The day of our release Raimondo tool me that he would receive the ten thousand gold ducats in exchange for us, and that he had promised Paolo to release all three of us. He also told me that he had hoped that Paolo wouldn't pay the whole ransom, because that would have given him the possibility to keep me. But that wasn't meant to be.

At the exchange of ransom and hostages Raimondo and Paolo were to see eye to eye for the first time since their fatal meeting where Paolo had declared war on Raimondo. The negotiations about the release of Raimondo's hostages were led by the soldier who had trapped me.

As I mounted the wagon which was going to bring us back to Paolo I just feel well. It was the first time after the blow on my head that I saw Folletto and il Bello Muto again. They both looked good. A small escort, consisting of Raimondo himself, the soldier - whose name I still didn't know - and four other noblemen, accompanied the wagon.

Having pasted the bridge over the Tiber we could all see Paolo standing in front of the gateway of his castle.

'I see that you have brought an escort,' Paolo's voice was clam as he spoke to Raimondo. The duke smiled at us as we step out of the wagon. 'Your hostages look well. I have the ransom money right here'. His cold eyes made my blood run cold as he grabbed a brown sac of coins.

'Just a single question before you go; have you made love to my lovers?' Paolo's question was without warning. Raimondo smiled, both he and I knew that, if he would tell the truth, he would sign my death sentence.

'Your question insults both me and your minions; don't you have any faith in them, at least?'

Paolo looked even more angrily at him after this response. But he tried his best to control his growing rage repeating his question.

'Did you or didn't you?'

'No, I didn't. I tried to, but none of them dared to. Unfortunately.'

'You wretch scoundrel!' Paolo shouted. 'I don't believe you. Who do you think you are? You are going to regret this!'

'Watch out, Paolo! Don't cross that line!'

Just like Paolo Raimondo was foaming with rage, and in this hot-tempered mood he drew his sword.

'How do you dare to raise your sword against me? How dare you?'

'How dare I?' Raimondo cried even louder and raised his sword a bit higher. At just that moment the soldier who ambushed me grabbed Raimondo's wrist, trying to make him back off, but Raimondo broke loose with force, and as a result of that forceful movement his sword hit Paolo with full strength in the belly.

Struck with horror I saw a small, narrow streak of blood running from the wound Raimondo's weapon had inflicted on the duke's body.

Simultaneously Paolo had drawn his own sword and in an adroit movement he planted it in Raimondo's chest, just below the heart. The surprise in Raimondo's face told me that this was totally unexpected. A scarlet streak of blood slowly appeared and ran down Raimondo's chest. Neither the duke's men nor Raimondo's escort moved. The situation was tense, extremely tense. Before Paolo's men had time to reach, Raimondo's escort - without the duke's dying cousin - left in a hurry, leaving Folletto, il Bello Muto and me behind.

Quickly we brought Paolo and Raimondo to the castle to take care of their wounds. I suddenly realised that both my lovers were dying. There would be no one to take care of us if they both died.


It is I, Azizo THE WASP, who is writing these last few lines. As you see, Folletto's teaching has finally paid off, I am able to speak, read and write Italian fluently. It is now three days since my master il Grandissimo, Bellissimo and Valentissimo Paolo Giordano Orsini, duke of Bracciano died, and Raimondo pasted away more than a week ago.

We, Folletto, il Bello Muto and I, stayed with Paolo until the soul had left his wounded body. Irresolute and utterly perplexed we kept his dead a secret for two whole days. Folletto wept all the time and il Bello Muto seemed to be going out of his mind with grief. And I, well I just didn't know what to do nor think.

On the morning of the second day Folletto had vanished, he was nowhere to be found. And that was the last straw for il Bello Muto. His sensible mind couldn't take anymore. With large tears running down his beautiful face he ran to the window of Paolo's room and threw himself out of it. The cold waters of the Tiber swallowed him up.

I was alone. And in my darkest hour of need and desperation the rescue came from a totally unexpected person - the soldier who had ambushed me.

François d'Alençon, a French nobleman, the hitherto unnamed soldier who had served both Paolo and Raimondo is sleeping by my side. We are on our way to France where - at least that is what François has told me, before we fleet Paolo's castle - he has powerful allies. Perhaps it is true that he is the brother of King Henry the 3rd of France?



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