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The Master of Roucybeuf (Le Maître de Roucybeuf in French) is a "Johan" comic adventure written and drawn by Peyo and was first published by Dupuis in Spirou magazine in 1953. It was then published in book form as the second book instalment of the Johan series.

Johan is shown to be a bit older than in his previous appearance, Basenhau's Punishment.

Plot Summary

After a three year absence, Sir Hugues, the eldest son of the Baron of Roucybeuf, returns to his father's lands. In an inn he learns that his father, a good and popular ruler, mysteriously disappeared some time ago and that the area has since been ruled by Hugues's younger brother, Bertrand. However, Bertrand spends most of his time drinking and gambling and simply raising taxes and will not do anything about the brigands pillaging the area. Hughes resolves to sort this out.

That night, two masked men come to the inn with the intention of killing Hugues but are challenged and driven away by a young man called Johan. Johan explains to Hughes that he too was shocked by the plight of the local peasants and Bertrand's failure to do anything about it. Johan therefore gathered together a group of young men with whom he defends the peasants against the brigands.

Hughes returns to the castle of Roucybeuf where he is reunited with Bertrand, their uncle Amauri and their cousin Thibaud. Hugues assumes control and announces that he is going to abolish the taxes introduced by Bertrand, deal with the brigands and search for his father. That evening, however, during supper, Hugues drinks some poisoned wine. Feeling weak he collapses into bed. The next morning he is found barely alive by a servant, Boemond, who alerts Johan.

Johan and his men go to the castle where they manage to stop another servant, Orderic, from giving Hugues more poison. They then take Hugues away from the castle in spite of Bertrand's attempts to stop them. Johan takes Hugues to Rachel, a local witch who is greatly feared by the locals. Johan persuades Rachel to cure Hugues which she does. The next day Hugues is fit and strong again.

Since Orderic is just a servant acting under the orders of a third party, Johan and Hugues conclude that Hugues was poisoned at the request of one of his relatives who could then lay claim to the lands of Roucybeuf. Bertrand, Amauri and Thibaud are the obvious suspects.

To test Bertrand, Johan and Hugues send him a message informing him that Hugues is still ill from the poison and that a witch will only cure him for a large sum of money. Bertrand has to get the money himself and not inform anyone else since they might try to stop him.

Johan and Hugues spend the whole of the next day at the spot where they are to meet Bertrand. By the evening, he finally turns up, riding an old donkey, having gone to a lot of trouble, including selling his horse, in order to get the money for Hugues' cure! This convinces Johan and Hugues that Bertrand is innocent and they come up with a plan to find the real culprit.

The next day Bertrand returns to Roucybeuf castle and announces that Hugues is dead and that Johan is responsible. Bertrand also states his determination to find and kill Johan. The news reaches Orderic and the man who got him to poison Hugues. They decide to have their own men ambush and kill Bertrand, for whose death Johan will again be held responsible.

When Bertrand sets off the next day he is indeed pursued by four masked men but he leads them to an ambush where they are challenged and defeated by Johan, Hugues and their men. Johan, Hugues and Bertrand then dress in the clothes of three of the men and force the fourth to take them to a cottage near the castle where they report Bertrand's death to Orderic. They then follow Orderic through a secret passage that leads back to the castle. There, they witness Orderic reporting to Amauri, the brains behind all the recent troubles.

Amauri now plans to lay claim to Roucybeuf. He will raise an army and overthrow the neighbouring lords to the point that he will be even more powerful than the King. Amauri tells Orderic that the Baron of Roucybeuf is still alive. Amauri had him kidnapped but kept alive in case things went wrong and he needed a hostage to escape.

Amauri then sets off to kill the Baron but he is pursued by Johan, Hugues and Bertrand. He leads them to an old tower where he and his men engage the pursuers in battle. Amauri and his henchmen are defeated and the Baron is freed.

All those involved in Amauri's plot to seize the Baron's lands are imprisoned and the Baron hosts a large feast to celebrate. The next day Johan leaves to resume his duties at the King's castle.

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