Hugh’s journal . . .
Rebecca has given us a fabulously enigmatic and enticing post for the continuation of The Masked Ball. I swear that it gets more intriguing by the minute and I just hope you all realise that none of us has any idea what the other is planning. It’s writing/flying, by the seat of your pants!
Sarina’s plan to gain possession of the talisman has a good deal of merit (she always had a gift for intrigue), but the situation is more complex than she realizes. Retrieving the amulet during a masked ball at the Museo is damnably awkward. Furthermore, a number of people will be vying for it – each with his own agenda. There is no hope that others are unaware of it. I have heard that Blakeney is newly arrived and I feel certain that Niccolo de Fleury lurks in the shadows as well. Both are Other and both will have the means to unlock the amulet. Their motives, as yet, are obscure.
Sarina believes me to be something of a hermit and therefore unaware of town business. I choose that she – and the rest of the ton – believe this, to allow me the freedom to work in secret. Indeed, it is for this reason and because of the events that are about to engulf us that I hold Sarina at arm’s length when my feelings would push me in another direction.
That, and my personal secret, which only can be revealed . . . Well, there is no point in dwelling on that now.
The amulet is more powerful than anyone imagines, although I believe that de Fleury knows great deal. As for Bacigalupo, I am convinced that he may become an ally. My sources indicate that he escorts Parthenope Neroni and her niece to the masquerade ball and I believe that his motive is at least partially to protect them. Blakeney’s motives are the most suspect, and the most opaque to me.
It is the nature of the amulet that is the biggest source of danger, because it will behave differently in the hands of different people. Others, for example, will be able to elicit powers from it that mortals cannot, but the reverse may also be true. I am particularly concerned for the girl, Annabelle, because she is unaware of the existence of the amulet – concealed as it is within the pendant she will be wearing – and therefore will have no defenses in place. In addition, I believe that she may have a special connection to it and could unwittingly unleash forces that we cannot control.
Lucia Brabante must also be considered, because she will have unrestricted access to the Museo and its contents. Her connections to Percy Blakeney and Niccolo de Fleury are unclear, but I believe that she is plotting with one or both of them. As for Neroni, she appears to be a pleasant but eccentric woman whose focus is on the ball and on her madcap niece, but I believe this veneer cloaks a force to be reckoned with. I must attempt to determine the extent of her knowledge.
At all costs, the amulet must be kept apart from the Book of Cantrips that sits in a special locked case at the Museo. I believe that a symbiosis exists between the two objects, quite apart from the information contained in the Book. The possibilities for disaster magnify if they are used together.
I wonder whether Sarina will ever forgive me for the secrets I withhold from her, or for what I will be forced to do. I hope she will think kindly of me when all is finished, but by then it will not matter.