“Since Mary, Queen of Scotland was a child, The English have wanted her country and her crown. She is sent to France, to wed its next king to save herself and her people, a bond that should protect her but there are forces that conspire, forces of Darkness, forces of the heart. Long may she reign.”

Previously on Reign

(Outside the castle)

Claude: Go and tell Catherine her daughter’s here, tell everyone that Princess Claude is home.

Lola: I’ve been spending time with Narcisse, but I’m not sure it’s any of your concern.

Francis: I must ask you to go there tonight, hide this envelope. Help me to take control of a man who will spill any amount of blood to get what he wants.

(The Castle Hall)

Francis: This would require every French subject to publicly declare their faith to the King.

Mary: People will kill each other in the streets!

(Francis’ Chambers)

Francis: Narcisse is blackmailing me.

Narcisse: When your head is cut off, along with Catherine and Mary’s, what do you suppose the Nobles will do to your brothers? What will happen to your bastard son, when you’re not here to protect him?

Greer: Francis signed the edict.

Mary: After telling me you wouldn’t sign, after telling me you knew the edict was wrong, you are not the King I want to rule beside you are a coward!

Francis: Perhaps you should return to Scotland, leave me, and leave France!

ACT 1 Edit

(In the village, a soldier is seen questioning a resident about his faith.)

Soldier: You’re listed here as a Catholic, self declared.

Man: I am that, I believe the good and true, I swore it.

Soldier: Then why are there witnesses, your brethren who swear they’ve seen you attend Protestant services? Man (Afraid): It’s not true they’re lying!

Soldier: The only liar here is you. (The Cardinal appears on horseback along with a few more of his soldiers.)

Cardinal: The bible says if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off, tis better that you lose one part of your body, than to let your whole body go into hell. Since your lips compel you to sin, they should be removed (A women is dragged into view by a soldier and she has had her lips cut off) just as this deceivers lips were taken; so that your eternal soul might be saved.

Man: I beg your mercy! (The Cardinal nods to the women who pulls out a knife and hand it to the masked man in front of her. The frightened man tries to run but a group of soldiers grab him, and pin him to the wall while the masked man approaches with the knife and proceeds to cut the man’s lips off, while horrible screams of pain are heard.)

(Meanwhile back at French Court, Bash, Mary and Francis are walking down the hall together discussing the terror that the Cardinal and his men are spreading in the villages.)

Mary: What Cardinal Vasari and his inquisitors have been doing since they arrived in France is barbaric! They wouldn’t even be here if not to enforce your edict that every French subject publicly declares their faith.

Francis: You are not the only one concerned for our people. I have written a letter to the Pope to recall his representatives back to Rome.

Mary (Cutting him off): It’s not enough; you need to take a hardened stand against the Cardinal.

Francis: To defy him is to defy the Pope, and without the Pope’s blessing we would cease to be King and Queen (Francis stops and turns to face his Queen) if you insist on second guessing my every move, there is a boat waiting to take you back to Scotland as I’ve said before.

Mary: An offer that makes no more sense now than it did then, how did we go from disagreeing to you trying to send me away? Do you really propose that we live separately? What would that even mean for our rule or our marriage? Well I’m not going, I have a duty to our people, I may have given up on understanding you, but I will not give up on France. (Mary walks away as Francis looks distraught, and Bash walks up to him.)

Bash: If your goal is to alienate your wife, I’d say you’ve succeeded.

Francis: Not enough to get her to leave.

Bash (Figuring out Francis’ plan): You want her in Scotland so she’ll be safe from Narcisse’s threats?

Francis: Narcisse has enough evidence of treason to put not just my head on a spike but Mary’s as well, until we get rid of Narcisse I will do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

Bash (Putting his hand on Francis’ shoulder): Careful brother, if you push Mary too hard, you might not be able to win her back.

Francis: I’d rather she be alive and in Scotland, than here and dead. (Francis brushes his brother’s hand off and walks away.)

(Elsewhere in the castle, Princess Claude is still in her nightgown, and asleep on her bed, when her mother Queen Catherine walks in the room, dressed in a lovely black gown with gold colors, with the intent of waking her daughter up.)

Queen Catherine: Ah rise and shine Claude, the only people in bed past noon are drunks and reprobates (She opens the curtains allowing sunshine to spill into the room and right into her daughter’s face.)

Claude (Half asleep and annoyed): Mother, must you be so loud, so you?

Queen Catherine (Sitting on the bed, and taking Claude’s face in her hands): Your eyes are bloodshot, and your hair is unsalvageable; you’re in no condition to meet your future lord and husband.

Claude (Sitting up): Husband? You can’t have found someone already.

Queen Catherine: Yes, I’ve made a match for you with the son of a Bavarian Count.

Claude: Bavaria? It’s cold, and smells like sheep dung.

Queen Catherine (Gets up and faces her daughter): Country life will do you good, it’s an excellent alliance: Bavaria gets a Princess, and France will have access to new trade routes.

Claude: This isn’t about trade routes; we both know you just want to be rid of me. (Claude flops back on the bed.)

Queen Catherine: You didn’t happen to pick up any wigs during your misadventures did you? (She begins picking at Claude’s hair)

Claude (Brushing her mother’s hands off her hair): Stop it! I have no interest in being married now or ever. My brother’s the King; I don’t see why I have to become the property of any man especially some rustic Bavarian.

Queen Catherine (Firmly): You will marry for the advancement and survival of the Valois line every member of the family contributes and that includes you. (Disgusted) this repair work will take hours, so I will meet your future fiancé and the Count alone have the servants pour you a bath, you smell gamy.

(Princess Claude falls back on the bed, but Queen Catherine is not having it as she takes a silver pitcher full of water and pours it on her daughter’s face.)

Queen Catherine: Here’s a head start.

(In the village, Prince Louis Conde is walking when suddenly he is surrounded by a group of men.)

Louis: What do you want?

(Suddenly more men appear and before Louis can defend himself he is blindfolded with a sack and dragged away. When the blindfold comes off and Louis and the men who took him are in the woods.)

Louis (Backing away from the men): Whatever your thinking, think twice.

Man: I was thinking we might be friends, we have so much in common: our faith, our opposition to Catholic terror and violence, the fact that we have both lost loved ones to such hate. Were you close to your nephew? The boy whose murderers the King set free?

Louis (Nervous): Who are you?

Man: Jacob Ravalle, leader of the Protestants in this region. (Jacob extends his hand to Louis who continues to stand still and refuses to shake Jacob's hand.) there's something you should see (Louis walks with Jacob and his men) when we heard the Prince of Conde declared himself a Protestant we thought you might like to meet some of your brethren.

Louis: You are most civilized to extend an invitation. (The two stop at the edge of a hill, and looking down a large crowd is visible in the clearing with a speech being given.) What is this?

Jacob: A Protestant gathering, these are dark times for our people they're afraid to worship in the villages and towns so they come here.

Louis: Your numbers are larger than I thought.

Jacob: They grow everyday, despite persecution. Christians who only want the freedom to worship; if you want to stop them from suffering the same fate as your nephew, then help us.

Louis: How?

Jacob: We hear that the King has sent a letter to Rome, asking the Pope to recall his inquisitors. Confronting Rome in this way takes courage, gives us hope that Francis in his heart is a tolerant man.

Louis: You said you needed my help, what do you need me to do?

Jacob: We must appeal to the crown; the first step is to get our minister an audience with the King and Queen, we can’t do it but you can.

(Elsewhere in the woods, Lola has a basket and appears to be searching for something in the leaves; when she hears the neighs of her horse and cannot see her.)

Lola (Calling): Rosie? (Rosie neighs in response, as Lola stands up) Rosie? Where are you, you willful nag? (The sound of an approaching horse is heard, Lola turns around to the sight of Lord Narcisse coming towards her on his horse.) Lord Narcisse.

Lord Narcisse: Lady Lola, are you looking for your horse? I just saw her ride off; something must have spooked her.

Lola (Eying him suspiciously): Or someone, did you follow me from the castle then scare of my horse?

Lord Narcisse (Innocent): Now why would I do that? (He gets down from his horse) to enjoy the pleasure of a few moments of your company alone? Would that flatter you?

Lola: It’s not so much flattering as it is inconvenient, you can’t force me to ride with you (Narcisse is back on his horse, smiling at Lola).

Lord Narcisse: Lady Lola I would never force you to do anything you didn’t want, but it is a very long walk back to the castle; oh yes it’s quite far (Looking off to the side) oh wait what is that I see in the distance, someone coming to your aid? No, sorry maybe it’s just a big wolf.

Lola: You’re the wolf (Narcisse smiles at Lola, and next she is riding with him through the woods.)

Lord Narcisse: My second wife loved to ride as you do; sitting forward against the pummel she would ride around our estate for hours.

Lola: How interesting.

Lord Narcisse: Yes I thought so, especially after she told me that that position is particularly invigorating for a lady.

Lola: I was trying not to crowd you.

Lord Narcisse: Oh I don’t mind, though if you truly prefer to be pressed...

Lola (Interrupting): I’m fine.

Lord Narcisse: You don’t have to be shy you know (Leaning to whisper in Lola’s ear) I’ve seen you in a bath.

(Back at French Court Louis Conde is in the throne room standing before Francis and Mary who are sitting on their thrones. The Protestant Minister is standing behind Louis, and off to the side.)

Louis: This is the Protestant Minister whose church, uh barn really was burned down by Catholics in the same attack that took my nephew’s life.

Francis: I remember him, and the tragic events of that day.

Louis: He seeks the crown’s permission to rebuild it, if you gave your blessing it’ll be a public show of support by the King and Queen.

Mary: And a way to legitimize Protestant worship, if indirectly.

Francis: This is why this request is not a small thing.

Mary: It can be perceived in many ways, at the very least it’ll imply that the Protestants have some kind of protection.

Francis (Motioning the Protestant Minister to come before him): We have heard your request from Lord Conde; I give you permission to rebuild this place of worship. This I will do, but it is all I will do.

Protestant Minister: With respect, Your Majesty, it is not enough (Francis sits up in surprise, and Louis looks surprised as well) I did not come here to beg for a new barn.

Louis: What are you doing?

Protestant Minister: Thanks to your edict we are being hunted by the Vatican. You have 2 days to expel Cardinal Vasari and his inquisitors from France.

Francis (Disbelief): Expel the Vatican?

Protestant Minister (Interrupting): If you refuse, at dawn on the 3rd day Catholics will die; we have sewn gunpowder pounds of it packed tightly and hidden ready to rain hellfire down upon hundreds (As he speaks Mary has a look of complete shock and fear on her face, Francis is in wide eyed surprise and Louis is speechless.)

Francis (Jumping up and interrupting): Arrest him! (Guards immediately come forward and take hold of the Minister, as Francis steps down from the throne) you will not threaten the crown! And if what you say is true we’ll find these explosives if I have to bleed it out of you.

End of Act 1

ACT 2 Edit

(Still in the throne room, the guards have taken the Protestant Minister away leaving Louis, Francis and Mary in the room to discuss what has just happened.)

Louis: I had no idea I was bringing in a fanatic, the Protestant leaders seemed genuine in his desire for peace.

Francis: Even if the minister does this before all Protestants, he was not working alone he had to know he’d be taken and interrogated once he delivered his threats; we must find his accomplices or perhaps your friend their leader, or one of the peaceful Protestants who kidnapped you.

Mary (Interrupting): This is not Conde’s doing, there’s so much anger between the faiths now something like this was coming.

Bash (Entering the room): She’s right, whatever peace exists is fragile it might be best to keep this a secret if any word leaks Protestant attacks against Catholics there will be panic and retribution.

Francis: Very well, find out who the minister was working with, and talk with members of his congregation.

Louis: I’ll go with Bash, I’ve seen their leaders perhaps I’ll recognize someone. (Louis and Bash leave the room and Francis and Mary are left alone to talk.)

Mary: I know you don’t care for my opinion, but would you please let me help? I could go to them as Queen and make a personal appeal.

Francis (Interrupting): They threatened us, if you think I would allow you to go anywhere them.

Mary: It might dissuade their anger towards us.

Francis: You mean their anger towards me? For my recent actions; even if you found them what would you say? That you opposed me at every turn before I made a mess of things? They don’t need to hear that and neither do I. (Francis then leaves the room and Mary is left alone.)

(Back in the woods Lord Narcisse and Lola are stopping for a rest before continuing their ride.)

Lola: I think your horse is sufficiently rested.

Lord Narcisse: Oh we’ll be back at the castle soon enough, I regret our time together will be over, it doesn’t have to be though.

Lola: What do you mean?

Lord Narcisse: You are reluctant to be seen with me; you fear a complication, disapproval from your King, your Queen whom you serve.

Lola: There are many other reasons I assure you.

Lord Narcisse: All of which would be moot, if our meetings were say clandestine.

Lola (Looks at Narcisse in surprise): You propose we meet in secret, like thieves or adulterers?

Lord Narcisse: Fruit often tastes sweeter when it’s forbidden, admit it the prospect intrigues you, to do something free from the tedium and responsibility of court life; something you don’t have to explain or defend, something purely for your pleasure. I won’t press you for a response now, but you do inspire impatience, so I would like an answer soon. (Lola simply looks at him and does not answer.)

(Meanwhile back at French Court, in the castle courtyard; servants are setting a table as Queen Catherine enters to meet the Count of Bavaria and his son William to discuss the match with her daughter Claude.)

Queen Catherine: Ah, gentlemen.

Count (Bows along with his son): Your Majesty, may I present my son William?

William (Bows): Your Majesty, it is an honor.

Queen Catherine (Delighted); Ah the dashing groom to be (chuckles) oh Claude will be most taken with you; unfortunately she’s engrossed in her scripture study she will join us soon though. (She bids them to join her at the table, but they don’t move.)

Count: Perhaps it’s for the best as there is a delicate matter to discuss. (The Count and his son bow to the Queen as the Count bids her to walk with him so they can talk privately.) Since arriving in court, we’ve heard distressing rumors about your daughter’s virtue.

Queen Catherine (Surprised): My Claude? What rumors could you possibly have heard?

Count: There was mention of an improper liaison with a Priest. (The Count and the Queen stare at each other for a few seconds.)

Queen Catherine: Do you want to have grandchildren with royal blood? Because that’s quite an accomplishment for a Count; I would be ashamed to forfeit that good fortune based on unfounded rumors.

Count: Since you make the point of William marrying up, I must confess I’m curious as to why you’d let Claude marry down?

Queen Catherine: To enjoy our new friendship with Bavaria that much sooner.

Count: We are eager as well, but I must be certain my son will have a chaste Catholic wife. I would need assurances of Claude’s virtue to proceed with this union. (The Queen says nothing but looks at the Count as if she is contemplating what to say.)

(In the village Bash and Louis Conde are talking to a couple about the leader of the Protestants in order to find out information about the minister who was at court.)

Bash: We have some questions about the Minister of your church; I hear you’re longstanding members of his congregation.

Louis: I understand your hesitation. I myself am Protestant. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting your leaders, and I assure you, you have nothing to fear from me or the King’s Deputy.

Woman: Our Minister is a good man. He is a compassionate and gentle soul. We hear he went to the King to ask for our bam to be rebuilt; a proper place of worship.

Louis (Interrupting): He did go to the King. We’re merely here seeking some support for his other requests.

Bash: Do you know the name of any of his close associates? The men he works with to protect the faithful?

Man: I can’t really say, but you might ask...

(The man doesn’t get to finish before the sound of horses along with men shouting is heard heading where Bash, Louis and the couple are.)

Guard: This one here.

Bash: The Vatican’s guards. (Vatican horsemen enter the archway to the couple’s home.)

Guard: Take the man, and search the house they could be hiding other heretics.

Louis: Leave them alone, they’ve done nothing.

Guard (Gets down from his horse): They’ve been named by their neighbors, Cardinal Vasari has ordered us to bring in anyone suspected of lying about their faith.

Bash: There is no need. I’m already questioning him by authority of the King.

Guard: We don’t answer to the King or his Deputy.

Woman in the house: No

Guard #1: Stay back

Guard #2: Move him out.

(The man’s wife holds their children as she cries and the Vatican guards ride off with her husband.)

(Back at French Court in Francis’ chambers, he is at his desk when Lola bursts into the room.)

Lola: Francis, I need to speak to you.

Francis (Looking up): Now is not a good time.

Lola: I was with Mary earlier, and she’s upset. She’s upset to some frequency to be truthful.

Francis: I am aware.

Lola: I’m sure you are and I know why, why you push her away suggesting that she even go to Scotland; I know why you do these things.

(Francis has walked towards the door but stops in his tracks and looks as Lola in surprise.) I know it was you who killed Henry. (Francis’ eyes grow wide in surprise and shock.) Narcisse told me, and admitted that he’s been blackmailing you.

Francis (Grabbing Lola’s arm, drags her over to the desk, and looks at her with anger): This is very dangerous knowledge Lola, why would he tell you?

Lola: Because he suspected you might use me against him, and he wanted me to side with him I suppose.

Francis: Has he told anyone else? Do you know?

Lola: No I don’t, but the person you should tell is Mary.

Francis (Decidedly): No. Narcisse’s treachery goes beyond what he might have mentioned in your covert conversations.

Lola: Narcisse told me the truth, you led me to believe you wanted him dead for political reasons when in fact it was to protect yourself.

Francis: There are many others I protect: Mary, my mother, my brothers, and our baby. Did he mention that he threatened them as well?

Lola (Shocked): He threatened our son?

Francis: You sympathize with Narcisse, is that why you failed to hide the envelope at his estate as I asked you to?

Lola: I told you I threw it out of my carriage window, but I lied. I planted it behind a painting in his drawing room. (A look of shock and disbelief comes across Francis’ face upon hearing this.) I lied before because I didn’t want Narcisse’s death on my hands.

Francis (Coming from behind the desk): Now you surely see what he’s capable of. The only way to save Mary’s life and my marriage is to get rid of Narcisse; that envelope contains a cipher, which is all I need to frame him for treason. When it is found at his house by the Royal Guard, I will take his head.

End of act 2

ACT 3 Edit

(At French Court, Queen Catherine is in the chambers of her daughter Princess Claude telling her about the meeting with the Count of Bavaria and his son; as well as her inability to convince them that Claude is chaste.)

Queen Catherine: I couldn’t convince them of your chastity, but surely God can.

Claude (Suspiciously): Mother, what have you done?

Queen Catherine (Sighs): I’m taking advantage of the Vatican’s presence here, and arranging for them to verify your virtue. It’s a very simple examination.

Claude (Laughing): A virginity test? One you know I can’t possibly pass.

Queen Catherine: This is why I’m assuring the outcome with a sizable donation, they will perform the exam tomorrow.

Claude (Disbelief): So you’re going to let some man prod at me, while others watch, to marry some Bavarian nobody? You are punishing and cold and I don’t even understand what I’m being punished for.

Queen Catherine: You know, you’ll make a lovely bride once you stop screeching.

Claude (Getting up from her chair): I won’t do it. (Queen Catherine looks shocked) You can’t force me to go through with this ridiculous test or to marry. If someone wants to examine my virtue, they’ll have to put me on a rack and pry my legs apart! (She begins walking away.)

Queen Catherine: Hmm, the rack it is then!

(Elsewhere in the castle, Mary and Francis are bidding Lord Giard a safe farewell.)

Francis: We wish you a safe journey back to your estate, Lord Giard.

Lord Giard (Bows deeply): Thank you Your Majesties (he leaves)

Mary (As she and Francis begin walking down the hall): It seems strange, receiving Nobles at court as if everything is normal.

Francis: If we didn’t, people would suspect that something was wrong.

Mary (Through her smile): I don’t know which is harder: pretending there isn’t a device that could kill hundreds of innocents, or pretending that we’re still a happy royal couple. (Louis Conde pops up in front of them and bows.)

Francis: Conde, did you find the Protestant leader Jacob?

Louis: Actually he found me when I was in town. (The three begin walking together.) He claims the other leaders know nothing of the Minister’s threats; he was shocked when I told him.

Francis: And you believe him?

Louis: Well, I’m inclined to. He came to me at great risk; he believes this act of terror is the work of a few fringe radicals that want to galvanize Protestants into rising up against the crown. (They stop walking.)

Francis: Does he know who they are or where they can find them?

Louis (Shakes his head): He swore he would give them up if they could, he knows that if this threat comes to pass, and catholic lives are lost it’ll be the start of a bloody fight his people want no part of.

Francis: We’re running out of time. (Turning to leave) I’ll go see if there’s any progress with the minister. (He walks away leaving Mary and Conde alone, as a maid puts a wrap on Mary’s shoulders)

Mary (Walking outside with Louis): I can’t help the feeling we’re missing something.

Louis: What is it you fear?

Mary: If the Protestant radicals want to incite mayhem by killing Catholics, why not just set off the explosion? Why send their minister who they know will surely be tortured and likely killed?

Louis: A minister much beloved by his flock, people that know nothing about the dire threat he made. If the minister is killed, the radicals can use his death as justification for almost any bad act. They would create...

Mary (Finishing his thought): A martyr

Louis: And his death would inflame even the most pacifist of Protestants.

Mary: We must do everything we can to make sure that minister stays alive. (Louis turns to leave as Mary grabs his arm to stop him) and do what you can to help Francis, he’s completely shut me out but he might listen to you.

Louis (Taking Mary’s hand): I’ll do everything in my power, but Mary he’s a fool to shut you out King or not. (Louis walks away, leaving Mary alone in the courtyard)

(Elsewhere in the castle, down in the dungeons King Francis is standing in front of the Protestant leader who made the threat about the explosives, and is chained to the wall there is also a guard in the room.)

Francis: I’m told you refused to divulge the location of the attack, or the names of your conspirators.

Protestant leader: I do not fear those who kill the body, for the soul is eternal.

Francis: It’s admirable; your willingness to sacrifice your life for your cause (kneels down to the leader’s eye level) but what about the live of your congregation? The Vatican Swiss guards have been interrogating the members of your church; what do you think they will do when those Catholic lives are lost? (The Protestant looks at the King with fear) How will they punish those innocent men and women who know nothing of your terror or treachery, and believe that you have their welfare at heart?(Footsteps are heard approaching, and as Francis looks up he sees Louis Conde standing in the doorway.) I understand that you did what you thought you had to, but I’ve learned there are unintended consequences for our actions, where we end up harming those we swore to protect. (The Protestant leader looks at Francis.) Tell me the location of the attack, I swear before you and God that no more harm will come to your flock

(The man still eyes Francis as if he doesn’t believe him and still says nothing as Francis gets up.)

Protestant leader: Vaculair (Francis and Louis stop at the door and look at him to listen.) It’s a monastery in Laon, we hid the barrel filled with gunpowder in the cellars beneath the monks’ sleeping quarters. (Francis and Louis quickly leave the room.)

(The King’s men arrive at the monastery in Laon, where the gunpowder is apparently hidden. The men arrive at a door, unlock it, and along with Louis Conde they begin searching for the gunpowder; suddenly one of the soldiers spots something.)

Soldier #1: Over here! (The men hurry over the site and gather around. Louis spots a fuse on the floor.)

Louis: Keep your torches away, it’s a fuse. (Louis takes his sword and begins to pry off the lid of the barrel; he is shocked to find not gunpowder, but sawdust as he sticks his hand in the barrel.) It’s not gunpowder, just sawdust. It’s a decoy, we’ve wasted a whole day searching, and we still don’t know where the real threat is.

(A soldier looks behind them and sees something on the wall.)

Soldier #2: Look. (Louis and the soldiers turn around and see something written in Latin in what appears to be either blood or paint.)

Louis (Reading): "Sanguis Fluat", it's Latin.

Soldier #1: What does it mean?

Louis (With a worried look on his face): "Blood will flow."

End of Act 3

ACT 4 Edit

(At French Court, people are playing cards, and having drinks in the castle hall. Princess Claude, dressed in a silver gown with a pink top is walking down the hall past the tables, and knocking over people's drinks in the process. Bash comes into the hall and finds Claude.)

Bash: Claude, I trust your day has been less than pleasant.

Claude: My mother wants me to leave court. Again. She's trying to marry me off to a Bavarian.

Bash: I heard.

Claude: I don't want to go to Bavaria.

Bash: I can see that. So why don't you go somewhere else, out of Catherine's sight? Then maybe she won't push this engagement.

Claude (Exasperated): Where? My family has 5 castles, but as a woman I'm not permitted to take residence in any of them, without a guardian or a husband.

Bash: What about your cousin Babette's estate, you've stayed there before?

Claude: Hm, that won't work.

Bash: Why?

Claude (With a smirk): I slept with her fiancee. (Bash looks at Claude in disbelief) Just once, on a dare. Oh why is everyone so judgmental? It's worse out there, in the countryside, which is why I want to stay here.

Bash: It's not a return to court that you desire.

Claude: It's the very best place to be a Princess.

Bash (Stepping up to Claude): It's your mother's attention.

Claude (Offended): Why would I want anything from her? She doesn't love me. Not the way she loves Francis or any of her other children.

Bash: You're right. She doesn't, and you've always known it. I suppose that's what drew me to you when we were children. I knew what it was like to feel Catherine's anger, her resentment.

Claude (Frustrated as she turns around): That's the last thing I need. My bastard brother feeling sorry for me.

Bash: Maybe it's time to move on. You could view this marriage not as a punishment, but as an opportunity. A new start somewhere where you have a chance at finding happiness and love. (Claude says nothing, but turns and looks at Bash.)

(That afternoon Queen Catherine is sitting in her chambers, dressed in a multicolored floral gown with a gold crown in her hair; she has her feet propped up as she reads a book and sips a goblet of wine which is on a table right next to her chair. The Queen is in a relaxed mood as she hears a knock on her door. The guard opens the door and Bash enters.)

Queen Catherine (Clearing her throat): Bash. To what to I owe this rare delight? (The Queen goes back to reading her book)

Bash: Bavarian trade routes.

Queen Catherine (Still reading her book): Oh.

Bash: I looked into the Count whose son you want Claude to marry. The commerce in his region is sparse, it's not the great alliance you've made it out to be. So why are you pushing this marriage?

Queen Catherine (Glancing up from her book): You're an economist now. You know where merchants travel.

Bash: I know your motives are often concealed. And I don't want Claude to be a casualty of them.

Queen Catherine: It's sweet that you're feeling like you want to protect Claude, but you're overstepping your bounds as It wouldn't be the first time. Has she enlisted your help in trying to intervene with me?

Bash: Actually, I encouraged her not to fight the engagement, I think she'll be happier in a place where she has a chance of being loved.

Queen Catherine (Seeming insulted): I love all my children. Protecting them, keeping them's what drives my existence. (Bash looks a bit surprised, as he has apparently caught the Queen in a bit if a reflective mood.) Oh you see? You've caught me in a bit of a reflective mood (The book Catherine is reading is a bible; which contains the names of all of her children with Henry.) Each of their names in my gaze as I pray. I do, I pray for their souls, and for mine, more than you might imagine. I treasure my family, even the ones who didn't survive. (Pointing at the list.) There was Louis, he was right after Francis. I lost him when he was only a year. And then there was Emone and Henriette. Oh, they were so...they were so tiny when they were born.

Bash: Twin girls passed as infants.

Queen Catherine: Twins, but not identical. I saw little differences, even as babes. I used to wonder what they would look like if they could have grown. Obsessed, for a time, you might say. The oldest I could imagine them was 8...9? (The Queen is clearly deep into her thoughts as she is looking at her bed where the ghosts of her twins are: Henrietta is asleep, and Emone is reading a book.) Each with their own features. (Bash looks over at the bed and of course he sees nothing, as looks of concern cross his face.)

Bash (As Catherine sips her wine and seems quite sad): Catherine? Are you all right?

Queen Catherine (Looking up as if she forgot Bash was in the room): I've been a bit liberal with my intake. Hmm. (She closes her bible and gets up from her chair.) It's my nerves, given recent events.

Bash: Catherine, I know things have been tense. (The Queen seems to be either upset or a bit irritated.) But you have a living daughter who needs your affection now. You say you love Claude. Well give her some evidence of it before you send her away. You owe her that much. (As Bash goes to leave, Catherine looks over at her bed and walks over; Bash watches as she covers up her twins with a fur blanket as they drift off to sleep, and she is so tender as if she is trying to keep something that is precious to her warm.)

(As Bash leaves Catherine's room, a messenger approaches him with an urgent message.)

Messenger: My Lord, an urgent message.

Bash (Taking the note and reading it): Lord Narcisse is back from his country manor. Notify the head of the kings guard. I need men ready to leave. Now.

(The sounds of approaching horses is heard as Bash and several soldiers of the kings guard arrive at the country manor of Lord Narcisse. A guard knocks and Lord Narcisse answers the door.)

Bash: Stéphane Narcisse, you are suspected of treason. By authority of the King you will submit to a search of your house. (Bash nods and the guards file into the house pushing past Narcisse.)

Lord Narcisse: This is an outrage, I've committed no crime against the crown. (Bash follows the guards inside to begin the search.)

(Back at French Court, Francis is in his chambers talking with Lola about the search of Lord Narcisse's home.)

Francis: Bash and the guards searched Narcisse's home thoroughly. The cipher was no longer where you planted it. He must have found it, and surely knows that you put it there.

Lola: I was with him just yesterday; he didn't let on at all.

Francis: This was my only means of disabling his hold on me and it failed. Now I may have put you in danger by involving you. I'll assign a guard for your safety, in the event that Narcisse tries to retaliate.

Lola (Worried): I can't have a guard following me around, how would I explain it to Mary?

Francis: Make up a reason.

Lola: No. If Narcisse is intent on harming me, he'll find a way, but I doubt he'd be that reckless. (There is a knock at the door.)

Francis: Enter (A guard enters, stands next to Lola and bows.)

Guard: Your Majesty, urgent news from Lord Conde and the search party (He hands Francis a note which he reads as the guard leaves. Francis then puts the note down and looks at Lola with a concerned look on his face.)

(Elsewhere in the castle, Conde is talking with Mary about the search he and his men did of the monastery.)

Conde: We searched the monastery and found nothing. Except a warning in Latin: "Sanguis Fluat"

Mary (Translating): "Blood will Flow." So the minister lied about the location of the device?

Conde: More likely, his cohorts lied to him so he couldn't divulge the true location even under torture.

Mary: He's still our only hope. Even if he doesn't know where it is, he could give us the names of his conspirators.

Conde (Doubtful): If the minister is still alive. I doubt he will be after Francis hears of this.

(Immediately there is the sound of grunting, as the minister is being stretched on the rack in the castle dungeon. Francis is standing by the rack and a guard is at the wheel.)

Francis (With building anger): I gave you a chance to save yourself and your people, and this is how you repay me?

(The guard turns the wheel more and the minister screams in pain.)

Minister: I-I told you the truth I swear it. I out the device there with my own hands.

Francis (Angrier): You sent my men on a futile hunt! They found nothing by sawdust and threats!

Minister: No, no that's not possible. They lied to me.

Francis: By "they" you mean your conspirators? Tell me their names. MORE! (The guard obeys by turning the wheel more.) Tell me their names or I swear I'll have your arms ripped from your body! (Mary enters the chamber.)

Mary: Francis stop!

Francis: Stay out of it Mary.

Mary: Your killing him. Even if he doesn't know where it is, we can't afford to make him a martyr. Don't let the act of one man poison thousands against us.

(The guard turns the wheel more and a crack is heard as the Minister's shoulder is dislodged from its socket.)

Francis: Stop. Take him off (The guards move to obey as they untie the minister, take him off the rack and carry him way.) I never meant for any of this to happen. I hope you know that. (Mary says nothing but leaves the room.)


ACT 5 Edit

(Early the next morning, Lady Lola is in her chambers freshly dressed coming away from the window. She quickly becomes aware that she is not alone.)

Lord Narcisse: I didn't hear from you about my offer. (Lola gasps as she is startled to find Lord Narcisse hiding in her room.) Though attempting to frame me for treason should be answer enough, I suppose.

Lola: When did you know?

Lord Narcisse: I found the item you planted soon after you visited. When the kingsguard didn't immediately arrive, I thought you'd had a change of heart. (He turns to look at Lola)

Lola: I did, but...

Lord Narcisse: But what? It saddens me that you choose Francis...a weak patricidal King, over the future we might have shared. (Narcisse reaches out to touch Lola's face but she backs away.)

Lola: You told me you were a patriot, resorting to blackmail for the good of France. Was it also for the good of France to threaten my baby, my Queen, my friends?

Lord Narcisse: I merely warned Francis of the consequences should his line be deposed. I thought it might motivate him to be a better ruler.

Lola: I'm to believe it was a tactic?

Lord Narcisse: I would never hurt your baby, Lola. But don't misunderstand, your child is at risk, and always will be as the son of the King. And there is a target on your back as well. You could've used the extra safety my friendship would've offered. (Narcisse turns to leave the room.)

Lola: You are no friend or patriot. You're just a dangerous man.

Lord Narcisse (Angrily): Well, perhaps it's escaped your notice, but the world is a dangerous place! And one day you will wish you had someone like me to protect you from it.

(Elsewhere in Princess Claude's chambers, she is wearing a nightgown and is getting ready to be tested by the priests from the Vatican.)

Bishop: Your Highness, it's time. (He helps Claude onto the bed while two more priests bring a shield/cover and place over her so that her bottom half is exposed.) Princess this will all be over soon.

(The Princess is clearly very uncomfortable as the Bishop lifts her nightgown to examine her. Her mother Queen Catherine is in the room sitting in a chair, still dressed in her floral gown. The Queen at first is stiff and motionless; however she hears the quiet grunts of pain and discomfort coming from her daughter, so she gets up and goes to hold Claude's hand as she grips the shield. Claude is somewhat relieved and surprised by this gesture, but Catherine's mind is clearly elsewhere and occupied as she gently strokes her daughter's hand.)

(In Francis' chambers, Francis, Mary and Bash are talking about the Protestants and the Minister who is in the infirmary recovering from his injuries on the rack. Francis is sitting in deep thought, and Mary is standing by him.)

Bash (Walking over to Francis): The Minister isn't recovering. His arm has been set, but there are signs of bleeding under the skin, pooling near his chest.

Mary (Concerned): Isn't there a physician or a surgeon who can heal him?

Bash: There is a skilled healer in Epernay, but that's half a days ride from here. By the time we send word and he arrives, it'll be too late.

Mary (Looking to Francis): We have to keep this Minister alive, at all costs.

Francis (Turning his head to Bash): Take the minister to Epernay. It'll save time. (Bash bows and leaves the room, as Mary looks at Francis.)

(That afternoon, Queen Catherine is in her chambers sitting down when the door to her room opens and her daughter; Princess Claude walks in dressed in a beautiful silver gown with a pink top. It seems the Queen has been waiting for her daughter, but Claude stops in the doorway and doesn't move.)

Queen Catherine (Turning and extending her hand): Come (The guard shuts the door as Princess Claude walks over to where her mother is sitting. The Queen bids her daughter to sit next to her which she does.) I'm sorry you had to endure that wretched procedure. (The Queen gently strokes her daughter's face and hair.) You look so beautiful. It may not seem like it now, but it is for your own good that you will soon be married and away from this castle.

Claude: Why? (The Queen's mind is elsewhere, as she stares past Claude and to her bed where the ghosts of her twins Emone and Henrietta are sitting.)


(It's morning or early afternoon in the castle nursery which is beautifully furnished with 2 cradles, chairs, and other ornate pieces. A younger Queen Catherine sits in this room wearing a beautiful brown embroidered gown, and in her arms she has one of her infant daughters whom she happily kisses. The nanny is also in the room and she has the other baby in her arms. The nanny is talking about Princess Claude.)

Nanny: All the nannies are struggling with her, Your Majesty. I wouldn't be so direct, but...

Queen Catherine: No, I asked. Go on.

Nanny: Well, Princess Claude is...well she's very jealous of the little ones. She says they paw at her, and that they ruin things. (A young Princess Claude is listening at the nursery door; neither the Queen nor the nanny know yet that she's there.)

Queen Catherine: Ruin what, exactly? (The Queen turns around as she hears her daughter's voice.)

Young Claude: My dress. They pulled the flowers off it.

Nanny: She says they ruin everything. She looks at them with such hatred. (The Queen looks up from her baby in surprise.) She pinches them. (Catherine's face turns from surprise to displeasure as the baby the nanny has begins to cry.)

Queen Catherine (Turning and getting up with the baby): Claude, is that true? (exhales) I'm not pleased. (Princess Claude stands in the doorway with a sad look on her face; however Catherine turns to her baby who continues crying.) shh, shh, shh. All right. (Princess Claude continues to stand in the doorway and lays her head on the frame as she watches her mother turn her attention to the babies as the baby Catherine has also begins to cry. The nanny helps the Queen comfort the babies who are quite disturbed as Princess Claude finally runs away from the nursery.)

End of Flashback

Claude: Mother...what is it? (Catherine doesn't answer her daughter, but has tears in her eyes as she continues to stare into space.)

Queen Catherine (Sighs): Oh, the things that I've have done for you? How I have protected you. Do you think that I don't love you? You can't see? In my way, I have mothered you more than any of my children.

Claude (Crying as she takes her mother's hand off her face): Then don't make me marry. Don't make me leave. (Catherine doesn't answer, but instead looks at her bed where the angry ghosts of her twins are still sitting).

Queen Catherine: It's done. (Princess Claude looks ready to burst into tears.)

(In the woods, a wagon is being driven quite hastily through the woods. In the wagon is the Protestant Minister who was being tortured at French Court. Bash is also traveling with them, when suddenly they stop.)

Guard #1: Whoa! We've got to move this tree!

(Bash looks around with concern when suddenly an arrow comes flying out of the woods, strikes a guard in the chest knocking him from his horse. Bash is also struck and falls from his horse as is the guard who was driving the carriage. Suddenly a man with a crossbow comes from behind a tree, followed by others as the Protestant Minister climbs out of the wagon.)

Protestant Minister: Ah, my brothers. Thank God you found me. (Bash, who is on the ground opens his eyes and hears what's going on.) I told them about the bomb, that it was in Laon, and they found nothing, but I fear I've betrayed our cause.

Protestant #1: I assure you Father, you have not. (Suddenly without warning, the man plunges his sword right into the Minister's stomach.) You couldn't betray us, because there was never a bomb.

(The man removes his sword as the minister grunts in pain then falls down dead. Unbeknownst to these Protestants, Bash has seen the whole thing.)


ACT 6 Edit

(At French Court, it's evening time and there is merriment going on in the castle banquet hall. The Count of Bavaria, his son William along with Queen Catherine are entering the hall discussing the pending marriage agreement.)

Count: To have taken this matter before the Vatican. (Chuckles) You have shown us more consideration than we deserve.

Queen Catherine: Oh.

Count: I regret any misunderstandings I may have caused. It will be my honor to call Princess Claude family.

Queen Catherine (Pleased): Oh, what a lovely sentiment. (Princess Claude enters the room wearing a stunning gown and rolling her eyes. The Princess spies Lord Narcisse sitting down, as the Queen, the Count and William happily watch her enter the room; Claude then walks up to Narcisse, sits on his lap and begins to flirt shamelessly with him...knowing well that her mother, the Count and William are watching.)

Claude: Lord Narcisse, we haven't had the pleasure. (The Count, Catherine, and William are stunned as they watch the scene between Claude and Nacisse.)

Lord Narcisse (Surprise): Your friendly introduction is a delight, Princess. (Catherine, the Count and William look at each other in disbelief.) Though I suspect it's just a show for your mother. (Lord Narcisse and Claude both look over to where Catherine is standing with the Count and his son. The Count and his son are clearly insulted, and Catherine looks helpless but before she can say one word; the Count angrily tosses the marriage agreement on the floor and leaves along with his son.) Which is a pity, because I find myself recently unattached, and I might...enjoy your company.

Claude (Laughs): I like a man who can so firmly express his interest.

Lord Narcisse: Though I should warn you, I'm not some hapless priest or one of those boys you toy with. Are you sure you're up to the challenge? (Claude begins to get up but Narcisse stops her.) Uh...before you get up, Princess, would you do me the kindness of passing me my cape?

(Queen Catherine's body is stiff with anger, and disappointment, as she watches her daughter give Lord Narcisse his cape and then look at her with a sly smile as she leaves the room. The Queen looks ready to run after her daughter when she sees an even more shocking sight: the ghosts of her twins following Claude from the room.)

Flashback (At French Court, it's quite late of night. There are candles burning in the castle nursery, two cradles are also in the room each of which contains a bundle in a blanket. Once again we see a young Queen Catherine in her nightclothes, the court physician is in the room with her and kneeling beside the cradles as he listens to the Queen.)

Queen Catherine (Crying): I woke up thinking something was wrong. The babies were too quiet. I...I went to the nursery to check on them, first I thought they were still asleep. (Her cries become more intense) I tried to rouse them. My Emone (sniffles) My Henrietta.

Doctor (Getting up with a sad look on his face): They were suffocated. (Catherine's eyes grow wide with shock) It was hard to see at first, until I looked into their windpipes and found this. (Catherine looks down as the doctor opens his hand to show her 2 mini flowers.) One in each of their throats.

Queen Catherine (Screaming sob): NO! (The heartbroken Queen collapses onto the floor in tears.)

End of Flashback

(Early the next morning, at the town home of Louis Conde, Lady Kenna is tending to her husband's wounds. The door opens, and Francis, Mary and Louis Conde enter the room. )

Mary: Bash, your wounded.

Bash: They say I'll recover. I hope quickly.

Francis: We were traveling when we got word of the attack. I'm sorry that you lost your men.

Kenna: Thankfully, Bash made it out alive and had the good sense to come here.

Bash: Conde's town home was the closest place I could think to go where I knew I'd be safe.

Francis: What happened?

Bash: We were ambushed by armed men. They knew we were transporting the minister. I think they were his Protestant comrades; he seemed to know them.

Mary (Sitting down): They took the minister with them?

Bash (nods): But, not before they ran him through with a sword.

Francis (Confused): Why would they kill one of their own?

Bash: There's more, I heard them say that there is no bomb. There never was.

Mary: Well, that makes no sense. Why threaten the Crown with something that doesn't exist? (A servant enters the room and whispers to Conde.)

Francis: What is it?

Conde: There's a disturbance in the town. Something to do with the Minister.

(In town, there is much commotion as people hurry to gather...Francis, Mary and Conde are among the crowd. To the horror of everyone...the body of the Protestant Minister is hanging upside down by his feet, with his hands bound to each side of a large cross in an archway.)

Man in crowd: Hanged like a heretic! This is the Crown's doing! (Francis, Mary and Conde are hiding together away from the crowd.)

Francis: They have to know it was not our doing. I must tell them.

Conde (Stopping Francis): No, it's not safe.

Man#2: Your faith is blasphemy.

Woman: It won't stop with our minister. They won't stop until they've killed us all!

Mary: This is what the radicals wanted...for the Protestants to rise up against the Catholics, against us. When we didn't kill their minister, they did it themselves. "Blood will flow." This is their bomb.

Man#2: Protestant heretics deserve what they get!

Man#3: To hell with your Pope and your vicious King! (The man spits on the other as the woman picks up a rock.)

Guard#1: I order you to stand back! (The woman throws the rock, and the crowd erupts as the guards try to keep order.) Get back!, Get Back! (The fighting quickly out of control as the Protestants and Catholics go head to head. Conde turns to lead Francis and Mary out.)

Conde (Grabbing his sword handle): You must leave. Now! (Conde leads Francis and Mary to the town gate and puts them outside it.) You'll be safe here. I'll get your carriage.

Mary (Out of breath): You did this to us. (Francis looks at her in surprise) To France. For all that you claim your trying to protect us, I have lost all faith in you and the man I thought you were. (Francis looks stunned and says nothing.)

(At French Court is very late at night, Francis is in the nursery with his baby boy: Jean Philippe who happens to be awake.)

Jean Philippe (Coos) (Lady Lola walks into the room, stands in the doorway and watches Francis.)

Francis: He is the only pure and joyful thing that remains in my life. I've ruined everything. My marriage, my rule, perhaps the future of France.

Lola: I can't imagine the weight of your burdens. (She walks to Francis) But I understand why you've done the things you have. You love your wife...your family. You're a good man, Francis.

(Francis looks at Lola with such pain and guilt in his eyes; Lola puts her hand on Francis' shoulder as they both watch their son.)