walls, the furniture was made from roughly cut wood and the window was just a hole in the wall.
“Hello,” boomed a deep, gruff voice.
The boys spun around and took in the rest of the man they had seen in the doorway. He was large and heavy and his belly hung below his coarsely woven shirt.
“My name is Tregore,” said the man. The boys all noticed at the same time that Tregore was holding something in his hand; an axe, a very large one. Robert felt his head start to spin. He looked at his brothers and noticed that they had gone pale as well. Michael looked at the axe and he felt his feet go from under him. The boys all passed out.
When the boys came round they were all sitting in high backed, wooden chairs in front of the fire which had now been lit. Tregore was busying himself round a large cooking pot. The boys looked at each other, each hoping they were not going to be put into the pot. Robert took a sideways look at the axe which was now stuck into one of the logs by the fire and gulped. Tregore must have heard the gulp for he turned round with a big soup ladle in his hand. The boys tried to shrink into their chairs. Tregore looked at the boys and noticed Robert staring at the axe. He laughed so loudly that his belly wobbled. “Do you think…” he was laughing so much that he had to sit down. “Do you think I’m going to chop you up and cook you for me supper?” he said, smiling.
“Well,” began Robert, “we saw the axe and your big cooking pot and, well we, er…”
“Never mind about the axe that’s just me job. You boys must be hungry after such a long time, it’s long past breakfast time. You will need some food in your bellies before you meet the King.”
While he was speaking, Tregore had taken three wooden plates from the shelf above the fire and put a ladle of ‘goo’ onto each. He handed the plates to the boys. “Eat up,” he said, in a rising voice.
“Er, I don’t want to be rude,” Robert began, “but please, what is it?”
“Why lad that’s the King’s best venison. You are very honoured to eat such fine fare. No ordinary folk gets to eat it.”
Robert picked at the food before him but Timothy who ate anything was soon wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and asking for more. Tregore smiled and put another ladle of stew on Timothy’s plate.
Michael coughed to get Tregore’s attention, and asked nervously, “About the axe, what’s your job then?”
“Me job?” Tregore walked over to the axe and pulled it from the log. He held it like a mother would hold her baby, lovingly. “Me job? Why, I’m the King’s executioner, I chops people’s heads off. It’s a bit messy at times, but not too bad, if I remember to sharpen me axe.”
Robert, who had managed to eat only a bit of the stew, was nearly sick. Michael managed a feeble, “Oh,” before he ran to the door and was sick outside. Timothy carried on eating.
“Now don’t you boys worry, I only chops heads off the King’s enemies and seeing as you three were expected I reckon you be friends.”
“What do you mean, ‘expected’,” began Robert, “and who is the King anyway?”
“Never mind ‘bout that for now, there’ll be plenty of time for all that later. You’ll need to eat up ‘n’ rest before you sees the King on the morrow.”
“On the morrow?” Timothy looked confused. “I think he means tomorrow morning, I remember doing Old English in history at school,” Robert said.
“Tomorrow morning,” moaned Timothy. “What about our dad? We still haven’t found him yet; he will be worried.”
Tregore smiled quietly to himself, but said nothing. Slowly the boys began to feel tired, and their heads began to nod. One by one the boys dropped their bowls; the remainder of their stew spilled out across the cold stone floor. Tregore moved quickly and caught the boys, as one by one they fell from their chairs, and he put them onto his big bed. Robert had been the last to fall asleep. Tregore had expected this. After all, Robert had only a small amount of the stew with the sleeping potion in it. After Tregore had put Robert onto the bed and covered all the boys with animal skins to keep them warm he settled down in his chair by the fire; it was going to be a long night. He picked up his axe and slowly he sharpened it lovingly, a smile slowly spreading across his face.
Robert woke with a start wondering why his alarm had not gone off. He turned to look at the clock to see what the time was but found himself looking into the face of his brother Michael who had also just woken, also thinking he was at home in his own bed. Then both boys looked at Timothy who was still fast asleep, probably dreaming about playing with his toys. Robert reached over and shook Timothy until he woke with a start. “What, what time…”
“Shh.” Michael put his hand over Timothy’s mouth and pointed to Tregore who was muttering to himself while stirring the huge cooking pot which was hanging over the fire. Timothy’s eyes opened wide as he realised where he was and that he was still a long way from home.
Tregore had not heard the boys awaken, or at least if he had he pretended he hadn’t. He just continued to stir the pot.
The boys looked at each other and very quietly got out of the bed and began to creep towards the door. As Robert opened it the door gave a loud creak. Tregore turned and froze them in his stare.
“Mornin’ boys,” he said, “glad to see you slept well. The stream is out back if you want to wash.”
The boys looked at each other and went out to find the stream. While they washed, they plotted. Tregore seemed like a nice man but Robert couldn’t be sure.
“How are we going to get away and find our way home?” Robert asked in desperation, more to himself than the others. For what seemed like ages the boys sat by the stream, trying to work out a way to escape. Michael pointed out that ever since they had arrived the fire had been lit, so they wouldn’t be able to get back through the little door behind the fireplace. That way was out.
They did not hear Tregore approaching as they talked.
“Well,” he said, “all nice ‘n’ clean to see the King. Come and have your breakfast, you’ve got a busy day ahead of you.”
Slowly the boys got up and went back with Tregore, cross with themselves that they had not made a run for it while they could have.
As they all went in, the bushes behind the stream moved and a girl of about twelve stood up and stretched. She had been listening in on the boy’s conversation but no one had seen her. Rebekah was confused; she did not understand why they had been talking about Tregore’s fireplace. Her head spun with questions. She took a drink from the stream and headed back to the castle.
Tobias who had been sent down by the King to keep an eye on Princess Rebekah got up slowly from his hiding place too but he did not go back the castle. Instead, he sat down by the stream and waited. He thought that he was going to have to wait a long time but he was wrong, very wrong.
As the boys entered the cottage Tregore got them to sit down and handed each one of them a wooden bowl and a spoon. He went back to the cooking pot and brought it over to them, dipped a ladle into it and lifted out some slop, splattering spoonfuls into each bowl.
“What is…” began Robert.
“Porridge, eat up. It’s all there is, and it will fill you up.”
“I like porridge,” said Timothy, stuffing his face.
“Can I have a drink please, I’m thirsty?” asked Michael.
“Jug’s over by the fire, stream is outside,” said Tregore, without thinking.
Michael jumped up, grabbed the jug and headed for the door. Tregore realised what was happening.
“Stop!” he shouted, but he was too late. Michael had gone, only to return seconds later with Tobias close behind.
Tobias turned angrily to Tregore.
“Tregore! I was told that you would use the cart to take our guests to the castle. What has happened to the plan?”
Tregore muttered his apology, “Sorry, I didn’t think about the children needing something to drink.”
Tobias muttered something to himself that no one heard and walked over to the fireplace and stared into the flames, trying to work out what to do next. The plan had been to get the boys to eat drugged bread with their breakfast and whilst they were asleep to take them to the castle in the cart so when they had woken up they would have been safely locked away in the dungeon. Tobias kicked the plate of drugged bread into the fire as it was no longer needed. None of the boys noticed. Robert made the first move; he went up to Tobias who he guessed was about his own age, reached out his hand and said, “Hello, my name is Robert, what’s yours?”
Timothy looked at his twin, “What a funny name.”
“And funny clothes,” said Michael. Both the twins started to giggle.
Robert looked at Tregore.
“What is this about a cart and a castle?”
“Ah! Well, it is like this,” began Tregore. “Young Tobias ‘ere was sent down by the King to escort you to the castle. It’s a long way, so we thought the cart would be quicker.” (Tregore failed to mention the sleeping potion or the dungeon.)
“I don’t want to go to see the King or his castle, I want my dad, he will be worried,” moaned Michael, wiping his nose on his school sweatshirt.
“I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR FATHER BUT YOU ARE GOING TO SEE THE KING! EVEN IF YOU HAZ TO BE DRAGGED THERE BEHIND THE CART!” shouted Tregore.
Tregore stood in the doorway, reached down and picked up a coil of rope. The boys became scared and fell quiet.
Tobias stepped in between Tregore and the frightened boys his mind made up. He might have been only 11 but he was there in the name of the King.
“Tregore,” Tobias demanded, “what do you think you are doing, have you forgotten who these boys are? Don’t you forget they are under the King’s protection.”
Tregore’s face reddened with guilt and he put down the rope.
“I’m sorry boys,” he began, “I weren’t thinking. You are the King’s guests and it weren’t right o’ me to scare you all like I has done.” He held out his hand to Robert.
Robert remained still and didn’t move towards the big, ugly man. Robert had decided Tregore was the sort of bad man his father had warned him about.
“We still want to know where our dad is,” said Robert.
Tregore and Tobias looked at each other.
“Well, we might as well tell them,” said Tobias. Tregore sat down and motioned for the boys to do the same.
“This is going to be difficult for you to understand,” Tobias said. “About five years ago an ancient scroll was found in an underground cavern under the King’s castle near the sea. The prophecy said that the crown of England would be lost and three boys in strange clothes would come to search for it. Two months ago the King’s crown went missing and the whole kingdom has been waiting for you to come, and now you are here.”
“But where is here?” began Robert. “And we don’t have a King we have a Queen.”
Tobias looked at Robert and said, “We do have a Queen, King Christian’s wife! Queen Gwendolyn.”
“Don’t talk rubbish.”
Robert felt his hand clenching into a fist. He hated fighting; his father had always told him that it wouldn’t get him anywhere. He also hated looking stupid. He was considering thumping Tobias when Tregore pushed in between them. Looking at Robert he shook his head.
“Tobias is of the King’s household and if any ‘arm is done to him the punishment is death. Do you want me to ‘ave to use the axe?”
Looking at the ground Robert suddenly felt hot and he could feel his face turning red.
“No,” he muttered, with a lump in his throat.
Timothy moved to stand beside his brother. “If you try, you will have to take me on as well,” he said.
“STOP!” Tobias shouted, raising his arm. “Enough of this silliness; the boys are expected. Let us remember that they are protected by royal command.”
All this time Michael had been looking out the window, thinking. He turned and sat down, the light from the sun shining across his face. “If you say there is a King, and we know that there is not, maybe we are all right.”
Tobias looked at him. “What do you mean?”
Michael walked over to the others and sat down.
“Well, I know that where I live we have a Queen, but I don’t live here. So where are we?”
Tregore and Tobias looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders. “Tunstall Woods in England, of course,” said Tregore.
“Sorry, I mean when are we?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” began Michael, “I mean what year is it?”
Tobias smiled to himself but managed to look surprised.
“Everyone knows that.”
Robert and Timothy had gone very quiet, as if they almost knew the answer.
“It is the fifth year of King Christian’s reign, 1384.”
Timothy and Robert looked at each other.
“But it can’t be,” began Timothy.
Michael walked over to his brothers and looked at them.
“But it is, and we are here.”
Confused, Robert and Timothy looked at each other as they sat in shock then looked at their brother. Suddenly they knew the impossible had happened. Somehow they had done what they had only read about in stories. They did not know how or why but they knew that they had travelled back in time. And if they had known what lay ahead of them, they would have gone back through the door in the fireplace, fire or no fire.
Rebekah sang to herself as she skipped back up to the castle. She didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. The boys she had been spying on seemed unsure where they were, and they had such funny clothes on. They had been dressed in their school uniforms and she had giggled as she remembered looking at them.
As she approached the castle she became aware that one of the guards was running out to meet her.
“Princess Rebekah, your father is very cross with you. You know you are not allowed to leave the castle without an escort.”
“Father knows that I like going into the forest. Anyway I know he sent Tobias to watch over me; he is not very good at hiding.”
Rebekah remembered that when she had been watching Tregore’s hut she had seen Tobias’ reflection in the stream.
“Run and tell my father that the guests he has been waiting for will be here soon.”
The guard stopped and was about to say something but thought better of it and bowed instead.
“At once Princess,” and with that he was gone. “And stop calling me Princess,” she shouted after him, “everybody knows I hate being called that.”
“Sorry Princess,” the guard called back over his shoulder, as he disappeared in through a pair of big oak doors of the castle.
Tobias was getting cross; things had not gone to plan. By now the boys should have been locked in the dungeon, waiting to be summoned by the King to look for the crown. Instead, they were sitting by the stream, as if Tobias and the boys had all been friends for years. Tobias did not trust these boys with their strange ways and clothes. He decided to take charge.
“Right!” he said, as he stood up. “We must go to the castle and see the King now. We have spent too long chatting. It is a long walk and we are late already.”
“Late for what?” asked Timothy
Timothy jumped up.
“Let’s go then, I was just thinking how hungry I am.”
“You’re always hungry. I still think we should be looking for dad though,” muttered Robert, as he got to his feet.
Tregore got up and taking hold of Michael’s hand pulled him onto his feet.
“Let’s get goin’ then.”
Tregore was trying to look as if he were in charge but he knew that he was going to have to go along with whatever Tobias said.
Turning to Tobias, Tregore said “I’ll get the cart then.”.
“No, we’ll walk, we don’t need the cart now do we?”
Tregore remembered the rope and old clothes in the cart and realised that they no longer needed to tie the boys up and force them to the castle.
“Ahh, ‘tis a nice day for a walk.”
Slowly, the group started to walk through the forest. Timothy kept asking over and over what they were going to have for dinner. Robert was thinking his own thoughts. He still didn’t like Tregore. Why had he brought his axe along with him, he wondered?
Michael wandered along, looking up at the trees, wishing he had one like these in his garden to climb. He suddenly remembered his father had promised to get a climbing frame for him and his brothers. He wondered if he would ever see him again. He bit his lip, hoping that no one had seen his shoulders fall as he let out a sigh. The trees were difficult to see now as he fought back the tears.
“Are we nearly there yet?”
“Not long now,” Tobias and Tregore answered together.
The throne room was strangely quiet. Normally there were lots of people trying to ask the King for advice. Usually people would be lining up waiting their turn. But not today. Today the King sat sideways on his throne, his feet over one of the arms. Good thing the Queen couldn’t see him, he thought to himself. Rebekah and her two brothers Nathaniel and Adam were playing quietly at the end of the room. A few royal servants were rushing about trying to look as if they had plenty to do. A guard stood each side of the throne. Two others stood by the door. No one had come to ask for advice for some time. After all, no one knew what to say to a King with no crown.
Suddenly, the door at the far end of the throne room flew open and in stormed Baron Blackheart. The guards moved towards him to stop him but he ushered them away with a slight wave of his hand.
“Your Majesty, how are you? It has been such a long time since anyone came to seek your advice. How long has it been now? Two months? Such a shame you’ve only got one month left to find the crown, haven’t you? I do so hope those children are found and they find it for you. It would be such a shame if you have to hand over the throne to your daughter.”
King Christian pointed his finger at Blackheart.
“I am well aware of the law stating if the crown of England is lost for three months, the King or Queen must hand over the country to the oldest child.”
Rebekah ran to her father and threw her arms round him.
“Oh Father I don’t want to be Queen. I’m not old enough.”
The King comforted his daughter, stroking her hair.
“I’m sure that the boys will come and…”
“But Father,” Rebekah interrupted, “the boys are here. I saw them at Tregore’s hut in the forest and they have strange clothes just like the prophecy foretold. Tregore and Tobias are bringing them here now.”
The King leapt out of his throne, as if he’d been stung.
“Gwendolyn, where are you my dear? Guard, go at once and fetch the Queen.”
The guard nearly jumped out of his skin. And in his rush to do the King’s bidding he dropped his sword as he ran from the room.
Blackheart was in shock, he had been told that as soon as the children were seen they would be killed so the throne could become his. But he quickly recovered himself hoping that no one had seen his surprise.
“But Your Majesty, they are only children. How can they help the great King of England?” sneered Blackheart. “Now, as your friend and advisor I urge you to step down and let Rebekah become Queen. I will be her advisor and I will help her until she is old enough to rule on her own.”
The King turned on Baron Blackheart.
“SILENCE! DO YOU TAKE ME FOR A FOOL?” bellowed the King. “I know that you only want the throne for yourself. You have no interest in helping my daughter or the royal family; all you want to do is look after own interests. GET OUT! You are banished and no longer a royal advisor!”
The Baron turned on his heel and stormed out of the room. He shouted as he left, “Making an enemy of me will be your undoing. I will do everything in my power to stop those boys finding your crown. They will be dead before the month is out.”
Outside the castle a trumpet sounded announcing the arrival of Tobias, Tregore and three small boys in strange clothes. The boys did not realise the whole country was looking to them and hoping they would be heroes as foretold.
Copyright© Marc Grimston. All rights reserved.