(A little context is missing here. In the wake of last weeks’ events, Marcel, as Julien’s spiritual counselor, has decided to take him on a pilgrimage far from Averoigne. Meanwhile, Bruyant has begun to tail Breschau.)
Being Sext, Sunday, the fifteenth day of February, Anno Domini One Thousand Two Hundred and Seventy-Six, in the dungeons beneath the palace of the Archbishop of Vyones…
Marcel and Julien’s feet resound through the corridor, but it cannot cover the sounds of Andre’s cackling in the cell they have just departed.
The friar holds before him a slate and a piece of chalk, on which he compiles a list of supplies for the upcoming pilgrimage to Assisi. “I fear that Andre d’Erlette hath, from the circumstances of the past few days, gone quite mad. Though ‘tis true that he was not so stable to begin with.”
“He hath a point, however,” says Julien glumly, glancing over his shoulder. “The beast was real, fur and flesh, bone and blood. Given the bravery to the point of foolhardiness that we hath witnessed, I really doubt that Andre he would be bearded in his den by a scrawny madman bearing a knife.” He spreads his hands before him. “Though apparently I had no such qualms…”
Marcel transfers the chalk to the hand with the slate, placing the other on the clerk’s shoulder. “If thou hadst not acted, a man would be dead and beyond hope of salvation.”
“He may be the latter already. And now I hath another sad duty to perform.” He pauses in front of a cell door. “An apology seems inadequate for the agony and suffering I hath caused this lady and her family.
“Fear not, friend,” says Marcel. “Even if it is not accepted, to request forgiveness is good for the soul.” He nods to the guard, who opens the door. Julien walks in hesitantly.
“Julien le Grand?” says a voice from a corner.
“Mademoiselle.” Julien shifts awkwardly and clears his throat. “I – “
He hears a rustling sound, and suddenly Orianne has run forward and thrown her arms around him.
“Good sir, please forgive me. I had no right to attempt to slay thee. ‘Twas a fit of madness – I know I hath a right to be angry, but to jeopardize my soul with thy death-“
“Nay, milady.” Julien hugs her back. “’Twas not for my actions, thou wouldst never have found thyself in such a difficult position. I hath wronged thee and thy family-“
“And thou art forgiven!” The lady looks up, tears shining in her eyes.
“As thou art!” Julien returns her embrace.
Marcel looks on uncomfortably; then he pushes between the two. “Monsieur le Grand, we must meet with our friend upstairs. Now.” He quickly hustles Julien out the door.
Orianne sits down on her straw mattress and listens to the voices moving away down the corridor.
“Yet forgiveness is good for the soul!”
“Not that much forgiveness, good clerk.”
“Wait! Why art thou transferring paraphernalia from thy pack list to mine own?”
“’Tis part of my duty as thy spiritual counselor…”
The two companions open the door to a private meeting room. There, before a roaring fire, they find Pierre, in clean clothes, a pitcher of wine on either side, and cups spread across the expanse of table before him.
“Monsieurs, please enter!” says the merchant, slapping the table. “I believe I am on to something!”
Marcel exchanges glances with Julien, who is slipping back from his elation into a brooding silence. The two are seated.
“You see, I have arrayed the facts before me in the form of these goblets.” Pierre waves his hand wildly over the table, nearly crashing into a pitcher. “When I arrive at a fact that is definitely proved, I record it – so!” He snaps up a cup and drains it.
“So, what hast thou proven via such an unorthodox method?” Marcel asks.
Pierre begins to point unsteadily at a cup. He stops and points at another, wrinkling his brow. He pounds the table. “We must find a solution, men! Here, aid me!” He grabs a pitcher and sloppily fills the goblets once more.
Marcel shakes his head. “Good Pierre, while I believe thy basic thesis that we hath not uncovered everything about the beast, drunkenness rarely leads to clear cogitation on weighty matters. Perhaps we should wait until tomorrow -“
The door opens, and a dirty beggar in tattered scraps of clothing wanders in. He spies the wine on the table, and is seated.
Julien clears his throat. “Sir, this is a private – Bruyant! Is it thee?”
The priest looks back at him, looking startled. “Oh wait!” He runs to the corner of the room and begins splashing water on his face and hands.
“I had no idea that thou wert so good at disguises, Father,” says Pierre.
“I feel I am not,” says the priest. “This mission hath called upon many areas of expertise that do not coincide with schooling for holy orders.” Now clean, he rejoins them at the table. “I hath had some success with our quarry. Primus, he is a difficult man to follow. I am sure he saw me, though I doubt I was recognized. Secundus, I did witness him departing an establishment dedicated to the outfitting of travelers with a considerable selection of gear.”
Marcel looks at his slate. “Canst thou recommend it to me?”
A knock is heard at the door. Bruyant rises, talks quickly with the person at the door, and comes back, a scrap of paper clutched in one hand.
“What is it?” asks Pierre, craning his neck.
“A note intended for me. It asks me to come to the belfry of the cathedral of Vyones at midnight.” He tosses it on the table. “I do not recognize the handwriting, and it is unsigned.”