Sextus 24, 1667
The travel from Frieburg to the Ussuran border has thus far been fairly uneventful. Rysling approached Gregorio with a torn page from a book. The page bore a sketch that was a fair likeness of Gregorio, though perhaps drawn when he was younger, or else the artist took some liberties with his handsomeness. The sketch bore the underscript “in regards to Javier”. Of course referring to Gregorio’s one-time ward. Sometimes I wonder if I should admit to Gregorio that his failure still lives, but those are not my secrets to tell.
Further, Rysling said that the page came from a book his brother, Wasser, kept in regards to who he wished to kill. No doubt the Count has a page of his own there now, which is unfortunate – the point of the Count is to make friends – not enemies. Gregorio took the page as a warning, but returned it to Rysling. The second page that Rysling had taken proved to be a man with the underscript “In regards to Elaine.” Though we showed it to Royston, he did not recognize the subject of the sketch.
That was several days ago. Today we reached the Ussuran border in the Drachenburg Mountains. Fyodor doesn’t wish to come into Ussura, so he is at the border while the rest of us march forward toward the caravan for Rysling and Tahnik’s sake. Our latest errand for the Daughters.
Sextus 27, 1667
The caravan was amusing. Thousands of wagons, the most I’ve ever seen on one road. Bright and colorful and full of people and noise. I entertained a few children while Gallia took care of the business we had come there to see to. It was Royston’s task, but in many ways it had become her labor. She spent her time with Tahnik during the trip, and seemed distant to me, but her mind was probably focused on… other things.
One of the Fhideli placed a chalk mark on my shoulder blade, marking me as an easy fool for their tricks and deceits. I found it amusing, so I pretended not to notice it, but other than an old fortune-teller woman no one decided to try their luck. I kept the children entertained with whistling while Gallia spoke with their… whatever they call their wagon leaders, and arranged for Tahnik and Rysling to be taken in. With any luck they will have long and happy lives. We left them there, and returned to Fyodor at the border. The goodbyes were not overlong, which was probably for the best.
We then came to the point of deciding whether or not we go to Charouse by Porte, or by way of Eisen. In the end, we chose the way through Eisen. The others did not want to risk the animals, or simply leave them with Fyodor while the rest of us traveled. Hopefully we won’t run in to Wasser again, but with luck we should not have any need to pass through Freiburg, but will instead pass through the lands to the South of it on our way to Charouse.
The land is barren, and small talk can only take you so far. The little crew has come to the point where we are comfortable with silence, and do not feel the need to entertain one another. If all goes well the trip should be peaceful, and then we shall be in Charouse once more. It will be nice to be in more familiar surroundings once more.
Corantine 17, 1667
The Count throws the best parties. A week after we arrived in Charouse I decided it was time to meet and greet the nobles there, including two of the subjects of my purpose: Tristan and Mirabelle Moncelle. They’ve had a son whom they named Albrecht.
Anyway, after we arrived in Charouse we secured a manor house for ourselves to use as a base of operations. The party yesterday was the beginning of the Count’s integration into Charouse society. The goal was simple: become a well-known, well loved, and greatly underestimated member of high society. I hope it will be a great success, and if the party is anything to judge it by, the attempt is going to go remarkably well.
My entrance was a thing of pomp and grandeur, and the party only escalated from there. I was able to speak to the Moncelles and introduce them to the Count. I met Dominique again as well, actually getting to speak with her for a few minutes. It seems that she has more love for her husband than for her father, and is looking forward to the birth of her son. I feel that she too thinks her father wishes her husband dead. Though I still wonder why he does not just order the thing done, it seems an artist by the name of Pascal was sentenced to assassination as the emperor arrived at the party.
Oh yes, the emperor arrived it was the height of the party for most. The difficulty for me was having the courage to face such a necessary evil. Power is a dangerous thing to use flippantly, and the Emperor has always been known to wield it whimsically, like a child might play with a stick, so too he plays with the lives and well-being of his subjects. I saw that he was well attended to, and well entertained, and well fed and dined, but had only the briefest of conversations with him myself. I wanted to leave the party as soon as I found he was coming, but… well, I am growing ever more tired of the Count’s cowardice, and I realized the usefulness of appearing to be on speaking terms with such a man to the rest of the high society of Charouse. That he chose to attend the party was the highest compliment and endorsement the Count could have received and it would have been a grave insult for the host not to be in attendance.
Seeing Mirabelle again was… challenging. I have not thought of romance since I was turned against it by her, but I suddenly found my thoughts assaulted by it, memories of it. Such thoughts played in mind all night long, though she was never the subject of them. She is beautiful still, but her eyes have grown cold. She did not see me, not the real me beneath the Count’s façade, but I saw her. It was the pinnacle of the test of my will and strength of purpose. They both left alive and well, though I was able to secure a foundation for my plans.
Other than that, the party was actually rather enjoyable. The Count danced with a few of the young and beautiful ladies who were in attendance, as well as Isabella. Galina and I were able to dance and dine together, with her posing as the Count’s betrothed. The Count rather seemed to enjoy having Isabella on one arm and Gallia on the other, but Isabella did not seem interested in such a joke, and seemed to prefer to give Gallia and I some distance. Royston danced with my Uccelletta at one point, it seemed there was a woman there who wished to lure him away from the party to her home. I sent Alonso after them, to trail behind and make sure it was safe. It was.
Royston returned all too quickly to interrupt mine and Gallia’s evening with news that his new lady friend wanted arms, and munitions, in regards to some strike against the Emperor. Having no great love for the man, his governance, or sensing anything of import in regards to his situation and my purposes, I agreed to see what I could do. I had already agreed to meet with Tristan, Count Moncelle I mean, in regards to a business arrangement he was hoping to produce, something of a ‘food for arms’ trade with Eisen. I’m to meet with him in a few weeks’ time to discuss the idea and see if it is something that the Count would like to become a financial backer for.
As for now I am exhausted from the party and the sun is already halfway up its morning climb. I need to sleep as the rest of the house has already succumbed to their beds.
Septimus 13, 1667
The meeting with Moncelle went very well today. His business venture shows definite usefulness to my purpose, and he has agreed that the Count shall retain anonymity for his contributions, as well as five percent of the imported products for his own distribution, or stockpiling for the daughters, as the case may be. The plans are laid, and we are very nearly ready. We shall see what becomes of them in time.
Decimus 10, 1667
The last few months have been fairly uneventful, today has had enough event to fill all of those slower days. Charouse, and probably the rest of Montaigne, are in for some difficult times ahead. Noella seems to have sparked a revolution.
Earlier today I received a message from Allende. Reis is back, last seen on the shores of Montaigne by Allende himself. That news however pales in comparison to the national upheaval that began later in that day. At roughly the same time I was divulging that information Noella set out into the city. Galina went after her, but it was not until later that I realized the severity of her request. She called me “Pa-pa” which brought an unexpected joy, but I realize now I was incredibly foolish to believe that someone could have come to show me any kind of love. I was Edouard once more, and once more I was shown that there is no such thing as honesty.
She went to the marketplace, and shot a man in cold blood. The man was an abuser, a cad, but he was a noble. Galina could do nothing to stop her in time, before she took the rifle from a Musketeer and fired upon the man. She dropped him with a single bullet. Unfortunately she was not at all intelligent about her actions, and was immediately arrested in the square and taken to trial. An urchin sent by Galina from the courthouse reached me in time, and the rest of our little crew made it there in record time, myself included.
I convinced Jean-Marie to convince his mother to name her, retroactively, a Musketeer. Her actions could be seen as honorable if they were in the line of duty. Secondly, I acted as her legal counsel. A move which I wish I had made under a different persona, but there was no time. The Count stood and spoke while she was on trial, questioning each witness, and pleading her case to the judge, and the large crowd that had gathered to watch the spectacle of the little mouse being put on trial for the killing of a murderous and dishonorable nobleman. The end result was a matter of cunning that I am actually quite proud of, though I still wish Jean-Marie had allowed me to act in his stead.
It came down to a matter of honor, and so to let honor be satisfied, and to let the judge keep his hands clean of the matter in the eyes of the people and the nobles, I suggested it come down to a matter of a duel. Remy stood for the nobleman, and I stood for Noella. She is capable with a sword, but Remy is a man like me, without scruples and with great cunning, though I know that none would have thought the Count capable of lasting more than six seconds against the great Remy DuMontaigne. Jean-Marie called upon her role as a Musketeer to stand in her, and thus my intended, stead. The two of them fought.
It was hard and bloody, and there was much at risk. Should Jean-Marie we would have lost the musketeers, but I told the rest of our little crew to be ready. The moment the death of Jean-Marie seemed near we would leap into action and rescue Noella. Galina would never forgive me if I were to let her perish, and for all the troubles she has caused me now she is still a cherished piece in my purpose. Fortunately we did not need to, the Musketeers beat us to it. When it seemed that Jean-Marie was defeated, having been driven to his knees and Remy raising his arm for the final swing of his sword, the Musketeers opened fire upon him, and the fight was both over, and just begun.
The crowd, angered and justified, stormed the place, and bloody warfare was opened up. I grabbed Noella and we ran.
I shall write more later, when I have the time.