Primary Persona Name
Baron Jean Paul Ducasse
Awards and Honors
Court Baron with Grant of Arms, Order of the Golden Rapier, Queen's Honor of Distinction (Roxane III), Award of Arms, Order of the Sapphire (Concordia), Order of the Pine (Concordia), Order of the Ram's Horn (Concordia), Order of Friends (Concordia), Past King's Rapier Champion, Past Rapier Champion of Concordia of the Snows
Roles and Activities
Rapier fighter and marshal
Local Branch
Rapier Company
Maestro Corps de Coeur
Company Rank
Captain
Mentoring Affiliations
Former cadet: Don Caine Ramsey
Cadet: Isabel Chamberlaine
Student: Lord Seamus Maguidhir

Jean Paul is a former cadet to Don Pierre de Tours.
Other Affiliations
WOTOG, Stormguard, friend of Tadcaster Militia
Entered SCA Rapier
August 2000
Favorite Rapier Forms
Everything but dagger
Personal Information and Commentary

I'm attempting to get more into period leather making and leatherworking, but that is more a hobby than a pursuit.

Primary Persona Story/Info

"I mean no harm, I only wish a simple conversation", I said in an octave twice as high as my normal voice.

I have made an observation in my few short years -- one that I believe to be quite accurate -- that when sharpened steel is placed directly on top of a throat, inevitably the affected throat will produce a voice that will raise by at least an octave.

You see I found myself on the receiving end of this observation while making the previous comment. Ah, I see that I should start anew and bring you to the beginning of my tale. That way this part of my tale should then begin to make sense to you. I know only what my limited years and experiences have taught to me, but I shall endeavor to pass these pearls along to you.

I was born in Gascogne, somewhere near the city of Bayonne, France, during the summer I think. As to what year of your Lord I do not know. Through some rather judicious arm-twisting and bribery I found out sometime later that my father was none other than Lord Jean Phillipe Cassť, a rather high-ranking and influential man in that humble little corner of France. I know not who my mother was, as I was left upon a doorstep to fend off the elements and the world on my own. Then the door opened.

In the long run, I can look back and say that it was a good childhood. Compared to some that I have seen or heard of, that is. I was given mainly into the care of Brother Michelle, but the entire monastery was responsible for my rearing. The monks were stern but fair in their upkeep of the monastery, and in my upbringing as well; assigning me chores in exchange for food, shelter and education. I knew work, and books. This taught me some of the values that I still carry with me to this day, as it does seem to trade fair. I gave them the strength of my back and they gave to me the strength of my mind.

This accord lasted until what the monks told me was my sixteenth summer with them, when I was asked by Brother Michelle to help carry supplies for him to the tourney that would be at the local field in four days hence. We were to stay in attendance at this "display of manly skills", so we could issue last rights should one of the knights fall.

It was there that I met with the traveling Heralds. I became mesmerized by the colors that they wore, the respect that was lavished upon them, and of course by the weight of their purses. When I queried Brother Michelle about both them and their profession, I was shocked to find out that anyone could become a member of the royal college of Heralds, and that this art wasnít restricted to France alone.

Looking back I think that Brother Michelle knew then and there, that I would be lost from then hence to the monastery. I received mixed blessings as I passed the gates, for what would be my last time, and apprenticed myself to the College of Heraldry. It was shortly thereafter that I learned that illusions could be very tempting indeed. I soon found out that this traveling band that I had signed on with was in fact quite poor. They were paid commission per tournament, and generally only a few silver for their vast knowledge of the land and its nobles. While at tourney they would break out clothes that they kept wrapped up for just such occasions, and as for their purses, they were mostly laden with small river stones and a few copper to complete the illusion. It really mattered not to me though, as I was learning a valuable trade and seeing France in the bargain!

This happy traveling bliss, as I now call it, came quickly to an end twelve seasons later when bandits set upon our small band. They made quick and efficient work of our small-unarmed troupe. All save for Francis and myself were slain then and there in the woods we traveled. Not to say that we were uninjured, only that we managed to play dead very convincingly. From that attack I still bear a scar upon the length of my left forearm and a right knee that will never bear its load normally again due to a rapier thrust. Other than the mental shock, and the above-mentioned reminders, this is all I carried forth from that attack. I still had a sharp mind and a working will, and I think it was these that pushed me forth most of all. Francis however was not quite so fortunate. His wounds were worse than mine were, as he had managed to obtain a slash to the stomach. I tried to tend to it as best I could but, alas; the fever took him, and deathís grasp was much tighter than my own. He passed on four days travel from where the original band fell.

I buried him there in the woods, in a shallow grave I dug with bare hands, somewhere between Niort and Aunis, never to again return to that accursed wood.

Somehow, quite some time later, I managed to make my way to Aunis, only to find out that the bandits that had attacked us were very busy men indeed. You see, I was now a wanted man since I was the "sole survivor" of the attack; and as my past was unknown, I must have done it. It was some sound thinking on the part of the local officials.

Of course the truth is that the bandits must have had one person amongst them that knew their letters. I can say this because I later came to find out that I was being sought after because nobles who were away at tourney were now having their households robbed. And who could have that kind of knowledge other than a Herald? Never mind the fact that I was cut, thrust, beaten and starved -- I was out and about ten leagues to the east and merrily robbing a nobles house three days before. The officials kindly explained to me that I was in my condition because I was set upon outside the city before my arrival, and that I was trying to weasel my way out of justice.

I was officially on my way to the headmanís block now.

That is, until the eve before my stinking cellmates and I were to be put to death. A "friend" to another one of my assumed colleges in detainment came and performed a jailers execution. I afterward came to realize that this was the fate to come for the man who lost us. Having nowhere to go and not knowing what to do, I left the city that night to roam the land for a while. Proceeding south, I came to Nantes on the Loire River just north of Bourdeaux. From there, since I was now considered an outlaw, I decided I had better learn how to act like one, and quickly. I set forth to the docks and hired myself onto the first unsociable merchant ship that I found. Five years I sailed with that boat: "The Conqueror's Shadow" by name and "The End of Days" to those she took while at sea. Captain Jacque treated me with measured indifference for the duration of my stay, but clearly took sides in a dispute that I had with one of the men over the ownership of a money pouch that happened to fall off of my belt.

You would be genuinely surprised to learn, if you didnít know it already, that justice, more often than not, is for sale and sometimes quite affordable, considering the alternatives.

I was put to shore in La Rochelle shortly thereafter, along with a long wooden box about the size of a man minus his head. It was then that I met Captain Pierre de Tours, a foreboding man with a quiet voice that drew every ear in its range. I happened to overhear a conversation that I shouldn't have -- creatively hearing from behind the hanging nets -- when I felt a familiar sensation in the small of my back: that pointy kind of "I think I just backed into a sword" sensation. I had apparently picked the wrong group of people to scrutinize.

Bindings are a simple thing to slip if one has the proper motivation; which at this point in time, I most definitely had. I was now kneeling beside the Captain and staring up the length of a beautiful rapier, the like of which I had never seen. The Captain was answering a few questions from the crew concerning the disposition of my future residence. The woman behind the sword that caught my gaze was claiming that since she had found me, she should be able to keep me until I proved to be completely useless. The others were claiming that I should now be residing at the bottom side of the docks, accompanied by a large rock and some rope, and that the only people who were worthy of my company were barnacles. It was about this time that I managed to slip the ropes that had been obligatory. To this day I cannot clearly recall the events of the next handful of minutes, but from the retelling of it from my shipmates, I was like a greased piglet -- catch as one can. What I do recall is standing with my back pressed against some crates, rapier in hand, standing in amazement and panting like an old sea dog in a whore house.

I think to myself sometimes that it really would have been a good idea to die then and there, because it was right around then that the Captain himself raised his hand and stopped the crew from further attack. The crew ceased their pursuit of me and began to back away to make more room for what was about to happen. I have seen many men fight in my day and knew at the time some of the more simple methods of fighting and a lot more of the fighting dirty. I knew without a doubt in my mind, however, that I was going to be in real trouble when I saw the Captain remove his shoulder cloak and step forward.

He only said two words: "My sword", but in a voice that was easily accustomed to command, a voice that knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that when he spoke you would act.

I think that it was just the method of delivery that made me reverse the blade and hand the weapon back to him, head bowed and muttering mixed apologies. The power of his movement, the bearing of his stance, as well as his obvious intellectual superiority was clear, this was not a man to be trifled with. But in the same instance you could see that there was no magic to it; here was a man that led through respect, one who would not ask a task of you unless he were willing to do it himself. By the looks of it, he had already led the siege on the gates of hell, won the battle, and returned because hell was boring.

Sometime later, with some grand aching and a throbbing head, I awoke to the sound of creaking wood and ropes. Something in the back of my mind knew that sound and knew it well. Then it hit me. I was aboard a ship! Thus began my tenuous tenure aboard the Free Ship Firedrake. I know not how or why my life was spared, but I was alive!

I of course began my journey with them at the lowest of rungs of the mast, and had to prove myself, prove that I would be a good addition to this tightly woven band. I do think that one of the key turning points in the struggle of gaining membership was during a supper with Tristan, the ship's Sergeant of Arms. While at a meal of freshly caught crab and noodles he was sharing with a small group of us he had mentioned that this would be so much better with some cheese added into the mixture. Without a word, leaving my dirk and pouch at the table, I stood and left the room. I entered the same door again some ten minutes later and proceeded to unwrap a small wheel of cheese from a cloth and crush it on his meal. Still exchanging no words and sitting in the same seat again, I resumed my own dinner. I did catch a nod and smile from him out of the corner of my eye.

Some two years passed and there were ample opportunities to leave and never return, but I had actually grown quite fond of them and I think that in their own manner many of them had actually taken a liking to me. I had begun to learn how to handle and care for a sword properly, as well as some of the more interesting weapons aboard the ship. It was right around this time, sailing in the northern reaches of British waters, that repairs became necessary. We continued north for some time until we made it to Scottish waters, safer waters, and put ashore in Edinburgh, just out of reach from British law. From the rail of the ship I saw her - a woman of radiant beauty in its entire splendor! What a glorious creature that she was, she tossed her head to remove a strand of red hair that had strayed from its confines, and I caught a glimpse of the porcelain skin that was akin to the marble sculpture of Venus herself. I knew that my destiny was to be with this woman from first sight. Captain Pierre having seen this look before or having been through it himself at some time hit me with the flat of his sword on the backside to break me from my reverie.

"Go get her lad, but be careful: ladies don't freely come to the docks, unless they know how to handle themselves," he said with a nod and a wink.

Blushing at the obviousness of my longings to be within this womanís presence, I bowed my head in thanks and ran for the gangplank. What would I say, what would she or how could she see anything in a common rogue like myself. Still, while a thousand such thoughts whirled in my mind, fate drove my feet on to bring me to within twenty hand-lengths of her. She finished her purchase and turned and met my eye for the first time. I was mesmerized, and nothing in the world could have prepared me for those eyes. Perfect amber orbs, surrounded with a halo of the deepest sea blue, proved then and there that heaven had lost an angel, and that she was now walking amongst us.

"May I help you?" was her response to my gawking stare.

"I..." I stuttered gutturally.

There were no words. For the first time in my life, I had no words.

She chuckled under her hand. "I see: a mute. Here are a couple of copper to help," she said while pressing the coins into my hands. "May you fair well my mute friend."

She then turned about and began to leave.

"I only wish a simple conversation," I called pathetically after her.

She kept walking as if she had never heard, and in agony I turned to go back to the ship only to see almost the entirety of the crew standing at the rail!

"Bugger me," I thought to myself, "this couldnít be more perfect for them if I tried."

It was then that I saw Captain Pierre standing amongst them, making a very simple waving motion with his hand, as if to say Go get her. I knew that the ship would be there for several more days and that the repairs were slow-going, and there really was nothing for me to do there, so with that in mind I turned and began to run after my Aphrodite. Much to my consternation I arrived up the road in time to see her enter a carriage and begin moving up the road. Running as fast as my sea legs would carry me, I managed to grab hold of the back rail of the carriage and sit for a comfortable jaunt to her home. Hopping off shortly before we actually reached her abode, I hid in the bushes and scouted the balance of the house to try and determine which window would be hers. The selections were greatly diminished when I saw laced curtains in a window and flowers on the sill of a window at the back of the estate. Waiting until dusk, and the glow of candle light in the room, in anticipation of the right moment, made sitting in the briar bushes more bearable. Once these conditions were met I could proceed up the column and woo her from within her own room.

It seems that nothing goes according to plan.

Dusk came and went, and night was full upon me when at last light appeared in the window.

Feeling that my time might be short, I proceeded to my planned route of ascent. Reaching the window, I peeked over the ledge and saw nothing, so I pulled myself into the room to look about.

It was then that a blade was placed firmly on my neck, and a whisper came to my ear: "State your business here, or.." and at the pause the pressure of the knife increased dramatically, drawing a small stream of blood. Despite the blood seeping into my tunic, I became acutely aware that she had drawn our bodies together to gain better leverage on the knife.

"I mean no harm, I only wish a simple conversation," I said in an octave twice as high as my normal voice.

While sailing aboard Firedrake, I have learned some valuable lessons concerning the arts of threats, and combat. Primarily that there are four rules that one should always adhere to. Number one, as I have stated before: nothing, no matter how well planned, goes according to one's plans. Number two: be quick on your feet and ready to improvise by the seat of your breeches, because rule number one is always in effect. Number three, as rule number one is always in effect: have a backup plan. And finally, rule four: see rule three, and proceed instantly to rule two, as the backup plan will go awry as well.

Not wishing to harm this woman in the slightest, but having been taught some of the more advanced methodology of hand to hand combat by now, I determined that this was not a good position for me to be in for a tÍte-ŗ-tÍte. Slowly I began to raise my hands, showing that I had no weapons in hand, and that I meant no harm. It was then I began to feel the blade at my throat quiver, and I am sure this is the first time that she had ever found herself with a manís life at her disposal. This was the moment that I had been waiting for, the sign of weakness that would allow me a chance to escape.

With my hand still open, I hooked my thumb along the inside bend of her wrist in a lightning movement, and pushed the offending steel away from a rather vital area. As this was happening, I gave a small shove backwards with my hips to produce some more room between our bodies; once this was achieved I ducked the wrist that still held the knife and took a step away, finally twirling to face my opponent.

I saw, in a rather short period of time, a varied range of emotions cross her face. Almost at once there was shock, curiosity, admiration, and seething anger. Unfortunately it was the last of these that remained on her face after my escape was completed. She was obviously expecting an attack of some sort, as she leveled the blade back at me; but looked rather stunned that I was not willing to fight. To prove this I calmly stood there and dabbed at the wound on my neck with a handkerchief to still the blood flow. With a throaty growl she stepped forward. Not ceasing in my efforts to calm the lesion on my neck, I deftly pulled in my midsection to avoid being eviscerated, as she took a swipe at my stomach, and leaned back as she redoubled to slash at my face.

Seeing that my tactics of peace were not going to work, I waited for the next attack to come. Right on time, she lunged for my chest. Reacting exactly as I had been taught, I made a grab for the weapon as it came to bear, and soundly missed. Again I refer to rule number one, as she quickly reversed the knife and managed to almost break my nose with the upper-cut that had the effect of a sledgehammer, thanks to the pommel nut of the dagger. She stepped back with a smile. I could see that she plainly knew that she won the round. This woman had had some training at hand-to-hand combat. The classic feint that she had just duped me with was more than enough proof for me.

"I still only wish a simple conversation," I said, holding my palms out and ignoring the throbbing pain I had on my right cheek.

Still holding the dagger level, she made no overture to cease this contention that we were currently having. Plainly seeing that I would have to make the first true sign of piece, I moved my hand to the side of my belt and released my own dirk. Seeing that I was going for my own weapon, she tensed. Removing the blade slowly from its confines, I brought it to bear on what normally would have been a deadly opponent; but when I had reached the apex of the turn, I flipped the perfectly balanced weapon, and nimbly caught it by the blade.

"Next time when you use a feint like that, use this one, it will hurt much more," I said while offering up my only visible weapon.

With quick hands, akin to a starving street child grabbing for bread cooling on a sill, she snatched the proffered instrument. Her face showed some surprise when she began to examine the weapon a little closer, as she realized the reason for my last comment. All around the pummel nut, had been placed small spikes, each one a weapon in itself. Instantly she saw that this would have the capability of shredding flesh much like a cat's claws.

"Why?" she asked with the balance of the question clearly visible in her posture.

"Would I give you my only visible weapon?" I finished the question for her, after a pregnant pause.

"Yes," she replied, visibly relaxing for the first time during this encounter, but still ready to react.

In a quiet and even tone I replied, "I told you several times already, I only wish a simple conversation."

After a moment, with my previous statement in mind, she erected herself from the fighting stance that she had maintained throughout the duration of our discourse, and turned her back to me. She calmly walked to the end table that stood next to her bed and placed both knives there.

Heavily she sat on the bed and heaved a great sigh that seemed to come all the way from her toes. "I donít suppose that youíre related to any noble families, are you?" she inquired with a certain amount of mocking in her voice.

Now it was my turn to be truly perplexed, "Why?" I asked with a voice oozing of curiosity.

She began to regale me with the tale of her life: how, as a child, her mother had died shortly after her birth from consumption. The tale of her father sending her here to live with her uncle, so that her father could spend more time searching for his next bride at court. Of her learning to fight from her cousin and that he had been required by his father to enter the military, much as his father had required it of him. That in a period of two short months she was to be wed to a man that she had never met, a marriage arranged by her father. And that she longed only to run away and live her own life as she saw fit. That no one should control another's life.

The night crept by and I scarcely noticed the time pass, sitting there and listening to her story. Finally, with dawn's light breaking the night's grasp on the land, I became aware of the sounds of the house as it began to stir for the day's activities.

"I have to leave now," I said with genuine displeasure. "I cannot remain in your home and be discovered; it would only cause trouble for the both of us."

"Will you come again tonight?" she asked.

With deepest sincerity I replied, "All of the British Armada could not keep me from you, should you ask me to come and call on you again."

"Come again this evening," she said with a note of excitement in her voice.

"I will," I promised, "but right now I have a long walk ahead of me to get back to my ship."

Before I was about to step from the window she stopped me with a hand on my arm. "One thing you said still perplexes me. You said before you gave me your knife: Ďmy only visible weaponí. What did you mean by that?" she inquired.

Sitting on the sill I shook my head. I pried the top of my boot from my calf to reveal to her the dagger hidden there, lifted my sleeve away from my wrist to show a small blade strapped to my forearm, and showed her the stiletto concealed under the bottom edge of my tunic. And finally, I showed her the small silver flask of liquid courage that I carried in the opposite boot on the inside of my calf.

"I have more, but I will only use those in real emergencies," I said, with a little grin.

"Blades or booze?" she asked with a small chuckle.

"Yes," I replied and climbed out the window.

For nights I came and went freely from the ship to her house and back again. All the while I cherished the moments that we had together and longed to be with her when I was not.

Standing at the rail of the ship, awaiting dusk so I could leave and be again in my lady's presence, it happened.

"Weíll be sailing at mornís light," said the Captain, coming up silently behind me to break my daydream.

The stricken look on my face, when he saw it, must have said it all.

Because I had confided in my captain the tales that my lady had told me, asking for his guidance, he said, "So you had better make sure that she is on board, if you donít want her to marry the jackal that her ass of a father has selected."

That was it. I would take her with me and never have to worry about not being with her again! Turning to face my captain, I said with the deepest gratitude possible, "Thank you."

He just smiled, turned and walked away, merrily whistling a sea ditty all the while.

So now you know my tale.

I guess all of my rambling words are leading up to the reason behind this letter.

I write my tale to tell you only that the fair maiden of whom I fondly spoke of before has been, "kidnapped", and is now residing aboard the Freeship Firedrake.

We are in love.

And with luck will be wed, as she has accepted my proposal.

I have but one question.

Brother, now Abbot Michelle, the man who raised me from infancy. Who always watched my steps while I was young to make sure that I walked the path that was straight and true, I hope that the tale of my days since I have left your care has not been too large of a disappointment to you. As I have always striven to be the man that I thought you expected me to be, and remembered our time together fondly.

I would be greatly honored if you would perform the ceremony.

We should be arriving in Gascogne early in the autumn, and you can give me your answer in person.

Until that time, may the sun shine brightly on all of your days, and may you always have a strong breeze to fill your sails.