Sunday, November 06, 2011

Troubled journey (12): An old crime

Bonnevaux (Dauphiné), 25th August 1713

Marquis de Vilana waited patiently while contemplating with a thoughtful air the peaceful small garden surrounded by the abbey cloister. The brief meeting with the abbot of Bonnevaux hadn't brought even a piece of new information, and this made him feel a growing frustration. Fra Hospitalier came to cut off his thoughts: --In a few minutes we will have prepared your premises, Sire. Sorry for the delay, we haven't had guests of your condition long since...

While following the monk's fast pace, Vilana used his most convincing air of innocence to ask: --Excuse me Brother, is there any priest from the Spanish kingdoms serving at Bonnevaux?

--No there isn't any, monsieur Villars. However, for a casual...

The monk suddenly shut up and gathered eyebrows while accelerating pace towards a half-open door in the corridor, where some sounds of angry voices and breaking objects were arising from. Vilana followed the monk with curiousity. Young Brother Adrià and Claire Baizanville in her disguise of young servant boy, who were a short while after them, could also hear the crash so they came too. A chorus of shouts in French and Latin emerged neatly from the opening door, while a young monk emerged from the room. He resignatedly looked at the Brother Hospitalier, who seemed to understand at once. The man sighed and told to Vilana:

--Unfortunately, Monsieur Villars, we've been hosting for several months a very problematic guest... A religious from The Spains precisely, a monk of the Order of Montesa. A quite sick man indeed. He ensured his stay to be only temporary and the Abbot would not refuse hospitality. We were forced to allocate him in the area reserved for guests when it became clear his attitude caused a constant disturbance to our community. Please Sire, I ask you a little patience while we fix this annoying situation...

Vilana noticed his heart wildly accelerating. An Iberian religious residing in Bonnevaux? ...from the Order of Montesa? ...was he perhaps the author of the message causing the trip of the deceased Prior Serralta? Vilana pretended to agree waiting while the Brother Hospitalier entered the room, but he immediately followed after the monk, who approached to someone in bed behind the wide, nearly empty cell.

--And here is good Brother Pierre now --the man in bed harshly said--. Are you coming to give me breakfast yourself, Pierre? It's quite of a rubbish today... Shit dump... Are you telling me now that I do disturb your honourable guests, so you're sending me in some dark corner? Don't you see that I am no more than a poor, sick old man? What a shame! Go tell the abbot that I'm not moving unless he deigns coming here and asking me himself!

The Brother Hospitalier hurriedly left the cell, harassed by a flying lamp that crashed against the wall. But Vilana stood inside, carefully studying the man. His gaze was penetrating, intense and feverish, through gray and watery eyes framed by a face of sharp features. Messy white hair, partially stuck to face by effect of constant sweat. "A sick nasty viper", Vilana instinctively sensed. He decided to gain the initiative and took a chair with resolution, closing it to bed.

--Espereu algú? (=Are you waiting for someone?) --Vilana abruptly asked in Catalan.

--No pas a vós (=Not you, indeed) --the man answered swiftly, with the fluidity of a native. His tone was exasperatingly burlesque, but Vilana was decided not to be drawn into a predictable nonsense, and placed a high bid from the very start:

--If such is your will, you may keep forever waiting in this... dump, as you say... Even better, until your health gets finally consumed in this poor cell, because Prior Serralta is dead.

The man's eyes turned into two narrow slits: --It's you who killed him?

--Of course not! --Vilana lamented his excess of anger and strived to maintain calm. --He was murdered when about to explain me the purpose of his trip in here.

The old man factions deformed into a sinister smile: --You look like a distinguished, influent man. Sure you can afford my conditions.

Vilana's reaction was unexpected to him, however. He stood up sharply, making the chair fall noisily to ground, and headed for the door with decision. His steps strongly echoed in the empty cell. He saw Claire guarding the entrance, avoiding any eventual interruption.

One, two, three steps ...

--If you take me away me from here, I can tell you valuable information that very few know!

Four, five steps...

--I just want to live the life I have left with some dignity and comfort! I'll tell you all what Serralta wanted to know!
You cannot leave me here!!
--Self-control and mockery had vanished. Demands had turned into a prayer.

Six, seven steps...

--Duke of Vendôme didn't die from disease! He was murdered, actually! ...It's me who did it!

In an effort not to loose self-control, Vilana kept is pace and went out of the room. But he was holding breath, his heart wildly unbridled.

--...by order of Philip d'Anjou!!!

Vilana finally stopped and turned back. Confusion had disintegrated his mask of resolution. The old monk had collected his last strength to stand up and was implorantly looking at him. The diplomat then hoarsely whispered to Claire, his gaze fixed on the decrepit, trembling figure on bed:

--Let's take him, Claire. Go tell Llinàs we are leaving right now.

8 comments:

Rittmeister Krefeld said...

The plot thickens!! Fantastic! Can't wait to read the next episode and how this plays out in the campaign!!!

abdul666 said...

Claire disguised as a young servant boy? A fat bellied one wearing baggy clothes, then, otherwise her curves would not pass unnoticed even by [or is it specially by? :)] monks!
Then, as an expert, she could tell you how many tools of your trade you can conceal in a false pot-belly.

Vendome murdered by Philip V's order? Generally, it is the potential *heirs* who wish for the death of childless uncle or cousin?

Salvador said...

Most interesting...

Soldadets said...

Don't know what the hell is happening with Blogger...

Since a few days ago, I'm having no means of posting comments...

???

Soldadets said...

Wow! It worked now!

So the key is logging in before posting anything. Otherwise, the so common procedure of posting a comment first, and afterwards logging in to validate my identity, wouldn't work.

Soldadets said...

Well, the lost comment went more or less like this:

First, during our Roleplaying game we assumed that early 18th century male robes would be thick and loose enough to allow Claire hiding her extremely enviable silhouette into them --as well as nearly any desired piece of her not less enviable arsenal! :P

And secondly... er... Oh yes, Jean-Louis questionings about the just unveiled crime and its motivations are far from misguided... Seat and wait, answers to follow shortly!

abdul666 said...

While already a dreadful killing machine with here mere bare hands, Claire feels 'naked' (and NOT in the pleasant Monte-Cristan zerokini way) without some weapons. Of course, masquerading as a young boy, she cannot wear her most feminine gizmos (poisoned hat pin, razorblades-edged fan, rings with 'chemistried / tinkered' gems...); but be sure she is not without several daggers and throwing knives, and 'pocket pistols' existed long before the Philadelphia Deringer -some with several barrels. Knowing her, even a hand grenade -if not of Antioch!- is not excluded.

abdul666 said...

"Blood . Sexual Themes . Strong Language . Violence"
Fitting description of Claire :)