Friday, February 17, 2017

Fiction Friday - Vol 7 Tales of Vengeance, Bk IV: Unlawful Detentions, Ch 3 & 4

Chapter 3: Baron Villemorin’s Revenge

As a result of the anticipated diplomatic fallout from the recovery of the stolen rocket plans, Père Joseph’s suggested to Gaston that he find assignments for Norbert, Jacques, Cobweb, and Jean-Yves away from Paris.

“Preferably somewhere far away and nowhere near England. I recall that the king has commissioned Isaac de Razilly to lead a mission to Morocco to negotiate the release of Catholics enslaved by the Turks. Members of my order will accompany the expedition as chaplains and missionaries. Three of them are traveling to Marseille to meet Razilly. Theirs is a most holy mission and it is a long way to Marseille and the roads are not as safe as I would wish. I think it would be a nice gesture towards the Capuchin Order if the Cardinal would send several of his guards along to ensure the safety of my brothers. What do you think, Captain?”

“My thoughts are my own. But what I will say Excellency is that it has been a long, cold winter here in Paris and some warmer weather may be good for my men’s health.”

“Just so, Captain.”

About a week after Candlemas, Gaston, Guy, and Father Signoret were drinking at the Deux Chevaux Tavern. They had not yet ordered another bottle before they were interrupted by Gaston’s brother-in-law, Claude de Fleury. Usually facile with words, Claude could barely make his meaning clear so upset was he. He frantically insisted that Gaston must immediately accompany him to his house. As Gaston tried to calm his brother-in-law, Guy noticed there was dried blood on Claude’s right hand. But not his blood. Well that’s not a good sign. Not a good sign at all.

They found the house in shambles. Gaston’s sister Marie was nearly as upset as her husband. She held a bloodied cloth to her nose, but despite that she told them that a group of masked men had broken into the house. They’d overpowered Marie and Claude and kidnapped their daughters, Jeannette, who was nearly 12 and little Marguerite, age 9. Pinned by a dagger to the wall by the front door were two objects: the bloodstained bonnet of little Marguerite and a note.

You must act quickly if you wish to arrive before it is too late. You will not have time to appeal to your new patron. Nor would doing so be wise if you do not wish to see your missing blossoms crushed.
Now we shall see whose poetry is truly the most moving.
   The night was wet when first we met.
   If child you seek there you must peek.

Stunned Marie asked, “Who took my babies?” The question might have been asked of Gaston, of anyone in the room, or perhaps of God himself.”

Gaston looked at his friends as all three said, “Villemorin.”

“Where we met?” Guy asked. “Where we met was the alley beside my old apartment. That’s where we first saw the cursed brothers Villemorin. St. Giron had ordered them and several other Gendarmes to arrest “de Bourges” and the idiots tried to arrest Lucien instead of me. Villemorin nearly killed Lucien. Thank heaven you arrived first.”

Gaston told Claude and Marie, “Go to Father’s. Stay there until I come for you.”

The three friends hurried across town. Guy tried to watch for an ambush, but Gaston’s rapid pace made that difficult. He’s running headlong into danger, Guy thought. No help but to try and watch out for him. I certainly don’t want to be between him and wherever he wants to go. Not in this mood.

As they entered the alley they were accosted by a soiled dove, one Paris’ ladies of the night. She looked more tired and worn than she did alluring as she offered to show them a good time. One of us or all three? Guy shook off the irrelevant thought just in time to spot a shadowy figure atop the roof. “Ambush!” He and Signoret ducked for cover as they heard the twang of a crossbow’s steel spring. Several crossbow bolts smacked into the wall. One of them pinned Father Signoret’s cassock to a wooden doorframe as he took shelter in the doorway. Gaston tossed a knife at one of the figures, but it clattered onto the roof. Guy fired the small Italian pistol he always carried. “I think I hit one. He shouted.

Gaston tried to climb a drainpipe to reach the attackers, but Signoret told him. “They’ve gone. Our return fire must have frightened them off.” The Jesuit held the bolt that had pierced his cassock.

“Let me see that,” Guy said. “I’d best have Fabré check it for poison.”

“What’s this?” Signoret asked.

“Bring it into the light. Ah…another note.”

“Give me that,” Gaston said. He stepped closer to the door of the apartment building so he could use its light to read the note. 

A race with death doth turn the wheel.
A brother’s life, there you did steal.

“A brother’s life. He must mean his brother Paulin. Well I killed the little idiot at that inn we stopped at on the way to find those Black Riders. What the devil was it called?”

“It was called the Old Mill,” Guy said.

The Old Mill Inn was located along the way to Auxerre on a stream that feeds into the Yonne River about 60 miles from Paris, some two days ride at a ordinary pace and one day if one pushed their the horses. The inn had two levels: half the upper floor was individual bedrooms while the ground floor had a 2-story common room overlooked by a railed balcony. Attached to the inn was the mill and adjacent to it the waterwheel, millrace, and stream. All except the Seigneur de Chambré were familiar with the Old Mill as the place where Gaston had been ambushed by and then forced to kill Paulin Villemorin, the younger brother of the Baron Villemorin.

The inn looked abandoned though the mill wheel still turned with an ominous creaking sound. The windows were boarded up and weeds grew in the yard.[i] To one side of the inn a lone man stood leaning on a shovel next to a pile of earth.

Without a word Gaston entered the inn. Alert for signs of ambush, Guy readied his pistols as he and Father Signoret followed Gaston into the inn. The Seigneur de Chambré kept an eye on their horses and on the man with the shovel. Inside the inn, though it was clearly abandoned, looked just a little less weatherworn than it had seemed from the outside. Pinned to the bar with a dagger was a piece of paper. Gaston read it aloud.

A brother lost, I could not save.
Outside you’ll find a smaller grave.

Gaston raced outside and ran towards the man with the shovel. As he approached, he saw a rectangular hole about the size of a grave beside the pile of dirt. Gaston looked in fear into the grave which contained a small coffin, just the right size for a child. He dropped into the grave and lifted the coffin out of the hole. It was sealed and heavy enough to contain a body. Gaston snatched the shovel from the man and levered the lid off. He looked inside in horror, but all he found was another note which sat on top of a bag of earth to add weight. 

Your fate is set, their fates not yet.
A clue to whom, on wheel of doom.

Guy immediately looked at the creaking mill wheel.

While Gaston and Guy ran towards the wheel, Father Signoret and the Seigneur de Chambré asked the man with the shovel who he was and why he was here. He told them that he had a farm nearby and that he had been paid by a nobleman to dig this hole and place the coffin inside. The nobleman told him to wait here and if asked about any missing girls he was to tell the questioner to look in the grave.

Once they were closer, Guy and Gaston saw a small wooden chest hanging from the mill wheel by a chain. Gaston reached for the chest, but Guy told him to wait. “I suspect something nefarious. Allow me.”

He used a fallen branch to hook the chain then tugged it free as he stepped aside. As he did, they both heard the sound of a heavy thunk just before the mill wheel rolled free on its axle. Guy’s sidestep had taken him out of the path, but the wheel spun towards Gaston like a wooden juggernaut. Fortunately Guy’s warning had put him on the alert and he was able to dive aside as the wheel rolled past and crashed into the stream.

Guy used the chain to drag the chest forward. He shot the lock off with a pistol. Inside was another note. “Look Gaston, what a surprise. There is a note inside.”

A chateau old with pride and grace
Located in a named place.
True poet should recall the rhyme
Spanish hero, long ago time
So journey there, no rest nor stay
Fourth sunset ends her final day.
Armed pike afoot a knight you’ll face
His charge must bear and fight apace.
If you refuse to fight this duel,
By custom old and honored rule
Then maiden ends her life that day
First token of the price you’ll pay.

“He’s referring to one of my poems, Gaston said. “He must mean, ‘A Noble Reckoning.’ Certainly it’s the poem he’s had the most opportunity to read…Spanish hero? Ah, he must mean my fourth verse.”
Noble Baron whose name has been hid.
In a town named for foes of El Cid.
The truth he does fear;
Holds honor not dear;
Treacher's schemes and foul plans has he bid.

“The foes of El Cid were the Moors. Moor…Morin? Mordieu what is this pig trying to tell me?”

“Well,” Guy said “let’s look at his name. Villemorin is from ville, a town or city. Now morin, hmm…I may have seen that somewhere in something I’ve read long ago.”

He turned towards Father Signoret who was still back at the grave and called, “Hey cousin, what does morin – m-o-r-i-n mean?”

“Morin…it is Old French. Usually a diminutive of the name, More, which of course is derived from the Old French word meaning swarthy or dark.

“Like a Moor,” Guy said.

 “So we are looking for a town named Villemorin or maybe Morinville.”

“Not a town, Gaston, but a river. The Petite Morin is a tributary of the Marne and it is not more than 50 or 60 miles from here.”

“And petite is also a sort of diminutive,” Gaston said. “Now the rest of this note refers back to the last verse of my poem.”
One day Baron and Poet shall face
One in vict'ry and one in disgrace
Swords in hands on the ground
Deeds not words shall expound
That day Noble shall Poet efface.

“That’s actually rather clever. Villemorin must have had help with the big words.

“So he wants a duel like the chevaliers old. Except that apparently he’s to be on horse and I’m to be on foot with a pike. Well it’s not like I’ve never done that before. I’ll shove the point of the pike down the bastard’s throat. Fifty or sixty miles? Hah! I’ll be there by tomorrow morning at the latest.”

“But not alone my friend,” said Guy.

Château Villemorin was located in the middle of the Petit Morin River valley. The Petit Morin was a tributary of the Marne and hence a sub-tributary of the Seine and its valley lay in the hills between Verdelot and Montmirail. The château was two days ride from the Old Mill Inn, though Gaston had pushed both men and horses on in the dark to reach the château by the next morning.

The pale winter sun shone down on the mostly leafless trees of the wood through which their road wound back and forth. The towers of the Château Villemorin were visible above and through the trees long before the rescue party reached the castle grounds. Once they were close, they concealed their horses in a glade of the woods behind a low rise not far from the road. Then they cautiously moved forward on foot until they could examine the castle without being seen. The castle was medieval in design and a huge banner with the Baron’s arms flew above the tall corner donjon. The only modern elements were a pair of culverins flanking and defending the main gate. One culverin was mounted in each gate tower.

Château Villemorin

Using Guy’s spyglass they saw helmeted guards wearing back and breast on the castle’s walls and towers. Other guards, also armored, flanked the open gate of the castle. Next to them stood an older man in a buffcoat and helmet who held a smaller banner that also showed the Villemorin arms.

Gaston said, “Well nothing for it, but to see what the bastard wants. Look I want you each to promise that no matter what happens you will get the girls to safety.”

His friends nodded in agreement and Guy said, “We all know what to do.”

Gaston mounted his horse, picked up flag of truce that he had fashioned from a shirt tied to a branch, and rode towards the gate. As he came into view the older man, who wore a hunting horn on a baldric over his shoulder, lifted and sounded his horn. Gaston stopped halfway between the woods and the castle.

“I am Gaston Thibeault Captain of the Cardinal’s Guards. Where are my nieces?”

“I am the Castellan of Château Villemorin. My Baron asks if you are ready to meet him in single combat.”

“If your Baron has finally gathered what little courage he has left after assaulting women and kidnapping children, then I will happily kill him.”

The Castellan again sounded his horn and rider bearing a lance and armored like a knight of old came forward. The visor of his helmet was raised so that Gaston could see the dark mustachioed face of Rémy le Dommarien Baron de Villemorin.

“My nieces?”

Villemorin raised his left arm and pointed with his spiked gauntleted towards the castle moat. “Your eldest niece is there, tied to a stake in my moat. It is only half-filled. She is wet and possibly uncomfortable but safe…for now.

“The younger girl is above.” He gestured with his spiked left hand to the tallest of the towers. At the top most level Gaston saw Little Marguerite tied to some kind of wooden framework that hung from the battlement of the highest floor of the donjon. Beside her he could also see an armed and armored guard.

What you do not know is that the water level in the moat is controlled with an irrigation lock that lets in water from the Petit Morin River. The lock is a good half mile from here, but it is within horn call and it possesses a fine view of the towers. So at my signal my men will open the lock and let the waters of the Petit Morin River flood the moat and drown the girl. The lock is guarded by a loyal lieutenant with half a dozen men-at-arms.[i] And as for your other niece? One pull of the lever on that framework and she will fall to the base of the donjon. That tower is over 70 feet high. The fall will, I expect, shatter every bone in her little body.

With effort Gaston resisted the urge to leap on the Baron and throttle the life from his throat.

The Baron announced that he and Gaston would duel on the lawn outside his château. “Unless you agree to my terms for the duel, I will have both the girls killed. If anyone interferes in the duel, one of the girls will be killed.

“Now monsieur le peasant, you may be wondering why you should accept. You know that I am a man of my word. In the highly unlikely event that you win, my men have orders to release both of the girls and to allow them to depart with you.

“If you are killed, then one of the girls will be still be allowed to go free. Am I not generous…peasant? Now which girl will you choose?”

“I will not choose. Both of my nieces will be freed after I kill you, you ignorant, arrogant pig!”

Before he slid down the muddy bank and into the moat, the Seigneur de Chambré carefully brushed and tied back his hair and removed his fancy shoes. The bottom was muddy and he could feel the muck coldly squishing between his toes. He wished he had kept his shoes. And hang the cost. The stagnant, icy water came up to his chest in places and the dry, dead husks of marsh reeds topped his head. Reasoning that the guards’ attention would be focused on Gaston’s approach to the main gate, he had entered the moat on the side of the castle farthest away from the gate and Gaston. As he sloshed closer he shivered with cold. Once he heard the sound of raised voices and galloping horses, he moved faster towards Jeannette. He used his sword to cut her bonds then helped the poor, half frozen girl to make her way to the gate. He could tell from her shivering that she was even colder than he was. He decided that he needed to get her out of the water immediately. Carefully he helped her climb out of the moat. Then they concealed themselves beneath the bridge to the castle to wait.

While everyone was focused on the coming confrontation between Gaston and the Baron in front of the château, Guy threw a rope and grapnel over the wall in the back of the castle and used it to climb over the wall. He was disguised himself as a castle guard. Once he was inside the château’s courtyard he approached a guard and said that the Baron had told him to fetch one the prisoners. He admitted to the guard that he didn’t know where the prisoners were and he was afraid to go back to the Baron and tell him he had failed. “I don’t want to run afoul of his temper.”

The guard sympathized and told him that they had taken one of the girls out front, but that the other was still held on the top floor of the donjon. Guy thanked him and made his way to the largest of the four corner towers. He told a version of the same story to each guard he encountered.

On the top floor he saw two guards and beyond them Little Marguerite tied to a wooden framework that hung from the battlement. He knew that from that position, she would be visible from the almost any place on the greensward lawn in front of the castle. He told the guard at the stair that he was to report downstairs. “Baron’s orders. He’s worried that the peasant may not be alone.”

On the top floor he saw two guards and beyond them Little Marguerite tied to a wooden framework that hung from the battlement. He knew that from that position, she would be visible from the almost any place on the greensward lawn in front of the castle. He told the guard at the stair that he was to report downstairs. “Baron’s orders. He’s worried that the peasant may not be alone.”

After the first guard went down the stairs, Guy stepped up to the next guard who was staring out the window. Briefly he considered shoving the guard out the window but he decided that might be too noisy. Instead he made casual conversation with the guard. He agreed that the donjon would provide a wonderful bird’s eye view of the combat on the lawn below and he said that he too wanted to see the combat, “Unfortunately the Baron sent me up here to bring the girl to him. Help me get her off of that contraption, will you?” The guard assisted Guy, but when Guy suggested that he should remain to take advantage of the view while Guy took the girl downstairs the guard became suspicious. In the end Guy drew his sword and dispatched the guard.

“You know Villemorin your little brother Paulin wasn’t nearly as smart as you. But he was considerably braver. Sure he needed a dozen hired swords to give him the courage to face one man, but once he had them he did face me man-to-man and sword-to-sword without any of these childish games of yours and without attacking any little girls.”

As he talked, Gaston tested several pikes before selecting one from the rack. Then he carefully tightened the straps on his buffcoat armor, checked the draw on his sword, and walked across the lawn in front of the château. He painstakingly examined the minute slope and tested the footing in several locations.

“Unlike poor little Paulin, you knew if you faced me directly you’d lose. What you didn’t consider was that you are still going to lose. And unlike Paulin’s death, yours won’t be quick and it will be painful.”

As time passed Baron Villemorin became more and more impatient. By the time Gaston finally selected a place to stand, the Baron was practically beside himself with frustration.

“Well don’t just sit there you arrogant, cowardly pig! Come and get me!

A single pike could be sidestepped, flanked, avoided. Gaston knew his best chance was for Villemorin to charge directly at him. Which was why his words and actions had been calculated to annoy the Baron. And it seemed to have worked. The Baron kicked his horse forward. As his mount moved from a walk to a trot he lowered his lance so that it pointed directly at Gaston, then kicked his horse into a charge.

As the Baron closed, Gaston stood in the traditional position for pike in defense against cavalry. Pike held in his left hand with the butt braced by his right foot, left leg bent and extended in front, and right hand on sword hilt ready to draw. But rather than using his pike to fend off or attack the Baron or his mount, Gaston used it to push his opponent’s lance out of alignment then, as the Baron rode past, in one motion he drew his rapier and slashed the horse along the rear leg. Although he had failed to hamstring the beast, the painful slash caused the animal to rear and the Baron to lose his seat. He landed on his feet and drew his broadsword.

Gaston dropped the pike and drew his main gauche as he closed on Villemorin. Both were master swordsman and the Baron moved his heavy blade as if it weighed little more than a feather. But Gaston was stronger, faster, and the better swordsman. The Baron’s armor deflected most of the force from most Gaston’s blows but he was still forced back towards his own gate and over time, the weight of his armor began to tell on the Baron. He panted and wheezed and his attacks and parries became sloppy. Sensing defeat was near, Villemorin rallied and attacked with the steel whirlwind that was his style’s final secret. 

Guy led Marguerite from the tower exit across the yard towards the open castle gate and freedom. But between them and freedom was a squad of château guards and the Castellan. Guy told Marguerite to stay behind him and to be very quite. Guy quietly covered the last few yards to the gate. The attention of the castellan and that of each of the guards was focused on their lord’s ‘duel’ with Gaston so they didn’t notice Guy as he stepped forward and waved towards the wood where Father Signoret was waiting.

From behind a tree, Signoret saw the guard wave. He trained Guy’s spyglass on the gate and carefully adjusted the focus. He couldn’t tell if the waving guard was his cousin Guy, but that certainly was one of the girls partially concealed behind him. The Jesuit reasoned that none of the castle guards could possibly have a reason to wave towards the woods where he was waiting. Therefore the guard must be Guy in disguise. He put the spyglass safely away, took the loose reins of Guy’s horse in one hand, and charged towards the gate.

While he had waited for Signoret to begin his run towards the château, Guy had noticed de Chambré and Jeannette below in the moat hiding in the shadow of the drawbridge. Three adults, two children, and only two horses. And at any moment even these blockheaded guards will notice cousin Signoret and cut us off from escape. I suppose it is up to me to save the day by doing something incredibly risky and possibly incredibly foolish. In a low voice, Guy said to Marguerite, “Now is the time for you to be brave. When I say ‘now’ you run across the bridge to the priest on the horse. Don’t say anything, just nod if you understand.” Marguerite nodded.

Guy yelled “Now!” Then stepped between the girl and the other guards as he said, “Behind you! Attackers coming over the wall. Come with me men!” He raced into the courtyard and without thinking the other guards followed him. He glanced back and saw Marguerite rung across the drawbridge and de Chambré and Jeannette scramble up the bank of the moat as Signoret galloped closer with a second horse behind him. As the guards looked around in confusion for the nonexistent attackers, Guy cut the rope dropping the portcullis then rolled underneath the falling barrier just before it closed which left the guards stranded inside the castle behind their own portcullis.

The castellan had not fallen for Guy’s trick, but his attention was drawn to the sight of his master who Gaston had forced backed nearly to the gate. While this occurred, Father Signoret reached the gate. He tossed the reins of the second horse to the mud covered de Chambré then pulled little Marguerite up in front of him. De Chambré lifted Jeannette up so she could mount the second horse.

As they rode away from the castle, the duel between Gaston and Villemorin had reached its conclusion as with a powerful twist of his main gauche the Baron’s broadsword spun behind Gaston in a glittering arc until it stuck point first in the ground. Villemorin stood on the edge of his own moat.

“I told you I was going to kill you,” Gaston said quietly. Then he stabbed Villemorin in the throat and kicked his body into the moat. For perhaps a minute Gaston stared down at the ripples on the muddy waters of the moat. Then he turned, wiped his blades on his trouser leg, and sheathed them.

He picked up the Baron’s discarded sword. Almost absently he noticed the watered silk pattern of the blade and the Villemorin coat of arms stamped near the hilt. He glared the castellan out of his way as he walked to the château gate. There he stuck the sword between the bars of the portcullis and leaned against it. The fine steel bent, but it didn’t break. He braced one foot against the side of the gate and exerted the full strength of shoulders, back, and legs. The blade bent nearly double then with a discordant clang it broke. He told the castellan, “Your Baron dishonored this blade by his actions. It doesn’t deserve to be used again.” He tossed both pieces into the moat where they sank beneath the muddy water.

Meanwhile Signoret rode towards the leafless trees on the hillock that concealed their other horses. He noticed that little Marguerite had tears running down her cheeks, but when he asked if she was alright all she said was “Faster! Faster!” So he urged his horse into a gallop. Behind them de Chambré proceeded at a more deliberate pace. He had placed Jeannette in front of him to protect her should any shots have been fired by the castle’s garrison. Despite the mud on his clothes, Jeannette found de Chambré very handsome and romantic. As she would later say, “he’s a wealthy noble and so handsome.” After this she called him, “my prince charming.” And beyond her adolescent crush, her practical side knew that if she could successfully land a rich noble she would indeed “live happily ever after.”

Chapter 4: Consequences and Challenges

When Gaston returned to Paris, Richelieu said to him, “Captain, while you have been gone, there have been rumors about some conflict between the Baron Villemorin and yourself.”

“The Baron Villemorin wrote some so-called poetry to which I took great exception. I forced him to eat his words, which appeared to disagree with him.”

 “Disagreed with him?”

“Fatally, Your Eminence.”

“I see.”

“Be careful Captain that you do not go too far.”

“As you say, Your Eminence.”

Publicly the Cardinal supported his Captain and was heard to say that he approved of “Captain Thibeault’s daring rescue of those two innocent young girls from the infamous and wicked Baron Villemorin.” He cited Biblical authority for the rescue, “Jesus himself said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Privately the Cardinal rewarded Gaston with several new suits that incorporated his Eminence’s incarnadine shade of red. 

After the events, Jean-Noel Suchet and his charge the young Vicomte d’Aboville visited Gaston at his office to express their happiness and gratitude at Gaston’s defeat and elimination of Baron Villemorin. They offered him their aid and alliance and invited him to come and visit them at their country home anytime at his convenience.[ii]

Father Signoret also saw his position improve. The Cardinal was pleased with his newest secretary and even the Jesuit Order seemed to look with favor on Father Signoret’s actions. There were no complaints regarding another confrontation with Villemorin nor about the priest’s martial behavior and the Provincial Father had several times been seen to smile benevolently at Signoret during dinners.[iii]

Neither Villemorin’s actions nor his death had any impact on the influence of the Prince de Condé, which had been growing ever since Father Signoret had attacked Villemorin at the theatre.

The story of the Baron’s kidnapping of Gaston’s nieces, the duel, the Baron’s death, and the nieces’ rescue became the talk of Paris raising Gaston’s fame.[iv] As a group, the noblesse d'épée remained loyal to their class even though Villemorin’s actions were an embarrassment to them. Despite that, they did not approve of Gaston who they saw as a jumped-up commoner, a symbol of the threat to their privilege and power. But some individual nobles were pleased, either because they had wanted to see Villemorin punished or because they were glad to have seen him eliminated. The educated office holders of the noblesse de robe, on the other hand, supported Gaston because he had embarrassed the sword nobles by beating one of them at their own game and because, in a very dramatic and martial fashion, Gaston’s success symbolized their own desire to rise in social status and to triumph over the old nobility. Meanwhile, the great mass of the common people cared little for any political ramifications, but they enjoyed the story, especially the fairytale aspect of the beautiful girls being rescued and the wicked Baron getting his comeuppance.

Gaston’s new fame did not just bring him accolades. Soon after his return to Paris he was challenged by Carlo Ferrara the familiar and bodyguard of the Roman Inquisitor Friar Fitellus di Canem. Ferrara resented his previous defeat on the steps of Notre Dame. His challenge was for a duel to the second blood. Gaston offered to duel in the Old Style in armor if that was Ferrara’s preference and it was. This second encounter was no more successful for Ferrara who Gaston left unconscious and bleeding on the dueling ground. Shortly after this, at the request of Archbishop de Gondi, Friar Fitellus was sent back to Rome in what amounted to disgrace.[v]

Back in Paris Guy and de Chambré returned to their usual routine of courtly activities. Rival courtiers challenged Guy and the Seigneur de Chambré to a Pall Mall match. Guy hoped that the event would give him the opportunity to issue a challenge to some of the Prince de Condé’s courtiers. Defeating Condé’s followers would allow him to score a minor strike against Condé. But before Guy could challenge Condé’s followers he first had to beat his nemesis the Chevalier de Branville and his hangers-on: Ballou, Vignon, de la Frassianne, de Villette, and Peyrafon. Guy succeeded and in this hewas assisted by his new acquaintance, the Seigneur de Chambré. The two succeeded in defeating Branville and his cronies then went on to humiliate some of Condé’s supporters.

[i] Unbeknownst to the PCs, Baron Villemorin had bought the Old Mill Inn after his brother’s death. He left it abandoned as a sort of memorial to Paulin.

[i] Father Signoret recognized the lieutenant as the winged lancer, his old nemesis, the leader of the Black Riders of Auxerre, the Black Angel. With him are half a dozen hired swords. They will be ordered to stay back if Signoret fights the Black Angel fairly, in a one-on-one duel. Signoret decided not to approach the lock.
[ii] Unknown to Gaston, the Vicomte has an eligible sister. Jean-Noel Suchet and his charge the Vicomte d’Aboville are they grateful? [A Sure Thing, (09), Exceptional Yes; Allied]; invited for a Visit to their country home. [Yes]; does the Vicomte have an eligible sister? [(22), Yes.]
[iii] In fact Signoret has a special favor to avoid censure by his superior for some future sword/dueling action. Is Signoret censured by the Provincial Father? [Unlikely (00), Exceptional No; acts as one get of jail free card for Jesuit censure] Richelieu is pleased as well.
[iv] Gaston’s gains a Fame Die for his duel with Villemorin.
• Do the Sword Nobles reject Villemorin and his actions [unfairness of terms, kidnapping kids; Very Likely, (95) No].
• Do the Robe Nobles support Gaston? [Likely, (48) Yes]
• Does the duel gain Gaston fame? [Near sure thing, (42) Yes]
• Does the Cardinal accept Gaston’s explanation of his actions? [Very Likely (07), Exceptional Yes; horse, armor, audience with king, fancy hat???]
[v] • Is Fitellus sent back to Rome in disgrace? [Likely, (36) YES.]
• Does the Archbishop Gondi convene an ecclesiastical court of inquiry Very Unlikely 93, Exceptional No. Gondi ends up hostile to Fitellus and the Order di Canem.
• Does his Guardian want revenge on Gaston? [Unlikely, (15), YES]
• Will he act to get it? [50/50, (02), Exceptional YES]
• Will he challenge Gaston to a duel? [50/50, (15), YES –in the Old Style in Armor at Gaston’s offering]
• What sort of duel? [roll 2d6 9-12: Death, 6-8: Incapacitation, 2-5: First Blood, (6) Incapacitation]

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