“King Philip V is wracked by illness and madness, and his son and heir Louis is a simpleton who even his wife refuses to see,” Exposito cackled from behind the bars. “What a wonderful opportunity this presents to a man of vision and initiative! The Viceroy Balthazar prepares to sail to Spain to take up residence as majordomo of the palace on the strength of his campaigns against the pirates infesting our waters and the remarkable innovation of the so-called Spanish Plate and the Spanish Cannon.”

“Is that it, then?” said Hume. “He was building his power here to return to Spain in triumph?”

“Or so he thinks!” Exposito cried, hurling himself at the bars. “Little does he realize that it has all been my doing! I am a native son of this land, born here and raised here, the Corregidor of Veracruz. Everything that passes from the New World to the Old must also pass through my fingers. I built myself up from nothing, because the visions have told me that I must.”

“You’re mad,” Hume spat, “and your visions are just the ravings of a lunatic Balthazar keeps on a chain so that he might have a mad dog to unleash when it suits him.”

“Of course you would say that; you foul pirates lack vision and purpose. It is simple, pure, and revealed to me with a blinding light when I came into myself.” Exposito leered at Hume, his eyes wide and mad behind the iron. “For I am the beast spoken of in Revelations, destined to lay the world low in chaos and despair that it might be redeemed through suffering. Don’t you see? Only with the emergence of the Beast, with chaos and hardship, may the way be paved for redemption and the Redeemer. Those I kill are sent to their own just rewards, and those that suffer will be assumed unto their own once the trumpets sound.”

“Madness,” said Hume. “Utter lunacy.”

“To the contrary, it all makes so much sense! Of course it would be an Expositio, abandoned by family to a wasting death in the wilderness, a product of both worlds, who would bring this about. Of course the New World would have the means to accomplish the Revelation and the end times. And to that end I will have the viceroyalty, I will control that fool Balthazar and that greater fool Louis on the throne, and I will redeem this world through the agony and ecstasy of divine will.”

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