Averoigne PBEM II:19, in which a Questioning Is Twice Interrupted, Wine and Cheese Are Consumed, and Bruyant the Priest Considers a New Career

Being Compline, Friday, the thirteenth day of February, Anno Domini One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy-Six, at the house of Sieur de Tourgeant on the Rue de Chien Bizarre…

Even though he feels he grips his sword tightly, the point of Julien’s sword drifts from one side to the other.  Propping himself against the wall, he pushes the bolt aside and slowly edges the door open with his foot.  Outside, the mist, intermingling with wood smoke, curls through the street.

In the mud, not three feet from Julien’s boots, are the prints of a huge beast.  Their layout matches the terrific assaults upon the portal, with another line toward the shed is visible.

Julien chews his lip.  From this vantage, the beast could be lurking anywhere nearby…

The light of lanterns and a hubbub of curious voice come from the next intersection.

“Here!” cries Julien.  “But ‘ware the wolf!”

He stumbles inside and gives his message to the servant, who makes his departure.  Guards soon fill the room, and Julien quickly tells them a sanitized version of events that, when combined with his wounded state, leaves them shaken nonetheless.  While the captain orders his men to secure the area, Julien walks to the base of the stairs, from the top of which the voice of the Franciscan descends.

“So, milady, that is the shape of matters.  Now, it is of vital importance that we know why the beast chose thy house to visit.  Thy life, as well as those of all in this house and many of the populace of Vyones, is at stake here.”

A lengthy pause follows.  “Well,” Orianne says softly, “I didst have lustful thoughts of this sort…”  Her voice falls to a whisper.

“No!” cries Marcel, and quickly whispers something back.  He then comes bounding down the stairs.

“What is it?” says Julien.

Marcel stops, looks at his friend, and shivers.  He quickly grabs a pitcher of wine, pours himself a mug, and gulps it down.  “The young woman,” he says, steadfastly looking away from Julien, “is the possessor of some curious and quite perverse fantasies regarding thee.”

Julien’s countenance brightens.  “Truly, good friar?”

Marcel sighs.  “The less said of them, the better.  Suffice to say, they do not seem sufficient cause for a werewolf to attack this household.”

“I must say, Marcel, I find thy questioning incomplete.  I shall recommence it until I reach satisfaction – I mean, until I am satisfied.”

Julien heads for the stairs, only to stop when the old man enters the room.  “Ah, Sieur de Tourgeant.  I am Julien le Grand, clerk in the service of the Archbishop.”  He gives a sweeping bow, his eyes still fastened on the staircase.  “I fear our introductions must be brief, as the Archbishop’s mission requires me elsewhere.”

Marcel coughs.  “My dear Sieur de Tourgeant, as this man’s spiritual counselor, who is responsible for both body and soul, it is imperative that this man be taken to the leech Nathaire posthaste.”

“As thou wilt, friar.”  The old man bows and steers Julien away by his shoulder.  “Now, come with me, good sir.  No doubt Good King Louis will make thee a baronet for thy valour.”

“I fear that king is dead, but I hope someone bestoweth recognition upon me for my sacrifice,” Julien says, giving Marcel a nasty look.

At that moment, in the hallway outside the room of Father Conrad of Nurnburg, in the palace of the Archbishop of Vyones…

“Hast thou no heart, good sir?”  pleads one of the guards at the door.  “Give us some peace, I beg of thee.”

“I fear that is impossible, sir,” says Pierre, taking another bite from the chicken leg.  “Thou hast thy duties, gentlemen -“ he swigs from a wineskin “- and I have mine.”

“And I have none,” says a voice behind him.

The wineseller turns to see Marc, the winetaster, walking toward him.  “Shouldst thou not be abed?” he asks.

Marc shrugs.  “Perhaps, but I do not feel that I should.  In addition, I have purloined this fine cheese from the pantry, that a noble soul might share it with me.”

Pierre sniffs the proffered product and smiles.  “Indeed, a cheese worthy of such an endeavor!  Draw up a stool, sir.”

The guards protest once again, but soon the two men are seated and happily munching.

“Earlier, good sir,” says Pierre, wiping his mouth with his hand, “I heard thee call out in thy sleep.  Might I enquire as to the substance of thy dream?”

The winetaster nods.  “Indeed, as it would be good to gain another’s judgment on its possible import.”  He takes a quick swig to moisten his lips.  “It seemeth that I was in my domicile, looking over the records for my new profession.  Then a man in a hood and cloak entered.  He offered – it sounds incredible – that the soul of Clovis might be bought by him.”

“Clovis?”

“The chief competitor for my current employment, who lost in the end to me.”  Marc slices off a piece of change.  “He then suggests that Clovis has bought the rights to my soul, so I’d best do better than that.  I toss my pouch to him, and when he catches it – I see the faces of demons inside his coat!”

The winetaster sits back.  “What thinkest thou, Monsieur le Butelier?  Often it seemeth that the interpretations of such dreams are the opposite of what they seem on the surface.  Thus, I shall acquire money from a divine force that will help one who is in need.  Dost thou agree?”

Meanwhile, in the courtyard outside…

Bruyant shivers and holds his hands over the hissing wood of the fire.  He glances at the pot and wooden spoon, to signal the guards if need be, on the ground next to him.  He wishes that his position was reversed with Pierre’s.  Still, Pierre’s point – nobody would possibly believe that he would be outside on a cold, damp night merely out of virtue – did make sense.

The priest glances upward at the inquisitor’s window, which still is lit by a flickering lamp.  He has seen no motion within since he began his vigil.  He fears for his friends, hoping the guards have reached them in time…

“Father Bruyant le Grand?”

Out of the mist steps Breschau.  He rubs his hands as he comes close to the fire.  “What dost thou do here, friend?” he asks.  “Thou playest Peter in courtyard tonight?”  He gives a quick laugh.

“Can I help thee, sir?”  Bruyant looks nervously up at the window.

“No, but maybe thou help me.”  Breschau sighs, creating a great cloud of steam before his mouth.  “I look at thee, Father, and I see good man.  Man of faith and love of God.  Man of anger.  Not bad anger, but righteous anger.  Anger that changes things, that does good. Thy quality is wasted here.”

“Thou wantest me to work for the Inquisition?” asks Bruyant.

“I think thou could be of greater use to Christ than as simple parish priest,” Breschau replies.  “World is full of sinners.  Thou lookest at Conrad’s window?  He is imperfect man, but he tries, like rest of us.  It would be to greater glory…”

The sound of running feet can be heard behind them.  Breschau nods to the priest.  “Think on it,” he says, and walks toward the palace.

“Thou art Father Bruyant,” says the panting servant.  “I have a message for thee from thy friends…”

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Published in: on July 13, 2008 at 11:48 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Huzzah, on multiple counts!

    *applauds*


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