On the voyage from Venice to Rome I was a bit sad. Well to be honest I was about to make myself ill with annoyance, every time I thought about the unknown man and his lovely cock. I was sad that I never again should meet him, and I was sad because Folletto in my absence seemed to have taken my place in Paolo's bed. Not that he didn't care for me anymore, but there just wasn't room for me in his bed.

In stead of Paolo I seized the opportunity to feel il Bello Muto's eager dick. It wasn't as good as it had been with Paolo, but it was surely better than doing it myself. We travelled for four days before we reached the Christian capital.

Paolo's castle Montegiordano with its two proud towers is situated so close to the pope's Castel Sant'Angelo (the Castle of the Saint Angle) that only the Tiber separates them.

Montegiordano's inner courtyard was covered with men waiting for their master to return after five long years of absence. As our carriage entered the gates they all clapped their hands. And Paolo made a low bow in their honour. Folletto and il Bello Muto was smiling all the time. And me. I just followed their example, what else was I to do.

Latter I learned that most of the men in Paolo's courtyard were wanted criminals who Paolo had given shelter and protection, because he had the right of asylum. I didn't understand it at first, but Folletto explained it to me, and the right of asylum is a privilege that the pope has given to several noblemen - among them my master. The right of asylum gives the noblemen in question the right to shelter whom ever they want, even if the person they are protection is a criminal wanted by the chief of police-il Bargello. A funny system isn't it!

Shortly after our arrival at the castle an unknown man came to talk to Paolo. I don't know what they talk about, but my guess is that it was Isabella. The man left quickly after, he didn't look happy, even when I sent him one of my usual charming smiles. He just nodded politely as he spurred his horse and rode out through the open gates.

He was quit handsome, in his own way. And I latter learned that his name was Marcello and that he was the caretaker at the castle of Bracciano where Isabella had been locked up for five years.

To days latter Raimondo, Paolo's cousin, paid Paolo a visit. As Raimondo entered the room where Paolo, Folletto, il Bello Muto and I were at the time, Paolo asked us to leave them. He wanted to speck with Raimondo alone. I followed Folletto and il Bello Muto to a conjoint room where we all listened at the door, trying to hear what the two men in the next room were talking about.

'Have you done it?' Paolo asked.

'Yes' Raimondo answered.

'Did you show her my letter?'

'Yes, I did. When Isabella saw me beneath the walls of the castle together with my esquire and a strong escort - she knew what that meant, and it was hardly necessary to show her your letter. Still she received me with her usual, 'open' courtesy. I couldn't spot the least sign of fear on her beautiful face as she asked me to sit down for a glass of wine. She even entertained me the most obliging way.'

'What did she say? Any message for me?' Paolo's voice was trembling.

'She asked me to thank you for letting her live five years after her improper thing with Ludovico. It was a lot more than she had dared to hope for. And she asked me to tell you that she was honoured that you couldn't bring yourself to kill her but had to have another man for the harsh job.'

'Did you use the red string of silk, according to the usual practice?'

'No, I didn't. She begged me not to. She pleaded with me, wanting me to use my dagger in stead of the red silk. She didn't want to die ugly.'

'Didn't you do it right away?' Paolo's voice was thick with anger.

'No, dear cousin, she asked for three days, and I granted her three days. But on the second I killed her, before she had time to be afraid. Don't worry; she wasn't alone, when I killed her.'

The room fell quiet for a moment.

'Here you are, the twenty thousand gold ducts I promised you:'

'We agreed on thirty,' Raimondo's voice was harsh.

'You will only get twenty. Marcello was here two days ago and he told me some of the other things you and your men did while you stayed at my castle. So twenty it is. If you don't want it, just leave the purse on the table.'

'You are going to regret this, this is war, Paolo.'

'Are you insulting me?' Paolo's voice was calm.

'No. I am merely telling you that if you don't give me the thirty thousand ducats of gold we agreed on you will be declaring me war, dear cousin.'

'Get out of my house, Raimondo. If it is war you want, it is war you will get.'

Raimondo left in anger, and shortly after he had left Paolo called for il Bello Muto. Folletto and I stayed in the room enjoining ourselves the best way we knew how.



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