Viscount Audric Tripoli glared at the purple flags hanging from the balconies as he marched through the Chapelle’s corridor. The younger prince, Louis XVII, was to be properly accepted into the Catholic faith on December twenty first - also the date of Corrine’s birthday. With only three days left to prepare for the service, the palace staff were running amok, with hands full with violet cloth, and the guards reloading and polishing their muskets. But now, the hallways of Versailles were silent. Only the clicking of Audric's boot as he scrambled along the marble floor could be heard.
Audric knew that he - and anyone else who was to meet here, at 5:19 on December eighteenth - were not even supposed to enter the Chapelle de Versailles. They were told to use the one in Paris. That, in itself, was quite odd. But Audric was beginning to think that he knew who had influenced that decision. The King wouldn’t have forced his noblemen to go to a peasant’s church if he hadn’t had someone help make the temporary decree.
Someone like Cardinal Richelieu.
If Audric looked closely at the walls, he could see men in red and black shifting around in the shadows underneath the balconies, and then melting back into the shade.
The intricate plaster engravings of war heroes on the walls stared down at him. Audric shrugged his shoulders.
“Audric!” The sound of Mistress Abrielle’s voice seemed to strike Audric over the head with a rapier’s hilt. What was she doing here? Audric whirled around, glowering at his soon-to-be wife as though she were a criminal who’d just pick-pocketed him on the streets. I thought I told Roseria to clear all of them out!
“Abrielle! What are-” Audric took control of himself, trying not to visibly panic. With a glance to the men in red, hiding in the darkness, he saw a gleam of silver. They’d drawn their swords. Audric shook his head at them, eyes bulging and temples pulsing. If they stepped out of hiding… only the Lord knows what could happen in His Chapelle.
Audric gained control of his fear, clenching his fists before throwing them behind his back. “Abrielle. Shouldn’t you be in town? With Corrine and Colette? With the rest of the women?”
“I wanted to see what was going on,” she murmured, curtsying to him before wringing her hands together nervously. Abrielle’s constantly alert eyes and fearful demeanor made it easy for her to become agitated. Just one sharp word, Audric thought, and all Hell could break loose from its shackles.
“Yes, well. It is the business of a viscount.”
“And shouldn’t the future viscountess know what is going on?” Abrielle asked, brushing her fingers over Audric’s arm. Audric scowled at his shoes, willing himself not to snap. Abrielle was inquiring on a simple question that any woman in her position would ask. Audric wished that their fair gender would not be so nosy. If Audric had said such a thing out loud, he would have been stormed by questions from his fellow noblemen, most of them with a tinge of rude humor to them. But Audric had his reasons for his opinion, and none of them had to do with how pretty the woman was, or whether or not she had a heir to his title. Audric could care less about that. What he was really worried about was whether or not he could trust Abrielle, Corrine, and her sisters of the brothel, not to go behind his back with the news.
They each had rationale to do so.
Corrine, not wanting to get married.
Colette, with her refusing to follow orders.
Caterinetta, falling in love with the wrong man and then being kicked to the slums.
It was only a matter of time before Abrielle found a loophole, an excuse, to turn on him as well. This matter that he was dealing with could very well get him killed, if they were to find out…. oh. Audric’s hands began to tremble at the thought. “And a viscountess knows her place,” he snarled, flicking her hair away from his face. Abrielle’s eyes shone, her eyebrows pressing down. Her forehead wrinkled as she tried to figure out what she had done. “I must do this on my own. I do not need a women, let alone one from a brothel, tagging along with me in this matter. Stop frowning, you get wrinkles if you keep it up.”
“Ah, Viscount Tripoli. I am glad to see you here, especially with your lovely bride to be.” Audric whirled around to see a man in a bright red outfit, white trimming his chest. A red cap sat atop his head, his face clean shaven and his eyes- oh, his eyes. They were nothing but blobs of gray among white on his face. Not stormy like Corrine’s… just blank.
It was Cardinal Richelieu. Audric found himself gulping.
“Sir!” Abrielle immediately fell to her knees. Even she, from the depths of sin, knew that she was to show respect to this man of God. Cardinal Richelieu did not hold out his hand for her to kiss. With steel eyes that look towards each other slightly, and a glazed look or expression that usually showed no interest or emotion, Cardinal Richelieu was a man not to be messed with. Audric had the urge to step backwards. But just as the thought ran through his head, Audric spotted a knife in the Cardinal's hands. Willing Abrielle to stay on her knees, he stared down at his shoes.
The men in the shadows, now noticing that the Cardinal was in the room with them, stepped into the light. Their tunics were dark red, with a white cross that looked to be slapped on hurriedly. As though it was a second thought when designing their uniforms. The flash of their swords made Abrielle flinch, but she remained on her knees.
“Et dixerunt ei numquid ad caedem?” Cardinal Richelieu’s tongue lashed out the Latin words quickly, as if to make sure Abrielle could not catch on to his words: Have you told her of the assassination plan?
Audric shook his head. “Non usque in sangine plenae sunt aquae.”
Not until her blood waters these floors.
Cardinal Richelieu’s lips spread into a sly grin. “Perfect.”