Mairie de Saint-Ouen

  13

Paris can be terribly humid in June.  The temperatures are not so very high, but there are days when the air itself becomes oppressive, sucking energy from one’s body with every step.  Inevitably, it is always on such days when the rubbish collectors choose to go on strike, rendering the atmosphere even more unbearable.  On such evenings, walking even a few blocks is exhausting, and the ten thousand steps that Mme LeBrun’s doctor has recommended she record daily on her pedometer seem impossible.

Accordingly, once summer begins, the LeBruns change their routine.  They rise early for their walk, returning for a quiet breakfast on the terrace before the weather gets too warm, and leave the afternoons for leisure.  They might take a siesta, or listen to some music, or read the newspaper. And there is always correspondence to attend to – the LeBruns have several penfriends scattered across the globe, and there are always politicians or counsellors who are in need of advice on how best to manage things.

And if one is awake and active so early, particularly on a Saturday, then one owes oneself a little reward.

It was M. LeBrun who first visited the fleamarkets at St Ouen.  He has always been fond of Restoration furniture, and was told of a shop in the Marché Vernaison that might be worth visiting.  He suggested the destination for a walk, and Madame was pleased to agree.  They soon learned that the best bargains are always to be found in the early morning, and so Les Puces became a favourite destination for those warm, muggy Saturdays in June.  Monsieur really has an excellent eye for antiques, particularly furniture, though on occasion, Madame puts her foot down – their home is beautifully furnished, certainly, but it is full! – but she can usually be persuaded that the item in question might make a fine gift for one of their many nieces and nephews, or even for their nieces’ and nephews’ children.

Madame’s interests are more eclectic.  She enjoys looking at vintage fashions, though she rarely buys pieces; she prefers to make her own clothes, or to buy from select shops that understand the need for both style and pockets.  Still, she is always on the lookout for unique fabrics and interesting styles.  And she likes 18th century porcelain, and antique jewelry, the older the better.  There is something about jewelry that has been in a family for a long time that appeals to her.  Art Deco pieces are also interesting to her, and she loves lamps in the Tiffany style.

A morning of walking around the flea markets at Saint-Ouen will yield five thousand steps at the very least – more if one gets off the Métro two or three stops early and then walks the rest of the way.  And then one can go home with a clear conscience, to admire one’s new purchases and maybe read a good book.

It is all very satisfactory, and almost makes Mme LeBrun look forward to the days when the forecast is unpleasantly humid.

This particular Saturday was the first really hot day of the season, and thus marked their first visit to Les Puces in several months.  (There is nothing enjoyable about fleamarkets on a freezing winter’s morning.)  As a result, their visit was slower and more thorough than usual, and punctuated by many small conversations with familiar stallholders.  They had started in the Marché Cambo, where Monsieur had spotted a small writing desk that he thought might make a nice gift for Issy, since she was now working on her Bac.  Madame agreed, but had suggested he check first with Issy’s mother, who might have other plans.  While he was waiting for a response to his text message, Madame had led them next door into the Marché Biron, which had both a useful promenade and several of her favourite stalls.

They meandered from one shop to the next, admiring silverware and objets d’art.  Madame reluctantly decided that the Limoges set that she had been inspecting really was not of the quality she would like, and moved on to a new stall which boasted a fine display of musical instruments, many of them medieval in style.  There were a number of true antiques here, she thought, though she doubted that the theorbo was an original.  Still, if its sound was good, did this truly matter? Surely the music was what counted.  She moved deeper into the shop.

Monsieur drifted over as she was inspecting the horns.  One of them was an old olifant, a hunting horn made from the tusk of some unlucky animal, and there was something about it that dragged at her attention.  She moved in to investigate it more closely, but was prevented by the young man at the counter, who hurried out to intercept her.  “Please do not touch the olifant, Madame.  It is a true antique, dating from the ninth century – quite unique.  It is made from unicorn horn, and is said to have been used by the great knight Roland himself to summon help in his final battle.”

Madame’s brows rose, and she leaned closer to look.  The young man was right, she realised.  It really was Roland’s horn.  This was concerning.  “How did you obtain it?” she asked.

The young man shrugged.  “I couldn’t tell you for certain.  This is my grandfather’s shop, not mine. But we have Durandal as well, Roland’s sword, you know, and also Bradamante’s lance, that can unseat any rider.  I think they were part of the same lot.”

Madame and Monsieur exchanged glances.  “I see,” said Madame.  “I don’t suppose we could have a word with your grandfather?”

“I regret not – he is not well, and has stayed at home today.  Are you interested in purchasing the Olifant?  I can give you a good deal on the Roland pieces, if you like.  Or we have a few other unicorn products that might interest you.”  He blushed a little, and Madame frowned.  Had he had been helping his grandfather summon unicorns?  He certainly had the proper attributes to do so, but if so, that suggested illegal poaching.  Unicorns were endangered, particularly in France, and there were concerns both regarding sustainable harvesting and animal cruelty.

Monsieur smiled at the young man reassuringly.  “Perhaps a little later.  It seems you have some very powerful artefacts here.  Are they for sale to any customer who asks for them, or do you screen the purchasers in some way?”

The young man smiled back.  “Oh, we don’t stock anything truly dangerous.  People tend to overestimate the perils of magic, but it’s quite safe, I promise you.  I can teach you a quick blessing that will ensure that nothing you do causes anyone any harm.  In fact, we have a free flyer that we hand out with every purchase, that has all the standard blessings and protections on it – here.  That was my initiative – I suggested it when I started helping in the shop.”  He held it out to them proudly, and Madame LeBrun took it.  Monsieur read over her shoulder, his brows rising.

“I see,” he said, finally.  “Well, it’s good to see you take some precautions, though I think perhaps a little more care might be wise.  Can you tell me when your grandfather might be back?  What is his name, by the way?”

The young man pointed at the sign above the counter.  Claude Ganelon, proprietor.

“Everyone just calls him Ganelon.  I should think he would be back next week.  It’s just a little cold, but at his age, one must take care.”

Madame nodded.  “Indeed one must.  But speaking of taking care, perhaps it would be wise to put some of the more… unique… artefacts a bit further out of public view.  Not everyone will read your flyer, you know,” she added, when the young man seemed about to protest.  She smiled at him.  “It’s difficult, at your age, to be taken seriously.  And magic practitioners can be a stubborn lot,” she added.  “I would not like to see what a careless person could do with that olifant, let alone the lance.”

The young man looked concerned, then brightened again.  “It’s good of you to be concerned, but Grandfather said it would be quite safe – and he has a lot of experience, you know.  He’s been collecting artefacts and selling them since before my parents were born, and he’s perfectly fine.  So there’s really nothing to worry about.  Now, did you want to buy anything?”

Madame looked at Monsieur, who shook his head.  “Perhaps this ring,” she suggested.

The bargain was made quickly, and Madame had to admit that it was a very good price indeed for a 9th century ring that could protect one from enchantments, and even render one invisible if one placed it inside the mouth.  Not that she had any intention of putting a piece of antique jewelry in her mouth.  It would not be at all hygienic, and besides, an elderly woman generally had no difficulty in becoming invisible, whether she wished to or not.

The LeBruns were silent as they left the stall, and it was not until they had crossed the road into the Marché Dauphine that Madame spoke.  “This is a bad business,” she said.

Monsieur nodded.  “Indeed.  Some of those artefacts could be disastrous in ignorant hands.  Worse in knowledgeable ones!  That olifant, for example – I suppose it isn’t technically cursed, but still…”

“It directly caused Roland’s death, and then summoned a bloody revenge on the opposing army.  And it has certainly been blooded since – I could feel it.  It would kill the user, I think, and bring out all his worst instincts first.  And probably cause everyone near him when he died to turn on one another and try to kill each other.”  Madame shuddered.  “And then there are the unicorn products, of course.”

Monsieur grimaced.  “Indeed.  Speaking of which, what do you make of the boy?”

Madame shrugged.  “An innocent.  In more ways than one, if he is acting as bait in a unicorn hunt. He truly believes that those flyers will keep people safe.”  She snorted.  “I suppose one cannot blame him for trusting his grandfather.  Were we so naïve when we were his age?”

Monsieur smiled.  “Not about magic, certainly.  About other things… well.  What is youth for if not naïve idealism?”  He reached out his hand to his wife.

Madame took it; her smile was a little reluctant.  “True.  Still, he will bear some responsibility if someone gets hurt after buying something from that stall.  Intent is not magic, nor does it protect against curses, alas.”

They walked on together in silence for a while.  The stalls had lost their appeal, and Madame checked her pedometer.  “We might return to the station, if you wish.  Perhaps we could look in on the farmers’ market on the way home, and get something for dinner.  A quiche, perhaps.  Then I could just make a salad, and we can get a nice baguette from the bakery, and have a lazy afternoon.”

“A lazy afternoon figuring out how to shut down the magical market stall.”

Madame squeezed her husband’s hand.  “If we must work on a Saturday, the least we deserve is a dinner we don’t have to cook ourselves.  We are supposed to be retired, after all.”

Back at home, Monsieur examined the ring through a magnifying glass.  “It’s genuine.  Angelica’s ring, from the Legend of Charlemagne.  I wonder where he found it?”

Madame took the ring from him, and tried it on one finger after another.  “That makes three artefacts associated with Charlemagne, then.  This ring, the lance, and the olifant.”

“And the sword,” Monsieur reminded her.

“We didn’t actually see the sword.  But I’ll tell you what I did see.  The ring next to this one in the display cabinet – did you get a close look?”

Monsieur shook his head.

“Rhinegold,” Madame said, grimly.  “The ring of the Niebelungen, if I’m not mistaken.  And you know what that means.”

“Opera.”  Monsieur shuddered.  “Wagnerian opera, even.”

“Very funny.  If the Rhinemaidens hear about this, opera will be the least of our worries.  You know how they feel about theft.”  Madame tried the ring on her smallest finger, and sighed.  “I think Angelica must have been a child when she was given this.  Or else she had extremely tiny hands.  It’s certainly not going to fit me.  Perhaps we should keep it for a christening gift.  It would be nice to confer some tangible protection for a change.”

“Put it on a chain and wear it around your neck,” suggested Monsieur.  “A little tangible protection would do you no harm, either.”

“Perhaps.”  Madame put the ring down on the table.  “Now, how do you think we should approach the matter of the stall?”

“The weapons,” said Monsieur promptly.  “One needs a license to import weapons, and I am positive there are restrictions on selling them.”

“A good thought,” agreed Madame.  “Illegal imports generally, really.  I wonder if he declared the value of that Rhinegold when he imported it?”

“If he has any sense he will have.  That’s the fastest way to get in trouble.”

Madame nodded.  “True.  But not all villains have good sense.  It’s worth putting on the list nonetheless.”  She sighed.  “I’d love to see that M. Ganelon charged over the unicorn hunts, but there’s really nobody we can report him to.  Though unicorn ivory isn’t all that different to the elephant variety I suppose, and that’s illegal enough…”

“An expert would be able to tell the difference.  And poachers notwithstanding, I suspect the unicorns are still safer if they aren’t officially recognised as non-mythological.”

Madame grimaced agreement.  “He really had a lot of things hanging outside the stall area.  Do you know if there are regulations about that?  Fire safety, perhaps?”

Monsieur frowned.  “I don’t think he had a lot that was flammable.  It was mostly metal, and some unicorn ivory.  Unicorn powder is flammable, of course, but I didn’t see any on display.”

“Yes, but if his goods are blocking the routes to an exit, it doesn’t matter whether they are flammable or not.”

Monsieur made a note, then sat back, and shook his head.  “The problem is that with most of these things, all he’s going to get is a fine.  And if he’s selling rare artefacts, he might view that as simply a cost of doing business.  We’re not going to shut down the stall that way.”

“You are right, of course.  We might slow him down, but he will still be selling magical items to the curious and the wicked.”  Madame sighed again.  “We really are too old for fieldwork.  I was hoping that others would arrive after we retired, but it’s certainly taking a long time.  Perhaps it is time we looked for another apprentice?”

“I’d rather not.  You know what happened with the last one.”

“We were unlucky.  And we will know what to watch for, next time.  Really, my dear, we can’t keep doing this alone.  You know that as well as I do.”

“Perhaps not.”  Monsieur shook his head.  “In any case, we need to resolve the current situation first. Will you ring Customs or should I?”

Madame thought about it.  “I think it should be you.  You spent more time looking at the weapons than I did, and if you can get them to visit the stall, they are bound to see the jewelry and make enquiries.  Some of it was very clearly not from around here.  And while you do that, I might try some of my Council contacts and see if they are able to look into whether he is breaching any of the Fleamarket’s bylaws.”

Melissa put the telephone down on its cradle, and put her head in her hands.

At the next desk, Eric looked up.  “Who was that?”

Melissa’s voice was muffled.  “Who do you think?”

Eric grinned.  “And what does your very dear friend Madame LeBrun have to report this time?”

Melissa looked up.  “She’s worrying about some stall at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen.  I told her that Clignancourt is outside our jurisdiction, and that she should contact the Saint-Ouen council, but she said she didn’t know anyone at Saint-Ouen, and that the stall is a fire hazard.  I pointed out that all the flea market stalls are fire hazards, and she told me I was being frivolous and that this was not something to make silly jokes about.  And then she told me the stallholder was selling illegally imported materials, and I pointed out that that was really an issue for Customs, or perhaps the police.”

“Sounds like she’s getting a little confused.”

Melissa sighed.  “I hope not.  She’s annoying, certainly, and interfering, but her heart is in the right place.”

“Maybe you should take a look at the stall she’s so worried about.”

“Saint-Ouen, Eric.  It couldn’t actually be further outside our jurisdiction.”

“It could.  There’s Les Lilas, for one…”  Melissa glared at him, and he held up his hands.  “Sorry.  But I’ve never been to the fleamarkets, and I’ve heard you can get some interesting stuff there.  Maybe we should go up there one weekend, just to have a look.  And then you can tell Mme LeBrun that you’ve looked into it if she calls again.  It’s a win-win.”

Melissa looked at him for a long moment.  “Wait, is this work or a date?”

Eric smiled a little.  “We’ve already established that Saint Ouen is outside our jurisdiction, have we not?”

Madame was in an Art déco sort of mood this Saturday, and so they started at the Marché des Rosiers.  Truth be told, neither of the LeBruns were looking forward to a confrontation with M. Ganelon, and so they were pleased to pretend for just a little longer that this was just another Saturday morning at the markets.

They were admiring the window of a shop selling Erté prints when they heard voices behind them.

“That’s the old lady and gentlemen I was telling you about – the ones who were worried about all the Charlemagne stuff.”

It was the young man from the magical stall, and the gentleman beside him was clearly M. Ganelon himself.  He was perhaps ten years younger than the LeBruns, but far less well-preserved.  He had not been following his doctors’ advice, Madame thought severely.  He was very tall and far too thin, with a white beard and piercing dark eyes.  He glared at the LeBruns.

“I should have known it was you two, with your endless nitpicking and rules.  Telling tall tales about the dangers of magic, and trying to corrupt my grandson!  I suppose it was you who sent the Customs agents after me, too.  They’ve confiscated everything, you know.  Told me I owed them millions of Euros in taxes, then slapped a fine on me for the swords.  And that was after those two lovebirds from the Council came after me for being a fire hazard.  I’ll show them a fire hazard.”

Monsieur shook his head, and Madame simply sighed.  “Claude.  I am sorry to see you looking so unwell.”

Claude Ganelon growled, and his grandson clutched at his arm, a little desperately.  “Why couldn’t you leave me alone?  I wasn’t bothering you.  I didn’t interfere with any of your little projects.  I was just trying to earn a living after you kicked me out.”

Monsieur’s voice was even.  “You knew when you came to us that there were rules, and you broke them.  And you broke them again in this market.  Our role is to protect people from magic, not to encourage them to use it irresponsibly!  What were you thinking Claude?  Selling artefacts like that to anyone and everyone?  You know how dangerous it is!”

Ganelon pulled away from his grandson, advancing on the LeBruns.  “Magic needs to be free, not bound and hedged about with rules.  I was thinking that this world needs some fresh magic.  It needs spells created by minds that haven’t been crippled with bindings and laws that prevent anything new from being discovered.  It’s too late for me – you tied my magic up with vows and legalisms and I can’t work outside that.  But I can set others free.”

“Free to kill themselves when they wish the wrong wish on a charmed lantern, or kill someone else when they pick up a cursed sword and have no idea of how to control it?  Some freedom that is!”  Monsieur took Madame’s hand in his, standing his ground.  She gripped it firmly.  A crowd was beginning to gather and he did not like the way this encounter was going.

Claude continued to advance on the LeBruns.  His hand went down to the pouch hanging at his side.

“You wanted to control everything – your own magic, my magic, the magic of Paris.  Well – let’s see if you can control this!”

He drew the olifant from the pouch and blew a long note.  It was a round, strangely perfect sound, and for a moment the entire market went still.

Madame stepped forward.  “Claude, you must take care – that olifant is dangerous.”

“Dangerous to you, perhaps.”  He blew it a second time, and the crowd drew a step closer.

“To you, also.  That horn killed Roland, and it will kill you too.”

“Then these fine people will avenge me.  Will you not?”  The crowd began to murmur, moving forward as if drawn by the horn’s sound, their eyes unfriendly.  Madame and Monsieur found themselves pressed back against the window of the shop they had been admiring.

Ganelon raised the olifant again and blew a third blast.  The sound went on and on without ceasing, blending with the shout of the crowd.  Monsieur LeBrun tried to raise his cane, but the sound of the horn forced his arm down even as the crowd drew closer, arms raised and hands curled into fists and claws.

Ganelon’s face was growing redder and redder as he blew, and the air grew thick with waiting magic – his death, Madame knew, would complete the enchantment and loose the crowd entirely.  Monsieur seemed unable to do anything, caught by the edge of the enchantment.  But Madame had Angelica’s ring around her neck, proof against any enchantment, even this one.

Not that it would protect her once the crowd began to riot.

And it was not just the crowd that was enchanted, Madame realised, suddenly.  Certainly, the horn’s sound was controlling them, but the horn itself was controlling the one who blew it, channeling his rage into a thirst for vengeance, regardless of cost.

Quickly, Madame drew the chain from around her neck, and lifted it high, the ring dangling at the end of it.  She stepped forward, releasing her husband’s hand, and threw the chain over Ganelon’s head just as his lips came away from the olifant.

The sound stopped abruptly.  There was a roaring, tearing sound, and a blinding light, and then everything went black.

Madame had a headache and was lying on an uncomfortably hard surface.  Also, her pillow was rather bony.  She opened her eyes, and looked up at her husband.

“We’re still at the market, then?”

“And alive, thanks to your fast work with that ring.  Though you gave me a scare when you dropped like that.”

“How very undignified of me.”  Madame sat up.  It took more effort than it should have, but she did not feel dizzy.

“Not really.  The ring had been protecting you from the olifant’s enchantment, so when you gave it to Claude, you were hit by the enchantment at exactly the same moment that the enchantment broke. It’s not surprising you were knocked over by the backlash.”

“Ah, of course.  Well, it’s a small price to pay.  Help me up, Georges.  I want to see how young Claude is doing.”

Monsieur stood, then held out his hand to Madame.  “Not too well, I’m afraid,” he said, drawing Madame to her feet.  “The backlash hit him too, of course, and combined with the pressure in his brain from blowing the horn… well.  It seems he had a stroke, and quite a severe one.  The paramedics are working on him now, but it’s too soon to tell whether he will recover.”

“That poor, stupid man.  And his grandson?”

“Has no idea what happened.  Nobody in the crowd does.  All they saw was an elderly man getting angry and shouting, and then falling to the ground.  They don’t know how they came to be so close to him and are telling themselves they must have come running when they saw him fall.”

“That is something, at least.  They don’t remember the spell then?”

“No more than I do.  I only remember as much as I do because I recognised Claude and the olifant, and the rest I guessed when I saw that the chain with the ring was missing from your neck and the olifant from his hand when you both fell.  Did you put the chain over his neck, or over the horn?”

Madame frowned in memory.  “I flung it over his head, or at least I tried to.  It all happened very quickly.  Wherever it landed, it seems to have worked.”

“Indeed.”

One of the paramedics approached, and Madame smiled at him.  “Good morning, Monsieur.  I hope the gentleman who had the stroke is doing a little better.”

The paramedic grimaced.  “He’s not well.  He’s on his way to the hospital now, so hopefully they will be able to fix him up.  But it will be a long recovery, at best.  Do you know him?”

“Not for some years.  We parted on bad terms, but of course I’m very sorry to see him so ill.”

The paramedic nodded acknowledgment.  “And you, Madame.  I was told you fainted?”

Madame smiled deprecatingly.  “A touch of low blood sugar.  I am diabetic, you see, and this weather does not agree with me.  But I am quite alright now, thank you.”

The paramedic looked pleased.  “That’s good to know.  Just take care of yourself, then.  And perhaps you might want to speak to your doctor about your insulin dosage.  You don’t want to make a habit of fainting like that.”

“Certainly not.”  Madame smiled again.  “Really, you do not need to be concerned.  I will just get a nice little lunch somewhere, and then take the train home.  My husband will look after me if I need anything else.”

“And are we going to get a nice little lunch somewhere and then go home?” enquired Monsieur LeBrun, as the paramedic returned to his fellow and began to pack up.

“Certainly we are.  You heard what Claude said; everything in his stall was confiscated, which means that someone will need to sort things out with Customs.  But that is no task for today, nor for this market.  As for the future – well, I don’t like his chances of getting back into the business now, do you?  Particularly if he is so unwell.”

“I feel a little bad about that,” said Monsieur LeBrun.  “Do you think we drove him to that stroke?”

“I think that olifant was determined to destroy the next person who blew it.  If it had not been Claude, it would have been a customer.  At least Claude knew what he was doing.  He was actively seeking revenge, and it backfired on him.”  Madame sighed.  “I feel for that poor boy, though.  What an awful thing for him to have to witness.  And of course he thinks we destroyed his grandfather.”

“We did destroy his grandfather.  I’m not talking about the horn – I agree that he did that to himself. But we deliberately destroyed his livelihood.  He has a right to be angry.”

“Even though his grandfather had no right to that livelihood.  We could not have destroyed it if it had been legally obtained.  We’re going to be in a lot of trouble if we ever run up against magical criminal who actually bothers to follow all the non-magical laws and bylaws.”

“Nobody can keep track of all the laws and bylaws.  That’s the whole reason they exist.”

“True.”  Madame spoke more softly.  “Do you ever wonder if we could have done something differently?”

“We had to stop him.  That shop of his was a danger to everyone who entered it.”

Madame shook her head.  “Not now.  There really was nothing else we could have done once he started selling artefacts.  I mean before.  When he was our apprentice.”

Monsieur was silent for a long time.  “I don’t know.  Certainly, he was ours to train, and he turned out – badly.  And we must take some responsibility for that.  But…” he shook his head.  “So much time has passed.  He failed us, certainly.  But perhaps we failed him first.”

Madame reached out and took her husband’s hand.  “Better him than the world.  That is what I told myself then, and what I tell myself still.”

Monsieur LeBrun squeezed her hand in return.  “Better him than the world.  But I wish we had never had to choose.”

Hand in hand, they turned and left the market.

 

station

Mairie de Saint-Ouen is a station on the north side of Paris, heading out towards Saint Denis.  It opened in 1911 as part of the old Line B, which later became line 13, and is named for the town hall (Mairie) of Saint-Ouen.  It currently serves only line 13, but there are plans to extend line 14 to the north, and Mairie de Saint-Ouen would then become a junction station.

Saint-Ouen is a commune in the department of Saint Denis.  It is named for Saint Audoin or Owen, a 7th century French bishop and the patron saint of the deaf.  This bears absolutely no relationship to my story.  Saint-Ouen is, however, famous for its fleamarkets, and boasts the largest and most concentrated population of antique dealers in France.  Its most famous market is Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, at Clignancourt, which actually consists of fourteen smaller markets.  I am not aware of anyone selling magical artefacts at this market, but certainly, if one were looking for extremely old and somewhat mythical items, St Ouen’s fleamarkets would be a good place to start.

This is the third story featuring Madame and Monsieur LeBrun.  You can read of their earlier adventures in Good Council and Home to Roost.  They really are not supposed to be doing fieldwork any more, but there are several more town halls in the Métro, so I feel certain that you will be seeing more of them, and of Melissa and Eric, too.

Olifant is an old spelling for elephant, and it is also the name for a hunting horn made from the tusk of an elephant.  At the end of the Chanson de Roland, when his army is being cut to pieces by the Saracens, Roland blows his olifant so loud and long that his temples burst and he dies.  But his horn is heard, and Charlemagne and his men return to avenge Roland and his men.  Ganelon is the traitor in this story – he is Roland’s father in law, who betrays him to the Saracens, telling them where Roland and his men will be and when they will be at their most vulnerable.  Since the Chanson de Roland is a medieval poem, he dies a suitably gruesome death.

The image of the olifant horn is from Wikimedia Commons, photograph by Daderot.  It is of an exhibit in the Bode-Museum, Berlin, Germany. This work is in the public domain because the artist died more than 100 years ago. Photography was permitted in the museum without restriction.  I’ve changed the background to black so that the horn hangs alone in the picture.

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