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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