Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Romantic Horror, London, circa 1800

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Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:56 am

Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse; Or, The Spectral Pursuer

There being general agreement that Mrs. Piper speaks with the voice of benevolent wisdom, the party undertakes the journey to Chateau de Hautommes. If one had the wings of an eagle, one could reach that venerable estate by flying due south. Failing that, one must travel by earthbound means. The distance to the Chateau being nearly two hundred leagues, the adventurers may expect to reach their destination in about a fortnight, given some luck.

The first several days of the journey are generally uneventful and not very pleasurable, given the inclement weather. Perhaps one can derive some amusement from the imaginative curses bestowed upon the roads, which are muddy when they are not icy, by the various coachmen employed. Doctor North's purse having hired only the best drivers and coaches, however, there are no serious incidents. The party spends many nights within the walls of small country inns, and one or two in larger towns such as Orleans and Limoges. It is obvious from the maps and instructions provided by Mrs. Piper that they will arrive at Toulouse for one final night's stay, the Chateau lying at no great distance from that sizable city. During this peaceable time the adventurers may undertake such preparations as they see fit, possibly even venturing out during brief breaks in the weather when they are in a community with appreciable resources. Doctor North, of course, uses the time to perfect his latest invention; inspired, perhaps, by the violet ray, the device that produced it having vanished during the chaos that ensued from its use.

The one occurrence of note during this time is the curious fact that each member of the party, from time to time, has caught a brief glimpse of an indistinct figure on horseback, following the coach at a distance which prevents any revealing details from being observed. It may simply be an innocent traveler, whose appearance is rendered vague and mysterious by the gloomy days, when only weak traces of sunlight penetrate heavy clouds.
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Mr. Handy » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:13 am

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"I am curious as to who may be following us," says Henry. "Perhaps we should slow down for a bit the next time we spot this stranger and see if the rider approaches, or instead slows down as well to match our pace."
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:53 am

This stratagem being applied at a convenient time and place, it may be observed that the rider comes somewhat closer, but does indeed draw back on the reins to slow the steed. A heavy black cloak conceals the appearance, and even the sex, of the rider, although this is easily explained by the weather. The horse is a fine black stallion, its equipage shining like silver even on such a dismal day. It seems that the rider makes no effort either to contact the adventurers nor to escape their view.
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Mr. Handy » Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:17 am

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"This person is definitely following us deliberately," says Henry. "Whoever it is would probably vanish from sight if we dared to stop and approach and would also then become aware that we know we are being followed, so I wouldn't recommend trying that. I'm not sure what else we can do, unless perhaps the weather clears and we can get a better look. Does anyone have a spyglass?"
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby SunlessNick » Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:25 am

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Ines looks pensively back at the figure, as if trying to discern whether it is natural or supernatural. "We encountered much evil in Paris," she says, "but little that would care to follow us so."

OOC:   I don't actually have any ability that lets me do that that first part - I just said it for atmosphere.

I increased Ines's Dexterity to 10 for 3rd level, and updated my Dramatis Personae writeup.  
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Rooter » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:13 pm

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"I am almost reminded of a certain highwayman bearing black roses whom some of us encountered previously," Lila speculates. She asks the drivers to kindly keep a watchful eye on the road ahead for any signs of ambush from another direction.
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Mr. Handy » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:50 pm

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"It cannot be him, he is dust now," says Henry, "but I think it is someone he knows. There is one rider on a pale horse who seems to follow us everywhere we go, and he comes for us all in the end."
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:39 am

The party arrives without incident in Toulouse, a fine, busy city of about fifty thousand souls. The cloaked rider is seen again from time to time, but if there are others associated with this figure, they are not detected. By the time the city is visible on the horizon, the rider is seen no more.

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Toulouse is the administrative capital of the province of Languedoc, as well as the cultural center of southwestern France, with many government offices, a university, multiple booksellers and printers, and, in recent years, even a reading cabinet, where members of the public may borrow books in multiple languages.

As the adventurers enter the city, with an excellent view of the Pont Neuf, the stately bridge over the Garonne, it can be seen that, even at this time of year, merchants dealing in iron, timber, leather, cloth, wool, and such goods are hard at work. No doubt in warmer seasons one would see much trade in grain and olive oil, the region being famous for these comestibles.

Per the instructions of Mrs. Piper, the party arrives at Le Colombier, a charming inn. Senor and Senorita del Zaragoza are already in residence. They are both dark of hair and eye, with complexions that speak of Moorish ancestry. Isaac is a man of about forty years, slender yet well-muscled. He speaks many European languages fluently and is of scholarly mien. His daughter Raquel has not yet reached twenty years of age, is small and delicate of feature, and is somewhat shy, due in part no doubt to the fact that, although able to converse in English and French, speaks those tongues with an noticeable accent. She is usually seen carrying a prayer book.

Introductions being made, it is soon established that the del Zaragozas are not directly acquainted with the de Hautommes family, arrangements for Isaac's tutoring position having been made through correspondence.

The Chateau de Hautommes being no great distance from Toulouse, the party has the rest of the afternoon, the evening, and a portion of the next morning to spend in whatsoever manner they wish, whether it be in conversation with the del Zaragozas, in exploration of the city, or engaged in some other activity.
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby SunlessNick » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:51 am

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This close to the Pyrenees, it occurs to Ines that the people here may be versed enough in Spanish for her to perform some songs in that language during the evening - she chooses something rich and a little lusty in the hopes of alleviating the bleak mood that has held the company in thrall since the tragic events in Paris.

OOC:   Charisma =10, + 1 Entertaining, +3 Dancing Ability, +3 Beautiful.
SunlessNick rolled 1D20: 13.  
She does well enough, perhaps a little rusty from the many weeks she has gone without performing recently - it will be obvious that she has missed it.
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Rooter » Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:58 am

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Pursuing Mrs. Piper's mysterious intuitions, Lila engages Senor del Garazoga in conversation hoping to learn more of his background, speaking in English with a smattering of French as required. She inquires politely as to his interests and recent travels and when a suitable opportunity arises expresses sadness that the mother of his evidently pious daughter is not traveling with them. Perhaps her constitution forbids it in this dreadful winter?
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:33 am

During the energetic performance by the Gypsy, which wins the admiration of those gathered at the inn, it may be noticed that Raquel is particularly taken with the romantic ballads and graceful dancing. A blush comes to her dusky cheek from time to time, and she often looks away to her prayer book; but each time, like a moth drawn to a candle's flame, her gaze turns back to Ines.

Isaac is able to take advantage of his daughter's distraction to speak softly to Miss Davenport.

"I am a widower, madame, my dear Isabella having been taken from this world at the moment Raquel entered it. I trust she dwells in a better one.

"As far as my interests, well, I am afraid my world is a dull one of dusty books and crumbling antiquities. It is no life for a young woman! That is why I have agreed that she shall accompany me to the Chateau. I hope to introduce her to society. My prospective pupil is of the same tender years as my daughter, and I trust they will become close friends.

"Senora Piper has informed me that you and your companions have come a long way from home. My own travels, undertaken when I was able to leave Raquel in the care of a trusted nurse, have been restricted to the Iberian peninsula, with the exception of one excursion across the Strait of Gibraltar to the land of the Berbers, which was most interesting.

"Having been assured of the fine character of all members of your party, I am pleased that we shall be traveling together."
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Mr. Handy » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:37 am

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Henry also talks with the del Zaragozas, inquiring about the current situation in Toulouse. He empathizes with Isaac, having lost his own wife in childbirth, and their son with her.
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:54 am

"I see, my Lord, that we are two members of the great fraternity of the bereaved. Let us hope that we shall share more pleasant memories as we journey together.

'As for the city of Toulouse, well, I am afraid I know little of the place myself, this being my first excursion into France, skirting the unfriendly Pyrenees by remaining near the seacoast all the way from my native Barcelona.

"Having some interest in the remarkable constructions of human hands, I can tell you that the new Capitole, constructed some score of years ago, is a fine building. Of course, the Canal Royal, which connects the Mediterranean to the Garonne, is a wonder. Although it is more than a century old, it is still being improved. The Canal de Brienne -- the little connection which lies in the heart of the city -- was built only a dozen years ago. Perhaps someday one will be able to journey from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic without stepping on dry land!

"But I prattle too much! Perhaps, if the weather is not too disagreeable, we could take a stroll across the Pont Neuf in the morning, before our coach departs? To be candid, sir, I would like to have your charming companion, Miss Carrow, spend some time with Raquel. I am certain she would have a good influence on her."
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Mr. Handy » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:50 pm

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"She would indeed," says Henry, agreeing. "She certainly has a good influence on me. A walk sounds splendid, Monsieur."
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Rooter » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:46 pm

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"I am not sure if the good senor is quite taken with France to be addressed as Monsieur," Lila says with forced lightness. Still seeking distraction from recent events she proposes to accompany any expedition into the surrounds. Meanwhile she makes a mental reminder to inquire of the inkeeper in the morning whether any black-cloaked riders had arrived in their wake.
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:16 pm

Discrete inquiries establish the fact that the innkeeper has not noted any such riders. Toulouse being a busy city, with many transients journeying hither and yon, however, it is impossible to say whether persons fitting this description have appeared somewhere about.

The following morning is cold and overcast, with the promise of snow, but not so inclement as to make a brief excursion without impossible. Properly garbed after a hearty breakfast, the travelers head for the famous bridge. The walk is a pleasant one, the bracing weather stirring the blood.

Whilst crossing the bridge, as many do for a morning constitutional, it may be observed that a person completely covered by a heavy black cloak (as is not unusual amongst those particularly sensitive to the cold), walking on the opposite side of the structure as the party, seems to direct attention to them, judging by the manner in which the hood is moved, there being otherwise no hint as to this person's features, the hood completely hiding all.
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Mr. Handy » Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:16 am

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"I wonder if that's the person who followed us to Toulouse," says Henry.
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby SunlessNick » Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:12 am

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"Trying to approach him would probably tell us," says Ines, turning a deliberately obvious stare in the figure's direction. She takes note of how other people are acting around the figure - do they seem to see it too and move to avoid it, for instance, or it them?
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Victoria Silverwolf » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:55 pm

Careful observation reveals that the hooded figure neither greets nor is greeted by those who pass by; however, it can be seen that these other persons never collide with the figure, indicating that they are in some manner aware of its presence.
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Re: Chapter the Tenth: The Road to Toulouse

Postby Rooter » Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:47 pm

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In no mood for coyness, Lila turns and heads directly to intercept the mysterious figure.
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