The story begins around dusk, one evening during the carnival season (similar to the Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans) in an unnamed European city. Montresor has been previously wronged by Fortunato, and so Montresor vows revenge against Fortunato in an effort to support his time-honored family motto: "Nemo me impune lacessit" (No one assails me with impunity). Montresor finds his "friend" inebriated, and dressed in carnival costume at dusk. Montresor cleverly induces Fortunato to follow him into the catacombs to determine if his newly-acquired cask of amontillado — a kind of Spanish sherry — is indeed authentic, and thus worth the price paid. They walk and talk, as the location quickly changes from the lighthearted activites associated with such a festival to the damp, dark catacombs under Montresor's palazzo which helps to establish the sinister atmosphere of the story.
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