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Monday, September 19, 2005

The Adventures of Felix Mephisto, Gentleman: Part 2

Chapter 1. In which Felix Suffers For His Naiveté

Well, the pressures of organising my upcoming jaunt- not to mention my rampant foolishness in deciding to run a WFRP scenario of my own devising- mean that I decided last week to put my little Old World on hold until after my return. And so it turned out that yesterday's roleplaying took place entirely in Donald's version of Dumas' Paris, dateline June 1643.

Meanwhile pressing issues of real life and other things had reduced yesterday's group to just Donald, Tony and myself.

**********

So it was that, having gleaned the name of the Chevalier Didonner from the barman at the Black Cross Club, our 3 companions retired for the evening. Van Horstmann to the comforts of his apartments and an attentive flunkey. The good Baron and Felix first to the Club of St. George, for a slap up feed which- at a hefty 5 livres- cost our young gentleman fully one tenth of his annual disposable income.

Over dinner our PC's resolved to find out more about this Chevalier Didonner. They consulted the Club's concierge. A few more livres from Felix, topped up by the Baron, brought the assurance of some information on the morrow.

Thereafter: to the Baron's apartment, there to await a report from Piedro on the contents of the goblets from which the late M. le Droite had been seen sharing a bottle of wine with the aforementioned chevalier just before the untimely death that had caused the Constable General to call upon his acquaintance Baron Tourné in the first instance. Van Horstmann's flunkey delivered his master's word in the course of the evening. The results of his chemical studies of the 2 goblets from which the Chevalier Didonner and M. le Droite had shared what had turned out to be the latter's last drink?

Poison.

An as yet undiscovered 2nd corpse was thus our heroes' immediate concern for the next day.

It was that evening also that Felix discovered an unexpected taste for gambling at cards, while the good Baron hit an even more unexpected winning streak. Felix retired to the Baron's guest room 5 livres down on the night (and some quarter or more of his annual disposable gone already, in a single day!).

Rising early as is his wont, Felix had to awaken Baron Jean-Claude to answer the door. They beheld an urchin bearing a message from the concierge at the Club of St. George: said Didonner happened to live at Rue St. Michel 18, surprisingly close to the Bank of the Brothers Di Vittoria (Rue St. Michel 32). It was to this very bank that our trio had been pointed the previous day by a major clue uncovered by their grisly examination of the already almost rotting corpse of the unfortunate le Droite.

Making haste to find out about the fate of the Chevalier, the Baron and his gentleman friend made first for the office of the registry of births and deaths, where they discovered that no Didonner had been reported dead in the appropriate period.

There was nothing else for it then but the Rue St. Michel 18. Diverting only to prepare themselves for the possibility of a trial at arms, our intrepid pair made haste thence. Arriving, they conducted a quick reconnaissance to discover it stood secure against entry via the alleys at each side, and from the yard at the rear. The front door it was then.

Deciding to exploit their official status, the Baron knocked and presented their warrant to the flunkey who answered the door. They were told that the Chevalier was most definitely alive (despite having drunk of the poison?- how strange); that he was out; that their man could tell us nothing of his master's whereabouts- despite Felix's protestations that it might be a matter of Didonner's life or death; and that the time of his return was uncertain.

Felix insisted on leaving a note:
"On the business of the Constable-General of France, we have reason to fear for your safety. Must insist on an immediate audience before the day is out.
"RSVP care of the Club of St. George."
Signed (with a flourish),
"Felix Mephisto, Gentleman"
This done, off our pair headed to the bank. There Felix posed as Baron Tourné's amateur financial advisor while Jean-Claude asked about potential investments with said bank. The Baron's income frankly announced soon revealed him as small fry beneath the Bros Di Vittoria's notice, although a couple of useful clues were picked up about the bank's major current ventures. These immediately struck Felix and the Baron both as somewhat germane to their investigation.

[Oh, and Felix criticaled on his Banking roll (1 on a d20 of 9-!), meaning that not only did he give an utterly convincing account of the Baron's financial prospects- thus leaving the invaluable 'good impression' despite everything; but he also got 1 of the 2 checks needed to advance his Banking to 10-. Heh!]

This lead exhausted, our pair of companions returned to Felix's club to await the Chevalier Didonner's reply. This not coming, the good Baron hired a coach to take them back to #18 with appropriate speed and due propriety. Brooking no argument, Felix insisted on satisfaction in the face of more ignorance on the part of the same flunkey at the threshold, the result of which was a list of his master's haunts. The name of the Black Cross Club immediately caught Felix's eye. Back in the coach, off they went.

There the good Baron and Felix spoke again with the barman who had proved so helpful the last time, although their warrant secured his services rendered at a 100% discount. Yes, the Chevalier had indeed been there earlier that afternoon, staying only long enough to share a quick libation before departing in the company of the veiled lady of means with whom he had shared a rendezvous.

Curses!

Luckily though, our louche Baron guessed their game, having already noted the name of a sometime haunt of his own on the list of places where they were to track down the unexpectedly still living Chevalier: the Nun's Habit. Flush with the thrill of the chase, Felix came up with a ruse with which he hoped to beard their #1 suspect in his den of lascivious iniquity.

And so it was that Felix Mephisto, Gentleman - a charming but gauche young fellow, of pure heart and honourable intentions - found himself sitting in a tavern across the way from the Nun's Habit: a place infamous for its ruthless enforcement of discretion in all matters pertaining to liasons dangereuses; awaiting the arrival of his friend, the Baron Jean-Claude Tourné, in the company of a certain married lady of his intimate acquaintance. It must have been the time the young man had to ponder on his own machinations, because it has to be said that young Felix certainly wasn't as pleased - at his own first visit to this den of vice - as was Tourné's companion at hers.

In any event: playing his part, Felix gave Tourné 10 minutes, then approached the door with the letter our, erm... 'adventurous' pair had prepared, to be delivered with all urgency ( naturally enough) to the Baron. As noted, Felix's discomfiture at what he had so eagerly and so unwittingly become a party to began to rule his head as well as his already sinking heart [he fluffed his highly respectable d20:14- Charm roll]. Thus it was that, Felix's protestations notwithstanding, a burly bouncer instructed our young hero to wait outside while he ensured the delivery of this 'message' of such vital import. Not unaware of how these things go, Baron Tourné required 'his gentleman'(?!) to be brought to his private dining room.

Discretion forbids me from detailing the sights that our hapless young gentleman beheld on his passage thence. Sufficeth to say that, by the time he arrived to speak to the Baron, his horror knew no bounds, and he knew that his scheme to seek the Chevalier within these walls was sheer and utter folly. The sound of rustling silk from behind the screen whence had disappeared the Baron's lady companion was the last straw.

Felix fled into the night.
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