Monday, June 30, 2008

The Ruse

A shrouded figure stood in the shadows, watching Ruby enter the seedy tavern. He crossed confident that she had found who she was looking for and would not suspect she had been followed. A few gold coins passed wordlessly to the tavern keeper who nodded, and Dante took a seat in the corner to wait.

After what seemed like hours of wait, Dante finally had the tavern keeper personally serve the cup of mulled wine to him, three fingers visible on the outside. Dante slipped upstairs, following the stranger who had entered minutes before. He crouched at the door of the third room on the landing. He stood listening to her emotional pleas. The male voice was commanding, chilling and powerful. Despite his profession, Dante was glad this assignment did not directly involve having to face this man. Having heard all he needed, his silent feet carried him off to a more reputable establishment.

“My Lord.” Dante bowed his head slightly at Marcus who slouched in a corner booth. Another thickset man sat in the shadows. Marcus’s stare penetrated Dante's usual icy demeanor. Another chill went down Dante's spine. Tonight had brought out the devils own. He crossed himself unconsciously and clutched at his crucifix before continuing.

“It is as you suspected,” Dante murmured. “She sails with him within the week to Corunna”

“Damned woman,” Marcus growled. “Get your best man to follow her and join the crew.”

“As you wish my Lord” Dante meekly replied, his eyes cast down. He had no wish to exchange looks with either of these gentlemen. “When would you like her dispatched?”

“Not yet. Just send me information via the usual networks. Oh and Dante. Refrain from using my title. Remember who I am.” Marcus replied and with a flick of his pure white hand a small pouch of gold appeared beside Dante, who was only too pleased to escape.

"Why didn’t you just take that silly girl as a mistress? After her poor parents so tragically passed away, you already owned their entire fortune. There was no reason to marry her,” the shadowed figure sneered.

“My dear Earl Fedele, just because your entire family lacks any moral fibre or decency, does not mean that others do not have that sensibility.” Marcus hissed. “May I remind you that your dear cousin has just sold the Kings favoured into piracy”

“Don’t lecture me on decency, brother,” Fedele spat. “Just recall who gave you aid when you were forced to flee Rome after your …. indiscretions.”

“You flaunt our relationship easily when you wish to mock me. Our father never recognized me. I am now forced to live the life of an impoverished tailor,” Marcus venomously replied.

“Your cry poor - when you have a villa in Sorrento, your gentlemen’s outfitters in every fashionable city in Italy and your expansive home here not enough?” Fedele retorted. “Bide your time brother. Our rightful place in the kingdom will take place. Best not be distracted by this slip of a girl. Strip her and get her body dumped in the harbour. No-one will take any notice of another whores death. Focus on our goal, forget this foolish captain. He means nothing to the plan.”

Marcus’s eyes met Fedele's and softened. “You were always the wise one. Let us forget our childish quarrels. However, you have missed an important factor. The maps were embedded on my intaglio. Ruby stupidly believed that without them, my fashions would be stopped and for some reason I would be ruined. We need to get those patterns back – without them our plan is for nothing.”

Fedele's lithe, perfectly manicured fingernails rapped the thick wooden table. With a finger he summoned a neighbouring merchant. He lent over and whispered “You have heard all?” The intelligent eyes of a soldier squinted in agreement. “Ensure you have four of your best enlist with this captain. Find where Ruby has smuggled the intaglio and replace them with near copies. Marcus will have these ready for the swap tomorrow.”

This forms part of an ongoing series of Captains Juans adventures - first appearing on Pauls' blogs. However the good captain has travel lust and forged his way to mine then to Jodis' and thus earned his own website: