Friday, July 31, 2015

Adventure 04: On Guard, Chapter VII

Chapter VII: Duel to the Death

After the brawl on Candlemas Eve, Gaston calls César de Mala Cassanha, the Sapristi Italian Fencing Master who struck his father in the face, a coward and challenges him to a duel. He asks Guy to act as his second and arrange the duel with Cassanha whose second is Isidore Lafontaine Sieur Le Roulle; Lafontaine is another student of Maestro Sapristi. On February 4th Guy and Lafontaine meet and make the arrangements. The duel is scheduled for Monday February 6th at 10:00 AM behind the Hotel de Luxemburg. Since Lafontaine also wants satisfaction from Guy for striking him with a wine bottle during the brawl, Guy and Lafontaine agree to a separate duel to the First Blood to occur at the same time as that between Gaston and Cassanha, who will fight their duel – “to the death!”

The duel provokes a lot of speculation within and between the schools and the outcome of the duel will be taken by the students of the winning side as a validation of their school over that of their rivals.

Recovered from his wound, Lucien returns to guard duty; in this he is accompanied by his new pageboy Bertin. Meanwhile, Guy continues his attendance at the talks in the guise of a clerk. While there, he spots a very large, muscular nobleman with a hawk-like nose and a graying full beard of the sort that has been out of fashion for twenty years – the same nobleman who wounded Pendu and stole the DaVinci codex – the same nobleman that Guy later left disarmed and tied to a tree outside of Auxerre. Guy pulls his hat brim down to shade his face as he thinks, Now that is interesting…and who might you be working for my large and bearded friend?

By discretely asking around Guy learns that the nobleman is the Baron Simon d’Ile-de-Batz.

February 6th, the day of the duel, is cold and windy; the bare branches of the trees behind the Hotel de Luxemburg whip back and forth like skeletal fingers as the wind tugs at the cloaks of the figures huddled there. As the clocks of the surrounding churches strike ten, two pairs of combatants shed their cloaks and begin their duels. Guy is armed with a rapier; Lafontaine is armed in the Italian style with rapier and main gauche. The two circle for a few moments testing each other’s defenses. Guy attempts to use his lighting speed and the same quick cut that won his duel against Villemorin; Lafontaine accepts a slight wound from Guy as he simultaneously strikes a nearly fatal blow using the deadly stop-thrust favored by the Italian style. While the duel is technically a draw that is small consolation to Guy who can barely stand while Lafontaine has endured little more than a scratch.

Meanwhile, Gaston and Cassanha, both masters of the Italian style, face each other similarly armed with rapier and main gauche. Cassanha is faster, but his rapid thrusts are repeatedly parried by Gaston who uses a combination of ripostes and thrusts to drive his foe back and then back again. Gaston parries then counters with his vizcaina in a deadly throat slash. Blood spurting from his throat, Cassanha counters with a stop-thrust wounding Gaston in the leg, but the stop-thrust draws Cassanha’s rapier out of position and Gaston delivers a fatal lunge to his opponent’s heart. Cassanha falls dead.[i]

The duel done and his wound bandaged, Gaston returns to the Dancing Bear Inn. Now that he has a commission with the Picardy Regiment he must spend some of his time performing his regimental duties. Major Gerald Larocque, who is in charge of the junior officers, assigns Gaston and the other new officers the task of assessing the new recruits. The Major makes it known that how well the lieutenants do this job may help decide which lieutenant is given temporary command of a company – the company is short of company captains so one or more lieutenants will need to be given a brevet command. Success training the recruits will impress the Major; failure the opposite.

Gaston spends Tuesday and Wednesday the 7th and 8th of February working with the new recruits. He identifies several veterans and assigns them to drill the green recruits in how to march – a key aspect of soldiering. Gaston succeeds, though not more so than his peers. His greater military experience being offset by his lack of noble birth and his less charismatic style of leadership. Biscarrat on the other hand is thought to be a natural leader. Lieutenant Colonel Boisson is most impressed with Daumier and Biscarrat. It looks like Biscarrat may not have to remain an ensign for very long and for now Daumier has the inside track on a brevet captaincy.

[i]     Gaston’s Riposte with his vizcaina did -8 Lifeblood and his Lunge did -11 Lifeblood. This would have left Cassanha  dead at a net -9 Lifeblood. However, Cassanha is a villain and as he had not used any of his Fortune Points, he used them to survive the apparently fatal blow. He will recover somehow, however he is left with a horrible scar to his throat that reduces his voice to a Christopher Lambert like whisper. He gains the Flaw: Obsession (Defeat Gaston). He is obsessed with proving himself by defeating Gaston in a one on one duel. However he no longer has faith in the teachings of his master. He abandons the Italian Style that he learned from Sapristi. Once he recovers enough to travel, he will go on a quest for a new style or an ultimate, unstoppable move that will let him defeat Gaston and finally Prove Himself.

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