Shattered Soul

Dom Claude Frollo had always hated the Feast of Fools, and it put him in the worst of moods. Of course, he had to attend, being the lofty public official that he was. Someone had to be there to remind the lower classes that they may have their fun, but there was a line that had to be drawn somewhere, and Frollo was there to ensure that if that line was crossed discipline was enforced before things got out of hand.

He dragged himself reluctantly from his bed, away and from the warmth of his bedcovers, and slipped the dark robe over his head. Outside, the sun hadn't yet deigned to grace the world with its presence, yet the festivities had already begun. Children were laughing and tumbling down the streets underneath his window. Dogs barked as they ran down the cobblestoned streets, baying and howling. Somewhere in the midst of the din, a faint jangling of a tambourine could be heard. And the day hadn't even begun yet.

"Heathens," he muttered, shoving the black curtain aside and allowing a brisk breeze to drift lazily into the room. The sky, though not yet light, had already begun to turn faintly pink, a signal of the approaching dawn.

Filthy heathens, all of them. Thieves, cutpurses, the dregs of humankind! He had told Quasimodo earlier in yet another failed attempt to explain to the boy about the evils and the sheer folly that came along with the Feast of Fools. It was the one day where respectable business owners were forced to close up shop for the day, and the streets were practically impassable with vendors selling their wares, sweet breads and strings of sausages, all delicacies to be enjoyed by Paris's population as they laughed and danced randomly in the streets. Instruments were tunelessly strummed and blown, temptations were around every corner as whores from every corner of the earth crawled up to seek a little good business. The only thing that made the entire holiday even worse was the fact that it was legal.

Frollo finished dressing, setting his triangular chaperon on his head as a final touch. There were no mirrors in his room, mirrors being the source of all that grew into vanity, so he couldn't check his appearance. But he was certain it was suitable.

With a reluctant sigh, he placed his hand on the cold iron handle of his door, and pushed it open.

It was going to be a long day.

*-*-*-*-*

"Captain…"

The voice was so distant, Phoebus wondered if he had actually heard it.

"Captain…!"

Closer, this time, but dismissed the same as before.

"CAPTAIN!"

Phoebus whipped the dagger out from under his pillow, as instinct had trained him to do. The maneuver had saved his life on more than one occasion, but at this particular time, served as something of an embarrassment. His terrified squire leaned over the bed, eyes wide, and unsure of what to do now that the edge of his captain's blade was biting into the soft flesh of his throat.

Phoebus sighed, and replaced the knife. "Don't you know better than that?" he asked, rubbing his eyes. "You can't startle me like that! I could have easily killed you."

The squire rubbed his throat, and nodded pointedly. "I've been trying to get you up for a half hour, captain." He said apologetically. "The Minister of Justice has been waiting on you…"

"Merde!" Phoebus swore, throwing off his covers and dashing for his clothes. "Condamnez-le tout! Don't just stand there! Get my armor!"

The squire scrambled to obey, and Phoebus began the process of dressing as quickly as humanly possible. Rien! His first week on the job and he was already late for a damned escort job! The Minister was going to have his head for this royal blunder.

The squire brought his armor, and Phoebus began hurriedly putting it on, fumbling with the straps that held everything together. First, it was too tight, then it was too loose – there was no happy medium and he was running out of time.

"Hold still," the squire hissed. "The Minister has waited this long, I'm sure he can wait a couple more minutes. He's in no hurry to get there anyhow. Besides, you're no use to him without this." He shoved the golden helmet on the captain's head, effectively shutting him up for the time being.

Once fully equipped, Phoebus dashed out the door, having forgotten how hard it was to really run in armor. Perhaps the worst thing they could have done for him was summon him home from the wars. His instincts were honed to a deadly edge, but they had been dulled lately due to the long lazy days and the catching up on many years missed sleep. In the week he had been there, little had been required of him or his services. Things had remained blissfully humdrum.

It seemed like today was going to be the most excitement he had had thus far or was going to have for another month or so. At least, he thought cheerfully, there was one thing a festival never lacked, and that was women. Lots of women and lots of ale. If he could slip away from the withering disdain of the Minister for five minutes, he might actually enjoy himself.

*-*-*-*-*

Frollo glanced up as the sound of armored feet came crashing down the hallway. The dimwit was an hour and forty-five minutes late. Frollo didn't wish to prolong the impending migraine anymore than necessary. He would just rather go, and hope things quieted down as soon as God allowed. At least get it over with.

What Phoebus had referred to as his withering disdain was now turned full-force on the young captain. Phoebus flinched underneath the glare and came to an abrupt halt, throwing his arm up in the air as a salute. "Captain Phoebus, reporting for duty as ordered, sir!"

"Good morning, captain." Frollo replied scornfully, placing the tips of his delicate fingers together. "How good of you to at last grace us with your presence."

Phoebus's face flushed dark red, and stepped forward towards the door, thrusting it open with some authority and gesturing for the minister to go first.

Frollo swept his robes up in one hand, lifting them off the ground and then gliding past the captain, his Aquiline nose in the air and the ribbon of his chaperon snapping in the crisp morning breeze.

Muttering something to the effect of a prayer, Phoebus slammed the doors to the Palace shut.

***Hello, everyone, I have returned. :D I couldn't keep my grimy hands off this place for long. Mehehe***