Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday Fiction: Vol 6: City Tales, Book V: Broken Leg or Jaw, Your Choice Ch 3-5

Chapter 3: Loose Ends

Father Signoret returned to the Jesuit House after Norbert’s rescue. Waiting for him was a hooded figure in the robes of a Dominican Friar. The Friar questioned Signoret about his actions and warned him that his immortal soul was in danger. He harangued the Jesuit on the dangers of sin said that “The stench of the pit is upon you, priest.”

Father Signoret was confused about what the Friar meant, Does this Friar know that we went to The Pit to rescue Norbert? Has he been watching me?

“You stink of the Devil’s sulfur. Beware the smell of Hell. Stay on the path of righteousness. For sulfur and brimstone shall surely follow if you stay on the road to Hell. Vengeance is mine sayth the Lord! He who liveth by the sword, so shall he perish by the sword.”

The Friar’s speech grew more frenzied. He spat his words at Signoret. “Woe be unto you for if you are touched with the taint of witchcraft then no Jesuit casuistry will save you from the fires of hell and God’s righteous vengeance. As it is said in the Book of Exodus, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.’”

“Oh sinful priest, repent while there is yet time!”

Although the frenzied voice sounded familiar, the deep cowl of the friar’s hood shadowed his face. Before he slipped inside the Jesuit House, Signoret moved so that the light from the door lantern illuminated the ranting friar’s face. As I thought. It is Friar Fitellus di Canem, Rome’s Inquisitor.

Guy went to visit his cousin Lucien and questioned him about the Seige of Negripelise. Guy learned that the siege was a terrible affair. The town was given up to sack. Women were raped. Men and women killed, not even the children and the little babies were spared. In the chaos of looting and violence, fires were started and the entire town was burnt to the ground. His cousin Lucien was still tormented by the things he had seen and the suffering that he could not prevent.

After speaking with Lucien, Guy asked Gaston about the siege. Moved by Lucien’s description and continuing torment, Guy’s questions were accusatory towards the soldiers involved. Gaston told Guy he could not understand having never been in such a situation and Gaston, the old soldier, became defensive and the two nearly quarreled.

Clearly, Guy though, these events were most unusual and there may be something here.

Meanwhile Guy had his network of spies question other soldiers in Paris who were at the siege. He particularly had them focus on the following four topics.[i]

  1. Their observations of the Prince de Condé at the Siege of Negripelise.
  2. The role and conduct of the Prince during the siege and subsequent events
  3. What responsibility the Prince personally had for the harsh conduct towards the Huguenots.
  4. Any rumors in regards to the Prince’s role, conduct, or responsibility regarding the siege and subsequent events.

Norbert was looking forward to his enrollment in the Cardinal’s Red Guards and the swearing in ceremony. With the help of his new valet, Mel, Norbert’s clothes were brushed clean and his boots were shined better than new. As he looked in the mirror, Norbert thought he had never looked better. I can hardly wait to see how I look in my new uniform.

As Norbert was preparing for the swearing in ceremony, Mel, his new valet, brought him a note. The note was written by Signore Machiavelli at the Impresario’s direction saying the Acton the Magnificent had been attacked and nearly killed and asking Norbert to come. But there was no time to leave as the day’s events were just beginning.

The ceremony was attended by all the Red Guards and overseen by Cardinal Richelieu himself. The new recruits marched out into one of the Louvre’s courtyards to the sound of brass trumpets. The authorization by King Louis XIII for the formation of the company was read aloud to the roll of drums and the recruits signed their names or made their mark in the company’s roster book. They were given their new uniforms blessed by the hand of Richelieu himself. Afterwards, the new recruits took their places with the rest of the company and the Cardinal made a short speech. He told the assembled company, “Your uniforms are a symbol. They are the scarlet red of incarnadine because that is my color. The color of blood. The color of flame. And when you wear my uniform you hold my honor and you represent me, Armand de Richelieu. Wear it with pride. Wear it with honor!” The Guards cheered. The trumpets sounded and then to the roll of the drums the entire company drew their swords and recited their oaths of allegiance “To the Cardinal and to France!”

After the ceremony, Norbert was shown to his place in the barracks located in the Gallery of the Louvre. The barracks windows looked out onto the Seine on one side and the gardens of the Louvre on the other. Very nice, thought Norbert. But I think I will keep my little apartment as well. One never knows when a new career may beckon.

Norbert asked permission from his new commander, his cousin Gaston, to go and find out what had happened to Acton. Gaston, who was concerned that Norbert might do something foolish in his new uniform, agreed to give him permission to go, but only if Gaston also accompanied him. Once they reached the troupe’s rooms, they learned that the troupe had found Acton as he lay dying in an alley. They brought him back to their rooms where Gerta tended him. The cousins saw Acton lying in a bed, his face swathed in blood stained bandages. The usually eloquent Acton was difficult to understand, his speech slurred by alcohol and drugs to ease the pain and when he talked it was with a horrid mangled, gurgling sound. He was only able to say a few words…something about buffons and clowns, before he became too upset to speak. The two cousins left to allow Acton to heal further. Norbert reckoned that this was another action by Armand Patrella, the shady banker, and was tied to the Impressario’s loans. Gaston had another idea of who might be responsible. As he left, he vowed to himself that he would learn the truth of the matter.

Guy’s investiture as a Chevalier of the Order of the Holy Ghost was an elaborate and solemn ceremony. :Like the knights of old, Guy bathed the night before and dressed in white. His arms were placed on the altar of the Order’s chapel and he spent the night in fasting, vigil, and prayer. He was not alone in the chapel, since Norbert Peyrafon was also to be invested the same day, but the two had been enjoined by one of the Knight-Commanders of the Order that they must fast and pray in silence. Guy consoled himself with the thought that, after all Peyrafon never has been a very entertaining conversationalist.

The next morning the two were led out of the chapel where the assembled Knights of the Order were gathered for them to receive the accolade. The new knights swore an oath:

·         To always defend a lady;
·         To speak only the truth;
·         To be loyal to his lord;
·         To be devoted to the church;
·         To be charitable and defend the poor and the helpless;
·         To be brave;
·         And to fight honorably.

Then the Grandmaster of the Order dubbed the new knight on the shoulders with a sword. saying, “Rise Chevalier. Let these be the last blows you accept by another without redress.” The new knights were dressed in armor, received their sword, mounted their horse, and participated in martial games to demonstrate their skills.

Afterwards, a banquet was held at the Order’s house. At the banquet, Guy used his membership in the order to make a point of repeatedly calling the Chevalier de Branville, “brother.”[ii] This angered and frustrated Branville to the point that he publicly lost his composure and made a scene by leaving the banquet before the Order publicly welcomed the two new knights with a toast.

Gaston returned with Father Signoret in his role as a physician. Signoret cleaned and tended to Acton’s wounds. Both of the actor’s cheeks had been opened to the bone giving him what looked almost like a horrid, bloody smile. It was clear to Signoret that the terrible wounds would leave horrific scars and that he might never speak the same again. After giving Acton drugs for the pain, the two questioned him about what had happened. Due to his wounds, his speech was a horrid mangled, gurgling sound.

Acton said he was grabbed while walking at night. His attacker first threatened and terrorized him. “I wash afraid, shho afraid. I pleaded wishh him. Then he called me a buffoon. A buffon and a clown.”

“Then he asked me if I washh a clown. ‘Are you a clown?’ he asked. I…I…shaid yeshh I washhh. He laughed. Then he put hishh dagger between my teeff. I…I…could hear my teeff ch...chh…chatter on the blade.” As he spoke, Acton’s eyes opened wider and wider as if he was staring at something only he could see. “He shhaid, ‘A clown shhhould alwayshh shhmile. But you’re not shhmiling. Well I can ffixsh that. I will give you a great…big…shhmile.’” Acton cried out and then collapsed sobbing.

Gaston asked, “Your attacker. Did you recognize him?”

Between sobs Acton said, “It wasshh the noble. The one in the theatre. He shhaid he would punishhh me. Look what heshh done…”

“Villemorin!” Gaston said coldly. “I will kill him.” Then Gaston rose, put on his hat and left.

Father Signoret was surprised at the abrupt action and had to hurry to catch up to the soldier. Gaston is so headstrong. I had more questions to ask. We should have found out if the Baron was acting alone. “Damn it! – Oh lord forgive me. Gaston! Gaston, wait for me!”

With Signoret hurrying behind, Gaston stalked in a cold rage towards Villemorin’s apartments. He pounded on the door and when it was opened, Gaston forced his way in, and searched for the Baron, demanding that he appear. The terrified servants told Gaston that Villemorin has left yesterday for his country estate. Gaston looked for something to smash or someone to hurt, but no matter where he looked the only targets for his rage were beneath his contempt. Frustrated, he stormed out. Signoret followed quietly.

The four friends were relaxing at the Two Horses Tavern when their meal was interrupted by an elderly man in his late sixties. The man introduced himself as Jean-Noël Suchet the Steward of D’Aboville. Suchet said that he had seen Gaston challenge the Baron Villemorin on the steps of the Church and that he wanted to speak with Gaston privately about the matter. Gaston, who was still frustrated and angry at Villemorin had little interest in speaking with the old man. Guy recognized the name D’Aboville as a family of rural nobles allied with the House of Bourbon. He persuaded Suchet to speak in front of the others.

Suchet told them that he had served the D’Aboville family all his life. “Now I am the Steward of D’Aboville which, you may know, is in the Bourbonnais. Since the death of his father, the Vicomte, I have been the de facto guardian for the young master, Léon D’Aboville. Since his mother died in childbirth, with the help of his aunt Eloise, I have tried to raise Léon as his father would have wished. Now I am an old man and my only desire is to see the young master live and prosper.”

“We have only arrived in Paris recently. The D’Aboville family has been loyal to the Bourbons for many generations. I myself,  rode with Léon’s grandfather, who was then only a Baron, in the Religious Wars in support of the Grande Henri. Why come to think of it, the last time I was in Paris was when the old King entered the city in triumph.”

“We have tried to keep the young master safe. He has spent his whole life in the country either at D’Aboville or for the last few years at the College in Moulins for his education. He is an intelligent boy, but he is young and has the naiveté of youth. But I love the boy and I would do anything to keep him safe. Young Léon is not yet sixteen, but I am afraid that he may seek out his father’s killer or that encountering him here in Paris, the killer may come for the son.”

“Who is the father’s killer?” Father Signoret asked.

“Léon’s father, the Vicomte, was killed by the Baron Villemorin,” Suchet answered. “The Baron claimed that a comment the Vicomete made was a slur against the honor of all Sword Nobles. He forced a duel on the Vicomte, who was in no way Villemorin’s equal with a blade, and he killed him. I was the one who had to bring the Vicomte’s body home to his son.”

Gaston said, “Well now I understand why you wanted to speak with me. Let me tell you two things. Villemorin has recently left Paris. But when he returns, I intend to kill him. And if he does not return by the date appointed for his duel, I will hunt him down, drag him out of whatever hole he is hiding in, and I will end him with no more compassion than I would kill a mad dog.”

“Monsieur,” said Suchet with feeling. “If you do that, I will be forever in your debt.”

Chapter 4: The Recent Huguenot Rebellion

Report on the Religious War of 1621-1622 including the Siege and Destruction of Nègrepelisse

The Prince de Condé is an experienced soldier, general, and leader. During the Religious War of 1621-1622 Condé strongly opposed the Huguenots and he developed a reputation for brutality against his family’s co-religionists. He wished to continue the fighting after Montpelier and he opposed both the initial treaty and the final peace treaty offered to the duc de Rohan by Marshal Lesdiguières. Since the end of the War he has continued to speak against the Huguenots.

Siege of Saumur (May 1621)

The military investment of the Huguenot city of Saumur was accomplished by the young French king Louis XIII following the outburst of the Huguenot rebellions. Although the Huguenot city was faithful to the king, Louis XIII nevertheless wished to affirm control over it. The Governor of the city Duplessy-Mornay was tricked out of his command of Saumur and the city was invested.

Siege of Saint-Jean-d'Angély (June 1621)

The siege was accomplished by the young French king Louis XIII in 1621, against the Protestant stronghold of Saint-Jean-d'Angély which was led by Rohan's brother Benjamin de Rohan, duc de Soubise. Saint-Jean-d'Angély was a strategic city controlling the approach to the Huguenot stronghold of La Rochelle. The city was captured after only 26 days on 24 June 1621.

Siege of Montauban (August to November 1621)

The siege was accomplished by the young French king Louis XIII from August to November 1621, against the Protestant stronghold of Montauban. This siege followed the Siege of Saint-Jean-d'Angély, in which Louis XIII had succeeded against the duc de Rohan's brother Benjamin de Rohan, duc de Soubise. Despite a strength of about 25,000 men, Louis XIII was unable to capture the city, and he had to raise the siege and abandon it after 2 months.

Siege of Royan (May 1622)

The Siege of Royan was a siege accomplished by the young French king Louis XIII in 1622, against the Protestant stronghold of Royan. This siege followed the Siege of Montauban, in which Louis XIII had failed against the Huguenot city. The siege started at the beginning of May 1622. After 6 days, despite support from La Rochelle, the city surrendered, the defenders obtaining to withdraw to La Rochelle with weapons and luggage, although they had to leave cannons and ammunition.

Siege of Nègrepelisse (June 1622)

The Siege of Nègrepelisse is a dramatic event orchestrated under the regency of the young King Louis XIII against the Protestants in the small town of Nègrepelisse, a Protestant stronghold in the south of France. The siege began on 6 June 1622 and ended with a successful assault on 10 June 1622. The royal forces, under the command of the Prince de Condé, attacked the town and massacred the whole population without distinction of age or sex. The people were killed by the sword or hung. The next day Nègrepelisse was completely burned to the ground after widespread looting and ransacking. The Royalist Forces in the assault consisted of the Picardy Regiment on the left, the French Guards Regiment in the center, and the Navarre Regiment on the right.

Siege of Montpellier (August to October 1622)

Louis XIII stationed his troops around Montpellier in July 1622. A treaty was agreed upon between Henri, Duke of Rohan, and Louis XIII, through his officer, Marshal Lesdiguières; it was signed by Rohan on 22 August 1622. The inhabitants of Montpellier, however, refused to open their gate to royal troops, fearing depredation by Henri, Prince of Condé and demanded humiliating conditions if the King wished to enter the city.

Outraged, Louis XIII revoked Lesdiguières' command, and ordered his troops to set up a siege of the city. The besieging army was placed under the command of Condé. Operations proved to be difficult for the royal troops. The Huguenots recaptured the bastion of Saint-Denis, successfully sortied against the besiegers causing many casualties, and repulsed several assaults. At the same time, the royal army was plagued with sickness and was running short of supplies.

Treaty of Montpellier (19 October 1622)

Finally, Louis XIII authorized negotiations for the surrender of Montpellier to be resumed. He asked Lesdiguières to lead the army once more, and to secretly negotiate at the same time. On October 8, Rohan arrived in front of Montpellier with a relief army 4,000 veterans. He might have fought victoriously, but he desired to negotiate, as he was running short of international support. The inhabitants agreed to make amends, and the King granted his pardon, leading to the signature of the Treaty of Montpellier on 19 October, in which the King fully confirmed the observation of the Edict of Nantes, but the Huguenots agreed to the dismantlement of the fortifications of Montpellier, Nîmes, and Uzès.

Picardy Regiment: The Colonel of the regiment is and was Jean de Gontaut II Baron de Biron (SR 12). Gaston and Lucien both served under Baron Biron.

French Guards: The commander of the French Guards is unknown and not relevant.

Navarre Regiment: The Colonel of the regiment is and was Henri de Buade, seigneur de Frontenac (SR 10). Fronsac is a Huguenot and a skilled soldier. He is the son of Antoine de Buade, a court minister to King Henri IV. Frontenac grew up as a playmate of the Dauphin, the present King Louis XIII. Born to a distinguished Bearnais family, Frontenac pursued a military career in which he served with distinction, presently commanding the Navarre Regiment.

Others who were there

Henri II duc de Montmorency see Condé’s Brother-in-Law.

François de Montmorency Comte de Bouteville, duc de Luxembourg (SR 14) is a member of one of France’s most famous families and highly regarded for his skill on the battlefield during the Huguenot revolts. Bouteville (b. 1600) is better known for his reputation as one of the deadliest duelists in the kingdom. Bouteville is notoriously touchy, and though he has been warned about violating the royal edicts regarding duels, he continues to cross blades in defense of his honor. He served with distinction at the sieges of Saint-Jean-d'Angély, Montauban, Royan and Montpellier.

Jean Caylar d'Anduze de Saint-Bonnet, seigneur de Toiras is known to have served with distinction in the campaigns against the Huguenots in 1621 and 1622; though a Huguenot himself, his first loyalty is to the king. At the siege of Montauban, as the captain of the King's company of Carabiniers, Toiras was acknowledged as the most skilful arquebusier of the Kingdom, winning fame for his shot which killed the Hugeunot commander Hautefontaine.

François de Baradas is a member of the Gardes du Corps - one of the French companies and was with the King during the Huguenot War of 1621-1622.

Honorat de Bueil seigneur de Racan (SR 9), is the Chamberlain of his former guardian the duc de Bellegarde. Racan, is markedly unattractive physically and suffers from a pronounced stutter. Racan served in the Royal Army against the Huguenots, serving with distinction in the campaigns of 1621 and 1622.

François de Bassompierre, marquis d'Haroué, and Colonel-General of the Swiss is a Marshal of France and a favored hunting companion of King Louis XIII. In 1614 he served Marie de’ Medici, then queen-regent of France, against the prince de Condé and the other rebellious nobles, but he remained loyal to the young king, Louis XIII, after Marie’s exile from court; Bassompierre served in the royal forces which put down Marie’s rebellion in 1620 at Ponts-de-Cé and he continued to serve as one of Louis’ officers through the campaigns against the Huguenots in 1621 and 1622, earning a marshal’s baton in 1622.
The severe treatment of the town of Negrepelisse was done in reprisal based on the claim that a Royal regiment left in garrison in the city by the Duke of Mayenne had been exterminated by the citizens. In response to this the king ordered:

"I command you to give no quarter to any man, because they have irritated me, and shall be served as they have treated the others."—Louis XIII.[7]

A justification of the massacre was published in 1622: "The Great and Just Punishment of the Rebels of Negrepelisse".

Chapter 5: Rivalry

Father Signoret joined Gaston, Norbert, and one of Norbert’s fellow Red Guards, Jacques Dlancey at their usual meeting place, Les Deux Chevaux (The Two Horses Tavern). Norbert’s new valet, Mel, sat near his master. Those bright red uniforms certainly catch the eye, Signoret thought. I wonder if Cardinal Richelieu personally selected that shade.

Gaston made room for Signoret by taking a seat at the next table and the Jesuit took the seat opposite the Captain. For Signoret the seat by the blazing fire was comforting after the chilling walk through the frozen streets of Paris. From the number of empty bottles and mugs it was clear to the Jesuit that the others had started without him, though the only one of the four who showed any sign of the drink was Dlancey who alternated between toasting Norbert and slapping him on the back in a show of drunken bonhomie.

“Where is Guy?” Signoret asked. “I thought he would be here.”

“Damned if I know,” Gaston answered. “As long as he doesn’t pester me with another bunch of poxed fool questions about the recent war against the Huguenots he can go and do whatever he cursed well pleases.”

Six Musketeers[iii] in uniform entered and demanded the tables next to the fire. Gaston stared coldly at the Musketeers and refused to move. Several of the Musketeers complained about the place having a stench of oxen and swine which they blamed on Norbert. In response, Norbert imitated a rooster to mock the Musketeers. Then he pointedly stared at theem while loudly commenting to the room at large that, “There aren’t any pigs or oxen here, but I see a flock of chickens nearby.”

To which Jacques Dlancey said, “I doodle, doo too,” then he giggled uncontrollably. A number of other insults were exchanged until the Musketeers announced that the Red Guards should withdraw while they could as the odds were six to three against them.

In response Gaston stood, drew his sword, and glared at the Musketeer closest to him who involuntary stepped backwards.

Jacques nudged Norbert saying, “The Captain is standing. We’d better stand too.” Both Norbert and Jacques stood.

Signoret, who was still seated said, “Your count is wrong.” The Jesuit stood up. “It is four by my count.”

“And my valet makes five!” said Norbert.

“Very well then,” said one of the Musketeers. “Six against five.”

Defeating Gaston, the Captain of the Red Guards, would be a coupe and since he was a notoriously formidable duelist, Justin Fountaine lazily waved his scented handkerchief at his fellow Musketeer, a Huguenot named Nathanaël Touchard, in invitation and said, “Shall we?” Touchard drew both rapier and dagger and positioned himself in the French style. Gaston closed on the two and attacked. With a flurry of slashes and thrusts, he drove the two Musketeers back, then kicked a chair in front of the retreating Fountaine, tripping him.

Father Signoret recognized the Musketeer facing him as a duelist of some reputation who went by the nom de guerre of Josselin. Smoothly, Signoret stepped from floor, to chair, to tabletop then with the advantage of height he attacked Josselin who was forced to retreat from the Jesuit’s precisely timed thrust.

Jacques wildly stabbed at his opponent and missed, then barely stumbled aside from his enemy’s return thrust which knocked over a mug of wine. “Murderer! You have killed my drink,” Jacques complained.

Norbert faced a Musketeer who fought in the aggressive Italian style using a rapier and main gauche but who looked too young to have begun shaving. Norbert hammered his broadsword against his young opponent’s blade then snatched the rapier from his numbed hand and tossed it to his valet Mel who caught the blade and attacked the Musketeer facing him.

Gaston used a circular motion of his vizciana to catch Touchard’s rapier and twist it from his hand. Touchard stabbed with his main gauche but only succeeded in driving his point deep into the table top. Gaston’s cut forced the Musketeer to dodge aside abandoning his second blade. Fountaine regained his feet and used a combination of attacks to lure Gaston’s blade out of position setting the Captain  up for an attack. Meanwhile, Josselin forced Signoret back, off the table and up against the mantle of the fireplace. The Jesuit could feel the heat of the fire against his back.

Jacques was wounded by his opponent’s riposte, but the wound was to his left arm leaving him able to continue the fight. The young musketeer dodged Norbert’s blade as well as the chair the giant kicked towards him, but his attack on the giant was so vigorous that he lost his balance and stumbled into a chair which tipped him over backwards. Norbert grabbed the youth, chair and all, lifted him above his head hooking the chair onto the stag’s antlers above the fireplace. The antlers ensnared the young Musketeer’s cloak so that he was stranded above the crowd. Meanwhile, Mel dropped his recently acquired rapier and charged his opponent barehanded. Ducking beneath a slash, he closed and grappled with the Musketeer.

With his back to the fire, Signoret exerted his full mastery of the blade, his point circled beneath his foe’s parry and thrust into Josselin’s breast. He slid off the point and fell to the floor. Despite Fountaine’s clever feint, Gaston parried his thrust and his rapid riposte tore a long gash down Fountaine’s sword arm. As he dropped his point, the hilt of Gaston’s vizcaina hammered into Fountaine’s face dropping him to the ground as if poleaxed. Touchard turned pale at this then looked to Gaston for permission to recover his rapier. Gaston nodded his assent. Touchard grabbed his rapier and hastily lunged at Gaston who moved slightly to avoid his foe’s point.

Jacques paused to down the last tankard on the table as Norbert, ignoring the curses and cries of “Release me you big ox!” from the young Musketeer, quickly moved to aid his fellow Red Guard. Faced with two opponents, the Musketeer refused to retreat and his riposte caught Norbert by surprise laying open a large gash along his ribs. Mel wrapped his hands around the neck of his struggling foe and began slowly throttling him.

His opponent downed, Father Signoret raced around the table to assist the two wounded Red Guards against the valiant lone Musketeer. Signoret called on the Musketeer to surrender, but he refused and held his own three opponents.

Gaston did an extended lunge against Touchard piercing his thigh. Touchard fell to the floor grasping his leg to try to stem the tide of blood flowing from his wound. Meanwhile, Mel felt his opponent stop struggling. He opened his hands dropping the now unconscious Musketeer to the flagstones.

As he advanced on the last foe, Gaston recognized the lone Musketeer as Michaël Dutoit, an experienced soldier and duelist in the Spanish style. Brave man, thought Gaston.

Father Signoret again called on Dutoit to “drop his sword and leave now” and faced with the impossibility of success against odds of four-to-one, Dutoit surrendered rapier and left.

Seeing that there were many wounded, Signoret accessed who most needed his attentions as a physician then began treating both sets of combatants. As he worked to bandage their wounds, Signoret remembered a worrying event from earlier in the day. From an upper story window of the Jesuit Professed House, he had noticed several burly sword armed men loitering outside the House. He had avoided them by exiting through a side door of the new Jesuit chapel that was still under construction, but he worried that they might be agents of Friar Fitellus di Canem, a Dominican and the Inquisitor from Rome.

Meanwhile, Gaston ordered Norbert to “Help the lad down, cousin. His caterwauling grows tiresome.” Once the wounded were bandaged Gaston ordered the remaining Musketeers to “Leave and never return here.” And with the help of the physically uninjured, but furious youth the wounded and defeated Musketeers limped away. Les Deux Chevaux had been declared a Cardinalist hangout and the swords of the defeated Musketeers were hung on either side of the main fireplace.

Afterwards, Father Signoret told the others about the watchers he had seen outside the Professed House and his concern that they were acting on the orders of Friar Fitellus of the Roman Inquisition. After silently listening to the Jesuit, Gaston told Norbert and Jacques to get more food and drink to replace what was ruined during the fight. “I’ll buy,” Gaston said. “Oh and you might as well take Mel with you to carry the food.”

“Why thank you cousin,” Norbert replied. “I believe I have worked up an appetite. Come friend Jacques, come Mel.”

Gaston watched as the three left, then leaned towards Signoret and quietly said, “This Friar sounds troublesome.”

“Indeed he is most troublesome,” said Signoret. “Would that the good Lord would see fit to call him hence.”

Gaston spoke without looking directly at the Jesuit, “Though it might be difficult, I suppose it would be possible to find someone who would be willing to speed the Friar to his next destination. Although since he comes from Rome, there could be…complications.”

“I will pray daily that the friar is called away soon.”

Gaston looked directly at the Jesuit then said, “And would you be willing to pray for one who helped the friar on his way?”

“The members of my order pray for the souls of sinners and unbelievers that they may be shown the way. And since none but Christ and his Holy Mother are born without sin, then this helpful guide must also be a sinner and thus it would be my duty and pleasure to pray for his salvation…and his success.”

Gaston continued to stare at Signoret as he calmly said, “Very well.”

Norbert opened another letter from Yvette. Of course the letter wasn’t written by Yvette, but Norbert liked to pretend that she had written it, even though he knew that Yvette, like most commoners couldn’t read or write. He knew that the even, spare hand was that of Yvette’s friend Brother Crispin. But somehow thinking of the letter as coming directly from Yvette made it seem more special. So Norbert pretended. This letter tried to be cheerful but there was an underlying note that was different than her other letters. The tone made it seem like Yvette was frightened and she talked about the harsh winter, the lack of food in town, and the hardships the shortage was causing for the townspeople, especially for the poor. And there was that strange sentence that said, “Mostly we try to stay indoors at night. The dark seems alive with something frightening and evil.”

Norbert was worried. “I need to do something. And the first thing I need to do is write Yvette a letter to tell her I am coming.

Father Signoret received a letter from Brother Crispin. In the letter, Crispin reminded Signoret of his success in confronting what was thought at the time to be a Loup Garou. As it turned out the stories of a Loup Garou were caused by the wild man of the woods. Crispin thanked Signoret for recovering the lost child from the wild man of the woods. He then begged for Father Signoret’s help – and that of any men he could find who might be brave enough to face what may this time be something of truly unnatural origins. The Friar told Signoret that a huge pack of wolves had attacked multiple people in and around Soissons and it waas feared that the pack was led by a real Loup Garou.

The tale of a pack of wolves led by a Loup Garou reminded Signoret of a story he had read during his student days at university. He consulted several libraries in Paris and found and reread Les Chroniques de Paris (English: The Chronicles of Paris) by Bernard Guenée. This volume was published in Paris in 1560. Les Chroniqes described the depredations of the Wolves of Paris, a man-eating wolf pack that killed forty people in Paris in year of 1450. The wolves entered the city during the winter through breaches in its walls. A wolf named Courtaud, or "Bobtail", was the leader of the pack. Reports of the animal suggested it was reddish in color. Eventually, the entire wolf pack was killed when Parisians, furious at the deaths, lured Courtaud and his pack into the heart of the city. There the Parisians stoned and speared the wolves to death in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

[i] Information from the three sources is summarized in Chapter IV: The Recent Huguenot Rebellion.
[ii] Guy was excruciatingly politely and got a Mighty Success.
[iii] Do Musketeers provoke the Guards? Very Likely (70) YES. Do Guards provoke Musketeers? Likely (05) EXCEPTIONAL YES. The Cardinal offers his Red Guards to assist the Paris Archers. Does this lead to confrontation? Very Likely (41) YES. Do the Porthos et al challenge Gaston? (64) NOT YET.

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