Dear readers, tonight with us is a French Hussar from the Napoleonic Wars, who found out that there are worse horrors than facing Wellington in battle. He’s here to tell, in his charmingly French way of speaking, about his adventures.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
D’Bois is a child of the forest, and was most fortunate to grow up in the Ardennes and even luckier that it was the French rather than the Belgian part, non, or Lieutenant Colonel Gaston d’Bois (retired) would be a different man entirely! Mon Dieu, you could not wish for a more idyllic playground, the wooded glades were my play pen, the trees my climbing frame, the birds and the beasts my teachers, and d’Bois learned many of the most important lessons in life underneath that idyllic canopy.
Did you have any cherished childhood memories?
D’Bois was born to be an hussar, a formidable rider, swordsmen, crack shot and lover, although he is equally a most ‘umble and modest man. Yet it was almost before he could walk that he began his lifelong love affair with the cheval—the ‘orse as I believe you Anglais types term them. D’Bois took to the saddle like he was born there and his père schooled him in the virtues of ‘unting, shooting and swordplay, so he was perfectly prepared for the horse soldier’s life which destiny had chosen for him.
What do you do now?
Alas, d’Bois is long in his dotage now, but the fire still burns, even if it produces more smoke than flame nowadays! Mais, but he is passing the time, in between pursing the delightful if ever elusive widow, by recounting his adventures in Napoleon’s grand armee to a journaliste Anglaise. Normally, these are the most despicable of low life types, who d’Bois would not hesitate to horsewhip on sight. Yet this one seems a decent fellow, enraptured by the many strange occult adventures that befell d’Bois during his time in Napoleon’s armee, as well as being most liberal with the cognac.
What can you tell us about your adventures?
D’Bois’ eyes were first opened to the strange truths, otherworldly creatures and perilous gods which underpin our so-called normal reality in his first great adventure of The Crystal Void, where he joined the mysterious Major Seraph to rescue the love of his life from the clutches of the nefarious Maquis Da Foz and his hideous underwater allies. Next came the strange affair of the Feast of the Dead, where d’Bois’ had the singular ‘onour of leading his Imperial Majesty’s XIIIth Death’s Head Hussars in his first independent command, while encountering a strange race of underground carrion eaters in a most singular and deadly engagement! Both are collected in one formidable volume!
What was the most terrifying thing in your adventures?
As an hussar, a soldier, and a Frenchmen, d’Bois has seen unnatural terrors and the face of dark gods which would turn a normal man’s mind into gibbering jelly. Yet he would say, that the scariest thing an old soldier faces is his lost amis, comrades in arms, friends, lovers, who have been cut down by the cruelest of all foes, time itself.
Tell us a little about those friends.
D’Bois counts himself fortunate to have met many formidable men and women during his years of service, including the Marshals of the Grand Armee, men like Soult, Bernadotte, and Massena.
He has even been acquainted with the likes of the Fer Duc Wellington, and of course he had the highest honor of knowing his Imperial Majesty, Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Yet it is comrades and amis like the sorcerer Major Seraph and the beautiful but deadly Mademoiselle Brockenhurst whom d’Bois remembers most fondly. And of course Sergeant Sacleaux, d’Bois’ NCO, bagman and constant companion who eventually became like a frère to ‘im. Forgive an old soldier as he wipes a tear from his eye, and remembers his former comrades, many long gone…
Any romantic involvement?
Well, d’Bois is an hussar and a Frenchmen to boot, and he has also the most magnificent moustaches and cadenettes, so It would be cruel to deny the fair race of women the bounty of his passion, non? But despite his many dalliances, amours, and affairs during his years on campaign, in his ‘eart he has always remained true to Odette d’Hiver, his first love who did him the singular honor of becoming his wife.
Who are your sworn enemies?
Ah, Mon Dieu, you shall know the worth of a man by his enemies and d’Bois’ have been both numerous and formidable! From those undersea fiends, sometimes called the Deep Ones, to flesh eating ghuls, fiendish fungi from Yoggoth, strange demi-gods and deities and even the fearsome great old one, Cthulhu himself, d’Bois has faced them all with courage in his heart and steel in his hand. Yet he has always found it is man himself who is the most dangerous of monsters.
What do you do away from the heat of battle?
D’Bois has a life-long love of horses and rides every day, but in his dotage, he has attempted to cultivate his feeble mind by reading Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac and especially Alexandre Dumas whose Musketeers he has enjoyed immensely. Poets however make his brain hurt, though, for he is a man of action, not of letters. He is also partial to a glass of vin rouge and a habitual smoker of the bitter cheroot.
What does the future hold for you?
D’Bois has just begun to recount the third great adventure of his life to the journaliste Anglais, where his eyes were first truly opened to the web of a vast conspiracy which was spun by both mythos creatures and evil men which was the true cause of much of the terrible wars which gripped Europe during the reign of his Imperial Majesty (who was in truth a most peace-loving and cultured man). This third volume is provisionally entitled Keeper of the Inner Flame at the suggestion of the journaliste and d’Bois is happy to accede to his superior literary knowledge. It will, however, be a little while before he is able to lay this matter before the public, for it is only at its very early conception.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
D’Bois has an unusual fear, for he has never entirely trusted la chèvre —goats. Although their fromage is most palatable, there is something in those staring eyes and braying tongue which speaks of a blasphemous and unholy knowledge far beyond the limits of this earth. He has always rather suspected they are the scions of some strange interstellar species who have interbred with sheep for some unfathomable but sinister purpose. Although he has faced many sanity-melting monstrosities without flinching, d’Bois shudders when he thinks of la chèvre.
John Houlihan is a British sci-fi and fantasy author, most notable for his Seraph Chronicles and d’Bois Escapades series which blend history, fantasy, and the Cthulhu Mythos. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies like Future Fiction Volume One, Forgotten Sidekicks, and Ancestors and Descendants. He currently works as a narrative designer and manager of the Achtung! Cthulhu fiction tabletop RPG and is a video game consultant and script writer.
You can find Gaston d’Bois on the pages of the Mon Dieu Cthulhu! series.
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