Averoigne II:11, in which Vast Quantities of Wine are Consumed and a Lady Unburdens but a Little of Her Heart

Being Vespers, Thursday, the twelfth day of February, Anno Domini One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy-Six, in the common room of the Inn of Deux Diables…

Julien gives a deep bow to the angry ruffian.  “Please accept my apologies, sir.”  He steps aside gallantly.  “It pains me, however, that thy adherence to this location will prevent thee from joining me in a refreshing glass of wine at yon table.”

The man looks at him dully for a moment.  “Aye?”  He considers.  “Well, then…” and heads toward the indicated corner.

Julien sighs.  Marcel, who had stood with one hand toward the curtain, looks downcast, but follows his friend.

“Barkeep!” calls Julien, once well away from the back room.  “Three mugs, and a pitcher of thy finest!”

“Make that four mugs,” says a well-dressed young man with a dark mop of hair, walking to the table.  “And be sure it is thy finest, barkeep.”

Introductions are quickly exchanged.  The gap-toothed man is Wulfgang, a mercenary from the Holy Roman Empire, and the youngster is Marc l’Effronté, a newly-appointed winetaster in Vyones.  The topic soon turns to the recent events in town.

“I’ve heard of this Conrad,” says Wulfgang, after draining his mug.  “I was never in town when he was there, but he cut quite a swath through Provence.  It is said he brought much death with him.”

“What sort of death?” asks Marcel.

The mercenary shakes his head.  “I do not know, save that my friend hinted that it was neither of the stake nor the rack.”

“Terror raises its head here in Vyones as well,” says the winetaster.  “’Twas last night that I heard something shuffling and snorting outside my doorway.  I called it to show itself.  Then I opened the door with my blade drawn, and it was gone.  I care not to hear such a thing again.”

A short time later, Marcel gestures Julien closer.  “Our friend Breschau has not emerged, and much time hath passed.  Thinkest thou that he hast found another exit?” he says sotto voce.

“Yes.”  Julien takes another sip and peers at the curtain.  “The light is snuffed.  No doubt he left shortly after he heard raised voices outside.  It may be best to pick up his trail tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, in the dungeons of the palace of the archbishop…

“Fear not, milady,” says Bruyant, stepping forward slowly.  “I mean thee no harm.  Thy best hope of avoiding the fires of the Inquisition is to be honest with us about what hath occurred.”

She shrinks back, but speaks.

“I loved a man,” she says, looking at the damp cell walls.  “He agreed to it, and then he spurned me – all for the most Godly reasons, I might add.  I was angry, and jealous, and hurt, and if those be crimes, then every woman in history is likely guilty.  I am no poisoner, or witch, or heretic, and if I had not been framed by persons unknown, I might not be here.  Indeed, it might be thy coming to my dwelling that brought this upon me.  Now, I would be alone.”

“What of thy dreams, milady?   Wouldst thou speak of them?” asks Pierre.

The woman takes another look at Bruyant’s robe.  “Nay, sir.  For now, they are my own,” she says, and faces the wall.

Published in: on April 27, 2008 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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