- Paperback: 350 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace (November 30, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1449913172
- ISBN-13: 978-1449913175
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
Note (on this and all my writings): the following text is merely a "rough draft" of what the final product shall be. The final "smooth draft" (if I may so call it) will perhaps read somewhat differently; however, the main ideas shall remain!
(An Upcoming Novel)
A Novel of Intrigue and Swashbuckling Adventure
Set in the Backdrop of Seventeenth Century France
By: Ted Anthony Roberts
On the first Monday of April, 1625, in
"Speak! Who are you? Or, by all that you hold dear, this blade will be your ticket to another place – of which place, though, I know not where!"
"But I know which place," calmly replies the stranger.
"Oh?" reacts d'Avaloy. "Well, then, you should be prepared to go there without much complaint."
"'Tis true: I will not complain – for I am confident that my Lord will accept me with open arms into Heaven; for I shall then be in his presence."
With a slight disdainful grin, d'Avaloy replies, mockingly: "So, you think!"
"So, I know," forcefully implies the stranger.
At this, d'Avaloy's grin turns once again into an angry expression. "Enough of this! Who are you? And why are you in my apartment?"
"I see that you have not changed in all of these years, dear brother." At this last sentence, the voice of the stranger suddenly changes from a low gruff, into a voice that is more familiar to d'Avaloy. Quickly, the master of this dwelling place pulls off the cloak-hood from the stranger, and what follows next from d'Avaloy is a good, hearty laugh.
"Oh, you are too much, brother mine!" bellows out d'Avaloy, placing his sword back into its sheath. Now beginning to walk, d'Avaloy makes his way over to a small table, where there is a bottle of
"No, thank you, Charles," says Arnaund d'Avaloy, as he completely takes off his cloak, laying it over a nearby chair, revealing his priestly robes that were underneath.
"So . . . how long has it been?" asks Charles.
"Since we have last seen each other?" says Arnaund, finishing Charles' thought.
"Yes . . . Eight years, is it not?"
"Nine years, two months."
"Counting the months even?" chuckles Charles d'Avaloy.
"Of course; for I love you, brother mine."
"But why do you love me?" asks Charles, laughingly, as he looks squarely into his brother's eyes. "I haven't exactly been a nice brother to you since childhood."
"I have endured," Arnaund replies, gravely.
"Well, if you love me as you say that you do, then why have you waited nine years – I mean, nine years and two months – before you came to see me again?"
"I admit that I have purposely stayed away from you."
After a quick gulp of his wine, Charles' eyes widen at this strange statement. "Stayed away purposely?" he repeats, questioningly. "And what, brother mine, do you mean by that?"
"Well, you have just said yourself that you weren't exactly the ideal brother to me."
"True," Charles admits with a consenting nod, as he pours himself more wine. "But what has made you come to me now of all times?"
There is a moment of silence while Arnaund's eyes survey Charles' countenance. After Charles empties his glass once more, as he did with the other filled wine, he too begins to stare for a slight second at Arnaund. "Well?" Charles asks, while his shoulders rise in a questionable gesture.
"It is for your benefit, brother. It was because of you that I came."
"Oh? And what for? What do you mean?"
"Your soul, Charles – I must try and give you the gospel before it is too late!"
"Oh, is that what it is?" Charles says, as his body moves in a manner that indicates he's laughing strongly on the inside, while his mouth keeps that same grin he has maintained since he found out his brother was behind that dark cloak.
"I hear rumors, of what seems weekly, that you have got yourself mixed up into another duel once again, and I always fear the worst!"
"Well, you have no need to worry. My friend will take care of that for me."
"Your friend?" asks Arnaund, confused, knitting his brows slightly.
"Yes. My friend is strong, lengthy, and takes nothing from anyone! Here she is," he says, pointing out his sword. He then slowly unsheathes it, giving it a slithering sound as it makes it way out of its scabbard, then holds the blade directly in front of Arnaund once again.
"Yes," Arnaund says gravely, while frowning, "we have already met, her and I . . . But I have a sword as well, Charles. And it is mightier than she!"
"Really?" replies Charles, sarcastically. "You? A sword? Get serious, brother," he continues, while still holding his blade near Arnaund’s face.
The priest quickly pulls a small book from his pocket and places it against the naked steel of Charles's sword. "Touché!" boldly pronounces Arnaund.
"What!" bellows out Charles. "A Bible? Are you serious?"
Again, Charles bellows out with a hearty laugh, while dropping his sword arm downward toward the floor. "I think, Arnaund, that you have been drinking way too much religious wine!"
"Give in to God before you give in to death," seriously states Arnaund, while staring his brother directly in his eyes.
Charles' amused face quickly goes back to its serene look. Sheathing his sword, he returns to his glass – which he fills quickly – and downs it in only one gulp. "And here I thought that you came to just say hello," Charles admits, while looking toward the empty fireplace.
"Hello, brother," Arnaund says, seriously. "Will you now accept Christ?"
"Are you mocking me?" snaps Charles, angrily, quickly spinning his glance back toward Arnaund.
"Of course I'm not," Arnaund assures him. "I am very serious about what I am telling you. I do love you, brother – but so does God – I just know it!"
"Well, then," says Charles, beginning to shout, "where was God when I was young and needed Him all those years ago? At that time I did call out to Him, but He did not answer! I really needed God, but where was He? You know how things were, Arnaund – for both of us! And did He wield the sword that saved my life on numerous occasions? Nay . . . Did He give me the gold to feed my belly when I hungered? I think not, brother mine . . . I did all this with my own hard work – not His!"
"I see that you are hurting on the inside," Arnaund pronounces, sadly.
"You've noticed that? What a genius you must be!" he concludes, sarcastically, while pouring himself another glass. "Sure you won't have some, brother?" Charles asks, in a loud, rough manner.
"No, thank you, Charles. But I know someone who can give you something to drink; which will allow you to never thirst again."
At this, Charles takes his freshly poured glass of wine and slings it at the wall – which bursts immediately as it makes contact.
Arnaund stops short and stares at Charles with wide eyes. Charles also is staring at Arnaund, but his eyes have a glassy, dull look. And what follows next is yet another moment of silence, which is suddenly interrupted by a low knock at the front door. At first, the two men remain frozen, continuing to stare at each other.
A second knock then sounds.
"Charles," Arnaund ventures to say, "I believe that there is someone at your door."
Charles' eyes slowly glide into that direction. Just then there is a third, yet more pronounced knock.
"So there is," Charles merely says. He sets the bottle of wine back onto the small table, then starts walking into the direction of the door, just before there is a fourth and more hurried knock. Opening the door, while Arnaund remains where he is inside the apartment – yet looking on in curiosity – Charles notices a dark figure standing tall and erect, being enveloped inside of a dark cloak.
"Another dark cloak?" Charles says, in a disdainful undertone, while shaking his head. Then, aloud: "Yes? Can I help you?"
There is no answer from the unknown, but the cloaked figure extends a piece of paper to Charles. And, as soon as Charles takes this rolled parchment, the person walks away. Charles then shuts the door, staring for a slight second at the mysterious piece of paper. Unfolding it, he silently reads the note to himself. After which, he quickly looks up and over at a curious Arnaund.
"Is this your doing?" Charles asks, seriously.
"Is what my doing?" asks Arnaund, confused.
Charles walks over to his brother and hands him the piece of paper, which Arnaund reads aloud:
"'I have been admiring your swordplay, and have been studying it for months. Your style is quite remarkable, yet so predictable. I know your moves, every one of them – and it shall be your undoing! Meet me behind the Louvre at noon tomorrow, and I will take you to a spot where I can prove this to you . . . signed, your murderer.'"
Arnaund, after reading it, looks up at Charles: his eyes bulging.
"Is this why God sent you here?" Charles asks of him. "To kill me? Yet to insult me before doing so?"
"God is not like that, and you know it!"
"Oh? Do I?" Charles shouts. "First my life is going fine; now this mysterious letter arrives at the very moment that you show up – it's all adding up very pretty, I think!"
"Well, you are right about one thing: I can see that God did send me – but not to kill you, or to announce your death – but to give you hope, and to tell you that it is time to stop this madness!"
"Madness is this letter showing up when you did!"
"You must not attend that duel!"
"What do you take me for – a coward?"
"Well, if you insist on going, I shall come with you, then."
"You will most certainly not! You have caused quite enough damage as it is."
"Well..." says Arnaund, sadly, as he grabs his cloak. "I will keep in touch, then. But, Charles, I cannot let this matter drop."
"I think it wise if you did," pronounces Charles, gravely. "If you are trying to convert me, brother, I think that you have picked a bad way to start. If and when we meet again, let it be for other reasons . . . Adieu!"
"Nay, not adieu – say rather, Au revoir!" sadly announces Arnaund. "Adieu seems too permanent of a goodbye. Au revoir, till we meet again, dear brother."
At this, Arnaund walks to the front door, opens it, walks outside, and begins shutting the door. Yet, not being able to help himself, and just before the door is closed, he stops and takes a final look at his brother in a very worried manner. Charles doesn't even bother to look back at him.
"You know," Arnaund ventures to say further, "this lifestyle that you have chosen is nothing more than a life of swordplay against the life of priestly robes . . . a life of flesh that's opposed to a life of the Spirit . . . it is a sword against the robe!"
Finally, Arnaund shuts the door and leaves.
Charles remains standing where he is, then turns his head slowly toward the front door, of which Arnaund has just left out. Charles begins to roll many thoughts through his head, while feeling all types of emotions surging through his frame.
Indeed, a strange occurrence it was to have his brother drop in the very evening he receives a note in a fashion that he has never experienced before. Sure, there were duels galore for this man, but always delivered in a normal fashion, through acquaintances of his own. But this is a bit strange, and far too curious as to being delivered the same evening his brother suddenly comes out of nowhere, nearly ten years after they had last seen each other. Could God truly be trying to call him to a life of the Spirit through these strange circumstances? . . .
"Bah!" Charles says to such an idea. And, he then heads straight to bed – leaving his thoughts only to his dreams.
KEEP SCROLLING DOWN TO READ CHAPTER 2...
In the morning, Charles d'Avaloy heads straight to the gates of the Guard's Headquarters, where he holds a position therein as a lieutenant. He barely makes his way into the courtyard when a Guard seizes his attention.
"Holla – d’Avaloy!" the guardsman calls out. "And what makes you in such a haste this morning?"
At this, d'Avaloy turns around and notices a small group of soldiers who were having a conversation when he walked in. Charles stops his pacing and begins to rest his eyes upon the one who had addressed him thus, recognizing the man immediately, though he has not known him for very long.
"I am in haste," Charles says to the speaker, having no expression upon his face at all, whilst delivering the announcement with an obvious bitterness that's hard to miss, "for I am in hopes of passing by before you would notice me, dear Monsieur l'Forney!"
"Ah! Surely you jest, my friend," l'Forney says, grinning widely, eagerly awaiting the results of the conversation.
"And why should I do such a horrible thing as to jest about such a serious matter?" Charles asks, continuing his sarcastic tone.
"Why, because, dear sir, I would think that you would be speaking to me in a kinder manner than this, considering you are perhaps touched by divine grace this day."
There's a pause on d'Avaloy's part. But, just as soon as this line is delivered, the small assembly of Guards, who are standing directly behind l'Forney, begin laughing a little. Charles slowly surveys the small group with a careful eye, for he's not an acquaintance with any of them, because he's but recently been admitted to his post as lieutenant and has not had the chance to make known who each Guard is. And, as far as he being a Guard for several years now, we must note that Monsieur d'Avaloy is not one to make friends with many people; therefore, he knows but only a quarter of the Guards personally, and most others by face alone.
"And what mean you by that, sir?" Charles finally asks, looking back at l'Forney.
"Why," l'Forney begins, "only yesterday a stranger in priestly robes stopped by here looking for you. I know he was looking to know of your whereabouts," he continues, sarcastically turning his gaze slowly toward his listeners behind him, hoping to get more laughter – and he not being able to fight the grin that has now embedded itself upon his face, "for I was fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of eavesdropping in on the captain's conversation with him." He then looks back at d'Avaloy. "A priestly brother, eh?"
There's certainly more laughter from the small group of soldiers, and l'Forney continues to grin with satisfaction. "Is this really the case, brother d'Avaloy?" he adds, stressing the word brother, which has a religious ring about the way he pronounced it. This last statement causes the small group to laugh with even more vigorous zeal.
D'Avaloy, after a very brief reflection, decides to turn his grim look into his usual sarcastic, swaggering grin. "First of all, dear l'Forney," he begins, "it's not a strange thing to have a priest in one's family, and neither does it indicate that the rest of the family would be enticed into such a lifestyle just because that's the case; and, secondly, did you not know that it is a serious offense to insult an officer? I would think that the good manners would have to come from you, for I do outrank. Also, as I am to understand, you come from too good of a family to be insulting them in such a manner as to being nothing more than a bully."
"Really?" says l'Forney, beginning to lose his grin. "As to my family traits, they're no concern of yours," he amply implies. "And, as far as your rank is concerned, you can choke on it – I have been transferred to a better unit than this as of tomorrow!"
"Oh? Is this true? And what Guard unit is better than this one? The Cadets?" D'Avaloy adds, with a more sinister grin. "You forget, we are in the unit of Captain Des-Essarts; which is, in my humble opinion, the best of all the Guard companies!"
"I am transferring into the company of Musketeers – which is better than any of the regular Guard units – and as a Lieutenant, to boot!"
"Lieutenant of Musketeers?" D'Avaloy says, laughing loudly. "They couldn't have picked a better man!" he adds, mockingly.
"Too true, I was the better man," l'Forney concludes, insinuating that he was a better pick than d'Avaloy for the position.
D'Avaloy got the point. And, after stopping his short laughing spell, he – now with a very serious expression – takes a step toward l'Forney, to where he is now only twelve inches away from him. L'Forney stands his ground, gravely staring at d'Avaloy, without even blinking an eye.
"Good," simply says d'Avaloy to him. Then adds: "But a better man for the job should know not to insult a better man at the sword; for, he may see that a high rank does not entail that he is manly enough to back up his insulting words behind a blade!"
"All in good time, d'Avaloy," l'Forney says, beginning to smile once again. Then, as he leans forward a bit, he says with a wink: "Finish your other quarrels first."
At this, there's more laughter from the small group.
This last statement really strikes home! D'Avaloy knits his brows into a frown. Does l'Forney know of the mysterious note that d'Avaloy received just the night before?
"What do you mean, sir?" d'Avaloy asks, very seriously.
"Nothing, sir," l'Forney says, leaning back to where he was originally, and still continuing with his smile. "Soon enough, my friend," he implies, whilst starting to walk away, "soon enough!"
The small group of soldiers walk away also, and are still laughing at d'Avaloy – who is standing very still, quite vexed, not knowing what to think about what he had just heard. He finally breaks away from where he was standing, and looks all around to see if anyone is watching him. He notices nobody looking, so he proceeds on to the captain's office.
Walking into the captain's antechamber, d'Avaloy is greeted by a servant who asks what he is needing.
"An audience with my captain."
"Presently, lieutenant. Please have a seat, sir."
He sits on a chair near the entrance of the captain's chambers, while his mind is in a whirl. He hardly notices anything that is going on in the room because he is totally mixed up in his own thoughts, but he does imagine that he sees somebody looking at him. But, just as soon as he looks in that soldier's direction, the soldier returns his attention back to the small group of men with whom he was conversing. D'Avaloy shrugs it off as nothing out of the ordinary.
Now, the servant walks out of the captains' chambers and asks d'Avaloy to enter. He does so.
"Lieutenant d'Avaloy, reporting for duty, sir," he says, saluting his captain, just as the servant leaves, who has just shut the door behind him.
Captain Alexandre des Essarts, of his majesty's Guards (a middle-aged, yet slightly muscular gentleman), jumps up from behind his desk upon the soldier's arrival, holding out his hand for d'Avaloy to shake; having, too, a look of concern about him.
"Are you feeling well, sir?" asks his captain, while d'Avaloy takes his hand to shake.
"Quiet well, sir. Why do you ask?"
"There have been a couple of strange events that have happened since I have seen you yesterday," the captain announces.
"Yes, sir. I know. My brother had come to see you yesterday, asking about where I lived."
"I was surprised to see that you had a brother, for I did not know that you had one. I was reluctant to give out your address at first, but, as you may or may not know, my servant has taken holy orders himself, and had been an acquaintance of your brother in the church, and he was able to verify him as a reliable and honest man. I then gave out your address on such grounds. However, having a brother that you have not seen in many years is hardly a strange occurrence, and is not what I am referring to, though it was the first of a couple of events that were about you."
"Alright, you now have my curiosity up; for, verily, some strange things have been happening to me since last night, and not just my brother showing up. But, please tell me what you mean, sir."
"Well," continues Des Essarts, as he walks around to his desk, sitting back down, "like I said, it started with your brother asking for your address; and, no sooner had he left, when a stranger showed up also asking for your address."
"A stranger?" d'Avaloy asks, interrupting his captain's tale.
"'Tis true. I have never seen him before. And, he said that you two have never met before, but that he was trying to warn you that your life is in danger, and that it was most urgent for him to meet with you. I refused to give him your address, of course, but I promised him that I would send you a note, telling you of his request to see you. That is why I sent you that note last night."
"You sent me that note?" d'Avaloy asks, surprised, raising his voice a little.
"Of course. I signed it, didn't I?"
"Are you then my murderer?"
"Your murderer? What ever do you mean by that, sir?" asks the captain, with a frown.
"The note that was delivered to me last night was signed by my murderer, and was challenging me to a duel at noon today."
"Really?" says the captain, confused. "Well, I assure you, sir, that I sent you no such note; it was of an entirely different nature. You say you have been challenged to a duel? Well, that is nothing new for you. But what has become of my note to you, then? Had my boy messenger not reached you?"
"The only messenger that I seen last night was one enveloped in a dark cloak, being careful to conceal their identity."
"I see," says the captain, thoughtfully, while looking away, as if he could more easily see this whole situation by looking out the window. "It appears," he continues, looking at d'Avaloy once again, "that my messenger is then dead."
"Dead?" asks d'Avaloy, frowning in his turn. "I don't think that it is as serious as all that, now!"
"My boy, I think that you are mixed up in a rather pretty net; and the catcher is just about to reel you in."
It is now d'Avaloy's turn to look out the window, perhaps to see what his captain was seeing. He now turns back. "Are you sure?" he asks, with some doubt.
Looking attentively at his captain, while his captain looks attentively at him, d'Avaloy begins to reenact in his mind the events of last night.
"I have not yet told you all," the captain continues, not giving Charles any time to finish his thoughts.
"There's more?" asks d'Avaloy, his eyes widening.
"Yes, yes. It's concerning the stranger who asked for your address last night. It would seem that he didn't get too far. Only five minutes before you were announced this morning, I was informed that he was found two streets down, in an alley, dead! One of my guardsmen who lives in that quarter happened to see him there, and recognized him as to have been the one who visited me last night. I was just about to send a small troop out to search for you, but thank the Lord you are safe and sound! I fear also for your brother's safety."
"Oh, as far as he is concerned, his God will protect him."
"His God?" asks the captain, curiously. "Is He not your God, as well?"
There's a moment of silence as d'Avaloy slowly answers: "...of course."
"I think that now, of all times, you will need Him for your well being."
"Of course," d’Avaloy mechanically repeats a second time.
The captain scans his lieutenant’s countenance with all the scrutiny of a parent who holds his child's protection in his hand.
"But, as far as this duel at noon is concerned," the captain says, continuing, "you must not attend."
"But captain," d'Avaloy protests, with a slightly raised voice, "my honor is at stake!"
"You mean your life! You know as well as I that duels are forbidden. You, being an officer, have to set an example for the men."
"That's exactly why I must attend – to be an example!"
The captain sighs. "True," he admits, shaking his head a bit.
"I mean, what kind of a lieutenant would I be if I decline such an engagement?"
"A scorned and cowardly one."
"Now you see why I must attend – even at the risk of my life."
"I'm afraid that it will be at the risk of your life. This letter that you mentioned smells of ambush to me!"
"Well . . . what must one do?"
"Well, one – such as myself – will send an attachment of Guards with you to make sure all will be fair play. Unofficially, of course."
D'Avaloy smiles at his captain's cleverness. "Of course," he says, with satisfaction.
"Still," the captain continues, "we must find your brother for protection."
"If I know my brother, he will show up at the duel at noon. Otherwise, I know not where to find him."
"Why do you say that he will show up at your duel? Is this priest fond of fighting?"
"Nay, but fond of saving my soul! That is why he was looking for me last night, to get me to give in to his – I mean our Lord."
"Oh, I see . . . Well, a little religion never hurt any soldier; myself included. I pray under my breath before every skirmish, bloody as well as political – there's little difference between the two! Well, if your brother will be at the duel, as you say, then we must try and convince him that his life is perhaps in danger as well. Hopefully, waiting until noon won't be too late to warn him. Get this matter over with as quickly as possible, and I will try and find out what this whole thing is about concerning you, as best as I can."
"Thanks, good captain."
"Don't thank me yet – there's still much we must do!"
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READ WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT DONAREE:
"Nicely done. I really enjoyed the history in the introduction and the duel is well written. Best of luck with the novel!" ~ Author David Lee Summers, author of five books: Vampires of the Scarlet Order, The Solar Sea, and the "Old Star" science fiction series: The Pirates of Sufiro, Children of the Old Stars, and Heirs of the New Earth. www.davidleesummers.com
"Very exciting read! Felt like I was there witnessing the action!" ~ Candle Artist Jfay, www.studio3bonline.com
"I really enjoyed the humour and really laughed, not at Monsieur de la Donaree but with Monsieur de la Donaree! I dont know if you wrote it in this spirit but if you had a bit of Molière in you, I would not be surprised! He knew how to study people and would turn situations into a comic play! I laughed out loud, this is a gem! Not only de la Donaree is a fine sword, he has also a fine nose when it comes to pinpoint personalities, I'm talking about the Inkeeper and his situation with the wife here!! The second part is indeed in pure swashbuckling spirit, in rhythm and enthusiasm! And the end is a cliff-hanger! The beginning is "cocasse" (funny) as they might have said then in Gascony, and witty! Indeed had a sense of humour too and satirically created at least one of his character ( in another book) to a character made up by Molière in one of his comic play. And Molière also took his inspiration from Dumas' s Musketeers and " ." I liked it! I had fun while reading this chapter about Monsieur de la Donaree, as while following the spirit of the Musketeers you gave a contemporary touch to the text!" ~ Artist Nicole Marques, www.myspace.com/nicolemarques
"Hurrah, Ted! I gleefully await the next installment! LOVE the romantic stuff! Bring it on! There are few things in this world I like better than a hot Viscount. Keep going, Ted! Bravo! Keep writing! I can't wait to read more! But it is par for the course as I am also a writer. Keep in touch!" ~ Author Genella de Grey, author of "Remember Me." www.genelladegrey.com
"Wow - What a wonderful beginning. As a whole, you have a unique way of writing & you captivated me by a few sentences peaking my interest to continue. For instance: ...hazed by the early morning mist...I love it! I look forward to reading the next chapter. You've gained my interest. That was impresive & informative. You've still got the hook in & I'm dangling to hear more. Thanks for the sneak peak." ~ Aspiring Author R.F.Taylor: Rianna
"Well done. Chapter One entices the reader craving more. I will look for of Monsieur de La Donaree the Musketeer on the web. Keep up the excellent writing..." ~ Ferf