Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday Fiction: Vol 6: City Tales, Book IV: The Case of the Curia Crimes Ch 6 & 7

Chapter 6: The Buzzard’s Nest

The Buzzard’s Nest[i] is the headquarters of Jean "La Buse" Orande and his gang, known as the Buzzards. ‘The Nest’ is an older hôtel located[ii] in a poor part of Paris close to the Couvent Les Filles-Dieu near the Porte Saint Denis. The Townhouse is two stories high with a somewhat taller tower in one corner. Overgrown with ivy, it looks both picturesque and neglected.

Having decided to raid the Buzzard’s Nest to locate Pierre, the witness to Brian Chastel’s murder of his wife and son, the companions spent several days first observing the Buzzard’s Nest.[iii] In parallel, Guy obtained an audience with his friend the Provost of Paris and used his favor to obtain official sanction by the Provost for the raid and his agreement to provide a cordon of Paris Archers, led by Guy’s acquaintance Sergeant Boisrenard, to surround the Buzzard’s Nest during the raid. All their preparations take a week, therefore the raid was scheduled for the morning of December 11.

Explored Section of the Buzzard’s Nest
As a distraction to decoy some of the guards away from the Buzzard’s Nest, Guy pretended to be Brian Chastel. He went up to the front door of the Buzzard’s Nest, knocked, and said “Hello there, I am Brian Chastel. The word on the street is that you are looking for me. What do you want.” After word that he was there was carried inside by one of the two muscle-bound porters, Guy high tailed it out of there with half a dozen Buzzards[iv] in close pursuit. Guy led them on a long and merry chase eventually ending the pursuit when he changed into a different set of clothes handed to him by one of his agents and then disappeared into the crowd.

Meanwhile back at the Buzzard’s Nest, Norbert, dressed in humble clothes and a produce seller’s apron, pretended to be delivering a wagon load of produce to the Nest. He was accompanied by Father Signoret, dressed as a farmer and wagon driver, and Gaston, dressed in his boots and buffcoat under a concealing cloak. Gaston refused to dress as a farmer and he retained his hat on the seat next to him. Armed only with various knives appropriate to their disguises, the three hid their swords and pistols, along with a couple of muskets, in the farm wagon under the produce. To obtain the wagon and produce, Father Signoret used his connections in the Jesuit Order to get a wagon pulled by a mule and a partial load of good produce from a wealthy farmer who was sympathetic to the Jesuits. Another sympathizer, who worked as a carpenter, modified the wagon to create a small concealed space under the vegetables just large enough to hide someone – to be used to smuggle out the witness Pierre – should that become necessary. The carpenter also provided them with a heavy, iron capped wooded ram fitted with brass handles – suitable in size to be wielded by a giant. This they hid with the weapons under the produce.

Norbert knocked at the gate, but it was quite some time before anyone answered. Eventually a burly balding thug with a black beard exited the front door of the Buzzard’s Nest and asked what they wanted. Norbert, acting the part of a persistent substitute produce vendor, persuaded the thug to talk to someone inside and eventually the gate opened to admit the same bearded thug, a cook, and a scrawny boy. Norbert persuaded the cook to have a look at his wonderful produce. The cook inspected the produce and approved it for delivery. The gate was opened wide and the cook led the group down the alley. Norbert’s ruse had successfully gotten the three into the rear courtyard.

The rear courtyard (#21) included rotting wooden stables overgrown with vines on the north and east sides of the courtyard and a central fountain for water. The house formed the south side of the courtyard. In the center of the north side of the house was a covered porch and next to the porch was a two story trellis overgrown with thick ivy vines. The back door to the house was sheltered under the porch, so Signoret backed the wagon up to the open door, which is when the trouble started.

Father Signoret used hand signs to signal Norbert and both grabbed their weapons. Then the Jesuit tried to intimidate the thug, the cook, and the scullion into telling them where the prisoner was. Humbly dressed as a simple farmer, Signoret was not an impressive figure and he failed to intimidate anyone. The cook and the boy ran for the door while the thug moved to sound the alarm by ringing the bell next to the rear door. To forestall this, Signoret threw his rapier at the thug. The blade nailed the black-bearded thug to the rear door, killing him.

Now fully armed, the three companions chased after the fleeing cook and scullion who loudly yelled for help as they ran. The three entered[v] the foyer to the porch (#20) which was dimly lit by arrow slit windows and a smoldering fire in a fireplace. They continued their pursuit into the great hall (#15) which was well lit by a pair of chandeliers and a blazing fire in the fireplace. By the light, they could see a desk and chair in the shadows in the southeast corner of the room. Entering the hall through a door in the northeast corner, from there they could see that the room had four additional exits. A frayed, faded carpet ran down the middle of the hall from north to south connecting two of the doors, near the southwest corner was a third door, and the last door was in the middle of the east wall. As they entered, they heard footsteps to the north and saw the scullion disappear through the door at the north end of the faded carpet.

The three companions headed for the door in the southeast corner. Father Signoret entered and quickly identified the room as an antechamber used as an armory before the sounds of combat drew his attention back to the main hall. Back in the hall, Norbert and Gaston heard the east door open as four brigands emerged. Slung from the belt of each brigand was a simple hanger sword. Norbert hefted his two-handed sword and tried to intimidate the brigands. But with odds of four-to-two in their own hideout, the brigands refused to back down and drew their own swords. Gaston drew his rapier and vizcaina as he and Norbert moved to engage the four. Norbert’s two opponents hurried to close with the giant before he could bring his enormous sword into play, but their haste betrayed them and they ended up tripping each other and falling to the floor. Acting quickly, Norbert pulled one of the brigands to his feet and placed the blade of his greatsword against his foe’s throat, then pinned the other brigand to the floor by standing on him with one huge foot. Meantime, Gaston ran one foe through then shouldered the other back through the open doorway, pulling the door closed as the brigand stumbled into the other room.

Meanwhile, the north door opened and four club armed thugs emerged seconded by the cook, now armed with several carving knives, and the scrawny scullery boy armed with an iron spit. Attracted by the first sounds of battle, Father Signoret returned to the hall and raced north to engage the thugs. He stabbed one of the thugs but the other three forced him to retreat rapidly as they moved into the room after him. Signoret ducked as the cook threw a carving knife at him, then reengaged with the thugs. He killed two more and the fourth thug fled out the door to the rear foyer while the cook and the scullery boy fled back to the north.

Gaston wiped the blood off his blade, sheathed his sword and main gauche, drew and cocked his pistols, and used them to cover the two northern doors. Father Signoret returned to explore the armory while Norbert questioned his prisoner. The giant threatened to slash open the throat of the brigand he held captive, unless he told them where the gang was holding the witness prisoner. The brigand said there were no prisoners. Growing frustrated, Norbert pressed the blade of his sword against the brigand’s throat drawing blood. Then he asked him if there was a secret place that the brigand didn’t know about where the cook took food for someone. The brigand looked confused and asked how he would know about the place if it was a secret. Growing angry, the giant squeezed the brigand so hard he couldn’t breathe and ordered him to “tell me about the prisoner named Pierre!” In response, the prisoner only made painful wheezing sounds.

At which Gaston interrupted to say, “Cousin, he can’t answer you if he can’t breathe.

“Sorry,” Norbert said to Gaston. He decreased the pressure and again asked the brigand about a prisoner named Pierre. Again the brigand claimed that the gang didn’t have any prisoners. So instead, Norbert asked if there was anyone in the house named Pierre. The prisoner told him that there were two men named Pierre. “Describe them,” Norbert ordered.

“Well Black Pierre is short and stocky, he’s bald but he has a bushy black beard. The other Pierre is tall and thin, a blonde with a scraggly mustache,” the brigand said.

“What do they do and where do they stay?”

“Black Pierre is a door warden. He sleeps beyond that door,” the brigand said indicating the door to the east. “The other Pierre, the blond, is a cutpurse. He stays with the other cutpurses.”

Just then, Norbert heard the sound of running footsteps behind him. He turned his head to look behind him and saw the axe wielding woman with the crooked-toothed smile who he had seen at the Tavern Brevage Noir. “You!” Norbert shouted.

Meanwhile, Father Signoret reentered the antechamber in the southeast corner. It was obviously the gang’s armory (#16). On the walls hung various swords, axes, half a dozen matchlock pistols, a pair of crossbows, and several old matchlock muskets while there was a quantity of powder and shot on  a shelf. On the opposite wall, the Jesuit saw another door. He listened for a while at that door, but he only heard an unusual whistling sound, like a strong wind blowing over the eaves of a roof. He carefully backed away from the door then stood guard at it while trying to listen to Norbert’s questions out in the great hall. Hearing a shout from Norbert, the Jesuit returned to the great hall and closed the door to the armory behind him. There he saw Norbert threatened by a charging axe woman.

Norbert tossed the brigand he had been questioning aside and stepped away from the brigand he had pinned to the floor with his foot. Then he hefted his greatsword in both hands and moved to engage the axe woman. He used the quillons of his greatsword to catch her axe and then used his great strength to tear one axe away from her. But he was barely able to retreat in time to avoid a vicious blow from her other axe. He found something about her crooked smile and the vacant look on her face unsettling.

Meanwhile, the brigand released from under Norbert’s foot tried to take advantage of his captor’s distraction by crawling away while the brigand Norbert had questioned pounded frantically at the eastern door telling his friend “Quick open up and attack the giant from behind.” Gaston halted the crawling brigand by pointing one pistol at him. And as the combat came near to ending, the other brigand’s pounding on the door became even more frantic as switched to calling on his fellows to let him in, but despite his cries, the eastern door never opened.

Rapier in hand, Signoret closed on the axe woman from behind and called on her to surrender while Norbert knocked away her other axe with a tremendous blow of his sword. Father Signoret called on Norbert to knock her unconscious and Norbert swung the heavy pommel of his greatsword at her head, dealing her a tremendous blow. But the blow didn’t drop her. She stepped back, shook her head, flexed her jaw, and spat blood out of her mouth. Then she drew her dagger and held it out between Norbert and Signoret.

Signoret moved as if to strike her, but she ducked aside and Gaston’s blade caught Signoret’s in a bind. “She has fought bravely,” Gaston said. “To strike her when she is practically unarmed is not honorable.” Frustrated at Gaston’s intervention, but unwilling to provoke a conflict within the group, Signoret backed off.

After the combat the prisoner with the sore ribs walked slowly towards the northeast door, all the while holding himself around his ribs with both arms as if he was in great pain. But before he had gone far, Gaston stopped him and his prone companion by pointing his remaining pistol at them and slowly shaking his head no. At the sight of the staring muzzle, the two brigands collapsed in fright and in relief at being freed, even temporarily, from the clutches of the angry giant.

Meanwhile, Norbert took advantage of the temporary lull to ask the axe woman her name. She said she was Jeannie Artois. He tried to talk to her, but he was short of temper and it seemed everything he asked or said only confused or angered her. Finally he called her feeble minded, and she stopped smiling, yelled that she was not feeble minded, and with a vicious shriek she leapt towards Norbert dagger in hand. He dropped his sword and caught her hand twisting it until she dropped her dagger in pain. She struggled, but Norbert’s titanic strength was overpowering. He held her helpless until she could be taken prisoner. But her constant shrieks, curses, and threats caused them tie her up with Norbert’s apron and gag her.

Since at least one of the Pierres might be to the east, Norbert decided to open that door. But he decided that he would send the prisoner he had questioned through the door first. He forced the prisoner despite his injured ribs to try to open the door. But it was either locked or barred. Norbert thought about returning to the wagon to get his ram, but he decided not to take the time. Instead he threw himself against the door. At the first attempt the door creaked and flexed and at the third attempt it burst open, the bar a shattered wreck. Beyond was a high ceiling stone walled room (#24). With an odd statue of some kind on the north, a few simple wooden benches that looked like old church pews, and several beds and cots. The room was warmed by several coal braziers which caused it to be very smoky. Later, Signoret would identify this room as the old family chapel.

Norbert moved to search by the beds and cots, but he was surprised as half a dozen men leapt out from concealment behind the stonework. They threw daggers at Norbert, but he was able to dive for cover behind a bed frame. He called for help, then leapt up and attacked the dagger throwers, they tried to flee but their were too many for all to reach safety in time and Norbert cut down three of him with a huge sweep of his two-handed greatsword.

He pursued his opponents into the next room (#22) which was lit by a fireplace and like the previous room it was furnished with several beds and cots. Along several walls were tall, empty bookshelves and on the southern part of the east wall was another door. As he contemplated that door, Norbert was surprised by a brigand who stood up from his cover behind a bed and pointed a matchlock pistol at him and pulled the trigger. Fortunately, the powder in the pan was damp and the gun didn’t fire. The brigand threw the useless pistol at Norbert and retreated to the far end of the room as he drew his sword.

Attracted by his cousin’s call for help, Gaston ordered Signoret to guard the prisoners as he ran towards his Norbert. He arrived as Norbert was facing off against the swordsman. The threat of a pair of loaded pistols and a giant’s greatsword was too much for the brigand and he surrendered. They sent him first into the next room then quickly followed when no shots were fired. Beyond they found a room (#23) lit by a warm fireplace and containing miscellaneous office furniture, and cots and beds for 4-8 people. Inside there were the three dagger throwers.

They took their four new prisoners back out to the great hall where Signoret awaited them. They questioned the prisoners and learned, much to their chagrin, that not only were neither of the two Pierres prisoners, but both of them had been killed in the fighting. Black Pierre was the short, bald, bearded man who had tried to sound the alarm by the porch and the other Pierre was one of the dagger throwing cutpurses who Norbert had struck down in the old chapel.

Saddened by their lack of success, the three companions warned the untied Buzzards not to show themselves or they would get a lead ball through one eye. They then took the wagon back out by the alley gate. As they turned out of the courtyard someone fired a shot at them from an upper porch window, but the shot only hit the wagon injuring no one.


Chapter 7: A Really Big Show

After the raid on the Buzzard’s Nest, Father Signoret reported his findings to Vicar General Michel Delage. He reported that Brian Chastel was the thief. The reason for the theft was that he needed the money to pay a blackmailer not to reveal that Chastel had murdered his wife and son while the family was on pilgrimage. Signoret said that the question of how he gained access to the Curia Funds was unanswered. His brother Father Basil Chastel could have been involved, but there was no evidence at all to support that.

Several rumors were circulating in Paris. Guy heard that the Chevalier de Branville was sponsoring Norbert de Peyrafon for membership in the Order of the Holy Ghost. Guy decided this might not be a bad thing, since if Guy was not accepted into the order this year, he could use the debt notes he holds from Peyrafon to force him to sponsor Guy for membership in the next year. As a secretary to Cardinal Richelieu, Father Signoret noticed the Cardinal had been spending time with the Queen Mother Marie de Medici and separately with King Louis XIII. It is rumored that the Cardinal is attempting reconciliation between the King and his mother. Signoret also learned that in September Brother Mellitus, the so called Miracle Monk, disappeared from Paris without his superior, Prior Robert. The monk’s current whereabouts are unknown. Gaston learned that there was a rival for the affections of his mistress, Madame Rolampont.[vi]

Throughout Paris the churches were decorated for Advent and to celebrate the first Christmas of the new Pope, Urban VIII.[vii] Meanwhile, Binet’s Grand Troupe of Players prepared for opening night for their new comedy: The Fountain of Poseidon. In preparation for opening night, Guy consulted his friend Chancie who told Guy that the Chevalier de Branville would also be attending the play. In token of gratitude, Guy invited Chancie to accompany him to the show. “I think you will find this show to be most diverting, Chancie.”

At the ticket office, Guy bribed the attendant to tell him where Baron Villemorin was sitting. He relayed this information to Gaston who then purchased a seat on the opposite side of the theatre so he can watch the Baron and know when to act.

Location                                    Ticket Price       # Seats
Center Floor Level (restricted)         25 sous              4-6
Upper Level                                        12 sous               72
Lower Level                                        10 sous               72
Gallery A (away from stage 3-4)       7 sous               48
Gallery B (near to stage 1-2)              5 sous               48

Theater Drawing (by Inigo Jones)
Left Gallery
Upper Left
Lower Left
Lower Right
Upper Right
Right Gallery
Father Signoret
Villemorin and Rolampont


Branville and Peyrafon


Guy and Chancie


Duchess de Fronsac



Center Floor Level

Contessa di Montefusco
Marquis de Verneuil, Bishop of Metz
Richelieu in a Mask
L’Omino the Dwarf
Captain Blondel & (1) Guard
Baron Ile-de-Batz

On the way to their seats, Guy and Chancie ran into Branville and Peyrafon, who were seated adjacent to them. Branville and Chancie exchanged a series of pointed comments, the most telling of which was Branville’s observation that Chancie was wearing last season’s silver buckles on his shoes instead of this season’s knee ribbons. Chancie was embarrassed, but Guy helped him retreat before the Vicomte lost all composure.

Once in his seat, Guy spotted the Comtessa de Montefusco and her dwarf L’Omino sitting to the left of the Bishop de Metz. On the Bishop’s right side sat a masked man in somber yet elegant attire. The other characters took their seats as the play began. The first half of the play was greeted by the audience with mild approval and some interest.[viii]

During the intermission, Signoret spotted Villemorin and saw that he was with Gaston’s mistress, Madame Rolampont. Using the gallery above the stage, the Jesuit crossed to the other side of the theatre, but before he could warn his friend, he noticed Gaston heading downstairs. Looking across the theatre, Signoret noticed that Villemorin and Rolampont had also left their seats. Following Gaston downstairs, Signoret moved behind the Baron so as to prevent him from retreating in the event of a confrontation.

Gaston saw Villemorin standing near Marie de Rolampont. The Baron was in line for refreshments while she stood fanning herself to attract the admiring gazes of the men in the crowd. Grasping his sword hilt in anger, Gaston started towards the Baron to challenge him that instant. But, as he stepped forward he recalled the plan to embarrass and humiliate the Baron through the play. He stopped, knuckles white on his sword hilt, and turned around to return to his seat.[ix] Patience. My time will come, Baron.

Meanwhile on the other side of the theatre, Guy left his seat to obtain refreshments for Chancie and himself. On his way to a shaved ice vendor, he noticed the Duchess de Fronsac in the audience. Covering his face with his hat, he avoided her notice and finished his mission and returned to his seat in time to witness a surprising scene on stage.

During the intermission, Norbert was backstage having his makeup touched up by Gerta. She asked him, “Who iz zat voman in the first row who vas staring at you?” Norbert had noticed nothing, but before he could look out to see the woman he overheard a disturbance near the stage door. The huge one-eyed enforcer known as Le Gros Boeuf, had entered from the rear entrance and tossed aside the two stage hands who vainly tried to bar his path. Then he began breaking up the furniture and props.

Norbert moved to stop Le Gros Boeuf. But with only a flimsy stage trident as a weapon he snatched up a chair to use as a shield and called for someone to “Fetch my club from the dressing room.” He was repeatedly forced back by Le Gros Boeuf’s heavy club. Driven onto the stage, he and Le Gros Boeuf presented an odd intermission show to the sparse audience. Suddenly Norbert tossed the ruined chair aside, turned, and ran for the wings where Gerta waited with his club. Meanwhile, Jeannie Artois jumped on stage and drew her axes to face Le Gros Boeuf. Backstage, Norbert grabbed his club from Gerta and circled behind the painted screen to the other side of the stage and attacked his foe from behind.

Thinking this is all part of an intermission buffoonery, the partial audience called out to warn Le Gros Boeuf who turned just as Norbert struck him. The behemoth fell on top of Jeannie and pinned her beneath his bulk. Norbert moved forward to strike another blow, but his path led him over a trap door in the stage through which he fell. With one foe gone, Boeuf rolled over and punched Jeannie unconscious. Just as the huge enforcer regained his feet, Norbert suddenly reappeared as he was propelled back on stage by the machina beneath another trap door. Badly injured from the first blow, Le Gros Boeuf chose discretion and ran away. Norbert turned and made a sweeping bow to the partial audience, received desultory applause in response, then gently carried the unconscious Jeannie off stage.

Once there he told Gerta to fix his makeup, which had been smudged during the fight, while someone else tended to the unconscious Jeannie. Meanwhile, Acton the Magnificent quickly went to Salvatore Machiavelli, the playwright, to get some lines to cover up the odd short scene – “Ladies and gentlemen, we hope you have enjoyed our comedic representation of a battle between the god Poseidon and his child the Cyclops over an Amazon Princess.” Prepared by Acton’s speech, the audience responded with greater applause.

Shortly afterwards, the play resumed and in the second half, the satire directed at the character of Baron V. became even more pointed and biting. As a result, Villemorin became increasingly angry culminated in an outburst where he halted the play by threatening Acton the Magnificent. Feeling safe on stage, in reply Acton bragged about how the people of Paris should not be denied the wonder of his great performance. But realizing that Villemorin’s threats of harm to him were quite real, Acton’s impromptu speech stuttered to a stop.

Suddenly, Father Signoret nimbly leapt onto a chandelier and with his black robes flapping the like wings of a great black bat, he swung down into the seats next to Villemorin where he commanded the Baron to stop interfering with the play or else.[x] In response the Baron tried to grab the Priest before he could draw a weapon or take further action. Signoret punched Villemorin knocking him against the railing. Villemorin tried to knee the priest but failed. Signoret again struck the Baron with his fist causing the Baron’s return blow to miss as the Baron had to grab the railing to keep from going over. Nearby audience members scrambled to get out of the way. While watching the battle  through his lorgnette, the Vicomte de Chambrie said, “I say Guy, isn’t that your cousin the priest brawling with Baron Villemorin?”

“You mad Jesuit!” the Baron said as he launched a flurry of blows to Signoret’s midsection knocking the wind out of him and forcing him back against the seats. But as Villemorin stepped forward, Signoret caught him with a series of blows to the face hammering him backwards. The combatants separated moving for position and striking a series of blows that did not connect. Other theatre goers arrived, attracted by the brawl, and Norbert Peyrafon grabbed Signoret from behind, pinning his arms to his sides. Signoret tried to break free but failed so he kicked at Villemorin who stepped aside and delivered another heavy blow to the priest’s midsection.

The three continued to struggle until Guy arrived. He called on them all to cease their public brawling so that the ladies could enjoy the rest of the play. Villemorin insisted that the Mad Priest be detained and charged. Guy succeeded in delaying any such action until after the play. Unsatisfied with the suggestion but with the audience clearly against him, Villemorin left in anger and, in his rage, he committed a further breach of etiquette by forgetting to escort Madame Rolampont.[xi]

Interruption over, the play continued, though without the Baron’s presence, the planned ending was somewhat anti-climactic and Gaston’s goal of maneuvering an enraged Baron into a duel was again thwarted. However, Gaston was able to reassert his position with his mistress, Marie de Rolampont. Despite the impromptu performances, the audience enjoyed the play and the unorthodox activities provided gossip for the rest of the season.

After the play, Gaston escorted Madame Rolampont home; Guy accompanied Chancie home; and the acting troupe went out to celebrate. Norbert invited Father Signoret who was now very popular with the troupe, especially with the star, Acton the Magnificent. Despite some initial debate about the advisability of bringing her axes to the inn, Jeannie Artois joined the celebration. Despite the nature of the evening, there was a noticeable rivalry between Gerta and Jeannie for Norbert’s attentions. As a result, Jeannie challenged Gerta and Norbert to a drinking contest which left Gerta passed out and snoring and both Jeannie and Norbert drunk. Norbert was the winner, but he was surprised by how much wine the much smaller Jeannie could hold. The two exchanged stories about growing up on a family farm, where Jeannie chopped a lot of wood. She told Norbert she left the farm and joined a band of mercenaries for a couple of years and she admitted that she didn’t know how to read.

Throughout the evening the troupe expressed their gratitude for Father Signoret’s championing of the actors against the Baron and repeatedly toasted his brave efforts. Enchanted by the dashing and romantic actions of the daring Father Signoret, the young ingénue Aemilie was thoroughly smitten and flirted outrageously with the increasingly uncomfortable Jesuit, who remained true to his calling despite the obvious charms of the pretty young actress.

[i] (U1) located in grid sector [F4]
[ii] The Couvent or Convent is denoted as church or chapel (C20) on the Paris Map and is located in grid sector [H3-4].
[iii] See the Roof Level Map of the Buzzard’s Nest.
[iv] (1) Lieutenant, (4) Brigands, (1) Brawler.
[v] See the player map detailing the explored section of the ground floor of the Buzzard’s Nest.
[vi] The rival is Baron Villemorin. Flirtation at the Masquerade: Marie had a reaction of 10 on 2d6 to Gaston. That is the target number that Villemorin needs to equal or exceed. Villemorin gets a bonus +1 Flair and +1 higher social rank.
Is Marie interested in flirting with Villemorin. Near Sure Thing (60) Yes. Flirtation: Marie (6+3) success; Villemorin (5+2); Villemorin is interested but Marie finds him unromantic.
Will Branville help Villemorin pursue his romance? Very Likely (03) Exceptional Yes. Branville gives Villemorin romantic advice a la Cyrano (he adds half his Don Juan Career +1) and helps the Baron to buy expensive gifts (+1). November flirtation: Marie (6+3) success; Villemorin (5+4) success; Marie is enjoying the additional suitor but still prefers Gaston.
December flirtation: the Baron hopes the play will tip the scales in his pursuit. Marie (7+3) success with 3 successes the Baron is quite smitten; Villemorin (5+4) success, but still below Gaston’s 10. The play may tip the scale and Marie will want to ensure that Gaston knows he has a rival.
[vii] Pope Gregory XV diesd July 08; on July 19 fifty-five Cardinals conclave in Rome to elect his successor. On August 06, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, descendant of a noble Florentine family, was elected Pope; he took the name of Urban VIII. Urban, unlike Gregory, is partial to the Spanish not the French.
[viii] Audience reaction to the 1st half of the play: 5+1+2=8. Script: Salvatore wrote a successful set of changes (8+3=11). Gaston spent a FP to get a Mighty Success (11+FP+4=16MS) the brave lines of Gaston the Soldier are repeated throughout Paris = Average Great Success +2. Acting 2nd half: roll Actor+Flair for the key cast members: Acton 9, Columbine 9, Aemilie 13, Norbert 7 = Average Success +1
[ix] Gaston spends a FP to control his temper so that so that the trap of the play can take effect – humiliating the Baron.
[x] Signoret’s brawl with Villemorin round-by-round:
Rnd 1  Signoret gets Mighty Success to swing on chandelier into seats; failed intimidation. Villemorin fails to grapple.
Rnd 2  Signoret punches -3 LB; Villemorin fails Dirty Fighting.
Rnd 3  Signoret punches -2LB; Villemorin misses punch.
Rnd 4  Villemorin punches -5LB Mighty Success gets 2nd attack, misses. Signoret misses.
Rnd 5  Villemorin misses; Signoret punches -2LB Mighty Success 2nd punch -3LB.
Rnd 6  Peyrafon grapples Signoret from behind; Signoret fails to break free; he kicks at Villemorin and misses; Villemorin hits for -4 LB
Rnd 7  Misses on all sides.
Rnd 8  Guy arrives and confrontation changes to verbal.
[xi] Due to a Calamitous Failure and ending any romance with Madame Rolampont.

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