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Kynges Games (1/4)

Title: Kynges Games
Author: lareinenoire
Characters: Ten, Martha, and an assortment of sixteenth-century people
Summary: September 1529. Why are there zombies in London? More importantly, who is creating zombies in London using a device from the fifty-first century? But when the Doctor and Martha find themselves in the middle of the biggest royal divorce case in English history, unexplained zombies are the least of their problems.
Rating: PG13
Prompt: There are peculiar alien goings-on at the court of Henry VIII, but the King hasn't noticed; he's more interested in this charming young woman who's appeared from nowhere, much to Anne Boleyn's annoyance.
Warnings: Zombies, bad puns, humanist jokes, Epic Legal Fail (Ecclesiastical), and unintentional drunkenness.
Notes: Bending canon a little, since the Doctor implies at the end of The Last of the Time Lords that they've never met Henry VIII. The title comes from a line in Thomas More's History of King Richard III.



i. Two of Oure Companye Beynge Dead

Westminster
September 1529


There were days when Thomas More really hated his job.

It was all well and good to have aspirations. And few were nobler than helping one's sovereign to rule to the best of his ability. Unfortunately, noble as it was, these days, it would be better described as bloody exhausting. It felt as though he hadn't seen his family in weeks.

And now, here he was, trudging home well after dark. Alice was going to kill him if he kept this up. Or the weariness might, he reflected bleakly. Or possibly the Archbishop of York if he somehow got it into his head that More had turned against him. Wolsey had begun to suspect people for simply looking at him oddly.

He supposed he couldn't blame Wolsey for worrying so. When the King's paramour--she was not yet his mistress; of that, More was certain, for she was far too clever to succumb so quickly--conceived a grudge against you, more likely than not, your days at court--and possibly on this earth--were numbered. And Wolsey had more than his share of sins for which to atone.

Sweet Lady Mary, he was tired. He should have accepted Wolsey's offer of a horse. Turning on his heel, he made his way back toward the gates of York Place, hoping they hadn't yet been closed for the night. And that was when the dead man walked past him.

At first, it wasn't clear that he was dead. He could simply have been very pale, with glassy eyes that didn't blink. Without thinking, however, More reached out and caught his arm. Even beneath several layers of brocade, there was a definite chill. The eyes seemed to be staring right through him, and the man jerked away, oblivious to the fabric tearing beneath More's fingers.

No pulse. No, it was quite obvious that he, Sir Thomas More, had just accosted a dead man.

The man--should he even call him a man? A creature? An abomination of nature, as he assuredly was? That last was a bit of a mouthful, so he elected to stick to man--continued on his way and, despite the stab of better judgement, More followed. How could he not? If dead men were walking, surely it was his duty to discover why.

Not unexpectedly for this time of night, the streets were deserted save for a few drunkards and stragglers. His quarry strode past them, obviously intent upon something particular, although he certainly couldn’t fathom what it was. Who was he to know what thoughts ran through the minds of dead men? At that, he could not suppress a shudder.

When the man finally stopped, it was near an alley. More crept closer, ducking behind an empty market stall, but even then could barely see past the entrance.

He could, however, hear a little. Did dead men speak? It was difficult to tell. Then, suddenly, a shape emerged from the alley, hurtling toward him. It was a shortish man who reeked of kitchen grease. "Get back! Get thee back, devil!" He held out what More could only assume was a crucifix in one trembling hand. "Christ preserve me, please, I haven't done anything wrong, I swear..."

But before More could intervene, he saw a silver object flash in the dead man's hand. It looked like a dagger, but when it plunged into the other's shoulder, an inexplicable blue light filled the alleyway for several seconds. Despite having been stabbed, his victim did not fall, only turned glassy, empty eyes toward More's hiding spot before following his murderer back the way he had come.

"Christ preserve us, indeed," More muttered, crossing himself.

What on earth was he to do? Nobody would believe a story about dead men walking and daggers that created them anew. It was quite literally impossible. However, aside from convincing himself that he had lost his wits, he knew precisely what he had seen.

The two dead men had disappeared by the time More returned to York Place. Spurring the borrowed horse faster than he might have normally done, he made his way home, resisting all the while the urge to look over his shoulder in dread.

Something was obviously very, very wrong.

***


"I guess it would be really stupid to ask you the person you'd most like to meet, dead or alive, wouldn't it? I mean, you'd have already done it, wouldn't you?"

"Oh, but that's part of the fun. You can change your mind. Your mood. You know. If you had only one chance to meet only one person, dead or alive, where's the fun in that?"

Martha rolled her eyes. "Easy for you to say. You've got a TARDIS. We ordinary mortals have to make do."

"Oh, but you're brilliant that way! Think of all the books in the world that wouldn't have been written if every human could travel in time. It's all about imagination. What's up here." The Doctor tapped his forehead. "You've met Shakespeare. How do you think he came up with everything?"

"I've...met Shakespeare." Martha found herself giggling. "Sorry. Still reeling from that one."

"Oh, me too." Strangely enough, she believed him. A grin that wide couldn't lie. Although it disappeared far too quickly for her liking, as he peered at the TARDIS' main computer screen. "Hold on."

"What's the matter?"

"We've picked up a signal." He prodded a few nearby buttons and gears, nose wrinkled rather adorably. "Can't figure out what from, but it seems to be...that can't be right."

"Doctor, what's going on?" Martha hurried to his side and stared at the screen as if willing it to make sense. "Is something wrong?"

"Strange, certainly. We're getting a series of low-level signals all coming from the same place. Right in the middle of London. But none of them match. It's like someone's holding a rummage sale for alien artefacts."

"Torchwood?" she suggested. "I can't think of anyone else."

"Oh, no." He looked at her, sudden excitement alight in his eyes. "Oh, this is long before Torchwood. I know you've been there only recently, but how would you like another trip?"

"To where?" Before she had an answer, the TARDIS jerked itself to a stop, throwing her across the floor. "Don't they have driving schools for these things?" she muttered. "Nine hundred years old and he still can't park."

The Doctor stepped grandly to the door and threw it open. "After you, Ms Jones."

Martha stepped out and came to an immediate halt. She was surrounded by plants, half of which she couldn't recognise, forming a riot of colours and scents that would have been intoxicating if she hadn't been so worried about where they might have accidentally landed. Beyond several trees crowned with feathery, golden leaves was a gorgeous brick house, mullioned windows sparkling in the afternoon sunlight. "Er...Doctor?"

He emerged behind her, all smiles. "Oh, this is marvellous! Are those mulberry trees? I think they're mulberry trees!1 In London!"

"Are you sure? This doesn't look like London."

"Oh, you'd be surprised. We shouldn't be but ten minutes from Westminster." As if on cue, Martha could hear bells in the distance, "I thought so! Oh, I'm good." Charging past her, he ducked beneath a low-hanging branch and stepped into a clearing. "Excuse me? I don't suppose you could tell me where this is?"

Martha hurried after him just in time to see a man on the far side of the clearing jump to his feet, upsetting the book that had been sitting on his lap. "How did you...what are you doing in my garden?"

"Is this yours?" The Doctor's grin seemed to brighten, if that were even possible. "It's fantastic!"

"How on earth did you even get in?" He ran past them, giving Martha a fleeting glimpse of black velvet and a rather gaudy gold chain--well, at least by her standards. "Oh, no, we were just days from harvesting those--" He cut himself off, staring wide-eyed at the TARDIS.

The Doctor, in the meantime, looked shamefaced. "Oh, dear. I thought I'd found a clear patch. I really am sorry."

The man turned back, very slowly. "You came here...in that?"

"Oh, yes! Surprisingly comfortable. Bigger on the inside, I assure you."

"A blue wooden box," he said, as though reciting from memory, "with 'policy' written on the side.2 Nobody was ever able to explain that."

"Policy?" The Doctor blinked. "You mean Police? Although, wait a moment. How did you hear about...who are you?"

"You're in my garden. I really think you ought to tell me first." Crossing his arms, he regarded the Doctor forbiddingly. Martha guessed him to be somewhere in his late forties, though the lines on his forehead made him look older. He didn't even seem to have noticed her yet, so intent was he on the Doctor.

"I'm the Doctor. But you seem to know that already."

"I didn't know, as such," the man admitted with a shrug. "I had a hunch. But I'd thought you were a legend.3 A story."

"All stories have a grain of truth," the Doctor informed him. "Troy, King Arthur, the Babylonian Captivity; loads of people were convinced that didn't happen. Tell that to the Templars.4 They'll set you right. If there were any left afterward."

"You," the man said after a moment's bemused staring, "are utterly mad. But I heard that too. That you tended to say things that didn't make any sense."

"Would you mind telling me who they are?" The Doctor looked unsure; not an expression Martha was used to seeing. "I was sure I hadn't been here before."

"Rumours, mostly. Whispers, scraps, tales from the shadows, one might call them. Men say a great many things, Doctor. Very few of those things can be pinned down." He held out his hand. "But I am being very uncivil. Thomas More, sir Doctor."

The Doctor's mouth dropped open. "No way! The Thomas More!" He grabbed the offered hand and shook it so enthusiastically that its owner nearly toppled over. "But you're absolutely brilliant! Love your work. Do you know they named a planet after Utopia? Light years away, mind you, but they really tried to make it work. Lots of boys named Raphael. It got a bit confusing."

"Doctor," Martha finally ventured, "you really should give the poor man his hand back."

Thomas More--whom Martha had heard of, but only by way of a film she'd watched with her dad years ago--was now staring at her, apparently unable to form words. Trying to fill the awkward silence, Martha held out her own hand. "I'm Martha Jones, by the way."

"You're..." he trailed off, shaking her hand mechanically. "Forgive me, Mistress...Jones. I'm not..."

"Oh. Oh. Right. Not from around here. Place called..." she tried to remember what they'd used the last time, "...New Fredonia. You've probably not heard of it." She was getting good at this.

"If you don't mind, Sir Thomas," interjected the Doctor, "might I ask you a question or two?"

"Certainly." He seemed relieved to be off the subject of Martha, and, if she had to be honest, so was she. It was a downside of meeting famous sixteenth-century people. Well, that and the sanitation. "What did you want to know?"

"Well, how you were planning to end Richard III, for one, but this is probably more important.6 Have you noticed anything...strange going on lately?"

"Is that why you're here?" More was looking suspicious again. "Because something strange is happening?"

"Well..." The Doctor held out the word for several seconds. "I guess so, yes. It's what I do. Well, in a way, it's what I do."

More nodded. "That sounds about right. But, yes, as it happens, I did notice something strange. It was about three nights ago, when I was leaving Westminster. I saw a dead man walking."

The Doctor blinked. "That certainly is strange. How did you know he was dead?"

"Cold to the touch, no pulse, eyes glazed over. But he was most certainly walking." Without waiting for the question Martha guessed was inevitable, he added, "I followed him. He went into an alleyway, where he found someone else, and stabbed him," he mimed a stabbing motion, "through the shoulder. There was a flash of blue light, and the next thing I knew, there were two dead men, both walking."

"I don't suppose we can have that, can we? Where did this happen?" The Doctor, hands shoved in his pockets, began to pace back and forth. "Do you know?"

"Some ten minutes' walk from York Place. Too close to Westminster for comfort." More glanced warily in what Martha supposed was the direction of Westminster. "The King hasn't been told. Not yet, at least. I'd rather not trouble him until we've got something more substantial. After all," he added unconvincingly, "I might have imagined it."

The Doctor eyed him. "You don't seem the type to imagine dead men walking. Countries that don't exist, horrible tyrants, Jane Shore--you had her perfectly, by the way--but not zombies."7

"That must be what you saw, Doctor," Martha said before More could begin to interrogate the Doctor the way it seemed he really wanted to do. "Whatever it is the second man was stabbed with."

"It looked like a dagger, but obviously was nothing of the sort."

"But what I can't understand is why," the Doctor mused, tangling one hand in his hair. "Why here? Why now? And who, for that matter?"

"Well," More said, after a moment's reflection, "I made some enquiries, and I did find out who the dead men were. Nicholas Lund, formerly of the kitchens at Westminster; and George Ratcliffe, one of Wolsey's men."

"Wolsey? So he's still around, is he?"

"Perhaps not as much as he might like but...Doctor?" The Doctor had begun to stride toward the house, and Martha and More hurried to catch up to him.

Just as abruptly, he stopped and turned back to them. "How close are you to him these days?"

"Who, Wolsey? You don't honestly believe he's involved? But to what end?" But Martha could almost see the wheels turning in his head. Suddenly she wasn't surprised the Doctor liked him so quickly. "The Lady Anne?"8

"Maybe he's desperate."

"But, Doctor, this is absurd. Wolsey mixed up in necromancy? Witchcraft? Even he wouldn't go so far. There's too much risk if someone were to catch him." After a moment, he added in an undertone, "All the same..."

"All the same?" the Doctor prompted.

More sighed, looking desperately unhappy. "He has been acting...oddly. Suspicious of everyone, even His Majesty. Not that anyone could blame him, considering all that's happened, but I still can't believe he'd sink to that.9 Wolsey's far too clever."

"I'm afraid there's only one way to find out." The Doctor grinned. "I get to meet Cardinal Wolsey!"

"Not dressed like that, you won't," a woman's voice put in, prompting all three of them to turn in unison. Framed by one of those gorgeous windows, a lady was studying them with good-humoured curiosity. She looked to be about More's age, with a round, cheerful face, and Martha could only suppose she was his wife.

"Alice, how long have you been listening?" Any attempt More might have made at sternness was undercut by a rueful smile.

"The Archbishop of York and witchcraft? It's mad enough, I couldn't help myself." Turning to the Doctor, she shook her head disapprovingly. "You call yourself a doctor. You look more like a tinker."

"I do not!" he spluttered, as Martha choked back an undignified giggle.

"Well, they'll not be letting you into Westminster, I'll guarantee that. As for you, Mistress," Martha's laughter abruptly stalled as those eyes took her in appraisingly, "that won't do at all."



1. Mulberry trees: Thomas More, among his innumerable talents, loved to grow exotic plants in his garden in what is now Chelsea. Mulberry trees (possibly to feed silkworms) were among them.
2. 'Policy': Fifteenth- and sixteenth-century English are strange.
3. A legend: If anyone would run across a reference to the Doctor, it would be Thomas More. Seriously.
4. Babylonian Captivity: Referring to the period between 1309 and 1380 during which there were two separate Papacies, one in Rome and one in Avignon, that became a point of contention during the Reformation. Also, Philip IV used it as one of his many excuses to get rid of the Templars in 1314.
5. Raphael: More's Utopia features an explorer named Raphael Hythloday.
6. Richard III: Thomas More wrote a positively brilliant...we don't actually know what it is, but it's titled The History of Richard III, and could be anything from a satire on Henry VII to a Tacitean pastiche about a hunchbacked king of England. Either way, it is marvellous and everyone should read it. Even if it is sadly unfinished, probably to save More from losing his head for something he'd said--oh, wait.
7. Referring, in turn, to Utopia, Richard III, and Edward IV's mistress Jane Shore.
8. Lady Anne: Referring to Lady Anne Boleyn, who eventually became Henry VIII's second wife and the first Queen of England to lose her head for treason.
9. All that's happened: In 1527, Wolsey tried to call together a rigged court to push through Henry VIII's divorce from Katherine of Aragon. Katherine appealed to the Pope as the highest authority, thus precipitating several years of Epic Legal Fail and eventually the English Reformation.

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
persiflage_1
Feb. 11th, 2010 08:29 pm (UTC)
OMG! First of all, I love you for the footnotes! Being a huge nerd, I love stories with footnotes!

Second of all, this is a great start! I particularly love the humour that interplays through the encounter between Ten & Martha and More. I can hardly wait for the next installment.
lareinenoire
Feb. 11th, 2010 10:58 pm (UTC)
I have a huge weakness for fic with footnotes too, so they've turned up a number of times in things I've written. :) Very glad you're enjoying and I'm going to try to have another section up soon!
persiflage_1
Feb. 12th, 2010 05:55 am (UTC)
Yay!


By the way, you might want to promote this at smith_n_jones (the Doctor and Martha comm) - I don't think too many people are aware of dw_historical.
lareinenoire
Feb. 12th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tip! I definitely will put a link up there.
persiflage_1
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
Please do!

I Tweeted the link at a bunch of people too, so hopefully folks will wander over...
lareinenoire
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you're enjoying it!

I don't know if you've got any interest in Ten & Jack at all, but I co-wrote a related fic (depending on one's point of view, it could either be a prequel or a sequel to this one, though it doesn't really give anything away either way) called The Winter of Our Discontent. It takes place about seventy years earlier in the historical timeline and at the end of S3 for the Doctor.

(Plus, if it's a drawing point, this one also has footnotes.)

Edited at 2010-02-12 04:44 pm (UTC)
persiflage_1
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
LOL I do read fics WITHOUT footnotes! :D

But I am a big History Nerd so I'll definitely have a read of that one... Thanks for the tip!
lareinenoire
Feb. 12th, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC)
Hee! And I do write fic without them, but they're just so much fun!
persiflage_1
Feb. 12th, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC)
Oh I totally agree!
tempestsarekind
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:21 am (UTC)
Yay. I love it.

"Lots of boys named Raphael. It got a bit confusing."

Hee! Also, the end of footnote 6. I shouldn't laugh (poor More!), but I did. And Epic Legal Fail!

Also, if Martha gets to wear period clothes, I will be so super-happy.
lareinenoire
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
::evil grin:: As a matter of fact, she does!

I can't help but be proud of the fact that I write fic containing not one but two different subcategories of Epic Legal Fail.
tempestsarekind
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Woo! :)

I suppose there is a lot of Epic Legal Fail to choose from, really...
yalegirl03
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
Oh yes!
This is excellent! It is well written and you have the voices of Martha and the Doctor down so well. I am pleased that it is told from Martha's POV. I love the historical detail you've worked in. It reminds me a little of a Doctor Who novel I read, The Many Hands, but better. There was no Thomas More in that one and it seemed like more of a rote zombie tale. This one sounds more intriguing.

Thanks for cross posting this at Smith and Jones. I would have probably missed out on a fabu Martha/Ten adventure otherwise!

Edited at 2010-02-12 04:30 pm (UTC)
lareinenoire
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh yes!
Thank you! I'm not familiar with the novel, but I can safely say that zombies are the least of poor Martha's problems. ;) Very happy you're enjoying it so far!
a_proclivity
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I am loving this story, and the footnotes, and cannot wait for the rest.
lareinenoire
Feb. 15th, 2010 01:35 am (UTC)
Thank you! I should be posting more later this week :)
trinity_tragedy
Feb. 15th, 2010 12:33 am (UTC)
This is absolutely wonderful! You've suckered me in something fierce. I hope we get to see Martha in a proper gown and gable hood! Beauuuutiful! I'll be waiting for the next instalment, for sure!


T.
lareinenoire
Feb. 15th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! The next instalment should be up later this week!

And, yes. ;)
sana4eva
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:37 am (UTC)
Fantastic!
It's exciting, dramatic and wonderfully written! I'm drawn in, and cannot wait to see Martha in a gown with hair up. *bouncing with bounces* YAY!
lareinenoire
Feb. 19th, 2010 12:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Fantastic!
Very glad you're enjoying it! I'm just finishing up a paper today but am planning to write more over the weekend. :)
sana4eva
Apr. 13th, 2010 01:02 am (UTC)
Re: Fantastic!
Hey lareinenoire!, was just wonderin' if there might be another gorgeous chapter to happily bounce too yet? :) <3
yahalomay
Mar. 2nd, 2010 11:48 am (UTC)
I loved this and will definately be looking out for updates! Very dramatic and exciting plot, your writing is clear and concise with just the right amount of description, your dialogue is spot on. And the footnotes were lovely! =)
rose_griffes
May. 2nd, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
Eeeee, this is so exciting! I love More's wife and her helpful interruptions, the explanations, the footnotes, Martha thinking she's doing a good job with her Fredonia line... Hee!
nooka
Jun. 26th, 2010 12:14 am (UTC)
:-D
My favourite era of history AND Doctor Who! You are amazing! YAYZ!!! :-D
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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