2nd Episode in the Black Chamber: The Dossiers Series
The shadowy organization operating behind the scenes throughout the novel Black Chamber: Paradise Lost did not materialize overnight. The powerful organization was centuries in the making. Let’s travel back in time and see if we can get a glimpse of how it all came to be.
July 20th, 1589
Seething Lane, London
Sir Francis sat in an old oak armchair in the long gallery of his brick Tudor home. It was late, near 10pm, and his wife had retired to her chamber. As had often been the case for the past few years, he was not feeling well and was in a sour mood. Next to his chair was a small table on which sat an oil lamp, the only light in the large room. Next to the lamp was a stack of documents he had just finished perusing. He sipped a glass of wine as he watched the shadows dance on the walls, which were covered floor to ceiling with carved oak paneling. Though he felt poorly, his thoughts were consumed with something else, namely his plot for bringing about the death of the King of France. Toward this end, he had spent the evening reviewing all of the information he had acquired over the past eight months, and now he was focused on putting together the last pieces of his plan. It had taken longer than he had hoped to get to this point, but soon King Henry III of France would be dead.
Sir Francis had spent years honing his skills of influence and manipulation. He had become so good at what he did that centuries later he would be remembered as the father of intelligence gathering. His network of spies stretched throughout the entire European continent, and it was through this network that he had learned of the growing hatred the people of France had for their King. He cared not at all for the people of France, much less their king, but he did care about money and power. He had learned long ago that there was opportunity in chaos, and especially if one was in control of when and how chaos began. Bringing about turmoil and uncertainty in France would not only ensure England’s prosperity and. dominance on the world stage, it would also ensure his own.
Sir Francis was well-known for his Protestant zeal and anti-Catholic sentiments. That is why the man he had chosen for the deed was so perfect. Jacques Clément had become fanatically religious during the Huguenot Wars, and was an ardent member of the Catholic League, whose sole purpose was to eradicate Protestants from France. No one would ever connect Jacques with Sir Francis, a Protestant zealot, of that he was certain. He had intentionally never met the man, and all communication with him had been done by proxy. As far as Jacques Clément knew, the idea of killing King Henry III was his own.
The King of France was embroiled in the religious wars that had plagued France since 1662, and was currently laying siege to Paris. Sir Francis had learned the whereabouts of the king’s headquarters, a western suburb of Paris called Saint-Cloud, and had set in motion a series of events that ensured that was where he would die.
Sir Francis drained the last of the wine from his glass. He was beginning to feel a little better.
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