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part one.

Part one
Madrid, Spain
“It is magnificent, is it not?” The King of Spain uttered softly.

His hands folded behind his back, his face gently illuminated by the setting sun, he looked every bit as majestic as his breeding declared him to be. The ruler of the most powerful country in the world rarely had time to stand on the veranda of his citadel and survey his kingdom, but today he had deigned to grant himself this rare treat. Unlike many kings of Europe, Philip II was handsomely imposing and did not need to rely upon artistic talents to portray himself as a great and godly man.

There was a small, rippling movement in the shadows. The King did not stir and, moments later, another man stepped out of the darkness and onto the veranda. A native Spaniard like Philip, the man was olive-skinned and had dark eyes, although his hair was a few shades lighter and would pass for a cola-brown as opposed to a deep black. He was clean and smooth-shaven. Rather than following the King’s gaze he kept his calm and calculating stare on the man himself. Although he carried himself with the air of a gentleman of the court and his appearance was enough to betray his breeding, the second man had an aura which reeked of sly intelligence. His position as a high advisor to the King, then, was unsurprising.

Si, my lord,” he replied smoothly. “The beauty of your vision rivals even the inspiring awe of the palacio de nazaires. Might I add that, although I feel a deep-seated admiration for the great ancestral Kings and for your father’s prominence, only an Emperor of your calibre and genius could have engineered such a master scheme.”

Outright flattery was an unwritten law in any court, and without it no courtier could hope to advance his career. Although he heard this type of comment several times a day, it pleased King Philip to indulge in the verbal offerings of his subjects. He never grew tired of the constant reminders of his superiority.

“That bastard Queen has tormented me one time too many,” Philip’s hands had fallen to his sides, and now they clenched uncontrollably into fists. “I will show her and the rest of her heretic country the true path to God.”

The advisor’s lips twitched, but only for a second. “God be merciful.”

“We certainly shan’t be.” The Emperor turned his back to his country and faced his subject, studying him closely. The advisor, used to such scrutiny, did not need to expend much effort in keeping his face unreadable; he had had many years of practice at the art. “They are loading the guns and gathering the crews as we speak. Next month, the Armada will set sail with the glory of impending triumph in her heart. See to it that everything is ready in time, Lord Mallos.”

Lord Mallos inclined his head. “Your wish is my command, your Highness.”

    • part two. -
    • part three. -
    • part four. -
    • part five. -
    • part six. -
    • part seven. -
    • part eight. -
    • part nine. -
    • part ten. -
    • epilogue -

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