Infernal Plan – click to download a pdf: Infernal_plan
Nicolas Renard dressed quickly, practicing a sad expression in front of the mirror. Soon he is going to learn that the king was dead and that he has succeeded to the throne and needed to look grieved enough. It had to be believable. Nothing can arouse a shadow of the suspicion that perhaps the king’s death was not an accident. It cost him a lot of money to make it look like an accident. He paid the ship’s captain to set fire to the king’s ship at night and arrange for the king not to get out of it. On the high seas, the king should have had no chance of surviving in cold water this early spring. Nicolas was sure that while he was rehearsing his mourning speech, the king’s body had been resting on the seabed for a few hours.
His ambitions were as deep as the open ocean, and he was utterly greedy as for his desire for power. Only a few years ago, he left university as the best student, and even the position of one of the richest men on the island was not enough for him. He wanted to be someone. He was a born leader and organizer and had thousands of ideas on how to rule Le pays des Cygnes. His father died two years ago, and Nicolas was satisfied for a while to inherit his estate and decide on his two younger sisters, but now he wanted something more. He believed that power would satisfy the hunger and emptiness he still struggled with internally. One day he will fulfill all his wishes, and then he will finally be satisfied. And his wishes were never modest. He wanted to be a king.
In addition, he hoped that the power would somehow solve the trouble he had been struggling with for a few weeks. He was engaged to the daughter of a wealthy count, but at the same time he expected a child with another woman, who was a daughter of a local farmer. Nina was pretty and bright, and he succumbed to her charm for a moment, but of course she was nobody. And the worst part was that she naively expected him to marry her. He, the Count and the future King! She and her father were relentless, and of course they made sure that his fiance found out about everything immediately. His engagement was canceled and the young countess’s dowry was out of sight. But Nicolas wasn’t bothered by that now. He will get rid of the ordinary girls somehow, and when he is king, he will be able to choose despite this notch. The young ladies will fall at his feet, and even if the whole island knows that he has an illegitimate child somewhere, they will not care. He knew that power and wealth would help them overlook any flaws in beauty. But Nicolas didn’t have any. He was tall, handsome, with a restless tuft of thick dark hair and a peculiar sense of humor. His only flaw was his character. Otherwise, he was very able. In addition to everything that was given to him, he had a photographic memory and, moreover, he was a linguistic genius. He studied in England for a year and during that time learned excellent English, spoke decent Dutch, and during a short stay in Greece and Italy he learned a bit both of these languages and mastered their old forms even better. He was able to read texts in ancient koine Greek and Latin without any problems.
And he was lucky in other ways too. The king’s wife, Annabel, whom he was now going to meet, had given birth to four daughters to the king during the eleven years of their marriage, and thus there was no other successor to the throne. The only way she could outwit him would be if she remarried quickly. But he didn’t expect that. Even nine-year-old Princess Amelia could not overtake him in a similar way. When he entered the king’s study, he was thinking about his future coronation.
Annabel looked upset. It was not surprising. She motioned for him to sit down.
„The royal ship sank this morning,“ she said in a tight voice without any further introduction. „And the crew was not able to save my husband. Do you know what that means to you?“
„I’m really sorry, ma’am,“ Nicolas said, as sadly as he could. „I suppose that means the heavy burden of government will rest upon my shoulders. But is it really certain? You know that hope dies last. I would like to give my own ship at your disposal and set out to find the king. Maybe there’s a chance he saved himself. What actually happened?“
„Did you practice at home in front of the mirror?“ Annabel frowned at him. „These words? That the heavy burden of government will rest upon your shoulders?“
„Of course not, ma’am,“ Nicolas looked at her blankly. „How could I know anything like that?“
„I don’t know,“ Annabel shrugged. „Perhaps by paying the captain to sink the ship in such a way that the king would not be able to get to the lifeboat.“
Now Nicolas didn’t have to play his puzzled expression. He looked at her in surprise.
„Pardon?“ Was all he could say.
„You disgusting, insidious, greedy scum,“ Annabel snapped angrily. „I love this guy. I’m expecting a fifth child with him. And I could lose him because someone like you doesn’t have a shred of conscience. How could something like that occur to you at all? What kind of a diseased brain is needed for this?“
Annabel did not finish her speech.
At that moment, the ajar door that led from the study to the king’s private bathroom opened, and King David entered the room.
„That’s enough, darling,“ he said to his angry wife.
Nicolas looked at the king with unplayed horror on his face.
„You look like you see a ghost,“ the king said abruptly. „But I can assure you that I am alive and well and have gotten home safely, despite everything you have tried to arrange. Anyway, I’m still too upset to deal with you. The guards will take you to jail now. I will talk to you later. I really don’t know what to do with you right now.“
Nicolas lowered his head and didn’t say a word. King David opened the door, and the guards, who were already ready there, led the young man to prison.