Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Adventure 05: Musketeer’s Reward--Chapter II

Chapter II: Musketeers’ Revenge

    As a result of the events on Le Pont Neuf and of Marshal Bassompierre’s reprimand of the King’s Musketeers and of his high praise of Gaston and the Swiss Guards to the detriment of the King’s Musketeeers, Swiss Guards, who charged the barricade after Gaston Thibeault, received compliments while the King’s Musketeers stationed by the entrance to the Palais Dauphine and led by Corporal de Courtivron who refused to follow Gaston were reprimanded by Monsieur de Treville. Consequently those Musketeers consider that their honor and the honor of the Musketeers have been affronted and they want satisfaction from Gaston.
    Lucien tracks Gaston to the Inn of the Dancing Bear to warn Gaston that several of the Musketeers are unreasonably angry at how the events on the Pont Neuf were received. As an old soldier, Gaston is resigned over the outcome. He understands why the Musketeers would want to strike at someone after being reprimanded and he is a much easier target than a Maréchal of France. He realizes that Bassompierre used him to score points against the King’s Musketeers, but he is resigned to that as well since Maréchal and Generals are always using ordinary soldiers for their own ends and that is neither something he can control nor something he feels any need to apologize to the Musketeers about. His matter-of-fact attitude towards the impending conflict only frustrates Lucien the more.
    Next Lucien goes to the various places that the Musketeers frequent to try to talk his fellow Musketeers out of a duel, pointing out that Gaston is a fellow soldier of the King and that he was acting bravely and honorably. “We should not be fighting among ourselves.” However the Musketeers consider the Picardy Regiment to be a bunch of lowly provincials, not at all in the same class as the King’s Musketeers who are part of the Maison Roi, the King’s own Household Guard.    
    “Why the King himself is our Colonel,” they say. However Lucien’s passionate defense does get Corporal Courtivron to agree that it might look ill for him as a Corporal to champion a duel, but he refuses to order anyone else not to participate and Lucien is able to get the others to agree that the duel should not be to the death, but like most duels between soldiers, only to the Second Blood.    
    In the end, three of the Musketeers who were at the center of the Pont Neuf: Helias de Cedelhac, Raymonde de Trebouchard, and Léonide de Termopillae issue a joint challenge – a duel to the Second Blood. Gaston feels he cannot ask Lucien to act as his second against his fellow Musketeers, nor can he ask Guy to act in a matter that may pit him against his cousin. However, before he can select a second without a conflict, the three Musketeers who are concerned arrive at Les Deux Chevaux to challenge him directly. The four decide to walk the block and a half to L’Arche Marion,[i] a narrow cobbled street hemmed in by tall buildings that connects the Rue St-Germain-l’Auxerrois, via a steeply sloping arched street, with the quai de la Mégisseri and the Seine River. It is a grim but often used spot for dueling. Lucien, who happens to be with Gaston at the time, accompanies the four to act as a witness. The three challengers have agreed that they will meet Gaston in order with Cedelhac having the honor of going first, Trebouchard second, and Termopillae who will fight last.
    As agreed, Cedelhac goes first. He and Gaston each square off with rapier and main gauche since both combatants favor the Italian style. Best to end this quickly; preferably without any dead Musketeers to cause Lucien or me any further trouble. Thought and deed occur as one as Gaston acts quickly using his main gauche to bind and then break Cedelhac’s blade. “Are you satisfied, Monsieur?” Gaston asks. But Cedelhac calls for a new blade and Termopillae obliges him by lending his sword. Gaston repeats the maneuver breaking the borrowed blade as easily as the first and finishing with a thrust to the Musketeer’s sword arm. Cedelhace is unable to continue and must concede, though he does so with poor grace. Typical Gascon. They always hold a grudge.
    Raymonde de Trebouchard favors the feints and tricks of the French style. But neither trick nor feint turns aside Gaston’s relentless and powerful attack which ends yet again with a Musketeer’s broken blade. Once again Gaston asks, “Are you satisfied, Monsieur?”
    “Not as long as I can find a blade with which to fight! Monsieur de Bourges, I pray you lend your blade to a fellow Musketeer.” Lucien is torn. He does not want to see his friend or his fellows dueling, nor does he want his blade to be the one to end Gaston’s life. But his loyalty to the Musketeers is strong.
    He mutters resignedly, “All for one, and one for all.” Then more loudly, “Here Monsieur!” Tossing his blade to Trebouchard, he says, “Use it with honor.”
    Well I suppose I can’t break Lucien’s blade. But a disarm may do just as well. Suiting action to words, Gaston binds and twists away Trebouchard’s borrowed blade then follows up with a vizcaina thrust in the low line piercing Trebouchard’s extended right thigh which causes him to fall. “I believe that last touch is the Second Blood. I trust Monsieur is now satisfied.”
    Trebouchard first groans, then replies faintly, “Yes, Monsieur. I am satisfied.”
    Léonide de Termopillae who is now sword less says, “Well Monsieur Thibeault, you have broken the swords of two of my friends and you have broken my sword as well. I am certain that Monsieur de Bourges is likely to be loath to loan out his sword again, and in fact I confess that I would prefer a familiar blade so that I can do full justice to your prodigious skill. I must, therefore, ask for a delay while I get myself a new blade and familiarize myself with it.”
    “Since you are the challenger one might say it is your desire for satisfaction that is being delayed. Thus it shall be as you say Monsieur. Certainly I would not have it said that a humble provincial sought to take unfair advantage of a noble King’s Musketeer just to win a duel. We will meet once you again hold a familiar blade in your hand.”
    Termopillae helps Cedelhac away while Gaston and Lucien carry Trebouchard back to Les Deux Chevaux so he can be patched up. Trebouchard thinks that is most gentlemanly of Gaston. Trebouchard is pleased to learn that, like himself, Gaston is a poet as well as a fighter. Over drinks, the two discuss the finer points of poetry. As a result, Trebouchard decides he is more than satisfied with the conclusion of his duel and he and Gaston become friends.

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[i]     (D1) L’Arche Marion is a narrow cobbled street, see grid coordinates [F8-G9].

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