Friday, February 11, 2011

Captain Fouquet Chapter 2.1 'Of Services Rendered'

This game was played on 9th January. 2011. Present were; Jan, Oleg, Palle and Goeg.

This game marks the beginning of Chapter Two. A full write of Chapter One can be found on the CF blog, here.

13th Marts. 1265 continued...

Having left Misteline asleep in his studio, Rufus, Marmaduke and Horace all went back to their respective homes where Horace set about cleaning up whilst Rufus searched for the money which Misteline had taken. Marmaduke was just as tired as Misteline and he lay down and quickly fell asleep. Outside it began to rain again.

After an hour or so, Rufus decided to go and awaken Misteline, but on his way he stepped into the Red Fox and became side tracked, for there he met Bertram Turnbull who was reading the latest edition of The Volunteer (another of the many single sheet Journals of Public Record which are a popular source of news and social comment in Takshendal). Bertram pointed out to Rufus that he was mentioned in the journal by name, then bidding farewell left the paper with Rufus who avidly read it. Outside the rain fell heavier.

Misteline was eventually awoken by Mrs Crimpstock who brought up a dish of Magda Featherlock's pickled eels and a tankard of beer. Misteline set to and was half way through his meal when Rufus finally arrived, and then wished he hadn't for Rufus had a strong aversion to pickled eel and found the sight of Misteline consuming slimy eels beyond his sensiblities. He tried to quibble about the expenses Misteline had incurred whilst holding Rufus's money, but seeing the consumption of pickled eels over came him and he quickly left and returned to the Red Fox coffee house.

Eventually, as night fell, everyone regrouped at Misteline's studio and debated matters at some length. Of particular concern was how to remove the Treadstone Archive, and why Father Caltrop had killed the incalcitrent young man in disguise. Misteline then put forth his plan to remove the archive during the night, before setting out to buy the sacks and a good lantern he would need to execute the operation whilst Rufus and Marmaduke both went home to eat. After his meal Marmaduke went to hire a wagon and some horses.

Misteline's plan required Robert Ladlevane to be too drunk to be aware of anything going on in his wood store, so after he had eaten, Rufus went down into the Red Fox where Robert was a regular customer and set the place rocking with free drinks. Some Mursulan musicians happened to be in the place which helped matters considerably, even if the music was of a foreign and rather inferior style. Marmaduke and Misteline defied the rain and swung into action. Marmaduke parked the wagon in the courtyard and Misteline broke into Marcus Feathergate's house.

Misteline gets a surprise

Much to his surprise, Misteline found himself being manhandled by a pair of burly men in armoured uniforms as he entered the building and before he knew what was going on, he found himself face to face with Marshal Quartermoon and his loyal sergeant Marlowe. Marmaduke, still seated on the wagon in the courtyard, noticed this and made a prudent retreat to the Red Fox to alert Rufus. Quartermoon expressed surprise at having netted Misteline, but after standing him in one corner, along side Marlowe made no further comment for a while. Misteline quickly realised two things. Quartermoon bore him no malice, and none of the Militia men in the room seemed to be aware of the concealed trap door, indeed Marlowe was standing on it. After a while, Quartermoon turned to Misteline and asked him why he was breaking into Feathergate's house. Misteline prudently told Quartermoon about the secret trap door and Marlowe was quickly sent down it to take a look.

When he realised that there was a cellar full of documents, Marshal Quartermoon investigated, taking Misteline with him. When he realised that the documents pertained to the House of Treadstone, Quartermoon dismissed the guard who had followed them down into the cellar and told Misteline about Sir Oswald Dewfork (Misteline's former land lord).

When the Grand Arch Duke of Takshendal Ranulph Underhock died in 1624, Dewfork sent a cadre of thirty six Aprican mercenaries to attack the Citadel and killed a great many important members of the Militia. At first this was perceived to be part of an inept attempt at seizing power in the wake of Underhock's death. There was plenty of ambiguity about who would inherit power and the coronation of King Phelonius was far from a certainty.

Then still a Captain of the City Militia, Leander Quartermoon led the interogation of the only surviving Aprican mercenary, but quickly discovered that the man was already dying from the effects of a slow poison. Before he died however, the man was able to tell Quartermoon that he had been hired by a man named Alfonso Luis D’Cartega who was attached to the embassy of Serrenisma as an ambassadorial aide. Quartermoon then suspected the King of Serrenisma might be trying to muscle in on the government of Takshendal, after all the two cities are in direct trade competition. He resolved to discover if there was a credible threat to the city but was unable to move against D’Cartega who had diplomatic immunity.

Since the government of Takshendal was still in tatters, Quartermoon acted on his own volition and contacted former Militia Captain and Tax Collector Silas Underhand. Underhand was under investigation for corruption and was almost certainly guilty. In the purge which would undoubtedly follow the coronation of King Phelonius, Underhand faced the prospect of becoming a convenient scapegoat. Quartermoon was already being approached with the offer of becoming the new Marshal and decided he would grant protection to Underhand if Underhand undertook to discredit D’Cartega in such a way that would allow Quartermoon to arrest and question him. Underhand provided false but compelling information which identified Alfonso Luis D’Cartega as a slaver and Quartermoon arrested him.

D’Cartega quickly realised he had been put into checkmate and exposed the truth behind the Aprian attack on the Citadel. According to D’Cartega, the attack was ordered by Sir Oswald Dewfork in order to assassinate three specific high standing officers in the Militia. Every one else who had been killed in the attack had simply been in the way. The Aprians had been ordered to kill as many people as possible to obscure the true purpose of the attack .

Quartermoon had no idea who Sir Oswald Dewfork was and set about investigating him. He discovered very little except that Dewfork was a rich man and the clandestine head of a small and obscure trading house named Treadstone. According to D’Cartega, Treadstone was a front for the private dealings of the Grand Arch Duke set up as a means for the former ruler to trade privately and without inspection. and dated back as far as 1602. Quartermoon investigated the matter and D’Cartega's information appeared to be accurate and during the course of this investigation, Quartermoon discovered various connections between Treadstone and the three assassinated Militia officers. It became obvious that Treadstone was more than just a trading house. Quartermoon needed a warrant to imprison a noble, but once he had this, the Marshall went to arrest Dewfork.

Dewfork was already dead however. When Quartermoon and his men arrived at Dewfork's house they found the old knight in a room locked from within, hanging by a rope around his neck, tied to a rafter. At his side was stool on its side. The official report stated that some one must have warned the old knight that he was about to be arrested. Officialy the matter ended there. Unofficially Quartermoon kept digging. He returned to D’Cartega and questioned him at length. D’Cartega knew a great many small facts, but he only knew things from his own personal perspective. He knew Treadstone had been gearing up for a clandestine civil war in Serrenisma whose king was very old and thought to be about to die. He knew a war chest had been accumulating for several years for this pupose and he knew that the war chest was said to be Takshendal. He didn't know where though, nor even who was in charge of this fund. He was primarily a private agent who answered directly to Dewfork and who dealt with matters in the Serrenisma embassy.

Misteline listened to Quartermoon's story with great interest. According to Quartermoon, the war chest which had been created for the secret campaign against Serrenisma contained either 1.2 or 2 million Crowns, and no one seemed to know where it was, except that it was stored in Takshendal somewhere. Several actors appeared to be looking for the war chest, but it was difficult to know who they were. Quartermoon admitted that he did not know who Cristobal Sebastiano was, why Father Caltrop had suddenly killed the man named Rufolio of Carpii, or what Anton Fouquet was up to. He knew that Fouquet was a former agent of Treadstone, but the old captain appeared to have left the organisation in recent years and gone into business importing gin from Lyonessa. Fouquet was still regarded with suspicion however as he had bought the Friars Gate property within days of Dewfork's death, and the deaths of Molly Cutlerstub and Marcus Feathergate indicated Fouquet had access to a mysterious and secret weapon known as the black iron pig. Quite what this weapon was was still obscure, but according to Quartermoon, it was something in the nature of an explosive, or infernal device which if used properly could sink a ship. Alas, the Marshal was unable to move against Fouquet for highly placed friends at the Royal Court meant Fouquet could not simply be arrested.

Quartermoon said he intended to keep the Treadstone Archive, but he would share information with Misteline once he had had a chance to vet it. Misteline proposed continuing with his plan of moving the cabinets out of the house in order to draw any attention away from the Militia stake out and Quartermoon agreed. Misteline stepped outside and drew the attention of Marmaduke and Rufus who were lurking on the rear balconey of the Red Fox. All was quiet and the rain fell heavily. A light came on in the gate house towers, but there was no sign of any observers. Together they loaded up the cabinets and set off for the Eel and Spindle with Rufus following behind on his horse. As the companions trudged through the rain swept streets, they became aware that two Militia cavalry riders were following them. Perhaps as a result of this, or perhaps because the weather had kept every one indoors, nothing untoward happened and the cabinets were unloaded and stored in the cellar at the Eel and Spindle.

Moving the cabinets in the middle of the night

It was midnight by the time the companions returned home and all retired to their own homes. Misteline quickly fell asleep but Marmaduke got into a tangle with his mother when he asked her to wash his silk undergarment. Ivy Gurdlecat was not happy about the company her son was keeping and saw nothing in his silken undergarments but evidence that he was being corrupted. She ranted about this for a while and made reference to having told 'that good man' about it. Marmaduke frowned at the mention of some strange man talking to to his mother about him, but paid it no further notice.

When he arrived home, Rufus discovered Horace was missing. Rufus went downstairs and found Hilda Grimbleflax locking up. He asked her if she'd seen Horace and she had, but not since earlier in the evening. Rufus shrugged and went to bed.

14th Marts. 1625.

Misteline was awoken by a concerned Mrs Crimpstock bearing a mighty tray of breakfast, with lashings of bacon, buttered bread and boiled eggs. He tucked in and ate the lot with gusto. In the mean while, Marmaduke discovered his mother was still angry and there was no breakfast ready for him as was usual. Instead he helped himself to some bread and made his way to Misteline's home.

Rufus would have slept long and hard, but he was awoken by Horace who had prepared a traditonal Lyonessan breakfast of buttered oysters. Rufus did not care for the oysters at all but he dutifully ate them whilst he listened to Horace's explanation of where he'd been the night before. Horace it seemed had spent the night with one of the girls upstairs, free of charge. Some what put out by this, and the oysters, Rufus made his way to Misteline's house.

Having finished his breakfast, Misteline took the tray down to the kitchen and was surprised to find Rufus and Marmaduke sitting at the kitchen table eating gruel so sitting down, he told them that Quartermoon had let him continue his investigations and that there were secrets to be disclosed in due course. He left out the small fact that the cabinets had been empty when they were transported to the Eel and Spindle though. Then leaving them to their breakfasts he then returned to his studio and began to write a letter to be published in the Gentleman's Companion. Having read the bad press he had been getting in The Volunteer, Misteline had decided to blow his own trumpet and put out his own version of events.

Once he had finished his letter (and presumably sent it on its way by urchin mail) Misteline went over to Rufus's apartments where he found Rufus trying to teach a few basic fencing moves to Marmaduke. Horace was dismissed and Misteline set about telling his companions about Treadstone and Sir Oswald Dewfork. He was interupted in mid explanation by the arrival of an urchin bearing a letter from Rufus's God father Don Vitorio in Castelopea. Rufus had asked about Cristobal Sebastiano, but the old Don had never heard of the man, nor had any of his friends. The Don then went on to inform Rufus that he had arranged for Rufus to take as his wife, one of Rufus's old childhood friends; Belinda Faustini. Belinda it transpired had recently been widowed and was without children. Don Vitorio had negotiated the agreement on Rufus's behalf and Belinda, and her brothers were on their way to Takshendal to meet with Rufus and finalise the agreement.

Rufus well recalled Belinda Faustini whom he had last since when she was about sixteen years old. She had then been a beautiful young woman, in full blossom and much adored by all the men of the district. She had married a young cavalier named Gianfrancesco d'Testacalda and the union had been seen as highly favourable as both were the only children of their houses and both were wealthy. What she might be like now, thirteen years or so later, was any one's guess. Rufus fell into a despondent state and began to drink heavily. Whilst his friends tried to console him, he harangued his lack of fortune and the end of his days as a fencer.

The companions spent the next hour debating their various problems, and whether or not Marmaduke should salvage his flagging reputation by seducing a woman. Whilst Misteline and Marmaduke unsuccessfully tried to cheer Rufus up by looking on the bright side, they heard a commotion outside andwent to see what was going on. Several of the girls from the Red Fox were on the balconey along with Horace, watching as three militia guards dragged a a young man in gentleman's garb away from Marcus Feathergate's house. Horace stated that the young dandy appeared to be one of the men he'd seen the day before on North Wall Street, apparently waiting for Rufus to return. Misteline called Rufus to come and see, but Rufus was slow and heavy hearted. He didn't see the man's face.

The girls asked why Rufus was sad and Misteline explained that he'd had bad news about getting married. Horace kept silent, but the girls from the Red Fox consoled Rufus and took him back into his apartments. Eventually the hour reached midday and Misteline and Marmaduke each left to go home and find something to eat. Rufus was very drunk and decided to save his Marmaduke by paying Aimee to seduce him. This she did and when Marmaduke's mother came home she was shocked to find Marmaduke and Aimee in a state of undress in the workshop.

Misteline in the meanwhile had found Mrs Crimpstock in the kitchen and proceded to entertain her with the news that Rufus was to marry.


Misteline the Great said...

Seeing the write-up exposes some glaring inconsistencies and omissions.
More of which later.

The self-aggrandising contribution to the broadsheet has to be carefully crafted.
In the style of Benvenuto Cellini.
It has to be accurate enough that I won't be shown as a fool when more facts come to light.
It also has to miss out a whole load of politically sensitive stuff (which is why Quartermoon gets a copy to approve first).
It has to be interesting, so that people will read it.
I'd like to take a dig at The Volunteer; both because they were a little unflattering, and because controversy is *good*.

moif said...

I can't wait to read this masterpiece!