Saturday, July 4, 2015

Adventure 04: On Guard - Chapter I

This adventure has a main plot and several subplots. The main plot concerns the Spanish occupation of the Valtellines, a strategic Alpine valley. In response to this aggression, diplomats from France, Savoy, Venice, and the Swiss Grey League have gathered in Paris to form an alliance against the Spanish occupation. Meanwhile, agents of the Spanish Empire work to disrupt the talks and prevent an alliance.

Chapter I: Back in Paris

His work for the Man in the Mask done, Guy returns to his apartment to bathe and relax from his travels. The date is Sunday January 15th. Refreshed by the bath and a change of clothes, Guy is ready to accept the red envelop that Fabre brings to him; inside is another letter from the Duke DeMainz which reads:
Dear M. de Bourges,
I have the pleasure of desiring your presence for a private talk. My carriage will call on you at ten o’clock Monday morning. I anticipate in advance the pleasure of once again seeing you.
Destroy this note after you have read it.
By my own hand,
                              Duke DeMainz D'Einartzhausen      

At this meeting the Duke asks Guy about his wants, needs, desires, hopes, and dreams. He shares that he wants to create a better world, one different than the old world. Guy agrees to become the Duke’s agent secret.

His first assignment is connected to the Valtelline talks in Paris. DeMainz wants Guy to find out what the various foreign diplomats are going to decide about an alliance and whether the French diplomats remain loyal. He tells Guy “This treaty is important to France to keep from being surrounded by the Hapsburgs. Also if France makes any move to oppose Spanish conquests Spain’s aggression will inflame the ungodly and that will ruin any chance of a Catholic union between France and Spain.” He tells Guy that he has heard that one of the diplomats is in the pay of the Spanish. Guy should find out who it is. Also, he wants to know what the diplomats plan to do and whether or not they will sign. This will both help ensure that an alliance is formed and give the best chance to smoke out the traitors.

Gaston returns to Les Duex Chevaux. His sometimes mistress, La Chat Calico berates him for running off without an explanation. Gaston reminds her that they aren’t married. “You could have at least written to me. A poet for a lover and he doesn’t even write!”

“But you can’t even read.”

“I could have asked Father Francois to read your letter to me.”

“Ha! Like I want that meddling old priest reading my letters to you. Fine solution that. What would I write to you that wouldn’t send us both to confession for a month of Sundays? Besides I’m here now woman, the least you could do is welcome me.”

“Welcome you?! I’ll welcome you.” She throws a pitcher at his head.

He ducks and replies, “Careful, you might break this.” He holds out a gold necklace set with small white pearls.

“Is that for me?” she asks.

“If it fits. Come try it on and see.” She steps closer.

Lucien reports to the Musketeers’ barracks. There he attempts to explain his extended absence during the mission for the Duke DeMainz. He is called in front of the sergeant of the Musketeers, Arnaud de Ferusac, sieur de Ferusac. Ferusac is unhappy at the unexcused absence, but he is not a disciplinarian and he “will be satisfied by three things: (i) an explanation, over drinks paid for by Monsieur de Bourges, of where in the hells he was all this time, (ii) a successful practice duel that demonstrates that M. de Bourges skills have not deteriorated during his long absence, and (iii) a promise not to disappear like that ever again.”

Lucien succeeds in scoring more touches against Ferusac than the sergeant scores against him. This surprises Ferusac, who seldom loses a practice duel, but it does show that the young Musketeer’s skill with the blade has not decreased during his absence from duty. Over drinks and dinner, Lucien tells engaging tales of some of the events of his journey. This seems to satisfy the sergeant’s desire to know “where in the hells he was” and Lucien earnestly promises not to disappear without leave again. Ferusac tells Lucien “De Bourges you were lucky this time, but you have much duty time to make up. Starting tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, when you aren’t sleeping, you should consider yourself on guard duty…And you damn well better not spend much time asleep!”

Meanwhile, the Captain-Lieutenant of the Musketeers, Monsieur de Treville, has offered his Musketeers to ensure the safety of the diplomats who are in Paris for the Valtelline conference. While other members of the Maison du Roi will have guard duties, the Musketeers are primarily tasked with the personal safety of the diplomats and the security of the talks. Lucien will be assigned to nearly constant guard duty – as Sergeant Ferusac said, he has a lot of missed duty time to make up for. Since today is Sunday and tonight is his last free evening, “for the foreseeable future” as Ferussac said, Lucien decides to host a celebratory dinner for his friends while he can. Due to time constraints, he has the dinner at the Deux Chevaux.

The celebration dinner has a lot of food and even more wine. During the dinner, Guy realizes that now he is in the employ of DeMainz and he will always have to be guarded and on his guard from here on out. So he lets his guard down tonight, one last time. Guy learns soldier’s drinking songs from Gaston, toasts everyone, and gets so drunk he can’t walk home, so he suggests staying over in Gaston’s room. Lucien and Guy share Gaston’s cot while he is staying with La Chat Calico in her room. Guy comments that “This room moves like a ship on a rough sea!...It is most unsettling.” Eventually the two fall asleep, missing the noises from next door… The next morning they wake up with horrible hangovers. Lucien staggers off to the first of his guard duty assignments. Eventually Guy rouses himself enough to scribble and send a scrawly note to Fabre:

“Come, bring the recipe.”

Once Guy has sufficiently recovered, he goes to the Chatelet to update his patron, the Provost of Paris, the Chevalier de Vezelay. Guy provides the Provost with a minimalist summary of his mission for DeMainz. The Provost then mentions that it is good that Guy is back in Paris; since he has an important assignment for him. He wants Guy to ensure that the talks on the Valleteline are not disrupted. He tells Guy that he has already doubled patrols in the neighborhood of the talks, cancelled all leaves, placed his Archers[i] on alert, and that he has reserved a mounted platoon of Archers back at the Chatelet that is prepared to move at a moment’s notice. However, he warns Guy that enemy agents may try to disrupt the talks. “This must be prevented.” To assist Guy, the Provost provides the uniform of a Lieutenant of the Archers and a letter authorizing  Guy to obtain assistance from any Archer or even to summon the ready platoon in an emergency. Sergeant César-Auguste de Boisrenard, sieur de Boisrenard will be Guy’s liaison within the Archers. The Provost tells Boisrenard that Guy has his confidence and that the Sergeant is to treat Guy as a Lieutenant.

Back in his apartment at last, Guy thinks, Just as I feared. All three of my patrons are concerned with these damned talks. Well it could be worse; at least they all want me in the same place, Guy smiles wryly to himself. What I need is a long soak and a n even longer think. Guy snaps his fingers calling, “Fabre! Run me a bath.”

[i]     The Paris Archers are under the command of the Provost of Paris. They act as a military police force for the city. They are mounted and armed and armored as dragoons (wheel-lock arquebuses, swords, breastplates, and helmets).

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