Averiogne II:17, in which Research Is Done on the Run, an Attempt to Witness an Exemplar of Piety Is Thwarted, and an Apology Is Interrupted

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

Pierre dashes headlong down the corridors, seeking Conrad’s room.  Torches on the walls flicker as he passes.  “Not as young as I once was,” he puffs.

At a branching corridor, he sees something hurtling toward him – but too late.  He falls over, the dark form landing on top of him.  Several thuds fill the hallway.

“Pierre?” a voice says.

“My good Bruyant, couldst thou kindly remove thyself from my chest?” says Pierre.

“Apologies,” says the priest, rising to his knees and reaching for a book fallen from the stack he was carrying.  “I began my research, but thought thy information might be of greater import at the moment.  Hast thou found aught?”

The merchant gets up and helps Bruyant gather his tomes.  “The Inquisitor arrived in town with a small retinue.  The two guards with whom he arrived are accounted for, and Obert is safe in bed.  Breschau embarked earlier this evening – ‘tis his custom to do his business in the taverns when tongues are loosened, I am told.  It remains to check on Conrad himself.”

“Those are only the ones who came with him openly,” says Bruyant.  “His spies…”

“Are another matter entirely.  Here.”  Pierre grabs the books from Bruyant’s arms, save for the bottom one.  “Thou mayst read whilst I play the porter.”

The two move down the corridor at a slower pace.

“Gervais of Tilbury,” Pierre puffs, “avers that men are transformed into wolves at the full moon when ‘smitten by a great dread.’  Apparently one can only transform back into a human when a hunter chops off a limb.”

“I think we can rule that one out.  The beast would be unable to walk, let alone kill.”

Bruyant peeks at the stack of books.  “I do recall one classical author transformed into an ass by sorceresses…”

“Apuleius,” says Pierre.  “’Twas transformed back by the cult of a pagan goddess.”  Bruyant gives an incredulous look, and Pierre shrugs.  “A self-educated man is filled with surprises,” he says, slowing down.  “This not being one of them.”

Before them is the door to Conrad of Nurnburg’s apartment, with two large guards clad in leather in front of it, talking quietly.  Pierre moves forward, and the men move to block him.

“The holy man is praying,” says one of the guards, his hands on his sword hilt.

“Gentlemen, please,” says Pierre. “You are the archbishop’s men, as are we.  We promise not to disturb him, but his piety is an inspiration to us…”

“We may be the archbishop’s men, but we have been requisitioned by the inquisitor,” the guard replies.  “His authority comes straight from the Pope, and we must obey him in all matters.  His orders were that none pass through this door save if he commands otherwise.”

“Monsieur le Butelier?”

Pierre and Bruyant turn to find a servant bowing before them.

“The archbishop is awake, and will see thee now.”

As they walk toward the archbishop’s solarium, Pierre mutters, “I wish we were the ones off in search of a girl.”

Meanwhile, in the Rue de Chien Bizarre…

The mist thickens about the duo as they plod down the narrow street.  The houses loom overhead, half-unseen, with only the occasional groaning of strained timbers to break the slow dripping of water from the eaves.

“Is this the place?” Marcel peers dubiously about.

“My directions were accurate,” replies Julien.  He points to the right of a house toward a lighter spot a story up.  “That gap in the buildings means that this is the shed next to the home of the Sieur de Tourgeant.  We have arrived.”  He pounds on the door.

A haggard servant opens it quickly.  “We wish to speak with the lady with the red hair, please,” says Marcel.  The man nods and withdraws.

“Art thou sure this is where we should be right now?” hisses Julien.

“I trust my instincts,” says Marcel.  “Besides which, she is a -“

The lady stands in the doorway.  It appears that she has thrown on her clothing in a hurry, and her disordered tresses only make her look the lovelier.   She waits for a moment, collecting herself, and speaks.
“My dear clerk, my name is Orianne.  I wish to apologize to thee for my unwarranted and impolite conduct on… sir?”

Marcel and Julien are heedless of her words.  They stare to the side, to the roof of the shed, where a hulking mass of fur and sinew bares its teeth.

Published in: on June 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Heh heh heh. You people who weren’t in the game are in for a treat…

  2. Waiting with bated breath, I assure you…:)

  3. Waiting with bated breath, I assure you…:)

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