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The Plot Thickens for the Pretender


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May 7, 1677


What had seemed like a chance encounter was anything but a chance encounter. Three horseman in the woods had encountered another lone horseman. There was no trail to mark this place. Rather, there was a run down and abandoned hunting shack astride a stream that served as the point of rendezvous.


Don Juan Jose de Austria, in the company of his two companions, had seemingly encountered the lone Spanish figure of Diego Estrada, the handsome Spanish spymaster in London.


"Osun has sent his son Carlos Highness."


"What is his mission?" Juan asked, though he knew well enough. Behind him, the Baron of Toledo choked in disgust.


"Nothing good for you and your protégé surely," Diego replied lightly.


"I believe there shall be an attempt on my life," Juan reported stoically. It was the only way that the Queen and Valenzuela could maintain power in Madrid with the imbecile king.


Diego nodded.


"How many men can you rely upon here in London?" the Princeling and savior of Spain asked.


"None," came the glib answer of a man who knew human beings well. Juan laughed at his jest. "No one then?" Juan had two trusted aides and believed that the Hidalgo Hidelfonso might be counted upon.


"No man," came the reply.


"A woman then?" laughed Juan, knowing that women were the very best spies and assassins.


"A blond beauty might be of assistance," Diego offered enticingly.


"I have already met her and wooed her," Juan reported. "She shall be ours, but I fear is of little use in the game of thrones." He had other plans for Sophia.


"That is not the one I meant Highness. There is another ... ."

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