Sunday, May 1, 2016

New France Episode 1: The Hunt


Predawn, Fort Frontenac, 8 September 1638

Captain d'Iberville has sent Cadet Olivia Pierre and Pte Adele Miroir to hunt the camp's afternoon meal.  Orders are to return with either an elk or enough turkeys and rabbits to present Her Majesty, Queen Anne and the Cardinal Richelieu with a proper welcoming feast.

Meanwhile, at the ford across the Hudson, one of the Witches of Salem has a different type of welcome for the visiting dignitaries.

Olivia and Adele first try a clearing known to be visited by elk and deer, and they are rewarded for their good idea.

In Sight reactions are rolled; Olivia and Adele both fire their muskets before the elk can react - both successfully strike it in the chest, immediately eliminating it's heartbeat.

Realizing that the fort has sent out hunting parties, the witch whips her conjured goblins into a frenzied charge at the fort's front gate, then she casts a spell of blindness (Dazzle) on the two gate guards.  The goblins race forward unopposed.

Back in the clearing, Adele cheerfully exclaimed, "Most excellent, Cadet Olivia, our prey will not require tracking", and both hunters reload their muskets before moving in and beginning to dress the kill.

"Yes, this is very good fortune", agreed Olivia, "let's be quick about this before something comes to investigate the shots".

Olivia had no idea how portentous her words were as nearly immediately two wolves began charging across the clearing, intent on taking the elk for their own breakfast.

Their muskets stacked beside the tree, Olivia desperately drew her pistol and fired her one shot into the gaping maw of the charging carnivore, while Adele stood by, too stunned to react.  Fortune was indeed smiling upon the young cadet as the musket ball flew between the massive fangs and embedded itself inside the wolf's brain, and it fell Obviously Dead.
"W-was that your shot or mine?" were the only words Olivia could form in her trembling mouth.

"I never had a chance to shoot, you saved both of us", was Adele's gasping reply.

Both heaved a sigh of relief as the second wolf silently retreated back into the woods across the clearing, but that relief was short lived when the women heard the cracks of muskets and war cries coming from the direction of the fort.
Hearing rather than seeing the oncoming horde, Sergent Jaques Martinez ran through the construction site inside the palisade ordering soldiers to prepare for immediate battle, but too late to rescue the guardsmen.  Blinded by the witch's malign spell, the goblins head toward their target inside the Captain's quarters.  Only Sergent Jaques' quick action to strike down the leading goblins in melee prevents the garrison from giving up the day.

Hearing the gunfire and shouts of battle back at the fort, the realization quickly came to Olivia that serious danger was afoot, "Drag the meat between us, we must leave now while there's still a fort to defend!", and the two hunters began their return to the fort at their fastest possible speed.

Emerging from the wood-line, Olivia and Adele were greeted by the sight of a goblin horde pressing an attack against the fort's garrison, but then an even more frightening sight:  a Salem Witch striding toward the melee with a gloating expression on her face.  Suddenly, the witch stopped, turned and locked eyes with Olivia.  Both knew that their survival depended on immediate action; in a moment there would only be the quick and the dead.

As Olivia raised her musket to shoot, the witch raised her wand so that she could Blink away to a hidden position from where she could strike unopposed.  Olivia desperately thumbed back the flint on her musket, but the witch's arm was over her head.  Suddenly, there was a flash of smoke and a hiss, but from Olivia's left and the witch froze as Adele's musket misfired, but the distraction was all the young cadet needed and Olivia fired.  The ball flew true and struck the witch just beneath the brim of her hat, causing her head to explode in a fountain of ichor.

Inside the fort, Sergent Martinez bought enough time and space that the garrison defenders were able to form a firing line, which shot as soon as Jaques was clear of their field of fire.Three goblins fell wounded from the volley, and the goblins, always unreliable, scrambled out the gate.

With the smoke cleared and the goblins retreated back across the river, Captain D'Iberville had the fort secured while His Eminence gave Last Rites to the two fallen gunners, nobody else had even a scratch.  Olivia and Adele retrieved the Elk and began butchering it near the fort's open roasting pit when they heard a feminine voice new to them.

"Captaine, Sergent?"  Neither girl paused from their work.  The same voice, louder and sterner, "Ladies, if you please?"

The young soldiers turned in surprise from their bloody task to discover Her Royal Majesty, Queen Anne, His Holiness, Cardinal Richelieu, and Pierre D'Iberville, now wearing the sash of a Colonel.

Her Majesty offered a sash toward Olivia, "We would be honored if you would accept the sash of your commander for your commission, mon Capitaine.  We have an urgent mission for someone of your skill and initiative."

Olivia was stunned and could only stare wide-eyed at the well-worn Captain's sash held inches from her chest.  Adele gave Olivia's arm a nudge, forcing the new officer's hand to accept the badge of rank.

"Once again, quick and excellent thinking Serjeant", the Cardinal congratulated Adele as he began to pin the badge of rank upon Olivia's collar.  Now it was her turn to be shocked into silence at the same time Olivia bowed so that the Queen could drape the sash over her head.

Episode 2

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