Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Just a quick notice. I have some personal stuff going on that is taking my time so there will be a delay in posting.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Using the Mythic Game Master Emulator for solo roleplay

I've previously talked about how I use the Mythic Game Master Emulator (GME) to help me decide  NPC responses and the consequences of PC actions here and here.

In addition to using the GME for those sorts of what happens after situations, I've sometimes used the GME for running solo scenes. It works pretty well for that, though I find having to switch back and forth between GM and player is a little awkward and disassociative. Undoubtably if I did used the GME more it would feel less awkward. I ran a lot of solo D&D my first year in college. Partly as an escape from class and homework. (Kids, don't try this at university.) I don't recall what process I used. I certain a lot of random rolling on the wandering monster table was used. And I already had a megadungeon created that I used. It was large enough (about 3" thick with levels and very terse room keys) that I wouldn't remember the contents of all the rooms prior to consulting the key. So undoubtably there was a certain amount of listen at the door | hear nothing | open the door | now check room key to see what we encountered. I ran a dwarven fighter and spent entirely too much time doing that.

Recently, I ran a solo encounter between Gaston, my PC, and a couple of Masked Assassins. I find the GME is helpful in keeping the combat unpredictable and thus more interesting. To keep it interesting I try to make decisions for my PC quickly and before I've decided exactly what the NPC is doing. I'll use this as an example.

This combat is from the current adventures that the other PCs are involved in. I haven't gotten to that point in the Adventure Logs so I'll provide a little orientation.

What is Going On

The PCs are currently dealing with three different issues. The introduction is a bit long. If you want skip on down to the Example of Play.

First, Guy de Bourges, who is a spy for the mysterious Duke DeMainz [full name: Conrad D'Einartzhausen Landgrave de Barr and Duc DeMainz (SR 15)], has a long term mission to reduce the influence of the Prince de Condé (full name: Henri II de Bourbon, prince de Condé, Prince of the royal blood and second in line to the throne of France (SR 17)]. This is mostly being managed through Guy's two main agents, Le Serpent and Mlle Collette du Pré, a lady-in-waiting to the Prince's wife. Though the other PCs have helped come up with a plan to ruin an upcoming party that the Prince and Princess are hosting. The guests include the King and Queen, so a fiasco of a party could be just the ticket they need.

Second, Father Signoret, who is a Jesuit priest and a noted duelist, has been instructed by the Provincial Father to investigate some mysterious murders in the country around Paris. So far there have been three murders. The first was a middle aged woman whose heart was removed and who was viciously pecked at and scavenged on by crows that must have fed at night as she went out after supper to feed the goats and her body was found the next morning on a rocky outcrop in a field. The second was also a middle aged woman. She also disappeared in the evening and her body was found the next morning. Her bloody corpse was found on top of a neolithic stone table inside a rotten old ring of small standing stones. Both bodies had their hearts removed. And there was some indication that some sort of pentagram may have been drawn around the bodies in blood.

Third, Gaston, who is the Captain-Lieutenant of Cardinal Richelieu's Red Guards, has been assigned to look into the mysterious death (by poison) of Monsieur LeDroit, an agent for the Superintendant of Finance. LeDroit appears to have been investigating the actions of a secret society. The secret society seems to include several members of the Devôt faction and to be connected to the Spanish Ambassador to France. It may also be connected to the red sash wearing plotters who tried to foil the Treaty of France by assassinating the envoys from Venice, Savoy, and the Grey League or the red carnation wearing Spanish sympathizers encountered in Amsterdam during a past diplomatic mission.

In the last session, someone impersonated a servant at the Louvre and poisoned Guy using the same metallic poison that killed LeDroit. Fortunately for Guy, his trusted valet, Fabré is a highly skilled apothecary, and he had used traces of the poison that killed LeDroit to create an antidote which saved Guy. It appears that that secret society may have noticed the PC's interest and decided to do something about it.

Later that night, it is revealed that Gaston, too, has been marked for death.

Example of Play: Marked for Death

I had already determined that one or more of the Masked Assassins, last seen on the Ponte Neuf during the assassination attempt on the Pont Neuf, would use climbing lines to ascend Le Tour Dubois to attack Gaston in his office. The Assassins will be armed with weapons poisoned with "The Burning" a hideously painful concoction last seen in use on the Pont Neuf. [This occurs in game on the night of Wednesday April 10, 1624.]

First I created a little table to figure out how many Masked Assassins would be assigned the task. Masked Assassins aren't full Villain-level opponents, but they are Retainer Level-4. Two Retainer-4 opponents should be about equal to one Hero or maybe a tiny bit tougher. However, Gaston is a very experienced PC so he should be able to defeat two Retainer-4 opponents.

 2d6 Roll     Attackers

      12          (3) assassins

     7-11        (2) assassins

 2-6          (1) assassin

Rolling the dice, I got a 9, so the number of attackers = (2) Masked Assassins. [All die rolls are listed as roll+bonus-penatly.]

Next I checked their Sneak, which was 8+4=12, easily a success given that Gaston is neither an assassin himself, nor was he especially expecting such an attack inside his own office in a guarded tower in the Louvre. (He was cautious of what he was eating and drinking after the poisoning of both M. LeDroit and of Guy de Bourges. With a roll of 5+4, the first Masked Assassin opened the window without any difficulty.

I then used the GME to determine how alert Gaston happened to be at that moment. Based on his location and level of caution, I assumed he was likely to be surprised. This means that on a roll of d100 there 01-15 = Exceptional Yes (great surprise), 16-75 = Yes (surprise, free attack, cannot spend Fortune Points to get a near miss, no defense), 76-95 = No (unsurprised bonus die to initiative, can spend Fortune Points to get a near miss), 96-00 Exceptional No (Gaston is prepared). I rolled 69, indicating surprise so the Masked Assassins get the first round free.

Round 1

I figured the Masked Assassin's best chance was for both to quietly enter the room then attack. I assumed that was likely (same odds as above). If they didn't do that, then the first Assassin would fire his balestrin (1-handed crossbow) from outside the window.
  • So the GME question is, "Do they both enter first?" I rolled a 96 = Exceptional No. So Assassin-1 fires his balestrin from outside the window, then enters the room with Assassin-2 following the same set of actions next round.
  • Assassin-1 uses his surprise to get an Aimed Shot, which gives him a bonus die on his attack. Roll: 9+4=13, Hit; damage is 1d3+Poison. Rolled damage of -1 LB; and Assassin-1 enters room as a free move.
  • Gaston’s Might Check vs. Poison damage is 5+2-1=6 Fail so he takes an additional -1LB damage; for his might roll vs. the Intense Pain of the poison, he spends a Fortune Point and rolls 9+2-2=Success.

Round 2
  • Roll for Initiative results in the following order: Assassin-1, Assassin-2, Gaston
  • I used the GME to decide whether Assassin-1 draws melee weapons or reloads his balestrin. He tries reload using the Quickload Maneuver and rolls 4+4-2=8 Failure, so it takes him 2 Minor Actions to load. He will finish loading next round.
  • Assassin-2: Split Action takes an Aimed Shot/Balestrin: 9-2+4-1 [for Gaston's Defense]=10 a hit, but Gaston who is now alert can react. He dodges which subtracts an additional -2 from the shot, turning it into a miss.
  • Gaston: uses Quick Draw 6+3-1=9 Success; needing to finish Assassin-1 before he can reload, Gaston Lunges against Assassin-1 and spends a FP. Even using the fortune point, the roll is a paltry five, but given Gaston's extremely good fencing skills that is 5+7-1=11 a hit. Damage is +1d6 for the Lunge so Assassin-1 decides to yield Advantage. [One of the reasons that Retainer-4 are much tougher is that they have Advantage of 2 which allows them to retreat form an otherwise fatal attack. Heroes have a base of Advantage 3.]. 
  • Gaston has the Advantage over his opponent so he choose to push his advantage. [He sacrifices 1 Advantage to get a second attack.] This attack is an 11+7-1=18 which easily hits. and Gaston rolls 2 sixes for damage so with his Might bonus he does -14 Lifeblood. This kills the assassin in one blow. The Lunge is through throat with a follow through sideway cut that nearly beheads Assassin-1.
  • Gaston uses his minor action to Shove Assassin-2 out the window. He rolls  9+3-0=12 and succeeds. 
  • Gaston, rolls again to stop the damage from the poison, roll is 8+2-1=9 success so Gaston takes no more damage from the poison. Roll to endure the pain is 11+2-2=11 another success. This time Gaston didn't spend a FP since both Assassins were dead or gone and it wouldn't matter so much if he had a penalty due to pain. [Technically Gaston didn't need to make a second roll vs. pain. But I forgot that. Tough for Gaston, but luckily he made the roll anyway.]

Round 3

  • Initiative: Assassin-2 [wins on tie] with Gaston. I figured the Assassin or Thief skills applied better here than Duelist or Soldier so the tie went to the Assassin.
  • Assassin-2 tries to catch the rope: 8+2=10 Success; I use the GME to see if he will reload, otherwise he'll conceal himself. Before figuring that out, I decide that Gaston will grab the dead Assassin's balestrin. If the Assassin-2 survives being shoved out the window, the idea of using their own weapon to take down the last assassin appeals to Gaston's sense of poetic justice. 
  • GME roll is 91=No so instead of reloading he takes the cautious approach and swings to the side to get out of sight;
    Gaston picksup Assassin-1’s Balestrin; Goes to the window to check on Assassin-2.
  • Assassin-2 rolls 6+4-2=8 fails Sneak vs. Gaston's Savvy so Gaston notices the rope move, but can’t see Assassin. 
  • Gaston decides to cut the rope. I roll an attack and damage to see how long it takes to cut.; roll 5+7=Hit; Damage 6+2=8 rope is cut. Assassin-2 falls.

Round 4

  • Assassin-2 rolls 10+2-2=12 which succeeds and catches himself on a projection from the old medieval tower wall despite a Hard (-2) difficulty. 
  • I use the GME to decide if he will retreat (which I decide is likely), but with a roll of 99=Exceptional No; he will continue with his mission now! 
  • Next I ask if he will climb up to another window and try again; a roll of 73=No. 
  • So I ask if he will disguise himself and try a stealthy approach? 49=Yes; 
  • Rolling for him to get down off the tower results in 9+2=Success.
    Meanwhile, Gaston puts down the Balestrin, picks up and arms a pistol, looks out the window. Sees no one. Checks other windows. Heads downstairs armed w/ pistol and sword, alerting any guards as he encounters them. 
  • Note that since no one is in combat, these rounds are subjective and variable in length.

Round 5

  • Will Assassin-2 try to disguise himself as a Red Guard 29=Yes. 
  • I roll a d6 to see if he encounters a named Red Guard or a generic guard. A roll 6 on 1d6 = he encounters a named Red Guard. I look at the list of named guards, subtract Gaston and the PCs who are in Marseille and roll a d10. A result of 3 tells me that the Red Guard encountered is Remy Janvier who is alone. [Assassin-2 isn't an idiot so there is no real reason to have him tackle multiple guards.] 
  • I roll for Assassin-2 to sneaks up on Janvier 8+4-0=Success. 
  • Assassin-2 uses a Lunge w/ Bonus die for surprise + a called shot (+1 Damage); roll 10+2-1=Hit; Rolling 1d3+1+1+1d6 for damage = -10 Lifeblood. [Note that a dagger in the right circumstances is deadly in H+I.] 
  • Assassin-2 is trying for stealth, so he does not use a poisoned weapon so his target won't cry out from the excruciating pain. The damage drops Janvier to 0 Lifeblood. Janvier falls unconscious and bleeding.
  • Assassin-2 puts on his crimson tabard as a disguise. In this situation his Assassin 2 career should help with the disguise. With a disguise roll of 7+4=11 even if we subtract Gaston's Savvy 2 this is a success. So Assassin-2 will get initiative plus a bonus die for his first attack against Gaston.

Round 6

  • Assassin-2 attacks with a poisoned stiletto and Lunge w/bonus die+called shot; 7+2-1=Miss. Gaston's defense is still in effect since he has already been attacked, he is looking for the assassin, and he is prepared with a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other. 
  • At this point, Gaston wants a prisoner to question so he uses Disarm, a maneuver he has mastered giving him a bonus die on his roll. He rolls 12+6=18 and a Mighty Success. The Assassin is disarmed. Gaston gets a free action vs. the Assassin due to the Mighty Success. 
  • He rolls at attack to put the assassin at sword's point; a roll of 10+7-1=16 easily succeeds. 
  • Gaston uses his boon of The Look which gives him a bonus die to Intimidation. He again rolls a mighty success so Assassin-2 is captured and Gaston has a prisoner to question.

Round 7

  • Gaston finds Janvier and calls for a surgeon. Janvier (who was only at 0 not at negative Lifeblood) survives and recovers. Gaston recovers 2 LB, but is still down -1LB from the poison.


  • At this point rounds are irrelevant. But the order in which Gaston does things may matter. 
  • Gaston ensures that Assassin-2 is bound and guarded by Red Guards that he trusts. He gives the guards strict instructions to watch him carefully and to keep him alive. 
  • Gaston then goes to checks on Cardinal Richelieu. Gaston doubles the Cardinal's guards and puts them on alert. 
  • Next Gaston sends four Cardinal’s Guards to get Fabré with his potions and antidotes, including the antidote for The Burning. Two of those guards are to stay and protect Guy. [They may not actually find Guy as his player already decided Guy is keeping out of sight since he was poisoned.]  
  • At the same time, two more Cardinal’s Guards are sent to the Jesuit Professed House to warn Signoret. Gaston assumes a master duelist like Signoret can look after himself outside the Professed House and inside he should be safe from assassins, so the Red Guards are to return after warning the Jesuit.
  • Also in parallel, two more Red Guards are to warn and guard the Seigneur de Chambre. Gaston owes de Chambre for his help in rescuing his nieces and doesn't have a good sense for how capable the Seigneur really is, him being the sort of court fop that Gaston typically despises and sneers at.

I may run the interrogation of Assassin-2 as a solo event. But in any case, now I know what happened with the attack on Gaston and the other players don't need to sit around at our regular session while stuff happens to Gaston .If I had resolved it at a regular session, I'd have turned over the two Masked Assassins to a couple of the players to run. That gives them a chance to experiment with a different type of character and different tactical options. And they usually seem to enjoy that.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A New Poison: The Burning

This is a duplicate of part of the post on the Masked Assassins. I wanted to include the poison here to make it easier for people to find the poison.

† Poison: The Burning

This poison is applied to the 5 bolts and to the stiletto or throwing knives that are usually carried by the Masked Assassins.  

Type of Poison: The Burning was created by the infamous assassin known as The Left Hand of God; he is an Apothecary and Poisoner. The poison is based on a type of venom and certain herbal ingredients. The poison counts as an Uncommon potion for creation as does the Antidote (once one is discovered).

Duration: 1d3x1d3 (minimum 2 rounds).

  1. Venom: Each round, the target must make a Tricky (‑1) Might check or lose 1 Lifeblood. Once a victim has successfully resisted damage or the duration ends, the damage loss effect ends.
  2. Burning Pain: intense pain weakens and distracts the victim. The target must make a Hard (-2) Might check or take a Penalty Die on all rolls due to distraction from pain. Every 5 rounds they may re-attempt to resist the poison (without the Penalty Die). Effect lasts (beyond the duration) until it has been successfully resisted by a Might check.
  3. For each missed attack or parry, some of the poison is rubbed off, add +1 to Might roll to resist, once bonus is > +2 all poison is gone.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Honoring the Dead: Masked Assassin NPCs

Masked Assassins (Retainer Level 4)

These are possible aides or assistants for Martin Pedrosa “the Left Hand of God.” Dressed in black clothing and hooded cloaks, they armed with a Balestrin (1-H crossbow), (5) poison arrows, one silk line and grapple, a pair of throwing daggers, a stiletto, and a swordbreaker. They may be Spanish, Italian, or even French in Nationality.

Might 0 Daring 1 Savvy 2 Flair 1
Brawl 0 Melee 1 Ranged 2 Defense 1
Thief 1 Assassin 2 Courtier, Diplomat, or Servant 1
Lifeblood 10 Composure 2 Advantage 2 Fortune 1 Retainer 4
Languages: Spanish (F), French (F), Italian (F)
Boon: Sneaky; Flaw: Active Duty
    Stiletto: 1d3 Dmg; ignores 2 Protection, +1 with Called Shots
    Swordbreaker: 1d3 Dmg + poison †, +1 Bind, 1d6+1 Damage with Sword Break
    Balestrin (Hand Crossbow): 1d3 Dmg + poison †, 20’ Range, 1 MA to load (5 bolts)
    Crossbow: 1d6+1 Dam; 80’ range, Reload: 2 MA to load, +1 Called Shots
Maneuvers: Bladework+2, Lunge+2, Swordbreak; Bind+1[2], Footwork+3, Parry+3, Ranged Attack+4. Aimed Shot (+Bonus Die to attack. 10’ to range), Called Shot

† Poison: The Burning

This poison is applied to the 5 bolts and to the stiletto or throwing knives that are usually carried by the Masked Assassins.

Type of Poison: The Burning was created by the infamous assassin known as The Left Hand of God; he is an Apothecary and Poisoner. The poison is based on a type of venom and certain herbal ingredients. The poison counts as an Uncommon potion for creation as does the Antidote (once one is discovered).

Duration: 1d3x1d3 (minimum 2 rounds).

  1. Venom: Each round, the target must make a Tricky (‑1) Might check or lose 1 Lifeblood. Once a victim has successfully resisted damage or the duration ends, the damage loss effect ends.
  2. Burning Pain: intense pain weakens and distracts the victim. The target must make a Hard (-2) Might check or take a Penalty Die on all rolls due to distraction from pain. Every 5 rounds they may re-attempt to resist the poison (without the Penalty Die). Effect lasts (beyond the duration) until it has been successfully resisted by a Might check.
  3. For each missed attack or parry, some of the poison is rubbed off, add +1 to Might roll to resist, once bonus is > +2 all poison is gone.
[The description of the poison is repeated as a separate post.]

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Adventure 08: Auxerre and the Black Riders: Chapter VI

Chapter VI: The Sorrowful Bride to Be

Claude woke up in daylight to the sound of his captors snapping leg irons and manacles on him. The leg irons allowed him to shuffle about, but not to run while the manacles on his hands were fastened in front of him and attached to a short chain of about six inches in length. His captors were dressed in black armor and wore strange, face covering blackened steel helms. Around him were the ruins of what appeared to be an old abbey.

The black helmed men refused to answer any of Claude’s questions. Instead, they gagged Claude then loaded him into a large black wagon, boxy in shape and closed on all sides including the roof. The only entrance was through a locked door at the rear though small grates on the two sides provided some ventilation. Despite this, the wagon had a fetid odor which seemed to partially emanate from the other four prisoners inside. The other prisoners were manacled and gagged just like Claude and the bed of the wagon was covered with straw – much of which was already filthy.

The others consisted of two men and two women. The nearest woman was young and somewhat pretty with light brown hair, and from her clothes, she looked to be the wife or daughter of a prosperous farmer. She sat weeping quietly. Next to her sat a striking looking woman in her thirties with dark hair, who, from her dress, appeared to be some kind of gentlewoman or even a minor noble. She sat very still and looked like she was in shock. Opposite the younger woman was a young man in the simple, dirty smock of a peasant. He looked frightened and confused. Next to him was an older male peasant who sat tiredly and with a dull, resigned expression on his face.

By straining against his bonds and hanging onto the side grates with his fingers Claude was able to peek out of the grate to catch an occasional glimpse of the passing countryside: fields, a farmhouse, a tree, some hilly and rough spots of countryside. Slowly, Claude realized that he had no idea where he was. Worse yet, he had no idea where his master was. Thinking of his master, he clutched the rosary he had been given by Father Signoret. Briefly he considered dropping it out the grate as a clue, but then decided that it was too valuable to risk being lost.

Instead he ripped a few rags off the hem of his breeches and dropped them out of the wagon at intervals. He also had some small pieces of brown paper in one pocket that had once held some fish heads and other snacks. Slowly he dropped the papers through the grate as well. As he did, he mumbled through his gag something about cleaning out his pockets.

Claude was too frightened to remove his gag, but he did loosen it slightly so he could exchange a few mumbled and encouraging words with his fellow prisoners. Too scared to try conversing with the fancy lady, he directed his comments to the older peasant, asking, “Where are you from, old man?”

Claude learned that the old peasant was named Alphonse and that he lived outside of Auxerre and worked on a vineyard owned by someone he called Master Trebouchard. Alphonse was attacked on a country road at night while he was walking home alone from a local tavern. He didn’t seem to know anything about the black-helmed men nor why he was made a prisoner, but he was resigned and fatalistic about his situation.

“These Black Riders are all in fancy armor and such, well I’spect like them knights of old they’ll be needing us like to do the hard work for ‘em. And I is used to hard work.”

The wagon traveled slowly on. Twice a day the wagon stopped so that the prisoners could be fed—either plain porridge or soup in a wooden bowl. No utensils were provided. The gentlewoman seemed scandalized or something and refused “to eat swill like a pig.” Claude ate his food and hers too and he noticed that despite the lady’s protest, no better food was provided to her.

The next morning, Saturday February the twenty-fifth, Guy and the others questioned Depardieu. When prompted, he admitted he was the agent of Bishop de Lomenie. While he was able to independently confirm some of their observations, he did not advance their knowledge as his inquiry had not proceeded as far as theirs before his capture.

Afterwards, Signoret went to the Town Hall to make contact with the girl, Genevive. His goal was to let Genevive know that help was near and to ensure that she didn’t do anything rash. At the hall, Signoret spoke to the girl’s step-mother, Madame Biatrisona Villelmeti-Benoit, who said that Genevive was “a scatterbrained young woman who didn’t know what was good for her.”

Father Signoret assumed an older manner as he said, “The young are often impulsive. Perhaps if I heard her confession I might be able to reconcile her to God’s will in the matter of her marriage.”

“Oh father, if only you could,” the step-mother replied.

“Why don’t you tell me about the groom?”

Madame Villelmeti-Benoit told the Jesuit that the prospective groom was her brother, Grimoart Villelmeti. Though originally from Languedoc, Villelmeti now lived in a fine mansion outside of Auxerre. In addition to his position as a tax collector in the Auxerre and Autun regions, Villelmeti also ran a profitable transport service that shipped goods, primarily Burgundy wine, by both river barge and wagon. Madame also confirmed that the wedding was scheduled for the next day, Sunday February the twenty-sixth in the Cathedral of Auxerre.

Deciding that Father Signoret was just the man to calm her step-daughter’s nerves and to persuade her to accept the marriage, Madame agreed to take him to see Genevive. She led him upstairs to the low-ceilinged third floor where she unlocked the door to a darkened room, the windows closed by wooden shutters. She told the girl, “I have brought a priest to speak with you and to hear your confession before the wedding. Now don’t give him any of your nonsense!”

As Madame Villelmeti-Benoit departed, she relocked the door behind her. The Jesuit listened and he noticed that Madame’s footsteps did not go away. Just as I thought, that woman is eavesdropping. I’ll have to keep this quiet.

The Jesuit loudly spoke to Genevive suggesting that they pray together before he heard her confession. Then quietly he whispered, “I bring you a message from your friend.” He passed over a note that Etienne Deveraux had written. As she read, she wept silently.

Next, Father Signoret quietly spoke to her about rescue as he examined the room. He noted that the shutters were nailed shut, keeping the room in dimness despite the daylight. Madame had locked the door to the room with what looked to the Jesuit like a standard key which she kept on a large ring of keys.

Genevive complained to the Jesuit that, “My cruel step-mother wants to marry me to her brother the tax gatherer, but he is fat, old, and ugly! Dear Father, I do not want to marry an ugly, old fat man.”

Signoret told her not to despair. “You should write a note to Etienne to let him know that you are safe and that you have not given up hope.”

Genevive readily agreed. She wrote her message on the back of Etienne’s note as she said, “I cannot keep this dear note as my wicked step-mother searches my room daily. So I shall send it back to my dear friend…Etienne Deveraux. And you shall give it to him for me, dear, dear Father Signoret.” She kissed the note before handing it to the Jesuit.

Signoret asked Genevive about the staff and any guards at the Town Hall. He learned that since Noel Meunier Baron de Fressain, the Lieutenant Governor of the Province lived in a mansion outside of town, there were no guards in the Town Hall at night. But that her uncle, Auxerre’s Town Governor, slept in a room on the floor below as did her step-mother. Her father’s three clerks slept on the third floor in the room next to hers.

As Genevive wondered how Etienne and the dear Father would rescue her, she speculated aloud, “Father, perhaps you could officiate at the wedding?”

“My child, I am just a simple priest.”

Genevive kissed the Jesuit on the cheek, “Father, you come from God in answer to my prayers.”

Signoret serenely replied, “I do.”

As Signoret left the Town Hall he reassured Genevive’s step-mother that “Genevive is resigned now to God’s will.” And he quietly accepted Madame Villelmeti-Benoit fervent thanks.

Back at the Blue Bottle Inn, Father Signoret gave Etienne the note from Genevive which he read several times, then he carefully folded the note and placed it inside his doublet, next to his heart. While he did this, the others discussed plans for the rescue. Bertin observed that “The nailed shutters and the third floor location will make the room difficult and noisy to enter from the outside, Monsieurs and people above and next to the room are likely to hear any noise.”

“Then we must make sure they do not hear us,” Guy said as he suggested a plan that he thought might work.

Afterwards, Signoret again argued that they should search for his missing servant, “I promised my father on his deathbed that I would look after Claude. I must find him.” He suggested that they go to the ruined abbey to look for any sign of Claude. The others agreed; so with the Jesuit in the lead, they carefully made their way cross country through a light rain.

At the ruined abbey, Signoret found ash from campfires, rubbish, bits of broken and cast off equipment, piles of horse dung both old and new, and deep wagon ruts that indicated the abbey had been used for months as a way station by the Black Riders. There were signs that as many as twenty men may have camped here at one time with an equal number of horses picketed here. Although there was no sign of tents or huts, the abbey ruins would have provided some shelter. In one corner of the ruins, the searchers found a supply cache of powder, shot, and dried food concealed beneath a flagstone.

Well worn ruts led from the abbey to a nearby farm lane. On the farm road, Signoret spotted a piece of torn cloth lying some distance to the right down the farm road. The cloth was on top of the wheel ruts and it looked like the same begrimed material as Claude’s trousers. As he continued to follow the farm road to the right and out to the main highway, the Jesuit was reassured by the additional pieces of torn cloth and the greasy papers smelling of fish that he found in or on the side of the road. These confirmed that Claude was still alive and the wagon’s direction of travel was south along the main road towards Lyon. By that time the sun had set and the group had to stop and return to Auxerre, but Father Signoret now knew that on horseback they could easily outpace the wagon and catch up with Claude later.

When the group returned to the Blue Bottle, Guy’s valet, Fabré, handed him a glass of good wine and a warm, scented cloth with which to refresh himself. As his master relaxed, Fabré reported that at noon he had delivered a barrel of wine to the town hall for the residents and staff, “with the compliments of the groom-to-be.” And as they had previously planned, the wine was heavily laced with a soporific that Fabré had concocted from the herbs and simples in his apothecary case. Anyone who drank that wine would sleep deeply this night, Guy thought.

They waited to give the residents of the hall time to drink and fall asleep, then they stealthily went to the Town Hall to rescue Genevive. Bertin picked the lock on a side door. Inside, the kitchen staff sat with cups of wine before them, passed out asleep in their seats. Signoret led the way for Bertin and Etienne. From the clerks’ room on the third floor, they could hear the sound of snores as Bertin picked the lock on the chamber where Genevive was imprisoned. Etienne picked up the sleeping girl and carried her out of the Town Hall. Behind him, Bertin carefully used his picks to relock the doors he had opened. Genevive’s disappearance would be a mystery.

With the girl rescued, the group departed Auxerre. Guy went out the main gate with the sleeping Genevive, while the others departed separately from the other town gates so as not to attract suspicion. Outside of town they rejoined then together they set out for Trebouchard Manor.

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