After departing from the Coliseum with Jeannine and Bill, John decided to rent a hotel room, where he could start formulating plans to woo that beautiful woman, despite not knowing her name.
“You know John, I really think you ought to focus on Josiah,” said Jeannine. “This woman is clearly just a distraction, like that Red Herring you told me about.”
“That was yummy!” interjected Bill.
“Jeannine, I’ll do my job and you do yours,” said John.
“But my job is to do your job. Your old job, anyway.”
“Right. Because I have a new job: winning over that woman!”
“You don’t even know her name, do you?” asked Jeannine.
“I’m sure I’ll figure it out!” retorted John. “I’ll hear no more of this. Bill, come on, let’s see what we can think up. On second thought, let’s see what I can think up, and whether you can stay quiet long enough for me not to pray for death.”
John and Bill retired to one corner of the room, leaving Jeannine alone. She set to work on her
anti-Josiah plans and didn’t stop until dawn, when she was startled by a ringing telephone. As it turned out, John was expected at the Coliseum at noon. It was a personal invitation from none other than Josiah Malum.
“This is highly suspicious,” said John, after Jeannine told him about the call. “That man has tried to kill me on numerous occasions. It would probably be in my best interest not to go, but really, where’s the fun in that?”
“Hey guys,” said Bill, crawling in through the window. “Boy, wait till I tell you about all the crazy adventures I had last night!”
“That’ll have to wait, Bill,” said John. “We’re going to the Coliseum! No, not you, Jeannine; that woman might be there, and I don’t want her to think I’m already in a relationship.”
Jeannine, glowering, sighed. Bill and John left the hotel, inexplicably opting to walk instead of taking some sort of vehicle.
“Why are we going to the Coliseum?” asked Bill.
“Because Josiah Malum asked me to,” replied John. “That’s our ostensible purpose. Really, I’m just going to see that woman again.”
“But why are we listening to Josiah Malum?” asked Bill.
“Oh, it’s quite simple, for someone whose intellect is as massive as mine. You see, upon receiving that message, I figured Josiah was trying to lead me into a trap. But I know he’s too smart for something that simple; he probably sent that message being fully aware that I’d suspect a trap. So he doesn’t actually expect me to show up – meaning not going is actually the trap he’s trying to lead me into. Therefore, by walking into the original trap, I’m actually avoiding the real one. Got that?”
Bill passed out from mental exhaustion, so John grabbed him by the arm and pulled him the rest of the way to the Coliseum.
When they arrived, they were led by a guard into the arena, where Josiah stood at a podium. Mischa was standing in chains to his left, and Cyprus stood beside him.
“Welcome, Mr. Morgan. I knew you’d know I didn’t think you’d come, so I was ready,” said Josiah.
“Damn! He was one step ahead,” cursed John. “Well, what do you want, Malum? I have flowers to water.”
“It’s quite simple. You are attracted to Miss Papandrou, aren’t you?” he asked. “Yes, of course you are. I don’t need to be a mind reader (which, apropos, Cyprus is) to know that. Oddly enough, Mischa is also in love with her. I propose a contest!”
“A contest? What kind of contest?” asked Bill, who had unfortunately regained consciousness.
“Battle,” replied Josiah. “John and Mischa are going to fight for Cyprus’s hand in marriage!"
“Marriage?! I never agreed to –”
“Silence! Anyway John, you and Mischa will each put together an army. Then you shall do battle, right here; and the winner will marry Cyprus,” explained Josiah.
“What’s in it for you?” asked John skeptically.
“Well obviously, in the time you spend putting together your team, I’ll be able to carry out that evil plan of mine you keep thwarting,” said Josiah.
“Fair enough. Very well, I agree to this contest,” said John.
“Excellent,” replied Josiah. “Then it is decided: you and Mischa shall each construct a team of one hundred men, and you’ll return here in one hundred years to fight!”
“A hundred years?” asked John.
“Oh, sorry, I read that wrong. One year,” said Josiah, correcting himself.
“Because a hundred would be too many.”