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CHAPTER 67

LOCATED ON THE ground floor of Madrid’s Royal Palace, the armory is an elegantly vaulted chamber whose high crimson walls are adorned with magnificent tapestries depicting famous battles in Spain’s history. Encircling the room is a priceless collection of more than a hundred suits of handcrafted armor, including the battle garb and “tools” of many past kings. Seven life-size horse mannequins stand in the center of the room, posed in full battle gear.

This is where they decide to keep me prisoner? Garza wondered, looking out at the implements of war that surrounded him. Admittedly, the armory was one of the most secure rooms in the palace, but Garza suspected his captors had chosen this elegant holding cell in hopes of intimidating him. This is the very room in which I was hired.

Nearly two decades ago, Garza had been ushered into this imposing chamber, where he had been interviewed, cross-examined, and interrogated before finally being offered the job of head of the Royal Guard.

Now Garza’s own agents had arrested him. I’m being charged with plotting an assassination? And for framing the bishop? The logic behind the allegations was so twisted that Garza couldn’t begin to untangle it.

When it came to the Royal Guard, Garza was the highest-ranking official in the palace, meaning the order to arrest him could have come from only one man … Prince Julián himself.

Valdespino poisoned the prince’s mind against me, Garza realized. The bishop had always been a political survivor, and tonight he was apparently desperate enough to attempt this audacious media stunt—a bold ploy to clear his own reputation by smearing Garza’s. And now they’ve locked me in the armory so I can’t speak for myself.

If Julián and Valdespino had joined forces, Garza knew he was lost, entirely outmaneuvered. At this point, the only person on earth with power enough to help Garza was an old man who was living out his final days in a hospital bed in his private residence at Palacio de la Zarzuela.

The king of Spain.

Then again, Garza realized, the king will never help me if doing so means crossing Bishop Valdespino or his own son.

He could hear the crowds outside chanting louder now, and it sounded like things might take a violent turn. When Garza realized what they were chanting, he couldn’t believe his ears.

Where does Spain come from?!” they shouted. “Where is Spain going?!

The protesters, it appeared, had seized upon Kirsch’s two provocative questions as an opportunity to rant about the political future of Spain’s monarchy.

Where do we come from? Where are we going?

Condemning the oppression of the past, Spain’s younger generation was constantly calling for faster change—urging their country to “join the civilized world” as a full democracy and to abolish its monarchy. France, Germany, Russia, Austria, Poland, and more than fifty other countries had abandoned their crowns in the last century. Even in England there was a push for a referendum on ending the monarchy after the current queen died.

Tonight, unfortunately, Madrid’s Royal Palace was in a state of disarray, so it was not surprising to hear this age-old battle cry being raised again.

Just what Prince Julián needs, Garza thought, as he prepares for ascension to the throne.

The door at the far end of the armory suddenly clicked open and one of Garza’s Guardia agents peered in.

Garza shouted to him, “I want an attorney!”

“And I want a statement for the press,” the familiar voice of Mónica Martín shouted back as the palace’s PR coordinator manuevered around the guard and marched into the room. “Commander Garza, why did you collude with the killers of Edmond Kirsch?”

Garza stared at her in disbelief. Has everyone gone mad?

“We know you framed Bishop Valdespino!” Martín declared, striding toward him. “And the palace wants to publish your confession right now!”

The commander had no reply.

Halfway across the room, Martín spun around abruptly, glaring back at the young guard in the doorway. “I said a private confession!”

The guard looked uncertain as he stepped back and closed the door.

Martín wheeled back toward Garza and stormed the rest of the way across the floor. “I want a confession now!” she bellowed, her voice echoing off the vaulted ceiling as she arrived directly in front of him.

“Well, you won’t get one from me,” Garza replied evenly. “I have nothing to do with this. Your allegations are completely untrue.”

Martín glanced nervously over her shoulder. Then she stepped closer, whispering in Garza’s ear. “I know … I need you to listen to me very carefully.”

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