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Only a short intermezzo today. There'll be a "What else has happened" (in German) next week. I don't want to start a new story, only to interrupt it after the first instalment. This text was written for a competition looking for "flashes" to accompany a work of art. The one I chose was "Man with a Book" by Parmigianino.


Giuliano looked up from his book. The balcony granted an excellent view of the piazza. In a few minutes, it would all be over.

It was more than a job. Giuliano also saw it as a vocation, a way to pay back his debt. 

He couldn't remember his early childhood. He'd been in service with the Sforza family ever since the elderly Ludovico had bought him from his mother at the age of about five. Giuliano had been a strong and stubborn boy, even then. The Sforzas had clothed, fed, taught and trained him in the use of weapons. 

Now, in his early twenties, Giuliano was one of the best assassins in Italy. His dark, intense eyes and his black beard made him as popular with the ladies as he was feared by anyone who crossed his noble employers. Although his way of life had drawn early lines on his face, his hands were still those of a young man.

Romano Prizzi was his prey today, and still nowhere to be seen. Giuliano closed his book and pulled a long, strong needle from its hiding place in the spine of the book. The Sforza spies had found out that Romano was on his way to Poland to poison the young queen, Bona Sforza. Although Bona was only a cousin, the Sforza clan could not let this happen. Giuliano was happy to help. 

It was a long journey to Krakow, and Romano never left town without paying his mistress one last visit. The young woman lay tied and gagged in the chamber behind Giuliano.

A new movement on the piazza below caught Giuliano's attention. There he came. Giuliano retreated into the shadows of the room and waited.