Averoigne II:14, in which a Late-Night Visitor is Reported and a Friar Feels a Woman’s Touch

Being Sext, Friday, the thirteenth day of February, Anno Domini One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy-Six, in the Rue de la Immacule in Vyones…

Marcel puffs as he marches up the street more speedily than is entirely proper for a distinguished cleric.

“Nothing,” he mutters to himself.  “Oh, she and the children were polite enough, and I sense no deception.  Still, Valere the guard seems to have had no contact with Marc the winetaster, and he never patronized the inn of Deux Diables, save to break up the occasional fight with a dozen other heavily-armed guardsmen.  This is indeed a puzzling affair…”

A hand is laid on his arm, and Marcel leaps back, staff at the ready.  The lady with the red tresses stands beside him, wearing a dress of bright green, her eyes widening in astonishment.  “Father?”

The friar quickly recovers and bows.  “Milady.  Pardon my reaction, but these are dangerous times.”

“Indeed.”  She bites her lip.  “Father, I hath made inquiries about this town, and I hath uncovered who thou… and the other gentlemen… art.  My conscience has troubled me greatly about the way I treated Monsieur le Grand, and now my knowledge of the esteem and love with which the Archbishop regards thee  both only compounds my foolishness.  Is there… any way that I might make amends with him?”

Marcel ponders for a moment.  “It is a difficult question.  My station touches little on such matters between men and women…”

She glances up the street, and then back to Marcel’s contemplative face.  “He comes now!  I am not prepared to face him yet!  I dwell at the house of Sieur de Tourgeant, on the Rue de Chien Bizarre.  Seek me there!”  She hurries off into the crowd.

“Your name?” Marcel asks.  He receive no answer.

Julien and Bruyant are at Marcel’s side.  “The drinkers of Averoigne are reticent at this time of day,” the priest mutters as they walk toward the midwife’s hut.  “Especially when the Inquisition’s agents are asking the same questions as we.”

“Mayhap we should return later,” says Julien.  “’Tis likely that those who drink this early recall little of what happens later.  Didst thy questioning reveal aught of interest, Marcel?”

The friar laughs.  “Nay, but I do possess some interesting news for thee.  We shall discuss it more anon.”

Meanwhile, in the cottage of Myriam le Ventriere on the Rue des Pataieres…

“Attacked by demons?”  Myriam has ceased her usual bustling about to sit quietly before the stove.  She looks off into a corner.

“Yes, milady.” Pierre continues.  “Would this be a possible result of the poison thou hast described earlier?”

“Ah?  Oh, yes, yes it would.”  The midwife twists the strings of her apron in her hands.  “Quite the usual response, actually, for a person under any sort of stress.  Where is Marc now?”

“Resting comfortably at the Archbishop’s palace.  Nathaire says he must rest, but he should be well enough to answer questions soon…  Is something wrong, Milady?”

She hesitates.  “Something came here last night.”

Pierre waits.

“I had thrown an extra log on the fire and was settling down for the night,” she continues.  “Outside the door, I could hear something large shuffling.  I thought it was a client, so I called out to wait as I arose.  It did not answer, but I heard a snort and a rumble.  Whatever it was, ‘twas not human.  After a few minutes, I heard it move away.  I went to the shutters and bolted them  and not a moment too soon, it turned out.  Whatever it was went all around the house, scratching at every entrance, for nearly half an hour.  I heard the town guard marching nearby, and it departed.”  She is shaking.  “I do not know what it could be.”

The wineseller rises.  “Nor do I.  I must leave and rejoin my friends.  But as God is my witness, we will find out, and free Vyones of this terror.”

She gives him a weak smile as she departs.

Published in: on June 1, 2008 at 8:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

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