Monday, November 9, 2015

Adventure 08: Auxerre and the Black Riders: Chapter V

Chapter V: Secrets of the Dog’s Head Tavern

While Guy and Bertin kept watch at the sign of the Dog’s Head, Lucien and Gaston waited for Father Signoret. The three, accompanied by Guy’s valet Fabré, went to the Dog’s Head tavern to see if Bertin had spotted any sign of Claude. Once there, the realized that Bertin was nowhere to be found. Lucien was worried about young Bertin and the three went inside the tavern to look for him.

Lucien looked around the bar while Signoret forced his way upstairs past the protesting tavern keep. At the top of the stair, Signoret found a locked door which he tried but failed to force open. He called for Gaston, who ran upstairs and broke down the door, behind which they found a woman in a bath tub.

Downstairs, Lucien and Fabre were left to deal with the angry tavern keep and an increasingly agitated group of muscular patrons. Lucien put Fabré behind him and slowly backed towards the stairs. “Gaston a little help here!”

Father Signoret quickly averted his eyes from the bather and moved to the next door, which was also locked. “Gaston,” he cried. Gaston slowly turned away from the first room and kicked in the next door. Inside they found an unoccupied bedroom with a large chest. They were about to leave when they heard a knocking sound from inside the chest. Signoret shot the lock off, inside they saw a struggling, blanket wrapped form. Removing the blanket, they saw a man, tied up and gagged. Behind the gag were the familiar features of Etienne Deveraux.

“Gaston!” Lucien called again. “I could really use some help here!”

Father Signoret suggested they leave Deveraux in the chest while they searched the rest of the upstairs and, suiting action to words he continued down the hall.

Gaston, pulled a knife from his boot and cut Etienne free. From below came a truly frantic cry of, “Gaston!!”

Through the shutters on the window at the end of the hall, Father Signoret saw a man in an apron running from the tavern. The Jesuit backed up to get a running start, then crashed through the window onto a cart of fresh fish. The runner turned in surprise as Signoret grabbed a large fish and slapped him across the face, knocking the man in the apron unconscious.

Lucien with Gaston beside him, forced the tavern keep and his patrons away from the stair, then Gaston lifted a keg of ale and tossed it at the crowd, who fell back slipping and sliding in the foaming tide. With cries for the watch behind them, Gaston, Lucien, and Fabré fled the Dog’s Head.

Meanwhile, Signoret dragged the unconscious man into the cart and covered him with fish. He tried to shift the cart without success, until his friends arrived. Together they pushed the fish cart up to the Jesuit College.

Once inside the college, Etienne started to tell them his story. “I know a girl, a most wonderful girl but she is being forced to marry an ugly, old fat man. As you know, we met when my horse went lame on the road from Paris. This seems to be my curse as my last horse went lame not far from Auxerre. I asked someone for directions to an inn and I was directed to the Dog’s Head. I stopped at that tavern to find another horse. I had one drink. I woke up in a trunk/ And the rest you know.”

Then Etienne asked what day it was. Hearing it was Friday he said, “It’s Friday! Merciful God!” and started to run off. Gaston grabbed him by the arm restraining him.

“Wait,” Gaston said. “You need a hat.”

“And a sword,” Lucien added.

“And a purse,” Fabré concluded.

Lucien offered to help Etienne saying, “Women are to be cherished and your dear friend mustn’t marry a ugly, fat old man.” The offer of help combined with the realization that he was completely unequipped to rescue a young lady, convinced Etienne to wait.

Signoret, who had revived the man he had knocked unconscious, suggested that they question him. The man told them that he was Lawrence, the cook at the Dog’s Head. He admitted that someone matching Claude’s description was taken away by two bargemen named Norman and Cliffard.

Gaston gave Lawrence a cold stair as he said, “I am not a patient man. And when I am in a hurry, other men tend to die. Now I am going to ask you a question. And I want you to answer quickly and truthfully, for I am in a hurry and as I said, I am not a patient man. How many others have you drugged recently?”

Lawrence admitted that recently he drugged the man matching Claude’s description. Pointing to Etienne he said, “and that man…and an artist who was snooping around asking questions at the tavern.”

Father Signoret once again used his Jesuit connection to persuade the Rector to put Lawrence in the root cellar with Bernard. Then Lucien, Gaston, and Father Signoret with Fabré and Etienne Deveraux went to find Captain Maubrant. They agreed that the others would wait while Lucien and Gaston tried to talk to the captain one soldier to another.

Lucien and Gaston asked to see Maubrant. They were shown into his office where Lucien told him why they were there, that one or more of their party were missing, and politely asked for his help. But Maubrant was unconvinced, saying that this sounded like it was not in his jurisdiction. Gaston interrupted. “I am Lt. Gaston Thibeault of the Picardy Regiment and what the Musketeer tells you is true. We need your help. I am waiting to see if you have the balls to help us.”

Malbruant’s face turned red. Then he laughed loudly and said he would help them They told him about the sinister Dog’s Head Tavern, the missing people, and their two prisoners. While the others went back to the college to collect Bernard and Lawrence, Gaston sat with Maubrant as the two soldiers swapped old war stories.

Once the others returned from the college, they went to the docks along with Maubrant and ten of his militiamen. While the militia surrounded the tavern, the others found and searched the barge of Norman and Cliffard. They found some gear including paints and brushes, but no painter, no Claude, and no Norman or Cliffard. They proceeded to the Dog’s Head, which was still surrounded by Maubrant’s militiamen. The bargemen inside seemed ready to resist the militia and it looked like there might be an awkward standoff. Gaston suggested to Maubrant, “Let’s see how serious the bargemen really are. Tell your men to charge their muskets.”

Maubrant gave the order. Norman tried to flee out a window, but Gaston struck him with an arm to the throat, dropping him. Soon Cliffard and the others exited the tavern to join a growing group of prisoners. Questioning them they learned that the large chest that Deveraux had been locked in was in Lawrence the cook’s room. Also in his room they found Eteinne’s hat, sword, and purse, but no Claude. In the kitchen Fabré found a jar with a large supply of the drug Lawrence used to knockout the victims.

They transferred the prisoners to the town jail. Further questioning revealed that Lawrence, the Dog’s Head’s cook, was in league with someone called Black Robert. Black Robert was a brigand who Lucien and Gaston had encountered in Valence the previous year. Lawrence was paid to drug the drinks of lone travelers or barge crewmen who would not be missed. He was assisted by two local barge crewmen, regulars at the Dog’s Head named Norman and Cliffard. Lawrence would give them the high sign and they carried the “drunk” away. They put the victims on board their small barge and took them downstream to an abandoned abbey that was used as a way station by the Black Riders and the Black Wagons.

They also learned that Claude had already been taken down river by Norman and Cliffard before they took away the Painter. They dropped Claude and the Painter at a ruined abbey about six miles from Auxerre where they regularly met a gang of black helmed riders. From their description, Maubrant recognized the ruined abbey as Abbaye Pour Votre Santé, a Franciscan abbey that was pillaged and burnt by the Huguenots in 1569. Afterward it had been abandoned and the surviving Franciscans moved to the Monastery of Les Cordeliers in Auxerre.

Hoping to find Claude, Signoret suggested going to the abbey, but by this time, it was dark and Captain Maubrant refused to lead his men against the Black Riders in the dark, outside the town, as that would be far in excess of his authority. “For that you would need the permission of the town governor and it is already too late to see him tonight.”

The others returned to the Blue Bottle, where they met Guy, Bertin, and the painter, François Depardieu. They told Guy what they had learned and Guy showed them the mysterious note.
Most kind Monsieur whose name I do not know,

I beseech you to take pity on a poor orphaned girl. I am being held here against my will and shall not be released until this coming Sunday when I shall be forced to marry an old, fat, and ugly man. Please, most kind, but unknown Monsieur, I humbly beg that you immediately contact my dearest friend, Etienne Deveraux. He is a student at the University in Paris. I have never been to Paris so I cannot better tell you how to find him, but as I am certain that he is as brilliant as he is kind I am sure everyone at the University must know his name.

Etienne is my last hope, save the ultimate recourse, for I fear my uncle and guardian has been won over by the guile of my cruel step-mother and also being old himself and often being in his cups he may not see how horrible a match with such an ugly old, fat man is to me. I have prayed to God for deliverance, but the time is now quite short and in truth I do not know where else to turn to reach my dear friend.

My earlier messages to him must have gone awry so now you see that you are my last chance to contact my dear Etienne so that he can come and save me. I pray God that you can reach him in time since otherwise I do not know what I can in Christian conscience do, but I vow that if it comes to the last that God will give me the strength to do what I must do.

I remain your most humble and pitiful supplicant,

Genevive Benoit
With Guy’s information they now knew that Etienne’s friend Mlle Benoit was being held prisoner in the Town Hall. It was now late Friday night and she was to be married this Sunday. They would have to act quickly if she was to be rescued.

Previously I posted an Adventure Seed: The Sorrowful Bride to Be based on Genevive Benoit.

Dog's Head Tavern NPC Stats

<< Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >>

No comments:

Post a Comment