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Library: The Highwayman: Finale

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Author: neclord
Date:Oct 30 2017

The Highwayman (part 3)



It's been 2 weeks since the masked swashbuckler confronted Captain Vandurant
and his men at the estate of Count Godfrey. The streets have changed much in a
short time. Paranoia is a plague on both sides of the conflict. Guards fear
for their families, as do sympathizers of the resistance. There have been
assaults, even murders on both sides. The dark clouds that have settled in
this town have blocked out any sun, it brings only the cold, damp weather,
that signals hard times to come. The swashbuckler has set up a headquarters in
a tavern, in an alley frequented by thieves, bangtails, and beggars. The
fireplace in the tavern is a welcome change from the bitter wind outside. But
it is in the basement where history is to be made.

The swashbuckler's graceful form stands alone in the middle of the dark cellar
near a wooden table, few barrels are stacked against the wall, probably filled
with ale. The only light in the room comes from a modest candelabra on the
center of the table.  A tall man with graying hair is led down the stairs by a
hooded thug. His clothes are simple farmers clothes, dirt stains on his tan
trousers.  His face shows his age, a man of at least 50. His expression is a
mixture of sadness and frustration. The swashbuckler looks upon him with a
slight familiarity, but he can't seem to place where he's seen him before.

The swashbuckler speaks softly, "Come in, I apologize for the secrecy, but I'm
sure you understand why." 
The man nods and says, "I understand, sir." 
The swashbuckler asks, "What can I do for you then?"
The man replies, "As you probably know, a boy was killed 2 weeks ago, in the
street in front of Godfreys home."
The swashbuckler replies, "Yes, I remember? Did you know him?"
The man replies, holding tears back as best as he can, "He was my son."
Shocked, and unsure of how to reply, the swashbuckler says, "I'm so sorry. Is
there anything we can do for you?"
"Yes." The man replies. "I have come here to pledge my allegiance to the
resistance, my family and I want to do all within our power to fight this
tyrant, and bring my son's murderer to justice."

The swashbuckler is hesitant, for care must be taken when deciding who to
include in the secrets of a revolution, but he remembers that day, and there
is now no doubt in his mind that the man that stands before him now is the
same man that he saw kneeling before the boy that day. 

The swashbuckler agrees, "We will bring his murderer down, together."
As the man turns to leave, the swashbuckler asks, "What's your name, I feel as
if I've seen you someplace else."

The man stops, and stands still for a moment, facing the stairs. He turns to
show tears slowly running down his face. "Vandurant. My name is Michael
Vandurant, and I will have my revenge on my brother, who has taken my son from
me."

The swashbuckler looks as though he's been shot through the heart, his hands
begin to tremble. "I am so sorry, Michael." The swashbuckler then begins to
untie his mask, and slowly remove it to reveal the face of a woman! Michael
instantly recognizes her as the widow of the Highwayman himself. 

"I am Claire Brennan, and I too wish for revenge upon your brother. We will
fight together."


The office of Captain Vandurant is not near as lavish as the count he serves.
A simple desk sits in the center of the small room, the curtains stop any
light from coming in through the only window in the room. The dim room is lit
only by a few scattered candles, one of which sits on a bookcase against the
wall with a mirror hanging over. The captain wears the face of a broken man,
his uniform is no longer immaculate as before. He stares into the mirror,
thinking of his enemies, the highwayman, his widow, his family, himself. His
glass is half empty now. He finishes the glass, sets it on the bookcase, and
takes one more look at himself. Tears begin to well up in his eyes. He wipes
his eyes and walks across the room to the window. Drawing the curtain allowing
a half-light to fill the room. He dons his hat and coat before extinguishing
the candles with his fingers. As he leaves the room he turns around and takes
another look into his office, before locking the door and walking away. 

As he makes his way out of the building two guards are walking a member of the
revolution in chains into the building.
"Another one for the gallows, sir." The guard says to the captain. The captain
looks upon the face of the man in chains. A man in his early thirties, perhaps
with a family of his own. Vandurant doesn't respond, and continues on his way
out. He makes his way to the estate of Count Godfrey the Vile, as he is now
known. 

Vandurant is led through the building to the office of Godfrey the Vile.
Inside the room, the count is posing for a portrait. In the portrait he's
wearing a white doublet and blue breeches, decorated with fine jewels. He has
at his side a rapier, far grander than any he has ever truly owned, or perhaps
even seen.

"Ah, come in, Vandurant." The count motions the others in the room to leave
them.
The count says, "I trust you have good news for me."
Vandurant replies, "Our spies have discovered the location of the headquarters
of the resistance, as well as the identity of it's leader. My sources tell me
that they have already elected members of their own community to take the
place of any judges and councilmen loyal to you once their victory is
achieved."
The count asks, "And who is this traitor that has caused these peasants to
bite the hand that feeds them?"
?It's Claire Brennan. The widow of the Marcus Brennan, the highwayman."
The count, visibly irritated says, "I thought you told me the bitch was dead.
You're not much good to me, are you, Vandurant? You had better finish what you
started with her husband."

"My men are preparing to raid their headquarters and arrest her as we speak."

The count shouts, "Did I say arrest her, Vandurant? I want her head on a plate
in my dining room, as well as her so called councilmen! If she isn't dead by
weeks end, I promise, you will be. Do NOT fail me again. If this rebellion
spreads to the rest of the county, the tax the devil takes from your flesh
will seem mild after what I've done to you!"

Angered, Vandurant vacates the building, looking back one last time before
he's out of sight of the estate of the vile count. He walks the damp streets
toward his office, picking up his pace as it begins to rain. As he arrives at
his office, his men are in formation outside, awaiting his orders.

"Tonight we cut the head off the snake, and we put an end to this rebellion!"

A man in a hood walks up to the captain, and whispers something in his ear.
The captain nods, and commands his men, "We move out now, we finish this
tonight. Two columns on each end of the alley."

As his men march out towards through the city streets, the hooded man gives
him a look of bewilderment. There is a rolling thunder in the distance,
steadily closing in on the city as they pass through. The streets begin to
empty, doors and windows close, and lanterns are blown out. They arrive at the
alley that was once populated by cutthroats and thieves, but now seems as
though a soul has never passed through. The tavern is dark, not even the
fireplace is burning, even on an evening as cold as this one.

The guards surround the tavern, and 2 squads enter the building, turning over
tables and chairs. They search the back rooms with lantern and pistol in hand.
A guard in the back bedroom shouts, "They're not here!" Some in the cellar
relay, "There's no one here!"

Vandurant enters the tavern looking over the ransacked room, descending the
stairs into the dark damp cellar. There is a piece of parchment on the table
with a knife stuck in it. Upon closer inspection, Vandurant sees that it's a
map of the guards barracks, and realizes exactly where on the map the knife
was stuck.

"The armory!"
Vandurant shouts, "We will never get to the armory in time, they will assault
the count's estate next. We must head them off there! We're going, now!"

At the estate, Claire orders her men to be on guard, as they met little
resistance at the armory.

"You men make sure no one enters or leaves this building, I'm going in after
the count. Michael, your brother will soon be here, be careful."

Thunder crashes as the guard arrives and engages the resistance fighters in
the yard. The crack and pop of gunfire and the clang of steel is chaotic. As
men fall, they are carried or dragged out by the younger men. Vandurant is
more than a match with steel against these men, and easily defends himself.
His eyes meet with his brother's, and an enraged Michael lunges at his
brother. The captain's skill with a blade is far superior and Michael is
easily disarmed.

Michael cries to the captain, "You're a traitor! Nothing more than a lapdog to
a tyrant!"
The captain replies, "We are all bound by duty."
"What about your duty to our family, to my son, to me? Where was your duty
when you ordered your men to fire on us!?"
The captain says, "I truly am sorry for your loss my brother, what would you
have done were you in my place? Would you allow yourself and your men to be
killed by a mob? Would you deny their sons and daughter their father? Would
you make all their wives widows?"
Michael shouts, "You bastard! You took my son from me! I will have my revenge,
brother or not!"

Michael grabs his sword from the ground, and violently swings and lunges at
his brother, each attack being parried or dodged by the captain! Captain
Vandurant, knowing that the widow of the highwayman is already in the house,
waits for his brother to lunge, and with ease smacks his sword to the side,
and slashes his brothers leg.

Vandurant says, "You will have your revenge on me someday, brother. Of that I
have no doubt." Before turning, and walking away.


Claire makes her way up the stairs with sword and pistol in hand, she reaches
the top of the stairs to find 2 guards outside the office of Godfrey the Vile.
She fires her pistol at one of the guards as charge her. Through the gunsmoke
comes a guard slashing at her, she jumps backward down the hall just in time
to avoid the guards attack, but loses balance and begins to stumble back. She
swings her rapier frantically to repel her attacker, but to no avail, he
rushes her while she's off balance. In that moment her heart seems to stop,
she knows this is the end, she's come all this way only to fall short at the
end. In the corner of her eye she sees a flash from down the stairs, and as
she falls to her back, her attacker falls next to her, dead. "A lucky shot"
she thinks, as she gets up and runs through the smoke, for the door. 

The door is unlocked, the count knows it will do no good. As she enters the
room, she locks the door behind her. She glances around at the luxurious
decorum of the room. Immaculate, as though the chaos outside is miles away.
Godfrey sits at his desk with an arrogant look on his face. He didn't even
bother to pack and run.
"You truly believed that you would win, count?"
The count rebuts, "My dear, against a commoner such as you, I will always
win."

Claire walks towards the count, she raises her rapier, ready to plunge her
cold steel into his heart, if she can find it. The count smiles, and a flash
comes from under his desk. The bullet rips into her stomach and she
immediately collapses to the ground grasping her gut with one hand and her
sword with the other. She looks up at the count and his desk, only to see the
pistol attached to the underside of the desk.


"You bastard! You coward!" She calls out.
The count stands, and replies, "Hadn't your late husband taught you anything?
The only unfair fight, is the one you lose."

As the count slyly moves around his desk and towards the swashbuckler, captain
Vandurant enters the room.

"Oh, there you are, Vandurant."
Vandurant, looking down on Claire, says, "Yes, I've come to put an end to this
rebellion." He walks over and kicks her sword away from her hand as she grasps
her stomach in pain while cursing both of them.

The count looks to Vandurant and says, "I've already put an end to it, no
thanks to you."

Vandurant picks up Claire's sword and examines it. It seems to be the same
sword that gave him his scar so many years ago, her husband's sword.

"No, it's not done yet." Vandurant says, and without hesitation plunges the
highwayman's sword into Godfrey's chest!

Godfrey steps backward, gasping for air and leans against his desk.
"You traitor!! Why!?"

Vandurant sheathes his sword, and removes his hat and wig, dropping them to
the floor. He doesn't say a word as the life leaves the count's eyes and he
slumps over his desk. Vandurant removes his pistol from his belt. From outside
comes a roar, cheers of victory. The count is dead, freedom prevails. What
guards are left have surrendered and been tied up and marched to the jail.
Footsteps pound up the stairs and towards the office. 

In through the door limps Michael, with several other members of the
resistance.
"He shot her! The captain has shot Claire!"
 
The captain drops his pistol, and the men take aim for him with their own.
"Stop!" Michael says. "He will stand trial for his crimes."
The captain is led out of the house at gunpoint where he is bound and marched
to the jail.
Some men lift Claire up, and as they carry her out of the office towards the
stairs, she looks upon the corpse of the guard that held her life at the point
of his sword.
She utters the words, "It was him?" with her last breath.

Four days after the death of the count, inside a damp, dark prison cell,
chains hang from the walls. Inside the prison is quiet except for the echoes
of the mob outside awaiting the execution of captain Vanderant. 


A voice asks the captain, "You're the one they are shouting for?"

Vanderant replies, "Yes, I am.."


The End


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