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Gallia Falling, part 2 - Rene-le-Chateau (IC)

Tiffany Korta

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France 24th May 1814

France was again in flux, Napoleon had surrender and was being sent in exile and King Louis had just left to take control of the country. The people of France tired after years of Napoleons wars were happy for a bit of stability again.

Not that it mattered to Marianne as she happily wandered the streets, whistling a rather bawdy tune, no the scary lady had told her to find him and deliver a very important message. She had even made Marianne repeat the message back, it was that important; she was quite pleased that she’d got it correct on the first try.

She wasn't sure how the Scary Lady knew about her or where to find this nice helpful man; maybe she had a voice in her head too? Marianne wasn't the kind of person to dwell on the details or worry about things; she had an important mission to finish!

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Rene had not been sluggish in the years that followed his youth. He was older, and wiser, and getting to become an accomplished artist, if not yet a master.

Perhaps he had been somewhat distracted. Broken Crow had taught him much since he burned down the house of the Necromme aristocrats. He had learned, in his old way, to summon forth arcane power in the way an artist paints onto canvas.

Rene painted onto reality.

It was not easy, of course. He was no master mage. But he had enough power to have dispatched a few dabblers in the black arts, to defend against the undead and spirits.

And he now had enough coin to have his own flat in Paris. Not too extravagant, but not to shabby either. He could make the rent comfortably, provided he kept up with painting for the rich and powerful. And Artist of his calibre would never be rich, but he would no longer starve. And it did keep him in the gossip of Paris...the sittings would be tedious if not for the loose tongues of his subjects...

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Concentrating for a few second Marianne scanned the buildings before spotting the one she was after. With a little smile of achievements she bounded towards the building and up the stair more like a small child than the grown woman she was.

With a final little check of the flat number she knocked on the door, tapping out La Marseillaise. She waited rather impenitently for the occupant to answer glancing around for something to distract her, admirably tiny, attention span.

When the nice man she had been told about answered the door she gave a little squeal of joy and threw her arms him.

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"Good afternoon Madam, how can I hel...!"

Rene had seen the world of course, and was no stranger to some eccentricities of the Parisian people. But being leapt at and hugged by an unknown woman was something that was a little out of the ordinary for an otherwise slow Sunday afternoon.

"I am...delighted...to see you to, Madam...although I confess you have me at a disadvantage. I am afraid I cannot recall making your acquaintance previously. And I would, no doubt, have remembered your distinctive charms..."

"My name is Monsieur deSaens" he said by way of introduction, giving a modest bow.

"Perhaps you could indulge me as to yours?"

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The mere slip of a girl jumped down a look a little confused for a few second. The artisans and there hangers on had many strange habit and this girl would seem to be one of them. She was dressed in a simple shift which thankfully covered everything, though it seemed to be a struggle, and wore the classic Phrygian cap. It would be easy to dismiss her on one of the few models’ that dressed as one of the symbols of France to “inspire†some of the local artists, if not for the faint glow that surrounded her.

“Of cause you’re you, otherwise I would have been sent here.â€

She stood straight and gave her serious face, which just made her look more comical, and stuck out a hand in a more formal greeting.

“I’m Marianne. I’ve been sent here to give you a message.â€

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"Mariame eh?" said Rene, arching an eyebrow. He surveyed her fully now, away from her arms.

He suspicions were raised. The glow...the name...

Was it possible?

He was not best fond of spirits of France strolling around like they owned it. His previous dally with them had left him shaken, and - to be honest - scared. Man should be free, not pawns of such things.

"You had better come in and tell me your message then..." he said kindly but with a slight steel. He should be on his guard. On the other hand, it was just a girl.

Who drives who? he wondered.

"I think I have some bread, and wine...no...not at your age. Some bread and milk..." he said, as he went to his store cubboard to pull out a few essentials.

"You should eat more!" he said with a wink.

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Marianne’s looked hurt, but even then she couldn't help but look cute.

“I have you know I’m old enough, though not as old as you obviously… well yes you are but he can’t hear you.â€

She perched on one of Rene’s chairs allowing him to getting a better look at her. With a painter’s eye, and the better light of the room, he could get a better read on her age. Here eye beheld ancient wisdom, as did the few of the spirit he had met, but the rest of face told of a young woman in her first blush of adulthood.

She seemed a little distracted for a few second, taking in the simple room with it few embellishment apart from Rene’s works, before she remembered why she was there.

<†I don’t have the time to do this personally; you’d wouldn’t recognize me anyway. I’m afraid that are plans to return the Ancien Régime, and that mean there after Gallia. I can’t make you but someone has to stop this, Marianne her is the real deal and she’s still has a link with Gallia you can use.â€>

She spoke in English and it was obvious she didn’t speak the language, but she managed to deliver the message word perfectly.

Marianne's face lit up, proud that she’s delivered the message perfectly.

“That was the message the scary lady told me to tell you. And to tell you the she was someone you use to know.†She looked a little confused for a few second “Oh yeah she said she was Constance, but not anymore.†She looked a little confused at this and decided to change tact “The voice in my head say’s we’re going to find Gallia, who like the old me. I remember things about her sometimes, it make me sad.â€

With that she slipped into silence.

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Rene put back the milk.

"Too old for milk then...but perhaps wine is not a good idea..." he said, contemplating the blend of ages Marianne presented with. The last thing he wanted was a drunken spirit. If she had even half the power of Gallia, then a drunken Marianne would be a very dangerous thing indeed.

He pondered the English message for a moment. He was more than interested in stopping Gallia return to the Ancien Regim, but this child-adult-spirit was a mystery component.

Marriane? well, he could only imagine the child was Marrianne..?

"Tell me child, what is your name?" he asked sitting down himself in a slow, deliberate manner.

"Or, more importantly, who are you?" he said. "The two questions are not the same...."

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Marianne looked a little perplex at Rene’s questions, she didn’t seemed to be one for deep philosophical thinking. Or much thinking at all.

“I’m Marianne of cause, I used to be someone else to but I can’t remember…†there was a strange mix of certainty and confusion in her voice “But it’s okay when I’m a few years older Marianne will move one and I get to remember who I was…†she paused as if listening to someone else speak “Yes okay I’ll tell him, the voice what’s me to say that it’s okay I chose to be like this. I was very sick, but I’m better now thanks to her help.â€

She seemed to Rene that this woman was one of the rare individuals with any guile what so ever.

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"I see" answered Rene, relaxing slightly. Full relaxation, he guessed, was unlikely for now.

"Well Marriane, it is very good to meet you. Whoever you are. Both of you..." he added, throwing a barb into the mix.

"I think my past has come back to haunt me. Although I need no bore you with tales of youthful folly..."

I am sure you have tales of your own when it comes to that topic..

"It seems you have been entrusted with a most important part, Marianne. Most important. I wonder if you can help me? you have a...friend maybe? a connection? someone who might tell me a thing or two?" he asked gently. He took a bite of bread and wondered about the italian salami he had stored away.

He wondered about a glass of wine, come to that.

"I think France may be in danger, Marianne. The tyrants of old vex to return. And there is a...weapon...a spirit...who may be dangerous in their hands. I...we...need to stop them!"

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“Oh no you don’t have to stop them, we have to stop them. I’m kind of France so it’s part of the job. So we need to know where Gallia is right? Well let me have a quick look.â€

Her face went serene and her faint aura begun to glow more fiercely. Rene could sense the magic roll off of the young woman in waves.

“Gallia at a long way away, but also not too far away. She’s to the far south or France.â€

Marianne look more confused than she had before, something that would normally seem impossible

“She’s there but she’d not, I’m not sure what’s happened to her.â€

She quickly recovered her composure and jumped off the chair.

“She’s a bit too far for us to reach on foot, so I’m going to have to cheat a little. Is there anything you need to do before we leave?â€

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"Well, I have some fine Italian salami in the larder" said Rene, mustering a smile.

"Marianne, you should understand, my...history...with spirits like Gallia, and...yourself, have been less than positive. Deceit has been the spice, and bitter was it's taste. I was moved, like a chess piece. And this is not to my liking..."

He got up, wandering over to his larder to pack salami, wine, and bread.

"So, my excitement and devotion to this cause is somewhat tempered by bad history, shall we say. And I am afraid that it has painted you in the same light. I say this not out of cruelty, or spite, but out of honesty. What shall I make of you? I do not know"

As an after thought, he brought out an onion.

"One layer off, and what shall we find? wait! another layer peels away, to reveal...another truth. And so it winds it way to the end!" he smiled.

"But I suppose I quite like onions!" he joked at the end, putting it in his bag.

"Let us away!" he concluded.

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“I’m not normally meant to do this, but as it’s an emergency it should be okay. Things might get a little weird.â€

AS she finished talking there was a flash of light and Rene felt a sensation like falling. OR maybe flying as his vision cleared the vast vista of France was laid out below him. Covering the land was millions of globes of lights, which Rene somehow knew that each was an intelligence human or otherwise.

Magnificent isn’t it?

Turning Rene saw Marianne, but not the tiny Woman-Child, this was the proud noble warrior woman Rene remembered from the painting and stories from the Revolution.

I’m afraid that you have been done a disservice by our kind Rene deSaens. Our reason for existence isn’t to rule over or control mankind, just listen and you’ll hopefully understand.

As suddenly Rene could hear the thoughts of all of France, peoples hopes, dreams and ambitions. But the loudest voices were those of hopelessness and despair, people who cried out for someone anyone to help them.

Those are the voices I hear strongest as well. Those who followed Reason feared giving me too much power and bound me envoy into a form that couldn’t threaten then earthly power. I could have become like Gallia and raged against the crimes that were done against me. But then who would answer some of those cries for help?

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Rene nodded sagely.

"Gallia raged? Yes, I can appreciate that. Pity her, even. And I feel that rage does not overwhelm you..."

He stroked his beard.

"Yes, it is strange times for France. Times of change, perilous and wonderful both. I can only wonder how such turbulence would disorientate the spirits of the nation"

"Yes, yes. You have my sword and pistol. Well, that was what I swore last time. This time, my sword is rusty and my pistol is without powder. No, this time you have my wit and my will. Which I dare say, given my experience and knowledge is more useful and probably more deadly if need be. If you serve the needy of France - and heaven help us - there are plenty - then I am with you!"

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Then Rene was on his back a clear blue sky framing the concerned face of Marianne.

“Are you okay? I’ve never taken anyone else that way before.â€

She offered a hand to help Rene up, showing that her frame bellied quite a bit of strength.

The two of them were on a small hill beside a partially ruined church; below them was a small quaint village of white bricked, red roofed houses. Behind them were the majestic mountains of the Pyrenees. Marianne’s attention, without an artistic eye, seemed to be focused on the church. Something about the church made her giggle.

“This place has a really weird feeling about it, I think it’s going to be trouble in future.†She suddenly remembered something “Oh I forgot you don’t know where we are do you? Well this is Rennes-le-Chateau, Languedoc.â€

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"Very pleasant" replied Rene, rubbing his back. The translocation had, in all honesty, been relatively mild.

He spent a moment surveying the panoramic view and breathing deeply, inhaling the vapours and the scent of the place.

"Very pleasant indeed. At the moment. I too, sense an air of potency in the future..."

He was no fortune teller. He was no diviner. But even the basest of mystics could feel the prickles of the future in this place. Its importance.

"But what of the present?" he asked Marianne, feeling himself warm to the spirit. "What is happening here? A plot to twist Gallia?"

If she can even be twisted?

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Marianne looked a little confused for a few seconds.

“I’m not sure she seems to be awake but at the same time asleep. I don’t think she in control of everything, at least not directly. But she kinda sneaky so I’m not sure.â€

She looked out towards another part of the village where there was a partly ruined remains of a castle, probably ruined between the Revolution and the various wars on and by France

“The area famous for lots of mystical organizations, the Cathars, the Templars and even the Priory have had interests here and abouts.â€

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"A trinity of scurrilous brotherhoods" commented Rene, who was disdainful of both king and priest.

"It bodes not well for the place, nor us, I fear. It indicates a certain gravity to the place. Which you can smell, I am certain. And gravity will always crush. If not the body, then the spirit. "

He stroked his beard.

"Ah well, so be it. I was, it seemed, born to circle gravity. It makes the soaring more dramatic, I should think!" he chuckled.

"Now then, whilst I form the impression that time is not of the essence, neither should we unduly delay. Tell me, can you feel Gallia? can you divine a path we should take? or should we investigate the village and make our inquiries? or, perhaps wisest, do both?"

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Marianne look concentrated, only to look even more confused than normal.

“I’m not sure where she is, it seems she under the mountains. There so much… stuff going on in that rock that’s it difficult to narrow her down. I think that it might be on purpose.†She pulled a little pouty face.

“Maybe we should ask that nice man coming up the path?â€

Without waiting for Rene’s response she rushed forwards, so fast her feet didn’t seem to touch the floor, and threw her arms around a rather confused young man in priest’s robes.

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"Why not indeed?" chuckled Rene, as Marianne impulsively darted forward. He had the sense that she would lead them into peril and chaos.

But, so be it. Out of great chaos grew great art.

"Bonjour, Monsieur!" he said, bowing to the villager. Rene could only guess he was the local priest. He certainly looked like one. He disliked priests as much as he disliked aristocrats - whilst they were on the whole marginally less malign, they were, in his view, marred by considerable hypocrisy. Still, there were enough exceptions to the rule in both cases that one could not jump to conclusions.

"We are, just visiting this remarkable village, my friend and I. Please stay a moment and tell, what news? is there a place for travellers to rest, take food and drink and slumber?"

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The priest as gently as he could pried Marianne away from him a confused look on his face.

“Bonjour Monsieur, Madame.†He still wasn’t too sure about what to make about Marianne.

“I’m afraid I’ve only just arrive in the village myself, I travel around the various local villages doing god’s work.†He offered a hand and a friendly smile “Father Henri at your service. The church of Mary Magdalene may be a little run down but it's cool, and I have a little bread and wine I could share with you and your... sister?â€

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"Ah yes! yes! My sister, that's right!" he said giving a firm smile to Marianne.

God's work. That carries a wide variety of interpretations. From handing out bread to the starving, to torturing the innocent for confessions of heresy...still, he seems simple and benign enough!

Rene resolved not to jump to any conclusion, but to take Henri at face value as a pleasant enough fellow.

"Well, it seems we are in good fortune to be in good company then!" he concluded, taking Henri's arm in his own.

"I feel this is going to be a splendid day. Why, the very sun and the sky tell me so!" he said, swinging his arm in a panoramic fashion to embrace what was a magnificent view.

"Let us see the church then. Why, if only I had brought my easel and paints, I could have produced you a veritable masterpiece I am sure, Henri. But, I think perhaps time would not release me for such a task. Tell me, as I walk, what do you know of this village? why today have you come here?"

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Marianne stood there on her best behavior smiling up at the young priest.

“Hello there I’m Marianne, and my brother here is Rene.â€

The priest seemed happy with answer and proceeded to unlock the doors of the church.

“So you an artist the Rene, there are many lovely sights in this part of the country, it’s part of the reason I choose to service the communities of the local area.â€

Stepping into the darkened room of the church her lit a few candle’s, casting a faint glow into one corner of the chapel.

“I travel from village to village in rotation, though I’ve been giving this village special attention. It seems that something strange is going on here.â€

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"Strange you say?" said Rene, stroking his beard and entering the Church. It was, as Henri had said, cool. And the midday sun of souther France was a little over what could be deemed pleasantly hot.

"Well, I am rather fond of strange, myself. Strange, aside from being rather enigmatic and interesting, can often be excellent to paint!" he said, trying a little chuckle to inject some levity into the cool dark church and the cool dark conversation.

"But what say you about this strangeness? do I detect something with a more ominous air? or even malign? please, as a traveller if their is disquiet here, then I should do well for myself and my sister to know of it!"

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“Well I’m not one to gossip…†he leaned forward as if sharing a great secret “But from what I’ve heard strange things have been going on at Hautpoul Manor. The owner Marie de Renne return in ’79 only to find other had occupied the house. It seems that they all reached an agreement as she seemed happy for them to stay.â€

He poured himself and Rene a generous portion of wine, Marianne gave him quite an evil glare at being ignored.

“But recently there have been a large number of men visiting the manor, rumour has it that they are frantically looking for something. As if they are in a hurry to find something before a deadline.â€

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