Friday, February 3, 2017

Fiction Friday - Vol 7 Tales of Vengeance, Bk III: Full Moon, Ch 3 & 4

Chapter 3: The Howling

As the moon rose they heard an eerie, frightening howling emanating from the very foundations of the Governor’s Mansion. They realized that a Loup Garou must be inside the dungeon. In his report to His Eminence Cardinal Armand de Richelieu Captain Gaston Thibeault described what happened on the mission to Soissons including what they found inside the Governor’s Mansion.

Your Eminence,

In obedience to your instructions I led a party consisting of seven Red Guards and Father Signoret to Soissons. There my men and I confirmed that there had been no new wolf attacks in or around Soissons nor any recent signs or evidence of a wolf pack. We also learned that there have been no sightings or reports of a second Loup Garou.

Learning that Armand de Labrousse, the brother of the Soissons Town Governor, was reported to have been bit by the Loup Garou we had killed, we inquired as to the health of Armand de Labrousse. The Governor told us that he had treated Armand himself and that Armand was recovering successfully from his wound. The Governor further reported that Armand had left Soissons some time ago to finish his recuperation in the healthful sea air of the south. When we asked for details, Labrousse told us that his brother was staying at the Green Mermaid Inn in Marseille. My men independently questioned the Governor’s guards and a number of townspeople who confirmed that Armand de Labrousse had not been seen in or around Soissons or at the chateau in the past two weeks. 

On hearing strange noises coming from the chateau on the night of the full moon, we secretly entered. We followed the sound of the creature’s howls led us into the dungeons of the chateau where we found a man imprisoned in a cell. The man was bound with numerous iron chains and manacles of silver and iron. He spoke not a word to us, but only growled and howled like a beast as he struggled against his bonds. Some black masked ruffians attempted to interfere with our investigation. They refused to desist or explain their presence and I was forced to kill several of them before they ceased to trouble us. The man in the cell changed and his true form—that of a Loup Garou—was revealed. After its transformation the beast broke free of its chains. I led my men into the cell where we shot the beast with the silver bullets and bolts that were provided through your Eminence’s forethought. After three volleys at point blank range, the beast fell as if dead. Then I cut off its head and sent its soul back to hell.

In other cells we found and liberated, two men and a girl, who had been imprisoned there where they had personally been subjected to fiendish tortures and the most hideous and barbarous mutilations which we learned had been carried out in person by the Governor himself. Father Signoret wrote down statements from the prisoners which I have here.1 Not knowing your Eminence’s wishes in this matter, I brought the three unfortunates back to Paris. The good Father believes that some of their mutilations may be repaired and their suffering partially alleviated by skilled physicians here in Paris. I pray God that this be so.

We also found, concealed within the dungeon, a large pentagram and what Father Signoret describes as other sorcerous and alchemical paraphernalia. Significantly this room was guarded by other masked servants whose tongues had been removed to keep them silent. Father Signoret suggests that the Governor may be engaged in witchcraft. I know nothing of such matters, but such might provide some explanation for the terrible things he has done and keeps hidden beneath his chateau.

Unfortunately the Governor observed us before we were able to make our exit. Clovis Cellier was wounded by the chief gaoler. In defending him one of my men was forced to kill the gaoler. As we left the chateau we were fired on by the Chateau Guards, but not wishing to injure His Majesty’s soldiers, I ordered my men to fire over their heads to deter pursuit. Having finished our mission and learning that the Governor had ordered the gates of Soissons closed to us, we departed and returned to Paris.

One piece of information was not included in Gaston’s report. The Captain did not reveal that before he fully transformation into a beast, the man they found chained in the dungeon looked exactly like the Governor’s brother Armand de Labrousse. However, since the Governor had most definitely assured them that Armand was far away in the south and thus could not possibly be in Soissons at the time and since the killing and beheading of a nobleman and the brother of a Town Governor in his own home was something that could cause Gaston a lot of trouble, he decided not to complicate his report with that particular detail.

1 Prisoner Status and Statements

Jacob, a Huguenot craftsman, was convicted of debt. He was incarcerated and his shop and possessions were confiscated. He claims the charge was false, and that there was no evidence of a debt, but that Governor de Labrousse refused to accept any of his proof of his innocence and convicted him anyway. The top of his skull had been removed exposing the brain matter and his face was a mass of scars. He was missing his nose and lips and  his left eye had been replaced with a glass magnifying lens that allowed detailed observation the optic nerve. His left arm had been removed and replaced with a type of metal prosthetic, arm with a claw with adjustable clamps for gripping.

Gabrielle, a peasant girl, was kidnapped by silent masked men and didn’t even know where she was being held. She was missing her right eye and her teeth had all been removed. Her left hand had been removed and was replaced with a claw clamp like that of the prisoner Jacob.

Jean-Paul was a peasant who had been arrested and convicted by the Governor of failure to pay his taxes. He admitted that he was in fact behind on his taxes. The skin on his right upper leg had been peeled off leaving the muscle exposed and the skin on his left lower leg was burned and blackened by fire. His left hand was missing and was capped by a metal and glass cylinder through which maggots could be seen eating the dead and damaged skin.  His left eye was covered by a patch which concealed a dead, rotting eyeball which had to be removed by the surgeon in Paris. This prisoner could not speak since his tongue had been removed. 

Based on Gaston’s report and the statements and status of the three prisoners that were rescued, Cardinal Richelieu sent a note of complaint about the actions of Governor de Lebrousse to the Count of Soisson, who is His Majesty’s Governor of the Province of. In the note he urged Monsieur Le Comte to use his influence to insure that these matters were thoroughly looked into. 

From Father Signoret, Père Joseph requested descriptions (with sketches) of the Wolf Trap Lantern and its use, the Ritual of the Key of St. Hubertus and its effectiveness, and the encounters with the two Loup Garou in Soissons. Along with Gaston’s report these become files in a secret archive on the occult that Joseph is creating on the orders of the Cardinal. 

As a reward for their actions, the Cardinal gave a gift of 20L to Jacques and Duval for their bravery as mentioned by Gaston in his report and an additional 30L as a reward to Gaston. 

Chapter 4: Inquisition and Aftermath

During a previous mission for the Society of Jesus, the Father Signoret lost a holy relic, the Thigh Bone of St. Anthony and made an enemy of Friar Fitellus, an Inquisitor of the Roman Inquisition. Afterwards Fitellus came to Paris where he lodged a formal complaint against the Jesuit. After that he remained in Paris. It was said that he was in Paris to advocate for the creation of a French Inquisition to be authorized to uncover and eliminate heresy throughout all of France. While he was in Paris Fitellus continued to complain about Father Signoret at every opportunity and to petition Archbishop de Gondi to censure the Jesuit. Meanwhile Fitellus’ familiars kept Signoret under observation whenever he left the Jesuit Professed House. 

Ordinarily this would be little more than an annoyance and possibly an embarrassment for the dueling Jesuit. However, Signoret still had in his possession the Wolf Cage Lantern that he had taken from the vaults beneath Notre Dame with neither the knowledge nor the permission of the Archbishop. If the Lantern’s disappearance was noticed that could bring him to the attention of the Archbishop. The artifact was too rare and valuable to destroy, but if it was found in his possession then even the Society of Jesus might have no choice but to turn him over to the Archbishop for punishment. And if that happened, Signoret was afraid there was a very good chance that Friar Fitellus would be able to persuade the Archbishop to turn him over to the Inquisition for questioning, which would put him in the power of the fanatical Fitellus. And that was not at all something he would relish.

His usual watchers varied between Fitellus himself, who was always accompanied by his bodyguard an armed and armored soldier of the Inquisition, a young Italian nobleman accompanied by his servant and a soldier as guard, and a third trio consisting of a hard-bitten sergeant and two of his men. Inquisition familiars investigated Signoret’s scholarly pursuits. They questioned his servant Claude, talked to his students at the Jesuit Professed House and at the University of Paris. They learned of his interest in legends of the Loup Garou and investigated his visits to the vaults beneath Notre Dame Cathedral.

Father Signoret was not the only hero who was being watched. It was quite some time before Norbert Thibeault realized that he seemed to be under observation. His first indication was a comment made by Guy de Bourges who asked if he knew that he was being followed. After that, he started noticing pairs of soberly dressed, foreign looking men. They weren’t always around or if they were he wasn’t always able to spot them. Sometimes he noticed the same pair and other times different gentlemen. They loitered in doorways and on street corners and he noticed them behind him on empty streets at night – or at least he noticed someone was behind him. He didn’t know why he was being followed, but it made him nervous. And unbeknownst Norbert, questions were being asked about who he was, where he lived, who he spoke to, and what he did.

Father Signoret decided that he must return the Wolf Cage Lantern before Fitellus could arrange for it to be found in his possession, but he feared that if he went back to Notre Dame with the Lantern his watchers would warn Fitellus so that he could be intercepted and stopped. And if he was discovered with the Lantern he couldn’t predict what the consequences would be. 

Signoret asked his cousin Guy and his friend Gaston to help him outwit the Inquisitor and evade the watching familiars. They came up with a plan that should allow Signoret to return the artifact while simultaneously embarrassing Fitellus and his men. To throw off the watchers Guy, who was a master of disguise, donned the habit of a Jesuit priest, made himself up to look like his cousin, and adopted his gait to complete his act. With him he carried a wooden box just large enough to hold the Lantern then he took a circuitous route to Notre Dame. Once the watchers had been decoyed away, Father Signoret, who was dressed as a gentleman and not a priest, surreptitiously made his way with the real Lantern then he loitered in a doorway near Notre Dame to watch the next step in their plan.

Guy led his watchers to the steps of Notre Dame. There he saw Friar Fitellus with his bodyguard and the rest of his soldiers. As he walked up the steps of the Cathedral, the Inquisitor and his men surrounded him. But before they could act, they too were surrounded as seeming passerby in the crowd through off their concealing cloaks to reveal a squad of the Cardinal’s Guard led by Gaston in person. 

Fitellus said that he was there to arrest Father Signoret as a despoiler of artifacts and relics of the Church. Gaston officially insisted he identify who it was he intended to arrest and on what grounds he based that arrest. Fitellus pointed towards the man who he thought was Father Signoret and said that he had caught Father Gaetan Signoret, a priest of the Society of Jesus, red handed with a stolen church artifact. Gaston told him that he was mistaken, but Fitellus insisted that he was correct. 

Attracted by the noise and the uniforms a crowd was gathering. The Inquisitor’s bodyguard Ferrara drew his sword to threaten the supposed Jesuit priest into surrendering, but Gaston blocked the move with his own rapier. The Inquisition bodyguard was shocked. “How dare you?” Ferrara repeated the move, but again Gaston blocked him.

“Si, you’d be surprised what I would dare si  Inquisizione cazzo![i]” The Italian curse caused Ferrara to swing his broadsword at Gaston, who deflected the hasty blow. “Now I have you si cazzo. You just attacked a Cardinal’s Guard.” Over his should Gaston told his men, “Stand back and watch the friar. Don’t let that little weasel slink away.  

Gaston used the cathedral steps to his advantage to outmaneuver the heavily armored bodyguard. He forced Ferrara to follow him up the steps and then once he was at the top, Gaston quickly moved sideways and down. All the while he intentionally drew out the combat and used wide sweeping attacks which were designed solely to draw the crowd’s attention and that of the Inquisitor and his men. 

While they were focused on the duel between Gaston and Ferrara, Father Signoret quickly walked inside the church with his cloth wrapped parcel under his arm. Once inside, he went to the vaults and returned the Piège à Loup or Wolf Cage lantern to its proper place. Outside, Guy removed or altered just enough of his disguise so that he no longer looked like a priest then he continued to stand waiting and holding the decoy box.

The noise and the crowd attracted the attention of a patrol of the Archbishop’s ecclesiastical guards. They forced their way through the crowd and demanded to know what was going on. By this time Gaston had tripped and disarmed Ferrara, so he flamboyantly handed the Inquisition bodyguard’s sword to the sergeant of the guard as he announced himself as the Captain of the Cardinal’s Guard.  “Sergeant, I must apologize for my part in this altercation, but I was forced to prevent this man here from attacking for no reason a good catholic penitent on his way to our cathedral. Now I have no way of knowing why this foreigner and stranger to our city would choose to arm himself as if for war then attempt an assault on the very steps of our holy cathedral, but perhaps he can make some excuse for his rash and hostile actions.”

Fitellus spoke first. He pointed in Guy’s direction as he told the Archbishop’s guards that he and his bodyguard were in the process of apprehending a Jesuit priest and thief who had stolen a most holy relic from the cathedral. “Though he claims to be a priest, this man is known to the Inquisition as a most notorious stealer of relics.”

“What is the name of this so-called Jesuit priest-thief?” 

“You know who he is. His name is Father Gaetan Signoret and he is right over there,” this time when Fitellus pointed at Guy he noticed that Guy was no longer dressed as a priest nor did he wear a flat Jesuit hat. 

“Sadly, you are mistaken, good Friar. My name is Guy de Bourges, Chevalier de Sainte-Marie-du-Bois. I am a Knight of the Order of the Holy Ghost and member in good standing of the Bishop’s Club, as is our beloved Archbishop de Gondi. These are all things which I can easily prove.” Then he loudly addressed the crowd, “I fear that our strong French wines must have gone to the Friar’s head and he is so drunk that he sees priests everywhere he looks.” The crowd laughed at Guy’s jibe. 

“By Saint Dominic and Saint Caenus, whoever you are, you are in league with that Jesuit thief and you have the relic he stole right there in that box in your hands.”

“I regret to say, good Friar that the wine fumes are still obscuring your vision…and your reason. On my honor this is no stolen relic, but merely a gift I was bringing to the cathedral. Sergeant I must insist that as a noble of France and a good Catholic that I be allowed to go about my business without being harassed on the very steps of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris by this drunken Friar”

“No,” screamed Fitellus. “He must not be allowed to leave. He has the Wolf Cage in that box. It was stolen from the cathedral under your very noses. I demand the box be opened so you can all see the proof of what I say with your very own eyes.”

The Sergeant of the Archbishop’s guard apologized to Guy, but said that either they must all come with him to the For L’Eveque to straighten out this matter, which he admitted might take considerable time or perhaps the Chevalier would agree to open his box.

“Sergeant I see that you are a man who is only trying to do his duty in a most difficult situation with honesty and courtesy on one side and what seem to be the ravings of a drunken friar on the other. Let it not be said that Guy de Bourges would make life more difficult for an honest man who is doing his duty. I will agree to open the box, but I insist when this latest accusation is proved as false as the others, that I be allowed to go on my way in peace.”

The Sergeant agreed that was more than fair. Guy opened the box which contained several thick beeswax candles. “I brought these as a small offering for the cathedral and to request that prayers be said for the health of my poor, dear mother.”


A report of the incident on the cathedral steps was given to Archbishop de Gondi which caused him to become hostile to Friar Fitellus. Gondi not only refused to support Fitellus’ petition to institute a French Inquisition, but he spoke out against the idea. This incident even caused him to have a more negative attitude towards the Dominicans, Friar Fitellus’ Order.

[i] You Inquisition fuck!

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