Damasque / Masquerouge
(Baroness Ariane de Troil) (part #2)
This is the second half of our Masquerouge main article.
So you totally should read the first half first.
This section starts right where the previous one ended.
Ms. de Troïl strong-armed the contrite Germain Grandpin into becoming her servant, lest she had him executed for his abuse.
She retained his services as a valet for years. Though she originally just kept him around as her vengeance, they slowly became friends.
By this point, Ariane and Germain were the only living persons on the de Troïl estate. The young lady rounded up what little possessions she had left and put the torch to the small, aged de Troïl keep. Then she left her childhood behind.
She and Grandpin presumably reached Paris in 1618. There, they lived off what was left of the de Troïl heirloom.
In Paris, Ariane randomly met street artist Leonard the Glib-Tongued. But after a short conversation she realised that nobody but her had seen the man.
Louis the Just
De Troïl grew increasingly close to Louis XIII, King of France. Though mostly asexual, the King developed a crush on the baroness after they randomly met in late 1620 or early 1621.
He even gifted her an hôtel particulier in the Marais neighbourhood of Paris . Knowing that she would otherwise refuse, he made if a gift to the de Troïl lineage of Auvergne, for their history of service to the Crown, rather than a personal present.
Since de Troïl became moderately affluent, it seems likely that the King added some minor holdings to her title.
For several weeks in 1621, the baroness and the King were secretly lovers. Though neither had much interest in sex due to their poor childhood experiences, their friendship and need for support and affection eventually went that way.
Still depressed over her childhood tragedies, de Troïl soon broke this relationship. The King left to command the campaigns of the First Huguenot Rebellions .
The royal bastard
However, the baroness was left pregnant, which the spies in the royal house promptly learned.
The spymaster correctly deduced that the reclusive and unambitious de Troïl would keep her offspring a secret. Nevertheless, Marie de Medicis and Gaston d’Orléans (the King’s mother and younger brother) ordered the baroness killed.
All such attempts failed due to the superlative skills of her bodyguard Germain Grandpin.
On the 13th of January, 1622, Ariane de Troïl gave birth to a male royal bastard.
Within minutes, de Medicis’ men burst in and kidnapped the baby. They later let de Troïl know that the baby would be kept alive to ensure her compliance, and that she never was to see the King again.
Covertly handed over for adoption to the Poquelin family, baby Jean-Baptiste would have his own remarkable destiny .
Leonard the Glib-Tongued
Some months later, Ariane had a vision of her brother. The ghost told her to get in touch with Leonard the Glib-Tongued. Thinking that she had become insane, de Troïl complied.
The Glib-Tongued made several accurate prophecies about the life of Ariane’s son. He then convinced her that accepting the mission of the red-masked Sparrowhawk was her destiny, as the ghost of Guillemot had kept telling her.
To help her overcome her depression, the Glib-Tongued had the Baroness join his street theatre troupe. She played the role of the Sparrowhawk. He was a popular character and featured in many of Leonard’s plays ever since Gabriel de Troïl’s exploits.
The actors taught her to disguise her body and her voice so she could play this male role.
Recovering her confidence with the troupe, Ariane made Germain Grandpin her maître d’armesCombat instructor.. Though within months she was ready, she refused to adopt the Sparrowhawk name.
Instead, she invented a new one – Damasque, the crimson-masked.
Ride of Damasque
By 1623, Damasque the champion of justice was a well-established figure in France.
Since the Sparrowhawk had been reported as killed years before, many fearfully assumed that Damasque was his ghost. And nobody thought that the dreaded swordsman might be a swordswoman.
In late 1624 Damasque began clashing with the Spider, a KKK-like secret organisation of reactionary nobles. These employed terrorism to obtain a return to serfdom.
She even prevented them from destroying the whole of the Les Halles Parisian neighbourhood in a gunpowder plot.
Later on, the Spider disguised one of its leaders — a woman, coincidentally — as a fake Damasque. But the real vigilante put an end to this.
Some weeks later, whilst breaking a child-trafficking ring, she allied with Vincent de Paul . This chaplain would later be canonised as St. Vincent de Paul, patron saint of charity.
Two Kings and a half (and a Gascon too)
As Damasque, Ariane became an ally of Louis XIII, who was still fascinated by the deeds of the Sparrowhawk.
The King was well aware that the mask was now worn by another person than the man he had met as a boy. But he did not suspect that the only woman he had ever loved was the famous swashbuckler.
Albeit she had broken off all contact in 1621, Ariane de Troïl eventually restored her friendship with the King in her unmasked identity. Howbeit, they never became as close as they once were.
Another King was Ariane’s friend in both her identities. It was the King of Fools, ruler of the Parisian cours des miraclesKinda like a favela..
This gave Damasque a considerable home field advantage in Paris. Hundreds of beggars and proletarian workers actively supported her.
It is with the help of both these Kings, and of a teenage musketeer named d’Artagnan, that Damasque struck a nearly fatal blow to the Spider. She even exposed its second-in-command as none other than Gaston, Duke of Orléans – Louis XIII’s own brother.
The deeds of Damasque and her allies ruined the Duke’s big plan for establishing a new kingdom for himself in Canada.
A hard rain
In 1625, the infamous Cardinal de Richelieu set up a new trap for Damasque.
This time he hired the grizzled and aged swordmaster, the Condor. A dreaded killer with a long mercenary career in the New World, the Condor was actually Gabriel de Troïl. The old swordsman was still deadly despite his missing arm and eye.
Embittered, considering that his career as the Sparrowhawk had been but a manipulation, and jealous of the popularity of Damasque, the Condor agreed to kill his successor. The first attempt failed, but the Condor demanded a rematch.
Conspirators linked to the Spider insisted on paying him a fortune to kill Damasque. Gabriel took the money. Then he had a messenger take it to Ariane along with a letter, as her inheritance.
However, Ariane had already left her home to meet the Condor in single combat. This time, the Condor prevailed, and seemingly slew her.
Could this be the end ?
A former tomboy, the beautiful Ariane still has a mannish aspect to her – especially around the jaw. Her chest isn’t on the voluminous side, and her voice isn’t particularly feminine, which considerably facilitated her cross-dressing.
The Damasque hood also appears to disguise her voice a bit, as with her predecessors.
She has a good way with words, often sounding theatrical. Like most characters in the Sparrowhawk graphic novels, her speech approximates or even equals an alexandrine meter .
She has an excellent sense of repartee – no esprit d’escalier for Ariane.
After reaching age 22 or 23, the baroness de Troïl practically ceases to age. Much like the famous Diane de Poitiers before her, she’ll remain untouched by time into her 40s, and possibly beyond.
As the baroness de Troïl she usually wears typical noblewoman clothing – almost always a dress. She prefers warm colours – such as reds and yellows.
Fashion connoisseurs will note that this is fairly low-key clothing denoting impoverished provincial nobility. Her simple “page boy” haircut is another big clue about this.
As she spent more time with the King in Paris (Versailles had yet to become a thing), she bought some pricier court dresses.
Some of her dresses are tricked out. She can quickly detach the lower part, under which she is wearing her more practical Damasque pantaloons. However, she can’t wear her weapons belt under a dress, so she needs to put it on after getting rid of her skirt.
As a child Ariane was independent, energetic, eloquent and sharp-tongued.
The big thing in her life were the deeds of the Sparrowhawk. The girl practically worshipped him, and dreamed of marrying him and entering his legend.
Though she was martially gifted and killed her first man in her early teens, it didn’t occur to her that her place therein might be as something else than a good wife.
Ariane remained a passionaria for the cause of wealth redistribution. Being on the lowest rung of nobility (and impoverished to boot) she also suffered from the predations of more powerful and wealthier nobles, and of the Church.
But she fights for the common people, not for herself.
Despite being a noble, she is well-aware of the ghastly condition of the cours des miracles.
Nec deus nec dominus
In some ways she is an anachronism. Her philosophy is closer to aspects of the Enlightenment one that will come to prominence almost a century later.
In modern terms she would probably be called a Left-wing Anarchist or a Marxist.
In particular she rejects religious and societal conformity as tools of domination against commoners. At one point she even defines her stance as “ni Dieu, ni maître” (“(I acknowledge) neither a god, nor a master”). This historically only appeared in 1880 as the signature French Anarchist motto.
Howbeit, she has no problem working with honest clergymen.
Ariane’s steely determination to fight injustice and cruelty no matter what the cost makes her remarkably resilient. She *will* overcome. And as Damasque she is every bit as brave and assertive as the more flamboyant versions of Zorro.
Being hard to truly hurt, she is ready to forgive those who have harmed her. She knows that vengeance and a lack of forgiveness only result in a circle of blood. Sincerely repenting can go quite far with her.
On the other hand, she can be over-idealistic as to the willingness of The People™ to break its chains and so on and so forth. And while she is highly charismatic, she occasionally overestimates that asset of hers.
Damasque will not hesitate to kill armed opponents if necessary. But she usually spares those who cannot defend themselves – unless she came specifically to kill them.
Ariane doesn’t make much effort in protecting her secret identity. In the early Pif Gadget stories, it’s more of a “nobody recognises Clark Kent because he’s wearing glasses” thing.
Even later on, those who deduced a link assumed that she was secretly Damasque’s lover. Since that’s what women are supposed to be.
After the death of her family and before she becomes Damasque, Ariane undergoes months of mild depression. This made her brusque, bitter, and not that interested in self-preservation. She was on a bad guilt trip about Guillemot and even Yvon.
Like her father had hallucinated about Blanche de Troïl for much of his life, Ariane even begun having conversations with Guillemot’s imaginary ghost.
Her friendship and eventual low-key romance with Louis XIII was essential in recovering her strength. But she remained mostly depressed until her first pregnancy.
The kidnapping of her baby destroyed all the progress she had made, until her meeting with Leonard the Glib-Tongued.
During these years de Troïl is almost a recluse, avoiding courtly life as much as she can despite her affair.
Loneliness, depression and alienation played an important role in becoming Germain’s friend. She wanted him under her thumb to make him pay, but that also made him about the only person she could talk with.
“I shall be sister to none, Sire. For I have done far worse than wasting my childhood. My brother died as a sacrifice to my folly, and mayhap my father died by my fault. I am but a bringer of misfortune.”
“This is no vengeance at work, for I am merely resuming my fight for justice and equality.”
“Peace be on your soul, if that may be – for such a judgement I cannot deliver.”
(Manhandling an enemy leader and shoving him into his guards to delay them) “Forgive me for acting in such a cavalier manner, monsieur. But surely we will have another occasion to become better acquainted.”
“To me, my bird !”
“For you are the instigator of foul deeds, a murderer of a most terrible ilk, one who doesn’t deserve to be called a man. And I have come to destroy you.”
(Drawing her sword) “I am angry indeed – irritated enough that I’ll let my sword arm do the talking. As you’ll find, it is quite well-spoken.”
(After robbing a coach) “I shall take away your horses, too, and thus remind you all that you have legs to walk with. Many of my friends don’t.”
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
Damasque (Ariane de Troïl)
These are stats for Ariane once she’s fully active as Damasque.
|Dex: 05||Str: 03||Bod: 04|
|Int: 05||Wil: 05||Min: 05|
|Inf: 05||Aur: 05||Spi: 06|
|Init: 015||HP: 030|
Acrobatics (Athletics)*: 05, Acrobatics (Climbing): 06, Animal handling (Horses, Raptors): 06, Artist (Sewing): 02, Artist (Acting): 04, Military science (Camouflage, Tracking, Demolitions): 03, Thief (Pickpocket, Stealth): 04, Weaponry: 08
Bonuses and Limitations:
Artist (Acting) is Specialised in her Damasque appearance and voice (the APs noted are those of the Speciality).
- Expertise (Outdoors booby traps).
- Familiarity (Military equipment and protocols).
- Headquarters (Expansive – a Parisian hôtel particulier).
- Language (some Latin).
- Mystique (France).
- Pet (Sparrowhawk).
- Schtick (Goonbane, Flashing blades, Paired fencing weapons).
- Misc.: Ariane is minor nobility.
Germain Grandpin (High), Street (Low), the King of Fools (High), Louis XIII the Just King of France (Low, Powerful).
Mistrust, Secret ID, SIA toward Honour, Misc.: Ariane runs into some social limitations as a woman, though with her status it’s not as bad as it could be.
- French-style rapier [BODY 02, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Piercing].
- Parrying dagger (skilled use) [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Descriptors: Piercing ; Note : OV/RV when using the Block Manoeuvre is 1 AP, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 1 AP, Limitation: Blocking bonuses can only be used against melee attacks, and the GM may rule that some weapons are too large for a parrying dagger. It can be thrown in a pinch, since it’s lighter than a main gauche.]
- French-style wheellock pistol (x2) [BODY 03, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 04), Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 01, Drawback: Very Long Reload]. A specialised weapon – Damasque prefers using swords under most circumstances. The Enhance is when using it to club, and has a Blunt Descriptor.
- LEATHER-BACKED CHAINMAIL VEST [BODY 03, Blunting: 03, Enhance (Slashing, Piercing RV): 02 (cap is 08), Miniaturisation: 01, Power Loss (Blunting drops to 01 against non Slashing/Piercing damage), Stealth penalty 1/2, Partial coverage (Vest). This vest can be hidden under clothing but it is hot and heavy, and is only worn when Ariane has a specific plan requiring it.]
- A good horse with such useful equipment as dozens of metres of robust ropes, one or two grappling hooks (often padded to make them less noisy), gunpowder, a self bow with a full quiver, etc..
|Dex: 04||Str: -4||Bod: 01|
|Int: 01||Wil: 01||Min: 01|
|Inf: 01||Aur: 00||Spi: 02|
|Init: 008||HP: Shared|
Claws: 03, Flight (Winged): 06, Sensory block (Sight): 04, Shrinking: 05, Telescopic vision: 06
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Claws can only be used at full APs on targets with an unprotected face. It drops to 02 APs if directed at unprotected arms, and 00 APs if both arms and the face are protected.
- Sensory Block is Combined with Claws, but only if all 3 APs of Claws can be used.
- Sensory block might become permanent (GM’s call).
- Shrinking is Always On and already factored in (giving the sparrowhawk an OV of 09 in flight, possibly rising to 11 with full Flight APs).
Charisma (Intimidation through high-speed fly-by): 04
Lightning Reflexes, Sharp Eye, Schtick (Goonbane).
Bird of prey.
Source of Character: Les Sept Vies de l‘Epervier and Masquerouge graphic novels. This covers all events until 1625 – data from later graphic novels isn’t taken into account.
Helper(s): Darci, Peter Piispanen.
Writeup completed on the 23rd of February, 2015.