In the aftermath of the skirmish on the road, the group tended to the wounded and looted the dead.
Fabrice went to work and saved two of the dying…at the cost of the leg of one and permanently crippling the other. They decided it would be better to wait to remove the ball and chain mail fragments from Jean’s chest until they reached a more stable environment (they felt the treatment in his weakened condition might kill him).
Fabrice also managed to save one of the horses by removing shrapnel from its head. It lost an eye and an ear, but the poor beast now loves Fabrice and follows him loyally up the trail.
Late the following afternoon, they left Don Reverte—who was permanently crippled as part of the fight—and his wounded survivors in the stone house and continued up the road into the mountains.
Their guide, Pau, told them they were headed to Seu d’Urgell, the bishopric.
“Dioceses.” Picard corrected him.
In their first leg up the mountain, they found themselves traveling with families of drovers, headed to the high pastures for summer. Herds of cattle and flocks of sheep lined the road—and sometimes obscured it. At night the families set camp fires and danced and sang. The whole affair had a festive mood to it. But our company rode silently past, not stopping to share in the gaiety.
They arrived at midnight, nearly drowning in fatigue. Pau went to find them lodging (Catalonian Nationality test) and failed! He came back cursing. All the inns were full and the post-houses were empty. There wasn’t a bed or horse to be had in the whole town.
Jean noted that if there were no post-horses, the stables were empty and they could sleep there. Vauban agreed and they headed for shelter.
The next morning, the Lieutenant and de Beaufort cleaned up and went to see the bishop. He received them readily based on the the lieutenant’s reputation alone (currently 20).
Vauban made pleasantries with the old man and stewed a bit. He wasn’t comfortable being in the presence of this ardent papist. But he realized that this was no ordinary bishop. He was a prince of the Catholic Church but also co-prince of Andorra, with Seu d’Urgell as his capital. Being a Huguenot, Vauban recalled that Henry IV (a former Huguenot himself) ruled Andorra in league with the bishop. The good king instituted that rule as law, essentially creating Andorra as a protectorate of the crown of France (all this from a passed Nationality: France test).
With this realization, Vauban felt he could risk telling the bishop of his mission. The news was well received: He was granted food, lodging, fresh horses and anything else he might need.
He requested a day of rest and a doctor or someone equivalent to help poor, wounded Jean. The bishop sent two nuns. They assisted Fabrice pulling the ball and other metal from the subaltern’s chest. Jean would recover well if he could get some rest.
Meanwhile Isaac and Picard went to a local tavern. There they overheard two young men and a young woman discussing the Spanish. They inserted themselves into the conversation and, based on their stories and gossip, managed to determine that there was likely another party of Spanish above them on the trail to El Pas de Cas—their route through the mountains.
At dinner, the bishop pressed the lieutenant about a small matter. Since he was going through El Pas de Cas regardless, there was something he could help with: a bothersome brigand robbed the drovers along the route. He called himself Junipero. Would the lieutanent help the bishop? Vauban demurred, but ultimately agreed.
The next morning, two fully kitted miquelets (mountain militia) with mules and supplies awaited them in the town plaza. They were the two young men Isaac and Picard had talked to in the tavern the evening before!
Before they could set out, a courier appeared announcing he had a message for Lt Vauban. It was de Moret, whom they had left in Barcelona after Fabrice had treated the slash in his (her!) leg.
De Moret had been dispatched by de Guiscard to get a report from Vauban. He noted that they had found Reverte in the farm house and had seen the other caballeros retreating from the skirmish. “The other party is riding hard behind. You must make haste!” de Moret warned.
After the audience with Vauban, de Moret buttonholed Fabrice to ensure their secret was safe and to get a fuller report. After hearing Vauban’s account confirmed, de Moret asked about their route. Fabrice responded, “I don’t know exactly, but we’re headed to El Pas de Cas.”
“Excellent. Leave word for me in the house, under a flagstone in the fireplace. You’ll know it when you see it.”
Then the group hit the road and headed up to Andorra de Velle and from there up into the more rugged mountain trails. Vauban made inquiries with their miquelets about the whereabouts of the brigand chief.
That night, Pau struck up a conversation with Vauban and implored him not to take up the foolish errand the bishop gave him. He begged Vauban to disguise the group as drovers and move quietly along the trail so as not to attract attention. The bishop would never know.
Isaac jumped in and insisted that instead they should disguise themselves to lure the brigands closer, to trap them.
We had a brief duel of wits (mostly to learn the mechanics). Vauban’s reputation proved too much for Pau and he eventually was forced to relent. But he only agreed to forgive them for calling him a fool (and not forget that Vauban had made this decision that might get him killed).
Early the next morning, they were moving single file up a steep, narrow track when they saw the road blocked ahead by a straggling flock of sheep and a man with a short, ugly musket pacing back and forth.
I called for Intelligence checks (to notice that the trail was lined with travelers and drovers hiding from this man). These people were trying to hiss or whisper warnings to the group but…THEY ALL FAILED THE INT CHECK. IT WAS AMAZING.
So they rolled up to this bandoler and the man waved them off, “Please, senor. Stop. Please wait.” He said casually, distracted, almost annoyed. He was standing in the gap of a small ridge. They could hear shouting echoing off the mountains above them but out of sight.
Vauban refused to stop and rode directly up the brigand. He demanded to know who he was and what he was doing. This truly annoyed the bandoler. He gestured with his mousqueton to move back. Vauban (and the company in general) slowly drew their pistols. Vauban ordered Jean to ready the miquelets (and failed the Leadership test). The miquelets momentarily froze.
“Senor, por favor. Allons-y.”
At this, two heads poked over the ridge on each side of the brigand. They wore ragged barretini. As soon as they saw Vauban’s little company, they heaved matchlocks up onto the stone and pointed them down.
Picard came up to stand at Vauban’s shoulder. They were 10 feet from the mouth of the mousqueton. Jean forcibly readied the miquelets and their muskets. Isaac and Fabrice raced to get behind Jean’s firing line, pistols cocked. They were 30 feet from the ridge.
“Speak French!” shouted Vauban and then he fired.
The mousqueton fired. EVERYONE fired (except Picard who held his powder). A brief, stuttering explosion rolled up and down the ridge. Smoke blanketed the trail, obscuring vision.
When the dust settled, Vauban and Picard each had taken a ball but stood their ground. The bandoler lay bleeding on the trail (shot three times). One of the musketmen was winged and he and his brother both fell back behind the ridge (after losing morale and failing their subsequent SF tests).
Vauban had the momentary advantage but he held Picard back from charging forward over the ridge (and probably saved his soldat’s life in doing so). Instead, he calmly ordered his company to reload.
We ended there! Next session, they’ll meet the Cap de Bandoleres, Junipero!