This is a multi-part expose detailing the conspiracy to destroy Judge Claude Frollo -- and its aftermath. Please read Back to the Frollo for background on F'Freak's original characters. Or email FSM#14 if you have any questions.
I must've fallen asleep; those few shots of bourbon really did a number
on my head. I had to drink -- I wanted to drink -- to ease the jitteriness
I felt ever since Jehan and Quasi left for the Court of Miracles.
That was early afternoon; it was now well past dusk.
And I hadn't heard from Claude, either. In his last message to me, Claude
said he was joining Quasi and Jehan after his conference with the King.
Now I was truly worried, for I feared that that villainous Jean-Michel
du Champs and his brat, Malus, may have laid a trap for Jehan and Quasi.
Maybe they've threatened to kill Quasi and Jehan...maybe it's all a ruse to get Claude there...with all those gypsies...Lord knows WHAT they will do to him...
And then I thought about Jules, still roaming the streets of Paris, and possibly armed with that gun. Then there was Solange Marchand, who, despite our few brief encounters, I came to love as a sister. Jehan told me she was expecting -- about two months along. She was still missing, and I heard that her husband, Theirry, had arrived in Paris earlier this evening.
Is this a nightmare? If it is, will someone please wake me!
My pager went off when I awoke. Claude? I hope this is good news...haven't heard from you since Jehan and Quasi left...
What scrolled across the screen was partially good, but most was quite disturbing:
My dear Nisha...First, the good news...His Majesty is to give his address to the citizens tomorrow...I am to be reinstated as Minister of Justice...all charges against me have been dropped. Why so soon? A series of recent events hastened His Majesty's plans...I can't go into details now...Darling...Quasimodo has been slightly injured...Jehan's fine...Solange injured...gravely. The Court of Miracles burned to cinders...Jules did that...He is gone again...no where to be found...Jules gave Jehan that weapon...One more thing you should know...Jean-Michel and Malus are dead...I shan't explain now, but...They are out of our lives...permanently...Please hurry to Notre Dame...Quasimodo's asking for you...I love you, Nisha....Claude.
Quasi's hurt? What happened? And Solange has been injured...the Court of Miracles burned...set ablaze by Jules...This is getting too strange by the minute...
"What are you waiting on, girlfriend?" I asked myself out loud. "Claude needs you. Quasi needs you. Solange..."
But what about that gypsy dancer? Esmeralda?
If she was at the Court of Miracles...well...I guess Claude won't have the pleasure of...Jules did that for him. And where's Phoebus? Claude made no mention of his former Captain's whereabouts...
It was a monastery -- dating back to the early days when Christianity
spread to this part of France -- abandoned centuries ago. This structure,
located far from the city, once served as a home for men seeking solitude
and comfort in The Word.
It now became a refuge for scores of recently-homeless gypsies. Their former 'home', the Court of Miracles, now lay in smoldering ruins -- torched by an angry fifteen-year-old boy.
And then there was that woman, armed with a weapon, the likes of which these medieval gypsies had never before seen. Such destruction, such awesome power wielded by one young woman. She came for revenge as well, discharging that awful weapon -- A weapon that spit fire and lead. A weapon that brought instant death to so many.
And many were dead -- either shot to death, or perished in the smoke and flames. The few who managed to escape that inferno were now huddled in this massive, ancient structure. Some suffered minor gunshot wounds; some were wounded more critically, already dying. Others suffered from burns and smoke inhalation. There were two among the survivors; two people who were the original targets of the young woman's, and the boy's, wrath.
The dancer, la Esmeralda, her head and wrist bandaged -- a bullet grazed her head, her hand cut by flying glass -- tended to the more critically injured. Among these people was the Gypsy King -- Clopin.
His injuries were severe in the extreme; it was feared he wouldn't survive
the night. A bullet laid dangerously close to his spine; his legs were
useless. His hair was singed by the fire; his hands blackened from the
"Clopin", began Esmeralda, "where do we go from here?
I mean, it's obvious that Frollo is alive and he'll come after us. Only
this time, he'll finish the job Jules started."
Clopin winced from the pain of his charred hands; his efforts to move his legs were in vain. Esmeralda was right -- the gypsies days were indeed numbered. Claude Frollo was alive; Jean-Michel's plot to dispose of Frollo was thwarted. And, to make matters worse, Jean-Michel's legitimate daughter, bent on revenge, brought her own reign of terror to his people.
Then there was Jules, a mere child, no less -- He brought his own brand of hellfire to the Court of Miracles. For now, it seemed that Clopin had met his match, and was utterly defeated. Then he thought of something else.
"Esmeralda. No one else knows your role in all this, that is, with
the exception of Jules and Solange. But if Jules is anything like his brother,
he's long gone by now. He'd rather flee France than face an angry Frollo.
As for Solange, I feel her family would be more interested in protecting
the d'Acy name, rather than airing their dirty little secrets."
Esmeralda applied soothing herbs to Clopin's burned flesh, saying that there was an outside chance that both Jules and Solange may have perished in the fire. "And don't forget Jehan Frollo and Quasimodo. They may be dead as we speak. Honestly, as far as I'm concerned, Claude Frollo is too grief-stricken to perform his duties. Good! Let him suffer, just as he made us suffer!"
"Let us hope so, Esme", weakly said Clopin. "But there is...are...two more players: Phoebus, and that woman...Frollo's mistress."
Esmeralda, livid at the fact that that "New World b---h, who ruined everything", vowed to have her revenge on Frollo's 14th FSM. But Clopin warned her that the one, sure way to "incur Frollo's wrath is to harm any of his lovers. No, Esme. You must keep up the pretense, for your sake, for our sake. Marry Phoebus; play the devoted wife."
Esmeralda could hardly believe this. "But I don't want to marry Phoebus! I'm not in love with him! I really can't stand that big, oafish..."
Clopin, still trying to move his legs, shushed the gypsy dancer. "Now, now, dear Esmeralda. You will marry the former Captain Phoebus, perhaps give him a baby or two. Present to the people of Paris a picture of the perfect family. In the meantime, we shall spread the word that I have died. It will give me time to recover, and plan my own revenge."
"By the way, where is the noble Phoebus?". asked Clopin. Esmeralda sighed, disappointed and bitter.
"He said he'd be gone all day, looking for work. Phoebus told me
if he's to support a wife and...UGH...a family, he'd need a steady
Clopin managed to smile. "You see, Esme. Your loving Phoebus is already playing the breadwinner. Marry him!"
Esmeralda reluctantly agreed to go along with Clopin's plan: Marry Phoebus, let all of Paris think Clopin is dead, then, hatch another scheme to rid Paris of Claude Frollo. This time, vowed Clopin, nothing will go wrong.
Phoebus de Chateaupers had just wrapped a full-day's work on a construction
site not too far from Paris. He had been searching for work all morning,
ultimately taking a job on the construction of a school.
The foreman told Phoebus that "this is only temporary, though, only to the end of the spring. If you're looking for steady work, you may want to try Chateau d'Arcy. I just heard that their old caretaker has taken ill. It's his heart, you know. M. Andre would hire you on the spot."
Phoebus said he'd look into it. "By the way, what's the story on
the school?", asked the ex-soldier.
"Oh", replied the foreman, unloading fresh lumber, "a couple from the New World is funding this project. Supposed to be a school for orphans."
The foreman laughed, then said, "Can you imagine that! New Worlders with that kind of money! And I wonder why I'm staying in France!" Phoebus laughed as well.
Hmm....New World...maybe if I land that caretaker's job...save enough money...Esme and I just might go to the New World...make a fresh start in a new land.
His thoughts on his upcoming marriage to Esmeralda clouded his mind so, he didn't realize he had just sawed through lumber AND the sawhorse. Oops! Don't want to mess up on my first day! Now...to find a house...somewhere away from Paris. After all, can't raise a family without fresh air and sunshine. She'll love the country....
I walked through the quiet corridors of Notre Dame, silently praying
that Quasimodo and Solange were all right. I was met by the Archdeacon;
his look of utter bewilderment and shock took me by surprise.
"Can you believe it!", he said with astonishment, "Claude Frollo -- Alive! All this talk of poisonings and imposters! The whole of Paris will be in an uproar, what with the King giving his address tomorrow. Not to mention all that has happened this evening."
"Archdeacon", I began, my voice shaking with deep concern. "How's Quasimodo, and how badly is he hurt?"
The Archdeacon told me that Jehan Frollo rushed Quasi back to Notre Dame after the fire at the Court of Miracles. Apparently, the bellringer suffered a minor leg wound. "I've never seen such a wound; it was almost like someone took a hot poker and punctured his flesh. Jehan Frollo showed me the...'bullet'? At any rate, Quasimodo is fine, a bit sore, but fine."
Oh no...Jules DID use that gun...Quasi's been shot... I then asked about Solange Marchand. "Claude said she had been gravely injured."
The Archdeacon emitted a sorrowful sigh, saying, "Madame Marchand has been taken to André d'Arcy's Paris house. She's severely wounded; they don't expect her to survive the night."
At once, I burst into tears. He DID it! That boy did it! Quasi...and Solange...caught in the crossfire...and she may be dying...What Thierry must be going through...the rest of Solange's family. Renée! Does she know everything? And where is Jules...I still don't know about Jules..What's going on?
The Archdeacon comforted me and told me to go on up to the belltower.
"Minister Frollo's up there; he'd wondered when you would arrive."
He then smiled at me, and reassuredly said, "Don't fret, my child.
Quasimodo and Solange are good hands --- God's hands."
I only smiled back and nodded. Then the Archdeacon told me something else, something that I'd, or anyone else, would never hear him say.
"There was a time when Minister Frollo and I were at terrible odds
--- over twenty years to be exact. When he came through that door, I nearly
fainted. But when he and Jehan explained everything to me...I still find
the entire story much too incredible." He then sighed, continuing,
"I'd always wondered about Jean-Michel du Champs. I'd had this deep
feeling that he'd never 'died', as everyone believed. My child, I can tell
you stories about that man, but...I won't burden you with such sordidness."
I smiled again, somewhat relieved that the Archdeacon had believed the conspiracy to destroy Claude Frollo. He then said before I ascended the belltower steps, "To tell you the truth, du Champs was one of the most depraved men ever to walk the streets of Paris."
He changed his mood, laughed, and said, "And I thought Claude Frollo
was a lost cause!" I couldn't help but join in his good humor.
He then said to me, "I couldn't help noticing how much more calmer, how more personable, Frollo's become. That is, since you've come into his life. I have no idea what you are doing, but whatever it is --- It's working!"
Armed with the Archdeacon's words of comfort, I then ascended the belltower steps. I had no idea what to expect.
I was elated to learn that Quasi was truly all right; he embraced me the minute I arrived. "Nisha!", he exclaimed as I returned the embrace. I was also relieved that Jehan was spared injury. But I don't see Claude...where is he? He said he'd be here...
At that moment, Claude came downstairs; he had been on the roof. He told me he had to be alone, what with all that has happened. Claude immediately held and kissed me. "Nisha, my love. Oh, how terrible for you to deal with all this."
I returned his kiss, but there were still too many unanswered questions. "Claude, where's Jules? What's the latest on Solange?" Claude then took something from Jehan; it looked like a parcel. "What is that, Jehan?", I asked, "Something from Jules."
Jehan Frollo replied, with a heavy heart, "Yes. He asked me to take this. There is also a note for you explaining..." Jehan's voice trailed off as he glanced at his brother and said, "Claude, perhaps you should tell Danisha -- in private." Claude nodded, then told Jehan to keep an eye on Quasimodo. "Don't let the boy do too much." Claude then led me to another room just below Quasi's room.
Claude sighed, then handed me the parcel. I opened it, only to nearly swoon --- It was that gun -- and it had been fired!
"Claude. Did he really use this? Did that boy shoot Quasi and Solange? Tell me everything!"
"My love", Claude began. He sat down beside me on the little cot, put his arms around me, kissed me tenderly, then handed me Jules' note. As I read the boy's words, I was more confused:
Dear Mlle. Danisha,
I'm sorry over what has happened. I didn't mean to do such a terrible thing, but I had to..for my own sake. I didn't realize Solange would be caught up in this too. So please forgive me...and I hope Minister Frollo forgives me...for what I did. I'm leaving France...please don't try to find me, for I'll be long gone by the time you read this.Tell Renee that I love her, and that I hope to see her again. She has a new family...she should be happy.Please return this weapon to Jacqueline..tell her I'm sorry I took it. I had no idea the destructiveness of these weapons.Thanks to everyone who's been so kind to me...You, Minister Frollo, Jacqueline, Mme.Fern, the d'Arcys.I hope Solange recovers...I lit a candle for her...and her baby. I must go now..I don't where..but I've got to get away from here..start a new life.
All my love, Jules
"Claude", I finally asked, my eyes wet with tears, "what did he mean? What has Jules done?"
Claude Frollo held me closer; his kisses were more tender. He spoke
gently, as if his very words would break me, like glass. "My Nisha,
my dear sweet Nisha..."
I believed I saw tears in his eyes as he began explaining what had happened at the Court of Miracles.
Claude told me everything: How Jules found his way to the gypsy hideaway; how Solange had followed him; how both Jules and Solange planned their individual vengeance. My eyes grew wide when Claude told me that it was Solange who found that gun, and ultimately used it. Then there was the shooting; Jehan and Quasimodo caught in the crossfire...Jules setting the Court of Miracles ablaze...burning it to the ground...
Somehow, deep within me, I wanted to fight the urge to blot out everything Claude was telling me. Tell me this didn't happen! This is a nightmare, isn't it? How can one man -- that damned Jean-Michel -- cause so much destruction?
The last thing I remembered, at the very moment Claude finished explaining everything, was feeling myself swoon. I soon collapsed in a sea of black velvet, felt a tear-stained face close to mine, and a voice say over and over, "I love you...I never wanted this to upset you...Nisha...I love you."GO TO:The Final Installment An Epilogue will follow.
(c)Copyright, FrolloFreak, FSM #14, 1998