Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Troubled journey (4): Les Tricastins

Pierrelatte (Dauphiné), 24th August 1713

Passengers started descending wearily from the stage coach, while Llinàs (the most veteran soldier in Marquis de Vilana's escort) briefly examined the inn. It was an ensemble of minor buildings around a central 3-stories piece, all set amidst an esplanade sorrounded by forest, some feet apart from the road running north-south, parallel to Rhone river. "Les Tricastins" was its name. Well, it wasn't that bad. It would be a peaceful night, after the sudden storm and road accident. The Marquis and Claire were directed to the main building along with the small group of monks.

"Les Tricastins" innkeeper seemed highly pleased at the visit of so distinguished-looking guests, although he openly admitted his disgrunt because Vilana and the beautiful lady accompanying him would have to spend their night in his hostel on a day so wrong -just when he had been forced to accept the unexpected visit of a noisy group of militiamen in transit towards Cévennes county... True, the newly arrived visitors could neatly perceive a loud stridency of laughter, music and lively conversations, either in Provençal or French, apparently from the dining room.

-I believed that the Camisards issue was already over... -commented Vilana, who was fully aware of the violent Huguenot revolt burst not long ago at Cévennes county. Just as they Catalans, Southern French Huguenots had become another pawn else in that huge war's merciless chessboard.

-And so it is, Monsieur Villars -the innkeeper replied- It could be said the revolt has long expired, but a formal peace with them has not yet been agreed. In my opinion, weapons are now only in hands of the irreducible, the misfits... Criminals with enough blood on their hands to make impossible to them returning back to peace. His Majesty seems to feel confident enough to allow a few volunteer squadrons, like this one, for keeping those irreducible at bay... -A loud noise arose from the dining room, along with brittle laughters- Unfortunately, now it seems they're becoming more of a problem themselves, than a solution instead...

Llinàs frowned with displeasure. Perhaps this wasn't to be his most peaceful night after all, thanks to that damned gang of drunk militiamen... So he decided to get out from there and focus on the stage coach repairs, while Vilana and Claire went up to their rooms. He started working vigorously on the vehicle, with the help of Josep (the younger soldier) and one of the inn servants. He wanted to finish the job as soon as possible, in order to be able to discretely watch the agreed meeting at dinner of Marquis the Vilana and the monks.

He then saw one of the monks -that one drawing his attention at the road- who apparently had not entered the inn yet, wandering thoughtfully with a pipe at the lips. Llinàs watched the monk until he disappeared behind the stable building. Little afterwards, the man returned back to the inn. Llinàs shook his head with a half smile. "Let me hang up if he's actually a monk", he told to himself.

Some time later, after the repair was done, Llinàs started walking along the gravel road linking the carpentry to the main building. He was uneasy, for he had just seen again that peculiar monk emerging from the inn towards the stable and taking his horse off. He then had mounted and lead the horse behind the stable. Lead by a vague foreboding, Llinàs gave instructions to Josep for joining the horses to the coach and quickly approached to the inn. Marquis de Vilana's safety was an absolute priority to him.

Since then, events started rushing faster. About to get inside the inn, Llinàs suddenly heard two horses galloping away behind the barn, on his right. Two horses? He had no time to investigate, for then a loud voice from the inn's upper story abruptly tore the nightly silence:

-Murdering! Murdering!

Fearing for Vilana's life, Llinàs burst like a lightning through the door and rushed upstairs along the dining room, pushing his way among the militiamen, some of whom were clumsily taking their weapons...


Salvador said...

Now I'm eager to know!

Bluebear Jeff said...

Argh! This is the second "cliffhanger" post I've read tonight.

I will have to await your next post.

-- Jeff

abdul666 said...

'Here be dragoons'.
Something wicked this way comes...