April 8 1224 (evening)
After securing the Nuns & Blacksmiths, and questioning the young woman Simone, we use what remaining light we had to make our way to Blamont. After a few hours, we decided to camp off the road.
April 9 1224
Today was a long tedious day. Tending to everyone’s wounds was more involved and tiring that I would have first imagined. It was one thing to look after a group numbering just short of a dozen, but an entire different thing to look after almost three score. Although rigorous work, I have never felt more alive and motivated! Although my knowledge base is called upon every now and again, it seems my extensive training as a physician is what is needed most. I will sleep well tonight knowing I did all I could to help everyone. Perhaps I CAN make a difference, even if it is in small ways like today.
April 17, 1224
We arrived in Blamont today. The Nuns found solstice at the Cathedral and we made arrangements for the Blacksmiths to return to their families around the country. After speaking to Dennis Broussard, we learned that no other shipments or iron came. Dennis was able to connect with Louis Guerrier, the candidate Countess Ducharme wanted for her next Factor, but Louis declined the position (something about the call of the sea being too strong). Monsieur Guerrier did promise to secure a replacement and word was sent straightway to the Countess. Guerrier’s recommendation was Monsieur Bruno Delarue who would be in place and active by the first of the year. We maked arrangements with Dennis to purchase the iron from the Nuns and acquire it for House Ducharme. Dennis arranged a dozen wagons and a team of men to leave for the Abbey. Because Simone was wanted in Blamont for horse thievery, Etienne stayed with her outside of town while we secured clothes and other provisions for her. We decided not to tell her father any specifics of her rescue or her whereabouts. He did not seem to care one way or the other.
April 18, 1224
A curious thing. Sword Master Valerius stumbled upon an interesting bit of information. Sister Ana Marie, one of the surviving nuns from the Abbey in Cluney, left the Cathedral shortly after being returned. One would have thought she would have instead rested with the rest of the nuns after such an ordeal. I recognized Ana Maria the instant I saw her at the Abbey, but the political and social complexities of her history did not sink in until after the Sword Master mentioned her disappearance:
Sister Ana Maria was once known as The Duchess Ana Maria du Burundy. She, with her entire estate and province, attempted to secede from Couer au Soleil in the aftermath of the marriage of the Dauphine Adelaide Ninette Badeu to Crown Prince Berndt "the Bear" of the Principality of Utrex in Almania. Duchess du Burundy (Ana Maria) notified the King of her attention to establish an independent principality to be ruled by her son when he came of age. She succoured the Albionian throne for aid. The Albionians, eager for access to a mainland port and the trade benefits of freedom to dock without paying the exorbitant Couer au Soleil import taxes, issued The 1197 Proclamation, putting Couer au Soleil on notice that the Principality of Burundy was under its protection.
The King, of course, was not eager to see Couer au Soleil disintegrate into a loose union of warring principalities, and summoned the Earl Marshal to muster the army. In response, Albionia invested the Principality in force.
The Battle of Long Shadows was the decisive battle of the Burundian Secession war. The duchy of Burundy is located in Northwestern Couer au Soleil. . Berndt's marriage to the Dauphine placed him in line to inherit the throne of Couer au Soleil, which he did in 1207 J.R.
The Duchess was aggrieved for two reasons. Her late husband Duc Eugène Louis Burundy had served as Earl Marshal of Couer au Soleil in various conflicts against both Almania and Albionia. Moreover, he was the Dauphine's great-uncle, and their son Bertrand Eugène was both a suitor to the Dauphine and the third in the line of succession behind the Dauphine and Honoré Matthieu d'Estaing, heir to the Grand Duchy of Estaing.
Etienne asked around and discovered Sister Ana Marie had changed out of her Nun’s Habbot in favor of a recently aquired leather divided riding skirt, shirt & cloak and disappeared during the late evening. She was traced going to the Old City to see Hurbert Vigion, a noble Ecuyer. There is some kind of political plotting occurring here, but I am unable to piece it together just yet.
Concerned that the Ducharme team may run into problems, either from the remaining Valkries, or from the Wilds, we reprovision ourselves and made for Cluney, deciding to assist with the procurement of the iron.
April 19 1224
We caught up to the caravan around 3pm today and decided to forge ahead to the Abbey. It will take the wagons another 6 days to make it, and only three for us. We decided to beat them there and make sure the iron stayed secure until their arrival. The black veins in the road and the chasm are all gone. Only I could detect the residual magic from before… and only barely.
April 23 1224
The last few days had been relatively peaceful. We made good time on the horses and arrived at the Abbey early morning. Nothing seemed to have been disturbed and appeared to be exactly how we left it some fifteen days ago. We set up camp and waited for the caravan to arrive.
April 25 1224
The wagons arrived today. With the ten guards and twenty men, it only takes us the remaining day to load the wagons. No sign of trouble; good! We will set off for Blamont come morning.
May 3 1224
We arrived back in Blamont. The trip peaceful and uneventful. Tomorrow we plan to head back home to Couer. I am surprised to admit, but the Ducharme estate has felt more like home than anywhere I have been for the past 20 years… it will be good to be home again.
May 4 1224
We headed out early morning for home.
May 5, 1224
I think I may have solved the conservation of mass, force and energy error in the partial arcane writ I stumbled upon those many years ago. It came to me when observing a simple lightening bug tonight as we camped. I will have to find a mundane means of testing my theory in the next few days. I believe it is completely possible to conjure elemental material from a realm which I will call “The InBetween” for now.
May 8 1224
Simone seemed to be adjusting to traveling with us. She excels in needle point and baking. I also have her balancing and maintaining our expenditure logs. She took to her tasks without complaint. I have high hopes for her. It will take her some time to fully mentally heal, but at least the nightmares are not waking her every night these days.
May 11 1224
We arrive home! I knew I would be relieved to see the homes and buildings of the estate, but I didn’t plan on just how strong those emotions would be. Curious. Perhaps this old man will find happiness after all, despite all that he has lost and sacrificed.
May 12 1224
We met with the Countess formally, and gave a full report, both written and oratory. I will make a note to allow Etienne to give the oratory components in the future… he seemed absolutely beside himself when forced to take a second seat as I was relating events he was not privy to. For some, the stage is always one step and a performance away. At the end of our dinner and meeting, the Countess invited us all to The Ducharme Garden Party. There will be many dignitaries attending so she asked if we would all be there to represent House. Etienne, of course, was asked to entertain. The party was scheduled for the night of the 15th.
May 14, 1224
The Countess has asked that I serve as the Ducharme Physician. Apparently she was aware of my training from the beginning, but lacking an Advisor at the time, she felt it more expedient she fill that position and simply rely upon the church for the assistance they provided. Since she added these new duties to my others, she insisted on a formal promotion. She was far too generous with her accommodations. I am sure Cyril will see to it that all of her upgrades are put in place regardless of my humble reservations.
May 15, 1224
The Durcharme Garden Party was today, held in the formal gardens between the main manor and the first gate; the grounds were breathtaking! Servants moved about the area with trays of food and beverage. Cyril, in his preparations, had out done himself once again. There were few individuals at the gathering that I had not at least heard of… the eclectic group of partiers were prominent citizens of Coronale and the surrounding lands. A few of the note worthy were:
a 50ish Northern baron from Sancres. He's overweight and gouty, but actually seems like a pretty nice fellow. He was recently widowed.
Jérémie Clavet a middle-aged magistrate from Coronale who is in line to become the high judge when the current, elderly high judge retires. Clavet first gained his position when many of the Burundian magistrates were purged from the administration in the wake of the war of secession.
Maxime Nason - Grand Master of the metalworkers' guild in Coronale.
Sir Jean-Jacques and Carole Tailleur. Jean-Jacques is a knight of the Royal Order of the Sun, Coronale's most prestigious knighthood awarded for for valorous services. Jean-Jacques was knighted for acts of valor in the Almanian campaign in 1215 J.R., but took a serious leg injury that same year.
Germain and Marie Minot. Germain is one of the King's most important ministers – the contrôleur général des finances (finance minister). Marie is a lovely sandy-blond haired woman who is reputed to have several lovers outside her marital bed.
Aline Métisse is perhaps the most famous courtesan in Coronale. Rumors have tied her at various times to the Comte du Orlais and to the Crown Prince, as well as numerous lesser aristocrats and wealthy bourgeois.
Lionel Devereaux - one of the nobles ecúyer of Coronale. He seemed unusually inquisitive about the circumstances of our recent adventure. An overall “slimey” person. I do not trust him.
Giancarlo and Massimo Rossi - the sons of the Venn ambassador. They are about as different as two brothers can be. Giancarlo (25 yrs old) is flamboyant, personal, and friendly, while Massimo (23 yrs old) is restrained, introverted, and prickly. Massimo was staring daggers at me all afternoon. I wonder what that was all about.
Ira Yalisaveta Batalova - the teenage niece of the Oksandr ambassador to Couer au Soleil. She is possessed of a transcendent beauty that can best be encapsulated by the phrase "ice princess," with silvery blond hair, ice blue eyes, and nearly snow-white skin, tinged with pink.
May 16, 1224
I had an uncertain feeling all night, but it still came as a surprise when I was woken from my slumber an hour before dawn by a banging at my door.
Valerius, sometime before, had been awakened by Sword Master John Rouleux. Valerius proceeded to gather Brother Cedric, Etienne, Bertrand then me. My heart all at once sank to my stomach and leaped to my throat when I learned the nature of the emergency. It was Simone. She was missing! We had Bertrand track her and were able to find horse tracks. These tracks originated from the stables and headed down the hill. Nothing unusual about the sets of horse tracks, then, for some reason, in hindsight I would say my growing fear for the young woman’s well being, I cast detect magic. The tracks were infused with residual Conjuration magic… so strong it was, that I had no difficulty picking it out. There was a faint, shoulder height trail of residual Enchantment in the air that followed the same trail as the tracks. The Enchantment was weak, and was quickly dispersing. The tracks from the stable originated from where Lionel Devereaux's horse was stabled during the party. I knew that man could not be trusted! Why oh why did I not watch him more closely! He was just too interested in Simone during the party… in hindsight, unusually so. The entire stall where his horse was stabled was suffused in the residual conjuration magic. For this residue to be so strong, in theory, it would mean that this "animal" was most probably a magical creation of sorts as opposed to a summoned creature. We questioned the stable boy who remembered the animal quite well: "Grey like a storm cloud with a black mane. Devereaux called him by name… Hurricane. It was three hands higher than your average warhorse. Devereaux insisted only he handle and feed his steed."
Simone was gone, and taken right underneath our noses! Some, however, were of the opinion she left with Devereaux of her own volition. The bon fire, where the two sets of horse tracks (only one with magic residue) disappeared, also had some type of magic, too foreign for me to place. That magic faded shortly after it was discovered.
A thorough search of the estate did not turn up Simone, the missing guest or his thought provoking steed. Her trail was cold and no other clues presented themselves to us on her extraction/disappearance.
June 13, 2010
Its been four weeks since the disappearance of Simone. I have been busy providing remedies and medicines for the estate and its occupants. I have also had time to make significant progress on several personal projects. I have an unusual feeling about today, a feeling that hit me the instant I woke this morning. I fear today may bring even more surprises as the hours come to pass.