Hey Boy brings Paladin his meal and a letter. It's from Elena Ybarra, and Paladin tells Hey Boy that eight years ago he challenged a man to a duel over Elena. He has Hey Boy send his things onto the Rancho San Tarquie and packs to leave.
Later, Paladin arrives at the ranch and the maid, Josefina, lets him in. He asks Josefina about Elena, and Josefina invites him to take a seat. Baron Nino Ybarra comes in and says that he's been looking forward to Paladin's visit. Nino notes that he hoped to duel Paladin but was gored shortly before. He tells Paladin to fresh himself and then they will die, and Josefina takes Paladin to his room.
After dressing, Paladin goes downstairs and points out that Nino has come a long way in eight years. Nino explains that he was recently declares the greatest bullfighter in the world. Paladin asks him about Elena, pointing out that Nino is his wife but not married to him. When Paladin insists on seeing her, Nino says that Paladin would make a poor bullfighter. He says that bullfighting is much more dangerous than gun fighting, and Paladin withdraws his duel challenge from eight years ago. Nino talks about his memories of bullfighting, and how he hates the bulls. After a moment he regains control of himself and asks paladin what it's like to kill a man 20' apart. Paladin says that a man is valiant only when his fear of cowardice exceeds his fear of death. Nino asks if he fears him, and Paladin says that he doesn't.
Nino talks about the fight that deprived him of the chance to face Paladin on the duel of honor. He killed three bulls and the third one El Toro put a horn in him. That time there was no random circumstances, and Nino wonders if he let El Toro because he was afraid of Paladin more than the bull.
Josefina escorts the two men to the dining room and Nino confirms that Elena is still in disposed. Paladin asks about Elena again and Nino puts him off, and paladin demands an answer. Nino says that he's a matador and Paladin the "black bull", and has his men grab Paladin. After a brief fight, Paladin is overwhelmed and knocked out.
Later, Paladin wakes up manacled to a wall. Nino is there and explains that he is a bullfighter so he's devised rules for a special corrida that will be fair to both of them. Once Paladin's arms and legs have become cramped from confinement, they will fight. Nino leaves Paladin in the darkness to brood, and slaps him. He slaps Paladin, satisfied that he's already angry, and leaves.
Nino returns later to taunt Paladin, and Paladin says that Nino's darkness and chains are in his mind and those will make the difference when they fight. Angry, Nino leaves.
Elena lights a candle and goes to the cellar where Paladin is confined. She greets him and says that she wrote the letter but never sent it. Nino found it in her diary, and she's been a prisoner ever since. Josefina lets her out when Nino is away, and explains that Nino has the key to Paladin's manacles around his neck. Elena apologizes and says that Nino was different before he was hurt. She leaves him the candle so that he'll be able to see when they take him out, kisses Paladin, and leaves.
The next day, the henchmen and their leader, Soledado, come for Paladin and he puts out the candle. They take him to the ring and then put a bull's ribbon on his back. They lock the door and Paladin sees Nino waiting for him with a lance, astride a horse. Elena is in the stands, and Nino charges at Paladin and knocks him down. Paladin stands up and turns to face Nino, who calls to Elena saying that such a clumsy "bull" is worth his hate. He asks Paladin if he now has the taste of fear, and charges again. He knocks Paladin down and Paladin rises to his feet.
Paladin leaps at Nino and misses, slamming into a barrier. Nino dismounts and takes a cape and sword, and approaches Paladin. Paladin picks himself up and staggers toward Nino, only to stand still. Nino turns his back on him to salute the crowd, then turns back and prepares to deal the death blow. Paladin slams Nino down and grabs the sword, and Nino takes another sword from Soledad. Before he can strike, Paladin throws his sword into Nino's chest. Dying, Nino looks at Paladin once and collapses. Elena goes to her husband and then looks at Paladin. Paladin tells her that love is as strong as death, but hate is as cruel as the grave. He then walks out of the ring.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 22, 2017