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Thread: The Great Escape (Prologue)

  1. #21
    GFX Winner siHa's Avatar
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    good ~

    تملي معاك ولو حتى بعيد عني في قلبي هواك

  2. #22
    Senior Member High Poster <3 Seira's Avatar
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    Act 7: Choice:

    Lawrence likely getting in trouble again
    New chapter out to enjoy! :)


    -o0o-

    Felix did not leave the possibility of a choice to Lawrence because he needed an odd jobber to help out at the inn while him was away on local markets.
    Lawrence worked hard to fulfil Felix’s expectations and getting eventually his salary at the end of the month. Granting him his protection Felix asked of him to do the odd chores in return. It was not what Lawrence was expecting accepting the terms of the contract but somehow he began to accept it willingly stating it was the price to pay in exchange for his freedom. What’s more Felix fulfilled his promise: when the profit got better they shared the benefit extracted from the inn and the selling. Lawrence rented to a rich property agent a small convenience store next to the inn to establish his hat workshop while Felix was crossing roads by carriage through the region on market day from city to city. The two met again at night when they were both tired of their hard workday.
    Still something was bothersome in their partnership. It seemed Lawrence was dependent of Felix to keep up a good living but if one day Felix decided to break the contract Lawrence would be barehanded and forced to live on the street until he found another job to get back a decent level of resources to open his store again. In other words he should not be complaining because without the help of Felix he was condemned to the life of a wanderer always running away until the police caught him. Then he remembered the tiny golden chain hanging around his neck. For anything, at any cost he would resent to sell it to gain money because it was a gift offered by Amelia before their love story started to crumble down like a sandcastle, at the time they were officially engaged to each other. The affair of a reckless decision, doing the seemingly wrong choice had turned their marriage upside down and smashed their sweet fairy tale to memories. He hoped secretly that helping out Felix for the upcoming season would let him gain enough resources to afford for a one-story store to be able to convert it as store and house at the same time. That way he got his hopes high to live again with Amelia and Oz someday as though they were a family. But for now it remained only as a dream of wishfully better days. When spring arrived and the weather got warmer Felix decided that they were going to travel on roads together. It was the most beneficial period of the year for him. During the past three months bundled into his workshop most of the time Lawrence had made enough hats good to be sold at an attractive price.

    - Hats! Rare groceries! Ask for the prices, negotiations are open!
    Felix was screaming loud to be heard from all around the public place. Bystanders started to gather in a crowd curious of what Felix had to sell today.
    Scarlet Lawrence hid in the shadows. He did not expect to come back to Florea so soon and not this way. Whatever Felix had said to reassure him he did not feel confident enough to face this soon the judging eyes of Florea’s inhabitants that used to hold him in high esteem. But Felix had other plans about this matter. To the crowd he added:
    - I have an important announcement to make today. I hereby declare to have concluded a partnership with a famous and talented hat seller seemingly well known in the region. But I will let him introduce himself. Get out there peanut head! He whispered
    Lawrence hated so much those stupid nicknames Felix liked to call him time to time.
    - Get your ass out the shadows and manage to defeat your shyness idiot! Felix insisted louder so that everyone could hear him at once.
    So now people were waiting for the newcomer. A burst of laughter growled from the crowd. Lawrence was desperately trying to find a way to get round of Felix’s request. Like what did he look in the eyes of people? He was not willing to be seen as a clown to entertain the children and make their parents laugh. But seemingly Felix was aiming to turn this matter into an improvised theatre show. Perhaps he was expecting people to entertain themselves in those times of constant fighting and as one of the better consequences to buy more items.
    But Lawrence was not ready for it. It was not time for him yet to be the clown.
    Felix was waiting. People were waiting.

    Lawrence pulled his hat forward to cover the top part of his face and jumped on the street ensuring to emphasize every of his movements:
    - My name is Shadow, Earl of Shadow, at your service ladies and gentlemen. Let me show you some of the better magic tricks I know so far.
    People laughed and applauded. It seemed they felt happy enjoying for the time of the market the modest show of whom they thought was another traveling merchant. And seeing them smiling was just fine giving relief to Lawrence.
    - Good job, Felix whispered to his ear.
    Lawrence took his new role at heart and grinned.
    - Earl of Shadow I’m laughing hard! Admit to be an eternal runaway who tries to hide the better he can manage Laurent of Trintigny!
    - Mister General! I was hoping this little show would please the old military you are. David had almost no weapon to defeat Goliath! My strength is weaker compared to yours but my words will defeat you!
    - Let’s take this to a fair fight, stop kidding me!
    - The clown plays and laughs but does not fight.
    - Stop acting childish!
    - I’m still the Mad Hatter after all, the one to please ladies and entertain gentlemen!
    - Stupid brat!
    The General took out his sword. The blade swished the air, Lawrence caught it midway with bare hands. Blood spread. The crowd retreated out of fear and astonishment.
    - Not here. Not now.
    - I don’t care of there are women and children at all. May they learn how shameless you are! You were almost a son to me, why have you deserted? Why?
    - You already know why. Her name is Amelia.
    - Who cares of your little personal matters! For you does your love relationship step over your military duties?
    - I was young, I was in love and you assigned me to another damn campaign a few months before the marriage! If you were in my shoes what else would you have done?
    - I would have obeyed the orders given and got married after the campaign.
    Lawrence sighed but remained silent. He had other reasons but could not tell his former teacher it was a melt of circumstances involving the running of the monarchy itself that led him to desert. He was just too scandalized by how the king was governing the country at the time oblivious about equity, essential human rights and the monarchy’s high debt level caused by the big luxurious parties he used to hold at Versailles.
    He released his grasp around the blade and ripped a piece of fabric from his sleeve to wrap his hand like a bandage.
    - Do you think I would let you go? The General asked.
    - Huh? What will you do?
    - Once again you’re under arrest.
    Lawrence hesitated and sighed. Looking deeply at his higher up he tipped his hat:
    - You own me I better should surrender.
    The military could not expect a victory so easily won. It was too fast, too easy.
    Lawrence was usually stronger headed than he did not show now. A few more years in jail to bear the consequences and it would be enough warning.
    Lawrence looked up and smiled.
    - It is what you were asking for, isn’t it? Hoping Laurent of Trintigny would surrender by his own will? Here I stand I’m all yours.
    Previously General of the royal army a few years ago he knew Lawrence for long and could be of some help to plea his cause if required during the trial that was surely going to be held to determine the punishment to carry out for desertion.
    Though he guessed already what fate waited for Lawrence at the very end.
    And he did not want to let it happen without trying before anything to acquit Lawrence.
    For now he just had to carry things out as if he treated Lawrence like any other deserter.

    Once again the life of Lawrence turned into a living hell in waiting for the trial. His cell was cold and dark with only a small sealed window put on top of the wall to let a tiny bit of light to pass.
    Depressed he leaned against the wall only waiting for a miracle to happen.
    “- Do not worry everything will be fine, I’ll be waiting for you!”
    Oz speaking such kind words to someone like him. He remembered at once the big joyous grin on the boy’s face. At least one person appreciated him for the man he was. But still he felt a kind of guiltiness. While Oz had put a real faithful trust on him Lawrence as for him was going to abandon the child who considered him his second father. The day ended along with all his hopes to meet again with Amelia and Oz.
    They would heard of him soon if the outcome of the upcoming trial went like he could already expect.


  3. #23
    Currrrr the cat pirate!~ High Poster <3 Cursa's Avatar
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    Lawrence!!

  4. #24
    Senior Member High Poster <3 Seira's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cursa View Post
    Lawrence!!
    In fact Lawrence was running away from justice so one way or another he had to face his responsibilities but will or won't stay in prison. Plus people start to be conscious of the serious political issues caused by the regime of the Terror. Yes I'm relying both on history and my imagination so there is some historical background behind the plot. I think I've already told too much what I can tell the ending won't get too sad.

    On another point Im currently in love with this song, probably it inspired me to push further into the character of Lawrence as human hero. Seems it is the type of character I'm most comfortable with.
    Last edited by Seira; 06-15-2013 at 06:47 PM.

  5. #25
    Senior Member High Poster <3 Seira's Avatar
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    Act 8: Tale of a fallen butterfly

    Time to swipe the dust! Just finished writing it's past 3 am everything is normal x)
    Will the butterfly lose his wings? Have a nice reading :)

    -o0o-

    The continuation of the Revolution spared Lawrence from spending more years in jail. In order to maintain the benefits of the Red Revolution the revolutionary authorities decided that a government of terror needed to be established for annihilating all the possible enemies to the Republican regime, to start with the living inheritors of the monarchy the remaining members of the nobility. On their list traitors were the first people to be targeted suspected to be simply opportunists.
    Within the month of April on Floreal 1st Lawrence was presented to the revolutionary court reunited in extraordinary session for the trial. Lawrence was charged of high treason towards the monarchy and espionage according to the revolutionaries.
    Seven days left before the trial and it was becoming unbearable to hope to be pardoned when the punishment seemed already decided. With a weary sigh Laurent lied down on the bare stone and looked away at the wide sky beyond the small sealed window above him. It would have made the revolutionaries relieved that a noble was supporting their cause but in the contrary it made things worse for Lawrence. It did nothing else but weight his charges. According to the nobles he was a traitor, according to the revolutionaries he was somehow a sneaker, not a reliable Republican fighter because at any moment he could be suspected of transmitting sensitive information to his social peers.
    What’s more his body told the truth for him if he tried to lie. The long, clear scar snaking across his right eye was enough evidence to tell the charges that weighted on him.
    The trial only lasted a couple hours. No one was surprised about the outcome that was inevitably going to be decided.
    The attendance was composed of very few people Lawrence could more or less recognize. There were some nobles he met before at Versailles he remembered from sight, the others were strangers who had a justified or unjustified interest in attending the trial. None of his siblings had come to give him support but he was expecting them to abandon him when the shame of his betrayal could have rained down upon the family of the Trintigny.
    The Court retired to make a decision and when the judges came back to their seats the sentence fell like a ton of bricks:
    - The Court has condemned Sir Laurent Henry Guillaume of Trintigny to death penalty!

    The news spread in the revolutionary newspaper as the trail of a shooting star. The articles passed from hand to hand under the coat even those who did not usually read the press to keep track of the Revolution’s progress were aware of the sentence applied to Lawrence. It provoked such a fuss that the police forces of Florea and Germini encountered big issues to contain the anger of the citizens. Everything been told actually it was scandalous, perhaps well justified for some people but unfair for many others.
    At the covered market, in the shops the merchants who dared to take position in favour of the terrorist leaders of the Terror government were either mocked or boycotted by the customers brave enough to risk their lives in bearing the retaliation of the police.
    At the convent it was a general surprise the next Sunday when a larger crowd than usual was waiting before the church’s doors. Everyone has come either for attending the mass, receiving weekly supplies or praying for the sake of Lawrence’s soul.
    The nuns were surprised indeed, not yet aware of the recent events because the mother superior asked everyone to stay in the walls of the convent until the Terror regime had been abolished: she did not want any of her nuns to get endangered because of not swearing fidelity to the Constitution.
    - Keep calm! Keep calm! Everyone will enter if you keep calm! Please!
    The crowds were silent.
    - Have you not heard the news lately my mother? Someone asked.
    - Inside my convent the revolutionary press is forbidden. Why? Has something happened, serious enough for half of the region’s population to come to the mass today at all risk?
    - We are there because the revolutionaries have crossed the limits of the commonly acceptable by man reason!
    - It is no way possible for me to understand the situation if you don’t tell me what happened.
    She noticed at once many people, men or women, were dressed more elegantly than usual wearing their summer hats.
    Their hats were of all sizes, shapes and colours. Poor or rich people were harbouring them proudly as a sign of protestation.
    It seemed clear that no one was going to take his or her hat off when entering in the church. It was the first time ever since the beginning of the Revolution that such uprising took place at Florea intra muros.
    - If you’re not willing to open your doors to the citizen’s will for change, the mass will occur right there whatsoever are your political ideas!

    At the Convention assembly in Paris the deputies were simply stunned by the twist in the flow of events. They did not expect such uprising from the population to occur.
    And all that for a man who had betrayed the nobility and was listed on the suspect’s register by the Terror executive spheres. What Laurent of Trintigny had done to become the Revolution’s martyr in the eyes of the citizen crowd?
    In front of Florea’s church one by one people bent a knee or simply joined hands to pray.
    It was an astonishing and touching scene awhile. A few minutes passed then a man stood up and came in front of the mother superior:
    - Judge by yourself of the news, he said while handing out to her a page of a revolutionary newspaper.
    She nodded and looked down at the title of the main article. It announced the execution of Laurent of Trintigny was going to be held publicly at Florea the next Sunday.

    The mother superior pinched her lips, looked up at the sky then at the crowd massed in front of the church.
    She hovered a hand over her face to conceal any hint of emotion in her face expression. Eyes wide opened in shock she could not remain impassive how hard she tried not to feel pity for Lawrence.
    - What is it my mother? Sister Constance inquired the first.
    The mother superior looked ahead:
    - My sisters in those times of war God has to go at the side of his children in need. I count on you to administrate the convent while I’ll be away this week.
    - My mother, are you thinking about going to Paris? It is pure foolhardiness they will arrest you for …
    - As long as I’ll be the head of the church of Florea I will not let any government to sentence publicly a man to death in front of my church! Sorry to disappoint you sister Constance but if you do not agree you can leave my convent immediately!

    One day the jailer awakened Lawrence at birdsong stating he had a visitor. Expressionless Lawrence stood on his elbows and sitting on the edge of his stone bed rearranged quickly his dishevelled hair. When he looked up again he saw the mother superior of Florea’s convent stood in front of him.
    Was he hallucinating or was she smiling at him with compassion?
    - Sir Lawrence.
    - Good morning my mother.
    He looked down, shameful of being half naked before her a honourable nun. She bent down and placed a hand under his chin to force him to meet her gaze.
    - They should feel ashamed, not you.
    He averted his gaze from hers unable to believe she was really going to acknowledge him by the proof of her mercy.
    - I know what they all think of you but I trust in the man you are.
    He shook his head slowly:
    - I’m only escaping my fate. I’ve done the unforgivable deserting my duties.
    She sat next to him and sighed. Her hands reached for his shoulders and so she embraced him between her arms to try being comforting.
    His throat tightened. His self-control was going to break apart.
    He slipped out her arms and broke down into tears to her feet his forehead touching her knees:
    - Please… forgive me… everything… I’m doing everything the wrong way… why?
    The mother superior felt her heart sink with sympathy. His distress went far deeper than words could describe. She looked a concerned eye at him with compassion:
    - I have talked for many hours with the prison’s executives stating you did not deserve to be condemned to death penalty. They heard my request but put their own conditions for the punishment to be cancelled. Sorry I could not show more opposition to their decisions without putting the convent and myself in great danger. You may call it selfish but in times like the Terror we can only trust in the power of people to reverse everything the right way and look forward to a brighter future set ahead from us by the will of God.
    - So what have been decided?
    -You’re condemned to force labour instead.

    Laurent shivered at the cold metallic feeling of the scissors against his neck. « - Keep your head straight! », said the barber’s impassive voice from behind. He realized he was spacing out again feared of what terrible punishment waited for him on the galleys. It was nothing more than a slow delayed death.
    He closed his eyes tight to conceal his emotion. He was more afraid of the idea of dying young and the consequences of such tragedy more than anything else.
    He gulped before entering in the next room for the full medical checkup.
    - Ohoh, commented the medic pinching his frail limbs when he undressed. I bet you won’t last a week tiny honey bun. Don’t act stupid next time.
    Was he intending to provoke him? Laurent compelled himself to keep his chin up and stay calm.
    - All right you’re good to go.
    Laurent secretly hoped he had spotted some body weakness or illness that spared him from working on the galleys but his health condition was perfect as ever.
    Then he thought about the loved ones he left behind. Were they willing to ever forgive him? Amelia said she was going to grant him a second chance if he acted as a man by respecting and taking at serious value their marriage engagement. Oz was looking forward to his return anytime soon. It felt exactly like they formed a family strongly united by unbreakable bounds of filial love.
    Escape again? He had no time for acting childish and screwing up his last opportunity to get away jail from death penalty.
    Last edited by Seira; 12-15-2013 at 04:59 PM.

  6. #26
    Senior Member High Poster <3 Seira's Avatar
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    Act 9: Heart of snow

    New chapter freshly written!
    A lot of backstory in this chapter beware it is a sad one, how it turns I could not avoid to make it quite dramatic T.T


    -oOo-

    He pulled the door’s handle forward to step outside when he heard a chuckle. He startled and looked behind on side at the shadows. Hands fell on his shoulders:
    - Earl of idiots! A familiar voice whispered to his ear. Come back inside before doing anything stupid!
    - What- what the hell? Lawrence exclaimed realizing it was the “medic” speaking.
    The shady man disguised as healer dipped a lozenge sweet into his mouth to silence him by force. “Sssht you talk too much!” he whispered before Laurent lost consciousness.

    Days later Lawrence woke up in a completely unknown place under a blanket made of assembled wool without knowing how he had gotten here. His clothes were all unbuttoned. His hair was a complete mess. A painful headache tightened his head. He sat on the edge of the mattress to recover his spirits.
    - So you’re actually awake!
    Laurent startled and swirled around. That harsh voice was highly recognizable. Felix stood idly by leaned against the threshold. He smoothed back his dishevelled hair and grinned mischievously:
    - You’re plain silly to get yourself in trouble to the extent of ending up condemned to the galleys don’t you think?
    - Would you care telling me where we are, when and how I’ve gotten to this place?
    - I’ve helped you escape the galleys should you not be thankful?
    - I surrendered to justice willingly. I’m tired of escaping once and again.
    - They are pretending you went missing after the first day by supposedly committing suicide out of despair. But see thanks to the clever plan I’ve put up now you’re alive and free.
    - So I will forever remain a wanderer.
    - You’d be stupid to complain about it now.
    Laurent sighed. He dressed up decently and followed Felix downstairs to have breakfast that was composed of a cup of coffee and a piece of spoiled bread. Felix looked at him swiftly from head to feet and sighed:
    - If you want to travel safe you’ll have to dress up differently or else you’ll be identified as a noble and suspected of being the runaway all police forces are looking after. I’ve saved your life already twice if you get in trouble again you’ll be alone to handle the consequences.
    Laurent frowned. Talking this way Felix was most suspicious: he was not obliged to help him escape justice, what was he planning for real? He looked on side at Felix rummaging into the space behind the bar. Whatever he was plotting he did not look suspicious at first glance. It must have been just a bad feeling for now nothing was odd about his behaviour towards him.
    - Here you should put on this to go anywhere unnoticed.
    Felix handed out to him old worker clothing and a grey brown worn travel cloak. “You will be free to live the life of your choice if you are willing to become someone else”, he added with a smile.
    Laurent was wary of Felix but this time he seemed sincere acting like a friend.
    - Hurry we’re setting sail to the south shortly before the police would find out you’re still alive, safe and sound.

    In no time the mother superior returned to Florea’s convent.
    Meanwhile she had been away many things had changed in how the Terror dealt with religious matters and all those who had not swore fidelity to their Constitution knew their lives endangered. That was why bit by bit people stopped going to the church as they did every Sunday before and rather chose to stay at home.
    From now on until the Terror was abolished the nuns were strictly forbidden to leave the convent for an indefinite period of time. Florea yesterday a pleasant and delightful city to live in was now deadly silent. So no one living at the convent was aware of the rumours saying that Laurent had died aboard early. Whatever the truth was stories were told about the prisoners' living conditions on the galleys. Sooner or later one could catch any kind of illness and die by lack of proper medical treatment so it was commonly assumed that Laurent had passed away too early because of his fragile health condition.
    Felix and Laurent had set sail to the south reuniting on a partnership, making benefit from the selling of Felix’s groceries and Laurent’s hats eventually looking for small odd jobs to maintain their level of resources at a decent rate.
    Everything seemed to end for the better but still the mystery of Laurent’s disappearance resurfaced on everyone’s lips. Soon after a few months of waiting eagerly for news the mother superior began to worry. He would have sent a letter much earlier at least to reassure Oz and Amelia. If not something serious must have happened. At the covered market people were focusing on buying fast the groceries they need most and come back to their houses early, no one talked much to not being suspected of plotting anything odd against the current government. People knew so well by now what happened to those who had tried to start a riot so better you went unnoticed better your chances were to stay alive. As the increase of violence in the police retaliation left people bewildered about the future yet with no hope for a brighter path a rumour spread about a man living in the region acting shady more or less working for the police as sleeping agent. He did seem an honest man at first glance but for real he acted out of interest for personal achievement and did not care whether other people getting involved would meet trouble because of his actions. For what rumours and stories said of him anyone trying to befriend him ended up endangered.

    In Florea’s surroundings there was a small farm lost in the middle of the wheat fields. It was the modest property of Suzanne Dubois who was a well-known farmer in the region for the quality of the raw products she was selling. Her eldest son Pierre lived with her most of the time to help out at the farm. She was getting old and could not handle the most requiring in strength farm work. She used to have a good health condition but when the harvest went low a few years ago she experienced the pain of starving and had never been the same since then. But she had siblings to count on when she could not handle her workload by herself: her son Pierre and her neighbour also best friend Catherine who was always there when she was in need.
    The women were peeling potatoes carefully for dinner when Pierre burst in the farm room, a piece of newspaper in hand:
    - Mother, have a look!
    Suzanne startled and looked at the article he put between her hands. The deserter Laurent of Trintigny was deemed dead on the galleys but it was hinted by witnesses who had supposedly seen him that he was travelling on the road to the south of France. All police forces around the country were looking for him to be tried at last before a proper justice court. Suzanne gulped to restrain her emotion. The name Laurent recalled pain and despair to her memory. No way she could forget what happened thirty years ago on December 1763 the coldest beginning winter she had ever experienced.

    1763

    A frosty wind coming from the north whipped the trees standing on their last leaves. Winter was already coming this year, faster than usual.
    Fighting against the bad weather a woman wrapped in a worn out wool cloak was trying to reach the nearest church all the way from a small farm lost in the middle of the fields. Her breath was slow and rough. Out of energy she halted under a centenary oak whose trunk protected her from the wind continuously blowing since she had left the farm one hour ago. She held tight a newly born baby wrapped in a large piece of assembled wool against her chest. The little human being was sleeping coughing by small bumps time by time. She looked at her seventh son with compassion. The bad harvest made her to take a difficult decision but she had to entrust the child to the nuns to save his life given his frail health condition.
    Suddenly the recognizable sound of galloping horses resonated from afar. She sought for a hideout in the woods not to be seen but fortunately it was neither thieves nor policemen simply a carriage most likely carrying noble people to the next city.
    - Halt!
    She startled and retreated further into the leaves. But the coacher had foreseen her.
    - A young mother carrying her ill newly born child should not be walking in the woods alone. Come aboard, I will make it fast to the nearest village for you.
    Relieved she looked at him thankfully. A smile curled her lips. Out of energy she stumbled and collapsed.

    Her back rested against a soft cushion. The rhythmic sound of the carriage speeding up added to the galloping horses was music of hope to her ears.
    She awoke with a start.
    - Madam, are you all right?
    - Everything seems fine she answered glancing dizzily at the world around.
    Her arms felt empty. She startled and blinked.
    - No worries, said a sweet voice softly.
    She looked up at the noble woman sitting in front of her. The woman held her baby between her arms and smiled friendly:
    - What were you doing outside with such a young child?
    - He has caught a cold yesterday and I ‘m worried it can worsen so I decided to take him to the doctor.
    At hearing his mother’s voice the baby opened widely his deep blue eyes.
    The lady smiled and put him back in his mother’s arms.
    - Unlike his sisters and brothers he is too young and too frail to survive the winter, she whispered cuddling him to warm up his little body. I was going to the convent to entrust him to the care of the nuns.
    - They sure will heal him properly but for how long will he survive the winter promises to be especially harsh this year don’t you think?
    The young mother looked down. The uneasiness she felt in front of that woman from high status to talk about her little matters swept her smile away from her face. She guessed the friendly and well-educated person in front of her was showing too much interest in the problems of a modest farmer who was struggling to make benefit of her harvest to raise a family of seven children.
    - Oh by the way we haven’t introduced each other yet. I’m Lady Isabelle of Trintigny.
    I’m travelling with my husband Francois to Paris. And you are?
    - My name is Suzanne Dubois.
    - Suzanne you seem to live a hard life facing many difficulties of all kinds I would like to know in what I can help you to make it easier to bear.
    - Nothing. I’m happy with this way of living. I take care of the farm and I raise the best I can my family it’s all I need to feel alive.
    - Are you sure?
    - Yes.
    - I would like to make an offer to you.
    - I decline.
    Lady Isabelle was about to respond when the carriage left brutally the road all of a sudden and ended up stopped by a tree.
    - What happened? Suzanne exclaimed.
    She tried to be reassuring singing a lullaby to her baby expecting him to stop crying.
    - Your money or we’ll take your life! Everyone! Come on!
    - Thieves again… Lady Isabelle answered with a heavy sigh.
    - We have nothing to give you! Francois responded jumping outside to come meet the thieves.
    Seemingly they had no leader. “Nothing to worry, perhaps we can still negotiate with them” Francois thought.
    - Maybe we can conclude a deal. We are travelling almost with no luggage.
    - Hmph don’t lie to us. It is obvious telling you’re nobles so you must have some savings for the convenience of the travel.
    - Absolutely not.
    - Then the child will do.
    - What?
    - We are thieves right? I’m saying we’re kidnapping the child and if you want to get him back you will have to pay a certain amount of money.
    - No way you won’t dare stealing a baby and asking for money afterwards?
    - Oh you’re starting to understand. It is your money or the baby.
    - I won’t let you pass.
    - You think so?
    The man who had talked snapped fingers. His henchmen took on guard.
    - A 4 to 1 fight how unfair!
    - Don’t talk too brash!
    Francois coughed taken by surprise by a hit from the bottom. He flinched and tore his sword off his belt.
    - Too slow!
    Another hit. It took him down to the ground.
    - Francois! Isabelle yelled.
    - I will take over them! Coacher, hurry to the mansion with the ladies!
    - But Mister it is too reckless…
    - Remember a baby needs to be healed!

    The coacher obeyed.
    Later on at the mansion Isabelle helped Suzanne to get out of the carriage. Impressed Suzanne looked in awe at the size and the luxury of the building.
    - Hurry inside. Follow me.
    They went upstairs by the main staircase. Isabelle unlocked the first door leading to the guest room. She opened the curtains and lit the candle put on the night table.
    - You are my guest for tonight. I will tell Margaret to call the doctor as soon as possible. Rest until then and I will call you for dinner.
    - Thanks so much.
    Suzanne sketched a warm smile.
    - What about your husband? Is it okay to let him … ?
    - Don’t worry he likes to fight but it does not benefit him. One day I fear he can lose because of his foolhardiness. By the way what about you? Where is the father?
    Suzanne looked down:
    - Laurent has passed away before the birth. I’m thinking of giving his name to my youngest son.
    - I’m sorry.
    - That’s why I have a request.
    - What is it?
    Suzanne looked up:
    - After all whatsoever I desired and loved every of my children I can’t handle the running of a farm and a family of seven people at a time. I want to offer a good life to everyone but my newly born is the youngest of my children and the first one who will die if the winter becomes harsher this year. After all you’ve done to help me through I know I can trust you, would you agree to take care of him while I can’t for the time being?

    While pouring water in the cooking pot Suzanne realized she was dozing off about the past. Again. It was so painful for her to recall this traumatic event that turned her life upside down. She even regretted her choice so much. She did what she thought was the good thing to do faced with such a dilemma but her heart told the truth. The guiltiness of being a mother that was unable to take care of her own child and actually abandon him out of denial pierced her through everyday like a dagger.
    Catherine as for her had nothing to comment on and looked away afar at Florea’s church while dressing the table. How would Suzanne react if she knew that the young runaway trying to escape from justice Catherine had met a few years ago was her son for real?
    Last edited by Seira; 12-15-2013 at 05:00 PM.

  7. #27
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    Act 10: Side path

    For how long Lawrence can escape?
    Enjoy reading! :)
    -oOo-

    Catherine remembered what happened back then. Everyday at birdsong she went to the barn to give food to the ewes. That day the animals were especially nervous perhaps because the period of giving birth was about to come. When she entered in the barn and walked to them they refused to eat. Then she recognized the slight metallic deadly scent of blood. Her eyes widened in shock, something must have happened so that they were frightened. She turned around to find out from where it would come from. Her basket and its content dropped on the ground.
    - Lord … she whispered looking at the straw tainted with blood.
    She looked up and fainted. Across the first pile of straw a young man’s unconscious body was stretched upon the bare ground. When she was able to move closer she could determine he was severely injured. His wounds were no longer bleeding but significantly serious to be judged severe.
    - Poor child … she whispered touching his neck to check his breath.
    His face expression was soft and gentle those looks of a well-educated person who was always calm and pondered. She wondered what had happened, hopefully not a duel fight because she could get herself in trouble by deciding to give him protection and shelter.
    The reason why she remembered precisely this scene was not really the shock of finding someone injured in her barn though it was highly unexpected. He was somewhat different from the idea Catherine had of a noble. The animals were nervous because of the blood but did not seem to fear his presence. At entering in the barn she recalled the stunning image of them surrounding his body to protect him as though he was one of them. Then Catherine remembered vaguely to have carried him to the farm room in haste to heal his wounds and take care of him until he awoke. She did it with generosity because she did not even know how he had gotten to the barn so badly injured and why.
    To spare her young son Oz the shock of seeing so much blood she settled a bed of fortune and wash conveniences for their guest in the attic. They were not especially living poorly but the farm was not huge in size. Life was easier for them since Oz’s older sisters and brothers had almost all got married or were running their own farm business. The most troubling was to find out about the young man’s identity. Catherine did not know much about noble families from high bloodline but could tell at the coat of arms engraved on the seal she found in his pocket that he was from the bloodline of the Trintigny an esteemed noble family owner of luxurious properties around the region.
    She looked at him again and sketched a feared grin. His wounds showing traces of physical bad treatment she assumed he had escaped prison and was chased after by the royal army. If by chance they found out that she was protecting him by giving him refuge she would get herself in big trouble. He was looking so young and yet well tried by life.

    The mother superior was managing administrative papers in her office when someone knocked softly at the door.
    - Come in the door is always open, she said without looking up.
    - Good evening my mother I have a favour to ask.
    Oz halted at a distance of respect and waited for her to notice his presence. The old nun startled and put her workload aside.
    - Speak up Oz I’m listening. What is your request?
    - Please tell me the truth.
    She was shocked then redeemed her composure by clasping her hands beneath her chin. Her gaze studied him carefully. He was turning thirteen very soon but still remained way too young to hear all the truth. She could not lie to him either.
    She rather preferred to talk implicitly:
    - Sir Lawrence has gone on a long journey to find himself and God knows when he will return to us. For now we should wait for him to give news. It’s been too long since we have not received a letter from him and it worries me too.

    The carriage dipped in the darkness of the woods on a small earth path snaking among the centenary trees. Soon as the horses were speeding up the daylight could no longer be seen from afar. The crown of the trees covered the sky and the sun rarely peaked through the leaves.
    - Where are we going? Laurent asked. I should perhaps remember you that we planned at first to go straight to the south and now we’re taking a longer turn than expected.
    Only the silence responded. Laurent forced the horses to stop abruptly and turned around to look back at the inside of the carriage:
    - Felix, have you heard? Again where are we going?
    A hand emerged from the shadows seizing his neck. Someone narrowed the grasp placing a knife under his chin. Scared Laurent gulped eyes wide opened in shock.
    - We’re going no further, a familiar voice whispered to his ear.
    - Ugh!
    A drop of blood streamed along his throat sending chills down his chest.
    - You get always yourself easily trapped, don’t you think?
    Laurent tried to break free in vain. Gasping for air was painful. He could not fight against the drowsiness that was taking over his body

    Constance was walking towards the cloister reading a passage of the Bible when she saw Amelia sitting alone against a column. Her face disappeared beneath her veil but Constance could tell she was crying silently. They knew each other since their novitiate and had no secrets. Amelia heard someone approach and turned around grabbing tight her veil to hide her cheeks shining of tears.
    Constance retreated and stayed a few meters away waiting for Amelia to speak the first.
    - Rumours are saying he’s dead.
    Constance smiled with compassion:
    - You should not be relying on rumours. Perhaps-
    - I did not even have the opportunity to say properly goodbye to him. We parted arguing as always and moreover I said words that I wanted to take back. I talked out of anger and regret but for real I was so relieved to meet again with Laurent even after so many years had passed!
    - I understand, Constance whispered.
    Eyes down she looked blankly at the ground for seconds hands joined:
    - I feel sorry for you two.
    Amelia looked up and sketched a faint smile: “Thanks for your support trying to comfort me,” she said softly.

    Felix washed his hands covered of blood at the fountain and spread cold water on his face to pull his spirits together and get back from the shock of death.
    He had completed his mission at last but felt immensely guilty.
    The church was empty when he entered. A nun was sweeping the floor not paying attention to his presence. Remorse stirred up painfully piercing through his heart as sharp as an arrow. Cupping a few drops of holy water into his palms he crossed himself speechless. Sister Constance was on duty for cleaning the church today. She was sweeping the floor thoroughly barely paying attention to what was happening around when she heard someone crying. She looked up. A blond haired man she had never seen before during Sunday mass was sitting on a bench on the back of the church. He squeezed his head between his hands to stop crying but tears kept flowing on his cheeks dripping between his fingers.
    “What I’ve done… what I’ve done?” he was mumbling between his teeth

    Pierre was cutting through the trees looking for dry wood when he heard the noise of a fight somewhere afar. He gulped frightened. Here in the depths of Venteuse Woods it has been reported to the police several times that strange activities were going on, including duel fights. Carefulness told him to quit searching for wood and come back to his carriage as soon as he could. After came a deep silence that sent chills down his spine. The main path was dipped in the darkness. A bird chirped somewhere and it echoed oddly in the wholeness of the silence. Suddenly leaves creaked from nearby and he heard horses galloping. He retreated into the leaves and waited. A carriage burst into his eyesight at full speed and quickly disappeared in the horizon leaving no trace. He knew he must leave right here, right now but something compelled him to stay, to stuff the wood into his own carriage in haste and dip into the shadows of the woods. His breath was fast. He did not care about the branches scratching his legs and arms while he cut through the forest. Closer he got to the heart of the woods stronger was the smell of blood melted with mud lingering on the trunks. His eyes widened in shock, the shock of death.

    Blood tainted the ground.
    Pierre knelt on the dead leaves at the young man’s bedside. He was wearing old peasant clothing but his looks told he was from high noble status. He put a hand on the guy’s neck to check his breath. Obviously he was dying nonetheless still alive and breathing raucously by small coughs. Pierre tore a piece of fabric from his tunic to wipe the blood from this pale, smooth face that looked somehow familiar.
    His body was cold and stiff as ice when he helped the unfortunate to stand wrapping an arm around his shoulders.
    - Hey, do you hear me? Can you stand?
    “Can you stand?” Laurent startled hearing a voice calling for him from afar. Perhaps he was still alive. His eyes widened. He blinked blindfolded by sunrays cutting through the tree’s crown. His breath was twitchy as if he was close to drowning.
    He saw a face in the sunlight. A mid aged man smiled with compassion leaning forward to lie him down against a tree:
    - Do you feel better?
    - Where am I? Who are you?

    - My name is Pierre Dubois. I was cutting wood when I heard people screaming and I hurried to find out what happened. You were dying when I found you and I’ve taken care of you as best as I could hoping you were going to awake. We’re in Venteuse Woods and the farm is not far, we’ll get there in one hour or so, less if we hurry.
    - I was in a partnership with someone I thought was my friend and we were travelling on the road to the south. Let’s say I lost an argument and things turned bad so that we ended up having a fight. It is a long story. By the way call me Lawrence. I’m working as travelling merchant for a few years across the region. I come and go as how affairs run for me.
    Pierre frowned. This name sounded familiar. He looked at Lawrence with wonder.
    - No way … he whispered. Are you the guy from the research notice?
    Shocked he took a step back. Lawrence had chestnut brown hair and deep blue eyes, one stroke by a scar as the man all police forces were chasing after lately.
    Slowly Lawrence raised his hands above his head to show he was hiding no weapon:
    - I swear I was going to tell you sooner or later. All in all I cannot cause you any harm in my state so you don’t have to worry. I’m a deserter but not a criminal.
    -How can you prove you’re not making up an excuse to save yourself from being accused of attempting murder against your partner?
    - Trust me.
    - It is said you escaped prison twice! Pierre responded. How can I trust your sayings? Maybe you’re telling the truth or you’re lying. I can’t be sure so I have to rely on what you’re telling me.
    - I deserted because I had to play a social role that was not fitting me. I never belonged to the nobility from the very start and I could feel it very clearly in the way my peers were judging me.
    Sadness shined in Lawrence’s eyes. He did not know why he should trust Pierre but something told him he was not intending to betray him after saving his life.
    Pierre looked at the sky. The sun was turning orange.
    - I’m interested to hear your story. Stand up we should hurry to arrive at the farm before nightfall.

    A match sizzled lighting up the wood. Flames birthed and grew shape, warming up the people who were sitting close to the chimney. Suzanne put a bowl of herbal tea in front of Lawrence on the table.
    - Drink this homemade tea it will make you feel better.
    - Thank you Madame, Lawrence answered with a gentle smile.
    - According to Pierre’s story you used to be a travelling merchant and now after things turned bad due to an argument with your partner you were left without resources in the middle of Venteuse Woods, right?
    - Yes absolutely.
    - I can find you an opportunity to earn a good living. The two of us are not enough to take care of the whole farm so we’re looking for a third person to help out. I’m willing to give it a try if you agree would you accept to work for us?
    - I’m left without resources thus I have nothing to lose accepting your offer for sure. If you’re willing to teach me a few things about farming I would be glad to help.
    Pierre glanced on side at his mother. He had not yet told her the real issue about Lawrence being the so wanted runaway chased after by the political police emanating from the Terror government.

    Lawrence tied back his hair in a tight ponytail and continued ploughing and sowing the field after the harvest. He was living at the farm with Suzanne and Pierre for three months already at the rhythm of Florea’s church bells. He learned fast and worked hard from birdsong to nightfall to earn his freedom.
    - You’re doing great.
    Lawrence turned around. Pierre leaned on the fence. He smiled friendly and handed a piece of full bread over to Lawrence:
    - You should take a break.
    Lawrence nodded. They sat side to side on the slow wall surrounding the yard.
    - Something keeps me wondering. You’re a noble chased after by nobles. What happened that led you to desert?
    - It’s a mix of many circumstances, political and personal. In fact I never truly belonged because I was not a legitimate inheritor, though to count among the nobility you have to shine by the prestige of your birth and your properties. Ladies at Versailles will remark you for your clever use of words to redeem your image of gentleman.
    But all that is futile when you find out that you won’t get the chance to enter the high society how hard you try to get the esteem of your peers that are constantly judging you.
    I was fostered to make up for the fact Isabelle of Trintigny could not give birth. Of course they would never told me I figured out the truth all by myself through ladies’ gossiping during parties at Versailles. It was harder to handle than if I knew it from the start. So once I found an opportunity to get out this world of fake smiles and liars I simply wanted to desert whatsoever were the consequences of my decision. They did not expect their favourite ugly duckling to rebel intentionally by his free will.
    Pierre choked on a piece of bread. He had listened to Lawrence’s story silently. He coughed and drank some water to feel better. Eyes wide open in shock he looked deeply at Lawrence:
    - You said I could call you Lawrence but it is not your real name, right?
    - It is a cover identity I’ve been using during my escape.
    - Pierre I would use your help to go buying meat for dinner at Florea’s market.
    Suzanne stood behind them, holding the water pot. She smiled:
    - What if you two went together to the market? You could spare some free time outside the farm for once. It’s almost three months since you arrived Lawrence and you’ve been working hard most of the time so you have a day off to enjoy the pleasures of the city.
    Pierre nodded and stood up to go clean his sickle. His breath fastened while his throat was holding on his lungs tight to fight tears back. How come he had not noticed earlier?
    Lawrence had mentioned the name of Isabelle of Trintigny, this noble woman Pierre swore the loss since the day she had taken his little brother away from his real mother out of charity, said to save his life from the harsh winter of 1763. He gritted his teeth hard. Were this woman to meddle in the Dubois family’s affairs again he would come to have an argument with her. He looked on side at Suzanne who was helping Lawrence to stuff the remaining wheat in the barn. Lawrence had quite the hand at farming although he said to be part of the nobility. Then a detail struck the trail of his thoughts: Lawrence revealed he was a foster child, on top of that to make up for the fact Isabelle of Trintigny was unable to give birth. Shocked he startled and turned around. The sickle slipped between his fingers while he looked at Lawrence washing his hands. He sure was good looking but his pale skin told a much unspeakable secret about his birth and why suddenly it came to Pierre’s mind that appearances were fooling. Lawrence did not seem the average noble guy he pretended to be.

    Lawrence had last came to Florea in a while.
    It felt the city had changed because of the Revolution. It was market day though the main street was no longer quivering of the crowds’ chatter. People looked scared and exhausted walking fast without turning around. Hope had deserted their hearts expecting one day the Terror to be abolished. Things were going way too far the border. Lawrence was hard to recognize wearing farming clothing and a large straw hat. When they passed by the main public place a group of washerwomen were chatting near the fountain filling thoroughly their water pots:
    - Poor child, he did not deserve to die at last!
    - We did everything to be heard by the government sadly it was not enough …
    - Think about it you two! They said he died on the galleys but can we be sure of the news? He could as well have escaped and be alive somewhere safe and sound!
    - Impossible, no one has ever managed to escape alive from the galleys.
    Lawrence smiled: “Wait for me a little while”, he said to Pierre mysteriously.
    Pierre looked at him with wonder while he disappeared at the end of the street.
    Lawrence remembered where to look for his former shop located on the main street. He had bought it for its privileged location in the city heart. The building had remained the same from two years ago and a slight smell of burnt fabric still stained the air. He pushed the wreck of burnt wood that used to be a door and entered inside for the first time in so many months. Everything needed to be refreshed, especially the walls but he knew what made people happy when spring came again and they needed that happiness long gone to feel hopeful about their future. Though it was different this time. They needed a voice for their voices to be heard.. He had gone through hard times, made sacrifices and he realized it was meaningless if he stayed in retreat because the government was threatening him of death penalty for being an opportunist noble.
    Like everyone else he wished peace to be restored but not at the price of constant fighting. A new regime needed to birth based on the values the revolutionaries were defending through human rights, the works of writers and philosophers about politics and the willingness of the deputies to establish a transitive government able to lead the country fairly.

    Somewhere on the countryside after a long travel by carriage a woman from wealthy status wearing luxurious clothing preceded by her husband jumped on the footboard then landed softly on the small earth path cutting through the wheat fields. A group of peasants that were busy breeding their sheep glanced at them on side wondering if they were really noble people and why they would bother coming far in the sticks.
    Isabelle of Trintigny turned to look at them and smiled:
    - Good evening gentlemen we’re looking for a woman whose name is Suzanne Dubois who is living around here.

    At the farm Suzanne was sewing new farm clothing for the men. She smiled while the needle danced between her fingers. Seeing Pierre and Lawrence seemingly in good acquaintance made her happy because Pierre had never had many friends. She thought for herself a friend would be more able than a mother to listen and comfort him. He was acting coldly towards her since he learned the truth about his little brother Laurent still newly born when she chose to abandon him. Yet with time he had not managed to understand her choice. At the time they were going through a really bad harvest added to the harsh winter but she had always been a loving mother who cared for her children. A feeling of coldness under her bold wool shawl made her startle coming back to reality. By the window a freezing wind was blowing tormenting the fields. She sighed wearily and threw another block of dry wood to light up the fire. Things had been done that could not be taken back and it was pointless to live forever in the past regretting her actions with bitter remorse. Fate called for her attention when someone knocked firmly at the door. Steadily she put aside her sewing work and unlocked the door. Her eyes widened in shock when she saw noble people standing in the threshold. She frowned recognizing at once Isabelle of Trintigny and her husband François nevertheless tried to remain polite and invited them to enter:
    - It’s been a while, please come in while it is getting cold outside.
    Last edited by Seira; 12-16-2013 at 12:54 AM.

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