That clinched it. "You just try and make me!" She was s.h.i.+mmying up the rope before Pierre could blink.
"Adrienne, wait! They're not-"
She scrambled over the edge of the roof, scarcely needing the rope at all, and looked up into a glittering array of blades.
"-expecting you," Pierre finished somewhat flaccidly, his head appearing over the precipice.
"My friends," he said, climbing to his feet atop the roof and dusting off his hands, "may I present to you Adrienne Satti? She'll be a.s.sisting us in the night's endeavors."
The blades withdrew with palpable reluctance, and Adrienne could only wonder yet again what Pierre had gotten her into.
In a rattling, b.u.mping, shuddering, jostling carriage on the roads beyond Davillon, an elderly and normally distinguished voice complained for the umpteenth time, "Tell me again, Maurice, exactly what they've gotten me into."
Maurice-Brother Maurice, to be proper about it-smiled broadly. He leaned back in his insufficiently padded seat, his blond-tonsured head bobbing with the rocking of the heavy coach, and folded his hands inside the brown sleeves of his robe.
"Nothing at all, Your Eminence. There's absolutely nothing of any importance regarding your visit to Davillon. This is all just an elaborate scheme of the Church to force you into weeks of uncomfortable, rear-bruising travel in this abominable contraption, all for the amus.e.m.e.nt of your superiors and subordinates alike."
"Ah," the older pa.s.senger said. "Just as I suspected. Then why have you rebelled against this great Church conspiracy to inform me of it?"
"Well, after all, Your Eminence, I'm suffering too."
"The fickleness of youth," the high official lamented sadly. "Why, I remember the days when suffering for one's faith was considered n.o.ble."
"I believe that I'm sufficiently n.o.ble already, Your Eminence. I fear that if I spend too many more days with my backside being pounded into pulp by this carriage I shall be more n.o.ble than the king himself, and then I shall have to be executed for treason against the crown."
"I'm sure the Church will protect you, Maurice. You must have done something for her over the years."
The young monk of the Order of Saint Bertrand, dedicated entirely to attending the needs of High Church officials, could only laugh. The other man chuckled softly in turn and resumed gazing at the tree-bedecked countryside. He couldn't see much of it through the window of the ornate carriage that was, as Maurice complained, bruising its inhabitants to within an inch of their lives. Traveling in luxury, indeed!
William de Laurent, archbishop of Chevareaux, was getting on in years, despite his every effort to intimidate those years into keeping their distance. His hair was thin and gray, his face marred by more than its share of crevices and chasms, but his grip was strong, his gaze and his mind both shar
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