Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Continuing our tale

Adventure 02: Parisian Interlude

Our tale continues. The beginning of the tale is here.

This is a brief adventure that introduces three locations, Les Deux Chevaux, the Salle d’Armes of the Fraternity Sainte-Didier, and the Hôtel de Tréville as well as several associated NPCs e.g. the Tavern owner and several King’s Musketeers.

Les Deux Chevaux or The Two Horses[i] is a tavern on the right bank near the Pont Neuf. The tavern is owned and run by La Chat Calico, a former prostitute and the on again, off again lover of Gaston Thibeault. La Chat Calico has a tempestuous personality, but she cares for Gaston and she allows him the use of a spare room above the tavern for free.

The Fraternité Sainct-Didier[ii] is located across the Rue Charonerie from Les Halles, the salle d’armes of the Fraternité Sainct-Didier is arguably the most prestigious fencing school in Paris. Named for Henry de Sainct-Didier, a Provençal swordmaster and author of a 1573 manual, the Fraternité Sainct-Didier is the most distinctly Gallic of the schools active in Paris, emphasizing the French style as the equal of or even superior to the Italian schools. The rivalry between the Fraternité Sainct-Didier and the Fratellanza di Giganti is well-known and bitter. Students of the fraternity come from the bourgeoisie as well as the nobility of France; many students travel to Paris from distant provinces to attend classes at the Fraternité Sainct-Didier.

The maître supérieur is Justin Sainte-Pierre, a member of the Académie d’Armes. He is a sparkling and witty fellow, quick to criticize and slow to praise. When he can, Guy practices with the master or sometimes Gaston, but not others. He prefers to keep his strengths and weaknesses concealed rather than revealed. Gaston, on the other hand, is always ready and willing to take on all comers. He sees the salle as a relatively safe place to hone his skill, though practice is never a substitute for real combat. Gaston sometimes finds the bloodless battles in the salle frustrating as impractical techniques like the quick cut score many points in practice when in reality they could easily get you killed. In one well attended duel, Gaston fights Jan Jelita Zamoyski, a Polish noble and a devotee of the Eastern style of fencing. Zamoyski favors the quick cut, but Gaston’s usual response is to use the stop-thrust which results in a tie for points, but which in real combat would leave Zamoyski dead or dying.

The Hôtel de Tréville is the Paris residence of the comte de Tréville, captain-lieutenant of the King’s Musketeers.[iii]

The court of his hotel, resembled a camp from by six o'clock in the morning in summer and eight o'clock in winter. From fifty to sixty Musketeers, who appeared to replace one another in order always to present an imposing number, paraded constantly, armed to the teeth and ready for anything. On one of those immense staircases ascended and descended the office seekers of Paris, who ran after any sort of favor - gentlemen from the provinces anxious to be enrolled, and servants in all sorts of liveries, bringing and carrying messages between their masters and M. de Treville. In the antechamber, upon long circular benches, reposed the elect; that is to say, those who were called. In this apartment a continued buzzing prevailed from morning till night, while M. de Treville, from a small office located off the antechamber of the townhouse, received visits, listened to complaints, gave his orders, and like the king in his balcony at the Louvre, had only to place himself at the window to review both his men and arms.

The long staircase of the Hôtel serves as the location of a frequent sport among the Musketeers: King of the Stair – two (or more) Musketeers duel their way up and down the stairs, the winner driving his opponent up into the antechamber or down into the street. Taking the lower starting position, which carries a disadvantage, is considered the position of honor among the guardsmen.

Lucien challenges one of his fellow Musketeers, Aristide de Sandras, who has been holding the high ground against all comers. Lucien’s unfamiliarity with fighting on a staircase, combined with the advantage of height allows de Sandras to defeat the new Musketeer. Lucien tumbles down the stairs. This provokes laughter from his fellows, but Lucien takes it in good spirit. He and de Sandras go off to celebrate their victory or drown their defeat as seems appropriate to each. Lucien has found a friend among the Musketeers.

[i]     (T6) Les Deux Chevaux is located at grid coordinates [F8].
[ii]     (F5) The Fraternité Sainct-Didier is located at grid coordinates [G7].
[iii]    (H10) The Hôtel de Tréville is the Paris residence of the comte de Tréville, captain-lieutenant of the King’s Musketeers; it is located on the Rue de Vieux Colombier near the Carrefour de Croix-Rouge (L22).

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