Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Adventure 10: Lyon - Side Missions and Intrigues - Chapter IV

This chapter is from a one-on-one session I ran for Father Signoret's player. In game time it fits better here, although in real-time chronology it was played just after Chapter II: Escape from La Place du Sang.

The Player Characters

  • Father Gaétan Signoret - another of Guy's cousins, Father Signoret is a Jesuit priest and swordsman and an exceptional horseman.

The NPCs

Chapter IV: The Final Secret of La Verdadera Destreza

On his return to the Jesuit College of Tournon, Father Signoret completed his letter to his superiors in Paris.
March 6, 1623
Dionysius Petavius,

As you’ll recall from my previous reports this all began when we obtained a letter addressed from his Excellency François de Loménie the Bishop of Marseille to his uncle, Antoine de Loménie, seigneur de Villeauxclercs from a dying man in Paris. My cousin's servant, an apothecary, had stabilized the unfortunate messenger when suddenly a dozen armored men on horseback seized him (the horsemen are Cuirassiers of the Prince of Condé led by their Captain, the Baron St. Giron) and said they’d see to his health. I heard the man died, his condition suddenly taking a turn for the worse later as I recall, may the saints preserve his soul. However, through God’s grace we did find a letter on him prior to the armored men arriving. Which we delivered to seigneur de Villeauxclercs. It’s been a while but as I recall the letter asked for assistance as to innocent people (both peasants and nobles) were being kidnapped by black riders (see my previous litteras of February 23rd and February 26th, 1623). The seigneur de Villeauxclercs and his son, Henri-Auguste de Loménie the secretary of the Navy, held council with us on this and I obtained permission from the Jesuita Ordinis to pursue this mission.

As we travelled on in the town of Auxerre, men under the command of a “Black” Robert seized my faithful servant, Claude at the Dog’s Head Tavern. We captured several men involved with the scheme and freed some victims (incl. Francois Depardieu an agent that his excellency the Bishop of Marseille had dispatched to the region to look into these matters). Alas, though Claude was not among the freed men. This turned out to be a miraculum however for the devils were no match for Claude’s wits. Signs were left along the roadside from the ruined Abbaye Pour Votre Santé to the town of Autun by my manservant. Eventually, we caught up to a black wagon on the road south of Autun and sure enough Claude and about a dozen other hostages were in it including Mademoiselle Marie-Juliette Beaulieu, a gentle lady from Dijon.

We suspect that there are agents or nobles being paid off in the city of Autun. At the manor of the Trebouchard family, near Auxerre, which we were visiting when it was attacked by several dozen black riders led by, I suspect one of the Polish winged hussars. The troops seem to be local French mercenaries. They seem to want us traded to them to leave the manor alone. This offer was refused and the devils attacked a second time. After facing their leader, “the black angel,” a second time and forcing him to flee we were no longer attacked at the Manor Trebouchard.

The latest intelligence we have discovered is that they are taking the victims to Marseilles. We are currently in the city of Lyon. trying to confirm the Marseilles story a little bit more.

Hostages freed are

  1. Marie-Juliette Beaulieu: a gentlewoman who was stranded with a broken-down Carriage; her coachman and footmen were killed.
  2. Jeanne Bellain: a young woman from a prosperous farm outside of Auxerre.
  3. Francois a male peasant
  4. Alphonse – a old male peasant from the vicinity of Auxerre
  5. Jean-Claude – a peasant woman
  6. Jean-Pierre – a male peasant
  7. Guillam - a male peasant
  8. Barnabé – a male traveler who was captured on a road outside of Auxerre .

Father Duquesne, a brother in the Society of Jesus and the Rector of the Jesuit College of Auxerre, has notes on other missing people most likely seized by the black riders.

Humilis servus vester in Christo,

Pater Signoret

After completing the letter, Father Signoret checked with the secretary of the Provincial Father in Lyon, but the secretary said that Etienne Binet, the Provincial Father, was not ready to see Signoret. The secretary did agree to have Signoret’s letter sent to Paris in an official mail bag. Relieved that he had completed that duty the Jesuit retired for the evening. He planned on rising early.

Over the next few days Father Signoret continued to return to the Jesuit College. He spent much of his time with Father O’Kelly practicing the blade and in long discussions about the use of violence in defense of oneself or others. They reviewed the Augustinian and Thomistic arguments for “jus bellum iustum” or Just War doctrine and Father O’Kelly introduced Signoret to the views of the philosophers of the Spanish School of Salamanca on the matter. They argued over how to reconcile the New Testament passages on the use of force including Luke 22:36: “let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one” and Matthew 26:52: “Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”
Their discussions were wide ranging for, as Father O’Kelly taught, the precepts of La Verdadera Destreza were based on reason, geometry, and incorporated various other aspects of a well-rounded Renaissance education, with a special focus on the writings of classical authors such as Aristotle, Euclid, and Plato. Father O’Kelly was familiar with all those authors and had spent years reading and contemplating to distill their learning and relating it to the True Art and he communicated the essence of his knowledge to his pupil. For, as O’Kelly said, “The heart of the Destreza as a system of combat is inextricably tied to an intellectual, philosophical, and moral ideal. To master the Destraza, you must embody the ideal.” 

At last Father O’Kelly said, “My friend, the path you have chosen is difficult and perilous, but you have great courage and your faith is strong. In my previous life, I studied the True Art, the Spanish style of the blade, or La Verdadera Destreza as it is called in Spain, from one of the great Spanish sword masters, Don Ricardo Montoya, who studied with the great Don Jerónimo de Carranza himself. Don Ricardo taught me one last thing, the final secret of the Destreza. But this secret must be built on a firm foundation. As a Jesuit and a Priest you must have a disciplined moral center as strong as steel, so too as a master La Verdadera Destreza your defense must centered and as strong as steel. I will teach that secret to you: the Unmoving Wall of Steel. Now we shall begin…

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