Cardinal Richelieu marched down the corridor; he was on his way to see the young Dauphin Francis. The Cardinal was about to confront him on something, but due to the nature of the incident it must be done with an air of caution. The result of raising knowledge of this matter may result in Armand losing his head. And that was not something he was prepared to risk.
Although the danger was great, he felt confident he would be able to speak to his Highness carefully without upsetting him. After all, Armand was not going to make a habit of angering the heir to the throne.
Armand had been watching the young Prince very carefully for the past few months, and now that his suspicions had been close to confirmed. The Dauphin had interests in men, in particular one of his courtiers, Pierre Delacroix. Of course Armand could not be completely sure; he knew his suspicions could never be confirmed 100%, but Armand had ways of eliminating any distractions in the Prince’s court. And at this moment in time, Pierre was the biggest distraction. But this was no concern of the Cardinal, he had ways of getting what he wanted, and right now, he wanted that revolting homosexual out of the palace and away from the Prince.
It was easy enough to protect the Prince’s true orientations from the rest of the country but not whilst that man was still roaming free about the palace.
The Cardinal opened the door that lead to the Prince’s private chambers. The guards had stood back and saluted as he hurried past.
“Your Grace,” the men nodded as the Cardinal passed. The Cardinal ignored the King’s guards. The King’s Guards were the men dressed in blue in the palace, the Red Guard, which were the men in his elite army, wore red. They fought like cat and mouse. Well like a lion and a mouse, the Red Guard, naturally, being the lions, they were the best of the best. The Cardinal had no time for any less.
Not only did the Cardinal portray distaste for the King’s Guards but also for the general serving staff. They were rude and possessed neither manner nor class. Armand was a very busy man and had no time to waste for idle chit-chat with the working classes. The never said anything worth listening to, and quite frankly, Armand was not interested in what they had to say. Even though they were dressed up in wonderful finery and such beautiful clothes they were still scum, just ruffians dressed as wealth, it disgusted him to see the paupers roaming around the palace.
The men did not take it personally that the Cardinal had ignored them. He was well known for being sharp with all the servants around the palace, especially the King’s Guards. They were the men who protected him and the King and yet Armand still thought they were beneath him. Without their loyalty and their protection Armand would certainly be dead. Armand had… many enemies and had several failed assassination attempts to his name as well. It was safe to say the Cardinal was not the most popular man in the whole of France.
He came to another set of doors, it was no surprise to him that they were manned; it was on his order that two men be stationed there. The two men, two Red Guards, stood to attention as he approached. He smiled; it was rather convenient having his men stationed so close to the Prince. It meant that he could keep tabs on the Dauphin’s private affairs.
Armand recognised the men; one was Captain Vincent Daniau, one of his most trusted officers. He had been in the Cardinal’s service for many years and he is one of the few men the Cardinal knows the true loyalty of. It had been tested many times, both men had been in the war together, it was then the Cardinal confirmed the most loyal of his men. Daniau had saved his life. The Cardinal did not have friends, but if he did Daniau would be his closest one.
“Your Grace,” Vincent said standing to attention.
“Daniau, inform someone I am here to see the Dauphin.” The Cardinal ordered.
“Thomas,” Vincent said to his partner. “As the Cardinal says,”
“Sir,” Thomas saluted before marching into the next room.
“How are you Sir?” Daniau asked he frowned at Armand; he looked tense, like he had something on his mind.
“Fine, yes I am well Daniau.” The Cardinal replied quickly. He tapped his foot impatiently, he glanced around the corridor. It was a beautiful room, the whole palace was.
“Armand,” Vincent said softly, he knew the Cardinal better than anyone else could ever dream of knowing him. Vincent knew that underneath the black and red leather and the hardened face that there was a troubled man, one who was under a constant strain from not only the King, but the whole of France it seemed some days. He was desperate to help his friend, but he had that evil glint in his eye. And Vincent knew that whatever he was about to do was not going to be good.
“That would be your Grace to you,” Armand hissed. Daniau forgot himself. That was not alright. Yes he may have saved him, but that was a lifetime ago. So much had changed since then.
“Your Grace,” Vincent replied through gritted teeth.
“More like it boy,” the Cardinal replied.
“Boy?” Vincent exclaimed astounded. “I am your oldest friend, I saved your life, and besides I am five years older than you!” he cried. Vincent was right, but he must not know that, the Cardinal thought.
“I have no friends, especially not a low ranking solider.” He snarled, though his face replied emotionless his voice was as harsh as anything Vincent had heard before.
“You were once a solider as well Armand, you make out to be an angel send from God but you are not. You pretend that you lived a life of luxury, but your backgrounds are most humble. Jean.” He said the word. That word, that word, Armand hated it so much.
“You dare,” he began.
“I do dare Armand, because that is not who you are. You are Jean, a poor maid’s bastard son. Why you are none the better than most of the people who serve you,” Vincent shot back. He was now stood square to the Cardinal. By now the men from the other doors had been alerted, the two King’s Guards stood in shock at the Red Guard talking to the Cardinal with such a blunt tongue.
“Arrest this man!” the Cardinal commanded. Neither of the men moved. “Are you deaf or do you take pleasure form ignoring orders. I said arrest this man!”
“Sir,” one of the men said stepping forwards. He reluctantly took hold of Vincent’s arm. Although there was much tension between the two sets of guards the two men could see that this Red Guard had not done anything illegal. “Your Grace, what is the charge that this man has committed?” he asked.
“You fool, you heard him yourself; he spoke of plans to kill the Dauphin, the man you are supposed to be guarding. He wishes to murder the King’s son!”
“Sir,” the two King’s Guards took hold of Vincent and lead him away sorrowfully. Armand knew it was cruel; he was well aware that the bond soldiers had together was stronger than one of blood, they were brothers in the forces. But he did not have time. The Cardinal had something to do and he was not going to let Vincent stop him.
The second of his guards returned. His name was Thomas, Armand was not sure what rank he was, and he did not really care. He marched back down the corridor; he was being followed by another young man of a far more nervous disposition. He too was dressed in finery, he had a distinct walk. One that, if asked, the Cardinal would place at a rundown part of the town. Somewhere he would like to forget, the place that he was born. But that was a secret.
“Your Grace,” the other boy began. The Cardinal held his hand up as if to stop the boy from saying anything else.
“Admit me access to the Dauphin at once,” he commanded.
“I am terribly sorry Sir, but you cannot come in, his Highness had refused anyone access to him.” He informed the Cardinal. Armand was beginning to get angry at this boy.
“Do you know who I am?” he snarled. The boy looked petrified. The Cardinal smiled, on the inside of course, he enjoyed seeing people in discomfort.
“Of course, your Grace, but…”
“But what?” he demanded. “Go on, I demand to know what your feeble excuse is.”
“His Highness does not wish you in his presence Sir,” the man said bitterly.
“I warn you boy!” the Cardinal snarled.
“Lord,” the man replied. “Lord of Jaméy,”
The Cardinal smiled, this boy was trying to pull rank on him. He found it most amusing. “My Lord,” he said “your Father, the Duke of Jaméy, how the devil is he?” he asked.
The young Lord’s face flashed red. “My Father, the Duke, is dead. You of all people must know that,”
“No,” the Cardinal exclaimed falsely. “When and where did he die?”
“My Father was ambushed and killed by Spanish spies,”
“My most sincere and noble condolences, the Duke and Duchess of Jaméy were most gracious people. I see you have not inherited your Father’s title,”
“No, I did choose not to inherit,”
“How peculiar, who now sits as the Duke of Jaméy?” The Cardinal asked intrigued.
“My sister sits as Duchess and her noble husband, the former Sir Alexander of Philliper holds my Father’s title with more grace and virtue than I could ever do so.”
“But you, as a man of such noble bearing, surely must have inherit, it is your birth right,”
“It was my birth right, Sir, now it is my sister’s. I am not interested in being a Duke, I just long to serve at the Prince’s side. I will go and speak to his Highness, I cannot make any promises, Your Grace, but I will do my best.”