“Lord Dominico sir, come quickly!” shouted one of the Blackcoats as he knocked open Dominico’s door. It was unusual for one of his men to be so bold and distraught so he gathered his coat about his shoulders and strode with haste towards the door. He took a moment to grab his sword off the desk and strap it around his waist.
“Report,” he demanded curtly.
“Yes sir, its Lady Fiorella’s casket room, he’s trying to get in.”
“Just one man?” asked Dominico in shock, “In a fortress full of guards?”
The Blackcoat looked nervous, wringing his hands. “He may look like a street urchin and smell like a brewery, but he fights like a demon possessed!”
Dominico drew his sword, fearing the worst. He could hear the sounds of fighting and shouting ahead and he picked up his pace. Rounding the corner he saw a sight that would be comical in another situation. Six of his Blackcoats were being held off in the corridor by a semi naked, mud covered lout. He was not particularly big but he was brandishing a wooden training sword with skill and surety, slurring words beyond Dominico’s hearing at the men in front of him. The lord of Mirandola was in no mood for this and barked at his men to stand aside. They parted and Dominico went straight in without hesitation, deftly blocking the man’s attack. There was something familiar about the way the drunkard fought but Dominico couldn’t quite place it. They traded blows for a few seconds before Dominico stepped inside the man’s guard and punched him straight across the jaw. The man collapsed in a heap and started… sobbing.
“For being drunk and disorderly, for breaking into the keep of the city lord and for…”
“Please Dominico, just let me see her?” The voice was familiar and with a start Dominico withdrew his sword and pulled the man to his feet.
The man sobbed again, “I just want to see her one more time.”
Dominico dismissed his men, they didn’t need to see this. He put his arm under his friend and steadied him, unsure what to say.
“I don’t think it will do you any good my boy. Here come with me and we’ll find you a bed, get you sober.”
Marcello struggled loose shouting, “I don’t want to be sober!”
Dominico struggled with him for a short while until Marcello looked him straight in the eye and appeared to sober up for a moment, “Just one last time Dominico, for everything we have been through I want to see her. I suggest you let me through.”
Marcello always had a way with words, a way of convincing people. Dominico softened, took a key from his pocket and gave it to Marcello, “Take what time you need. But then I need you to clean yourself up and get back with it. We need you.”
With that Dominico took his leave, allowing the slightly unsteady Marcello to access the room where the body of Lady Fiorella Stefania Marietta Di Parrera lay out ready for burial.
“I’m sorry,” he cried, “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there.” Marcello sobbed over the immaculately dressed figure. She looked peaceful and serene as he grasped her hand. He swallowed the last drops of the third bottle he had brought with him and cast it aside, watching as it rolled across the floor, stopping at the door.
“I know you were never mine, I know that. But I was always yours.” Marcello spun as the door opened, he was sure he had locked it. A man with bloodshot eyes stepped into the room. Despite the overwhelming smell of rum coming from him, his step was steady as he closed the door behind himself and strode forward. Marcello cracked the seal on his last bottle, a non-standard bottle of rum. He took a swig and turned from the man who had entered. He did not want to talk to Phillippe right now. The Duke of Archion seemed to sense Marcello’s feelings and did not speak, merely kneeling down next to him.
For some time they knelt by the body, Phillippe looking sombre and Marcello drinking from his last bottle. After a short while Phillippe held his hand out and beckoned for a drink. Marcello shook his head, “You shouldn’t drink this.”
“It’s okay, it won’t do to me what its going to do to you. You shouldn’t drink alone.”
Marcello handed the bottle over, Phillippe took a sip and screwed up his face. The drink was bitter and foul.
“I understand,” said Phillippe slowly, “I just wish it wasn’t so.” Tears rolled down Phillippe’s face as he put his arm around Marcello. Marcello stiffened, ready to push him away but gave up and relaxed into the man’s hug.
“This is no longer our world,” mumbled Marcello, beginning to slump as the poison took its effect, “It’s theirs now, we’ve done our part. It’s time to sleep.”
The next morning, the guards found Phillippe putting the finishing touches to another body in a casket. Marcello, cleaned up as best he could and laid out in ceremony next to Fiorella. There was a moment of silence before all the bells in Mirandola tolled in mourning, for Fiorella and unbeknownst to most, for a man who pushed papers behind the scenes and loved a woman.