Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Message

It had been a long day for the Kings cryptographer, nothing seemed to work in regard to breaking the Vigenere code, over the last few hours he had resorted to frustrating guessing in hoping to find the keyword, all to no avail. He tried peoples names, cities, countries, even birds and animals nothing fitted, nothing worked.
His new friend Brother Andrew called in at the office and soon saw the work and its frustrations were taking their toll on Sam.
It had taken some convincing but eventually Andrew managed to talk Sam into going outside for some air, of course there were the normal security procedures Sam undertook when he left the office now. Everyone left the room while Sam presumably hid the code, but once done and doors locked the pair left palace buildings for the gardens.

It was late afternoon, spring was setting into summer and it was an unusually warm summer. They walked the paths of the elaborate gardens in silence, Andrew not wanting to burden Sam with to much conversation, just hoping the break and fresh air will do much to refresh and help him.
There were a number of people strolling in the gardens, they had even seen Lady Margret in the distance with a group of “her ladies”.

Sam asked “When will the King marry?”
Andrew smiled, “That is a question I suspect that is asked every day, but provisionally it is set for about 6 weeks time. I have to say though neither the King nor Lady Margret seem to be overly excited about the prospect, or if they are they keep it to themselves.”

Sam saw a bench set not far away, there were a group of young men fencing in the nearby, Sam said
“Lets take a seat for a while.”

They sat there for a few minutes in total silence, watching the men challenging each other, Sam only recognised one of the men, young Rodney the prat who described himself as the Kings confidant and secretary.

“Andrew how on earth did Rodney become the Kings Secretary, I remember him as a student I taught back in Oxford and I certainly would not have regarded him in any way as being academic or bright enough to be a clerk, let alone a Kings Secretary.”

Andrew nodded slightly, “We are not sure what the King sees in our Rodney, Brother Paul has asked him several times and all the King says is he finds Rodney funny and that he distracts him from the dreariness of being King. I can tell you Sam in confidence, that Brother Paul is not happy about the relationship, mainly because we have found Rodney has some questionable friends in the city.
The other aspect is that Rodney is not the Kings secretary Master Cawthorne has that responsibility, I think the relationship Rodney has with his majesty is more in the mind of Rodney that reality. In fact since an incident several weeks ago where there was quite a clean out of undesirables claiming attachments to his majesty, Rodney's relationship has definitely been waning.”

The two watched as Rodney just finished off another opponent, he paused as he saw Sam sitting on the bench seat, taking a kerchief from his bags on the ground nearby, we wiped his sweating brow and wandered over. He placed the sword he had been using into a long case and took from the case another rapier type sword and slid it into the scabbard attached to his belt.
After making some adjustments to his belt Rodney wandered over the Sam and Andrew.

He bowed in a rather extravagant manner, “Good afternoon to you Master Ogilvy, brother Andrew. Splendid afternoon for some exercise don’t you think.?”

Sam nodded, “In deed it is, we were just admiring your skills, you have quite a remarkable gift with your abilities with a sword; very skilful indeed.”

Rodney turned and watched as some of the other fellows continued their swordplay,
“I was fortunate enough to spend some time in France after I left Oxford, and while their I had the opportunity to learn from one of the French masters.”

Brother Andrew said “Yes Sam, Rodney is quite an accomplished duelist, it is said he has had a number of victims to his credit.”

“Brother Andrew, you are most unkind, the men I fought were not victims, they were fair opponents and I have been fortunate enough to be skilful enough to beat them all”.

Sam had been looking at the rapier Rodney was holding,
“Might I have look at that exquisite weapon Rodney, it looks dare I say it, quite beautiful?”

Rodney handed the rapier over, with an obvious amount of pride in his lethal weapon. “Do handle it with care Master Ogilvy, this is not the same weapon I used in practice over there with my friends, this is my own weapon I use to protect myself and my honour”.

Sam gently held the sword, Andrew noticed that Sam was paying considerable attention to a motif on the pommel. It was a blue wavy line that ran across a circular white background which seemed to be white pearl.
“Tell me, what is this motif, what on earth does it signify”

Rodney took the weapon quickly back from Sam hands.
“The Motif is the motif of my dear friend and mentor who taught me the skills of the rapier , Comte
“Indeed, it is a fine weapon Rodney, a fine weapon, but that motif what is the the significance of the blue line?”
Rodney's brow deepened, “I am sure I do not know Master Ogilvy, I was not rude enough to ask when the Comte offered me this weapon as a gift.”

“Of course, and I am sorry to sound so inquisitive, it is a fine weapon and you have right to be proud of it young man, and I see you do it justice with your skill.”

Rodney now smiled, “Thank you master Olgivy, anytime you wish I would be pleased to show you some of the basic arts of fencing.”

Sam waved his arms in protest, “No thank you, weapons and I do not make good bedfellows, I am more a man of the quill than the sword I am afraid.”
Rodney looked to Andrew, “And you brother Andrew, are you a man of weapons or quill as well.”

Andrew looked up from beneath his hood, “A man of god has no need of weapons, nor I am afraid to say do use the quill all that well.”

Rodney stood momentarily looking at the two men, then said,
“Well Gentlemen I must return to my fellows,.” he bowed and quickly made his way back to the group of young men.

Andrew turned and looked at Sam,
“So Sam what what all the questions about the motif about, I think our young Rodney was quite miffed that you showed more regard to it and not his fine blade.”

Sam smiled at Andrew,
“You recall the other day I had the belongings of the Courier that died brought into my office, well in amongst that mans clothes and equipment was a sword, and on the pommel of the sword was the same motif as that one on young Rodney's rapier.
Now what I am left wondering is how much of a coincidence is it that a sword with that motif is given to a young Englishman by a french noble man just happens to be the same motif found on the sword of a enemy courier.”

Andrew immediately stood up, his face was alight with smiles.
“Master Samuel Ogilvy you are a little genius, a little genius I say. Indeed the coincidence is a long draw, but from my immediate guess is that the motif is either that of the sword maker, which I doubt, or it is a method of recognition. But you can be sure my little genius friend we will check out our French Comte Pascal.”

Sam stood up as well and then added, “There is one other thing Andrew, while I was holding the rapier, I errr accidentally gave the pommel a twist, that pommel is on a thread and I am wondering.....”

Andrew took Sam by the head and kissed him on the forehead... “You magnificent little master spy, you were wondering if that is where a message may be kept. I can assure you Sam we will know the answer to that soon.”

Andrew strolled over the group of young men who were all beginning to pick up their equipment which lay sprawled out on the lawns nearby.
Rodney noticing Andrew approaching and Sam slowly following some distance behind smiled,
“Ahhh brother Andrew, come for a lesson in the art of fencing perhaps.”

“No Rodney not all, it was that Sam and I were just discussing your fine sword, and as I had not had the opportunity to have a closer look at myself I was wondering if you would be so kind as to allow me the opportunity before you fine Gentlemen all went about your business.?”
Rodney feeling a little suspicious asked,
“And what was it about my sword that so intrigued you both, it is for sure a fine blade, but it is after all merely another rapier.”
Andrew smiled
“Well it was Sam who intrigued me over the motif, we were discussing what the meaning of such a device would have, Sam thought it might be the sword makers insignia, I am less sure but before casting an opinion I was wondering if I may have a look.”

“Well brother Andrew, ordinarily I would be only too pleased to let you look at the sword, but I fear I have important duties with the King that I must attend to.”

“”Odd Rodney because the King is involved with the Prime Minister all day today, but none the less I wont delay you long, it is merely to satisfy a curiosity that is all.”

Rodney turned to leave, as he did so he said “No I must really get back to my duties brother Andrew, perhaps another time.”

Rodney had taken a few steps when Andrew said, “well Rodney, I am sorry but I must insist you allow me to look at the blade, if my curiosity is satisfied then you will be on your way.”

“And if your curiosity as you call it is not satisfied, then what?”

“Then Rodney I fear you may be in a small amount of bother, but why go to this length merely to not allow me to see your sword, when ordinarily you have been only to keen to show it off.”

“It is your manner sir, that I find objectionable, now I must go.”

Andrew then yelled,
“Do not take another step Rodney or I will have you arrested, now give me your sword if you please.”

Rodney placed his equipment down on the ground but drew his sword,
“Now brother Andrew if you want my sword why dont you come and take it from me.”
Sam butted in, “For goodness sake Rodney, this is silly; just let Andrew have a look at your sword, there is no need for all this.”

“”I have said no, and that is the end of the matter, now brother Andrew either withdraw or come and take my sword from me.”

At that moment Andrew pulled a pistol from under his cloak, aiming it directly at Rodney said,
“Now either I take the sword from you alive or dead, but either way I will take your sword.”

Rodney's face whitened on seeing the pistol, he looked to his friends and they all drew their own swords, emboldened with the support of his friends Rodney said;
“Now Brother Andrew, it appears you may shoot me, but my friends will have done you in as well.”

Andrew then with the other hand drew another pistol out from under the cloak.
Sam looked at him with utter bewilderment,
“Good god Andrew how many of those things have you under there?”
Andrew momentarily glanced at Sam with a smile, “ Just the two Sam, sadly I dont have anymore hands.”
“So much for a man of god has no need for weapons” Sam muttered.

Then looking at the group of four young men Andrew said,
“Now all this is reaching the heights of ridiculous, all I want is a look at your sword Rodney, now you have raised this to something that can only end in a lot of grief, for you and these young gentlemen. Now there are four of you, and I have two shots, so all you have to do is decide which two are to die, and then the others can do me in, if they are able.”

Just then one of Lady Margret’s ladies that was standing nearby noticed the group of men with swords and pistols, she screamed.
Almost immediately guards appeared in the gardens, Rodney taking the chance of the diversion suddenly lunged at Andrew, he was to far away to reach him in one step, but that was all he got before Andrew fired one of the pistols and Rodney stopped, shuddered and then fell to the ground. The other young men, looked at each other, then to Rodney laying on the ground.
Guards were now quickly approaching as Andrew said
“Now if you please Gentlemen, do not make this worse for yourselves, lay down your swords”.
The three remaining men did as they were told just as the guards arrived
Andrew looked at the senior Guard, “Take these three to the Guardroom, we will be questioning them later.”

By now more Guards were running to the gardens, also Brother Paul came with several men following.
By the time he arrived Sam was kneeling alongside Rodney's body, but he was already dead. He reached across the body and took Rodney's sword, just then Brother Paul finally arrived.

“What in gods name has happened here?” he asked first looking to Andrew and then to Sam.
Andrew replied, “We had some suspicions that Rodney may somehow be involved with the code Sam has been trying to break, Sam recognised the motif on Rodney's sword as the same as on the pommel of the dead courier. We asked Rodney if we could examine it and he refused, so I insisted and then he and his friends drew their swords, so I shot him.”

Meanwhile Sam was tinkering with the pommel on Rodney's sword and finally it came loose, first looking inside the pommel and then Sam sliding a finger into the hollow tube and he brought out 2 small pieces of paper, one had letters written on it, the other numbers. Sam was all smiles.
“If I am not mistaken, this list with the letters will be what I have been looking for, Im not sure about the one with numbers yet but I will need to work on the letters immediately.”

“Without so much as a talking or asking anyone if he could leave Sam wandered off back to his office, Paul told one of the guards to escort him back, while the rest of them tried to sort out what to do regarding these events that had just taken place in the Kings Gardens.

On reaching his office, Sam placed the small pieces of paper on the desk, and then reaching inside his shirt he pulled out a small leather pouch, from the pouch he extracted the coded message. At last he felt he had a list of words, one of which could very well be the keyword. The problem was, though he had a list with what looked like 8 words, he still had to decipher what the words were and if one was the keyword which one.
He stood looking at the small list, he started to pace the floor of his office, subconsciously he reached into his pocket and found that he had subconsciously put the top of Rodney's sword pommel in his pocket. He went back to his desk and sat staring at it as if almost daring it to tell him the secrets it held.
He looked at the list of subjects he had used to try and find the keyword, people names, cities, towns objects; but none had wielded a slightest hint, and now he had a motif, what did it signify. Obviously it had something to do with the enemy group in their midst, it was perhaps the way they could introduce themselves to other conspirators who may be strangers. But why a motif that look like a river running over a white back ground; “RIVERS” he shouted, “its rivers.”
He tried all the English rivers, he tried Scottish and Welsh rivers and 2 hours later he was till none the wiser. Then he recalled that the maker of the Motif was french Comte Pascal, so he made a list of French rivers and starting with the Seine he started on the code, an later Sam realised he was the first man to have broken the Vigenere code.


There was a knock on the door, “Sam it is Brother Paul, I must speak with you.” Sam rose from his chair, he checked through the small peep hole that had been placed in the door and then unlocked it.
Brother Paul and Andrew walked in, they had one look at him and knew instantly.
Andrew said “You have broken it Sam, tell me you have broken it.”

Sam walked over to the desk and handed the decoded message to Paul,
“Good God, they were going to strike on the day of the Kings wedding, but what are the parcels I wonder. They could be weapons, or even bombs, obviously they were going to concentrate at the palace school room before the attack.”

Sam asked 'Well where is the wedding to take place?”
“In the chapel here at the Palace, it is to be a small affair because of the security risk, it will have all the Royalist leadership there” Paul said. “Good god on that one day they would have snuffed out the entire Royal cause in one blow.”

Sam then said “Well I would be giving the chapel a thorough going over were I you, somewhere there must be weapons or as you say a bomb.”

Andrew was looking at the small list of names, he realised that same had placed French river names beside each series of coded words.
Sam said, “Each river is likely a conspirator, the list of numbers is the sequence the message it will follow, for example if the list of numbers had only 3 people to see it the list would be 3 numbers long each number represents a river on this list numbered from the top of the list, for example the Seine was no 1 and was Pascal the second number the Moselle was undoubtedly Bedford. The other person to receive the message was number 5, now in truth we dont know who number 5 is, but I am willing to bet it was Rodney. I believe the message was written by Pascal No1 , sent to Bedford No 2 and was then given to the courier to deliver it to number 5, Rodney.

When each recipient gets the message he uses his own river name in reverse as well as forward as the keyword so Seine become seine-enies when this keyword is placed under the number on the square I had prepared I could then located the letter in the alphabet that was corresponding to the coded letter.

Paul, took the message and placed it in his pocket,
“So it seems that Rodney did not receive the message he must have queried somehow, it is likely that Pascal or Bedford asked for a confirmation that it had been received, when he didnt get it he contacted Rodney to find out what happened to it. Rodney in his rather inept way hired a thug to kill Mathias and get the message, but the idiot simply killed Mathias and then Rodney sent him back a few days later to search the house which is where we found him. The I presume Rodney heard we had a new code breaker, so this time he decided to do the dirty work himself, the Guard on the door that day would have recognised him as one of the King friends so it was a simple matter for Rodney to get close enough to kill him. It would have been no hardship for Rodney to get a key for the door or the safe as they were kept in my office and sadly I am a remiss for not taking greater care of them.”

Sam then asked, “But why didn't he kill me, that would have solved the problem”.

Paul replied “No Sam, by killing you Rodney still didn't know what was in the message and clearly Pascal was not going to risk another messenger and another courier until he was sure this had been cleared up. Remember they didn't know what happened to their courier, they simply knew he didn't arrive so they most likely suspected we had intercepted him. So naturally they wouldn't risk exposing anymore couriers until they knew the truth of what happened to their man. So it was vital for Rodney to find the message and I suspect he was working a way out to get you alone, and then he would have extracted the whereabouts of the message and then killed you.”

Andrew then added, “Yes its clear they could not change the plans because this was a one in a lifetime chance to get the King and the Royalist leadership in one go, so they had to go through with it; therefore they had to get the message back before you could break it. I suspect that Rodney knew you had not broken it yet, so he was likely going to have struck soon..”

“Indeed” Sam said, “We are very fortunate that young Rodney was so completely stupid as to carry both the keywords and the number list on him; otherwise I fear french rivers would have been very far down the list of words I had been thinking off.”

“Yes well his ego was such that he likely never considered that anyone would dare take his sword of him, he must have become quite unnerved when you showed an interest in that Pommel.”

Sam asked “What now?”

“Well as off in a few minutes we will be searching the chapel, the grounds and everywhere around where the festivities are to take place, at the worst if we find nothing we will change the place and time, but I am confident we will find what we are looking for.”

Sam you have done the Royalist cause a great deal of good here, I hope you will stay as the Kings Cartographer, God only knows we need you, besides our enemies have now become your enemies and you will really only be safe here with us until this terrible war is over.

They were just about to leave when a messenger came in, he handed Paul a note. Paul looked at it for a moment and then said

“There has been another battle up north.”


  1. Sam caught a break. All part of a cryptographer's tool box... :-)

  2. Yes I had to wrap it up quickly otherwise it was going to be a challenge to the bible in size. So a lucky break seemed the obvious.

  3. what a strange turn of events. but there we go a plot foiled. Or so it seems, Rodney is gone and I doubt he'll be missed. well done to Sam his eye has saved both the king and the Royalist Cause.