Flashing Blades: Play Report (Jan. 13, 2012)
Jaques Ampere, cornette in the Gendarmes de la Reine
Guy d’Brest, a greffier in the Royal Bureaucracy
Pascal Fourier, a King’s Musketeer
Baltasar Guetier, an unsavory fellow
Jan de Carpentry, a King’s Musketeer — absent (on duty)
Marcel Peroche, a student of theology for the Order of Preachers — absent (studying for exams)
A Market Day in Early Summer, In The Year of Our Lord 1623
- A Benedictine rumored to have healing powers visiting Paris in the coming weeks, preaching a mission
- A notorious assassin has escaped from the Bastille
- Queen’s Fusilliers recruiting due to terrible losses in latest campaign
- Viscount de Bouvard’s prize stud has been stolen; reward of up to 1000 livres for return of horse and capture of thief or thieves
Pascal needed to meet with his mistress before the troupe proceed to the Palais d’Justice to get the details on hunting the assassin. Arriving at her doorstep, her maid informs Pascal that it is her (the mistress’) birthday and he must return before sundown with lillies, plum wine, and cherry bon-bons.
Guy Brest is aware that only one wine shop, on the other side of Paris, might stock plum wine. Charlie’s character sends his faithful lackey to Les Halles in an effort to find the lillies as the troupe sets off for Le Renard et La Vigne. Pressing their way through the crowded streets, they stop by the Palais d’Justice in an effort to get information on the escaped assassin. As the bureaucracy is grindingly slow today, Jacques remains behind to acquire the desired information.
A sword swallower is performing in one of the streets and Baltasar is roped into allowing his sword to be swallowed, impressing the crowd and delaying the party.
Diving back into the crowds, Guy accidentally treads on the foot of a hot-tempered young officer, Bertrand de Vanille, a cornet in the Gascon Regiment. A duel proving unavoidable, Guy, with Baltasar as his secondary, arrange to meet at the Luxembourg Gardens immediately.
Stripped of his comrades, Pascal goes on in haste, only to encounter a mob attacking a nobleman’s carriage. He announced himself as a King’s Musketeer and recevied a rotten tomato in the chest for his effrontery. Drawing steel, he advanced on the filthy rabble and they scattered, like cockroaches from sudden illumination.
Helping the Viscount d’Amiens out of the busted carriage, the two sought refuge in the wine merchant’s shop. The proprietor of Le Renard et Le Vigne is found, passed out drunk behind the counter. Pascal and the young Viscount rouse him briefly with a pail of cold water, but the sotted landlord quickly tumbles back into bibulous slumber. Left to their own devices, the young duo descend the stairs into the wine cellar and begin searching for the plum wine the best way they know how: tasting every bottle.
Guy and Baltasar make their way to the Luxembourg for the meeting with Bertrand de Vanille and his second. Guy attempts to end matters with civility but the Gascon, mad as a hornet, insists that only blood will do. The two swordsmen feint ineffectually with one another for a few passes. A sudden burst of energy by both swordsmen results in a scratch to Guy and the Gascon lying nearly beheaded in a pool of his own blood. His second screams, “Murderers!” and makes to summon the Watch while Guy and Baltasar make a hasty retreat, seeking refuge in the Church of St-Germain-des-Pres. The clergy of the church are just singing the noonday office.
Jacques waits impatiently for an audience with the particular bureaucrat whose portfolio includes the escaped assassin. After a lengthy wait, it occurs to Jacques to grease the palm of the secretary who shortly thereafter ushers him into a dimly-lit, cramped office. The office is occupied by a creepy bureaucrat whose serpentine mannerisms and oily voice ooze uncomfortably, causing Jacques to squirm. A few minutes later, that must have seemed far longer, Jacques manages to escape without having been violated and with the necessary information. He sets out in haste to meet up with his friends.
Guy, Baltasar, and Jacques manage to converge on the wine shop at about the same time, shortly after 1 in the afternoon. They notice a fine carriage up on blocks in front of the shop, stripped of its finery. Guy observes acidly, “It’s a rougher neighborhood than the last time I visited” as they enter the dimly lit interior. They hear drunken singing from downstairs and descend, only to find Pascal passed out and the young Viscount singing.
Their best efforts to rouse Pascal succeed and they eventually try to rouse the landlord. Several hours pass before he is roused but, as the Vespers bells toll, the plum wine is found. Some 40-odd bottles of wine have been opened in the search for the plum wine and the owner of the shop demands payment. Dragging the drunken Viscount with them, the party pays the landlord and sets off in search of a chocolatier.
They encounter a beautiful gypsy girl dancing lewdly in the street to the music of some troubadours. The Viscount is smitten and goes off in pursuit of them after the party’s efforts to hire the troubadours to play for Pascal’s mistress fail.
Shortly afterwards, the party is assaulted by rotten cabbages falling off a cart. Since they are running out of time, they decide to split the party. Baltasar has set off at a run to seek the chocolates while the others head to someplace where they can clean up and remove the skunky smell.
Baltasar encounters the carriage of the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris and is covered in mud as it races by, surrounded by His Eminence’ entourage. The ill-bred lout not only loses his temper and shouts threats against the person of His Eminence, attracting the interest of his mounted guard, but he utters treasonous blasphemies as well. Clapped in manacles and clubbed on the head, he awakes to find himself in a dank prison cell with a throbbing headache and cottonmouth.
As they get themselves cleaned up they return to the corner tavern where all this started. Pascal’s lackey turns up with white roses, which he was assured were a very exotic kind of lily. Baltasar never turns up but Guy overhears from a pair of cavaliers walking by that a young tough was arrested for threatening the Cardinal Archbishop. He inquires after this lout and the description fits that of Baltasar.
Guy conceives of a plan: he’s lost track of his idiot nephew, a poor soul beset with an inability to behave himself appropriately. Armed with this ruse, the party proceeds to the palace of the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris. They chat with one of the guards at the gate, a proud cavalier who sends for one of the canons. Pascal is induced to hand over the plum wine to the prelate who promises to present this plea for mercy to His Eminence. Some half an hour later, the prelate returns with a document bearing His Eminence’ seal.
Proceeding to the Bastille with this document, they secure the release of Baltasar…and decide that they all need a drink after the day’s events.
They find their way to Le Brevage Noir, a dive not too far from the Bastille. Cockfights, card games, and dice are being played by various patrons of the crowded establishment. Lewd images adorn the walls…and the arms of some of the patrons, too. Jacques bellies up to a table with a dissolute nobleman and enters a game of cards with him.
The game goes back and forth with both parties remaining roughly even. Whenever Jacques wins, he buys a round. When he loses, he toasts his opponent. While Jacques is playing, Pascal watches his back and Baltasar experiments with cockfighting. Guy just nurses a drink in the corner. Pascal and Guy take notice of a trio huddled in one corner. As the trio rise to leave, both also notice that one of the three fits the description of the wanted assassin.
Jacques loses another hand and then politely excuses himself. He’s up a few livres from where he started but the prospect of bagging an assassin, and the bounty on his head, is more alluring than another few rounds of cards.
As the group withdraws from the tavern, Pascal is manhandled by an aggressive hussy. Jacques extracts him from the situation by making clear to her that Pascal, since the last campaign, can’t attend to her request. The hussy slaps Pascal soundly across the face. Pascal’s honor offended, he begins to protest loudly as his comrades haul him out.
Once outside of the din and smell, the party sets off in pursuit of their quarry. Baltasar sneaks ahead, knowing the alleys better in darkness than the rest would in daylight. He sees the trio ahead of them in a small courtyard beyond which the alley continues. As the rest of the party approach, he hisses to indicate silence is needed. Spooked by the sudden noise, the three thugs disappear into the shadows.
The party begins bickering in hushed tones until the whirr and crack of three wheelock pistols being fired emerges from the courtyard ahead of them and the shadows erupt in flame and smoke. A buffcoat takes some damage, as does the local masonry, but no one is seriously harmed. Using the smoke from the shots to their advantage, Guy and Baltasar take off back down the alley and go around to the other side.
A few minutes later, pistol shots and quick rapier work leave the three assailants dead. The party find themselves in possession of three corpses, several fine wheelock pistols, and a purse full of gold Louis coins of the body of the escaped assassin. They commandeer a wheelbarrow and port the corpses to the nearest watchpost within the city.
Runners are dispatched, the appropriate forms filled out in triplicate, and as the bells of the city sound out the midnight watches, our intrepid heroes seek their beds, richer for their adventures, although Pascal is now searching for a new mistress.