1617: xxv

Gilles’ silhouette filled the doorway as the firelight blinded the set of eyes within. The iron bars swung aside and the Count sauntered in towards a huddle of rags in the corner.

“Are you enjoying your stay?” Gilles asked. The old man didn’t move. The Count gave him a little prod with his foot. “Hm?”

“Leave me be, I beg you, leave me be,” the man mumbled in a heavy accent.

“I cannot. Not until I have an answer,” Gilles gave him another prod, “It will be a very long time before you have another opportunity to free yourself. Isn’t there an old saying about controlling destiny?”

“He who submits to fate without complaint is wise,” the Greek murmured.

“That wasn’t the one I was thinking of, but if you are as wise as they say…tell me what your fate is.”

The old man looked up at Gilles.

“I am here. I do not complain.”

The Count sighed with annoyance.

“Stay here and we can arrange for you to have your legs stretched regularly,” Gilles cast a glance back at the guard, who began to laugh.

“Yes, Monsieur, we can do that!” he exclaimed.

“Or you can accept His Excellency’s offer and I’ll take you far from here to a place you can work in peace,” suggested Gilles.

“How can I do what he asks? It may be the impossible,” the man groaned.

“Choose. Die here in this…dank tomb or leave with me. Yes, you may fail and still die later, but at least then you will have seen the sky and the sun.” Gilles crouched down to look into the Greek’s face. “So what does Fate say?”

“Very well,” the Greek sighed. “I shall become His Excellency’s slave.”

“That sounds like a complaint,” Gilles pointed out as he motioned the guard forward.

i       xxiv


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