you were right. I did lecture Ramon, I could not help myself. At least that went better than any of such talks I ever had with Juan. I hope I learned something since then about agreeing to disagree and of course it is easier when I am not talking to my own son. But not all that much.
I am probably a bit idealistic when it comes to marriage. After all, we never spent much time apart and when we did, we never hid what we were doing from each other, even the more questionable things. We fought more times than I can count, but at least there are no big secrets. Well. I hope Ramon’s secret does not come back to haunt him.
Especially since it already seems to be common knowledge in the Labyrinth. Alain and Ramon attended a small party at the Montaigne embassy and Ramon was challenged to a duel by Antonio Rios de Nunez, Esmeralda‘s would be-lover, a young man who seems to be a good deal more rash than is healthy for him. At the same time, Alain made a Musketeer the target of his sharp tongue – or rather a man who wore the uniform without actually being a Musketeer. And since Alain is not a member of the Swordman’s Guild, Ramon agreed to fight for him once he had finished his own quarrel. Logan was called in as Ramon’s second. Insulted by the false Musketeer’s second, Jerome Sices du Sice, he joined the ranks of the duellists.
I missed all this because I was at the Eisen embassy to meet with Javier. He did warn me that, to quote the note he passed me, my ‘friends are attracting attention’, but I would have been surprised if it had been otherwise. So I did not worry too much and met with Javier at the agreed time. And it’s a good thing I did because he told me that one of the duellists has a tendency to solve his problems with poison. He gave me a small bottle with some liquid as a precaution. Before I left for the Montaigne embassy, I arranged a meeting between Ramon and Javier and we agreed that I would meet with Javier’s mistress, Donna de la Noche, once I had found out who the real spy for occupied Castille is – we both agree that Raphael is only a distraction, although a very effective one. He also asked me to find out what made Alain insult the false Musketeer. I’m definitely interested in that, but if I will tell Javier about it, I am not sure.
Meanwhile, Lucia had arrived at the Montaigne embassy together with Esmeralda just in time for Ramon’s first duel with Antonio Rios. Esmeralda clearly showed whom she would prefer to win and Ramon did indeed have little trouble with that duel. I made my way to the garden when the second duel was to begin and saw Ramon’s opponent collapse, poisoned by the wine he had just drunk and coughing up a great deal of blood. His second began to shout about Castillian murderers and cowards and for a moment the mood turned against us. I put all my trust in Javier at that moment and gave the man the, I hoped, antidote. I think only Logan, who kneeled next to me noticed the bottle (that probably did nothing to further Logan’s trust in me). I managed to explain away the incident, saying that it was just an ulcer that caused the bleeding and the Montaigne doctor who had been called agreed with me. The poison had caused heavy bleeding and kept the blood flowing, but so far, no-one except us and the poisoner knows about this.
Jerome Sices du Sices had used the confusion caused by his accusations to vanish into the crowd. Lucia and Esmeralda tried to follow him and only just saw him stepping through a portal created by Porté sorcery. We later found out that there is no Jerome Sices du Sice and so the true identity of the man is unknown.
A Musketeer offered to stand in for his poisoned comrade and so Ramon did fight his second duel. He lost, but against an opponent like Jean Paul Gaulle dul Motte that is no great shame. I do wonder what dul Motte and his friends will say when they find out that he fought to defend the honour of a fraud.
Esmeralda’s father has chosen Lucia as her new best friend – he practically ordered Lucia to befriend her. So far, this actually seems to be working, although I am not sure if the ambassador will be happy with the results. In any case, he wants Esmeralda to travel into Castille for a while, so it seems that I will see more of it than I have for some time. But our plans to travel to Ramon’s home have not changed, so we will see each other in a few weeks. I wish time would go by faster…although the last days have been exciting enough.