A Man Without Luck

{Earlier that Night . . .}

Night had fallen on Paris and the usually busy streets surprisingly empty. Only one man could be seen walking along the cobbled stoned streets, but no one noticed him. Nay, he wasn't very noticeable in his surroundings.

The man was nothing more than a simple bard, a teller of tales and a singer of songs. He wasn't well known, or exceptionally good at his trade, but he wasn't bad at it either. His name was Pierre Gringoire.

It had been a long taxing day for the bard, and he was being to show signs of fatigue as he passed through the deserted walkways. He hadn't had anything to eat since early that morning, and his stomach had had no qualms about complaining to him.

"Shush now," he scolded impatiently. "Your mumbling won't do either of us any good, now will it?"

His stomach yet again protested, but this time louder.

Pierre frowned, "You aren't going to leave me be, are you?"

His stomach remained strangely quiet for a moment and the poet threw his hands up in the air. "Fie, have it your way! I'll go to the Saint Denis and the Place de Greve and see if Camille has any scraps for her favorite bard before I delight myself with the services of Le Val D'amour. Then shall go to the Port de Paris for the remainder of the night, if that is to your liking?"

When his stomach growled loudly the poet smirked, "I knew you would like that. . . Now feet, follow my lead and we shall be there in the blinking of an eye!"

The Bard picked up his pace, a wonderful destination in mind. Food, a beautiful woman to keep him company, and then bed; it didn't get much better than that.

But Gringoire was in for a surprise, for things hardly ever go as we plan. At least not when there is a fresh gold piece in our pocket and a nice coat on our shoulders.

The Place de Greve was an irregular shaped square that connected to the well-known street, Saint Denis. With a watery quay on one side and the Val D'amour whore house and inn on the other it was a very busy spot. It was boxed in by the bay and was only a hop-skip-and a jump from the Port of Paris and the Cemetery La Condamne. If you were poor, a low life, or wished for carnal pleasures, it was the ideal place to be.

Gringoire made his way to Le Val D'amour where he was a frequent visitor and advisor, with a cheery smile on his lips. Tonight would be a good night.

The poet walked into the brothel and made his way to the counter where a stern looking woman stood, pouring out drinks to the sailors and other types of men that called out to her. Gringoire laid his hands on the counter and put on his most charming smile before he cleared his throat.

The woman looked over at him with a raised eyebrow before she walked over to him.

"If it isn't the Prince of Paris himself," the woman guffawed loudly, using his nickname sarcastically. "What can I do for ya, Gringoire? Come to enough my girls have you? Or is it a stiff drink you're looking for?"

Gringoire laughed pleasantly. "I'm afraid it is neither Camille. I merely wished to be in your virtuous company."

The woman snorted in amusement, "Virtuous eh? Well I suppose YOU would like a girl with no backbone."

Gringoire frowned slightly, "Virtuous doesn't mean weak, Camille."

"In my business it does," Camille countered gruffly before her smile returned. "So Poet, what do you want? I know that it isn't my banter and harsh words."

The Bard tried to look innocent, "Why would I have another reason to visit my favorite Mistress in all of Paris, than to enjoy her company?"

"Come now Gringoire," she chided while pouring another man a stiff cup of ale. "Tell me your business or away with ya."

"Do you have any food left Madame for a hungry man; your favorite Poet?" Gringoire asked. "Or must I go and beg like a waif in the street?"

Camille studied him with a hard, calculating eye, before she pulled out a large pot from underneath the counter. With further inspection the bard saw that it was a stew of some sort: a very disgusting light gray colored stew with random chunks floating around on the surface in a frightening display.

Gringoire visibly gulped and Camille smiled and explained.

"These are the leftovers from dinner."

When the poet still didn't talk Camille continued, "Take it or leave it bard. Beggars can't be choosers ya know."

Gringoire nodded, "Indeed. I suppose you had better pour me out a bowl then, before I lose my appetite."

Camille chuckled as she pulled out a chipped plastic bowl and filled it with the lukewarm substance, before she handed it to him.

Gringoire slowly lifted the bowl to his lips and took an experimental sip. To his surprise it tasted . . . good.

"That is very good," the poet commented taking another long sip. "Surprisingly so. . ."

"Aye," Camille agreed, "Though I couldn't tell you its contents."

"What do you mean?"

Camille nodded towards the far side of the bar-room to a table in the corner. Gringoire followed her gaze and spotted a nasty looking old crone with a tattered old gypsy dress nursing a gin and tonic.

"That old bitty was the one who went and made the soup." Camille shrugged. "She comes in from time to time and does the odd chore for me in return for a bottle of gin or a spare room from time to time. But it's strange. . ."

"Strange?" Gringoire encouraged.

"Aye, very strange. . . She barters for rooms in my Inn on occasion, but she herself never stays there. It's always another gypsy who she brings to stay."

Gringoire did agree that this was strange news, but he wouldn't admit it to the woman. "So she made the stew?"

Camille nodded.

"Gringoire smiled at her and immediately stood, "Thank you Camille. As always, it's been a pleasure."

Camille mockingly bowed to him, "Goodbye Bard, come to see me soon. It's nice to laugh with you now and again."

The Poet bowed back to her gracefully before he walked away from the main counter and approached the old gypsy crone that sat in the corner. As he drew near he could see her large dark eyes come up to meet his.

"May I sit with you?" He asked respectfully.

The old woman looked at him with wary eyes, "I would say no, but then you could have me arrested by the palace guards for any amount of things. . ."

Gringoire grin instantly disappeared and he took the seat next to her, though she still had not consented to his request.

"Please Madame, I am not here to hurt or threaten you."

When the woman still looked skeptical he sighed hopelessly. "I merely wished to give you payment for your services."

The old woman looked confused and lifted an eyebrow at him. "Payment? . . . You would give payment to a Gypsy woman?"

Gringoire smiled gently as he placed a single gold coin on the table top and slid it towards her. "You make a divine stew."

When the woman made no move to take the coin he whispered, "Please take it."

The old woman smiled for the first time since he had sat down, showing that she had no teeth.

"You have a good heart boy, I'll give you that. And I will remember your kindness, but I cannot accept your gift."

Just as she was about to push the coin back to him, another hand snatched the gold piece and pocketed.

Both the crone and Gringoire looked up in surprise to see a very tall man standing above them. He was covered in tatty clothes and a small cap that barely stayed on his very large head. Both the gypsy and bard instantly recognized him as a sailor.

"You have taken something that does not belong to you, sailor." Gringoire stated angrily. "Please return the gold piece to its rightful owner."

The sailor using colorful language spat on the poet. "It's my gold piece now scum."

Gringoire judged the man before him and decided that if it came down to a fight that he would surely loose. So he did the only sensible thing he could do, he slowly stood from his spot and quickly addressed the old crone. "I am sorry, Madame. But it seems that your payment has been taken."

The crone said nothing, and she didn't move. She merely watched.

The poet tried to walk pass the large man, but was stopped by the man's hands on his shoulders.

"Wait scum."

Gringoire felt his stomach drop.

"Do you have more gold on you?"

The Bard quickly shook his head. "Nay. . . That was my last."

The sailor smiled wickedly, "I don't believe you."

Gringoire tried to run, but the man was too fast. Before he had time to really register what was happening, the bard began to receive a severe beating.

Gringoire winced as the man gave him one last kick to the ribs, and went on his way.

The Bard no longer had a penny to his name, or for that matter his lovely patched blue coat. The man had taken everything of value and left him in the gutter in the center of the Place de Greve. Gringoire slowly sat up, moaning in pain.

"You are a fool for waving that gold around."

Gringoire looked up to the voice and saw the old gypsy crone standing several feet away.

"I just- just wanted to pay you."

The crone laughed mirthlessly. "Well, it was a sweet thought, but as I said before not a smart one."

The bard lowered his eyes from the old woman ashamed at the state he was currently in. But looked up when she spoke again, this time much closer than before.

"It was foolish. . . But I am still in your debt stranger. Whenever you need food or drink, or shelter go to the Val D'amour and give Camille my name. I am Old Gypsy Helene. She will take care of you and get word back to me."

The bard was speechless, so the old woman took her leave. Though she called back over her shoulder once more, "Peace be with you, Monsieur. And . . . Thank you."

In that one moment, Pierre Gringoire made a life changing decision. Slowly he stood from the ground and began to follow the path the old woman had taken.

Little did he know that it would lead to The Court of Miracles the secret underground city of the gypsies. But if he had, perhaps it wouldn't have made a difference. Perhaps he would have chosen his fate anyway.

But that is speculation, and as such we must let it lie.

Author's Note:

It's been a while since I updated this story, but it's a very delicate business staying in character and maintaining a feeling for a story. I'm sure you all understand. . . ^^"

Anyway, I would personally like to thank all of your who have read this story so far, for all the faves, reviews and watches! You guys are the best!

But I would like to extent a personal thank you to my newest friend Nikki-Grey She gave me the courage to write this next chapter! Thanks hun!

Please review if you read!

~ Lyn Harkeran