Averoigne PBEM II:18, in which Various and Sundry Reasons for not Breaking and Entering Are Enumerated, and Marcel Learns to Appreciate the Value of a Good Doorstop

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

“So, one of the Inquisitor’s retinue may be a werewolf,” says the archbishop, pacing the room.

Bruyant nods.  “It seems unlikely that a man of God would be in league with Lucifer in such a foul manner, but Obert’s evidence makes this eventuality more plausible.”

“Monster!  I’ll see his bid, and do thee better!” cries out a voice from down the hall.  Bruyant and Pierre leap to their feet.

The Archbishop waves off-handedly.  “The winetaster thou brought here is safely guarded, but he sleeps uneasily.  I fear for his soul.”

Pierre chuckles.  “Fear not – the man has no coin with which to endanger his salvation.”  He clears his throat.  “Thy Excellency, I would ask that we be given leave to search the rooms of these men. A small disturbance in the night is inconsequential compared to the task of revealing a Satanic presence.”

“This we cannot do,” says the archbishop slowly.  “Primus, we know not whom we seek.  Secundus, we know not whether a person is innocent if they do indeed occupy their room, or guilty if they do not.  Tertius, we know not what we seek, if we find not a person.   Quartus, the investigation of a Satanic presence by ourselves will certainly seem untoward when we have one who investigates said presences as his vocation and calling at hand, no matter how inefficient we might find his handling of this matter.  Quintus, the Inquisitor and his men are under the seal of protection of the Pope, and interference with them of this sort means excommunication, and likely a lengthy stint as outlaws.  This is unacceptable, as the damp woods are conducive to illness in old men.”  He gives a quick smile.

“Then what shall we do, Thy Excellency?” asks Bruyant.

“’Tis better to be right than to go in haste,” says the Archbishop.  “Though I fear that many lives hang in the balance, we must be sure of where the chessmen lie before we move, lest we bear the blame and the beast go free.  And when we move, it must be swift and certain as a quarrel from an arbalest.”  He lays a hand on Pierre’s shoulder.  “I am sure there are other ways, Monsieur le Butelier.  I have faith that thou shalt find them.”

A shout and clanging can be heard through the shutters.

“The hue and cry!” shouts Pierre.

“Where did our friends say they were?” asks Bruyant as they rush downstairs.

Shortly before, at the house of Sieur de Tourgeant on the Rue de Chien Bizarre…

“Fight me if thou darest, O brave killer of pigs!” shouts Julien, his sword pointing menacingly in the monster’s direction.  Marcel releases his friend’s tunic and runs inside the house, pushing a protesting Orianne before him.  The thing’s growls grow in intensity.

Julien’s gaze meets the beast’s hideous yellow eyes, drops to its slavering, bloodstained maw, and then…

“God in heaven,” he breathes.

And it springs.

Julien twists aside from the teeth, keeping his sword at ready.  With a shout, he slashes at the creature, feeling the blade connect with fur and gristle, and then turn aside, leaving nothing but a small gash on the creature’s flank.

The beast snarls, and moving impossibly fast, fastens upon the clerk’s sword arm.  He cries out from the pain, but holds fast to his weapon.

The friar returns, brandishing a burning log before him.  “Taste this, beast!”  He takes a wide swing at the wolf, scattering sparks that are snuffed on the muddy ground.  The beast turns and ducks inside the arc of the makeshift torch, snapping and snarling.

“The beast fears not fire!” cries Marcel.

“My sword is of no use!” responds Julien.  “Quickly!  Inside!”

The two men run for the interior as the wolf lunges at the clerk.  Julien attempts to sidestep it, but its teeth sink into his side.  The large man, his arms wheeling, tears himself free and falls backward through the door, which slams shut.

Inside, Julien lands heavily on the dirt.  Marcel and Orianne brace themselves, backs to the door, feet sinking slowly into the ground, as the door shakes with impact upon impact.

“Who art thou, stranger?”

An old man limps toward the door.  Despite his bent leg and confused expression, his frame bears the signs of decades at arms.

“Introductions must wait, I fear,” Marcel calls.  “Please hold the door!  My friend is injured!”

“Please, uncle!” cries the girl.

“Saracens!” the man booms.  “In the name of good King Louis, they shall not have thee!”

He quickly takes Marcel’s place.  The friar kneels over his friend, tearing off a strip of cloth from his habit to bandage his friend’s side.  While the thuds against the door continue, the bleeding is staunched, and Julien’s eyelids flutter.

“He lives!”  Marcel beams.  He gingerly lifts Julien’s arm, and shakes his head.

“I am no chirurgeon, sir,” says the girl, “but mayhap my own skill could aid him.  Hold the door!”

The friar returns to the door, while Orianne attends to Julien.  Marcel feels his teeth rattle as the door is struck again.

“I am the Sieur de Tourgeant,” says the old man.

“Marcel l’Hyers, of the Order of St. Francis.”

In the meantime, the lady has dressed the clerk’s arm.  He weakly pulls himself upward, and with Orianne’s assistance, he is soon standing.

“He walks!  Praise God!”  Marcel gives a quick laugh. He checks himself.  “Here!  Prop him up against the door!”

Orianne and Julien make their way to the door, where she leans Julien’s bulk against the shuddering portal.  Marcel puts his sword in the clerk’s hand, where it dangles loosely.

The creature throws itself against the door once more, and gives a soft whine.

All is still.

Orianne’s face is flushed.  “I can hear alarums in the distance,” she says.

The servant returns.  “Sir, the doors and shutters are barred.”  The old man nods.

The clerk mumbles something under his breath.  “What was that, friend?” asks Marcel, his face filled with concern.

Julien gives the friar an unsteady look.  “Amber,” he says.  “The beast wears a cross of gold set with amber.”

Published in: on July 6, 2008 at 10:59 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Aieee! Poor Julien…

  2. What he lacks in Dodge skill he makes up for in heart. Or so I told myself.

  3. Sounds plausible. 🙂

    Will be on tenterhooks the rest of the week now…darn it, Dan. 😉

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