Bloodmaster Scarlet, or Ecarlate Maître de Sang in its original French, is literary oddity. Printing this manuscript is the publishing world's equivalent to yelling MacBeth in a theater. The curse has even lead to it being dubbed "The French Tale", a bastardization of the famous code for Shakespeare's "Scottish Play". Needless to say, few copies exist today. Both the story and the circumstances of its creation are horrid tales which contribute to its mythically bad reputation. The coincidences of bankruptcy and death related to the known printed editions only serve to reinforce the original bloody tale's appeal to collectors.

Ecarlate Maître de Sang first appeared in print on June 17, 1815, one day before Napoleon's great defeat at Waterloo. It was supposedly written by Henri DuBeaucour, a minor French nobleman and ship's captain that was charged with the murder of his associate's daughter in a fit of rage. Writing the story from his cell at Charenton, DuBeaucour had hoped to use the money he earned to clear his name and escape his wrongful imprisonment. He steadfastly denied he was guilty of any crime. Many scholars note that while DuBeaucour was an inmate at the prison from 1761 until his death in 1814, so was one Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade, better known as The Marquis De Sade. Heated debate continues in literary circles about the true authorship. Most agree that Du Sade had some hand in the work, but the details of events far removed from French soil are far too accurate to be simple guesses. Regardless of who the original author was, the story is a work of horrific detail, rivaling the works of Poe and Lovecraft in its bone chilling subjects and gruesome detail.

It all begins in 1756. King Louis XV was on the throne and his court was rife with intrigue. By a complicated twist of upper crust bloodlines, Young Henri is tangled up in the machinations of Mme de Pompadour, one of Louis most influential adherents. Corruption and excess loom large at Versailles. The petulant king announces a contest of sorts. A fan of exotic gifts and tales of distant lands, he requests the commission of several expeditions to the far flung reaches of the globe. The hangers-on at court fall over themselves to send men off to Africa, India and even the Middle East, the treasures of which riddled the halls of the palace. Madame du Pompadour craftily uses her courtly influence to install DuBeaucour as captain of the "Claire De Lune", a heavy masted supply ship that was setting out for New France, the North American jewel of the French colonial empire. Young Henri was glad to be free of the pomp and ceremony of court, and took to his new adventure readily. Sadly, the circumstances of his new employment are not entirely on the level, as the Claire De Lune's former captain, Rosaire Desailly, was removed with the help of blackmail. His hatred brewed in the pubs of Lorient while Henri took his ship and crew to the New World.

Henri arrives at Montreal a changed man. Free of the bounds of stuffy highbrow society, he revels in the frontier spirit of Lower Canada. After months of burning his stipend in the alehouses and brothels of the city, Henri has little to show for his experience. Suddenly feeling the eyes of the court on himself once again, Henri turns to his liquor soaked friends at the Broken Oak, a favored haunt. Voyagers, just in from the fur season, are full of stories from the wild. Henri finds them eager for company, and even competing to best each other for the most fantastic tales. Watching a fop like Henri scribbling their lies on page after page was a welcome distraction for these rough men.

Henri, however, was nobody's fool. He sorted the tales of devils and monsters from the real tales of the wild, and of the mythical Red Man, the Natives that the Voyagers worked hand in hand with. While a book would likely impress the King, Henri knew "the Madame" would have his head for a book of lies he could have written in France for far cheaper. Pouring over his notes for much of the bitter winter, Henri also put his ear to the ground in the community. In the spring, Henri got his break.

The Archbishop of Montreal, Etienne Montgolfier, caused quite a stir in the community by setting out a bounty on the head of the unknown murderer of Marcel Laurentide, a Voyager lost during the last season. Bounties were almost unheard of, especially those that could be claimed on regardless of the health of the hunted. Henri plied the locals for the rumors that hid behind the story. Marcel Laurentide, also known as "Skinner" Laurentide, featured in many of Henri's tales from the wild. Rather than hunt for themselves, Skinner and his band murdered their way along the trade routes, taking pelts from native bands, raping and hostages par for the course. That the Archbishop would shed a tear over his death was highly suspicious to Henri. Later, after many strong brews and bottles of harsh wine, whispers across a back table filled in the blanks. Skinner's sister Manon, a long suffering nun, had recently gone quite mad, hanging herself in a fit of grief. Rumors around the bar say it was after getting a dried up half-eaten human heart in the post. Henri, running low on funds and itching for a new adventure after the long winter, decides to take up the bounty. The rumor of the heart in the box prove disturbingly true, and the sender was considerate enough to leave a return address: the Hudson Bay Company outpost at Sheguiandah, a village on Manitoulin Island.

Traveling the waterways of Upper Canada for most of the summer season, Henri takes to writing his daily experiences. His journals of the trip catalog of the wonders of the wild, tell of a growing admiration for the aboriginal people, and show Henri's ruminations on the murder of Laurentide. News from fellow travelers is sparse, but telling. Skinner's band of cutthroats disappeared just before last winter. A Jesuit missionary traveling back to Quebec City told Henri a strange tale the day before they left Sturgeon Falls. His contemporaries working with the Ojibwa people told tales of a Mu-kwa-Man in the sacred land of Manitou. It was a ill omen, and many spent their days crafting dreamcatchers to the neglect of their villages. Henri continued north to the Great Lakes, his own heart slowing filling with dread.

Fall saw Henri and his band land at Sheguiandah. The Hudson Bay Company man, Angus Campbell, offers a warm welcome, and an invitation to dinner at his smoky log cabin. At dinner, Henri shows Angus the box that drove Sister Laurentide mad, and he pales at the recollection. Campbell mailed the sealed box for the mysterious bounty himself, before all the trouble started. So begins Campbell's tale of "Scarlet Jack".

The Pikes, an Ojibwa tribe local to area, had a rough winter. At the end of the last trapping season, a man from an unknown tribe walked into the outpost. This was not unheard off in the days of nomadic trappers, so no one thought anything of the stranger. Mute or reserved, Jack never spoke a word, but seemed to understand everything said to him. Always dressed in an tattered old British Redcoat, Angus first met him when he sold his canoe load of furs and traded some items that proved to belong to Laurentide and his cronies. Angus looked the other way on most shady deals. The very next day, Jack returned with the package for Manon, the address carefully scribed on the box, each letter perfect, but made by a hand unused to writing. Angus took five cents and shipped it out without so much as a second thought. He did warn Jack against having the hairy scalps which he had tied to his belt, but his objections where met with a steely glare. The subject was dropped. Settling in for the winter, Jack made his camp just outside the wood battlements of the trading post. The other natives seemed uneasy about his presence. Just after the first snow, the children started to go missing. Parts of many where found after they disappeared in the night, seemingly eaten by packs of wolves. Several hunting parties where sent out after the marauding animals, but they found little but tracks and mocking howls. Turning to the elders for answers proved disastrous. The old medicine man told them all the myth of the Wendigo, and instantly, the stranger was the object of a witch hunt. A mob descended on Jack's little camp, lead by the Chief himself. Accusations flew and justice was swift. The witchman had his hands nailed to post in his camp, leaving him to die in the snow. No more children disappeared in the night and the Chief was widely praised for his actions. No one went back to the cursed grove where Jack was surely dead. The eve of the next full moon saw the Chief hung from battlements by his own viscera. Huge claw marks scarred the wooden pikes all the way to the top. The medicine man went to check Jack's camp. He was sitting just as they had left him, hands nailed to post, bathed in blood and impossibly alive. He flashed a smile at the old man. Much of the tribe left the next day. Most of the tale came to Angus from the fleeing medicine man, who begged him to leave with him.

Henri was beside himself with joy. To return with both a savage man for the King to see and a pocketful of the hefty church bounty waiting for him in Montreal would surely please the Madame. And such stories! His account of this adventure would sell all across France. The next day, guided by Angus, Henri and his men made the trip to Scarlet Jack's camp. Henri noted with a little foreboding that all their native guides had abandoned then in the night, spooked by the talk of witchmen and wendigos. The miserable creature that they found was no monster. Still nailed to the post by one hand, piteous Jack glared in fear at the men. His long unkempt hair and filthy body filled Henri with a momentary concern: would this miserable thing live to reach France? He tended his small fire with care, and someone was obviously leaving food and wood for him. Henri and Angus pried the rusty spike from the post and weary, crippled Jack cried with relief and pain. After only a brief freedom, Jack seemed more alive. His freedom was short-lived. Lashing his hands with leather and reading the bounty order from the Archbishop, Henri claimed Jack's live as his own. They set off for Montreal the same day. The weary Jack could do little but glare hatefully.

Misfortunes followed the group. Either because of the loss of their native guides or simple bad luck, the journey back to Lower Canada was murderously bad. Henri's notes tell tales of wild animal attacks, fevers, waves of insects and attacks of dysentery. The fist of winter closed around them. The tone of the notes also darkens as Henri becomes impatient to return to France. He wastes little ink to describe Jack, only noting his complete lack of rebellion and his vastly improving health. The ragged wounds in his hands seemed to disappear in a short time. Ominous word from the outside world also seeps into the journal. The outpost at Deep River brought news of the outbreak of the Seven Years War. An overnight camp brings word that massive forest fires had swept Manitoulin just behind them either by accident or purposely set to rid it of evil spirits by superstitious natives. They found Montreal on the verge of siege upon their return, which was continuously harassed by English Militia. All these turns of fortune brought a wolfish grin to Jack's face. Henri had him beaten, often on little context, to keep his joy brief. Hastily collecting the bounty and arranging passage for himself and his new trophy to Louisbourg, Henri vowed to flee this cursed land.

1758 began with Henri desperate to flee the Atlantic fortress. Louisbourg was under siege by both the British Army and Navy. The Claire De Lune ran the blockade by flying a Dutch banner and slipping out into a midnight storm under full sail. St. Elmo's Fire lit the masts of the desperate ship as it fled the fire from British warships. Damaged but not crippled, the crew piloted the ship through the violent Atlantic, which seemed to be conspiring to sink them. Jack was locked in the bowels of the cargo hold. 4 men disappeared on the journey back to France, assumed swept overboard. Jack seemed to gain weight.

Broken masts, ripped sails and a cannon shot hull carried the Claire de Lune as far as the port of Lorient, where she sunk at her mooring, moments after the crew stepped ashore. Henri lost several of the gifts he had returned with for the King, but relief still overwhelmed him. His joy evaporated moments later when Captain Desailly stormed the pier, fresh from the bar. Desailly, who had surrendered his life to alcohol, erupted at seeing the wreck Henri had returned in place of his ship. Brandishing a pistol, he spat obscenities at DuBeaucour. Vowing that his precious trophy would never see the King, Desailly shot Jack squarely in the face at pointblank range. Effectively decapitated, Scarlet Jack's body fell off the pier, into the choppy waters. Desailly fled into the city. Shocked and world-weary, Henri retired to a dockside flophouse, vowing to have the authorities hunt the murderer Desailly down the very next morning. He left his crew to fish for the body.

Henri awoke the next morning to a slaughterhouse scene. Captain Desailly's daughter, Justine, lay in bed beside him. Mostly. Copious amounts of blood coated the entire room, painting the dirty windows and giving the sunlight a glowing red sheen. Justine's face was openmouthed in terror, and all her insides where scooped out and spread meticulously about the room. Her eye sockets held coals from the fireplace, black tears tracing down her cheeks. Henri's arms were red to the shoulders, and his hair was matted down with sticky red goo. Fleeing the room in abject terror, he caught his reflection in a passing mirror. His bedclothes and body were painted with red symbols and pictograms, just like those Henri had seen on the art of the natives of New France. Unhinged, he was quickly caught by local authorities. Gibbering about a wild Redman loose in the streets did little to help his case. Tried and convicted for the vicious murder of the daughter of man he had reason to avenge himself on, Henri had little hope. Many long years in the asylum waited, his life spared only because of his station in society.

Captain Desailly met his grisly death soon after. Gutted in a back alley, some thug had forced the good captain to eat most of his own skin, which his attacker expertly carved from his body. One massive bloody hand print was the only clue left at the scene, and its impossible scale and clawed fingers lead to its dismissal. Rumors about the Devil of Lorient persisted for many years. Not long after, similar stories sprang up, like the famous tale of The Beast of Le Gevaudan.

The fall of Louisbourg, with the capture of Quebec in 1759 and Montreal in 1760, ended France's military and colonial power in North America. Soon, the death of the Madame and the rise of the 1791 French Revolution toppled the throne. Henri followed the world from his cell, watching the wave of misfortunes that had chased him from that blasted isle consume all of France. He grew to be a bitter and wizened old man, wailing his was the hand that pulled the guillotine rope on the entire country. If De Sade helped him with the manuscript found with his body in 1814 is still not known, but the same publisher that smuggled the work of the Marquis printed the first edition of Bloodmaster Scarlet.

Henri DuBeaucour never lived to see the benefits of his life's story of horror. Discovered dead at the desk at which he penned the work, the last few pages of the original were penned in his own blood, the black raven quill found stuck deep in his own eye. His hands were nailed to his desk with ancient rusty nails, and a large skinning knife with the initials SL engraved on the handle was stuck in his heart.

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