Le Comte de Monte Dumas
Posted 06 September 2006 - 10:23 PM
I have been many things in my life. First and foremost, as I must attest before God, I have been a liar. Now the hour of my death approaches with the sunrise, and legal necessity compels me to write down three truths:
1) My real name is Edmond d’Anger.
2) I am a superhuman lover.
3) I will not die tomorrow.
I have to concede that only two of the above may actually be true. I will leave it to my solicitor (for I believe that such men will outlast Thermidor) to decide which, and to distribute the last of my meagre possessions according to the instructions on the back of this document.
There. I have written my part, and now settle back to wonder at what may well prove to be the last hours of my life. For now, at least, I must entrust my future to the strangest band of adventurers ever assembled.
And, Lord, if they can’t get me out of this mess then my immortal ghost will have something to say to them in the morning.’
The Comte de Monte Dumas, whose real name may or may not have been Edmond d’Anger, leant back against his cell door and sighed bitterly. He was used to prisons, but this one, they said, was impenetrable. And even if it wasn’t, he reflected, even if there was a way out, he’d been left no time to find it. He was to be guillotined at the break of day. This annoyed him greatly.
‘They’re working on a plan,’ he said to himself. He pulled himself to his feet, brushed the dust out of his hair, and leant his head against the iron bars of his window. Between the bars, he could just make out the nighttime silhouette of post-revolution Paris. Edmond d’Anger was young, rakish, and due to be guillotined in the morning.
‘They’re working on a plan,’ he said. He thought for a moment, and then shook his head.
‘They have a plan.’ He said. There was a moment’s pause. And then:
‘They need a better plan.’
Posted 07 September 2006 - 07:26 AM
"It's alright, my dears, I'm a man of the cloth," muttered the young cleric, before slipping into an absynthe-related slumber.
It was altogether appropriate that ultimate responsibility for the fate of the Comte de Monte Dumas had been placed at the feet of Roqueforte, for it was he who was responsible for said incarceration in the first place; his not-inconsiderable gambling debts had led him to conscript the Comte (carefully pre-befuddled with alcohol and wenches), and several others, in the noble art of bounty hunting. Two days of tracking the legendary gentleman thief, Silver Skunk, in the Isle de Paris countryside, had resulted in a case of mistaken identity and a quick trip to the Halls of Justice for d'Angler, the only member of the band still too hung-over the escape.
Roqueforte had pledged, solomnly sworn, that he would free his captured companion, but the whimsy of capricious fate had dictated that a member of his band stumble across Halifax Gibbet, the English con-artist, in Monmartre the very same afternoon. Quick-wittedly, Afredo the Spaniard (an acquaintence of Roqueforte since Lycee), had pinned the crook to a wall and cried out for the nearest gendarme. The bounty on Gibber's had was sufficient to allow Roqueforte to entertain the Duk of Bar's daughters, and act he would regret at around midnight as his door was kicked in by three of the Duke's eldest sons.
Posted 07 September 2006 - 08:30 AM
Sight cleared to reveal that all five figures belong to the loins of the Duke of Bar's wife. Or used to, in any case, since the loins of the Duchess of Bar were along with her and her husband dead since last month when they were accused of consorting with non-juror priests. They were technically right because Roqueforte was there, but he was not one of the non-jurors, he had wisely accepted what the Revolution offered two years before.
The eldests son, Marc, had rushed the two young whores out of the way and Roqueforte's smile, still left over from a few hours ago, disappeared. The fumes of alcohol did not allow him to think too clearly but the angry stares of the two younger brothers encouraged him to think faster, clearer, better. There was fanaticism there and hope sprung eternal, Roqueforte spread himself more comfortably and begun.
"My sons! A true injustice has been done, and it is only in your hands that this great evil can be remedied!" He paused. The two sons had become confused and had sheathed their swords, the progress was remarkable. The elder son however was still watching from further back with a little amusemen.
"Would you leave a true nobleman to die at the hands of that monstrous rabble from the street? He who has done everything for his France and they who have only brought it ruin and death?!"
The two sons were now hooked.
"The Comte de Monte Dumas, my friend Edmond and most solemn lord of men to have lived, is this minute rotting in the dank, dispicable dungeons of the Terror's prison. He is to be executed at dawn!"
The sons looked positively oh fire.
"Will you save him from this terrible and injust fate?!"
There was nothing but the clatter of feet down the stairs. Roqueforte was immensely relieved. Claude and Pierre had left him alone. Marc however remained and was now sitting at the end of the bed and smiling. Roqueforte liked this not.
"Mais... mon amis, will you not go to the rescue?" he tried.
"Father Charles, I do not believe your stories, maybe I have not the same fire of the young, but I believe more in what I see. What I have seen has been the grossest indescretion against my kin, perpetrated by you, a pig-dog Juror priest!"
"Ah... see here Marc de Bar, your father, the Duke, he gave me license, yes, he would have wished..." Roqueforte tried.
"My father is dead! No thank to you," Marc cried and threw the covers from the bed and raised his rapier high above his head.
Posted 07 September 2006 - 01:00 PM
d'Anger sighed and looked to the cell door, where the voice had come from.
'Yes?' he said.
'Have you made peace with your God?'
The metal slit on the door was pushed aside and a pair of steady grey eyes met his. D’Anger thought about the question at hand.
'It certainly appears He's angry at me for something,' he conceded.
'I advise you to hurry up, compte. You die in less than six hours,' said the voice.
‘Then it also appears that my watch is slow,’ said d’Anger. The grey eyes blinked. In the darkness, d’Anger thought he could make out the outline of a woman’s face. He lay back on the cobbles, resting his head in his hands, staring at the ceiling.
‘Six hours is plenty of time to escape,’ he said.
The eyes narrowed.
‘No man has ever escaped the Terror’s prison!’ said the voice. D’Anger blinked, and rolled over to face the door.
‘And what of a woman?’ he asked.
‘Aristocrat pig,’ said the voice, ‘you know nothing of what you speak. Even if a woman had found a way to escape the prison, evade the tower, cross the poisoned moat and escape the Committee’s sentinels, why would she need a treacherous dog like you to accomplish her plans?’
D’Anger adjusted the hands of his pocket watch. The eyes watched him, coolly.
‘I don’t know,’ he said, ‘but it seems I have five hours and fifty-five minutes to find out.’
Posted 07 September 2006 - 01:59 PM
He slammed his fist into the arm of his chair. "This is intolerable!" he declared. "I sit here in fugue, after being beset by brigandes on the Isle de Paris itself, and the Assembly does nothing - nothing! - to combat the lawlessness in our country. Where is the political will? We revolted precisely to..."
"Incorruptable, we captured one of your assailants," interrupted Francois LePris, one of his closest friends and allies, smoothly. "The Comte de Monte Dumas is due to be executed at dawn. This will send a message..."
"What?!" demanded Robespierre, "What message? A message that will be ignored, that's what, brushed aside by the Silver Skunk and his ilk if even they hear of it. This is unacceptable, Francois, and to many people they are heroes, because they survive and rob and are not killed. We must speak to the Captain of the guard, and get our best soldiers to track down and kill the leaders; then the people will abandon this obsession with banditry, and only then this cancerous growth in French society will be defeated by the Revolution once and for all."
Posted 07 September 2006 - 02:28 PM
He attempted to engage her in conversation, she quitely sobbed. Several more inquiries went unanswered and d'Anger rubbed his hands in frustration.
"Mademoiselle, if you are to be sobbing incontrollably, might I at least know why you do so, what are you in here for?" he asked.
Through the sobbing he could hear a response, "I am the daughter of Louis Philippe Egalite."
"Ah," d'Anger though aloud, "Falling in with the revolutionaries did not help him keep his head." This naturally enduced more sobbing from the daughter of the former Duke of Orleans and d'Anger desperately tried to calm her down.
"And... ah, when are they to execute you? I am to be done at dawn they say, though my plans of course are to be left living for a few years yet."
Another sobbed response took a little time to decipher, "They are not to execute me, I am to be left imprisoned for life."
"That is most ungentlemanly, they cannot leave you here to rot until a counter-revolution. Still, you have a long time to escape... but... uh... why wait Mademoiselle...?" he expected to recieve a name but none was forthcoming. "Mmm, maybe you would care to assist me in a little daring escape with the benefit that you yourself would not have to endure their cruelty any more."
The sobbing continued for a while and then ceased. He looked at her and she looked at him back, expectantly. He took it for an affirmative. "Bon, and with five and a half hours to go."
Posted 07 September 2006 - 04:13 PM
‘Coward!’ cried Marc, ‘die like a gentleman!’
‘I’m trying!’ cried Roqueforte, narrowly ducking an outraged, razor-sharp swipe of the rapier. De Bar kicked the priest to the floor and stood above him, brandishing his sword. Roqueforte gulped. The sword came down, striking him in the chest. Roqueforte cried out. Then he blinked.
There was an embarrassed silence.
‘You…’ said Marc… ‘you do not seem to be dead.’
‘So,’ said Roqueforte, ‘it would seem.’
Marc looked confusedly at his sword, which was still pinning Roqueforte to the floor. ‘I do not understand,’ he said, ‘this usually works.’
‘It’s ok,’ said Roqueforte, ‘you were nervous. It happens all the time. Just give it a little while and we’ll try again.’
‘Damn you, priest!’ De Bar pulled a pistol from his belt and aimed it at Roqueforte’s head, ‘If steel will not stop you, perhaps lead will!’
And Roqueforte would have been stopped indeed, if De Bar had not suddenly been thrown against a nearby wall. Dazed, he looked up to see…
‘Afredo the Spaniard!’ he cried.
Afredo helped Roqueforte to his feet.
‘That steel bible you keep near your heart will not save you every time, you know,’ he said, reproachfully. Roqueforte shrugged.
‘I know,’ he said, ‘but I’m at a really good bit. Jesus has just been taken up to heaven, and-’
‘We have no time for this, father!’ cried Afredo, ‘It’s Monte Dumas! He is to be guillotined at dawn!’
Posted 07 September 2006 - 04:21 PM
"Just this cassock..."
"Enough! You can get dressed in the carriage," Afredo suddenly cried out and bussled the poor Roqueforte out of the room.
Minutes later Marc opened an eye and tried to sit up. Being thrown against a wall and then onto the floor did not agree with him and sitting up could not be accomplished. His family's honour was trodden all over by the priest a third time and Marc swore again that he would avenge it! Once he was actually able to stand up.
"Ah! You do have a carriage, and horses, impossible," Roquefort stared in disbelief at the biggest shortage in Paris - the elusive and delicious equus.
"Spanish stalions padre, now we must speed to the rescue," Afredo cried very very quitely.
"I hope you'll be doing the rescuing Afredo," Roqueforte grumbled quitely and jumped into the carriage.
Posted 08 September 2006 - 09:40 AM
Mattheus was a young man - a boy, even - but stood well over six and a half feet, despite being narrower along the shoulders than Father Roquefort was across the waist. Charles and Afredo were as mother and father to him, since his own were habitual drunks; Charles relied on his brains, as he had had an education, and forbade him from drinking or cavorting with women, and taught him how to steal. He noted approvingly that the boy was sat in the corner with a glass of water.
"Good evening, Matt," he said cheerfully, sitting on a bench opposite the gangly lad. "Any chance of a bit to eat?"
"I've asked the wench to bring us some bread, cheese and meat, Father," replied Mattheus in his nasal voice. "She should be..." He stopped, and giggled, as a young barmaid with an aggressive cleavage swooped out of the crowd with a pair of wide platters.
She slid the food onto the table, casting Matt a long glance and a cheeky wink as she did so. The boy blushed, while Roquefort scowled, thrust some money at the wench and waved her off.
"Enough," he muttered, as he tore a chunck of bread from the loaf. "Let us talk about Dumas, and the rescue thereof."
"We may have a problem, Father," cut in Mattheus. "Word on the street is that the Assembly has authorised the Duc de Mortemart to head a small team of anti-crime gendarmes to hunt down populist criminals. Seeing as how we accidentally assaulted Robespierre, we may find them looking out for us..."
Afredo frowned. "We'll worry about that if it effects us," he said. "For now, we must worry about jail walls and wardens. Now, what's the plan?"
Posted 08 September 2006 - 10:41 AM
‘Yes, yes, Mademoiselle, the plan!’ said Monte Dumas, eagerly. ‘You may be imprisoned here indefinitely, but I loose my head at dawn!’
‘Comte, I do not think-’
‘Mademoiselle Eaglite,’ said Monte Dumas, ‘when first we met, not one hour ago, I profess I was struck by two things about you. Firstly, your eyes. Secondly, your comprehensive and categorical knowledge of the layout of this gaol, its defences, and the surrounding territory.’
‘I bet you say that to all the girls,’ said Mademoiselle Egalite.
‘Mademoiselle,’ said Monte Dumas, ‘let me be frank. Robespierre wants me dead. The Committee wants me dead. The wench at the Orczy inn wants me dead. My executioner wants me dead. As of this moment, my future prospects are not good.’
‘To be sure,’ said Mademoiselle Egalite.
‘I have escaped from many prisons, cells, brawls and third-storey bedrooms,’ said Monte Dumas, ‘however, this place, this… castle… is impenetrable. I must not only escape my cell, but my prison. I must not only escape my prison, but the tower. And then I must cross a poisoned moat-’
‘The moat is also on fire,’ said Egalite.
‘And all the while I must evade the Committee’s sentinels.’
‘A most difficult proposition,’ said Mademoiselle Egalite. Monte Dumas nodded.
‘Mademoiselle Egalite,’ said Monte Dumas, ‘I’m in a bit of a fix.’
‘Comte,’ said Mademoiselle Egalite, ‘when first we met, not one hour ago, I profess I was struck by two things about you. Firstly, your terrible smell. The sort that only comes from an aristocrat, misogynistic pig like yourself,’
‘But your father was a Duke!’ cried Monte Dumas.
‘Oui,’ said Mademoiselle Egalite, ‘and he also smelled pretty bad. Let me finish, monsieur,’
‘As you will,’ said Monte Dumas, his pride wounded.
‘The second thing I noticed about you is that you are a smooth operator. I formed the opinion that you may be able to help me. Comte, I know how to escape this place. I have waited months for a suitable accomplice.’
Monte Dumas drew himself up to his full height,
‘One rash, brash and dangerous to know?’ he asked.
‘No, monsieur,’ said Mademoiselle Egalite. She stood, and held out a bundle of woman’s clothes, ‘one who would fit into a corset.
Posted 08 September 2006 - 12:54 PM
"Open the gates in the name of the King!" Pierre cried and was immediately muffled by Claude who whispered something angrily in his ear. One of the guards stared in bewilderment at the street theatre unfolding before him.
"Open the gates in the name of the Committee for... for Public Safety!" the voice came from the dark and seconds later two men emerged. They looked semi-filthy, but distinctly cleaner than the guards themselves which clearly put them into the category of Aristocratic Pigs.
"Your credentials or your body in the moat," the guard spat at them.
The two men talked between them in hushed tones and there was some raising of voice.
"What about your body in the moat?" the taller aristocratic pig asked and drew his rapier, springing at the guard and impaling him cleanly. The other guards suddenly woke up and started fiddling with their muskets but were messily slaughtered by the two dancing de Bars. Then, as they set at a run on the bridge there was a huge explosion and a cannon-ball rolled between them, the portcullis shut with a bone-shaking crack and a volley of musketry erupted from the wall. The two brother only miraculously survived by improvising dead guards as large shields.
"Un rethink mon frere!" Claude called and the two retreated.
Posted 10 September 2006 - 07:36 PM
‘‘Mademoiselle is certainly given the run of the place,’ said Monte Dumas, grumpily, ‘damn my pantaloons! If only I had been wearing a dress! Robespierre would have never escaped me!’
‘How fast can you run in a dress, comte? You’d have never escaped his guards.’
‘I didn’t escape his guards,’ said Monte Dumas, sourly, ‘that’s why I’m here.’
Egalite shrugged and stepped through the door.
‘In the first months I was kept under lock and key.” Egalite lit the torch and began to pick her way through the dusty corridor, ‘That changed, because-’
‘Why, mademoiselle Egalite!’
Monte Dumas and Egalite turned in the direction of the voice, only to see:
‘Captain de Mortemart!’
Monte Dumas shrank back behind Egalite, who pushed the torch near to the Captain’s face. The man grinned fiercely in the light, and stepped through the door.
‘Mademoiselle,’ he said, ‘what a pleasure to find you here.’
‘Likewise, monsieur,’ said Egalite, curtseying.
‘Thricewise, monsieur,’ said Monte Dumas, ‘we have all heard stories of Robespierre’s famous Captain Of The Guard.’
De Mortemart turned to face Monte Dumas. He reached down, and pushed a gloved hand beneath d’Anger’s chin, ‘And what have we here?’ he asked, inspecting d’Anger’s face carefully. Monte Dumas gulped.
‘She is my new washerwoman,’ said Egalite, hastily, ‘the old one broke down and I had to return her.’ De Mortemart released his grip on d’Anger and turned his attention to Egalite.
‘‘Mademoiselle,’ he said, ‘why do you choose to wonder these corridors? You could be free, you know, if only you chose to marry me.’
‘That’s a nasty scar you have gained, Captain,’ said Egalite. De Mortemart raised a hand to his forehead, where a fresh, ugly scar ended just above his right eye, ‘However did it happen?’
‘I was accosting a criminal,’ said de Mortemart, ‘A foolish and heretical young rogue who went by the title of le Count de Monte Dumas. Do not worry, Mademoiselle. I took care of him easily.’
‘I hear he killed fifteen of your guards and stole your keys from under your nose!’ piped up d’Anger, ‘Also that he has the strength of ten lions, and is phenomenal in bed!’
Egalite elbowed d’Anger in the side.
‘Ignore my new washerwoman,’ she said, ‘she is very good at washing, and not very good at knowing what is good for her.’
De Mortemart glowered at d’Anger.
‘I will leave you to consider my offer, Mademoiselle,’ he said, ‘for now, I must make sure Monte Dumas is secure. He dies at dawn, and it seems his foolish friends are making an attempt on the castle.’
Posted 11 September 2006 - 08:19 AM
They had found a window set six feet high into the wall at the back of the castle. It was only at this point that they had come to realise the extend to which a river of flaming poison could hamper even the best-laid of plans; a shoddy, hastily-implimented plan like theirs had little hope of circumnavigating the obsticle. But, as Afredo observed, the prospect of almost certain failure leading to death had never stopped them before, and thus Roquefort found himself on his belly, balancin on a ladder, wedged into a cornice at one end and resting on the shoulders of a tall boy at the other.
"Why aren't you doing this?" muttered Mattheus to Afredo.
"Weak knees," murmured the Spaniard.
Unfortunately, as Roquefort was about to find out, a regretable side effect of setting fire to poison is that is produces fumes. At first, these fumes had the enviable effect of making him slightly more happy about his situation. "Hee hee hee," he giggled, shuffling unsteadily forward, "adventures are funny!"
These progressed into hallucinations, which were more problematic, as the second side effect of setting fire to a river of poison is that the poison-fish, which lives in poison and is a harmless little critter, spontaneously evolves into Poison Fish Prime, a fish the size of a half baguette with jaws that are capable of chewing through a hippo. Although, classically speaking, le poisson poison has never possessed the ability to jump, these particular iterations of the genus were doing their level best to advance in the name of egalite, fraternite and the poison fish species; Roquefort, in a narcotic torpour, was happily dangling his arms through the slats of the ladder, trying to catch what he saw as winged kittens with harps. Only Afredo's quick hands with a crossbow preserved Roquefort's ability to play the dulcimer, for which he was justly famed.
After perhaps ten minutes watching what amounted to a stoned giggling monk, Afredo and Mattheus got bored. With a sigh, Afredo gave the boy a boost, and Charles slid rapidly down the remained of the ladder, through the window and into the castle.
Afredo gently set the boy back down again, and they looked ruminatively at the castle wall through the haze of th flaming poison. After a second, Afredo said: "Boy... how exactly do we get into the castle?"
"Ah," replid Matt.
The shock of going head-first through a glass window awakened Roquefort from his fugue. After shaking his head, he noticed with bewilderment he corridor he was in was empty, but from nearby were the sounds of a masked ball in progress.
He didn't think "Why would there be a masked ball in a prison castle?" In stead he thought, "My my, this could be interesting."
Posted 11 September 2006 - 04:06 PM
‘In my circle, mademoiselle, we have a saying, a motto, if you will,’ Monte Dumas hitched up his skirt and looked out of a portcullis, ‘"All for one."’ he said.
Egalite looked at him incredulously.
‘That is your motto?’
‘No, Mademoiselle Egalite. That is their motto.’ Monte Dumas narrowed his eyes, trying to pick out the fortress’s defences. ‘They are all for me. I am the one.’
‘Your friends are very foolish,’ said Mademoiselle Egalite, ‘You can’t seriously believe that they would breach the walls?’
‘They might,’ said Monte Dumas. ‘No… they have. I feel it in my blood.’
‘That may just be the corset cutting off the circulation to your brain,’ said Mademoiselle Egalite.
‘My friends are here, Mademoiselle. We must think how we can reach them.’
‘Comte, if your friends are really here, they will be in great danger! They must be warned!’
‘Fear not, Mademoiselle,’ said Monte Dumas, ‘my friends are far better at avoiding the Guards than I am. Do not worry about de Mortemart.’
‘It is not him I am worried about!’ cried Mademoiselle Egalite, ‘Oh, Comte, you do not understand!’
At the same time as this conversation was happening in the dungeons above Afredo was trying very hard to look inconspicuous at the party below. Unfortunately, his fiery temperament and desire for pineapple and cheese on a stick made this impossible. Already, heads were turning in his direction.
‘Why, monsieur,’ came a voice behind him, ‘you have no mask.’
Afredo turned to see a masked young woman. He assumed she was young, but it was hard to tell. In fact, she may have been pretty given a good scrub, bath, several hours of pampering and an expensive dress from Bordeaux, but this all escaped Afredo, who did not have the ability to do such things to her.
‘Forgive me, Mademoiselle,’ he said, bowing steeply, ‘I do not believe I have had the pleasure.’
‘The pleasure is mine, monsieur,’ said the young woman, prettily, ‘you may call me Mademoiselle Egalite.’
Posted 21 September 2006 - 11:00 PM
"Run," she hissed as they charged through dark hallways and dim torches, d'Anger's feet hitting not a few cunningly placed flagstones. Still, it was pain he was willing to endure to save himself, and perhaps ingratiate himself with Mademoiselle Egalite who, quite suddenly, had become something of an object of desire.
That usually happened when De Mortemart had taken something of his, or something that was not his, it just soon became something he wanted himself. Such was the complicated character of d'Anger. Contemplation on d'Anger's part had slowed him being dragged by Egalite who, upon turning back to the unfortunately thinned aristocrat in order to swear at him, ran straight into Father Charles Roqueforte.
Madame Fortuna had her way - Roqueforte was well-cushioned and provided a comfortable landing for Egalite (which he enjoyed) and for d'Anger (which he also enjoyed because of d'Anger's getuo).
"Ah, what exquisite beauties," Roqueforte said feasing upon the shapely bodies of the washerwomen. "Though you be mere washerwomen, and I the servant of our lord, it is fit that you should have run into me this night."
d'Anger caught sight of the man and heard the voice and managed to bring out a rasp of amazement. "Roqueforte?!"
The recognition by the thinner washerwoman, who was less in Charles' taste, put him into a bit of a quandry. This almost certainly meant that they had crossed paths before and for Charles Roqueforte crossing paths with a washerwoman can only have lead to one thing.
"Uh," he said, then picked up his robes and hurried in the direction that Afredo had taken.
Egalite looked puzzled at d'Anger. Then she was expecting explanation. "I think they were coming to rescue me," d'Anger suggested. Egalite looked at the direction Roqueforte had gone in, mentally imagined a plan of the castle and... froze.
"Mon Dieu! It is your friends that shall have to be rescued now!" she cried.
"You would help me do that?"
"Non, I'm getting out of here, and I still need you with me."
Posted 22 September 2006 - 02:31 PM
‘Monsieur,’ she said, ‘there are no gentlemen or servants. Only citizens. Surely you remember?’ She pulled him back to face her with a sharp tug. ‘Will you not now speak with me?’
‘I have no mask, mademoiselle.’
Egalite released her grip on the man and removed her own mask.
‘I doubt that,’ she said, smiling at him.
‘Mademoiselle is beautiful,’ said Afredo.
‘Ah,’ said Egalite, ‘you noticed.’
‘What do you want with me, mademoiselle?’
‘Let me be honest. I admit, monsieur, this is not something that happens without a great deal of conscious effort on my part, but nevertheless. I know you, sir,’ said Egalite, ‘You are Afredo. The one they call The Spaniard.’
‘Actually The Spaniard is my real surname,’ said Afredo, blushing, ‘it causes great social security problems for me.’
‘Your family name is The Spaniard?’
‘Mademoiselle, when Granada fell it became important to some people to become very Spanish very fast,’
‘Your memory fails you, monsieur. Granada did not fall. It was retaken.’
‘As yes,’ said Adredo, ‘of course.’
The pair turned to see a man striding up to them. He had a distinctive scar on his face.
‘Why, Captain de Mortemart,’ said Egalite, dryly, ‘whatever kept you?’
Captain de Mortemart spared Afredo a contemptuous glance, and then pointed an accusing finger at Egalite.
‘Your sister, mademoiselle, your sister… is the most frustrating, stony-’
‘Come now, Captain, you are too harsh.’ Egalite rested a gloved hand on Mortemart’s wrist. ‘She will come around to your thinking,’ she said.
‘Her new washerwoman is most impertinent,’ said Mortemart, glaring.
‘Washerwoman?’ asked Egalite, frowning.
‘She dared to impugn my honour!’ cried Mortemart, ‘She impugned me most heinously!’
‘How, sir?’ gasped Egalite, eyes widening in mock shock.
‘Why, by implying that young villain I caught yesterday stole my keys from under my noise!’
‘A fine nose it is, sir! Roman! Aquiline! A God-given nose!’
‘She also suggested he was a phenomenal lover!’ glowered the captain.
At this, Afredo’s face went totally blank, as if he was trying very hard not to betray a sudden flash of inspiration.
‘Mademoiselle,’ he said, very carefully, ‘would you like to dance?’
Posted 24 September 2006 - 08:57 AM
She slipped quickly into the closed dancing position, and he murmured, "Who is this Montemart character?"
"He is the man who has hired the lip-readers at the sidelines, so be careful, monseiur," she replied into his shoulder.
"Fear not, my lady; I am a trained ventriloquist," said Afredo the Spaniard proudly, his mustache unwiggling.
"You are a man of many curious talents, Monsieur Spaniard," murmured Madame Egalite.
He stepped back as she executed a complex, weaving pattern of footsteps. As she twirled back towards him, he said, "I used to be in a circus. To this day, I am not comfortable unless there is a fish in my trousers."
"Monsieur Afredo! I blush!"
"Not a euphamism," responded Afredo sadly. Madame Egalite laughed lightly as the crowd parted around them.
"But," he continued, "I express curiousity about yourself, Madame Egalite. You are clearly a woman who is not content with baking and cleaning as a profession, yet too refined to be a courtesan. What else is a woman to be?"
"Oh," she moaned, burying her head into Afredo's shoulder, "If only I could tell you all I know! Afredo, I can't give you the answers you seek, by while Montemarte watches you and seethes with jealousy I can at least say that I have bought your friends some time. I must go now, I must, I must!" With that, she abruptly pushed away from him, and made her way from the dance floor; Afredo stood, dumbstruck, as the couples moved around him, starting as they spun.
Posted 24 September 2006 - 09:21 AM
"Wiggle your ass monsieur, we're not beeing discreet, for we are washerwomen," she snapped at him.
"But I do not know how to walk like a woman," d'Anger said and the last few words made him feel like he should burst into song. Egalite's sharp eyes prevented it. "Or... uh... talk like a woman or dance like a woman."
"I'm not asking you to dance! Come on, we're nearly at the laundry shoot, we'll need more than a few dirty shirts and tights to take past the guards and make our exit believable. Or rather," her straight face turned into a smile, "you will."
The only thing missing was a sudden and unexpected entry of someone like Afredo, d'Anger though, but that didn't happen, instead he followed (hips and ass wiggling) Egalite round the corner and saw her run into...
d'Anger stared from one to the other. His own Egalite needed a few good scrubs and could do with a change of clothes, purfume and attitude, but the new Egalite who would look the spitting image of his own is she was smothered a little in mud, stripped down, ravaged a few times by Father Charles and then dressed as plainly as was possible, she showed the true beauty of the Egalite sisters. All this of course in the moment of recognition between the sisters and spite and hatred brewing within their eyes.
Egalite (the gorgeous one he understood to be Georgette) gave him a look and raised an eyebrow, "So this is your new little washerwoman Helene." She slowly pushed past her sister and made little flowing steps towards d'Anger who tried not to swallow and look washerwoman-like. Georgette came up close to his face and looked into his eyes, blew smoke into his face and smiled.
"Bonjour Comte," she breathed and turned to her sister, "You betray me once again by helping this aristocrat out of prison. I cannot allow you to do this for it would break my standing with Montemarte."
"I spit on you and yoru capitane!" Helene cried and produced a sword from somewhere on the castle wall. Georgette screamed with rage and produced her own thrusting to engage with her sister in, from d'Anger's point of view, extremely good sword play.
"Mademoiselle, am I not the one supposed to be handling the sword?" he called.
"Non!" they both answered. Then Helene added, "You must speed to the laundry, I will catch you up." d'Anger sped away. "And as for you, dog-filth of a sister, you may believe our name to be ruined thanks to me, but it is instead because of you and what you do to with the capitane!"
"Whore! But you do the same, and I suspect he enjoys it far more with you!"
"Ha! You started it first and had me locked up in a dungeon."
"Ah, so I win my sister," Georgette smiled and performed a double-somersault backwards, jumped off some steps and kicked a chair at Helen.
"Zut," Helene concluded and throwing the sword at her sister ran through the door d'Anger had taken and barred it from her side.
Posted 04 October 2006 - 12:34 PM
He was waylaid, however, at the laundry door by the sound of womanly weeping. "Alas, how fickle and febrile is a woman's heart," bemoaned a voice from within, "How movable just a soft gaze or a ripped set of pectorial muscles! Woe, that love should befall me now, woe, woe!"
Edward peeked his head around the corner and sighed. "Another sodding Egalite."
This one looked up. If she stopped crying, indulged in a few good scrubs and a change of clothes, then she would still be the middle sister - pretty, but not beautiful - despite looking abosultely identical to her sisters, down to the last freckle. As she was crying, however, her face was blotchy and red, which made her look somewhat silly.
"Ah, that refrain, the curse of ma famile," she cried out bitterly, not rising from the mount of soiled sheets upon which she perched. "I suppose you have met my womb-mates, then?"
"The last I saw, they were fencing in the corridors," replied d'Anger. "One rescued me, the other wishes to turn me over to the Duc; I suggest you pick your side and quickly, Mademoiselle!"
"I do not pick sides," muttered this third sister bitterly, absent-mindedly stroking the spot where Afredo's hand had lain.
"Then I suppose we wait, and see which of your sisters comes for us," replied the Comte defiantly, before settling down on some tunics.
Posted 11 October 2006 - 09:57 AM
Roqueforte opened his eyes and stared at the growning Afredo on the floor.
"Washerwomen Spaniard! Washerwomen! They haunt me everywhere... we must get out!" he shouted in the Spaniard's face. It too Afredo just moments to realise what must have been going on.
"There is only one reason for washerwomen to be in a castle padre, and that is to escape it. The only washerwomen to escape the castles are not washerwomen at all but our own friend the Comte," Afredo explained. A little too loudly he now realised. Everyone was looking at them, though largely this was at Charle's large bottom.
"So, to the laundry?"
"To the laundry padre!"
They got up and rushed off. Everybody followed.
Posted 04 November 2006 - 03:03 PM
"I think," said Egalite, daintily and absent mindedly rolling her hand around in the air "it is fair to say, he has a type,"
"Is he a superhuman lover to keep you all around here?"
"No, he just has the key to the door. I will never bed 'im, though I cannot speak for my sisters,"
"How many of there are you?" asked d'Anger.
However, before Egalite could answer Alfredo and Roqueforte burst through the door. With a twirl of his moustache Alfredo smiled. Egalite's heart skipped a beat.
"We're here for the washerwoman!" he proclaimed with a wink. He pointed at the fat washerwoman who had walked in earlier. Together he and Roqueforte seized her. d'Anger was about to protest when the washerwoman saved him the job.
"'Ere, what's your game!?"
"Come now washerwoman," said Alfredo with another wink "Or should I say... Comte!"
"Do I look like a bloody aristocrat to you?"
"No, but you smell like one!" said Roqueforte, dragging her to the door. "And whilst we're on it, you don't look much like a washerwoman either. The moustache is a dead give away. How you fooled..."
By this stage d'Anger was on his feet and following them but alas they were out of the door, slamming behind them.
He sighed. "Idiots," he muttered. He held his hand out to Egalite who took it gently. Together they followed the screams of washerwomanly protestation.
Posted 06 November 2006 - 11:04 AM
"Per'aps it is not surprising that your wrists are strong, for all that you grasp at the Montemart peen!" came the venomous reply, accompanied by a thrust and a kick to the shin. The older, more beautiful sister went to ground, cursing and wishing she had been more open to the strangulation possibilities of an umbilical cord.
"Gluttonous evildoer!" shouted the Egalite still on her feet, pausing only to slyly put the boot in. She - the younger Egalite, the one who had rescued d'Anger from his cell - then took her opportunity to dash from the room. Her elder sister shrieked and threw her sword at her sibling's retreating back, but missed, and instead severed a wall-mounted tapestry, the fraying end of which feel into the open fire. "Cripes," she muttered in a fake English accent, before scrambling to her feet, but too late - the heavy oaken door swung shut, and the leaden bolt was hastily drawn.
"Merde," she muttered, this time with a bit more bitterness. The tapestry was really going now, and the fire showed every sign of getting involved with the furniture; meanwhile, one potential avenue of escape, the window, offered only the possibility of the flaming poison lake. There was another exit to the room, but it led only to the gallery over the great ballroom, and she had her own reasons for wanting to avoid Montemart and his society. She shrugged; she was really left with very little choice.
She shut the door behind her and quietly hoped that the fire would burn itself out.
Posted 07 November 2006 - 12:21 AM
‘The game’s up, Monte Dumas!’ cried de Mortemart, drawing his sword, ‘surrender your laundry!’
Alfredo was about to reply when the younger Egalite, who had just escaped the sword of her elder sister, bounded into the fray.
‘Mademoiselle Egalite!’ cried de Mortemart.
‘Mademoiselle Egalite!’ cried Alfredo.
‘’Elp! ’Elp!’ cried the abducted washerwoman, in an inexplicably cockney accent.
‘Captain de Mortemart!’ gasped Egalite. She caught a glimpse of Alfredo and blushed. ‘Monsieur,’ she said, ‘who are you? And why are you in possession of my washerwoman?’
‘This washerwoman, mademoiselle,’ cried de Mortemart, ‘is not your washerwoman at all! Indeed,’ he continued, ‘it is that infamous rogue, that debaser of liberties, that scoundrel of scoundrels, that lord of intrigue, that master of disguise, the arch-traitor himself! I speak, of course, of none other than le Compte de Monte Dumas!’
‘Fear not, d’Anger!’ muttered Roqueforte, ‘we’re with you to the death!’
‘To the death!’ vowed Alfredo, solemnly.
‘Look,’ said the washerwoman, ‘just who the hell are you people?’
‘Captain de Mortemart!’ said Egalite, ‘I am quite sure you are mistaken. That washerwoman is not le Compte de Monte Dumas at all. It is only my old washerwoman. She is a very good washerwoman, only I had to return her, because she took a knock on the head and now speaks in a mysterious, barbarous tongue which our best scholars cannot decipher and which it seems no civilised person can hope to understand.’
‘Apples and pears!’ cried the cockney washerwoman.
‘Silence, traitor!’ shouted de Mortemart, angrily.
Concealed by the nearby corner, d’Anger stared insensibly at the unfolding drama.
‘The situation is very bad,’ he whispered to his Egalite, ‘I fear there may be terrible bloodshed, and possibly lint.’
‘Help! Help!’ came another, more distant voice. Everyone paused for a moment, trying to pin it down. It seemed to have come from beyond the corridor, which incidentally, now everyone was taking the time to think about it, seemed to be filling up with smoke.
‘Mademoiselle,’ said de Mortemart, brandishing his sword and reeling on the terrified Egalite, ‘where is your other sister?!’
‘Help! Help!’ came the cry from beyond the corridor.
‘Mademoiselle Egalite!’ cried de Mortemart, desperately.
‘Captain de Mortemart!’ came a feminine cry from the opposite corridor. De Mortemart spun on heel, only to be faced with the Egalite who was with d’Anger.
‘Mademoiselle Egalite!’ cried de Mortemart.
‘Mademoiselle Egalite!’ cried Alfredo.
‘Mademoiselle Egalite!’ cried Mademoiselle Egalite.
‘This is ridiculous,’ muttered d’Anger, ‘I’ll be in my cell if anyone needs me.’
‘Fear not, Edmund!’ whispered Egalite, ‘I have it all in hand.’
‘Look, just how many of you lot are there?’ asked d’Anger, peering across at her sister, ‘the existential potentialities are mind-boggling.’
‘Hush, dear Comte,’ said Egalite, ‘my sister is about to explain all.’
‘Mademoiselle Egalite!’ said de Mortemart. ‘Explain yourself! Explain yourselves!’
‘As you can see, captain,’ said the Egalite closest to Alfredo, ‘my sister stands before you. But if you were looking for my other sister, you might find her in the room beyond this corridor. If you cared for her, captain, you might look fast. It seems that room is on fire. Already, this corridor fills with smoke.’
‘Damn you, mademoiselle,’ cried de Mortemart. He pointed a shaky fist at the washerwoman. ‘I’ll be back, Comte! Just you wait! I’ll tumble dry you yet!’
‘Bladder of Lard!’ cried the washerwoman.
‘Help!’ cried the trapped Egalite, ‘who will save me?! I’m too young to die! I haven’t even had any cake, yet!’
‘Guards!’ cried de Mortemart, retreating in the direction of the imprisoned Egalite’s voice, ‘Kill them! Kill them all!’
The guards charged at Alfredo and Roqueforte, who, having nothing better to do, defended themselves valiantly.
‘This is my moment, mademoiselle,’ cried d’Anger, slipping past Egalite and charging into the fray, ‘for France!’ he cried, ‘For liberty!’
‘Edmund!’ cried Roqueforte, surprised to see his friend materialising beside him, ‘so it really was a washerwoman, after all!’
‘Brass Tacks!’ cried the washerwoman. D’Anger thumped one of the guards on the head and stole his sword.
‘Guys,’ he said, ‘Worst. Exit. Strategy. Ever. Seriously.’
‘It’s not our fault!’ retorted Roqueforte sorely, parrying a sword thrust and delivering a well-timed kick to his opponent’s private quarters, ‘they say this castle is impenetrable!’
‘This castle is on fire!’ muttered Alfredo, ‘Edmund! We must escape dramatically immediately! My blood demands it!’
‘Edmund!’ cried one of the Egalites, no one was quite sure which, ‘the castle is not wholly impenetrable! Like my heart!’
‘That’s right!’ cried the other Egalite, elbowing the first one aside, ‘There is an old washing line! It stretches from the castle wall to the other side of the moat!’
The sisters threw open a nearby window, blowing out all the smoke and revealing a dizzying drop of improbable proportions.
‘The line is attached to the ledge,’ explained one of the sisters.
D’Anger knocked out one of the guards, ran over to the ledge, and cast his head out of the window. A thin, knotted wire dotted with laundry stretched like an anaemic spider’s web across the chasm.
‘That’s that, then,’ he said, ‘we’re all going to die.’
‘It’s ok!’ cried Roqueforte, clutching his Bible, ‘according to this book I’m reading death is only temporary!’
‘Everyone out of the window!’ yelled Alfredo, charging towards the gap and flinging himself onto the washing line. He landed on both feet and set off at a hitherto physically impossible pace down the thread. Roqueforte followed. D’Anger took both Egalites over the shoulder and leapt onto the line. Meanwhile the washerwoman, rather sensibly, chose to make her escape through an old abandoned laundry chute.
D’Anger picked his way down the washing line, balancing precariously on the wire, an Egalite over each arm.
‘Why, Compte!’ gushed one of them, ‘you truly have superhuman balance!’
‘I did ballet as a young man, mademoiselle,’ said d’Anger. Alfredo and Roqueforte sniggered. D’Anger glowered, then ducked as a musket ball whistled close to his ear. He spun to see several guards edging their way towards him, swords drawn. A tightrope duel seemed to be in store.
Posted 07 November 2006 - 11:55 AM
"I'm sorry Edmund, we had to pawn it to help finance your escape," Afredo answered.
"My most precious possession in the world?" d'Anger cried and for his troubles recieved a cut on the arm from an advancing guard. "No matter, this bit of heroisim will have to be done with the most base of implements." And with that he, performing an impossible balancing act and bending around Roqueforte, removed the Spaniard's sword and came lunging at the guards.
"Bastardo," Afredo muttered.
"HA-HAAA!" d'Anger exclaimed and tugged the first guardsman by the belt into the chasm below. He had had the audacity to parry his entering lunge. The second guard was looking distinctly unenthusiastic and took a step back... onto the other guard's toes, which sent both of them flying (and grumbling at each other). D'Anger took a few paces up the tightrope to meet the guards scrambling through the window.
"Where do you come from?" he mused and took two expert parries, dodged a lunge and in the process gave a casual bang on the man's back. One more went flying for the splat.
He turned to look back briefly and saw his four companions staring wild-eyed at him.
"Well? Carry on?" he shouted and motioned for them to get down the line. Then he realised they were staring past him, for the flames were already licking themselves around the window, dangerously close to where the washing line was attached. "Zut," he mumbled, and engaged the last guard, who had only that morning been training and practicing his sword-fighting and actually put up a decent fight.
With masterful strokes d'Anger had edged him back to the window and allowed the flames to burn the guard's behind, which sent him voluntarily diving into the moat (forgetting it was that moat). d'Anger gave a little flourish of the rapier for good measure at the flying guardsman and... accidentally cut the washing line. It began to slowly tear. "Merde," he mumbled and paced quickly down the line, the only thing stopping him reaching solid ground and the his rescuers being dramatic inevitability.
He heard a terrifying snap, felt the line slacked, and thinking very very quickly wrapped his hands in some cloth before wrapping the line around his hands, when he eventually came down and stopped bouncing, it really really hurt. So much that he nearly went unconscious...
d'Anger opened his eyes and saw an Egalite. "Which one are you?" was his first thought. "Why do my hands hurt like an Englishman's crotch?" was his second. "Where am I?" was only his third.
Posted 26 November 2006 - 11:33 AM
"Comte! We must flee!" cried Roqueforte backing away.
"One moment Roqueforte!" said d'Anger "I must taunt him!"
"Well try to be the bigger man won't you,"
"Oh I can assure you of that, as can the ladies!" said d'Anger confidently before sticking his tongue out and blowing a raspberry at Mortemart. He turned and fled with the group.
Up on the battlements Mortemart snarled.
"Damn it! They've escaped the unescapable castle and they've kidnapped one of the Egalite sisters in the process!"
In the distance a voice called back.
"No they haven't! I've left of my own free will!"
Mortemart fell to his knees. "Damn you God! Curse you for making us this way!"
A nearby archer put his hand on Mortemart's shoulder. "Don't worry Sir. We've plenty more where she came from."