Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Adventure 08: Auxerre and the Black Riders: Chapter II

Chapter II: Ambush at the Old Mill Inn

In the inn’s stable, Father Signoret removed the stone from Etienne’s horse’s shoe which cured its lameness. Inside the inn, the friends found several gentlemen who had stopped on their way to Paris for a carouse. The gentlemen insisted that the newcomers join them in drinking and in either gambling or song. The friends opted for song during which they learned that Lucien sang enthusiastically though not well, but his lackey Bertin sang like an angel.
As they drank with the gentlemen, they exchanged the news in Paris for the news from Burgundy, which seemed all bad. They learned that vicious wolves had plagued the villages and countryside around Auxerre and that the packs were becoming larger and more vicious. Some even said that the wolves were sent by the Devil as a warning that the Huguenot heretics were soon to return to smash and burn the rebuilt churches and kill more Catholics. Many people were afraid to travel and supplies in the town of Auxerre were becoming scarce. They also heard of mysterious black riders who were seen at night or on lonely roads and were said to spirit people off to the underworld.

Near lunch time, the party stopped at a two-storey inn called the Old Mill, which was built onto the side of the original mill. By the side of the inn a waterwheel creaked as it slowly turned. Tossing their reins to the lackeys, the four friends entered. Inside, the inn had a high ceilinged common room with an open stair up to a balcony and guest rooms above. The common room was crowded with people, most of whom looked more like bravos or brigands than farmers. Someone inside shouted, “That’s him!” A score of bravos stood.
In their midst was a single well-dressed young man, Paulin de Villemorin. Villemorin pointed to Gaston and said to the others, “Stand aside. My quarrel is with him.”
Gaston said, “Well enough. Pick any two of your lackeys to draw their swords with you and I’ll fight all three.”
“I do not fight with peasants,” Villemorin replied. “Take him!”
“We may have something to say about that,” said Lucien as Gaston and his friends all drew their swords. The bravos split up to attack the four. Guy leaped onto a chandelier using it to swing to a table top where he used his height to rain blows down onto a handful of Villemorin’s swordsmen. Lucien moved sideways to engage another group of swordsmen to protect his cousin’s flank. Meanwhile, Signoret slowly retreated up the stairs towards the second level with four or five swordsmen following after him as they thrusted and parried.
Gaston shouted, “Villemorin, I’m coming for you!” as he carved a path through the waiting bravos towards the young noble. Reaching Villemorin, Gaston used his greater reach and strength to disarm the youth, then brutally smashed the hilt of his sword into the noble’s handsome face, breaking his nose. Gaston called on Villemorin to surrender, but the young man staggered backwards then picked up his sword while Gaston waited. “It looks like you will be fighting me after all, boy,” Gaston said.
Villemorin leapt forward to attack. The older swordsman trapped Villemorin’s blade with his vizacaina, a type of Spanish main gauche from the region around the Bay of Biscay. With a twist, Gaston broke the younger man’s blade, again calling on him to yield.
“Never!” Paulin replied as he ran sideways to snatch up a blade from one of his fallen men.
While Gaston and Paulin dueled, the other three had killed, disabled, or routed the rest of Paulin’s hired swords. Father Signoret told his last foe,“Fly you fool lest you burn in hell this day!”
Realizing that young Villemorin would never surrender, Gaston decided to end the fight. His rapier thrust was to the heart and his blade pierced Pualin from front to back.  
The battle over, the friends used the money they found on Paulin to pay for the damages to the inn, to pay for the burial of the bodies, and to buy a cart to carry Paulin de Villemorin’s body back to his family. They ordered the surviving swordsmen to take Paulin’s body to his brother in Paris. The idea of facing the Baron de Villemorin filled the defeated minions with fear. One of them spoke up saying, “Messieurs, the Baron is a cruel and vengeful man and this is not a message we wish to deliver to him.”
Gaston coldly stared at the speaker and said, “I’ve killed five men already today. I can just as easily make the count six.”
“Paris it is,” the bravo replied.

They rest of their journey to Auxerre was uneventful other than the troupe of actors they came across which included a pair of attractive actresses who smiled saucily and waved at the party. Lucien kicked his horse next to their wagon and flirted with the pretty actresses which whiled away the rest of the day until they reached the gate of Auxerre.

Link to stats for Paulin and his brother Remy.

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