Session 3: Wherein the Pen and the Pike are Mightier than the Sword
The Morning of January 7th 1648, gave a brief reprieve from the dreary weather, and near constant rain that have thus far constituted our stories background. Gaston, lead ball in his pocket, took this opportunity to purchase a fine raincoat. This of course spoke to the young man’s age-defying wisdom, but it also provided a good image of the character of the day, a day for sparing no expense or effort in the cause of preparation. These preparations were limited to making certain that a watch was kept, and a table reserved to keep Premoy away from the less radical among their housemates.
The group knew that tomorrow they would face Premoy, as he would come once again to demand pay from poor Ade. They did not expect but were nonetheless happy to receive Subaltern Charron. Charron brought with him a young woman, clearly devout, and Guillaume realizing that he had an opportunity to repay the young Subaltern for his kindness in loaning him the bible, now sadly in possession of a street merchant. So dutifully he played the grateful, newly reformed man, much to Charrons satisfaction and the Ladies delight. Passing a fine evening together, the company almost forgot their concerns, the existence of their blackmailer, the sudden immanence of armed revolt, crushing concerns that had driven them to pledge their lives only yesterday, all of these dissolved into wine, and pleasant company.
However, just as salt poured into water returns when the water is boiled away, the next morning with the company gone and the wine a painful memory these concerns came once more to the front. Over a quiet breakfast, and then a silent lunch they waited. Finally, there came a new sound to the front of La Soline, the sound of the wheels of a fine carriage rocking against the cobble stones of their small street. All eyes in the tavern turned to see an elegant shoe, stocking, grey doublet, blonde moustache, high white collar and plumed hat, all wearing a young man in his late twenties emerge. As the gentleman did so, he could be heard apologizing to those inside the carriage for the quick stop, and promising a bottle of wine for the disruption. Upon entering La Soline Premoy, for this was indeed their nemesis, haughtily demanded two bottles of Ignace’s finest, and then cast about with his eyes. Spying Ade from behind a curtain in the backroom, he proceeded to walk past the startled Ignace to accost the poor boy. As he demanded his money, Guillaume, Gaston, and Felix all came up behind him. Clearing his throat Guillaume got Premoy’s attention, this attention was further guaranteed by the conspicuous albeit sheathed armament of Guillaumes friends.
In no uncertain terms, Premoy was told that he ought to be leaving. Premoy, quick to see that he now had to deal with the soldier rather than the boy, decided upon the fabian strategy, and retreated. He left the wine, and leaving only threats to return, re-entered the carriage, closing the door to reveal the livery of Gaston, Duke D’Orleans, as horses were moved by command to motion.
The victory appeared Pyrrhic to our heroes. Certainly they had embarrassed their rival, but he came with the threat of protection from noone less that the brother of the late King, a son of France, the thrice rebellious and thrice forgiven, and the third in line for the throne of France. What could a provincial, and a pikeman do against the favorite of one so high?
“Expose him” suggested Gaston. With these fateful words, he took up the pen and Guillaume took up the task of connecting with Drapier and a through him securing the production of a pamphlet. As Drapier and the Frondeur branch that he inspired with his words, had some access to money, and Premoy was a shared enemy, they were able to quickly secure a limited print run of whatever Gaston could produce. This work would take a few days though, and so the company determined to set a watch upon La Soline, in case Premoy returned.
The next day, he did return. This time around dinner time, he arrived with two carousing musketeers. The three of them entered, as if they were strangers, and sat themselves down in front of the fire. From there Premoy called for supper, and also for entertainment, demanding “That young black haired boy you have, with the voice like Odysseus, or was that Orpheus?”. A clear reference to Ade, he clearly meant to embarrass and torture the young boy. Guillaume, could not allow it and stepped in. He claimed that Ade had a cold, and therefore his signing would not be possible. Somewhat disappointed the musketeers seemed understanding, but Premoy pressed on “You are soldiers aren’t you? Surely you know some regimental songs?”
“Indeed I do” Guillaume responded, and he began to sing a favorite picked up in the Conde Regiments campaigns in Catalonia. Unwilling to leave him to face his tormentor alone, Felix, Jules, and Cesaire joined in. A successful soldiering roll later, the whole inn rang with the signing of the soldiers. As the final verses rattled the shutters, Premoy clapped his hands and said “Very fine gentleman, very fine indeed. But, do you not also sing songs from the Royal Roussillon? I hear they have a very fine one about your Conde himself?”
This reference not only to Cardinal Mazarin’s pet regiment, but also to their unflattering songs about the hero of Rocroi, stirred Guillaume to fury. He refused to sing such a song. Premoy pushed “Come now Sir, I demand entertainment! Are you not the dancing monkey of this establishment? Why would you deny me this simple request?”
Clearly Premoy sought to swing the opinion of his musketeer companions to his side, but the resulting verbal affair had the opposite effect. With a timely intervention by Gaston, whose silky tongue was beginning to define him, Premoy lost his temper and restrained by his companions uttered the regrettable words “Fire will have this foul tavern! And I shall be happy to see the conflagration!” as he was ushered away. Premoy must have been furious, he had hopped to goad the soldier into accepting a duel, or indeed into doing violence to a gentleman and thereby consigning himself to the life of an outlaw. Instead, the disciplined Guillaume, and silver tongued Gaston had made a fool of him.
We can imagine the scene then of the next evening when, the still seething, Premoy dressed in his best arrived at the gates of the Luxembourg to enjoy the company of Monsieur (the Duke D’Orleans), only to be told by a lowly footman "Dear Mr. Premoy, I am afraid the Monsieur does not know you, and therefore you cannot be allowed entrance. We can imagine the affronted noble demanding entrance only to be handed a short printed page, some 100 words, signed Gaston D’Acadie. We can imagine the horror as he read about how “One Ettienne Premoy, an aquaintance of the Duke D’Orleans is no more than a blackmailer and an accoster of young boys”. Further we can imagine how seeing his companions of the night before looking at him from one of the window of the Luxembourg as he stood, barred entrance, infront of the gilded gates of that great house.
After that it is anyones guess what Premoy did, some say he tried to gain access to Cardinal Mazarin, to “tell all” but was denied entrance. Indeed some suggest that he was caught attempting to scale a garden wall to shout up to that great minister to Queen Anne and Louix XIV. Whatever the case, Premoy was ruined by this one letter, these few words.
But ruined men are still dangerous. He took the last of his money and went to find a few other ruined men. He found three, and paying his last money for enough sac wine to steady his nerve, descended upon La Soline like an avenging spirit at half-five in the morning.
Unfortunately for Premoy, this was Felix’s watch. Felix’s first pistol shot grazed Premoy’s cheek. His second left one of his three desperate mercenaries dead in the street. The shots wakened the house. Those in the know grabbed their weapons and rushed downstairs. Before Premoy could get to the fireplace, and begin the promised conflagration he was challenged by young Cesaire, fighting on the stairs he gave Cesaire a thrust to the leg. His two brigands fell upon Felix who losing his cutlass in the stomach of one was felled by three horrible cuts, one to the side, one the stomach and one the thigh. Early successes aside Premoy and his last remaining goon were heavily out matched, and determined to make their escape. The brigand was quicker, but by the time Premoy got to the door, Guillaume hot on his heels (armed with his pike no less!), Gaston blocked the door. Gaston had outpaced Premoy by dropping from the second story window. Finding himself surrounded, Premoy surrendered.
We ended the session there.
Actual Play Reporting
Number of Players: 2 and the GM
Time of Session: 4 1/2 Hours
Motif: Drinking Companions, now Brothers in Arms
Characters: Guillaume (Marginaux, Soldier 3), Gaston (Peasant, Americain 3)
Systems Engaged with:
Our first combat!:
It went really well, I wish I’d brought more bandits, as they were wiped out quite quickly, but still the deadliness was on full display. The combat was exciting, dynamic, fun and best of all only took about 30 minutes! I enjoyed how the initiative system broke up the action in such a way that the players never seemed to be waiting on me or each other too much. Everything actually felt like it was happening at the same time, rather than in several different dimensions and then smashing together. I’m excited for the next one!