Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Adventure 04: On Guard, Chapter III

Chapter III: To the Rescue

Saturday night, January 28th, Gaston is in Les Deux Chevaux drinking late with his old army buddy, Jehan Legrand. Legrand tells him that Colonel de Biron is hiring for the Picardy Musketeers. There is a rumor that they will be seeing action come spring. Legrand says, “We need more good sergeants. We lost some good men against the Huguenots and we are painfully short of experienced officers. A few more good sergeants would really make a difference.”

Gaston replies, “Funny you should mention officers, my friend. It seems someone has decided to make me an officer.” Legrand looks puzzled. “I did a favor for an important noble. The reward is a commission.”

“Well done my friend. Or should I say, mon lieutenant?” Both smile and laugh quietly.

Gaston says, “Of course I also managed to pick up a few pistoles while I was down south.”

Legrand nods approvingly, “A good soldier can’t just leave such things lying about loose now can he?”

“No but we can certainly make them fully secure by drinking them. Another round!” calls Gaston.

“To the new lieutenant!” Legrand proposes.

“Hush, not so loud. I haven’t yet told…” but whatever Gaston would say is interrupted by the arrival of his friend the Seigneur de Racan.

“Thibeault! At la…la...la...la...last. I think I’ve b...b...b...been in every t...t...tavern in P…Paris. Lo...lo...lo...looking for y...y...you.” Racan’s stutter is painful to listen to. Gaston shoots a warning look at Legrand, then patiently waits without expression while Racan finishes. Racan tells Gaston that he met his friend de Bourges (he doesn’t know that there are two of them) last night at Madame Rambouillet’s and that he’s spent half the day trying to find Gaston to let him know that his friend is in trouble. The Baron St. Giron is after de Bourges. “And I don…don…don…don’t think he m…m…means him we…we…well.”

Gaston tells them that he must find Guy de Bourges. Legrand and Racan offer to accompany him, but Gaston refuses. He doesn’t want to involve his other friends in the companions’ troubles with St. Giron. Gaston will go alone to check on Guy. Racan has his coach nearby and offers to take Gaston there. Gaston accepts a ride, but insists that Racan and the coach stop on a nearby street. Gaston dashes off a quick note to Lucien, telling Legrand “This is a note for young Lucien de Bourges, the Musketeer. Take it to the Musketeer barracks. And wait for his answer. He is brave but still young. Do what you can to help him, Jehan.”
To: Lucien de Bourges of the King’s Musketeers
Lucien, St. Giron is after your cousin and we may be in danger as well. I’ve gone to find Guy before St. Giron does. Don’t go about alone, especially at night.
Gaston Thibeault
P.S. You can trust Legrand.

Outside Guy’s apartment are the men that St. Giron has sent. These are Gendarmes of France of the Prince of Condé’s company. Like all the Gendarmes, they are of noble birth. St. Giron has hand-picked them so that their rank will not be so high as to prevent them from dueling with Guy.[i] There are four Gendarmes; one pair is standing across the street on either side of Guy’s building. (Earlier that evening, three of the them tossed Guy’s apartment while the fourth kept watch. They are not wearing armor, but are armed with sabers or broadswords.) The first pair consists of Ensign Alfred Reynaud, the Chevalier de Montbeugny and Marcel Chrétien du Frugereix; the second pair of Remy le Dommarien, Baron de Villemorin and his younger brother, Paulin le Dommarien, Siegneur de Villemorin.

Lucien arrives first and on being asked his name, replies that he is Monsieur de Bourges. Naturally, the Gendarmes mistake him for Guy de Bourges, the man that they are looking for. Ensign Reynaud says, “Monsieur, we have orders to apprehend you for murder. Surrender your sword at once!” Lucien refuses drawing his rapier. Ensign  Reynaud draws his saber saying, “Take him!”

Baron Villemorin interrupts saying, “Chevalier, I must protest. I shall be happy to engage this de Bourges myself, but fighting a man, even a murderer like him, at 4-1 odds does not accord with my honor.”

“Very well, Baron, stand aside and we shall take him.”

Lucien replies calmly, “You may try, Monsieurs. You may try.”

The other three attack Lucien. They battle back and forth, but the brave Musketeer soon defeats all three, dealing out wounds to all his opponents, but taking only a single wound in the process.

“Now these odds are to my liking,” says the Baron Villemorin as he draws his sword and engages Lucien. It is immediately apparent that the Baron is a far better swordsman than his three compatriots. The two battle back and forth with Lucien inflicting the first wound. But the Baron redoubles his efforts driving Lucien back and back again until his retreat is stopped by the wall of the building. The Baron then ends the duel with a vicious slash felling the Musketeer. “And that’s for Paulin,” he says as he viciously kicks his defeated opponent in contempt.

Guy, drawn downstairs by the sound of combat, immediately challenges Villemorin. “Hold! What goes on here? Perhaps you are seeking me, Guy de Bourges? You are clearly adept at attacking unarmed apartments and frightening servants. However identifying the correct target for a fight you do not seem to do so well. In sending you, I find no wonder that with such decision making skills your commander still lacks advancement. Tell St. Giron that scores should be even lest his vendetta win out over his better judgment. But if not then convey this warning: do not attack my comrades!”
Despite his impressive words, the battle of blades does not go well for Guy. The Baron, despite being wounded in his duel with Lucien is the better and stronger swordsman. His blade is a veritable whirlwind as he forces Guy to duck and scramble to avoid a series of vicious cuts and slashes. The Baron appears about to defeat a second de Bourges when Gaston’s timely arrival causes Villemorin to withdraw along with his badly wounded brother and their fellows.
With Fabre out of the city, Guy and Gaston carry the badly wounded Lucien to de Racan’s coach, then on to the Hotel de Treville for a surgeon. On the way, Guy tells the others what has occurred. De Racan tells Guy that the Baron de Villemorin has a younger brother Paulin – apparently he was one of the three wounded and defeated by Lucien. From de Racan Guy also learns the Baron’s address in Paris. At the Hotel de Treville, the Captain-Lieutenant calls for his own surgeon to treat Lucien. Meanwhile, Guy gives a partial explanation of events to Treville which leads him to conclude that Lucien was acting in support of his cousin and that St. Giron’s men attacked with the advantage of numbers on their side. Deciding that St. Giron may try again, Guy hires Gaston to act as his bodyguard.

The next day, Guy sends a note to Villemorin requesting a meeting at the cloisters on Monday morning for a duel to the First Blood to answer the Baron’s insulting charge of ‘murderer.’ Gaston is to act as Guy’s bodyguard and, if necessary, his second. Guy sends a second note to the Duke DeMainz to inform him of St. Giron’s recent actions.

The next morning is Sunday, January 29th so Guy goes to mass during which he notices a man wearing a large Maltese cross and a black velvet mantle sprinkled with embroidered gold and red flames - the garb of the Order of the Holy Spirit. After mass the man remains, praying; Guy waits in the back of the church until he is done praying and then introduces himself. He learns that the other is Raymond du Ducet, Comte d’Esterre and Provost of the Order of the Holy Spirit. The Count is interested in Guy, who seems to be a devout young noble. Guy’s polite and courtly style of conversation impresses the Count and he agrees to allow Guy to host him to a lunch at some later date.

Less welcome news comes from the Chatelet. That morning, Philippe Lefevre, the suspected agitator and rioter in the red scarf, was found dead in his cell. Apparently he was stabbed sometime that night. An examination of his body shows he was stabbed in his right eye, apparently through the grill on his cell door. During his interrogation, Lefevre claimed to be a Parisian silversmith. The Paris Archers who go to his residence to search it report that both the residence and adjacent shop were broken into and apparently ransacked. The shop was fitted with a stout, modern lock which appears to be melted. The searchers were not simple thieves as they did not take the stocks of finished or partially finished silver in the shop and they sifted the ashes in the fireplace. Nothing says ‘a professional job’ like sifted ashes, thinks Guy.

[i]     They are between SR 8 and SR 10.

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