“This is the exact shade of blue?”

“Yes, m’lady. Cut from the same bolt as Isabella’s dress.” Serrana held out the swatch of velvet.

Eleanora studied the plush square. “Her horse clad the same?”

Raffael nodded. “Her horse clad the same.”

“Will she be wearing jewels?”

“A diamond-crested helmet.” Raffael had slipped into the armour maker’s workplace in the dead of night. “And a solid gold serpent in Diambra’s helmet.” Eleanora smiled and handed him a bag stuffed with florin.

Another bag went to Serrana when she verified Diambra’s dress. “Dark green – the color of the curtains in your bedchamber.”

“You may go now, Raffael. But Serrana, stay.”

They had much to do, and only four days. All of Naples was preparing for the event of a lifetime, thrilled by the public announcement:

Diambra de Pettinella hereby challenges Isabella de Carazzi to a duel at dawn on the 25th day of May, year of our Lord 1552. Weapons will be lance, mace and sword. The winner will claim the love of Fabio de Zeresola.

Eleanora wouldn’t miss this for the world. Both ladies were friends of hers, the three of them often attending court functions and society weddings together. It was at such a wedding that Fabio had stared at Isabella with such obvious amorous inclinations that Diambra had realized he was courting them both. She was willing to die for his love – was Isabella equally committed?

Never mind who wins, thought Eleanora. What a chance to be seen!   Beautifully styled hair, studded with pearls.  A new burgundy brocade dress with panels of pink, perhaps. No blues or greens, no gold or diamonds.  She must stand out in the crowd.

Tomorrow she’ll visit the court hair dresser to plan a bold new look. Curls on the forehead? An off-center part? Interwoven plaits? This duel would be talked about for years.  Poets and painters would be in attendance . A few well-placed gifts should assure her a place in history. She opened her dowry chest, pulled out fistfuls of florins, and sighed happily. Life is good, thought the lovely Eleanora.

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

Interesting story, Fuji. I like the ones that force me to look up the origins. Nicely written.

Lydia E Atzemian
Lydia E Atzemian(@lydia-e-atzemian)
1 year ago

super unique, it’s very refreshing.

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Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson(@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

Well, how about that then! Fuji, I love the way you have concentrated on m’lady, as shifting the point of view tells us so much more, and sets the scene so beautifully. Of course, just to be awkward, I strayed from the template this month and chose two stories based on personal experience.

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Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson(@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

Of course, my next step was to read the story, and as my sister and myself are messaging each other daily with artworks at the moment, you have inspired me to choose the Jose de Ribera painting today, and share your story with her. As a talented writer herself, I am sure she will enjoy it.

Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson(@susan-dawson)
Reply to  Fuji
1 year ago

I’m not an art expert- just did a couple of courses when lockdown hit! Ha ha – amused by the idea.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Hello Fuji, yes this is a very different story, very original. On a lighter side, I can’t see the fairer sex willing to die now – more likely to say get lost and good riddance. A very interesting story Fuji. Well done.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

As always in your stories, Fuji, exquisite language combined with a different look at an historic or geographic fact. You know how to find the subtle details when describing colors, material, circumstances and people’s minds that make your story intriguing. I also admire your talent in finding unusual and fascinating stories to write about. Very well done!

Andrew Carter
Andrew Carter(@andrew-carter)
1 year ago

You write so artfully, Fuji. And you are clearly well acquainted with historical texts. I’m learning so much from yours and many other’s stories in these contests.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

Hello, Fuji. This story is impressive as a unique and historical story. I admire you always in choosing what story to make, the materials to use, and the colors you put in to make it more colorful.

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