The Alan Turing
Want to come over to Manchester for a bit of live crypto stuff, the prize ceremony and an opportunity to meet the organisers?
The boy Robert de Gresle watched the ball of billowing dust approach the castle. "Uncle William!" he said, as the dust cleared to reveal a knight on horseback. Running down the stairs, the boy was just in time to see his uncle ride into the castle courtyard.
"Help me down," gasped William to Robert. "I've something important for you, but these cursed wounds mean I'm not long for this world."
William winced in agony as Robert helped him off the horse. "Where have you been? What happened?" demanded Robert.
"I've been in Outremer. Fighting with King Richard, Lionheart as they call him now," said William, leaning on Robert as he tried to stay on his feet. "He's brave, but reckless, and I fear thousands of people on both sides may die needlessly. I made contact with Saladin, Lionheart's enemy, to try to negotiate a peace. But ... alas! ... Lionheart found out and sent his soldiers to kill me. I barely escaped with my life."
William unbuckled his sword and gave it to Robert. "Take my sword, boy," he said. "It's been in the family for a long time. Make sure you look after it." It was the most magnificent sword Robert had ever seen: a bright sharp blade with an intricately engraved hilt capped by a blue orb on the pommel.
"I shall, Uncle," said Robert.
William unfastened his armour, revealing a blood-soaked tunic beneath. "I fear my wounds have opened again," he said. "We must make haste. I found that Saladin's court is full of wonderful scholars and they gave me copies their studies. I've hidden them; safe from Lionheart's spies. You must find and protect them. Here, take this manuscript."
He thrust a piece of parchment of Robert. "It's written in a secret language, but read aright it will reveal the hiding place." William sank to his knees. "My time is growing short," he said, he voice shrinking to a whisper. "To read it, you must..."
"Uncle!" exclaimed Robert, as William collapsed and died.
"Well that was uninspiring," said Mike to Ellie and as they emerged from the theatre with the rest of their class. "I always thought history would be exciting: kings and queens, battles and deaths, but it's just facts and figures instead."
"What do you mean? It was fantastic!" Ellie replied. She had loved every minute of the play, which had told the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine and how she had ruled England while her son, King Richard the Lionheart, had been fighting in Outremer in the 12th century. "Did I tell you that I'm named after her?" said Ellie, proudly.
Two voices piped up from behind them. "You never stop reminding us," said one. "And we're still far smarter than you!" said the other.
Ellie turned and glared at the twins, Darcie and Donna, thinking back to the events of a few years before. The twins had schemed and tricked their way into taking control of their uncle's company, only to lose it soon afterwards when it ran out of money.
An elderly gentleman approached. "Still causing trouble, I see," he said gently to the twins and then added more firmly. "Why don't you run along now?"
"Barquith!" exclaimed Mike, as the twins scarpered. A former student of Turing's, Barquith was an old friend of Mike and Ellie's and someone who had been involved in many of their previous adventures. "What are you doing here?"
"To see the play of course," Barquith replied. "Come with me, there's something I want you to see." He led them over to a collection of display boards in the theatre foyer, each illustrated with mediaeval kings, queens and knights. "Look at this one!" said Barquith, gesturing towards a board that summarised the life of Saladin, one of the greatest kings and warriors of the mediaeval world and the opponent of Richard the Lionheart.
As Barquith enthused about Saladin's extraordinarily wide interests in literature and mathematics, the friends were disturbed by a commotion at the other end of the foyer. "Hey, watch where you're going!" they heard Darcie cry, as a brown-robed figure bumped into the twins. The figure showed no sign of stopping as he ran towards Mike, Ellie and Barquith. As the russet-robed runner just avoided a collision, two pieces of paper fell from his robes. He then disappeared into the crowd of people streaming towards the exit.
"These look interesting," said Ellie as she picked up the papers. "I wonder what they mean?"