The main forces of our respective armies had moved off to the south. My regiment remained at the Haiduk Aqueduct, ostensibly to hold it, but really because the Zultanista regiment across the field was still in the area. They, I discovered later, were remaining in the area because we were still there. Ridiculous.

When the idea came for a Contest of Champions to determine who would hold the Aqueduct, I immediately volunteered. One way or another, win or lose, we could then quit this staring contest and return to the real fighting. The Zultanista commander agreed with ours.

Bright and early, just as dawn was breaking, I and my servant climbed the ivy that grew on the crumbling stones of the Haiduk. I saw my opposite number and his servant climbing up the other side.

It was quite a shock when we both reached the top, and looked full into one another’s face across the Aqueduct’s channel. It was the Sandman I had fought alongside Baron Theodoreson in the alley behind Baroness Izolda’s house back in Chansonville! I saw he recognized me as well.

I spoke first. “Good morning, Rahimat. You’re looking well. Care for a spot of breakfast?” I indicated my manservant, who was setting out a dozen eggs, some rashers of bacon, a loaf of fresh white bread, a knob of butter, a small skillet, and a somewhat cracked but still serviceable heatstone.

The Sandman unhooked the veil that covered the lower part of his face, letting it hang free, before he replied. "Leftenant

“Victor, please.”

He paused before continuing. “Victor, then. I would like nothing better.” He snapped his fingers, and his manservant stepped forward with a wooden tray,bearing a steaming silver pot, a small copper bowl and cover, and a stoneware jug beaded with sweat. “Coffee?”

We smiled at one another.

As is right and proper, we broke our fast together before we tried to kill one another.

Leftenant Victor Armandson, King’s Musketeer, Knight of Grande Dellaluna

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