Chapter 7 - Incognito
Night had fallen on the city of Paris, and one by one, the lights slowly went out. Shadows lengthened, enveloping the city in varying shades of gray and black.
In all the darkness, it would have been nearly impossible to notice the slim figure, cloaked all in black, slipping in and out among the shadows. Slowly, the figure made its way to the ornate tall gate that surrounded the magnificent palace of King Louis, and waited there, out of sight of the guards. Some minutes passed, but the figure still remained by the gate, ever vigilant.
The figure (Milady) turned to a guard who was stealthily walking towards the palace gates, holding his hand over a small bulge in his overcoat. He froze at the sight of the magnificent beauty that stood there before his eyes. Sleek, long brown hair framed her fine features. Her piercing grey eyes, cold and cruel, seemed to bore into his very soul, trapping him in place. Hurriedly, he slipped out the small, palm-sized white package from his overcoat and handed it over. Milady nodded once, and replaced her hood.
The voice that floated from the full, rouged lips would have been sugary sweet, if not for the coldness that infused it like steel.
"Your reward …"
The guard gave a strangled gasp as he felt the dagger laid across his neck.
"We can't have our secret given away, can we?" said Milady sweetly.
With one fluid movement she sent the blade flying across the guard's throat. He crumpled to the ground, a pool of blood beginning to form around his head.
Milady did not even blink an eye. Her cold expression remained the same as she paused to wipe off the blade of her dagger on his coat. Her work here was done, and she must leave swiftly and quietly. With a swirl of black robe, she turned and vanished into the distance, just another lone figure returning home for the day.
Milady walked through the darkness, her grey eyes darting here and there warily. Passing the stable of an inn, she paused, then stepped inside. The stable was completely empty except for the horses, which shifted uneasily at the sight of the black-cloaked figure nearing them.
Without hesitation, she saddled a black stallion and climbed up effortlessly. Whipping the reins, she directed the horse on a southerly course, and rode off. If someone came and discovered the horse was missing, it was no concern of hers.
Milady rode through the now deserted streets of Paris, making sure to keep her hood steady on her head. It would not do to be seen like this. Even if no one would suspect her of anything … Cloaks were just sounfashionable these days.
At last, she came to the outskirts of the city. Several rundown-looking houses and buildings dotted the urban landscape. Slowing down, Milady brought the horse to a stop against the back of a weathered-looking stone building that looked more like a prison than the inn it actually was.
As she dismounted, her well-trained eye detected small movements beneath the pitch-black shadows cast by the building. A horse walked restlessly off to the side, next to a tall man, who stepped out to meet Milady. His sharp, chiseled features were now barely discernible in the darkness. But Milady recognized him well enough.
"Lord Buckingham," she acknowledged coolly.
"Milady," he returned. "Do you have it?" His voice was deep, but with as refined a tone as any of the royalty.
"Yes," said Milady. She produced the small white package and handed it to him. Buckingham slowly unwrapped it, and they both stared at the ornate silver necklace, inlaid with purple stones, that lay within the cloth. Buckingham gave a low whistle.
"Yes," he said. "This will be perfect for our plans. The Cardinal will never see it coming." With a triumphant smirk to himself, he mounted his horse and began to ride away, but Milady called after him.
"Wait," she said, and Buckingham turned back towards her with an appraising glance.
"How shall I benefit from this?"
"Ah ... that shall be seen soon enough," said Buckingham, and with those cryptic words he turned and disappeared into the distance, leaving Milady standing alone in the darkness by the inn.
In their rush, neither of them noticed the almost invisible glow of a candle above them, nor the pale, shocked face plastered to the window, nor the nearly inaudible catch of breath that sounded from the girl at the window as she saw and heard everything that had been exchanged.