Friday, October 23, 2015

Adventure 08: Auxerre and the Black Riders: Chapter I

Chapter I: The Road to Auxerre

Lucien heard from Raymond de Trebouchard that some of the Musketeers who had been defeated by Gaston were planning some new mischief. Lucien tracked down Termopillae, who he suspected was the ring leader in any mischief. He found him with Cadillhac at the Painted Lady where they were treating Porthos to a meal while encouraging the giant Musketeer that he should stand up for his company by challenging Gaston to a duel. Lucien played for time, and then went to the Deux Chevaux so he could warn his friend Gaston of this new threat.

Father Signoret had dinner with Brother Phillipe, the Knight of Malta he had met at the Duke de Bellegarde’s Ball. They had a pleasant meal and found they shared a number of common interests. They arranged to go riding another day and the Jesuit was pleased to have made a contact with another devoted servant of God.

Guy met his previous patron, the Chevalier de Vezelay. He apologized for missing the introduction to the Duke de Bellegarde that he had requested of Vezelay, explaining that “Something had unexpectedly come up.” Guy told the Provost of his new mission to investigate the mysterious Black Riders and asked the Provost for some background. Vezelay being near to Auxerre, the Provost was able to share his knowledge of the area, though since he had not been back to Burgundy in some time, he could not provide the most up to date information.
As Guy prepared to leave, the Chevalier said, “My reach does not extend as far as Auxerre but I would be sorry to lose such a friend as you, as would others. Be careful.”
Guy jauntily tipped his hat and said, “Am I not always?”

As Lucien waited for Gaston at the Deux Chevaux tavern, he was joined by his cousin Guy who told Lucien about the Duke’s Ball and said that his cousin should have been there. Guy displayed his new emerald ring as he said, “Why you might even have met a new duchess.”
Lucien admired the ring, which Guy handed to him. Looking closely, Lucien noticed the inside of the gold band was inscribed with the words: Semper Fidelis. “Cousin, this looks like Latin.”
“Let me see that,” Guy said. He gazed at the ring in thought and then said softly, “Always faithful.’ Interesting. Now I wonder how I should interpret that?”
Gaston arrived and Signoret joined them. Gaston seemed unconcerned by Lucien’s warning. In turn, Signoret told his friends about his new acquaintance and was surprised that his friends did not seem as delighted as he. Guy and Gaston explained that Brother Phillipe was a member of the Fratellenza di Giganti, a notorious and rival dueling school to the Fraternity Sainct Didier, the school that both Guy and Gaston belonged to. Before they departed the four friends agreed to set out the next day to investigate the rumors of the mysterious Black Riders on behalf of the de Lomenie family.

On the morning of Tuesday the twenty-first of February, Guy, Lucien, Gaston, and Father Signoret left Paris by the Saint Marcel gate, and headed southeast towards Auxerre. On their journey they were accompanied by their lackeys, Fabré, Bertin, and Claude. Gaston had no lackey.
Between Ris and Essone they came across a lone gentleman whose horse had gone lame. He told them his name was Etienne Deveraux and that he to was traveling to Auxerre. Saying that he was in an urgent hurry, he begged leave to borrow one of their horses so that he could continue his journey, but he refused to explain where he was going or why he was in such a hurry. Having no horses to spare, at first none would lend him a mount even only long enough for him to reach the next town or inn where he could find a new horse.
Deveraux continued his entreaties, until Guy, deciding that helping the gentleman was a matter of noblesse oblige, finally agreed to help. He volunteered to lend Deveraux Bertin’s horse suggesting that Bertin could ride with Claude. Lucien grudgingly consented, though he took Bertin up behind him on his horse. M. Deveraux departed with little thanks and not a backward glance. Father Signoret, feeling sorry for the poor horse, insisted that they lead it to some inn where he could give it better care.
Slowed by the lame beast, they were late in crossing the bridge over the Essone and it was dark by the time they reached an inn in the town. There they caught up with Etienne Deveraux who had found that there were no horses for sale anywhere in the town of Essone. They agreed to allow him to continue on with Bertin’s horse until he could find another along the road. He could leave Bertin’s horse at whatever stable he acquired a new mount and they would come upon that place the next day and could recover Bertin’s horse. Without bothering to tell them what they should do with his horse, Deveraux mounted and rode off into the darkness.

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