Montaigne, with its long history of conflicts between monarchs and knights, and of course, the other nations of Theah, has left us with a glorious legacy of fortified cities. This is doubly true of Montaigne’s coastal cities which must defend against threats from both land and sea. Ramparts, proud towers, and massive gateways ring the city and separate the dockyards from the city proper. Likewise, the people of Arisent fortify their hearts during times of danger and throw themselves into frivolity in times of celebration.
The streets and homes of Arisent are decorated in bright reds, blues, and whites (the colors of Montaigne), and the streets are filled with the sounds of music. It is Fete Nationale Montaigne and everywhere the people of Arisent wear masks. Nobility, merchants, and commoners mingle to sing, drink, and dance; equal in celebration if not truly in social status. Jugglers toss knives, balls, and various random items. Acrobats tumble through the streets and dance across tight ropes strung high above the streets and alleys. Clowns, damned clowns, bumble about making the children squeal with glee. Behind the masks, old identities are left behind, perhaps obfuscated would be the better word.
The crew discussed at length who would go to find Crespin Baudet, the artist who contacted Jacques about his discovery of information that could lead to finding Black Skull Isle. They also reviewed the need to lay low in Arisent, or more appropriately, to not kill anyone and draw attention to themselves. Likewise, they decided to use the Fete Nationale Montaigne celebration to provide some amount of cover. Julianne skillfully assisted each member of the crew with their fashion choices to help them blend in. All but Captain Hawke who was content with just a mask, that is.
Captain Hawke and Mary went looking for rum and a good game of darts and wandered into a pub called the Silver Pelican. Hawke indulged his love of rum and Mary set about winning coin with her skills at darts. Eventually, the crowd did become rowdy and tempers flared. Captain Hawke broke a few noses, made new friends, and in the end was quite proud of himself for keeping his promise. He did not kill anyone.
Meanwhile, Jacques, Isabella, Don Diego, and Julianne went to find the artist. Jacques recalled where they could find Lord Petrus Brosseau’s estate if worst came to worst, but following the gossip proved to be enough. It seemed Crespin was the talk of the town and his most recent collection was on display in a popular salon.
Finding their way to the salon, they met some resistance at the door. The bouncer, Gaston did not want to let them in. Isabella employed her dangerous beauty and charming personality to convince Gaston to allow them to enter and the big lug melted like butter on a hot day.
Inside the salon, the crew explored a bit and found Crespin’s art decorating the walls before they actually found the artist himself. This particular work was technically sound and hit the notes Crespin obviously intended (perhaps too plainly), but Jacques felt they were uninspired. Crespin found the crew admiring his work and immediately agreed. He thought the collection was shit, not ready for public consumption but Lord Brosseau had insisted the collection be on display for Fete Nationale Montaigne. And as Crespin’s patron, he gets what he wants.
Crespin exchanged warm regards with Jacques and Julianne and was introduced to Isabella and Dominique (the name Jacques quickly gave to Don Diego to hide his Castillian nationality). Crespin senses the deception but had no interest in uncovering it. He seemed to have no care who or where Don Diego was actually from. He was more interested in the rumors he had heard about an incident in La Motte between a Montaigne constable and his friends. Jacques slyly explained the incident as necessary without going into the details and this seemed to be enough to satisfy the artist. After all, Jacques and Julianne were nobles and for all intents and purposes, everyone else was below them. They could do what they wanted as far as Crespin was concerned.
The conversation turned to the reason for the meeting, the information about Black Skull Isle. Crespin explained, in a roundabout way, he had seen a map in his patron’s collection he believed could help Jacques but it was quite secure and there was no way to remove the map from Lord Brosseau’s repository. Instead, he proposed the crew join him at a ball that evening at the lord’s estate and find a way into the repository. An acceptable plan except for the only member of the crew who could possibly hope to decipher the map would be Captain Hawke himself.
The crew bid Crespin farewell with plans to meet him in two hours’ time in the city garden in the Commons. They found Captain Hawke and Mary in the Silver Pelican, both quite inebriated and celebrating the festival with new friends. Jacques explained to Hawke the task before them and convinced him they needed to dress him appropriately for the ball. Of course, the method of acquiring said clothes were left up for debate. As Julianne began looking for the right garb for Hawke, he wandered off and found a noble wandering the streets with just the right attire. One quick knock on the head, a duck into an alley, and Hawke were suitably attired.
The crew made their way to the Commons and met Crespin there who had arranged a carriage for the group. Lord Brosseau’s chateau sat outside the city amidst the rolling lands that had been completely converted to either farmland or vineyards. No forest remained as far as the eye could see.
The chateau was a grand estate surrounded by a picturesque moat and their carriage joined the procession line of guests arriving for the ball. In short order, the crew was escorted to the gardens and a waiting soldier took their names and announced their arrival. Although he thought Dominique, ie Don Diego, was a bit strange, he did not bat an eye when introducing them.
END OF SESSION