Sunday, August 17, 2014

Season 2, Episode 3: Blades for France (Or, The Cromcast Apologizes to the Nation of France)




I found myself in a small chamber, without visible doors or windows, though there must have been some subtle system of ventilation. A hooded lanthorn lit the room with a vague and ghostly light. Nine figures huddled against the walls on settles – nine figures wrapped closely in dark cloaks, feathered hats or black morions pulled low to meet the black masks which hid their faces. Only their eyes burned through the holes in the masks. None moved nor spake. It was like a conclave of the damned.

Jehan did not speak, but motioned me to take my place on a settle, and then he glided across the chamber and drew back another panel. Through this opening stalked another figure, masked and cloaked like the rest, but with a subtly different bearing. He strode like a man accustomed to command, and even in his disguise, there was something faintly familiar to me about him. 

He stalked to the center of the small chamber, and Jehan motioned toward us on the settles, as if to say that all was in readiness. The tall stranger nodded and said: “You received your instructions before you came here. You know, all of you, that you have but to follow me, and obey my commands. Ask no questions; you are being well paid; that is sufficient for you to know. Speak as little as possible. You do not know me, and I do not know you. The less each man knows of his mates, the better for all. As soon as our task is completed, we scatter, each man for himself. Is that understood?”
 
 
Cromrades, we have returned yet again to provide the insightful discussion, poor French pronunciation, and delightful non sequitur you've come to expect! This time, your three humble sword arms bring you Blades for France! No open source copy this time, but you can find this story in a few collections, including the Del Rey Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures.
 
There is a kiss that happens during this story, and we ponder the significance of this scene. Read, listen, and let us know what you think!
 
Next time, we will journey to Istanbul and Vienne with Red Sonya of Rogatino. It's Shadow of the Vulture (Read it on Project Gutenberg Austrailia) on the next episode of The Cromcast. Join us, won't you?


This episode is freely available on archive.org and is licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Beginning theme: "Sudden Defeat" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Ending theme: "Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Suede. Used without permission. Purchase their album here!

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2 comments:

  1. Good episode!

    In regards to Dark Agnes stories in general, in a better world, yet a violent one still, Agnes could just be a sword woman and no one would care. Another sword woman, Valeria, in the Conan story Red Nails has a similar situation as she laments why men can't just let her be a warrior and nothing more.

    Freedom to do what one wants and freely come and go seem to have been big themes for Robert E. Howard. Many of his characters are either wandering rogues or feel shackled or restricted by their environment, or both. There is a great description by Howard in one of his letters how he would rather be a hunted savage but free rather than a slave in luxury.
    I might have mentioned this earlier but you might want to check out this letter Howard wrote to Harold Preece in 1928 (and the blog post it appears in is also recommended).

    The Shadow of the Vulture is a cool story. I like those REH's historical fiction stories that feature prominently known events or characters.

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  2. I think you should make a short 20 bonus minute episode that covers the outline and any notes for the third Dark Anges story if they're available. It'd be neat to have everything he wrote about her covered, even if it's fragmentary.

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