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'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' Role Playing Game.

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Paris, 1480.

"Ball"
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 Jehan

The next morning Jehan walked up to the barracks. He asked a soldier to direct him to Lt. Phoebus. The soldier looked him over and then took him to the Lieutenant. Jehan waited outside his tent as the soldier went inside to report to the Lt.

"Lieutenant Phoebus, There is a transfer directly from the military academy. Judge Frollo has sent him directly from Paris. He brought his recommendations." The soldier handed the papers to Phoebus and turned to leave. "He's waiting outside, sir." The soldier walked off, leaving Phoebus to the papers. 

Alemeda & Herlikin

Alemeda pulled her cloak tighter around her... she looked around nervously. 

"So this is the court of miracles," she thought to herself.

 The underground sanctuary of the parisian gypsies was full of tents, and gypsies of many colors. Dancers, story tellers, beggars. There were more gypsies in front of her right now than she had ever seen in front of her. Alemeda had come from her former home in Rouen to live in Paris. A gypsy man had given her a tip off about this refuge once she had gotten to Paris. He had also said to talk to a man named Clopin once she arrived there. Alemeda looked around and spotted a pale redhead coming out of a tent. She tapped her on the shoulder, and the woman turned around and looked at her. Alemeda was startled by the woman's oddly colored eyes. One was blue and one was green.

 "Yes," the woman said cocking a brow. 

"Ummm, I'm looking for a man named Clopin.... I'm new here. Can you help me?" Alemeda asked.

"Ball"

Herlikin had risen early that morning and had hastily set about feeding and bathing her children, and fruitlessly attempting to awaken Clopin, first by pulling his hair and goatee, then his toes, and finally getting the twins to jump upon his stomach. A low, gurgling noise from his belly had cautioned her to the ill-effects of too much drink, and she'd hastened the children away. Deciding the washing could most certainly wait until matters regarding the safety of the Court had been resolved, she'd been on her way to pursue the saga of Isabella with the wounded shoulder when she'd felt the tap upon her shoulder and had half turned in irritation to meet whomever it was who had chosen to interrupt her. Herlikin paused a moment to size up the young romany girl. Far too young to have been a past amour's of Clopin returned with child in tow, and there was nothing of Clopin about her face. She must simply be a romni-chev, new to the Court and seeking Clopin as they all did to assist them with getting settled. But Herlikin took her time before responding, slowly turning the rest of the way around, and raising one hand to perch it on the hip she angled to the side, narrowing her eyes a little and giving the girl a once over from head to toe. The girl was short, as Herli was, with the dark olive romany skin, the black hair and dark eyes, colorfully decked out, road worn and dusty, and a little smelly too.

 She at last allowed a slim smile to work its way over her features and with a superior glint in her eyes made a sweeping gesture with a bejeweled arm that the girl should accompany her further into the Court. "Perhaps not the best way to introduce yourself to a secretive breed hiding beneath the earth, child. But unless you've dyed your skin with henna, you're clearly one of us...and you knew how to get here besides and unless I'm very much mistaken that's the amulet of Sara Kali swinging by your side. Indeed, I can help you. Probably a good deal better than the King himself at this moment in time." a sly look passed over Herli's face as she thought of the snoring husband she had left behind. "By the by" Herlikin continued, remembering that she'd uttered almost these exact words the previous night. "My name is Herlikin Trouillefou. I am Clopin's wife." 

Alemeda smiled and looked at the woman in front of her. "Thank you Madame" she said, wiping her hands on her dusty dress. "I'm very tired, traveled a long way. All the way from Rouen. My name's Alemeda, Alemeda D'Oell. I'm seventeen, and i might as well say it up front the reason I came is because my father and I were banished from the Rouen tribe," Alemeda noticed Herlikin cock her eyebrow at this. She continued quietly, here head down, "He died along the way." Herli glanced strangely at Alemeda. Whether this girl had been punished for something her father had done, or she had done something herself, this was a bit of an odd introduction. It was quite obvious that Alemeda was a very naive young girl, she didn't like to be asked questions so she answered before you could ask, and she shared a bit too much with strangers. (Not all of the information was very flattering either) Rouen had been a fairly small city, the gypsy tribe there was tolerated, and life had been easy. She trusted everyone, but in a city like Paris where gypsies were hated, despised, and hunted down more than most other cities, Alemeda needed to learn that she had to be careful even in this sanctuary.

Herlikin tossed the girl a sharp look and then shrugged, flicking her hair back over her shoulder and shaking out her skirts, deciding Clopin could make all choices regarding the girl when he could eventually haul himself from the bed to question her. The adventures of the night previous had wearied her to disinterest regarding a raggedy girl from the countryside, no matter how potentially intriguing her story might be - or how potentially ordinary. Herlikin had seen many travelers come into the Courts with one tale or anther and they usually followed a similar formula - thievery from other kumpania members, pregnant and unwed daughters, sons who did not choose their father's trade - the usual stories. Herli knew that the kumpanias that traveled the countryside of Europe were not so liberal as those who settled down in the cities - and none at all as liberal as the eclectic tribe in the Court of Miracles. But the mysterious newcomer from the night before - Herlikin brightened slightly at the thought of Isabella and the intrigue that lay beneath the bandage dressing on her shoulder. She was different all right. Herlikin was looking forward to her story. The sooner she had the young Alemeda taken care of, the sooner she could pursue that story. Returning her attention to the girl who was waiting patiently, and a little wearily, Herlikin smiled widely and made a grand gesture with her arm, indicating the girl should follow her, before turning on her heel and striding away quickly, Alemeda picking up her skirts to hurry. "I don't normally get too involved with the wandered from beyond, although all are welcome here" Herlikin explained as they picked their ways through the raggle-taggle assortment of multicolored tents, painted caravans, wooden stalls and various livestock, the whole lot being presided over and herded by a variety of gypsies in all shapes and sizes from all over the country in various dress who'd made their home in the Court. "I have my own family to attend to, and other matters within Court, but it's high time my husband got up." Herli grinned. "He had a late night last night." They walked in silence a moment and then something the girl had said struck a chord with Herli. She hesitated, the question trembling on her lips in its desire to get out, and then suddenly leap forward. "Rouen you say...17...tell me, did your kumpania ever have the Rouen Bird stay with them?"

 Herlikin held her breath, anticipating the shebari's response, hoping for an affirmative response, but uncertain of her reaction if it was. Annoyed by the girl's road-wearied silence, she snapped the question out again - 

"Did your kumpania ever have the Rouen Bird, Francoise, stay with them?" 

Phoebus

In the French Army, every man, even a celebrated lieutenant sure to be promoted to the rank of captain before long, takes care of his own beast. Phoebus de Chateaupers didn't mind this unwritten law of the barracks and its subsequent extra labor: the time he spent in the stables grooming his gray gelding, cleaning tack, and generally playing the part of the conscientious cavalryman, was more of a respite for him - a few moments alone with no frantic soldiers or scurrying lackeys demanding his attention. Nothing but the quiet breathing of the horses and their patient, undemanding animal thoughts.

"God knows that's the way it should be," he remarked to Achilles, who snorted into his oats in return, unmindful of his master's worries, except that he'd found the time after the long ride into Paris to rub him down with a twist of straw and procure a few handfuls of the best oats the Palace of Justice barracks had to offer. "Or else I'd probably go stark, raving mad and they'd have to find another lieutenant." He gave a great sigh and slapped his horse on the neck, dropping the crumpled handful of straw back into the stall bedding. Achilles raised his head and gave him a serious look as though he were sympathizing with him. Then he dove back into the oat bucket and continued munching. 

With the horse himself attended to, Phoebus now sat down on a bench outside Achilles' stall and hauled the heavy saddle, reeking of a week's worth of sweat and dirt, onto his knee. Soapy water soaked through his wrist guards and darkened instantly with a mixture of the same, dripping indiscriminately all over the floor as he gave the skirts a few hearty scrubs and dipped his rag back into the waiting bucket. Achilles wasn't the only one who was glad they'd finally reached their destination: Phoebus was looking forward to a bath and a decent meal. Grit scraped in every join of his armour, his normally shaggy blond hair hung lank with sweat, and he'd been eating dust for so long that his mouth felt so dry, and his tongue so thick, that he could barely speak. 

All this, of course, would have to wait. The horses were always the first to be taken care of and satisfied. Then came the impatient demands of one's superiors, and only after they'd all been given what they wanted, whether fodder or information, could the soldier attend to his own needs. Not that Phoebus was about to complain. 

With only what seemed to be an inch or so of layered grime left to go, Phoebus was shaken rudely out of his meditations by a door slamming and a shrill, panicky voice, calling for him: 

"Lieutenant! Lieutenant, are you there?" 

"What?!" Phoebus knew that his voice sounded irritated, but frankly, he didn't care. He flung his rag back into the bucket and stood up so the man could see him. It was a thin, pale, dark-haired young man whose face he didn't recognize - probably one of the already-resident Palace Guard. The guardsman hurried over, babbling. 

"I was on patrol, but I couldn't find the Captain - and someone was shot! - and they said I should report to you instead. And then I couldn't find you and-" 

"Whoa, whoa, breathe for a minute, why don't you?" Phoebus wound his way through the aisles to the young man and the door. "That's it - breathe - now, what happened?"

The young soldier appeared to be having some trouble grasping the concept of expressing one idea at a time, but he managed somehow. Doubtless it was the new Lieutenant's black stare that forced him to it. 

"Well, we were out on a patrol, and we were near the Bells and Motley tavern, when we heard this scream, and Charlais, he says he saw a girl go down in the next street with an arrow, but some people came out of the tavern and took her inside, and Charlais said they were mostly gypsy-folk, so we thought we'd better come back and report. So I ran on ahead because I'm so fast, but I couldn't find anyone to report to, so they told me to come tell you." He took a deep breath and stood for a few moments sucking in air like a winded horse. Phoebus resisted the urge to groan at the man's stupidity. His squad's stupidity, too. 

"Not much to report there, is it?" he said with some asperity. "Look ... Go wait for your squad to show up, and I'll try to find the Minister. Or someone..." 

The soldier nodded frantically and was off like a flushed hare. Phoebus stared down at the half-cleaned saddle and heaved another sigh of irritation. 

Achilles raised his head, jaw still grinding, pricked ears following the sound of his master's footsteps disappeared along with the tall armour-clad figure. The stable door swung once or twice on rusting hinges, and creaked closed. 

Clopin

Misery set in. He knew full well that only more misery could come of opening his eyes, and still further misery from making any foolish attempt to stand, speak, or, horror of horrors, walk. 

The sounds of the Court began to seep through the heavy material of the tent---tentatively at first, as if the rom were aware of his condition. Then, over the slim course of a quarter hour the noise began to rise---muffled voices thronging in his temples, clanging pots shattering behind his eyes, babies screaming crimson plumes in his brain. 

Crimson. Red. Blood. Girl. 

Herlikin.

No, getting up was looking like the least appealing in a long list of unappealing options. 

He smothered his face in the dusty wrinkles of an ancient cushion, sighing delicately so as not to cause the eruption of more colors that were not there. The noise fell away---the knot in his belly loosened---the spin in his skull settled to a slow whirl.

And then the dog came in. The tent's flap must not have been tied well--a measure which would normally have kept the mangy beast in its rightful place. Instead, however, he felt the alarming slap of a large, rough tongue on his neck, and then the snorfing dampness of a black nose inserted into his ear. 

He grimaced and hoped desperately that it would go on its way. It did not. Instead, it began a campaign to make Clopin roll over, licking furiously at the underside of his face, whining piteously and pawing at his nose. There must have been some trace of stew or sauce or some such desirable on the cushion.

Or perhaps it was a messenger of the forces of fate, which would have him awake, arise, and attend to his duties as leader of the Parisian Rom, however scraggly, uneven, and nauseous he might be. 

With a sound not unlike the dog's own whimper, he slowly pulled himself up into a slouch. 

His head erupted, and with a great, queasy sigh, he began his first attempt to stand. 

Clopin blindly fumbled around the edges of the blankets for something resembling clothing. He noted with no small amount of humiliation that Herlikin had somehow wrestled him out of his vestments the night before---he could only utter a silent prayer that she had not done so in full view of the children. Let them see that their father was human, yes---let them see that he was an unconscious, drooling, naked slob, no. 

At last his fingertips struck upon the soft heel of a boot and the folds of a tunic. Doing his best not to move his head in any direction, he jammed a wobbly leg into its hose, stuffed a sleeping foot into a boot, and so and and so forth until, at last, he pulled his hat down as far over his eyes as it would go, yanked his gloves up to his elbows, and resolved to stand up. 

So far, so good.

Squinting against the inevitable glare of the court proper, he gingerly tugged back the tent flap and, gritting his teeth, stepped forward into the morning din. 

Two boys ran shrieking by, but as they passed, his lean shadow fell over them. Both stopped in their tracks to stare up at him, falling silent. The slight tinge of terror in their eyes indicated to him precisely how grim he must look. One took a step back and whispered something like an apology, while the other (the younger of the two, and possessing something of a harelip) stayed still. 

He mustered a stiff, watery smile and, keeping his spine as immobile as possible, waved them on in as close to a playful manner as he could. They quietly shuffled off, the younger boy still gawking over his shoulder at the sight of the morbid gypsy king.

"Something of a wild night, mm?" A warm and withered voice said from his side. It was, he thought, a mercifully soft voice. It was one of Abigail's singular virtues. 

"Indeed," he muttered in reply, not turning to look at Abigail. She chuckled a little. 

"Well, this morning will teach you well enough to temper your drink, I suspect." She gave a frail little sigh and rubbed papery fingers together. "There's a young girl with a hole in her shoulder in my tent, resting up, who'll need tending to. She's fit to speak, so you needn't worry about her health. And your wife, last that I saw, was speaking to some pretty thing over yonder."

The gloom on his brow increased. "The girl may be fit to speak, but I'm not certain I'm fit to be spoke to," he said darkly. "And no doubt my charming wife can hold her own with any 'pretty thing', as you say. There is horse prancing in my head, and I've no mind to anger it further." He made a grumpy gesture of dismissal in her direction...and immediately regretted it. 

"Yes, but your wife is not Clopin Trouillefou." Abigail's voice took on a brisk tone which startled him no small amount. "Nor am I an empty-headed prat to be snapped at, however much your head might be sore from your ill-timed revelries. Now away with you, son of Harlan Trouillefou, before you set a bad example for your people. Scat." And with that, the minuscule and wrinkled old woman shuffled away from him to return to her tent.

He watched her go. "Well deserved, Trouillefou," he chided himself. "Well deserved." Wincing at the noise of his own voice in his skull, he put one foot in front of another. Past women clanging spoons on pots. Past men giving him expectant looks and slapping him on the shoulder. Past yodeling children, creaking wagons, crackling fires, bright torches, and yes, the damned dog who had started this whole business of consciousness in the first place. It had apparently made short order of the morsel on the cushion, and it bounded up to him in playful recognition. 

He gave it a lancing look of reproach. It cocked an ear, panted through sloppy pink gums, and tentatively wrapped its teeth around his right index finger. It quizzically up at him---as if to innocently inquire if it might devour his extraneous digits---and he met it with an even icier stare. 

With a wary look, the dog spat his finger back out and pretended to have been distracted by a gaggle of children nearby. With that paltry excuse, it lumbered off across the Court. 

"Ha," he muttered to himself. "See if *he* ever wakes me up again, responsibility or no."

And, with that encouragement, he strode off to find his wife, and whatever thing she might be conversing with. 

Alemeda

"Did your Kumpania ever have the Rouen Bird francoise say with them?" Alemeda heard Herlikin snap. She jerked her head up. 

"Oh I am sorry, she responded quietly and solemnly, so many gypsies came and went through Rouen, it was hard for me to remember them all," Alemeda paused to think.... 

"Wait I think I may remember her... fortyish? Has a bird mask? Yes that was the one, But I'm afraid I don't remember much else.... things about Rouen they are sort of blurry now. It all sort of... just left me." Alemeda put her head down again and sighed.
 
 

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