Thursday, July 23, 2015

Adventure 04: On Guard, Chapter V

Chapter V: Tragedy at the Comédie-Française

Monday January 30th, the diplomats take a break by going to the theatre to see a play performed by the troupe of the Comédiens du Paris. The play is commedia dell’arte, entitled: The Fox which is a loose adaptation of Ben Jonson’s Volpone. Outside the theatre, a large crowd on foot and in coaches waits to enter the theatre. Since Lucien is still recovering from the wound inflicted by the Baron Villemorin, the Musketeers guarding the Venetian Ambassador, Alvise Contarini, are led by Lucien’s friend Louis du Rouvroy. Worried by a premonition, Lucien sends Bertin to find and bring Gaston to the theatre to help Rouvroy.

Guy decides to keep an eye on one of the other diplomats, the Abbé Cesare Alessandro Scaglia di Verrua the Savoyard Ambassador. Mixed in with the theatre crowd are a gang of hired swords who attack the Venetian and Savoyard Ambassadors. Guy draws his rapier and leads the Venetian guards to fend off their attackers. He asks the Ambassador if he is hurt, but any answer is interrupted by the Thwack! of a crossbow and the simultaneous appearance of a bolt through the door frame by the Ambassador’s head.

Obviously the swordsmen were only a distraction for the actual assassins who are located on two separate roofs opposite the theatre and are armed with crossbows. Guy shoots the assassin who is wounded but he does not fall, instead he flees and Guy gives chase, but soon returns without the assassin who has escaped into the night.

Meanwhile, the swordsmen against Rouvroy are more successful; one of the crossbow bolts hits an Ambassador’s guard and he dies, screaming in agony – the bolts are poisoned! Bertin comes up on Lucien’s horse and Gaston, who was already in the crowd waiting for tickets, recognizes the horse. He mounts and charges the swordsmen fighting Rouvroy. The unexpected cavalry charge scatters the swordsmen. Gaston leaps off the horse and accompanied by Bertin, climbs the building façade to reach the second assassin. Gaston disarms the assassin of one dagger after another in an effort to capture him, but during the rooftop battle, the assassin loses his footing falling to his death.[i]

Guy quickly runs over to question the fallen assassin, “Who hired you,” he asks. All the dying man has time to say is the Left Hand of God. An examination of the dead body shows that the assassin had several extra poisoned crossbow bolts and a glass flask, now broken, that seemed to contain some acid or chemical that burned him horribly. No doubt it broke in his fall – well not his fall exactly, more the landing really. Perhaps the same acid was used to melt the lock at Philippe Lefevre’s shop?

Guy collects the crossbow bolt in the carriage as well as the remaining bolts on the fallen assassin and gives them to Fabre to provide a sample of the poison to analyze and, if fortune is with him, to devise an antidote to the poison before it can claim another victim. 


January 31st Bertin keeps watch by Lucien’s sickbed sneaking to the kitchen to fetch him bowls of soup, to ‘borrow’ towels to clean up Lucien, and to steal bread and cheese for his own supper. Such fine white cheese these Musketeers eat. I was smart to find such a wonderful master. I do hope he doesn’t die. In one of his awake and lucid moments, Lucien takes Bertin into his service as a chasseur masculine or pageboy. One time when Guy stops by to visit Lucien, he finds Bertin going through Lucien’s belongings, including his money purse. Seeing the dirty urchin’s hand stuffed into Lucien’s purse, Guy naturally leaps to the conclusion that Bertin is trying to rob his cousin. Eventually he is convinced otherwise, but not before Bertin is forcibly given a much needed scrubbing and bath in the horse trough.
[i]     Calamitous Failure on the assassin’s Footwork maneuver.

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