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'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' Role Playing Game.

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Paris, 1480.

"Ball"
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Herlikin & Clopin

Herli cocked a sharp eyebrow at the child who stood with her chin on her chest, sighing into her bodice and raised her hands to her hips with a disappointed pout.

 "Just...left you, you say?" she queried and the girl nodded. Herli gasped in frustrated astonishment. "Is that all?" she turned away quickly with a sigh, her hands falling to rest by her sides, gazing out through a veil of red hair at the Court about her where women were rapidly setting about their days business and shaking their men from their half-wakeful state into action, dirty faced children and dogs tearing about in circles, shrieking or barking in delight while their mothers threatened them with spankings. She would have to go after her own children very shortly, feed them and bathe them and set them out into the Court for play with the others before they roused themselves and began cantering about in their nightgowns. Rubbing a sudden sniffly nose with a ringed finger, she folded her arms across her bosom and tossed her hair back over her shoulder again, allowing the slight pleasant wriggle of a memory work it's way across her brain, before banishing the thought from her mind. Turning to the girl she beckoned with one crooked finger.

 "I really have kept you long enough, come now. The sooner I've dealt with you, the sooner I can get back to my own family"

 Blissfully unaware that the girl might take such a remark as insinuating she was unwelcome there (she was quite welcome and Herli was quite happy for her to make her home in the Court, although she supposed it wouldn't be long before she joined up with Isabeau and Valentina and the others and they poisoned her little mind with gossip and wicked talk about herself, Herlikin, but Alemeda was certainly NOT welcome to take up an excess amount of the Queen's time, she could inflict that upon Clopin) Herli continued to guide the child through the maze of tents. As they rounded a corner, Herli neatly dodged a panful of soapy water being tossed out by Bethan, before snatching a rose from the everfull basket by the washerwoman and darting a glance over her shoulder to make sure Alemeda was still with her, raising the rose to her lips and taking a bite. Her pointed face was spread with a smile as a familiar, tiny figure came tottering up the path towards the two women and Abigail hailed Herli by squeezing her arm tight with a wrinkled brown paw and nodding in a friendly like fashion to Alemeda with her twinkling black eyes before saying to Herli in a low voice, so that Alemeda might not hear.

 "Your husband's up and proving he bears more courage than we give him credit; he has ventured out into the Court, fully dressed no less!" Herli choked on a mouthful of petals and her mouth twisted in a wry grin. "And looking like the Cathedral Treasures, no doubt."

 Abigail shook her head with raised shoulders, silver braid slipping out from under her diklo, and went on her way.

 Herli again motioned for Alemeda to follow her, and for a few moments more the two walked in silence, Herli musing thoughtfully over her rose. She heaved several sighs, pushing unruly locks back over her shoulder and ignoring the "you should be wearing your diklo" looks from the surrounding men then twitched her skirts, before casting a sidewards glance at the shebari whose head dropped a little with weariness, who struggled with the bundle over her shoulders. As though she could wait no more suddenly showered the girl with a torrent of questions. "You must remember something other than the fact she wore a Bird Mask and looked to be in her forties! When did she visit? Was it many years ago or recently? Did she say anything about the Court while she was there? Did she say where she was going? Was she with anyone?" the last question seemed to cast a green light over both Herli's eyes and sent her into frustrated silence one more. Before Alemeda could answer, the Queen looked up and a curious spark of annoyance, wryness and love lit up her face and her arms once again were crossed over her breasts. "Ah! Here's the noble King now!"

 Approaching them from over the way, raising a feeble arm in defense of a loudly exclaimed "SALUT!!" from Renault who was carving the legs of a chair, each step placed as gingerly as a cat's on a skinny branch over a rushing river, with clothes clinging loosely and clumsily arranged, was Clopin Trouillefou, Gypsy King in Paris. His jet black hair was scraggly and stuck out in all directions, his eyes were hooded and lightning veined in red, his shoulders sagged and one could almost hear the pounding headache which doubtless drummed its way through his head. He was a sore sight, indeed.

 "The women were all in love with him, you know." Herli commented to Alemeda.

Fending off very, very loud greetings and exuberant wavings of hands and the occasional giggle---each of which he met with a bug-eyed glare, and each of which were immediately silenced, only to resume once he had passed---Clopin made his way to his wife's side. 

The smug look on her face did not bode well for his already bruised ego. Nor did the fact that she was without diklo and dressed in some of her more flamboyant plumage, a sure sign that she was feeling pleased with herself. 

"Good morning, Herlikin," he eked, smiling stiffly. She cocked a slender eyebrow and jutted out a hip.

 "What, no morning kiss?" she said slyly.

He glanced at the 'pretty thing', a roadworn, footsore-looking waif with large eyes and a fine chin. Then he looked back at Herlikin, who had a supreme look of triumphant revenge on her face. The waif coughed nervously and looked aside for a moment, as if accidentally.

Clopin grimly bonked his lips against Herlikin's forehead, and then woozily tugged his tunic down into its place to indicate that matrimonial affairs had been tended to. The waif accordingly turned to face Clopin once again. Her eyebrows lifted and creased involuntarily as she observed Clopin's comically ragged state.

"Well, my dear, this is..." Herlikin paused for a moment to squint at the girl once more. "Alemeda. From Rouen," she added more quickly, and then quickly waved her hand as if to dispel the last phrase's obvious haste. "Or somewhere. She wanted to speak to you, I believe. I, being a dutiful wife and mother," she said emphatically, "have children to attend to and meals to prepare. I shall leave you two alone. We must talk again soon, Alemeda." She tossed her hair back once more, planted a deliberately sloppy kiss on her husband's cheek, and gave Alemeda a queenly wave of the hand before sweeping away down the pathways of the Court.

Clopin sighed painfully and watched her until she had left earshot. He then turned blearily towards the girl, feeling his shoulders sag in defeat.

"How might I be of assistance to you, mam'selle?" he grumbled apologetically.

It was going to be a very long day. 

Abigail, Herlikin & Isabella

She could smell the animals even before she opened her eyes. It wasn't a particularly pungent smell, but it was just strong enough to be slightly irritating to the unadjusted nose. She began to roll over and then in a flash remember all that had taken place. The night, the arrow and the strange women - she contented herself with arching her back experimentally. The ache returned, but it was not nearly so fiery or painful as it had been the night before. The red haired one - what had she called herself? Haliquon? Hiley? Helkin? The Pluri Dai had told the truth - she was going to be okay in maybe a week or less. Hopefully less, much less. She couldn't afford to stay, they'd find her anywhere and this would be the first place they'd look. Perhaps they had already come while she had been unconscious? Resisting the urge to spring to her feet and antagonize the wound, she peered though her eyelashes and scanned the interior of the tent for anyone who may be watching. In the half light she could just make out the frail silhouette of the elderly woman who had been stirring the medicine the night before seated not far from her bedside - but nothing more. Perhaps the woman hadn't noticed her movement...perhaps there was still a chance she could run but the idea was quickly discarded. She could run - but where to?

"I wouldn't think of running if I were you" Abigail's voice broke through the early morning silence in the tent, the heavy folds of canvas keeping out most of the outside noise from the Court, the animals for the most part still in their early morning slumber. "Any sudden movements on your part would stir the potion in your veins unnecessarily, and teamed with the blood loss you've sustained, you would find the effects rather.....unpleasant." Abigail turned around to face more fully the young woman, outstretched on the straw pellet, her face drawn and white, her eyes defensive and frightened. Smiling warmly, the action creasing her face in a dozen and more places, the old awenydd gripped the arms of her chair and hauled herself out of it slowly. "Ah....the chill of the morning is always terrible for my bones, my dear...you'll have to forgive my slowness."The girl remained silent as Abigail tottered her way slowly over to the healing bed. 

Isabella's eyes opened wide as Abigail reached her side with another pot of the paste she'd spread on the wound the night before. "How did you know...what.." a confused expression passed over her features as she realised the old awenydd had known what she was thinking. 

"How did I know what you were thinking?" Abigail chuckled, pushing her long silver braid back over her shoulder and stirring the mixture some more before setting it down beside the bed. "I'm an old women, child...I've learned how to do a great many things over my lifespan." she smiled kindly at the young woman, and then began unbinding the injured shoulder. "Now..let's see how well this bruise of yours is doing" 

Visibly relaxing, Isabella closed her eyes in acceptance of the explanation allowing the older woman to see to the wound. A heavy silence hung between the two.With skillful movements Abigail applied the hot paste once again to the wound. Already it was showing improvement although it was still quite a ways from closing entirely. The girl did not flinch this time but stared at a point somewhere beyond the tent's confines, not entirely in one place or another. Only when Abigail had nearly finished rewrapping did she seem to return to herself. Frowning she shifted and looked directly into Abigail's eyes. "Last night...the Pluri Dai said you can see into people's hearts... Perhaps..." her mouth twitched anxiously. "Perhaps I've heard of such things. But the Pluri Dai obviously trusts you and that is certain. She also doubts I am rom. Why are you protecting me then?"

 Abigail laughed outright, a warm rich sound that filled the small tent and made the monkey sit up from her bed of blankets and cushions. "My dear, don't let Herlikin upset you - she has suspicions of her own shadow - truly! I can see the rom in you as clearly as I can see into your heart - and both are a matter of ease for me. I know you are half-rom and I know that at this moment your first concern is your own safety. Then let me tell you now - this is the safest place for you to be, to avoid those you are hiding from. They would not think to look here, and you know why. For as long as you have no intentions against us, you will be welcome here and noone will demand deep, dark secrets from you - though you will probably find life a little easier if you at least share the basics. The others have great faith in me and if I tell them you are harmless and one of us they will treat you with kindness. It may even do you well to remain here somewhat longer than you are currently planning to - hrm?" 

Izzy's brow furrowed and she shook her head with only a fraction of the conviction she had mustered until then. "No. I can't stay...I don't think....I don't know. Everything is so jumbled. All I can remember is running. I'm not even sure I still remember exactly what I'm running from." Her voice had dropped and there was an unfocused look in her eye as if the girl were trying to see something that wasn't visible to any other. It was clear that she no longer realize she was speaking aloud. 

"Running....I...he...something wrong...and they've followed me. They'll follow me through the river Lethe and into Hell and..." She blink and the cautious guarded look returned to her eyes. "I'm not safe. But you'll not return me to him will you?" She shook her head, answering her own question. "No you won't. Others might but you won't." The frail dark haired girl smiled unexpected up at the wise woman. "Thank you."

 Abigail's black eyes twinkled brightly and she stroked the girl's hair gently. As she opened her wrinkled mouth to reply, the tent flap was suddenly wrested open, letting in golden light from beyond, and a fiery head was poked in. "Helloooo! May I come in?" Herlikin questioned. Abigail sat back a little and gestured with one brown paw. "Of course, child, you're always welcome here." Herlikin cheerfully threw back the flap and trotted in, eyeing off Isabella with a curiously smug grin before laying a kiss on the awenydd's cheek. "Before you ask, although I'm sure you know, the children have been washed and fed and sent out to play. Clopin, on the other hand, well - hrmf" She straightened up and smiled at the two women. "But, let's not speak of him right now - after all, I did come here to see how our patient is doing." her eyes glimmered on Isabella. 

As Clopin had observed earlier, Herlikin was flamboyant that day. Her red hair was loose and tumbled down her back. Her odd pointed little face, with its almond shaped eyes and flat nose peered at Isabella sharply She was dressed in deep fuchsia and red, her bosom bursting out from the low neckline, her skirts spilling from the waist to her ankles. Her odd pointed little face, with its almond shaped eyes and flat nose peered at Isabella sharply . She looked larger than she was, and slightly venomous.

 Isabella shrunk away from the imposing figure of the gypsy queen and narrowed her eyes defensively. She pursed her lips in an almost childlike defiance, only a trace of the fear that had etched her movements the night before remained.

 Abigail pinched Herlikin's arm and frowned at her slightly. Herli sighed and took the piercing expression from her face as Abigail bound Isabella's shoulder once more and then told her she could wash in the basin at the far end of her tent. Isabella gripped the old women's wiry arm as she assisted her to her feet, pausing still as a wave of dizziness overcame her and then letting out a deep breath as it passed, she moved slowly to where the washtub was, painfully remove her garments to bathe. Herlikin turned quickly to Abigail and spoke beneath her breath. "Is it safe for us for this girl to be here, Abigail?" 

Abigail sighed, and gestured that Herli should take a seat beside her, reaching for the pot of tea she had made and pouring herself and Herlikin a cup, before continuing in a whisper. "For now, child, I think that it is. I can sense no coming danger. On the other hand, the girl is brutally confused. She's suffered an awful scare, besides which she's lost blood, and in return for that potion being so effective, it can addle the brain a day or so a tad. She's doing what you did all those years ago when you first came here, angry and frightened - building defenses not even I can peer through. Until she's calmed down and healed up a bit more, I can't know for sure what she's going to bring in with her. I don't think we have any danger from her. But them what shot her may be another story." 

Herlikin frowned, lips pursing themselves together and eyes narrowly. "In that case, Clopin needs to speak to her" 

Alemeda & Clopin

Alemeda raised an eyebrow. She surveyed the groggy looking man before her. Then she looked around the large colorful court.

 "Surely this is not the man who rules this court," she thought to herself surprised. She turned her head and yawned. "So you're Clopin Trouillefou" 

she said, a tinge of disappointment in her voice. Clopin nodded in response, fingering his goatee.

 "Well, I was wondering Monsieur..... eeerrr... your Majesty, if I could stay in the court from now on." 

"Mam'selle," Clopin said, emphasizing the title, "all are welcome in the Court, so long as they behave themselves, n'est'-ce pas? And, contrary to first impressions," he added, gesturing sarcastically at his person, "most of us DO behave ourselves. If you have no further need of assistance, you may go about your business as ordinary. No doubt some tent will have room for you, at the price of a small service." With a stiff flourish of the fingers, he turned from the somewhat startled looking girl and began to walk away at a head- ringing pace. 

He stopped for moment, and turned to glance at her over his shoulder. "And mam'selle," he said, smiling formally, "enjoy your stay in Paris."

With that, he strode away after his wife, looking only slightly less grim than he had before.

"Ball"

Alemeda sighed... a small service.... but she didn't have any money. Well she had a little bit. She pulled out five silver pieces. She could go make some more tomorrow, but someone would surely let her stay in their tent, eat something, and bathe for a night with this.

 And she did, the woman she found, Esmeralda, was a stunningly beautiful gypsy of about twenty years. She was kind and compassionate, but she had a quick wit, a fiery temper, and a way with words. Alemeda liked her a lot. Her tent was located near the center of the court, and was quite lavish. She was obviously a woman with more income than most gypsies. 

After a dinner of bread and cheese... lots of it. and a bath that she stayed in until she was numb. Alemeda was finally satisfied. She went to sleep in Esmeralda's tent. She would go out on the streets tomorrow and dance...... Paris wouldn't be so bad after all. 

Phoebus, Jehan and Imerald

The Lieutenant's armour glinted with a newly-polished sheen in the early sunlight as he pushed aside the tent-flap to greet the new transfer, the ready smile he used on recruits at the ready. 

"Fresh out of military academy, are you? You must be a promising recruit, then." Phoebus' sharp eyes halted suddenly, half-way down the page. "Jehan Frollo ... I see ..."

A pair of passing soldiers silenced their exchange of gossip and turned to look. "Jehan Frollo? Frollo as in Claude Frollo? The Minister of Justice?" Their stage-whispered interest spread disconcertingly through the bustling barracks.

Phoebus gave them a condescending look. "Don't you two have, uh, work to do? Go do it."

"Uh, yessir. Of course, sir." Under the Lieutenant's irritated stare, the two hurried off, carrying with them a warning to other eavesdroppers, who suddenly found excuses of their own to scuttle away. Phoebus shook his head after them, and turned back to Jehan.

"With your recommendations, you'll probably go mad with boredom sitting around the barracks with the other recruits. Actually, I'm in the middle of organizing a patrol just now: you might as well come along. Come on, I'll take you along the captain. You need to report to him."

"Ball"

Jehan nodded at Phoebus, looking him over as he followed the blonde to the Captain, thinking to himself" He seems a little...dumb. I wonder how he got the promotion for Lieutenant? Must be bravery..."

Jehan noted that he stood about an inch taller than Phoebus, but they had about the same build. Jehan says to Phoebus, "So..Lietenant...Is there anything that you forbid your soldiers to do? I mean, any certain rules, like at the academy we had no alcohol and no women..."

Jehan grins, "Not many of the men followed those rules..." He chuckles slightly and looks at Phoebus seriously, "What does this patrol do that your organizing?"

Meanwhile, in the forest.... 

A blonde gypsy wanders through the woods, looking for somewhere to stay for the night. She has just about to lose all hope when she stumbles upon an abandoned cabin. She stops a moment and brushes her golden hair out of her face. Reaching down, she pats her faithful companion on the head, "Look! We can rest there for the night!" She makes her way inside of the building and makes herself at home, for the night. 

"Ball"

Phoebus raised an eyebrow at this flood of questions. The corner of his mouth quirked up in an expression closer to a smirk than a smile. As if the kid were desperate to gain the Lieutenant's favor. Or maybe just to fit in. 

"'What does the patrol do', well, a woman was shot outside a tavern last night, so we might investigate that ..." he said in a very wry tone. "For the rest of your questions ... I suggest you ask the Captain yourself." They'd reached a plain wooden door near the end of the barracks. Phoebus shoved it open without a moment's hesitation, and they found themselves in an equally plain room, bare wooden walls and dirt floor, with only a brass coal brazier and a desk with a pale man sitting in it to welcome the visitors.

The pale clerk looked up from the sheet of parchment on which he was scratching with a quill. "New recruit, Lieutenant?"

"Transfer from the Academy," replied Phoebus. The clerk gestured indifferently towards another door, easily as nondescript as the rest of the room, and said in a dry voice:

"Captain de Guerrion is in, Lieutenant. You can just go to him."

With a courteous nod to the clerk, Phoebus did just that. Beyond the nondescript door was a much nicer room, though still clearly the lodgings of a man enthusiastic about stripped-down efficiency. There was a hearth set in one wall with the remains of the previous night's fire lying cold in it; a well-polished sword and shield hung opposite, and beside them the gleaming gold collection of armour that the Captain would wear to battle. The Captain himself sat at a richly carved mahogany desk that looked quite out of place compared with the rest of the spartan room, reading busily from a sheaf of authoritive-looking parchment sheets. He looked up, however, as they came in.

Captain de Guerrion wasn't a young man, but he was a large one: he was massively built and several inches shorter than both the younger men. He had settled well into solid years; his dark hair and bristling mustache were flecked with gray and neatly trimmed, a jarring contrast to the brawny, shaggy young lieutenant.

"A transfer from the Academy, eh?" he rumbled. "I heard through the door. Yes, mmm, Jehan Frollo, am I right?" De Guerrion's piercing blue eyes swept Jehan up and down in a critical once-over, the result of which his face gave no clue to. "You look like your brother.

Now," he stood up and strode around the desk to confront the new man. "You listen to me lad, because I'm only going to tell you once, and breaking barracks rules can get you flogged. Did you know that? Ah, I see you didn't. This isn't your pampered military school, lad! Now, the rules are as follows - and they may be only rules, lad, but for you, they're sacred laws, and they'll rule your whole life while you live here: no drinking except when you're off-duty. God help you if I ever find you nodding drunk over your weapons! Report to the training grounds each morning. Patrols are a common duty for every man in the camp. You'll be assigned a squad, and when they go out, you go with them unless you're at Death's door. No women within camp boundaries. If you want a woman, stay out in the city. Look after all your gear and your mount. There will be regular inspections, and the farrier calls twice a year. If your horse comes up lame or throws a shoe before that, it's your fault, and you pay for reshoeing and the like. Am I understood?" The Captain stared calmly up and Jehan, leaving no doubt in the mind that he meant every word he said. 

Jehan nodded to the Captain, "Yes sir, Whatever you say."

He looked over to Phoebus and then back to the Captain, he put out his hand and shook the Captain's hand, "I'm glad to be of service to you sir."

Jehan released the Captain's hand and awaited to be dismissed to his duties.

"Ball"

Imerald awoke from her slumber and got up, finding her Great Dane, Jade laying on the bed beside her. She smiled and scratched him behind his ears and yawned softly.

 "How about if we go get some breakfast?"

Jade's tail thumped in reply. Imerald got up and put on her clothes. She thinks to herself, "I can't believe that this place was abandoned and left in this good of shape..."

She whistled at her Dane and started walking to the bustling streets of Paris in the morning. 

"Ball"

Captain de Guerrion waved him off with a brusque, "Lieutenant, put 
the boy in Fox Squad, going out this morning. It'll do him good to get a bit of experience."

"Yessir."

The Captain waved again. "You're dismissed." He dropped his weight back into his chair and picked up his parchments as they left.

Out on the parade ground stood the other five men of Fox Squad, stiff at attention while the bustle of ordinary barracks life went past like a river on either side. Phoebus prowled down the line, glaring at each in proper Lieutenant fashion; Jehan was left to take the place at the end of the line.

"Form up in ranks of two, you lot," Phoebus snapped. "Let's go."
 

Eilis & Gael

In the morning, the Bells and Motley was relatively quiet, a calm time of the day reserved for soldiers on army leave and serving girls who doubled as cleanup ladies. This aura of calm made the distinct growling sounds being made by the tall sailor who walked in all the more noticeable.

This man was something of a rarity where Parisians were concerned. In fact, the sibilant quality of his French when he barked out a demand for ale made it obvious that he was anything but a Parisian. He was tall, angular and blond, with cold ice-blue eyes under his heavily scowling brows. His shirt and breeches were ragged and stained, but still obviously foreign in cut, and, strangest of all, he carried a sword openly at his belt.

The woman who walked in with him was another story altogether.

In colouring she could be a Frenchwoman, about twenty or so; old for an unmarried woman. Her hair was dark, brown glinting coppery in the morning sun and caught back in a ragged kerchief, her skin pale, and her eyes hazel and staring around wide-eyed in a fashion that suggested short-sightedness. The rest of her, however, was another story. Her features were oval and rather pretty from the front, sharp-edged and severe in profile. She walked with a boyish swagger, and stood with her hands on her hips in a way that no sensible, civilized woman would dare use. 

The two sat down at a table near the door, but an onlooker could easily notice the woman's choice of the chair furthest from her companion, and the wary way she watched him as he drained half his tankard in one gulp.
 
 

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