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A Plot Revealed
By James Anderson
© 2024 James LaFond
The cold mire of the street did little to sober the man hurled into it.
“And don’t come back!” Someone shouted, they sounded muffled and far away.
Rising out of the sucking mud, the man staggered to his feet. Swaying from side to side and wiping his face, he turned toward the door to offer some rebuke, but was met with the bundle of his effects striking him in the chest. “Damned mercenaries,” came with the slamming of the door.
The man, Jean D’Vigny, was indeed a mercenary. As were many at the close of the 16th century, with Europe torn apart by religious and secular wars. He likewise felt damned, penniless as he was after a failed campaign, reduced to labor, hungover, and soaked in caking mud, unable to afford even a room for himself.
“In better days we would have burned that place to the ground and taken all the wine for ourselves with that swine groveling at our feet!” He thought as he spat with indignation. Picking up his things and shaking out the mud he started down the road.
He stirred at the sight of a stream winding away into a nearby wood. Washing himself in the bitterly cold water, the mud fell away to reveal a handsome countenance aged prematurely by a life of vice and violence. A long scar ran across his left cheek covered partly by a long and thick black mustache, which contrasted deep-set hazel eyes bewitched with a sword-edge cunning.
Sobered by the ice-cold water, he buckled his sword belt around his hips from which hung the only thing of value he possessed; a longsword, of Milanese make, which he had looted from a campaign many years ago.
“Help! Oh God, have mercy!” A cry came suddenly through the trees.
“Shut up old man!” A cruel voice retaliated.
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