Averoigne II:15, in which Julien and Bruyant Search for a Mysterious Stranger, Pierre Learns of a Deep Injustice, and Marcel Buys Some Pears

Being Vespers, Friday, the thirteenth day of February, Anno Domini One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy-Six, in a guest bedroom of the palace of the Archbishop of Vyones…

Pierre paces the rich Persian carpet, looking with concern at Marc’s recumbent form.  “No such beast dwells in this city, save if one counts that ridiculous costume of the traveling troupe,” he mutters.  “At least this one breathes regularly now.” The guard at the door peeks around the corner, withdrawing when he sees no change has come.

A slight sigh escapes the winetaster’s lips, and the young man’s eyes flutter open.  He gasps and sits up.  “Pierre le Butelier!  I am alive!”

“Indeed, good sir,” Pierre says in a soothing voice.  “Thou hast been most afflicted -“

“I was in hell!  Demons of the foulest visage and vilest dialect beset me all about!  Visions of a man with the faces of Malebolge!  God hath been merciful to a poor sinner!”  He begins to weep, grasping Pierre’s vest.  “My excellent Pierre, please forgive me my transgressions.  For I have sinned against God and against thee.  I overvalued thy wine at the tavern and pocketed the remainder…”

“What!” shouts Pierre.

“’Twas only thrice!” cries Marc.

The guard peeks in again, and Pierre grumbles and pulls the man’s hands from his clothing.  “Fear not… sir,” he says.  “There will be time for penance later.  Now, thou must regain thy strength.”  He scratches his chin.  “As none but God may know the future, however, thou shouldst settle thy iniquity with me posthaste.”

“Aye, and gladly,” says Marc.  He pulls the purse from his belt and rummages inside.  “What is this?  All of my coin has been transmuted into stone!”  He pours out a shower of pebbles on the floor.  “God shows us his mercy as he taketh away temptation!”

“The Almighty clearly hath a quarrel with winesellers,” says Pierre.  “Guard!  Make sure this man gets his rest.  I must be home, to oversee the preparation of a grand meal.”

Meanwhile, in the dungeons below…

The light of the candles in the room’s corners casts a warm glow overcome a few feet away from the damp walls.  Still, Bruyant considers, the place is somewhat cheerier than it was before.  For what seems to be the hundredth time, he returns his attention to Eve.  The prisoner gives him a slight smile before turning back to the wall.

“Milady,” the priest says.  “I must ask thee again.  Do you know this man – tall, saturnine, cloaked and hooded?”

She remains silent.

The priest wheels on her, his anger breaking through after hours.  “Let me be frank, mademoiselle.  Thou art concealing information from me, and I know it.  Were it only thy soul at stake, I would be content to leave thee to make peace with God as best thou wert able.  But now, a madman walks the streets, and more will die due to thy silence!”

Eve looks at him calmly.  “Sir, I know the Inquisition.  I know I am likely doomed already, due to no fault of my own.  If I choose to give thee information that condemns no one but my own conscience, can I be blamed for not making my ordeal even worse?”  She runs her fingers over the masonry in the wall. “I protect only myself, father.  There is no such man as thou dost seek.”

Meanwhile, in the Tavern of Satyre Présomptueux…

“Yeah, I know him,” says the laborer, wine dripping down his tunic.  “Comes round here quite a bit.”

“Indeed?  Allow me to top off thy mug.”  Julien gestures to the taverner.  “Now, tell me more.”  He leans forward.

The man takes another drink, and small drops soak into the sawdust on the floor.  “As thou art the archbishop’s man, ‘swounds, I’ll spare thee more rounds by blabbering like I know something.”  He points in the vague direction of what might be a corner.  “He comes in and sits right over there.  Doesn’t say much.  He does buy drinks sometimes, for different people.  Mostly, he just listens.”

“Listens to what?”

The man shrugs.  “I don’t know.  Mostly the local gossip – the liars, the cheats, who’s couching who behind…”  He checks himself.  “Begging thy pardon, sir.”

Julien grabs his mug.  “I may live in a archbishop’s palace, sir, but I know of such things.  Dost thou know where he might live?”

“Nay, sir, but I know something else.”  He leans in closer, and the clerk can smell alcohol, grime and sweat intermingled.  “He wears something under that cloak.  I’ve only seen the seam, but it’s something light, and embroidered with a pattern.  Like faces, see?”

For those who are curious, Marcel was out buying food, such as pears, for the feast, and questioning the guards about the doings of Inquisitor Conrad.

Next week will be slightly delayed, but it will be a dinner party to remember.

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Published in: on June 8, 2008 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

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