L'Honneur et les Intrigues

Adventure 17: Vera Miracula
May 1623

Chapter I: Brother Mellitus
Thursday, the day after the Vicomte’s Garden Party, finds Guy still sick, which leads Father Signoret to recall the story he heard over dinner at Vicomte Bouvard’s chateau about the “the Monk of Avignon” a Benedictine monk from a monastery near Avignon who has come to Paris. “The monk is said to be quite famous in Avignon for his miracles. Tis’ said he is able to heal the sick merely by the laying on of hands. The tales told sound truly miraculous.”

Father Signoret, Norbert, and Fabré seek out the Benedictine Monk both to see if he can provide healing to Guy and to see if they will able to witness a miracle. They go to the Hôpital de la Charité – a charity hospital for the poor founded by the Queen Mother, Marie de Medici in 1608 on land donated by the Abbaye de Saint Germain des Pres. The other monks at the hospital are suspicious, unhelpful, and even obstructionist, as is the monk’s superior, Prior Robert. While there, Father Signoret recognizes Hervé, a beggar with a badly infected leg, who the Father knows from his work at the soup kitchens.1 Hervé complains of his leg, which is inflamed with green pus, and asks the Father to help him see Brother Mellitus, the miracle monk. Unfortunately Brother Mellitus doesn’t seem to be around right now, but at least now they know the monk’s name.

Disappointed at not finding Brother Mellitus and frustrated with the attitude of the other monks, the PCs decide to go to see the Benedictine Abbot to ask for his help and intercession. The nearest abbey is the Abbaye de Saint Germain des Pres (Abbey of St. Germain of the Fields); it is the largest Benedictine abbey in the area. They speak to the Porter, Brother Michael, who is both suspicious and haughty. He condescends to inform them that the abbot is none other than Gaston Henri de Bourbon2, Marquis de Verneuil, Bishop of Metz, and the legitimized son of King Henry IV and the current King’s half-brother. Realizing that they don’t have the social clout to gain access to the King’s half-brother, they leave. Norbert mentions that he is hungry, so they pause for lunch at a nearby tavern before returning to the Charity Hospital.

Back at the Charity Hospital, Norbert lumbers into a rickety wooden cart laden with soup for the patients sending bowls flying and spilling soup everywhere, “Sorry. I’m so very sorry!” Norbert said. The noise of clattering bowls combined with the looming, apologizing giant terrifies Brother Peter, a clumsy, stuttering monk working at the Charity Hospital. Eventually Norbert calms Brother Peter enough so that he can wordlessly point out which ward room Brother Mellitus is in. Norbert generously hands Brother Peter a livre to pay for the spilled soup.

In the busy ward room, they find Brother Mellitus surrounded by a crowd of the lame, the maimed, the blind, the deaf, and the sick all crying out for the monk to heal them. Fabré, who prefers to not rub elbows with the oozing, hacking, multitude stays outside in the hall. Squeezing into the crowded room, Father Signoret spots Hervé. Norbert makes a path through the petitioners while Father Signoret moves Hervé to the front of the queue. Meanwhile Prior Robert is frightened by the giant Norbert and runs out of the room calling for help. A worried looking Brother Mellitus starts cleaning Hervé’s wound, but no sooner has he begun than Hervé starts crying out in pain and writhing in agony. Father Signoret holds Hervé down and tries to reassure him. Meanwhile another beggar with a gangrenous black nose accuses Brother Mellitus of intentionally hurting Hervé and of performing witchcraft to curse Hervé.

Ward Room

As the crowd fearfully begins to edge away from Brother Mellitus, Hervé, and Signoret, Prior Robert returns behind a wedge of burly Benedictine monks who force their way into the crowded room. Norbert moves to screen the others so that Brother Mellitus’ miracle has time to occur. Norbert decides that rather than trying to intimidate the Benedictines he will try to persuade them that the group means no harm. Unexpectedly, despite his unsettling appearance, Norbert convinces the Benedictines that they mean no harm. The Benedictines are now less suspicious of the Jesuit and these monks will no longer hold Norbert’s size and appearance against him3. Prior Robert orders the monks to grab Black Nose who continues to shout accusations while Hervé continues to struggle and scream in agony – even when he is not being touched.

As he is grabbed, Black Nose suddenly slams his staff on the foot of the monk holding him, so he can escape, but two other monks quickly reach for him. Dropping his staff, he draws a concealed dagger slashing at the monks to drive them back and runs out of the room. Father Signoret, lets Hervé go so that he can draw sword or give chase just as Norbert, who has decided that Black Nose is himself some sort of sorcerer, breaks the beggar’s staff in hopes that this will break the curse he must have put on Hervé to prevent the miraculous cure from taking effect. The crack as the staff shatters sounds like a gunshot. And like a shot, Hervé leaps to his feet; his wound appears to have instantly healed as he races out of the room. Father Signoret briefly gives chase but once Hervé is out of sight, he gives up and returns the ward room.

Inside the ward the crowd praises the monk for the dramatic and miraculous healing and Prior Robert declares that this is another miracle. Father Signoret goes to his knees entreating to be allowed to assist and observe Brother Mellitus in his good works. Mellitus looks more worried at this, but any reservations he may have are overwhelmed by Prior Robert’s approval of the Jesuit’s plans.

Chapter II: A Good Meal Delayed
The next day, Father Signoret and Norbert begin their duties at the Charity Hospital. The Father assists and observes Brother Mellitus, while Norbert guards the monk and helps manage the crowds pleading for healing. In the afternoon they take a break from their duties to go to La Tête Noire, a nearby tavern, for a meal. There they observe three gentlemen in the Black Tabards of the Fratellenza di Giganti, rivals to the school where Signoret is learning the French style. The Blacks are harassing another gentleman who is there alone. In fact, one of them spits in the stranger’s wine. In return the man throws his wine in his tormenter’s face. Signoret realizes the lone man looks familiar and he and Norbert approach to try to offer assistance. As they approach Signoret recognizes the man as Romain Lalande, a fellow student whom he defeated in the tournament to qualify for the Vicomte’s fencing exhibition. When the wine-drenched Black demands a duel, Signoret offers to step in as Romain’s second. However Norbert is offended that the goons started the altercation by spitting in the man’s wine. He grabs a tablecloth from a nearby table and starts to aggressively “mop up” the wine on the beards and clothes of two of the gentlemen. This angers them and they decide they will teach him a lesson, but only after they have dealt “honorably” with the duel. Norbert then throws the tablecloth over their heads. They are entangled, but their unentangled partner prepares to draw his sword.

Norbert keeps two of the di Giganti’s trapped inside the tablecloth while Romain Lalande and Father Signoret quickly draw their blades. Romain fails to intimidate the Black Tabarded student, a duelist named Valentin Dautin. Recalling that there is a field with some trees on the other side of the fence by the Charity Hospital, Father Signoret suggests they all go elsewhere to resolve their differences like gentlemen. Valentin agrees providing that he duels Romain first, with his friend and fellow student to follow. Signoret may either observe as second or duel the Giganti second.

The group adjourns to the field at the outskirts of the Fauburg St. Germain4 for their duels. In the first duel, Valentin seriously wounds Romain who is unable to continue for the second duel. Signoret, as his second, volunteers to fight the second Black, Tabard in Romain’s place. Signoret first nicks his opponent, then feints his blade out of position delivering the coup d’état which is rendered fatal by the Giganti’s failed attempt to counter with a stop-thrust. The dying man’s friends and Norbert are unsuccessful at stopping the bleeding; there is only time for Father Signoret to give his opponent the last rites before he expires.

Norbert, Signoret, and Romain then return to La Tête Noire where Romain uses the last of his month’s allowance from his family to treat his new friends to a celebration feast. After a few bottles of wine, Norbert treats the tavern to a round of that excellent beverage (3L) and chats with Adrian the Amazing, a wandering minstrel and fellow performer. Adrian tells them of his journey to the Holy Land, of the cruelty of the Turk, and of his own gift from God – the music that he shares with his fellow man. Norbert tips Adrian with a few sous. Amply fed and well-fortified with fine wine, the trio return to their respective abodes for a good night’s sleep.

Chapter III: Why are we thus divided?
During his sudden departure from the very pleasant company of Madame Marie-Petronelle de Rolampont, and in reply to her somewhat plaintive inquiry: “When will I see you again?” Gaston had cavalierly replied that he would write to her. So suiting action to words he has spent two days writing a sonnet for his new lady love. But for the sonnet to reach the object of his desire, he must know where Madame de Rolampont resides. To learn about nobles, ask a noble, thinks Gaston. So, sonnet in hand he sets out in search of information, by paying a visit to his noble friend, the convalescing Guy de Bourges.

However, before answering Gaston’s question about manor house locations, Guy insists on regaling Gaston with the latest edition of his Gazette. Along with the obligatory court news, there is a note about events from the provinces, specifically from Lyonnais. The case of the Masked Noble, Rolf d’Ehlerange, has been referred to the Parlement of Paris5 for a determination of the status of his claim to the title of Comte d’Ehlerange. Rolf is still imprisoned in Lyon, but his brother Richard is said to be traveling to Paris to testify in the case. In other news from Lyon, the cases of Grimoart Villelmeti and his accomplices will be handled directly by the courts in Lyonnais. Charles de Neufville, the governor of Lyonnais, has taken the unusual step of choosing to himself act as magistrate for the cases and in still other news, the nameless accomplice known only as “the Black Angel” is still thought to be at large. Finally, with his recitation of his Gazette complete, Guy at last consents to tell Gaston that Rolampont Manor is located outside of Paris and is in fact in close proximity to the Chateau de Bouvard.

Thus on Saturday, Gaston travels to the neighborhood then lurks about Rolampont Manor to watch for a servant who can act as his agent and deliver his message. Well concealed, but so far unable to spot a likely messenger, Gaston eventually notices maid with a basket of laundry to hang out to dry…women’s laundry. The maid spots Gaston and asks what he is doing there. Gaston says that he has a message for Madame de Rolampont and asks the maid, who happens to be the lady’s maid for Madame de Rolampont, to deliver the message. At first the maid refuses, but when Gaston offers her 10L, 3 now and 7 later, the maid consents to deliver the note, which consists of both the love sonnet and a request for a rendezvous – a suggestion that Madame should hang a scarf or kerchief outside a window to indicate where Gaston may enter later this evening. After a time, Gaston sees a ladies hand attach a white handkerchief to the latch of a second floor window.

Later that evening, Gaston daringly ascends to the window where he had earlier spotted the white kerchief. Marie tells Gaston that her husband is not at home. Gaston begins by reciting his poem to her.

“Why are we thus divided having kissed?”
Why are we yet two bodies and not one?
Why have our separate spirits leave to run
Two sundered paths of thought? what laws resist
The perfect bond whereof we dimly wist?
Love, incomplete, seems ever but begun,
And yearns to consummation never won,
His purpose always nearly gained,—and missed.
As mournful waves with desolate delight
That moaning kiss the same sands night by night
In changeless hunger, and are not appeased:
So I, who famish at possession’s goal,
Must kiss and kiss, yet kisses ne’er console
Love’s over-burdened heart that is not eased.6

Marie enjoys the poem, rewarding the poet with unmistakable signs of affection. Not content with one evening, Gaston seeks to plan ways and times for further meetings. But Marie is flirtatious and does not directly answer Gaston’s questions. Marie is entranced by the soldier with the heart of a poet but she still sees him as a most convenient means of exiting what has for her become an inconvenient marriage. In turn, Gaston finds her beauty even more intoxicating a second time, but although his time with Marie is sweet, he remains aware of the fact that as he is in another man’s house, with another man’s wife danger is also present. Eventually caution prevails and Gaston departs, claiming military necessity due to responsibilities with his Regiment. But the lovers agree to meet again later.

Mindful of potential danger, Gaston departs by way of the manor garden and neighboring woods, rather than by the front gate. Whether due to his timing, his stealth, or the kind hand of fate, his exit is uneventful.

Chapter IV: Double Ambush
Saturday and Sunday Father Signoret and Norbert continue to help Brother Mellitus. They witness additional attempts by the fake sick to discredit Brother Mellitus’ healing miracles. However, on Sunday they witness what may be the second miracle, a blind man whose sight is returned. Of course the first miracle was the healing of Hervé the lame beggar. The crowds are even larger today and the Benedictine monks ask Norbert to help them carry the very full and heavy alms box so that it can be emptied and reused. Afterwards, Norbert talks with Mellitus and learns of his doubts and concerns. The monk dislikes Paris and seeing and threating the number of people here in the city who desire his healing is both physically and emotionally exhausting. He longs to leave the city to return to the relative peace of his home abbey, the Abbaye de Saint-André-lès-Avignon (the Abbey of St. Andrew in Avignon). Norbert is concerned for the Monk. Meanwhile, Prior Robert speaks candidly to Father Signoret about his desire to send word of the miracles to Rome and he enlists the Jesuit’s help in documenting the miracles. Father Signoret agrees to help and reassures Prior Robert that his interest in Brother Mellitus is real and his purpose is genuine and not just some ploy of his order.

On Monday, Gaston accompanies Norbert to the Brothers de Vitoria Bank to see Monsieur Moulin, the bank manager who they met and helped at the Vicomte de Bouvard’s party. At the bank, they are looked at askance by Moulin’s secretary, but despite the fact that they do not have an appointment, he consents to take their request in to the manager. The secretary returns with a note. He asks them in a patronizing tone of voice, “Can you read?”

Norbert assures the secretary that yes, he does know his letters and Gaston drily and succinctly replies that he himself can read, “A bit.” The note asks them to meet Moulin in an hour at the Inn of the Bear and the Lion. Which Norbert recalls is on the same street as the bank itself.

Moulin is late by a quarter of an hour. He apologizes, saying that he “was unavoidably detained by a business matter.” He agrees that their service would be of interest to the bank and he offers a retainer plus the occasional bonus. The terms seem quite generous to Norbert and he is a bit perplexed as to why Gaston insists on spending so much time haggling with Moulin over the details, especially since the banker does not offer to buy them drinks or a meal during the protracted discussion. Eventually they agree on a retainer of 10L per person per month.

“For which you are to accompany the bank’s employees and assist them in the performance of their duties and to perform such other tasks as may be assigned to you. Certain collection assignments that are large in amount or that are deemed more difficult or otherwise special shall provide the opportunity for additional compensation. Such additional compensation is usually in the form of a bonus of from 1L to 10L or on occasion as a percentage of up to 10% of the amount recovered.”

Norbert observes that Moulin’s conversation seems oddly formal and he thinks that listening to him would be much less dull had the banker thought to fortify his audience ahead of time with a few rounds of drinks.

The cousins begin by assisting Benedict LeVan, one of Moulin’s senior clerks, in his collection duties. This initial task is assuring the repayment of a small loan made to a printer in the Latin Quarter to purchase fine paper for a special print job. The job goes quite easily – the printer quickly making a loan payment in cash. Since that was their only task for the Bank and since the Latin Quarter is not far from the Charity Hospital, Norbert takes Gaston there to meet with Father Signoret. Perhaps, he thinks, we can all stop at La Tête Noire Tavern for an early dinner.

Inside the hospital ward room there is the usual crowd of the sick and injured some reposing in the tall, curtained four-poster sick beds that line the sides of the ward room while still others stand or sit on the floor. But not all those waiting are truly sick or injured. Just as the cousins arrive a dozen or so of those in the ward room draw daggers from beneath their clothes and rush towards Brother Mellitus. Signoret draws his sword and he and Norbert move to protect the monk while Gaston tips one of the four poster beds with curtains onto a group of would-be murderers, pinning them beneath. But just as the friends drive off this group of beggarly assassins, they see another gang rushing into the ward room. Driving them off as well, they capture the leader of the first gang, who has been throttled unconscious by Norbert, and joined by Prior Robert the group proceeds to the exit to return to the safety of the Abbey of St. Germain of the Fields. But at the exit, they see a large gang of dagger armed beggars and an even larger mob of angry commoners with tools and farm implements. A beggar leader is exhorting the crowd to “kill the cursed monk!” They also spot a group of twelve or fifteen noblemen, gentlemen, and their lackeys led by the Sieur de Rolampont who are watching the exit. They decide a strategic withdrawal is in order, so they bar the entrance, run to the opposite side of the hospital, and quickly exit via a window.

But once outside they are confronted by a group of a dozen gentlemen and lackeys led by Stenay, who recognizes Father Signoret. Stenay, intent on obtaining vengeance for the Priest’s public insults at the Vicomte’s garden party, draws his sword and heads directly for the Jesuit. Norbert feels torn. He doesn’t want to abandon his friend, but he believes that Brother Mellitus is still in danger and that both the monk and Prior Robert need to be escorted to safety. Gaston tells Norbert, “I’ll stay with the Priest.” So the cousins separate.

Norbert, still carrying the captured beggar chief over one shoulder, escorts Brother Mellitus and Prior Robert towards the Abbey St. Germain des Pres, but at the end of the street another mob is waiting for them. Norbert drops his prisoner and breaks down a gate both to provide an exit from the walled street and to use a plank as an improvised club. He fends off the gang with the plank but his prisoner has been shamming and the beggar chief draws a concealed dagger and attacks slashing Prior Robert’s arm. Norbert quickly clubs him down, but in turn he is set upon by the small mob which is led by Black Nose the Beggar. Despite being wacked with hoes and rakes, Norbert drives off the mob, but Black Nose manages to escape.

Norbert and the two monks cross the yard and exit to an opposite street. With the Abbey now plainly in sight, they rush forward, but are chased by yet another gang of beggars – these mobs seem to be everywhere, thinks Norbert. He interposes himself between the mob and the monks. The mob hesitates, afraid to step inside the reach of the giant, but Prior Robert is hit in the neck by a knife thrown by a beggar. The Prior collapses and Norbert suddenly cries out “Brother Mellitus is dead! Oh no, they have killed Brother Mellitus!” tricking the gang into thinking that the fallen monk is actually Brother Mellitus and that he has been killed. Norbert then picks up Prior Robert and carries him to the Abbey. Brother Mellitus is distraught over the injury to his fellow Benedictine and, once they enter the Abbey forecourt, he immediately stops and prays to God to save Prior Robert. It seems that God has heard him as Prior Robert suddenly wakes up and asks “What happened?” Though the neck of the Prior’s robe is soaked with blood, the only wound they can find on his body is the slash on his arm. Is this healing a true miracle?

Outside the hospital, Gaston holds the five gentleman and their lackeys at bay, while Signoret and Stenay duel. The Priest deals out a pair of deadly thrusts that drop Stenay, but in the distance a larger group is racing to join Stenay’s men. Rolampont and his friends have circled the Hospital, jumped the fence, and are on their way. Signoret and Gaston decide to head for the Abbey, but before they can begin, Signoret is narrowly missed by musket fire. Gaston spots the shooter on the roof of the hospital and he and Signoret race for the cover of a walled street as the shooter continues to fire. The sniper must be some sort of marksmen as his shots strike with surprising speed and accuracy. But fortune or God seems to be on the Jesuit’s side as one shot after another barely misses him and eventually he and Gaston are able to duck down a side street with a stone wall that screens them from the sniper’s view.

By now Signoret and Gaston are truly separated from the others. They continue on towards the Chapel of Sainte-Pierre7 where they spot several gangs ahead of them and a large mob behind them coming up the Rue St. Peres from the Charity Hospital. The gangs give way before them, but the large mob gives chase. Just before the chapel Gaston stumbles in a pothole spraining his ankle8 . Gruffly he tells Signoret, “I can’t keep up. You go on without me,” but Signoret, brave as ever, refuses. Instead they duck into a nearby house barring the door behind them. Soon fists pound against the door and they hear the shouts of the angry mob outside.

Chapter V: Escape
Gaston and Signoret exit the rear of the house and cut across the backyard towards the wooden fence. With some difficulty, they scale the fence, but only after re-sheathing their swords. Once on the other side, they are surprised to see a score or so new opponents. Rolampont and Trevaux, accompanied by ten rural gentlemen from their neighborhood along with seven lackeys have followed Gaston and Signoret from the Charity Hospital. Deciding to avoid the mob in front of the house, they proceed through the garden gate into the yard behind La Tête Noire Tavern. There they catch Gaston and the Priest escaping out the back. As the presence of the rural gentlemen is a complete surprise to Gaston and Signoret, the gentlemen have ample time to draw their swords before combat starts.

Rolampont engages Gaston while Trevaux is happy to have the advantage over Signoret. But his advantage is short lived as the Priest deftly sidesteps Trevaux’s attack then delivers a riposte followed by a second strike. Trevaux falls, bleeding out his lifeblood. Signoret then turns on the gentlemen supporters, defeating one after another until six of them have fled or fallen.9

Gaston, meanwhile, has singularly bad luck10. Although Rolampont’s thrust misses, one of the rural gentlemen backing him catches Gaston’s sword, breaking it and when Gaston tries to attack him in turn, he slips in the mud and his bad ankle gives way. He falls face-first into the mud, dropping his vizcaina. Rolampont’s supporters take advantage of Gaston’s fall to stab at him and he is lucky to only sustain a glancing blow from one of their blades. But Fortune’s wheel turns as Gaston trips Rolampont, tipping him into the mud as well. Gaston quickly drops his broken blade to grapple with Rolampont so as to use the noble as a shield against the rural gentlemen. Limited by the grapple, Rolampont drops his sword and draws a knife to stab at Gaston who twists the knife away, then stands and moves to put his back to the fence dragging Rolampont with him to use as a shield.

Rolampont orders his remaining four neighbors to “Kill the damned Priest!” While the Priest makes quick work of the four unskilled rural gentlemen, Gaston then uses his forearm to throttle Rolampont.

Calling, “Catch!” Signoret tosses Gaston the rapier from one of the defeated gentlemen. Gaston catches the blade and uses it to hilt punch Rolampont, dropping him face first into the mud11. The lackeys decide that they can best render service not by entering the fray to face the deadly Jesuit, but by aiding their fallen masters.

The battle seemingly over, Gaston takes Rolampont’s sword and recovers his vizcaina. Signoret points out that that the back door of La Tête Noire is just across the muddy yard and the two friends head enter the tavern. Signoret wants to proceed directly to the Abbey, but Gaston stops, saying “I need wine to wash this mud from my throat.” Slapping the counter loudly with his palm, he calls “Wine! Now!” After one look at the soldier’s scowl, the innkeeper quickly brings a bottle and two glasses. Gaston grabs the bottle from the innkeeper’s hand, fills a glass for the Father, and then takes a long pull from the bottle. “Alright, let’s go.” Refreshed, they head for the Abbe – Gaston limping slowly with Rolampont’s sword in one hand and in the other, a rapidly emptying wine bottle which he periodically tips to his lips. As they walk, Gaston complements Signoret: “That was some nice sword work back there Priest.”

Once the friends have all reunited at the Abbey, they catch up on their separate adventures and Father Signoret learns of what may be another miracle – the healing of Prior Robert. Although the Prior has no recollection of a second wound or of his fall, Norbert and Brother Mellitus can both testify to it. The Father carefully records their testimony.

However, even while within the Abbey walls, the friends are still concerned for the safety of Brother Mellitus. So Father Signoret and Prior Robert go to petition help from the Abbey Prior or, if need be, from the Abbot himself. They bring with them, the evidence of the latest healing: Prior Robert’s bloody robe, the thrown knife resting on a satin pillow that Father Signoret has obtained from somewhere, and the signed testimonies of the witnesses. The Abbot is not present, being away at the Louvre, but Prior Thomas, the second in charge of the Abbey, consents to see them. The Prior is attended by two assistants: Brother Michael, the Porter, who is already known to them and a cowled monk, Brother Christian by name, who seems to be some sort of assistant or advisor to the Prior.

They inform Prior Thomas of the apparently miraculous healing of Prior Robert. Then, after ascertaining that he is already aware of the activities of the beggars and the mob, Father Signoret, with the support of Prior Robert, petition Prior Thomas to help ensure the safety of Brother Mellitus by limiting access to him for healing. Prior Thomas agrees to their request.

The next day, the three friends separate to perform their respective tasks or duties: Norbert to assist Monsieur LeVan, Father Signoret to try to find out why the beggars are trying to kill Brother Mellitus and Gaston on assignment with his regiment. Norbert accompanies LeVan to the townhouse of Baron Gustave de Biganon to demand payment on a long overdue loan. The pair is shown into Biganon’s hall by four burly footmen who remain to watch them. The hall is large, but somewhat bare; there is a long dining table down the middle, but the only decorations are a large, medieval tapestry and a number of dusty shields, polearms, and axes hanging from the bare stone walls. The Baron, when he appears, is wearing a broadsword at his side. LeVan makes his demand for repayment to which the Baron replies that he doesn’t have the funds now, that he’ll pay them some other time, and then he curtly instructs his footman to “throw them out!”

Although Norbert is unarmed, having left his spiked club in the shrubbery outside of the townhouse, he is not at all intimidated by the four footmen. As they approach he grabs the first two footmen, knocks their heads together, then drops their unconscious bodies. The other two footmen move to opposite walls to arm themselves with one displayed polearms. Then they close on Norbert. He grabs up a heavy dining chair using it as an improvised club to strike down the footmen. The Baron draws his broadsword and enters the fray. Norbert uses the chair to knock away the Baron’s sword, but the Baron quickly snatches a two handed axe from the wall. But again the chair strikes, knocking aside the axe. Norbert then grapples the Baron holding him for ransom. As a ransom for the Baron, he takes a large tapestry from the Baron’s Hall in lieu of a cash loan payment.

Father Signoret contacts another beggar that he knows12 and learns that the some of the ‘nobles’ in the Court of Miracles led by one of the higher ranking beggars known as Black Nose want to eliminate the Miracle Monk since his presence is causing a drop in revenues for the beggars in general and for the Court of Miracles in particular. At Black Nose’s instigation the Court has decided that any miraculous healings by Brother Mellitus infringe on the activities of the Court – specifically the miraculous ‘healings’ performed nightly at the Court of Miracles. Therefore the Court has issued a death sentence on the Benedictine Monk. The noble Priest and Jesuit struggles to understand the beggars’ logic, but when told of the situation, the more down to earth Norbert quickly understands the selfish motives of the beggars and their court.

Gaston’s duties for the day are of a routine nature allowing him time to consider that his duel with Termopillae the Musketeer still remains outstanding. Since it would be awkward for Guy to act as his second in a duel with a Musketeer when Guy’s close cousin Lucien is also a Musketeer and since it would be doubly awkward for Lucien himself to act as a second, it appears that once again, at the first opportunity, Gaston will have to request a favor of Father Signoret to act as his second. That shouldn’t be difficult, he thinks. The Jesuit is ever eager for a duel. He should have been a Musketeer instead of a Priest. No, the Priest won’t be a problem. But Termopillae may. But this time we’ll be ready for his tricks.

Afterward Gaston’s soldierly duties are done he accompanies Father Signoret to speak with Captain Blondel, an untitled noble and the commander of the Abbot-Bishop’s Guard of about two dozen men. The pair requests that the Captain tightens the security at the Abbey and that his men be particularly watchful of beggar assassins who may target Brother Mellitus or even Prior Thomas or the Abbot-Bishop of Saint-Germain-des-Prés himself. Signoret and Gaston are each persuasive in their respective ways and Captain Blondel is willing to listen to the warnings from Signoret and the advice from Gaston. Blondel quickly becomes very worried about the possibility of a threat to his master; he immediately dispatches half the guards to go to the Louvre to protect his master the Marquis de Verneuil, Bishop of Metz, and Abbot of St. Germain des Pres.

Chapter VI: A Long Awaited Duel
“Lament for the Loan of a Blade”13 by Gaston Thibeault

A King’s Musketeer named Lord Buzzing Fly,
Couldn’t come to a duel lest he might die.
No appointment was made
Since he’d lent out his blade
And none other’d suit his discerning eye.

Gaston asks Father Signoret to be his second and to arrange a time and place for his long awaited duel with Léonide de Termopillae, a King’s Musketeer. Termopillae, along with two other Musketeers, challenged Gaston back in February over the outcome of the attack on the Vallteline treaty envoys on the Ponte Neuf, but when Termopillae’s sword was broken after being loaned to one of his fellow duelists, his encounter with Gaston had to be postponed. Since then Termopillae has made no effort to reschedule so Gaston has decided to force the issue using the public pressure of sarcastic verse combined with sending his own second to Termopillae. At Signoret’s suggestion, Gaston writes a note to be delivered to Termopillae.

Dear Monsieur Termopillae,

I trust that this message finds you free and in good health. I couldn’t help but notice at the Vicomte de Bouvard’s Garden Party on Wednesday last, that you, at long last, had managed to find a blade that met your, no doubt exacting and meticulous standards. That being the case, I can only assume that the failure of your second to call on me during that occasion must have been due either to an excess of politeness towards our host – an excess of politeness that later events showed was not shared by all your fellow guests – or that you found yourself unexpectedly lacking in friends willing to support your cause. Now that we are both back in Paris, surely neither concern can pertain. Eager as I am to begin the debate that you requested some months ago, I have taken the liberty of asking my good friend, Father Signoret, to call on you to deliver this note and to inquire if you might, perchance, have a friend sufficiently acquainted with both your schedule and your desire such that a time may be arranged to begin our long awaited debate. I trust I am not too forward in saying that I long to have the opportunity to personally deliver to you the main thrust of my argument.

Yours most respectfully,

Gaston Thibeault
Lieutenant, Régiment de Picardie

The priest takes the note to the Hotel de Treville, mansion of the Captain-Lieutenant of the Musketeers. It seems the best place to look for the elusive Musketeer. The courtyard, halls, and stairs are filled with rowdy, brawling, jocular musketeers who find the presence of a priest a source of puzzlement. Raymonde de Trebouchard spots Signoret and leads him through the crowd to Termopillae, who is playing cards in a parlor.

The Father introduces himself as the second for Gaston Thibeault and hands the Musketeer the note. Termopillae comments disparagingly, “Ah the peasant!” He laughs and several of his companions snicker as well.

Signoret clarifies that “Monsieur Thibeault is a Lieutenant in his Majesty’s Regiment de Picardie.”

“Well it seems he feels the need of heavy prayer before his duel so he uses a priest for his second,” which provokes more laughter. Termopillae picks up the note and Signoret waits while he reads, then asks him for the name of his second. As Termopillae hesitates, Cadelhac14, one of the other card players, volunteers to act as his second, but Termopillae demurs and suggests he has in mind another to act as his second, but that he will need to confirm this man’s availability and asks where his second may contact the Jesuit. Signoret is skeptical, thinking this may be just another one of Termopillae’s delaying tactics, but he provides his address at the Professed House.

As he leads Signoret back out, Trebouchard mentions his brother Grymonde is also here in Paris and that he is studying in the Latin Quarter at the University.

“He’s at one of the colleges here…the name? Ah…yes, it starts with a ‘C’ I think. Surely you know the one I mean. Cholets?…Noooo, I don’t think it is Cholets…but though of course it might be. I think it is that other one, damn me if I can recall the name right now. Well in any event he is staying near here since he is studying with the Benedictines. They have him staying in the most ridiculously small, bare room almost like he was a monk. Well it is an abbey after all, so I suppose they do have monks there, don’t they? Which abbey? Well being as you’re a priest and all, I thought you might know. It’s the big one, not far from here.

“Do you mean St. Germain of the Fields?” Signoret asks.

“Ah, yes. That’s the very one. Been there have you?”

Signoret allows that he has been there and mentions they have a monk there who is a remarkable healer. Having reached the gate of the hotel, Signoret bids Trebouchard adieu and walks to the Abbey St. Germain where he learns of another possible miracle, a butcher with a gangrenous infection of the left hand that was immediately healed. The butcher cut himself badly while carving meat. Signoret records the details including the location of the butcher’s shop. The priest remains to help Brother Mellitus.

Norbert helps LeVan the clerk with another job. This one is an aggressive meeting with a brewer to demand repayment on his overdue loan…or else. With a looming giant in the forefront, the meaning of ‘or else’ seems as if it would be clear, but it still takes a while before the burly brewer’s assistants understand the message. Afterwards, Norbert tells one of the assistants that “there is a monk at the Abbey St. Germain who may be able to heal that broken arm of yours. But unless you stop cursing and start praying, I don’t know that God will favor you with a miraculous healing. I don’t think He likes bad language.”

On his return to the Professed House of the Jesuits, Father Signoret is told that someone called for him earlier and is waiting outside. He has his caller shown into the parlor. The two introduce themselves. The caller is Pietro Morosini, a sword master of the Fratellenza di Giganti and the chosen second of Monsieur de Termopillae. Morosini is dark skinned, with dark shoulder length hair and dark eyes. His cloths are rather plain, but his sword and dagger seem well cared for and he moves with a cat-like grace. He speaks French awkwardly and with a strong Italian accent. Morosini proposes that the duel occur at the closer of the two windmills between the Fauxbourg St. Marcel and the Fauxbourg St. Jacques. The two agree to a duel tomorrow at the windmill, just before sunset.

After mass the next morning, Romain Lalande waits for Father Signoret and asks him to help him set up a melée against the cursed upstart Black Tabarded students of the Fratellenza di Giganti. “We need to teach them a lesson.”

Signoret suggests that they should fight a same size group of the di Giganti. Romain hadn’t considered arranging a fair encounter, but he likes the idea since it reminds him of the chansons and other tales of knightly derring–do. Signoret volunteers both himself and Gaston and agrees to speak to his cousin Guy. Romain volunteers himself and the Polish nobleman, Jan Jelita Zamoyski, so they need only recruit five or six others and to challenge a like number of the di Giganti. Romain suggests a meeting later to plan out their campaign in detail, but Signoret says “I have an appointment around sunset, so it must be later in the evening.” The two conspirators agree to bring their recruits and to meet late the next night in the Latin Quarter at the Huttchette d’Or (the Golden Hunting Horn).

Norbert has a normal day helping the bank clerk. He also witnesses another miracle – a lame man who walks. This miracle occurs before Father Signoret arrives and while Prior Robert is praying, thus it is poorly documented. In turn, Norbert hears about the upcoming duel at the windmill from Father Signoret. These duels sometimes turn out to be ambushes. I think I had better be there to help my cousin in case this one is an ambush, thinks Norbert. He asks the Father which windmill, Signoret tells him, but admits that Morosini’s directions weren’t clear as to which windmill. Though the Jesuit reasons that, “No doubt, the windmills are close enough together that we will see the others if we are at the wrong one.”

Norbert leaves the Abbey early and secretly goes to the windmill ahead of time. Once there he enters the windmill and realizes that although the windmill is running, no one is in attendance. Given a free hand, Norbert hides upstairs and watches events from a window.

Gaston and Father Signoret walk past the University of Paris, exit the Porte St. Jacques, and travel through the Fauxbourg St. Jacques taking a farm road on the left to the first windmill they come to. They soon see a coach which turns out to contain both Termopillae and Morosini. Morosini and the driver help Termopillae down from the coach. He cannot walk without aid and his leg is in a cast.

“It’s most unfortunate; you see I went riding this morning to the promenade Le Pallmail to play a round of Pallmail. And although I won the game rather handily, on my return, my horse was stung by a gadfly and threw me. The surgeon says the leg is broken and it will take at least three months to heal. I am so sorry to trouble you and I fully understand I am perfectly willing to wait until I am able to ‘debate’ you personally. On the other hand, if you are in a hurry to put forth your arguments, I have spoken to Maestro Morosini and he is quite willing to debate with you…as my second of course,” and Termopillae smiles coyly at Gaston.

Gaston agrees to duel Morosini, but he tells Termopillae, “I’m certain we will meet some other time, Monsieur,” and Gaston in turn smiles at Termopillae, but his smile is the grin of a hungry wolf with nothing at all coy about it.

As the combatants remove cloak and tabard, Morosini says with a heavy accent, “Eh, so you are the one-a who killed Cassanha? While-a he claim-ed to be a maestro you will find soon the real maestro, he is a me.” The duel begins, The Italian with his back to the coach on the north, Gaston with the windmill behind him to the south. Morosini begins with a strong attack forcing Gaston back and beating his blade aside. But Gaston counters using his greater strength first to force Morosini’s blade to the side and then to twist the rapier from his grasp with Gaston’s vizcaina.

“Capo Ferro says that a strong grip is the key to the Italian style. It seems that you are not yet un vero maestro, Signore.” With two blades against Morosini’s one, Gaston presses his advantage using his rapier to knock away Morosini’s main gauche leaving him totally disarmed. Morosini scrambles backward and hastily recovers his rapier. Without a second blade, he is forced to switch to the Spanish style.

Gaston pursues; but rearmed, Morosini counters with a precise and deadly thrust which Gaston only partially deflects, taking a wound to his left thigh. Morosini, triumphantly says, “Ha! First blood is mine!”

Gaston only grins wolfishly in response, stalking forward and redoubling his attack to delivering a dominating series of blows, finally connecting with a painful thrust right out of Capo Ferro and only Morosini’s desperate twist of his torso causes the blade to transfix shoulder instead of heart. But his salvation is only temporary as Gaston immediately follows with a deadly vizcaina slash to the throat. Morosini falls. “Last blood is mine, Signore,” says Gaston quietly.

With the duel ended and his duty as a second complete, Father Signoret rushes forward to administer the last rights to the dying duelist. But he has no sooner begun than a shout of alarm is heard. “My friends beware! They are behind you!

Norbert watches from the windmill’s upper floor window and quietly talks to himself as his cousin duels the Giganti sword master. “He is quick that one. But my cousin will be quicker….Dear Lord, please let my cousin Gaston be quicker. Amen.” As the duel continues, all Norbert’s attention is focused on his cousin. The duel ends so suddenly that Norbert is surprised to see the Giganti master fall. “Oh, well done cousin.”

Seeing Father Signoret praying over the body of Morosini, Norbert at last feels free to look around him. He spots a group of eight swordsmen in black tabards hiding in a deep cutting of the farm road south of the windmill. As they draw their swords and rush towards the windmill, Norbert calls a warning to Gaston and Signoret.
Warned by Norbert, Father Signoret continues with the last rites for Morosini while smoothly switching to the shorter version of the rite, meanwhile Gaston calmly steps between the priest and the onrushing Black Tabards. Behind them, they hear the coach driver’s whip crack and Termopillae say gloatingly, “May your enjoyment of your victory be short lived, peasant!”

Realizing that his friends are outnumbered four to one, Norbert leaps through the window, shattering the frame then grabs an arm of the windmill with one hand, his spiked club in the other as he swoops down on the onrushing Black Tabards his club smashing through their midst like the hammer of heaven. Four of the eight are tossed aside like ten pins, their bodies hitting the ground with sodden thuds. Then the vast arm of the windmill draws Norbert up towards the sky.15

The remaining Black Tabards are led by Valentin Dautin, a skilled duelist whom Signoret and Norbert have met before. The four of them move to engage Gaston, but the experienced soldier acts first with a rapier thrust thru one swordsman’s heart. He ducks beneath Chesnier’s slash delivering a lighting riposte in return badly wounding Chesnier, then spins to parry a blow from Valentin. Gaston thrusts at Chesnier, wounding him a second time; the soldier presses his advantage against his badly wounded foe and Chesnier, defeated, yields dropping his sword. Meanwhile, Valentin strikes again, but Gaston parries then slashes his vizcaina in a disemboweling stroke. Valentin clutches his belly as he falls. Signoret, his ritual complete, calmly draws his sword and tells the fourth opponent to flee. But the swordsman’s hesitation allows Norbert, who has jumped free of the windmill, to raise his club in menace as he calls on the swordsman to yield or be smashed. Surrounded by the fallen bodies of his fellow students, outnumbered, and facing an angry giant, the swordsmen drops his sword and pleads for mercy.

While Signoret bandages Gaston’s wound, Norbert questions the defeated swordsman. He learns that Maestro Morosini was boasting at the school about his participation as a second in a duel with Gaston Thibeault and that he was planning on avenging the death of Cassanha. Hearing this, the Gigantis decided to come and watch and assist if necessary. Norbert commands the swordsman to go back to his master and tell him that his school and style is inferior. Chesnier, defeated by Gaston, has run away during the questioning. As all their foes are dead, dying, or fled, Gaston thanks Norbert for his unexpected, but timely assistance saying, “I’ve seen fewer men killed in one blow by a cannon shot than by your club. Cousin, you are a modern Hercules. I will have to write a paean in your honor.”

Norbert says “You are welcome cousin, but these rescues are thirsty work and I have a powerful thirst.”

The friends decide to repair to the Latin Quarter and the Hutchette d’Or for a well-earned series of drinks to cure their thirst and a good, hot meal. They are joined there by Romain Lalande, Jan Zamoyski, and Guy de Bourges. Fortunately the Thibeaults are paying for the drinks as Romain is still broke from his turn at playing host. The free drinks go some way to assuage his envy at the others having a melée ahead of schedule. They reassure him that they can still plan their campaign and Romain is cheered by the fact that the Black Tabards are down one master and half a dozen or more skilled swordsmen the experienced duelist, Valentin Dautin. “We may be able to wipe out all those Black Tabarded vermin,” gloats Romain Lalande. Romain tries to recruit Norbert to the Sainct-Didier school, but Norbert says that he already belongs to the Country School. Which Gaston finds hilariously amusing. After dinner Gaston composes a new poem to commemorate his long awaited duel with Termopillae and his victory over Morosini.

One Blade Replaced, Two Blades Depart by Gaston Thibeault
The King’s Musketeer with the broken blade
Changed old for a new that was better made
Not just sword but an arm
Maestro’s skill ‘list to harm
Fortune’s fall frees his arm n’ blades to aid.

Black Maestro strides forth, two keen blades he bares
Clash of sword cut n’ thrust ’til he despairs
Maestro has a head start
On foe’s blade does depart
Musketeer in his coach sans priestly prayers.

1 Father Signoret spends 1 Fortune Point for Friends in Low Places.

2 Effective Social Rank of a Prince-Bishop (SR 15) image for the abbot: PC20130726A-423

3 Norbert spends a Fortune Point to turn his roll into a Mighty Success. Along with persuading the monks that he and Signoret are friendly, this will also overcome Norbert’s Unsettling Appearance Flaw with the monks at the hospital.

4 Fauburg St. Germain is the suburb of Paris named for the Abbey of St. Germain des Pres.

5 The French Parlements are courts and registrants of the law, they are not representative or law making bodies. Lyonnais does not have a parlement of its own, so the case has been referred to the Paris Parlement for a decision.

6 Sonnet XI: “Why are we thus divided having kissed?” from Love Sonnets by John Barlas (pseud. Evelyn Douglas) 1889.

7 Église Saint-Pierre located on the Rue Saints-Pères at grid square H14.

8 Calamitous Failure: lose 1 Composure; movement slowed; gain +1 Fortune Point.

9 Signoret dodges Trevaux’s attack then draws his blade and mortally wounds Trevaux for -11 Lifeblood; he then goes on to defeat six Gentlemen Pawns. Trevaux continues to bleed as the battle continues.

10 A Calamitous Failure on Gaston’s attack or parry breaks his rapier. Another Calamitous failure causes him to face plant and lose his vizcaina (main gauche). He is lucky to only lose -1 Lifeblood from the attack of the 4 gentlemen pawns.

11 Gaston spends a Fortune Point to get a Mighty Success which nearly drops Rolampont on the spot (-7 Lifeblood) the Hilt Punch does an additional -4 Lifeblood leaving Rolampont unconscious and drowning in the mud -1 Lifeblood per turn. Once Gaston has left, Rolampont’s lackey tries to aid his master, but rolls a series of failures (4, 4, 7, 7, & 5). Rolampont dies choking to death in the mud – an ignominious end. Was his lackey’s failure the hand of fate or could the lackey have had reasons not to succeed? Perhaps he was given secret orders from Rolampont’s wife?

12 Father Signoret spends 1 Fortune Point for Friends in Low Places.

13 A Limerick by Gaston Thibeault satirizing the King’s Musketeer Léonide de Termopillae; the Limerick specifically points out the sword Termopillae lent out, his first reason for delaying their duel, as well as Termopillae’s inability to find time to fight a duel in which he was the challenger even after the passage of three months’ time.

14 Helias de Cedelhac, along with Raymonde de Trebouchard and Léonide de Termopillae each challenged Gaston to a duel over the outcome of the encounter on the Ponte Neuf. Gaston broke the swords of and defeated first Cedelhac, then Trebouchard. Termopillae had lent his sword to one of the two and it was also broken.

15 Norbert spends 1 Fortune Point to help him grab the windmill’s arm and hang on, then moulinet to strike 4 of them at once, and 1FP to turn the moulinet attack into a Mighty Success – which shatters all four of those struck. The Black Tabards consist of eight skilled swordsmen: Valentin Dautin (Retainer 4), Spiro Chesnier (Retainer 2), and six standard Swordsmen (Retainer 2).

Adventure 16: The Vicomte’s Garden Party
May 17, 1623

Chapter I: A Day at the Races
The day of the Vicomte’s Garden Party and Fencing Demonstration dawns and the morning of May the seventeenth is warm and sunny. The journey from Paris to the Chateau de Bouvard is a leisurely and uneventful two hour ride. Father Signoret and Gaston take the opportunity to test the paces of their new Comtois cavalry horses, gifts from a grateful Parfait Grellier for avenging his brother. Norbert has hired a wagon to carry the baggage and as he drives along, he thinks that he too would like a nice horse to ride…if only he can find a horse fit for his giant frame.

At the Chateau, the guests are directed to enter through the lovely ornamental gardens. The Vicomte himself greets the most important guests and everyone is invited to fill their glass from the flowing champagne fountain. They are invited to stroll about the lawn north of the chateau where a sumptuous feast has been laid out beneath pristine white tents overlooking the course for the day’s horse races.

In addition to the guests from Paris, Bouvard has invited his well-born neighbors and over fifty nobles and gentles stroll about eating, drinking, and chatting while they make wagers on the coming races.

The Vicomte hosts five races. Father Signoret competes in two of them, racing his horse in one and Gaston’s horse in another. Although the Comtois horses are built more for strength than speed, the Father gets off to a strong start and his horse runs a creditable race finishing in fourth place and ahead of the favorite in the betting. His second race has a muddy course in which Gaston’s Comtois horse excels and Signoret is able to come from behind to take first prize ahead of Fra’Phillipe, the Knight of Malta. The Vicomte, a keen racing enthusiast, notices Signoret’s strong finish and victory. After the race, Guy is able to briefly chat with Fra’Phillipe and they agree to speak further before dinner.

Norbert mingles with the servants, enjoying the free wine that is available from the partially emptied bottles and glasses that they remove. He speaks to Gilbert, the valet of Léonide de Termopillae, a King’s Musketeer who has previously challenged Gaston to a duel that they have yet to reconcile. Norbert tells the valet to inform his master that Lieutenant Gaston Thibeault is here in attendance. Gilbert seems very eager to get away from the looming Norbert so that he can go warn his master. During the races, Norbert places small wagers on Father Signoret and though he loses his money on the first race, at 3-1 odds he more than makes up for it in the second race clearing a tidy little seven livres. More money than I would have made in a week of performing back home in Picardy.

After the races, the others notice that Guy seems to have disappeared. Fabre informs them that Guy is “factus fatigatus ex itinere” and that he has retired to a room to recover. Which Father Signoret translates as Guy is tired from the trip. Fabre consults his remedy case and visits the kitchen herb garden to see what sort of restoratives he can prepare for his master.

Meanwhile, Gaston’s time has been monopolized by the beautiful and charming Madame Marie-Petronelle de Rolampont. She seems to find both Gaston and his soldier’s tales “intriguing.” Gaston finds Madame de Rolampont intriguing as well, especially the way her curled blond ringlets frame a lovely face and her dress hints at an equally lovely figure, while her conversation seems laced with even more intriguing hints and innuendoes. As the guests adjourn to the chateau for cards, drinks, and socializing Madame makes a point of saying that she wishes to see “much more” of Gaston later tonight.

Chapter II: Cards and Other Games
The Vicomte has arranged for multiple tables and card decks to be set out to facilitate the enjoyment of those guests who wish to amuse themselves with cards. A steady stream of servants keep the guests’ glasses filled or bring new libations to refresh dry throats. Between fifty and a hundred nobles and gentles are gathered to while away their time before the start of the fencing demonstration. Guy is still not in evidence. Apparently he is more than just tired as he is nowhere to be seen. Fabre appears to reassure the others that there is no cause for concern and that he is “certain that Master Guy’s needs needs are being tended to. I will go now to gather the ingredients to prepare a soothing poultice.”

Father Signoret speaks to Fra’Phillipe, in part to see if he can provide a formal introduction to their host, the Vicomte. Phillipe notices the priest’s fencing Fraternity pin and coldly comments that it is unfortunate that he has chosen to join the Fraternity Saincte-Didier as Phillipe himself is “a member of the Fratellanza di Giganti, which is of course the superior school.” Therefore he must now consider Father Signoret to be an enemy. Phillipe assures him that he will do nothing while they are both here as the Vicomte’s guests, but he warns Signoret that the next time they meet he will not be so obliging. Father Signoret stubbornly, or perhaps ironically, asks if Fra’Phillipe will introduce him to the Vicomte anyway, but the Knight of Malta curtly refuses.

As the Jesuit looks about the room for another person to ask to perform an introduction, he is approached by Madame de Rollampont. She says that she has heard that the priest will be participating in the fencing demonstration. He assures her that he will saying that, “in addition to being a master of the Spanish style, I am also an avid student of the French style of Maître Sainct-Didier.”

Madame charmingly replies, “Ah, then you must know the other participants, not so?” Signoret indicates that he does. “Then you know Lieutenant Thibeault, do you not.” He again indicates assent. “Ah, good! Then you will please do me a little favor will you not?”

“Possibly,” he replies warily.

She hands the Father a small folded piece of paper. “Please deliver this to Lieutenant Thibeault.” She pauses without releasing the paper so that their hands are forced to remain in contact for an extra moment, “Discretely.” Signoret agrees and spotting Gaston on the other side of the room, he hurriedly sets off to deliver the note while discretely choosing to leave the folded paper unopened.

Meanwhile, Norbert has made a point of finding Gaston to tell him of his conversation with Gilbert, the valet of Léonide de Termopillae. Gaston looks impassive as he thanks his cousin for the information and quietly says, “Perhaps he has found another sword and we can finally settle this matter.”

Father Signoret arrives just afterwards. He hands Gaston the note from Madame de Rolampont. But before Gaston can read it, one of the other guests, a local noble, asks for Monsieur Thibeault. Gaston and Norbert reply in unison, “Yes?”

“Thibeault the swordsman,” clarifies the noble. Gaston admits that he is a swordsman of some note. The nobleman introduces himself as Alain Sieur de Trevaux and says he is here to speak to Gaston’s second, “about a matter of honor.” Father Signoret immediately steps forward to act on Gaston’s behalf. Gaston nods assent and Signoret and Trevaux step aside so that they can talk. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Gaston discretely scans the note – it contains an invitation to an assignation in a side room after the Midnight Ball has begun; the note is signed, simply – M. – for Marie-Petronelle de Rolampont.

Trevaux identifies himself as the second for the King’s Musketeer Léonide de Termopillae and says that he is here to arrange the time and conditions for a duel between Gaston and Termopillae. Father Signoret proposes the northeast wheat field by the large oak tree at midnight as the place and time for the duel. As before, the duel will be to the second blood. Trevaux says that he will consult his principal before accepting the place and time.

As Trevaux leaves, one of the other guests, Archbishop Spada, the Papal Nuncio, makes a point of approaching Signoret. Spada comments that it is quite unusual to see God’s soldiers [a nickname for the Jesuits] literally dressed for battle. Signoret mentions that he is prepared to battle God’s enemies both of the spirit and of the flesh. Spada seems to find the Jesuit interesting and asks if he is acquainted with their host. On learning that he has not been formally introduced to the Vicomte, Spada volunteers to make an immediate introduction.

After being introduced, Signoret discusses the races with the Vicomte who is a noted equestrian and racing fan. The Vicomte is curious about Signoret’s choice of a pair of Comtois horses for the race. They both enjoy the discussion and the Vicomte invites Signoret on a personal tour of his very extensive stables. They pass nearly an hour discussing the stables and the horses. Along with their discussion of blood lines and the proper seat for racing, the Vicomte tells Signoret a piece of news related to the fencing demonstration. Signor Sapristi, the head of the Fratellenza di Giganti is a long-time rival of Maître St. Pierre. That is one of the reasons for the rivalry between the schools. Sapristi recently petitioned to be the Vicomte’s fencing master, and had volunteered to perform a demonstration to rival that of Maître St. Pierre’s. The Vicomte refused him which has caused Sapristi to lose reputation. “He was quite upset. Truly he seems a most volatile individual. He’s Italian, you know. They all lack a proper sang froid.” Both Priest and Vicomte enjoy their discussion so much that they are nearly late for the beginning of the fencing demonstration.

On his way back to the card room, Father Signoret witnesses a dispute between two local youths over a young lady. The priest interrupts the dispute by offering to escort the young lady back to the card room, an offer that she willingly accepts. As they walk, Signoret learns that the young lady is Mademoiselle Marie-Sébastienne de Jouvin; he warns her that the young men may get in a duel and one of them could be killed over this. “Over me?” she says. Rather than being concerned, Mademoiselle seems rather excited at the prospect. So Signoret attempts to persuade her that in fact it would not be exciting, romantic, and wonderful if one of the young men was killed in a duel over her but actually very sad and tragic. As they reach the drawing room Mademoiselle appears chastened.

Meanwhile, Norbert takes this as an opportunity to make some extra coins by providing an impromptu juggling performance. The crowd seems unimpressed, calling on him to “juggle something heavier.” Bowing to the demand of the crowed, he puts on an amazing display of strength and dexterity by juggling several heavy chairs at once. The crowd loves his performance showering him with coins; later several guests remark with favor on juggling to the Vicomte bringing Norbert to his notice.

Having just made more money than he would have made in months back on the farm, Norbert decides to observe the gamblers. He notices one game in particular, between a local noble, the Sieur de Rolampont, and a Paris banker, Monsieur Moulin, that reaches stakes of what seem phenomenal levels. Norbert has gained more money today than he ever thought to see at one time, yet the bettors have each put three times as that amount of money into the pot on just this latest hand of cards. There must be 300L on the table. As Norbert watches to see who will win, he notices the noble pull an extra card out from under the table and slip it into his hand. Norbert loudly proclaims “That isn’t one of your cards!” His threatening presence startles Rolampont who accidently scatters his cards across the table – all six of them! Plainly there are too many cards in his hand.

Norbert, figuring others here are likely to also have fallen victim to Rolampont’s tricks, tries to sway the crowd to force Rolampont to turn his winnings over to Moulin or to at least nullify this hand. Rolampont, tries to sway the local guests against the strangers and the crowd as a whole against the banker, always an unsympathetic figure, especially in the countryside. The crowd is undecided between being upset at a local noble who is possibly a cheater and satisfaction that a Paris banker is, for a change, the one losing his money. Since Moulin, who is unarmed, is reluctant to push the point against a sword-wearing and angry noble it looks like the crowd may side with Rolampont

However, at that moment Gaston steps forward to support his cousin. Moulin, who would like his money back, suggests that he would be “most grateful” for Gaston’s assistance in this matter. Gaston places his hand on his well-worn sword hilt and fixes a cold, unblinking stare on Rolampont as he casually introduces himself. “I saw that you were speaking to my cousin Norbert. I am Lieutenant Gaston Thibeault. Perhaps the Seigneur has heard of me in connection with the recent death of César de Mala Cassanha, a sword master of the Fratellanza di Giganti school? If not, the Seigneur could of course inquire of the Baron Villemorin, my name is not unknown to him and I know he has been mentioned in some writings now current in Paris, perhaps word of them has even reached the countryside?” Combined with his duelist’s icy stare, the knowledge that he is now facing an armed and deadly duelist persuades Rolampont to grudgingly accept Norbert’s suggestion that hand should be voided and the stakes returned to their owners. Moulin gladly agrees.

Afterwards, Moulin asks to speak to Gaston and they step aside, followed by Norbert. The Banker gives Gaston 50L [1/3 of his recovered bet] and suggests he may have work for men like Gaston and Norbert back in Paris. Moulin obtains their addresses in Paris so that he “may contact them should the need arise in the future.” Gaston splits the money half and half with Norbert. Norbert considers that a career helping bankers could be quite lucrative. But his musing is cut short as now it is time to help Gaston prepare for the fencing demonstration.

Chapter III: Entertainment by Candlelight
As the participants change into their fencing clothes, the guests engage in active odds setting and betting on the upcoming demonstration matches. The matches will be held in the great hall with light furnished by hundreds of bees wax candles. At a cost of 1 livre per candle, this is truly an impressive display of the Vicomte’s wealth and his sense of the dramatic. The matches go as expected with few exceptions. Father Signoret is grace personified in his matches combining the dance like elegance of his Spanish-style footwork with the deceptive feints and movements characteristic of the French style. Guy finally makes an appearance, but he seems not to have fully recovered. His footwork is hurried and he is unable to predict his opponents’ moves with his usual prescience and he is scored on by opponents who he easily beat during the tournament. Gaston on the other hand is relentlessly aggressive, using the strong wrist moves of the Italian style to disarm his opponents or to forcefully beat their blades aside scoring touch after touch, demolishing one opponent after another to “win” the demonstration, thereby earning the hard won, but honest praise of Maître St. Pierre. Unfortunately for Gaston, the Vicomte is distracted during much of the match by other matters and fails to notice Gaston’s success.

Between matches Father Signoret takes the opportunity to introduce Norbert to the Vicomte who gives him a purse of 50L as a reward for his amazing juggling performance. Norbert is finding the free flowing silver of these nobles appealing and begins to wish he had left his home in Picardy much sooner.

With the end of the last match, tables are set up in the great hall for dinner while the contestants refresh themselves and all the guests dress for dinner. At dinner the guests are seated at three long dining tables: one head table runs across the hall and two side tables run perpendicular to it with the three tables arranged in the shape of a horse shoe. In addition to the guests from Paris, the Vicomte’s noble and gentle neighbors are fully in attendance.

At the head table are seated the titled nobles plus a few untitled, but noble guests: Léonide de Termopillae and Father Gaétan Signoret for a total of 15 people. There is an empty place where Guy de Bourges was to have sat. Apparently his malady is much worse and he is unable to attend the dinner. The Vicomte has made a room available for Guy and Fabre is administering a steady rotation of poultices and tinctures. The fifteen diners are seated on only one side of the table so that they can see and be seen by everyone in the hall.

At the right side table are a few local nobles along with the banker, Bettremieu Moulin and his wife “Trudie” or Gertruda, Madamoiselle Fanette Lejeune, who appears to be a favorite friend of the Vicomte, Master Justin Sainte-Pierre, a large number of local gentle folk, and Lieutenant Gaston Thibeault for a total of 30 people. The left side table is limited to local nobles and gentles also 30 in number.

Over dinner Father Signoret talks generally with the others learning a number of interesting bits of information. Paris seems active this season with religious activity. Isidore Lafontaine the Sieur Le Roulle says that he has it “from those who should know that a heretical Theologian from Grenoble is to be brought to Paris for trial. It is said that his conviction is all but assured and that before the summer is done he will be burned for his heretical writings. A pity that it is only one heretic for it seems that despite the actions of last year against the Huguenot, Grenoble, nay all of Dauphiné appears still riddled with heresy.”

Madame Helene de Foix-Gras uncomfortable pokes a somewhat overcooked piece of broiled duck during Lafontaine’s story and the Marquessa de Rosny changes the subject by asking whether anyone else has heard of “the Monk of Avignon?” On learning that no one else has, she then describes the story she heard, “just yesterday.” Apparently the Monk is a Benedictine from a monastery near Avignon who has come to Paris. “The monk is said to be quite famous in Avignon for his miracles. Tis’ said he is able to heal the sick merely by the laying on of hands. The tales told sound truly miraculous.”

This seems to interest Archbishop Spada and he is heard to say quietly, “I think this should be looked into.” Father Signoret spends much of dinner speaking with Spada to strengthen his connection and to try to get Spada’s assistance to find a position on a bishop’s curia. They discuss the political and religious situation of Europe, but Spada seems less than impressed with the Jesuit’s grasp of politics and its role in the religious conflicts of the times. While the Archbishop does not offer any suggestions for a position, the door is open for Signoret to approach him again. Perhaps, Signoret thinks, a scholarly treatise on the history of the Church might demonstrate to the Archbishop my potential value as a curia member.

However, Spada does mention that he has heard something that may be of interest to Father Signoret. He’s heard a rumor “that Jean-François de Gondi, the Archbishop of Paris, is investigating three members of his Curia, supposedly for embezzling from his funds. It appears that he may soon be looking for replacements. Perhaps this is a chance to strengthen the Society of Jesus at the expense of their rivals, the Oratorians. The Gondi family, are after all, strong supporters of Monsieur Vincent and the other Oratorians.”

Léonide de Termopillae mentions a story he has heard at the Louvre. Apparently the guards at the Louver have suddenly been reinforced. "In fact my lord, I was almost unable to attend your Garden Party. At the last moment I was given an extra guard shift. Fortunately I am very popular among my fellow Musketeeers. In point of fact, I am considered one of their informal leaders. Why the Captain-Lieutenant, Monsieur de Treville, frequently asks me for my advice. So you can of course see that it was no trouble for me to find a replacement as one of my fellows was only too happy to stand guard in my stead.

“Well as I was saying, the guards have been doubled because, of the mysterious deaths of several nobleman at the Royal Court. It is said the cause of death is poison. The court has been plagued by a veritable plethora of fatal poisonings. Why one might almost think that we had one of those famous Italian poisoner noblewomen here in the court, now what was her name, it was one of those famous Italian families, closely connected with the church…Medici…no that’s not right…well no matter. It is said that the Ministry of Justice is looking into the affair. I have no doubt a woman will end up behind it in the end.”

Signoret notices that a number of people at the table look uncomfortable during Termopillae’s story including the Baron de Gras, and Lafontaine, and especially his host, the Vicomte, who turns red and fidgets constantly during Termopillae’s tale. Signoret thinks, I must remember to repeat this rumor to Guy.

The Vicomte, clearly trying to change the subject, mentions that he has heard some bad news recently. “It appears that the Bishop’s Club is about to go bankrupt. Apparently some funds have mysteriously gone missing. I hope this gets sorted out before my next visit to the city or I will need to find somewhere else to amuse myself in town.”

Just after dinner, Alain Sieur de Trevaux will speak privately to Father Signoret to tell him that the place and time are acceptable, “but as we are all guests here in the Vicomte’s home, my principal wants to keep the duel totally private. He realizes that Thibeault is here with several supporters and friends, but Monsieur de Termopillae insists that there be no onlookers at the duel. He asks that only the two combatants be present at the location of the duel that way if the Vicomte is displeased, others need not be harmed by his displeasure.”

As a superior duelist Father Signoret knows that a duel without onlookers is quite common, but a fight without the seconds being physically present is unusual since one purpose of the seconds is to act as witnesses and to ensure that the duel is conducted fairly. However, although unusual it is not totally unknown for a duel to be conducted in that fashion.

Signoret insists that the seconds must be present. Trevaux proposes a compromise that the principals only will approach the duel site, while the seconds will remain at the edge of the apple orchard and observe from a distance. “That way, any difficulty from the violation of the Vicomte’s hospitality will only fall upon the principals as the seconds can plausibly assert that we could not have prevented the combat because we were too far away.” Father Signoret accepts the compromise.

Meanwhile, at the right side table, Gaston speaks to Maître St. Pierre about the match. The Maître repeats his praise and Gaston take the opportunity to ask about the life of a fencing master and about how one might join the Académie d’Armes. St. Pierre tells him that guild is composed of the maîtres d’armes across all of France and that a swordsman must demonstrate mastery of three fencing styles before a panel of existing maîtres of the Académie to be accepted as a member. This is Gaston’s first chance to have an extended conversation with St. Pierre outside of the fencing salon and St. Pierre in turn seems happy to have an opportunity to discuss his area of expertise.

Their animated conversation about fencing draws the attention of the young men at their table. Gaston is not at all deferential, but despite his noticeable arrogance, the locals are either impressed or intimidated by his skill and reputation as a duelist and they are happy to listen and somewhat surprisingly no unpleasant incidents occur.

The discussion of dueling naturally leads to a discussion of brave deeds of arms. One of the nobles mentions that he recently was visited by his cousin who is from the province of La Marche. His cousin said that the Provincial Governor of La Marche has been plagued for the past year by a masked highwayman who calls himself ‘Le Chat Noir’ [the Black Cat]. This bandit/freedom-fighter robs Clergy and Noblemen on the roads and supposedly he gives the money to the poor like that old English bandit, Robin de Hoode. Apparently the Governor of La Marche has offered 1000 Livres to the man who can bring him the head of ‘Le Char Noir’. Several of the men suggest a trip to La Marche, but the women seem universally opposed.

The table then mentions the altercation over cards earlier in the evening. One even asks Gaston to describe it, but Gaston’s lat stare doesn’t invite further questions, so Mademoiselle Fanette Lejeune, the good friend of their host the Vicomte, offers to tell a story she heard from her seamstress.

“Who is the same seamstress that Madame de Chevreuse sometimes uses. I like to go there because her shop, it is so close to the Louvre. Well as I said, I was being fitted for a dress and it was taking oh so long and I so dread just standing there, so to pass the time I told Marie, that’s the seamstress’ name, did I mention that? Well no matter, I told Marie to tell me some luscious gossip or rumor of the court so she told me that a master gambler, who calls himself ‘the King of Diamonds’, has issued a challenge to any gambler in Paris. He says that he can beat anyone in any game of chance. So far, no one has dared to take him up on his challenge. Though it is rumored that Monsieur Le Comte1 himself may pick up the gauntlet.” There is a noticeable pause at the table as most of the women there gaze into the distance and sigh affectedly whether it was at the thought of the daring gambler or of the handsome prince no one could say.

Taking advantage of the sudden silence, Monsieur Moulin the Banker mentions that he has heard form a very reliable source in the Ministry of Finance that “Monsieur Le Faquin, an up-and-coming young Banker and investor in Paris, and the Club Treasurer of L’Epee du Grand Henri, has predicted that the coming year’s economy will be Very Strong. Ver-ry-strong! Gentlemen and ladies, now might be a good time to invest your livres in finance and foreign commerce ventures. Of course the Brothers Vitoria Bank would be only too happy to assist you in selecting admirable ventures in which you may safely invest your money.” A number of one-on-one discussions with Monsieur Moulin about investing follow as the dinner comes to an end.

Meanwhile, Norbert has no specific duties over dinner, so he takes the chance to gossip with the other servants. From one of the footmen of Monsieur Moulin the Banker, who overheard his master talking to the Chevalier du Vallier, he learns that the Chevalier has fallen upon hard times financially, and that he is offering to sell his prized Small Country Estate in Bordeaux. At first Norbert, who is feeling quite rich after accumulating 150L as his share for helping to escort that funny Musketeer around Paris for one night and then accumulating nearly the same sum from betting, performing, and foiling a card cheat today, thinks that perhaps he should look into buying some property, but when he learns that this small chateau might sell for only 9000 Livres, he decides that chateaus are still out of his price range.

Therefore he seeks out the servants of the Vicomte de Bouvard. He over hears the Vicomte’s valet mention to a chamber maid that the Bishop’s Club is nearly bankrupt, due to the mysterious disappearance of some club funds.
[This is essentially the same story that Father Signoret heard from the Vicomte himself.]

Norbert decides that if he can’t buy a chateau, perhaps he can buy a horse. He speaks to one of the Vicomte de Bouvard’s servants learning that the Vicomte’s Stable Master is named Jean-Claude. Norbert goes to the stables, looks at the horses, and meets the Stable Master. Jean-Claude takes a liking to Norbert and talks at length and in great detail about the equestrian art, bloodlines, proper feeding, the care of hooves, and the apparently all-important topic of spavins. Norbert nods a lot. Jean-Claude does tell Norbert that he should look for either a large Percheron, a breed originating in the Perche region of Normandy or a very large Friesian, a horse from Belgium and the Netherlands. “A perchie be the best probably ‘cause they be the biggest. Also Friesians they be pretty dear what with all that there fighting between the Spaniards and the Dutchmen I hear tell of. The Vicomte don’t like to sell his horses, no sir, but we might got a Perchie I could persuade him to part with for the right bit o’ silver. Not theat there be anything wrong with that perchie, but he just don’t suit, if you know what I mean.” Norbert inquires about pricing but the answers are woven in with all the other horse terminology which makes it very difficult for Norbert to follow. But as near as he can tell, a horse might go for anywhere between 100L and 1000L

Chapter IV: Swords in the Moonlight
After dinner, Signoret tells Norbert about the duel and the condition that no onlookers are to be present. Norbert worries that the other side may not be honorable and he would like to keep watch over his cousin. Father Signoret then says “if you are going to observe the duel then you had better hide very well.” Signoret knows that this is a violation of the agreed terms and, strictly speaking it is not honorable. He does not tell Gaston that he has told Norbert nor does he mention that it is likely that Norbert will observe the duel in secret. Signoret, using the skills of logical deduction and ethical argument that he learned while studying to be a Jesuit rationalizes his conduct by concluding that clearly Norbert is only there to prevent treachery by the other side and so long as he only acts to forestall treachery and not to provide an unfair advantage to his cousin, then his presence may technically be a violation in word but is not substantively a violation in spirit or intent.

Norbert immediately sets out for the dueling site to get there before midnight. The moon shines brightly on the wide fields of wheat. As he moves, Norbert uses every bit of stealth and cunning he ever learned playing hide and seek as a child. Soundlessly he approaches the abandoned stable from the back side. Over the susurration of the growing new wheat he hears the sound of a group of gentlemen, at least six of them, hiding in the stable. Obviously someone else got here before him. As Norbert listens to the group’s poor attempts to remain quiet, he considers that he has a distinct advantage in hiding alone – at least as long as I can resist talking to myself. I wish I had my club.

Norbert quietly climbs up on the roof to gain the advantage of height. As he waits, he thinks to himself. Those ruffians had better not be planning to hurt my cousin or they will regret it. I’m not afraid of them or their blades! I wish I had practiced my gymnastics more before coming to Paris. My dismount is rusty and I hope I don’t crush their breastbones with my boots. But what of it? If they intend a dishonorable attack upon my cousin, they will get what they deserve!

The principals set out separately ahead of their seconds, while Father Signoret and Trevaux walk together to the edge of the apple orchard. Once there, they can see Gaston in the moonlight about 70 or 80 feet away striding across the wheat field towards the old oak tree which is perhaps a further 70 or 80 feet distant and in the shade of the oak, a cloaked and hatted figure, presumably Termopillae, can barely be glimpsed.

As Gaston reaches the site for the duel, the cloaked figure draws his sword and as if that were a signal men with swords rush out of the seemingly abandoned stable.

Nobert alerted to their presence, has climbed up onto the roof the stable. He uses this height to his advantage, leaping down onto the five swordsmen who rush out of the east doorway and flattening them. Then using his "come one come all’ performers wrestling moves, he grabs all five in his long arms and slowly squeezes them all into unconsciousness.

Father Signoret spotting the rush of extra opponents calls out “Treachery!” and draws on Trevaux. Trevaux draws his sword while backing away, seeing the pistols in the priest’s belt, he disengages and flees zigzagging through the orchard. Signoret is torn between pursuing the treacherous Trevaux and aiding Gaston and Norbert, but quickly he decides to help his friends, racing across the field towards the old oak tree. In the interim, Trevaux uses the opportunity to escape to his nearby home.

Meanwhile Gaston moves to engage the cloaked man. With the five swordsmen who rush out the west door to engage Gaston, the cloaked man seems well supported. Surprised by the additional attackers and by his opponent’s treachery, Gaston nimbly dodges aside from the cloaked man’s attack and his riposte skewers the cloaked man’s leg. Gaston ferociously turns his blade on the other five quickly dispatching two and badly wounding a third. The violence of his attack stuns the remaining attackers and Gaston easily parries the single thrust that comes near him. Turning back to the cloaked man, Gaston binds his blade and, with a twist of the wrist, sends his opponent’s sword flying. The cloaked man limps over to retrieve his blade as Gaston parries the attack of the remaining two swordsmen and delivers a lighting riposte in reply that drops a fourth man. The last ‘gentleman’ takes to his heels as the cloaked man runs limping behind the abandoned stables. Gaston roars with laughter calling after him “Run coward, run!”

Father Signoret arrives and helps take charge of the defeated swordsmen. His cursory search reveals nothing of interest. Meanwhile Gaston tells his two friends, “My friends I have a most pressing prior engagement that will not wait any longer and so I say, adieu!” And he quickly stalks off across the wheat fields, absent mindedly slashing the heads from the stalks of wheat as he goes.

Norbert assures the Father that “those five will be sleeping for some time still” and he and Signoret decide to take the two wounded gentlemen to the chateau to get help and to explain the skirmish. They leave the two dead men as well as the five unconscious gentlemen, presuming that the latter will eventually wake up and find their own way home.

Signoret and Norbert proceed from the wheat field back to the chateau. Norbert seems not even to notice the weight of the two men he carries, one over each shoulder. As they step though one of the French doors and into the ball room, the music falters to a halt, the dancers pause frozen, everyone stares at them. The room is silent. Norbert takes a single step forward accidently brushing aside a stack of wine glasses that crash to the floor accompanied by the sound of breaking glass. Norbert says, “Sorry” and a woman suddenly screams. The scream breaks the silence of the guests and soon everyone, including the Vicomte, is demanding an explanation.

Father Signoret explains the circumstances regarding the deaths of the two gentlemen that Gaston killed and informs the Vicomte of the treacherous ambush perpetrated by Trevaux, his guest, and many others upon Gaston. A voice cries out, “He lies!” and a nobleman, one Monsieur Louis Stenay, limps forward, blood trailing down his leg. As the crowd parts to allow Stenay to come forward, Signoret and Norbert see that Termopillae is in the crowd at the ball, his clothes appear unbloodied and he is seemingly unwounded. Apparently he was not the man that Gaston wounded beneath the oak tree.

Stenay claims that he and the two wounded men went for a walk outside to “clear our heads when we were suddenly set upon by that hire-sword Thibeault accompanied by his Jesuit and his Giant.”

In turn Father Signoret accuses Stenay of lying and of being a coward and an ambusher. Stenay challenges Signoret to a duel to occur as soon as his wounds have healed, but Signoret belittles Stenay’s honor, wonders aloud how many men Stenay will bring to the duel to help him, and again accuses STenay in front of everyone of being a treacherous coward who won’t fight the priest alone. Stenay, who is swaying on his feet from blood loss, turns white with rage and draws his sword right then and there, but the Vicomte intercedes separating the two and telling Signoret that “there is no honor in fighting a man so wounded and so clearly not in command of himself. Please Father, you must leave. This can all be resolved later in a more honorable fashion.”

Signoret heads for the stable. Norbert puts down the two wounded men and pauses to ensure that someone will care for their wounds. It seems they have friends or relatives in the crowd as several women come forward to attend to them. Norbert then heads for the stables as well. He meets Father Signoret and as they discuss what to do next, they can hear the sound of Stenay up at the chateau yelling for his horse to be brought. A groom quickly saddles his horse and brings it to Stenay who rides off, presumably to return to his own home to have his wound tended.

Signoret then saddles his own horse and prepares to depart. He rides down the road a ways, but fearing another ambush he takes cover in a wooded area along the road to Paris and awaits further developments. Norbert does not want to leave without Gaston, so he remains in the stable waiting in his rented wagon for his cousin to return. Both of them miss the rest of the Midnight Ball. Gaston, who went directly to his assignation, misses all of the events at the ball including Signoret’s explanation to the Vicomte and Stenay’s challenge.

Chapter V: A Secret Assignation
Unbeknownst to Gaston, Marie-Petronelle de Rolampont has more than one thing in mind for their assignation. She hopes the meeting will fit nicely into her plans. She would like to leave the rustic countryside of the Ile de France for the lights and liveliness of Paris and the glory of the royal court. But this won’t happen because Roland, her husband, keeps them both rusticating here in the countryside while he yet again makes the rounds from one country house to the next gambling away their money faster than it can accumulate. She’s watched him play cards and he knows how to play, quite well in fact, moreover he is often lucky as well, which only makes his continual ability to lose money at the table more frustrating. At this rate, she estimates that by the end of the year they will both be bankrupt. And then she can kiss goodbye the chance for trip to the royal court or even a new dress in the current season’s fashion. The man is an utter boor. Well at last she can amuse herself with her deadly duelist. There was something about his lack of overly mannered words and gestures that was oddly appealing to her. Perhaps it was the way he stared at her like a hungry wolf eying a banquet. Mmm…And his reputation as a frequent and deadly duelist was certainly most appealing in its own way. Now if only she has played her cards right, as her husband would say, she should be rid of Roland and enjoying the delights of Paris before winter. Winter was always so dull out in the country. She hopes that her maid delivers the message to Roland at the right time. Not too early, but not too late. It wouldn’t do for her deliverer to be sound asleep and unawares when her husband burst into the room.

On his way to the stairs, Gaston grabbed a couple of bottles of wine from a passing servant, glaring the man to silence when he made to protest. Sword work is thirsty work and the wetter the blade the dryer the throat. Damn that Termopillae! I’d had hoped to finish him once and for all. I owe him for sending that mountain of a Musketeer after me.

Once again he traced the new scar on the right side of his jaw. It still ached from that blow. Who were those others? Did the man travel with his own platoon of cutthroats? Termopillae was sneaky, no doubt of it. I’ll have to speak to Guy about him later. Signoret is a fine, brave blade, but no one can outthink Guy de Bourges. Damned if he doesn’t know it too. But enough of that! Banishing his ruminations he focused on what was to come as he opened the door as instructed.

As it turned out, the maid did deliver the note too soon for both Marie and her wolf or perhaps she should blame Roland. He always was too quick where the bed was concerned.

The door opened and suddenly Roland Sieur de Rolampont was standing there, sword in hand. He looked stunned. Marie grabbed the sheet to cover her charms. Despite his surprise, Gaston, ever the practical soldier, ignored the sheets and drew his sword just in time to parry Rolampont’s clumsy attack. The man is a fool with the blade, Gaston thought. But I can’t kill him here. The Vicomte will be angry enough about those two under the oak tree, killing an angry husband under the Vicomte’s own roof even if the man was an idiot and a titled idiot at that, will win me no thanks from Bouvard. So Gaston passed on the opening. Instead he did a quick wrist twist to disarm his foe. That man has a wrist like a wet towel. He could certainly use a good sword master. Though perhaps not as much as his wife can. Gaston laughed at his thoughts as he maneuvered to stay between Rolampont and his lost blade. Then sword point before him he advanced backing the other towards the door. Unarmed and facing a naked man holding a naked blade, Rolampont’s anger turned quickly to fear. “You go back out that door and I will leave by other means,” Gaston calmly instructed as he forced his opponent out the door, closed it, then drew the bolt.

“Mmmm…magnificent!” Marie purred behind him.

“He’ll be back as soon as he gathers some friends to give him courage.” Gaston picked up Roland’s ornately filigreed blade and carefully dropped it into the shrubbery beneath the window. “And another blade.”

Hastily pulling on his breeches, Gaston tossed the rest of his belongings out the window and prepared to depart. “When will I see you again?” Marie asked.

“I’ll write you.”

This didn’t go as well as she had hoped, still it had been fun and there were still…possibilities. She hoped he would write something romantic. Perhaps a poem? Meanwhile, Gaston climbs down to the ground, grabs his belongings, and runs to the stables. Above he can hear the sound of pounding and shattering wood.

Seigneur de Rolampont quickly gathered a group of friends and neighbors who help him break down the door. Marie de Rolampont again uses the sheet to cover her charms. Roland notices the drapes blowing by the open window and looking out he sees Gaston, accompanied by a wagon, race towards the road to Paris. But Marie notices that all seven of Roland’s friends can’t take their eyes off her. She smiles to herself as she shifts slightly so that the sheet slides down another inch. Roland has to speak twice to get his friends attention. “Hurry, you fools, he’s getting away.” Somewhat reluctantly, the other follow him downstairs calling for the grooms to bring their horses so that they can give chase.

Chapter VI: Thundering Hooves
Unaware of the pursuit, Gaston and Norbert proceed back along the road to Paris. The night is quiet and it is well past midnight, but the moon still gives enough light to travel. Gaston thanks Norbert for his help at the abandoned stables. But perhaps fortunately, he doesn’t inquire how Norbert came to be there in the first place. Perhaps he is distracted thinking of some of the evening’s other events.

But eventually the cousins notice a sound, at first it sounds like distant thunder, but the sky is still clear and they soon realize that it is the sound of galloping horses, a lot of horses. They decide that whoever it is, they would prefer not to meet them alone and at night. So they speed up to stay ahead of any pursuit. The moon provides enough light for Norbert to see as he whips his horses to a gallop down winding, wooded roads to remain just ahead of their pursuers.

The pursuit passes Father Signoret’s hiding spot and he notices Norbert in the wagon being chased by a group of horsemen. The Priest mounts and chases them in turn. Riding like the wind he quickly catches up and asks why they are chasing the giant. They aren’t which leads to a rather confusing conversation. As they talk Signoret takes the opportunity to see how the horsemen are armed. He is reassured to note that only one of them has horse pistols, the rest being armed only with swords.

As Norbert and Gaston round a sharp bend in the road they see a straight away ahead with a handful of soldiers, two of whom hold crossed pikes barring the way forward. Rather than slowing, Norbert speeds up driving down the center of the road and yelling for the soldiers to get out of the way. They leap aside as the wagon thunders past. One soldier aims his matchlock musket just as the following horsemen tear round the bend, the musket discharges wildly as shouts of “Stop in the name of the King!” are heard from the officer.

After passing the soldiers, the Father again questions the riders as to why they are chasing the giant. Eventually they clarify that they are helping their friend, an angry husband, to catch someone who insulted his wife. Signoret realizes that the angry husband is most likely after Gaston rather than Norbert. He fears that it may have something to do with that note he delivered for Madame Rolampont.

Talking to the priest slows the horsemen down and Norbert and Gaston are able to get out of sight of their pursuers long enough for Norbert to drive the wagon down a side road and elude pursuit. Eventually Rolampont and his friends realize that they have lost the wagon. They stop and, discouraged in their chase, they turn back towards home. Father Signoret calmly continues on to Paris.

Separately, Gaston and Norbert return to Paris as well.

1 Louis de Bourbon, comte de Soissons is a Prince of the Blood and an heir to the throne. His byname is Monsieur Le Comte.

Adventure 15: The Fencing Tournament
May 1-16, 1623

The Fencing Tournament is the first part of a mystery-like adventure for characters with an interest in swordplay. The adventure is divided into three parts: The Fencing Tournament, The Vicomte’s Garden Party, and The Missing Master. The basic plot revolves around the kidnapping and imprisonment of Maitre (Master) St. Pierre, head of Fraternity Sainte-Didier, by his arch-rival Signore Sapristi, chief of Fraternity di Giganti. The party will face several puzzles and dangers to rescue him. In the process some old enemies will return to haunt the characters. Signor Sapristi himself may become a regular enemy in later adventures.

Back at his apartment, Guy questions the wounded nobleman who was trying to shield the Mysterious Musketeer who turned out to actually be a noblewoman in disgusise and who Guy suspects is the Duchess de Chevreuse.1 Guy tricks the nobleman into revealing that he works for the Prince de Guemene. Guy realizes that the Prince de Guemene’s birth name is Louis de Rohan, the older brother of the beautiful and daring Marie de Rohan, the favorite and friend of Anne of Austria who is otherwise known as Madame de Chevreuse. This confirms Guy’s suspicions; he has figured out the identity of the Mysterious Musketeer.

On realizing that he has given away the important secret and that there is no longer any reason to conceal his own name, he tells guy that he is the Baron Martin de Becaharmoy (SR 10), one of the gentlemen in the Prince de Guéméné’s entourage or suite. He asks Guy to keep his secrets – in return Becaharmoy will be even more in Guy’s debt that he already is for saving his life and for escorting the ‘Musketeer.’ Guy agrees to keep Becaharmoy’s secrets.2

Guy returns to the Latin Quarter and the Black Stork Inn but the foreign nobleman has already left. The only clue Guy manages to find is that the nobleman’s clothes are expensive and that by their description, they have an English cut. Afterwards, Guy takes the ring he was given by Madame de Chevreuse to a jeweler where he pawns the ring. The value of the ring is 1000L; he gets ½ that value in pawn and he shares the wealth with his cousin Gaétan and with Norbert.

Father Signoret wishes to broaden his understanding of the sword by mastery the misdirection and trickery of the French style. He asks his cousin Guy de Bourges and his friend Gaston Thibeault to help him gain admittance to their dueling Fraternité. Signoret obtains letters of introduction from his Spanish sword master and from Guy which he brings with him on April 30th when Gaston makes an introduction in person to Maetre St. Pierre, the Master Superior of the Fraternité Sainct-Didier, recommending Signoret as a new student. The Jesuit begins studying the French style at the Fraternité. He trains hard learning quickly and working to impress Mastre St. Pierre. He finds the Maestre to be a sparkling and witty fellow, quick to criticize and slow to praise. These are positive characteristics in a fencing master. St. Pierre is observant and intense when giving lessons. Although he trains several wealthy noblemen, including the Vicomte de Bouvard, he gives lessons equally to all of his students and he spends a considerable amount of time on weekends and afternoons at his Salle d’Armes.3

In early May the talk of the Fraternité is of the fencing demonstration to be sponsored by the Vicomte de Bouvard, a member of the Fraternité, and to be held at a Garden Party at his chateau outside of Paris on May 17th. The assistants and fencers have not yet been chosen by Maestre St. Pierre, and he has made it understood that there is to be a tournament within the Salle a week before the Vicomte’s Garden Party to determine who will participant in the demonstration. This provokes a great deal of speculation and boasting among the membership.

Maestre St. Pierre decides to use the upcoming tournament as a trial for Father Signoret’s readiness to learn the final secret of the French Style. He stipulates that Signoret must demonstrate his competence using only the French style in the upcoming tournament and, if successful in the tournament, in the demonstration itself. Signoret agrees to do what St. Pierre has demanded.

Since Gaston’s acquittal at the trial and the failure of his ambush, Baron Villemorin has become increasingly elusive. This makes any response by Gaston in kind impossible even if the risk of attacking a noble in the aftermath of a public trial were not too high. While the regiment as a whole, prefers not to be involved in Gaston’s conflict with Villemorin, Gaston has separately spoken to his fellows in the Picardy Regiment who were ambushed by the Baron. Legrand hates Villemorin for his cowardly attack and he wants revenge. Villemorin deliberatley left Janvier with a scar that ruins his good looks and Janvier now fears and hates the Baron and passionately wants revenge on him. Sannom sees the Villemorin as an enemy and wants the Baron punished for his unjust attack on himself and the others; although he did not recognize the Baron due to the darkness and his poor eyesight, he believes Legrand who did recognized Villemorin. In addition, Sannom’s ability to win and survive at 2-1 odds has raised his confidence in his abilities as a fighter. Unfortunately all three of them have the same problem that Gaston has; the gap in social station between them and Villemorin makes a direct challenge impossible. Villemorin could just ignore the challenge of someone so inferior in station. I must make Villemorin challenge me…and I will do it in a way that makes that bastard squirm.4

Since he cannot challenge Villemorin directly due to his social position, Gaston chooses to strike at Villemorin indirectly and to strike at his social position. Gaston writes scurrilous verses about the Baron accusing him of cowardice and posts them publicly around Paris. If the verses are noticed and repeated publicly, they will damage the Baron’s reputation and harm his social station.

Gaston posts the verses in parts with one ever few days so that interest will build as people await the next set of verses. He posts four versions: (i) stanzas 1-2, (ii) stanzas 1-3, (iii) stanzas 1-4, and (iv) stanzas 1-5. Norbert and Gaston’s fellow soldiers help him by posting copies around town. Norbert actually nails a copy of the poem to the gate of Villemorin’s own townhouse. But two of his footmen quickly tear it down. Norbert immediately returns, disarms the footmen, knocks them unconscious, and nails a second copy even higher on the gate, then breaks their clubs in two, tossing the pieces on top of the unconscious servants. This attracts even more attention by the Baron’s neighbors to the poem.

A Noble Reckoning – by Anonymous Poet (A. Poet)

A Baron of noble flavor
Sought a fight that he could savor;
He invited some friends
To look for amends
And procure odds in his favor.

But the Baron’s poor friends did waver.
’Fore cold steel with hearts all a quaver.
Flew off fickle-friends
A gaggle of hens
Left Baron with odds so much graver.

This Noble of name yet unknown
Bereft of his men stands alone.
He stares at his foes,
Then picks up his toes
And scuttles away – brave Baron!

Noble Baron whose name has been hid.
In a town named for foes of El Cid.5
The truth he does fear;
Holds honor not dear;
Treacher’s schemes and foul plans has he bid.

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.

The Fraternité Sainct-Didier holds their tournament on Wednesday May the 10th. The tournament will consist of a series of matches. Fencers may fight with their preferred weapons (foil, rapier, longsword, or sabre). The weapons are rebated (blunted), and the fencers wear sufficient padding to avoid damage.6 Matches continue until one fencer scores five or more touches against his opponent; in addition, the contestant must win by two. Unusual weapons, brawling, or dirty fighting will not be allowed.

Guy, Gaston, and Father Signoret each participate in the tournament. They fight a number of matches, doing well in the lead up to their final rounds. In his final round, Guy fights Jan Jelita Zamoyski,7 a Polish noble and a skilled practitioner of the Eastern or Cavalry style of fencing. One of his favored attacks is the quick saber cut. In their match, Guy consistently outthinks his opponent getting the initiative every round to win his match 6-4.

Father Signoret’s opponent in the final round is Romain Lalande8 who fights in the Italian style. Signoret uses a flurry of quick cuts to quickly score touches one after another against Lalande. He wins his match 5-0. Maetre St. Pierre seems pleased with both Gaétan’s progress and his showing in the match.

Gaston’s opponent is Achille de Châteaupers, an Ensign in the King’s Musketeers who fights in the French style.9 It seems that the fates conspire to pit Gaston against Lucien’s fellows. However as skilled as he is, Châteaupers is no Porthos. Gaston wins his match in his usual relentlessly aggressive style. He uses a mix of thrusts, beats, disarms, and a few hilt punches to control the pace of the match and to drive his opponent back. He even mixes in a few rapid cuts in the French style. The combination and variety of attacks leaves no real opening for his opponent to counter attack as Gaston slowly and methodically scores touch after touch. He beats his opponent 5-0.

All three of the friends have succeeded in winning a place in the demonstration at the Vicomte’s Garden Party. Since Guy and Father Signoret have servants to attend them and Gaston has none, he asks his cousin Norbert to go along and assist him during the demonstration.

1 In Adventure 14: The Missing Musketeer.
2 In return Becaharmoy owes Guy a Level 10 Favor.
3 Fencing hall.
4 Gaston’s goal is to embarrasses the Baron and damage his reputation; Villmorin’s roll to resist is (8+3+1-3=8); he becomes a topic of conversation among Parisians and he loses social status. This will continue until the situation changes in some way.
5 Villemorin is from the Old French “morin,” a diminutive of the name “More,” meaning dark and swarthy [as a moor] or one who resided in or near a moor and ville for city.
6 Unless a fencer rolls a Calamitous Failure, in which case his opponent suffers ld6 damage and the attacker loses honor for an uncontrolled and vicious hit.
7 Jan Jelita Zamoyski is a hero/villain level character. Guy gets the initiative in every round of their combat. He clearly outthinks Zamoyski.
8 Lalande is a retainer level 3 with skills similar to a Musketeer like Cedelhac.
9 King’s Musketeer in the French style stats from H+I page #128.

Adventure 14: The Mysterious Musketeer
April 28, 1623

Chapter I: Celebration
(June 28, 2013)
In his free time, Norbert uses his Performer career to entice tavern-goers into wrestling for drinks and meals; taking on all comers two or more at a time just to make the odds “fair.” The wealth and acclaim he has found in Paris make Norbert think that he may be able to make a career of being a performer and he decides to improve his abilities in that area. Curiously, one day Norbert decides he would like to learn Latin so that he can sing Latin drinking songs such as Carmina Burana and add that to his repertoire. He asks Father Signoret if he would teach him Latin. The Jesuit agrees.

Norbert also visits Gaston during the trial both while Gaston is in hiding and later while he is in prison; Norbert acts as messenger between Gaston and his friends and family. When he is not with Gaston, Norbert spends time with his uncle Hubert and his cousins. Hubert disapproves of Norbert, seeing him as a ne’er do well without a real career, though he does give his nephew some part-time work lifting and stacking heavy bundles of cloth.

Whenever he can, Norbert goes to his cousin Marie de Fleury’s house for dinner. There he entertains her girls juggling and giving them rides on his shoulders. Young Marguerite shows him the presents that her uncle Gaston always brings when he returns from his travels, though her sister counters by saying Gaston hasn’t always brought presents mentioning the time he returned wounded from Germany. Norbert suggests that he will help protect Gaston so he doesn’t get wounded again and Marguerite finds this reassuring and thanks Norbert. Marie appreciates Norbert watching the girls and her husband Claude de Fleury appreciates Norbert’s ability to lose at cards. He talks with Norbert at length about the trial and eventually gets Norbert to agree to recommend to Gaston that Claude represent Gaston in court.

In addition to practicing his skills with the sword and keeping his horse exercised, Father Signoret celebrates the Mass, assists in teaching history at one of the colleges in Paris, and in his spare time he helps out at a soup kitchen, possibly run by the Benedictines. One day at Church, Father Signoret sees Guy at church meeting a cloaked young noblewoman. The noblewoman is unknown to him.

After the trial is over, there is a celebration of Gaston’s vindication and release from custody. The location is Zaton’s1 an eatery and gambling house near the Church of St Jacques la Boucherie on the right bank. Lucien, whose duty prevented him from helping with the trial, makes up for his absence by paying for the celebration. In addition to Gaston, the attendees include: Guy de Bourges; Father Gaétan Signoret; Norbert Thibeault; Lucien de Bourges; fellow poet and soldier Honorat de Bueil, seigneur de Racan; Raymonde de Trebouchard a King’s Musketeer, his fellow Porthos was invited but couldn’t attend as he had guard duty; three members of the Picardy Regiment, Sergeant Jehan Legrand, Gaston’s oldest friend, Rémy Janvier a fellow Lieutenant, and Adrian Sannom a young Ensign; Guy’s Italian swordsman for hire, Antonio Lucalla; Gaston’s lawyer, Jean de Tourvel; Gaston’s brother-in-law, Claude de Fleury. Also in attendance are the various servants: Fabre, Claude, and Bertin.

The party consists of: drinking, boasting, storytelling, games of chance such as cards or dice, and flirtying or seduction. Norbert wrestles with both Legrand and Sannom at the same time. Beating both handily and winning a very large bet of 20 livres in the bargain. Norbert is pleased at his winnings. Now I can pay my gambling debt to Claude de Fleury.

Attracted by the noise and good spirits, a number of female patrons from Zaton’s invite themselves. With one exception, Norbert tosses out any males who try to crash the party. The one exception is Gil de Berault2 an infamous duelist and habitué of Zaton’s. Because of the number of men he has killed in duels, Berault is nicknamed the Black Death. Norbert cannot intimidate Berault and there is a lot of staring and glaring as Norbert, Berault, and Gaston try to intimidate each other. It appears that Berault, who is rumored to have once been imprisoned himself for dueling, has come to see Gaston. He proposes a toast “To swords and glory” which all happily drink to.

After the celebration, the three members of the Picardy Regiment: Lieutenant Remy Janvier, Ensign Adrian Sannom, and Sergeant Jehan Legrand travel together back towards their rooms at the Dancing Bear Inn.3 On their way, they are attacked by Baron Villemorin and six of his men. He has told his men not to kill either Legrand or Sannom. “Leave them to me.” Once the others are taken care of, he wants to slowly carve up Legrand while forcing Sannom to watch and tell Gaston about it after. The Barons sends 4 men against Legrand and 2 against the young Sannom, while he engages Janvier himself. But things to not go according to the Baron’s plan.4

Legrand, the most experienced soldier there is not taken unawares and he reacts quickly. He draws his longsword aiming a sweeping blow at his opponents, but in the darkness and confusion he fails to connect. They combine to capture his blade in a bind. Meanwhile the Baron uses his saber to strike a pair of rapid blows against Janvier. Villemorin’s speed takes Janvier unaware and he is dropped with a single, precisely targeted slash. The Baron uses his second cut to target Janvier’s face “Not so pretty now” he says. As Janvier falls, he feels a sensation of cold like an icicle pressed against his cheek. He is down and bleeding. Meanwhile Sannom, nervous about the odds of 7 to 3 against them first moves to get his back to a wall; his opponents are thrown off by his move and in the dark their swings miss him; Sannom then attacks; his blow lands spitting one of the Baron’s men on his sword. Booting that foe off his blade, he wildly swings at his remaining foe, but misses.

Legrand knows the odds are getting worse, so he acts quickly. Thinking that Sannom is too young to die, he yells “Run boy! Run for help!” Then since his sword is already in a bind, he turns the tables on his four foes – disarming them! Shocked by this move they stand helplessly while he wheels his blade in a figure eight slashing all four of his enemies. Now the odds are almost even, he thinks. Meanwhile, Sannom hesitates part of him wants to run, but gathering his courage he decides he can’t leave his friends. He will stand with them in victory or defeat. His foe swings wildly, the darkness hampering his aim. In turn Sannom again connects, dropping his second foe. Now the odds are even. Villemorin engages Legrand, “Your turn, peasant. As you sow, so shall ye reap!” Villemorin uses the same figure eight swing that Legrand used flailing at both Legrand and Sannom. Legrand, nimbly steps back, yielding to the Baron’s flashing steel. But Sannom takes a terrible blow and it is only his long hours training with the sword that allows him to remain standing, though he dizzily sways in place.

But the sound of running footsteps and shouts of “Forward, the Archers!” signals that help will be here soon. And with all his men beaten and two foes still facing him, the Baron decides he has done enough for one evening. He exits, sword in hand, into the night. The watch arrive. Fortunately they believe Legrand’s tale of an ambush. They help bandage Sannom and Legrand finds that Janvier is also alive though badly hurt and with a terrible wound to his handsome face. His looks may never be the same.5

Chapter II: Dark of the Moon
Guy, Norbert, and Father Signoret are heading towards the Place Royale and the Professed House of the Jesuits. It is the night of the dark of the moon, so Fabre and Claude are carrying torches to light the way. As the party heads north, they notice a group of three cloaked men standing and waiting on a corner ahead. The companions warily pass the group, but they don’t appear interested in your party. As the companions continue they see several other groups of three or four cloaked men loitering about. While it is suspicious, it clearly does not involve the companions.

Next they notice two gentlemen walking up ahead of them. As the two pass a tavern with a lit entrance, the companions notice one of the two wears the tabard of a King’s Musketeer. Just then, the two men notice one of the groups of cloaked men. The two suddenly change direction, walking rapidly away from the cloaked men and down a side street. But the four cloaked men follow them. Sensing trouble and possibly a mystery, the party follows and shortly afterwards they hear sounds of fighting and a cry for help. Running forward they see a Musketeer and a nobleman who are set upon by the four cloaked men, one of whom is a tall man wielding a huge spiked club. Oddly the Musketeer, who is short and slight – about the size of Helias de Cedelhac – is being shielded by the nobleman.

The three companions defeat the cloaked men; Norbert disarms the tall man and keeps his club as a trophy. As the cloaked men flee, Guy summons Fabre to see to the wounded nobleman. The faithful Fabre tends to the noble during which he overhears him ask, “The Duchess…is she safe?” He quietly relates this to his master Guy who assures the nobleman that his companion is quite safe.

This musketeer is not only a maid in disguise, but a duchess. This is most mysterious.

Fabre tells the group that notices that the nobleman is seriously wounded and should be bandaged and seen by a healer. But the musketeer commandingly says he cannot wait for his companion, that it is urgent that he reach the Louvre tonight. “Gentlemen, know that a ladies honor is at stake.” His wounded companion seems to agree with the Musketeer.

Guy and company agree to escort the Musketeer to the Louvre. Meanwhile, Fabre and Claude will take the wounded nobleman to Guy’s apartment so that his wounds can be tended.

Having observed that there are several groups of cloaked men looking for the Musketeer, Guy realizes that subterfuge will be required to get past them without a fight. Guy knows that by covering up the Musketeer’s distinctive tabard6 and by changing a pair of travelers for a quartet of travelers, including a giant, they will make the searchers’ job much more difficult. Combined with a dark and moonless night, there is a good chance that they can fool the searchers. The four follow Guy’s plan and proceed cautiously, several times detouring or circling around to avoid the search parties. By doing so they elude the watchers and reach the Louvre.

They escort the Musketeer to a side door of the Louvre, where he knocks and after a brief discussion, is allowed to enter. Guy, Father Signoret, and Norbert take up a concealed position nearby so that they can await the Musketeer’s exit. While they wait, they notice a group of cloaked men patrolling the area and watching the Louvre. After an hour’s wait, the Musketeer exits by the same side gate.

They start to walk away from the Louvre, but a group of cloaked men follow. The Musketeer breaks into a run pulling ahead and leading the group down a side street to try to shake off their pursuers. But at the end of the street they see another group of cloaked figures who slowly approach. The Musketeer runs forward a few paces, then ducks into the doorway of a darkened shop.7 Interesting, thinks Guy. Was the door left unlocked by chance or by design? Or was someone waiting inside for her signal? Hmmm…perhaps she had a key?

The cloaked men rush forward, but they are surprised to encounter the swords and strength of the companions. The cloaked men are put to flight. After they leave, the Musketeer emerges, tells them that he must meet someone at the Auberge du Cygogne Noir (the Black Stork)8 in the Latin Quarter, and asks their continued assistance as an escort to the inn. Father Signoret is familiar with the inn’s location which is east of the Place Maubert. They travel to the Left Bank by a circuitous route to throw off pursuit. Their maneuver is successful and they arrive at the Black Stork without further incident.

The inn is old and reasonably spacious with a central courtyard bounded on four sides by the inn, the stable, the innkeeper’s and servants’ quarters and kitchen, and a gated wall. The clientele consists of prosperous merchants and robe nobles, along with a few well-to-do students. The current owner and proprietress is Maîtresse Débordé.9 Just before they enter, the Musketeer asks to speak with the person alone and Guy and the others allow this, though Guy observes the meeting from across the room. The person is dressed in somber, but fine garb, his clothes mark him as both a nobleman and a foreigner – which does not put him out of place in the Latin Quarter. The Musketeer passes a handkerchief to the foreign nobleman, then the two speak briefly with their heads close together and their voices low so as not to be overheard.

Afterwards, the Musketeer thanks Guy and the others as he heads towards the street gate. Outside is a fine carriage with a princely coat of arms. Guy recognizes the arms as those of the principality of Guémené. Interesting…and if I recall correctly, the House of Rohan owns the fief of Guémené. Could this Musketeer be Marie de Rohan or as she is often called, Madame de Chevereuse?
1 (T16) Zaton’s Eatery is located at grid coordinates [D7]; From Under the Red Robe by Stanley J. Weyman.

2 Gil de Barault (PC20130628C-369).

3 (T10) The Inn of the Dancing Bear (L’Ours Dansant) is located at grid coordinates [B14] on the outskirts of Paris in the Faubourg Saint Marcel. It is a favored mustering place of the Regiment de Picardie (the Picardy Musketeers).

4 Actual combat rounds.
Rnd 1

  • Jehan (Init 4) Moulinet 8+2 fails vs. (4) Average Soldier Pawns (Init 2): Bind 7+1+3= success
  • Villemorin (Init 3+) Quick Cut 12+4 Mighty success for 4|1 + 4 = 8 LB drops Janvier vs Janvier (Init 3) Quick Cut hit for -8 Lifeblood
    Second Quick Cut is a called shot; it hit for scarring only.
  • Sannom rolls 7+2 daring (using Soldier) but the odds are 7 to 3. He will first move defensively to get his back to a wall then act to attack or defend with -2 for split move; fortunately his opponents miss. He rolls 11+3-2 for blade work and hits dropping one Pawn. His second blade work attack misses wildly 3+3-4.
    vs (2) Average Soldier Pawns (Init 2): Bind 4+1 fail; (1) Pawn falls
    Roll to see if help will arrive for the Picardy men. Unlikely (Roll 08) = Yes. Roll 1d6 for # of rounds and get a 4. So help will arrive in 4 rounds.
    Rnd 2
  • Jehan (Init 7) Yells at Sannom to "Run boy! Run for help!
    Rolls for disarm vs. all 4 Pawns 12+3-3 (for extra Pawns) Mighty Success! As a free action, Jehan rolls Moulinet 8+2 success. He drops all 4 Pawns. vs (4) Average Soldier Pawns (Init 2): They are first disarmed then all taken out with Moulinet.
  • Sannom (Init 1) Must roll morale 7+1+1 (plus he is winning and the odds just got a lot better) he stays. Bladework 9+2 hits taking down Pawn #2 vs (1) Average Soldier Pawn (Init 2): Bladework misses; taken out by bladework
  • Villemorin (Init 5) Moves to engage Legrand and Sannom; “Your turn, peasant. As you sow, so shall ye reap!”
    Moulinet 10+4 success. -9 Lifeblood to Sannom. Jehan yields advantage to avoid the blow. Sannom (who is trained in the Old style keeps his feet at 0 Lifeblood)
    Rnd 3
  • With Reinforcements only a round away, all his men down, and the odds 2 to 1 against him the Baron must make a morale roll. He rolls 2 Calamitous Failure and even with adds for his Daring and Duelist or Soldier he retreats without getting any parting words.

5 Other Consequences of the ambush:
• Villemorin is recognized by Legrand but not Janvier (too fast) or Sannom (bad vision) .
• Legrand persuades the archers that the Picardies were assaulted/were simply defending themselves
• The Archers don’t connect Villemorin with an assault or attempted murder? [This is likely; but (82) No.]
• In his arrogance, Villemorin used his own men for the attack; but the pawns manage to escape with the less injured carrying away the wounded and dying.

6 Guy is a Master of Disguise.

7 This is the shop of Madame de Chevreuse’s seamstress – the same seamstress who is shared by Mademoiselle Fanette Lejeune, the good friend of the Vicomte de Bouvard, and who was the source of rumor for Mademoiselle; see The Vicomte’s Garden Party, “Chapter III: Entertainment by Candlelight”.

8 (T1) Auberge du Cygogne Noir (the Black Stork) is located at grid coordinates [D11] on the Rue Saint-Victor opposite the chuch of Saint-Nicolas, just east of Place Maubert in the Latin Quarter.

9 Maîtresse Débordé (PC20130628C-375).

Adventure 13: Gaston on Trial
April 13-27, 1623

Rémy le Dommarien Baron de Villemorin blames1 Gaston Thibeault for the death of his younger brother, Paulin le Dommarien Siegneur de Villemorin. Now that Gaston has returned to Paris, Villemorin brings suit in the courts of Paris for Gaston to be tried for the murder of Paulin. However, before the law can act, others decide to intervene.

Gaston’s friend, Guy de Bourges is invited to lunch by the Chevalier de Vezelay at the Bishop’s Club. The Club is located in the Faubourg St. Germain on the rue Luxembourg very near the Palais de Luxembourg. Established in 1573, the club’s eponymous bishop is Pierre de Gondi, then bishop of Paris; the founders were creatures of the de Gondi family, and the club served as an informal association for supporting the work of the Parisian prelates. The club is tastefully appointed, featuring a valuable collection of artwork donated by various members over the years, and Guy, who is a bit of a gourmand, is looking forward to the meal as the cook at the club is reputed to be exceptional. The Chevalier thanks Guy for taking the time to see him, pours them each a drink, toasts Guy, drinks, and then sighs deeply.

“Nom de nom! I needed that monsieur. I find paperwork so tedious. In fact right this moment there is stack of arrest warrants on my desk just waiting my signature. Well, something that can be dealt with when I return. So Monsieur tell me what have you been up to since I saw you last?”

Guy carefully chooses what to say that will entertain and entice the Chevalier without giving away anything too sensitive. Perhaps the Chevalier has a new mission for him and even if not, Guy enjoys this sort of verbal fencing. The Chevalier asks whether Guy traveled alone or with friends. Guy mentions those that accompanied him.

After some more polite verbal fencing, the Chevalier says “The name of one your friends recently caught my eye; I believe it was that soldier, what did you say his name was…ah yes, Gaston Thibeault.”

Suddenly, as if recalling an appointment, the Chevalier takes out his pocket watch, consults it, and says, “Nom de nom, Monsieur de Bourges! Look at the time. I must return to take care of that paperwork that I mentioned earlier. You are welcome and stay and have another glass of sherry…unless you too have some pressing personal business to attend to…”

Pondering what was behind the Chevalier’s peculiar behavior, Guy realizes that it seemed the Chevalier was trying to warn him of an impending arrest…the arrest of his friend Gaston. Guy hurriedly leaves the club, stopping only to find his cousin, Father Gaétan Signoret, the two proceed to Les Deux Chevaux to warn Gaston. They arrive just ahead of a squad of Paris led by César-Auguste sieur de Boisrenard Sergeant of the Paris Archers. But their head start allows them to smuggle Gaston into hiding in the Jesuit cells of the penitents. Meanwhile, after searching Les Deux Chevaux the Archers search the Dancing Bear Inn and the Salles of the Fraternity Sainct-Didier.

Guy and Signoret realize that they need to know who is behind the order of arrest. Unfortunately Guy is currently estranged from his usual contact, Chancie, the Vicomte de Chambre, who is still peeved at Guy since the last favor he gave him resulted in the destruction of one of Chancie’s favorite suits. To get back into Chancie’s good graces, Guy and Signoret concoct an elaborate plan to stage a fake attack by brigands on Chanceie from which the two will rescue him, thus affecting a reconciliation. From his charity work, Father Signoret knows some unsavory characters2 who are willing, for a price, to stage the attack. Their scheme goes according to plan and succeeds admirably, reconciling Guy and Chancie.

After placing Gaston in hiding, Guy and Father Signoret make sworn statements to the court regarding Paulin’s treacherous ambush and his death. They realize that they need the help of someone versed in legal procedures. Father Signoret consults his old teacher Dionysius Petavius who recommends that they consult a former student of his, Jean de Tourvel, an Attorney for the Parlement of Paris. De Tourvel is a bright, skilled lawyer, and an up and coming member of the bourgeoisie who, as a manager at the Club St. George, may have also have access to additional sources of information about the trial. Tourvel is assisted by Gaston’s brother-in-law, Claude de Fleury who is a Clerk and student of law.

They also consult Guy’s friend, Marie-Madeline, who tells them that the Cardinal is not personally involved, but that as a matter of policy he wants the dueling edicts enforced. The Magistrate who will hear Gaston’s case is Claude de Bullion signeur de Wideville. Wideville is a close ally of Cardinal Richelieu. This does not bode well for Gaston.

The testimony of Guy and Fr. Signoret explaining Paulin’s attempt at ambush at the inn would seem to settle the matter, but Chancie warns them that Guy’s enemy the Chevalier de Branville has been treating the Magistrate in the case to expensive gifts and lunches and that the Baron Caumont, the son of a Marshal of France, was in the courtroom and he seemed most upset at Gaston’s release.4 The PCs fear further charges may be made.

The testimony of Guy and the Father is a setback to Villemorin’s charge of murder. However, the Baron de Caumont is extremely well connected politically5 and he uses his influence to attempt to persuade the Constable General to take a hand directly – in effect to trump up additional charges against Gaston to ensure his conviction.

Guy and Signoret decide that they need additional political influence. Father Signoret rides to Lyon to ask for a recommendation from the Governor of Lyon, Charles de Neufville, for Gaston to counter the Baron Caumont’s influence. By renting post horses and riding day and night, Signoret makes the ride to Lyon and back in record time; the recommendation arrives barely in time to counter Caumont’s influence with the Governor General.

Baron Villemorin uses what influence he has to get the the Magistrate, Wideville, to trump up charges on his own. Therefore the case continues. Due to the difference in social stations6 between Gaston and his supposed victim Paulin de Villemorin and between Gaston and his accuser, Remy de Villemorin, Gaston is at a huge disadvantage. Therefore, Gaston uses a favor to call on the de Lomenie family to use their influence7 in his favor, since Paulin’s death occurred on a mission for the de Lomenies.

Villemorin also bribes Wideville to ensure a conviction, taking out a loan8 for 300L to pay the bribe. Branville sees an opportunity to indirectly harm Guy through Gaston. Having already ingratiated himself with Wideville through his expensive lunches, he then gives Wideville several expensive gifts, actually bribes, to influence him to find Gaston guilty. In turn, Gaston uses nearly his last sou to come up with a counter bribe, unknown to Gaston, his father Hubert also makes a substantial bribe, as does Gaston’s good friend, the Seigneur de Racan.9 The bribes and counter bribes cancel out10 leaving Wideville as the only real winner.

Through conniving, hard work, bribes, and favors and recommendations from nobles, Guy and Signoret prevent the magistrate from ruling against Gaston.11 Wideville refers the case to a higher tribunal; the tribunal requires Gaston to appear before the court. He appears in court and the tribunal returns a unanimous verdict12 for acquittal. Gaston is found innocent of murder in the death of Paulin le Dommarien Siegneur de Villemorin and freed from prison.

After the trial, Baron Villemorin vows that, “This is not over! I won’t let a peasant like you get away with murdering my brother!”

As the Baron leaves, Gaston’s quietly says, “I am at milord’s service…outside of a courtroom.”

1 Rémy le Dommarien Baron de Villemorin (SR 10) brings a charge of murder against Gaston Thibeault (SR 5) in the death of the Baron’s younger brother, Paulin le Dommarien Siegneur de Villemorin (SR 9). Guy and Signoret put Gaston in hiding and make sworn statements regarding Paulin’s ambush. Meanwhile Guy’s enemy, the Chevalier de Branville sees an opportunity to indirectly harm Guy and throws his Great Wealth into bribes to the Magistrate; while at the same time Gaston’s old enemy, the Baron de Caumont, uses his Friends in High Places to try to persuade the Constable General to trump up additional charges against Gaston.

Through conniving, hard work, the trading of bribes and favors, and recommendations from nobles, Guy and Signoret succeed in preventing the magistrate from ruling against Gaston. The trial magistrate refers the case to a higher tribunal where, with the PCs help, Gaston is finally proved innocent and freed.
Baron Villemorin vows that, “This is not over! I won’t let a peasant like you get away with murdering my brother!.” As the Baron leaves Gaston’s friends hear him quietly say, “I am at milord’s service…outside of a courtroom.”

2 Friends in Low Places.

3 See Trial Simulation below:

Trial Simulation
To simulate a trial situation, roll 2D6 for the decision of the Magistrate. Adjust the roll with the following modifiers:
+3 Prisoner has Legal Counsel
+3 bribes Gaston 300L, his Father 300L, Racan 300L
-3 bribes Branville 600L, Villemorin 300L (debt)
-1 Charges trumped up by Magistrate
-4 SR of accused – SR of victim= 5-9=-4
+0 Murder charge is untrue (friends’ testimony)
+4 Favor_13–Social Rank of victim = 13-9=4

If the modified roll is 6 or less the Magistrate rules against the Prisoner. If it is 8 or above, the Prisoner is acquitted. On a roll of 7, the Magistrate is undecided, and the trial may be further influenced by bribes, or moved to a higher court.

4 Armand-Nompar Baron de Caumont (SR 10); his father is a Marechal of France. Gaston severely wounded Caumont, he impaled him on a pike, during the battle in which he saved de Racan and Caumont holds a grudge to go along with his scar on his chest.

5 Friends in High Places.

6 Baron Villemorin (SR 10), Paulin Villemorin (SR 9), Gaston Thibeault (SR 5).

7 Level 13 favor obtained for serving the de Lomenies on the Black Riders/Wagons campaign.

8 Baron Villemorin rolls a 1 on 1d6 on the FB wealth table, which results in an annual income of 350L from his lands and title. Therefore he doesn’t have the cash for a bribe.

9 Honorat de Bueil, seigneur de Racan (SR 9) – Noble, Soldier, Dramatist, Poet, and protégé of Malherbe. Gaston saved his life in 1622.

10 Villemorin borrows 300L, Branville uses his Great Wealth spends 600L, meanwhile Gaston scrapes together 300L, his father contributes 300L, and de Racan contributes 300L leaving 900L in bribes for conviction and 900L against.

11 The net of all the modifiers for and against is 2 so a roll of 2d62 = 5+2=7  the Magistrate refers the case to a tribunal.

12 Same net modifier of 2, the three judges rolls are: 82, 6+2, 7+2 resulting in a unanimous verdict of acquittal.

Adventure 12: Tavern Tales
April 10, 1623

It is the second week in April and Gaston is still at the Carmelite Convent recovering from his defeat by the Musketeer called Porthos. While he is waiting for his cousin to heal, Norbert spends quite a bit of time visiting Gaston, but he also spends some time with his uncle and other cousins. The giant finds it comforting to again have family around him.

A courtier like Guy de Bourges always has a choice of many diversions. Most recently he chooses to accompany his childhood friend, Marie-Madeleine de Vignerod Madame de Combalet to watch a series of tennis matches by the court. Marie-Madeline was widowed last year after only two years of marriage and Guy thinks it is time for her to enjoy life again and return to society and she has always enjoyed the company of her good friend Guy. In addition, Guy hopes that he may learn something useful or interesting from her. As the favorite niece of Cardinal Richelieu, Marie-Madeline often hears things of great interest. Guy can entertain her with his travels to Burgundy and Lyonnais while trying to learn the news of Paris from Madame. Since his cousin, Father Signoret seemed to enjoy Madame’s company at the Duke de Bellegarde’s party and since Madame seemed to enjoy the priest’s conversation, Guy brings Gaétan along.

Guy is enjoying himself and, whether it is the pleasant weather or the pleasant and familiar company, the cloud of grief seems to be lifting from Marie-Madeline. When something or perhaps one should say someone darkens Guy’s mood. That someone is Isidore Lafontaine, the courtier who seconded Cassanha in his fatal duel against Gaston during which the seconds also fought and Lafontaine wounded and defeated Guy. Like Cassanha, Lafontaine is also a member of a dueling school that rivals the one of which Guy is a member. Lafontaine is not the skilled conversationalist that Guy is, however he is a more practiced and well known duelist. He tries to use his skill to intimidate and bully Guy. But, with the aid of his cousin, who is also a well-known duelist, he is able to send Lafontaine on his way without provoking a second duel.

Afterwards, Marie-Madeline mentions that she was visiting with her aunt, Nicole du Plessis, 1 and that her uncle, Urbain de Maillé-Brézé, seemed worried about something and her Aunt Nicole seemed very distracted, especially after her Uncle received a message which caused him to suddenly depart. As he was leaving she overheard mention of The King’s Head and the pronoun ‘she’. “It’s sounds most delightfully mysterious, doesn’t it, Guy dear? I just knew it was the sort of thing you would find intriguing.”

Shortly afterwards, Father Signoret is given a new assignment by Père Noir, the Black Priest. He is to retrieve some papers that are of interest to the order. The papers are or were in a leather portfolio and are currently in the possession of a woman at the King’s Head Tavern, in Paris. Signoret is to retrieve the papers without drawing attention to or involving the Society of Jesus. Unfortunately, Père Noir can tell him nothing about the woman or about the papers.

“I can tell you that the papers do not belong to her. What little we do know comes to us from a priest of our Order. And whatever else he knows is sealed under the sacrament of confession. Thus it is doubly important that the Order is not seen to be involved in this matter nor should it be known how or why you come to seek her out.”

Père Noir says the Father Signoret is free to use others to assist him, as long as he can keep the Order out of the matter and does not reveal the source of his information. Based on this, Father Gaétan Signoret enlists the help of his cousin Guy and Norbert Thibeault to find the papers. The three decide to go to the King’s Head Tavern. Norbert will go separately and look for a position as a performer. Guy and Signoret will go together. Given his instructions, Father Signoret decides he should dress as a nobleman, not as a Jesuit priest. Therefore Guy takes him to visit his friend Chancie, the Vicomte Chambre, so that they may beg the loan of an appropriate outfit. He is able to find a fine suit of clothes to loan to Signoret, but nothing in his wardrobe will fit the giant Norbert. Chancie also decides that accompanying Guy and the others to the King’s Head will be most diverting.

At the tavern, Norbert shows how to prevent a tavern brawl from starting. He successfully intimidates a group of boisterous tavern patrons However, as his technique relies on one’s being a giant, it it unlikely to be a method that is universally or even widely applicable. Chancie avoids involvement in any trouble by buying a round of drinks for the entire tavern. Guy gets in a disagreement with a rude man and his two friends who block Guy’s path to his table. The two end up exchanging words and, with Father Signoret as his second, a duel is quickly arranged using the yard behind the King’s Head. The three men turn out to be King’s Musketeers. Which does not stop Guy and Signoret from defeating two Luc Tavernier and Romaine Doucet, in a duel. These two antagonists are accompanied by a third Musketeer: Monsieur de Baisemeaux sieur de Montlezun.

Meanwhile, Fabre overhears an interesting argument between the tavern maid, Vivianne, and a handsome young bureaucrat. It turns out that the papers they are to recover were stolen by Vivianne from the bureaucrat, Félix Jalabert, who in turn took the papers from his father: Sébastien Jalabert. The elder Jalabert is a bourgeoisie lawyer and member of the Parliament of Paris. He also happens to be a strong supporter of the Oratorians, a religious movement that includes Vincent de Paul and the Gondi family including the Archbishop of Paris. The Oratorians happen to be in opposition to the Jesuits. Félix and Vivianne go upstairs to discuss the matter further. By judicious spying and sneaking, Father Signoret follows them and recovers the portfolio which he turns over to Père Noir and the Jesuits – but only after he and Guy have a look at the papers inside.

What they find inside the portfolio is very interesting. The portfolio contains various papers, including a bank draft on the Brothers Vitoria Bank of Paris in the amount of ₤ 5,000 to be paid to Félix Jalabert. The draft is sealed with the noble coat of arms at right. Which Guy is able to identify as that of Don Antonio de Zúñiga y Dávila, marqués de Mirabel, the Spanish Ambassador to France. It seems that Félix Jalabert is in the pay of the Spanish.

The other papers are documents that seem to belong to Sébastien Jalabert and while they are not state secrets, their loss or theft would be personally embarrassing to the extent of damaging the elder Jalabert’s reputation in society. They could also cause a political scandal.

1 Nicole du Plessis is the sister of Cardinal Richelieu. Her husband, Urbain de Maillé-Brézé, is the Captain of the Queen Mother’s bodyguard.

Adventure 11: Appointment with Two Musketeers
April 1 to April 3, 1623

Now that they are back in Paris, Gaston can consider the rumor he had heard before they left for Auxerre and Lyon that another Musketeer was looking to challenge Gaston to a duel. This is continuing consequences of the aftermath of the Ambush on the Pont Neuf. Gaston asks Father Signoret to act as his second. He says this is because Lucien would be conflicted in a duel with a fellow Musketeer, and Guy as Lucien’s cousin would have a family conflict. Although not stated, Gaston really wants Signoret as his second because he the Jesuit is a superior duelist and he fears that Guy would have little chance against Porthos’ second, who is likely to be his fellow Musketeer, the deadly duelist known as Aramis. Thus it seems that the long awaited duel will finally occur.

Father Signoret and Aramis, acting on behalf of their principals, arrange a duel at the Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites for the next morning. Signoret manages to persuade Aramis that the duel need not be to the death so it is agreed that they shall duel to the Second Blood, in other words until a duelist has received a serious wound that would prevent him from continuing and that the loser shall pay a forfeit of three cases to the winner. However when Signoret is recalling the terms later there is some confusion over whether the agreement was for three cases or three casks. However, further discussion of the duel is interrupted by the arrival of Gaston’s cousin Norbert who has just arrived in Paris from the country.

Norbert Thibeault, sometimes called Norbert the Giant, is an enormous man, at least seven feet tall, with a chest as big around as a barrel and biceps the width of a strong man’s thighs. The Giant looms over the group like the face of a seaside cliff. Gaston is not a small or a weak man, but next to his cousin Norbert, he looks like a skinny child. Norbert is delighted to see his cousin, enfolding him in a hug like that of a bear and slapping Gaston’s back with such enthusiasm that the soldier has to catch himself on a table to keep from stumbling across the room. Gaston smiles slightly and asks Norbert what he is doing here. Norbert tells Gaston that he has come to Paris after the death of his mother, to find his only living relatives. The Giant grows sad at the thought of his mother’s passing, but brightens somewhat as Gaston orders so wine so that they can drink a toast to Norbert’s mother. While they wait for the wine, Gaston introduces his cousin to Guy and Father Signoret. After drinking a toast, Norbert tentatively asks if he might get some food. “I have walked a long way today, Cousin. And I am very hungry.” Gaston orders food and treats his poor cousin to what would be a very large meal for most men, but which seems to barely satisfy Norbert’s prodigious appetite. For tonight, Norbert will sleep on the floor of Les Deux Chevaux.

The next morning, the Gaston and Father Signoret accompanied by Guy and Gaston’s cousin Norbert go to the Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites for the duel. They are a few minutes early, for as Gaston said, “I won’t have anyone thinking I was hesitating about this duel.” The duelists and their seconds will fight in parallel.

Gaston duels Porthos. First both men each try to intimidate the other, but neither is successful. but though both men are trying but failing to intimidate each other. They spend some time attacking and parrying. Gaston parries each of Porthos’ attacks with his rapier, while Porthos uses the drying laundry sheets of the convent almost like a cloak to parry or avoid Gaston’s attacks. Then Porthos hilt punches Gaston who tries but fails with a stop-thrust. The blow staggers Gaston back. “Dammit. You broke my nose.”

“Well next time you should parry,” Porthos says with annoying equanimity.

Porthos’ overly reasonable response only serves to infuriate Gaston and seems to give him a second wind. With a flurry of thrusts and ripostes he forces Porthos to retreat back and back again until one of the ripostes connects tearing a furrow across Porthos’ chest. Porthos looks down at the wound and says in surprise, “I’m bleeding.” With that, he turns and delivers another massive blow with the hilt of his sword; again Gaston tries a counterthrust to stop him, but Porthos avoids the counterthrust and his hilt connects with Gaston’s jaw. Gaston falls as if dead. 1

Meanwhile Father Signoret, and Aramis duel. They exchange blow after blow as they take turns advancing and retreating, but Aramis is just a fraction faster and a bit more skilled. He gradually wears the Jesuit down with a series of cuts, none individually serious, but in total enough to wear the Jesuit out. Bleeding from what seems like a half a dozen separate wounds, Gaétan falls to one knee and reluctantly, he concedes the duel. 2

His duel over, Father Signoret staggers over to the fallen Gaston who is being ministered by Fabre, who was summoned by Guy as soon as Gaston fell. Thinking that no one could survive the damage endured, the Jesuit begins giving Gaston the last rites while Fabre continues to apply healing poultices to Gaston’s wounds. Then Norbert carries Gaston into the Carmelite Convent so that he can be cared for by the sisters. Norbert remains at the convent to watch over Gaston who finally regains consciousness two days later. Once again Gaston has been hard to kill, but he will be left with a permanent scar on from Porthos’ blow on the right side of his chin. 3

Once he regains consciousness Gaston decides that a dramatic gesture is required. He has Norbert deliver three entire casks of good wine to the Hotel de Treville’s for Porthos and Aramis. Norbert carries one of the casks on each shoulder and a couple of burly porters carry the third cask. This is a prodigious amount of wine as each cask holds over 30 gallons of wine. As the Musketeers drink, Porthos and Norbert arm wrestle. With his right hand, Porthos beats Norbert– no doubt his right arm has been strengthened by all his sword work – however left handed, Norbert beats Porthos, thus showing that Norbert the Giant can be as strong as the Hercules of France. 4

1 Porthos Hilt Punches Gaston who fails his Stop-Thrust and gets his nose broken for -10LB. Gaston is Hard-to-Kill and gets his second wind forcing Porthos to repeatedly retreat while Gaston presses the advantage and ripostes doing -4LB to Porthos. Then Porthos again Hilt Punches Gaston who again fails with Stop-Thrust and takes -8 LB falling as if dead after taking -18 Lifeblood.

2 Meanwhile Father Signoret, and Aramis duel. For several rounds they exchange blows and take turns advancing and retreating, but Aramis uses Quick Cut to gradually wear Gaétan down scoring 4 hits (-2-1-3-2 LB) and forcing Signoret to retreat and finally concede the duel.

3 At the end of the duel, Gaston has taken 18 points of damage out of 14 Lifeblood. He is at -4 Lifeblood. He spends his last Fortune Point to be not quite dead. (This can reduce his damage by 2 points bringing him to -2 Lifeblood.) Fabre’s healing poultice would take at least 1 round to apply but would restore 3 Lifeblood (he rolled well, getting 3LB for each of two poultices). One poultice would get Gaston to 0 Lifeblood which would allow him to heal rather quickly. For dramatic reasons, it is more interesting and plausible for Gaston to spend some days incapacitated and healing. Dramatically Gaston regains consciousness after two days. Once again Gaston has been hard to kill, but he will be left with a permanent scar on the right side of his chin which seems reasonable given all the damage taken.

4 A cask of wine holds 119 liters and weighs a bit under 119 kilograms. The three casks together cost a total of 216 L, which seriously depletes Gaston’s cash.

10.0 Lyon – Side Missions and Intrigues

Adventure #10: Lyon – Side Missions and Intrigues

Session 10.1 (24 FEB 2013) March 5-8, 1623 La place du Sang

  • Guy: 7AP+3AP -10AP (Ranged, Riposte) =0AP
  • Lucien: 4AP+3AP=7AP
  • Gaston: 2AP+3AP-5AP (Duelist 2+ Soldier to 3)=0AP
  • Gaétan: 4AP+3AP-5AP (Glide)=2AP

Session 10.2 (27 FEB 2013) March 8, 1623 Escape from La place du Sang (no Gaétan)

  • Guy: 0AP+2/AP=2AP
  • Lucien: 7AP+2AP=9AP
  • Gaston: 0AP+1AP=1AP

Session 10.3 (28 FEB 2013) March 5-8, 1623

(Gaétan only) Gaétan masters the Spanish style and learns the final Secret of La Verdadera Destreza.

  • Gaétan: 2AP+1AP (letter)+2AP=5AP

Session 10.4 (01 MAR 2013) March 9, 1623 The Fortuneteller

  • Guy: 2AP+2AP=4AP
  • Lucien: 9AP+3AP=12AP
  • Gaston: 1AP+2AP=3AP
  • Gaétan: 5AP+2AP=7AP

Session 10.5 (02 MAR 2013) March 8, 1623 A Quiet Walk Home

(Gaston only)– this is back-played; it occurs at the end of 10.2

  • Gaston: 3AP+2AP-5AP (Dirty Fighting)=0AP

Session 10.6 (08 MAR 2013) March 9, 1623 The Silver Hedgehog

  • Guy: 4AP+2AP=6AP
  • Lucien: 12AP+2AP=14AP
  • Gaston: 0AP+2AP=2AP
  • Gaétan: 7AP+2AP=9AP

Session 10,7 (15 MAR 2013) March 9, 1623

  • Guy: 6AP+2AP=8AP
  • Lucien: 14AP+2AP=16AP
  • Gaston: 2AP+1AP=3AP
  • Gaétan: 9AP+2AP=11AP

Session 10.8 (30 MAR 2013) March 10, 1623 Queen of the Beggars

  • Guy: 8AP+1AP=9AP
  • Lucien: 16AP+1AP=17AP
  • Gaston: 3AP+1AP=4AP
  • Gaétan: 11AP+1AP=12AP

Session 10.9a,b,c (05 APR 2013) 11 March Of Course You’ve Heard of Me (Guy Who?)

  • Guy: 9AP+2AP=11AP
  • Lucien: 17AP+2AP=19AP
  • Gaston: 4AP+2AP=6AP
  • Gaétan: 12AP+3AP=15AP -15AP (Savvy 1)=0AP
9.0 The Road to Autun – Pursuit and Rescue

Adventure #9: The Road to Autun – Pursuit and Rescue

Session 9.1 (08 FEB 2013) February 26-March 2, 1623

Kay & Steve only – Marcia out w/Migraine

  • Guy: 3AP+2AP = 5AP
  • Lucien: 0AP+2AP=2AP
  • Gaston: 3AP+2AP-5AP (Ranged 0)=0AP
  • Gaétan: 4AP+2AP-5AP (Bladework)=1AP

Session 9.2 (15 FEB 2013) March 2-March 5, 1623

  • Guy: 5AP+2AP = 7AP
  • Lucien: 2AP+2AP=4AP
  • Gaston: 0AP+2AP=2AP
  • Gaétan: 1AP+3AP=4AP
8.0 Auxerre and the Black Riders

Adventure #8: Auxerre and the Black Riders

Session 8.1 (21 DEC 2012) February 1623

  • Guy: 3AP+2AP=5AP
  • Lucien: 2AP+2AP=4AP
  • Gaston: 6AP+2AP=8AP
  • Gaétan: 4AP+3AP=7AP

Session 8.2 (23 DEC 2012) February 1623

  • Guy: 5AP+3AP-5AP (Don Juan 1)=3AP
  • Lucien: 4AP+3AP-5AP (Quick Draw)=2AP
  • Gaston: 8AP+3AP=11AP
  • Gaétan: 7AP+3AP-10AP (Quick Cut, Footwork) =0AP

Session 8.3 (25 DEC 2012) February 1623

  • Guy: 3AP+3AP=6AP
  • Lucien: 2AP+3AP-5AP (Dodge)=0AP
  • Gaston: 11AP+3AP=14AP
  • Gaétan: 0AP+3AP=3AP

Session 8.4 (31 DEC 2012) February 24, 1623 Guy and Bertin only

  • Guy: 6AP+2AP-5AP (Dodge)=3AP
  • Bertin: 0AP+2AP=2AP

Session 8.5 (04 JAN 2013) February 24, 1623

  • Guy: 3AP+0AP=3AP (no Guy or Bertin)
  • Lucien: 0AP+2AP=2AP
  • Gaston: 14AP+2AP-10AP (Old Style Shove/Trip)=6AP
  • Gaétan: 0AP+3AP=3AP
  • Fabre: 0AP+1AP=1AP

Session 8.6 (11 JAN 2013) February 25, 1623

  • Guy: 3AP+2AP = 5AP
  • Lucien: 2AP+2AP=4AP
  • Gaston: 6AP+2AP=8AP
  • Gaétan: 3AP+3AP-5AP (Tag)=1AP

Session 8.7 (11 JAN 2013) February 25, 1623

  • Guy: 5AP+1AP = 6AP
  • Lucien: 4AP+1AP=5AP
  • Gaston: 8AP+1AP=9AP
  • Gaétan: 1AP+1AP=2AP

Session 8.8 (11 JAN 2013) February 25, 1623

  • Guy: 6AP+1AP = 7AP
  • Lucien: 5AP+2AP-5AP (Footwork)=2AP
  • Gaston: 9AP+2AP-10A (Brawling 1)=1AP
  • Gaétan: 2AP+3AP-5AP (Parry)=0AP

Session 8.9 (11 JAN 2013) February 25, 1623

  • Guy: 7AP+1AP-5AP (Cloak Parry)=3AP
  • Lucien: 2AP+3AP-5AP (Tag)=0AP
  • Gaston: 1AP+2AP=3AP
  • Gaétan: 0AP+4AP=4AP

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