I stared across the table at a man I despised above all others. He had no idea that at that moment I was planning his demise many moves in advance. By the time he would realize he was in danger he would already be in an inescapable checkmate. That fact alone allowed me to stomach and look at the man that was responsible for so much death and suffering; the man that was responsible for the destruction of Mondrego.
Ashief sat at the marbled table in the great library of the Doge’s Palace in Venice. He had died his hair, had some minor surgery to change his face and was wearing what every fashionable professor in Venice was wearing; a boring suit. He was going by the name of Mason Anderson. That didn’t keep me from finding him.
My disgust and hatred for this man was only barely contained by the plan I had in place. If he wasn’t about to prove so useful to me I’d have choked the life out of him right then and there. As it was, my patience and reason won over.
“I can’t believe you found me,” Ashief said with a nervous smile.
“Don’t worry Ashief. I am not here to harm you. In fact, I am here to help you.”
“Why, yes of course. I do not blame you for the destruction of Mondrego. I know it was not your fault. My Sultana trusts you and so I trust you.”
“She trusts me?”
“Yes indeed. In fact she feels lost without you. She IS lost without you. Right now she is in the hands of an amoral vagabond. She still loves you and only you. She needs you now more than she realizes.”
Ashief’s eyes went wide and the faint trace of hope washed across his face.
“Did she ask for me?” The uncouragous man asked.
“Yes she did.”
I had to keep myself from smiling from that ridiculous lie.
“Sultana Bianca needs you and she wants you to come to New Babbage as soon as possible.”
“Well then…I must go!” Ashief said.
“Yes, you really should.”
I left the library and walked through the narrow dark streets of Venice. I was estatic to say the least. The first step of my plan was in place, the first move of the chess game. What made me even more joyful was the knowledge that Ashief would soon be dead.