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Journals (pp13-15)

15 Mardal, late. pp 13-15

I have seen the enemy, whoever it might be. I have also seen a lady whom I hope to make more than just a friend. And I have met a man the likes of whom I hope to become some day.

I walked out of the Crown and Anchor as the tower bell was tolling six. Andrew had given me good directions to the family House. My obvious breeding and the cut of my clothes got me past the guards at the gates to the upper city and I strolled up the short distance to the Marat enclosure. There I presented my invitation to the guard, who called a page to escort me to the main house. By the time I reached the front door enough time had elapsed that I felt comfortable.

The door warden took my cape and showed me into the sitting room, which was filled. Andrew had not prepared me for just how many people would be in attendance. To his credit, he immediately came to me, embraced me and introduced me to his father and mother. Phillip is a picture of robust good health combined with age. His hair is mixed grey and brown, cut short in the style of his generation. Serena Marat, Andrew’s mother, has silver hair and a gentle grace about her. The two are clearly still very much in love. Andrew introduced me as “my new best friend” and extolled my virtues in the arts and wit. I hope that I did not do anything to disabuse them of his assessment.

I say this because I was distracted at the time. There was a woman present who outshone all of the others, and not just because of her flaming red hair. She was poised, well dressed in an outfit which was designed to be modest while inflaming the imagination of any male in the room. There were several young lords paying court to her, and Andrew was lingering in the vicinity of his parents, damn him.

He then introduced me to his brother Raymond, an obnoxious and sarcastic person, who immediately attempted to insult me in a way he seemed to think was clever. Rosanne and Pierre were more pleasantly spoken, but still seemed to be somewhat hesitant to be seen with Andrews “new best friend.” Andrew introduced me to several other people whose names I don’t remember, friends of his siblings. Then he introduced me to the redhead.

Emille is her name. She is his sister, the one I had written earlier as Emily. She smiled at me as I kissed her hand, and professed herself glad to meet me, as apparently Andrew had mentioned me. I was able, barely, to keep up a conversation while trying not to lose myself in her eyes. Luckily dinner was served shortly so that I did not have to keep up my conversation for long.

The dinner was excellent, at least as far as the food was concerned. I used the opportunity to test my ability to use the poison detection amulet unobtrusively. I certainly succeeded as far as the others seated at my table were concerned, but the elder Marat spotted me and let me know via an inquiry as to my health that he had done so. I informed him that my health was excellent, and likely to remain so, then turned to conversation. After dinner, when we were gathered once more in the sitting room for drinks, I thanked him for his courtesy and let him know that I was mostly concerned for his son’s health, not my own. He told me that he was glad that his son had such friends and shook my hand. Should I survive another thirty years, I hope I may be able to be as insightful and as courteous as he is.

Chance and the flow of the gathering then allowed me some time to talk with Emille. She professes the greatest love and respect for Andrew and a total lack of desire for power. And when I acknowledged that I found her most agreeable, she said that, being a redhead, she had a fondness for the same. That caused me to blush nearly to the color of my beard, the which she found amusing enough to kiss me on the cheek.

Damn Fate and all the gods. She is one of the four people most likely to be conspiring to cause Andrew’s death. I cannot believe it of her, but that could be either because she is not, or that she is a consummate player. I will dream of her tonight, I know.

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