(1310-05-21) Finding Leads
Summary: On the day following their arrival, members of the delegation from Marsilikos begin to look into things.
RL Date: 22/05/2018
Related: Béziers Plot
alexandre antoine aziza edgard gauge jean reina leonard_npc florent_npc 

Castle Chavaise — Beziers

Surrounded by a second ring of stone wall is the castle at the top of the hill, a pleasant but also impressive building with the banners of House Mereliot flapping lazily in the faint breeze, from spires as well as flagpoles planted upon the towers, overlooking the city of Beziers as well as the river Orb winding its way down towards the Mediterranean Sea and the harbor.

The main keep can be accessed from the courtyard, and it has a great hall, where walls are adorned with tapestries the castle is famous for. An audience chamber, a music room, kitchens and servant's quarters are to be found downstairs. Whereas the upper floor is where the private quarters of the Marquise's family can be found. There is a wing with rooms for guests and other nobility living at the castle. There is also a private library, the door of which is usually locked.

Outside, there is a garden with a small orchard, where apple trees in full bloom are adding a certain charm to the scenery.

Warm and drizzling, wonderful spring weather it is today, but not exactly the kind that becomes four dead bodies well, if being left out in the courtyard. Léonard de Mereliot had taken measures to have the four dead sons and daughters of the marquise brought into the basement level of the castle, knowing it may take awhile before he got permission to bury them. On the day before, many ships had arrived, carrying a horde of curious nobles with them, sent out by the duchesse to 'investigate', which some had taken as opportunity to question dock workers, and others… oddly apathetic bakers. This day is already moving towards noon. The steward has offered rooms of the castle to the visitors, and Elua knows, he has rolled his eyes more than once - whilst being aware, that actions need to be taken!

After dropping off the zombie baker, Gauge tells the people in charge about the merchant in the square who normally sells fruits and vegetables, but is probably a sitting potato like this poor unfortunate baker is so they can be rounded up as well. More people to experiment on is good, at least in Gauge's mind. That done, he goes about asking for the lay of the land, getting maps, or otherwise trying to figure out if there is any old wives tales about places north of here that would make people avoid them. It's going to take some time most likely, that's for sure. Most likely ranging him and those with him all over the place.

Aziza seems to make her way into the castle but this time in her armor of sorts. With no weapons on her she is accompanied by her five Menekhet guards, one holding that ebon bow with gold detailing. Kohl lined brown eyes look around the area as she crosses her arms ever so slightly while waiting to see what was next. Pursing her lips, she murmurs softly to the tallest of the group in her native tongue before relaxing and setting her arms rather at her sides. Looking over to the other entourage that held Reina, she nods to the woman. "So…I'm sure you can find a bunch of information here. I have to go meet up with someone that wants to go investigate something else but I will be back…" A firm nod then as she seemed to be in a different mindset than she was in the market earlier as she turns and makes her way back out, her guards hot on her heels.

Hearing that Gauge was looking for maps, Antoine decided that the man had a good idea. He's moved to where he heard the maps could be found, frowning a bit as he starts looking at those maps a bit carefully. Muttering something under his breath as he does.

After all the talk of lacking flechettes anywhere in this city, Alexandre looks vaguely annoyed, "It is a curse of some sort." He tells those who are still around the dead bodies of his Cousins, "Maybe something that controls their actions." Then his expression smooths and he looks towards Leonard, the Steward, "I need to see the library, both public and private. Any books found in any of the rooms of the missing people. We will need to be thorough in our search."

Reina is in a party of guards as well as one large and tall Cassiline, the smaller woman nods towards Aziza's words and when she speaks her voice is soothingly bright. "Be careful Ambassador. We can talk when you return.." She then steps farther into the castle to come to a stop where the children's forms are laying. Those eyes widen and she tries hard to hide her upset by turning to see who was in charge. Leonard gets her attention and she moves in his direction. Alex's words cause another pause and she looks up at him for a long moment. But doesn't yet interrupt.

As he is going to question the prisoners, Jean holds a small purse of coin. Not that he intends on bribing the prisoners, you see, but it's far easier to speak when something tantalizes the mind. Or maybe he'll use it to make his punches weigh that much more. It's hard to say. Nevertheless, he rattles the cages with a wooden stick, before watching the prisoner he wants to speak with for a few moments. Intently.

"Looking for maps?" The servant approached will lift his shoulders in a light shrug. "This would require the steward to unlock the library. The private library of the Marquis." He shakes his head towards Gauge. "I don't think there are any maps in there. But… now that I think about it…" He leads Gauge towards the study, and there he can have a look at a local map. Along the road that leads up north there are a number of villages, in the mountains.

Aziza makes her way eventually to where Gauge is and stays quiet as she folds her arms. Listening to the servant she simply watches before stepping back closer to her guards to let Gauge study the map. For now she is just waiting to see what his next move is.

The steward meanwhile turns towards the new arrival. Even as Aziza, upon entering is departing again. "My Lady. If you wish to see the dead bodies, we need to go downstairs to the dungeons." His gaze sweeps to Alexandre, and his jaw tightens. "You wish to see the library, my lord? It is locked usually." A beat. A sigh and an exhale. "But yes… I understand, why you demand such. I shall show you there and let you in."

Reina, if indeed headed to see the dead bodies, will share the same path as Jean for a while, before the man with the violet eyes is led further down the corridor, towards the door which is then opened for him. Reina is brought to another room, where the four bodies have been placed on the cold stone floor. Each is covered by a white blanket.

Having heard that someone was looking for maps, Antoine has moved to find Gauge, and hopefully the maps now. Stepping along towards where he heard the man was, he pauses a bit outside, before he steps in. "Heard someone was looking for maps," he says, frowning. "Any good leads?"

Jean is admitted to the cell, where the guard sits on his chair. Dark curls frame a face that is pale. Light blue eyes open yet unfocused. He seems to be awake, and yet, not. Eyes are open. He stares at the opposite wall. The man who led Jean l'Envers there casts him a glance. "This is Florent Dubois, one of our own, m'lord. He hasn't said a single word, till now. We caught him, on his way northwards. He was on his own.", he explains, before withdrawing to the wall, watching intently what Jean may intend with the prisoner.

The normally upbeat and playful Reina is more quiet than normal before Leo turns his attention her way. Those eyes look at him for a long moment before she nods gracefully, "It is my wish. Start at the beginning and move from there…" her voice is light even with the sorrow lacing her words. "Then I wish to visit the library as well. I remember some books from my last visit. Maybe something can be found.." She refuses to let her confusion show as she slides her fingers down her blue on blue skirts and shifts two tucked fans into better place. If it is do the deaths of the castle they head, one guard is left up top and the others move with her to see the bodies.

"Well, this is quite obviously a distraction." Gauge says to Antoine as he looks at local maps, "There were a number of missing guards, you don't find a single guard alone unless you want to draw the hunters away from their real destination. Except whoever organized this, they know this. So it becomes a gambit." His gravelly voice is thoughtful as he looks over the local map. "Do you drop bait where you think they will look, or do you drop bait away from where you want them to look, knowing they will try and outguess you." He looks over at Aziza with a sly smile, "What would you do, Ambassador?" He rumbles curiously.

"Good day, sir. Care to explain your actions?" Jean continues to stare at the man's unfocused light blue eyes, as if searching for something. And if he receives no forthcoming answer, he looks to the guard. "Bring me cold water. An entire bucket. Maybe he'll be over his absent-mindedness if we splash him with some. Oh, and some food and drinks, as well. Maybe that'll get him to loosen up."

The library, as Reina may recall, if she has ever visited Castle Chavaise before, has been the domain of the Marquis, jealously guarded, and only opened reluctantly. Very reluctantly, if his wife the Marquise insisted. The guard accompanying her down to where the dead bodies are laid up raises his brows but does not dare to comment on her musings. He'll stand back and allow Reina to have a look. She'll have to lift the white linen covering the dead bodies. All four of them, show the same gruesome detail of throats having been cut. They've been cleaned meanwhile, but the cuts are still visible. Any further insights will require a more thorough inspection.

Aziza nods to Antoine as he enters before slowly turning her gaze back to Gauge. Slowly walking up near him then she glances to the map. "Well…" That husky voice was soft as she looking over the map. "Cause the first disruption that herds them exactly you want them to go and have a secondary trap waiting. They might have people in on it obviously….so those 'helping' are actually in on it. They could have used that opportunity to get a head start to wherever they are heading…."

There's a slow nod offered as Antoine looks over towards the map as well. "Good point," he replies, before he looks to the north on the map. "Are you saying that the guard moving north might be a distraction, and the main group of them moved in another direction?" He offers a nod to Aziza as well, "Ambassador," he greets her, nodding a little as he hears what's said. "If we for one moment think that north is meant to be a distraction. Where would they go? West?" A brief pause, before he adds, "Or east, perhaps? The one direction few people would expect them to go, given that it's in the general direction of Marsilikos…"

<FS3> Reina rolls Perception: Good Success. (1 4 5 2 8 7 8)

When he is finally shown the library, and the door is finally opened, Alexandre nods towards whomever is unlocking the door, "Thank you." He says plainly, "This will take time. Food and drink will be required. Hopefully there is something in here that would explain, or give us hints, as to why this was done." Anyone else who comes to the library he will direct, "Look for topics about legends, stories, myths, and anything with a name that is not a country you recognize… or even sound like a country." He suggests before going about and doing that himself, but he doesn't look in the usual places, he is looking for something that might be hidden, tucked away, or otherwise out of sight.

Florent Dubois does not even twitch an eyebrow at Jean, nor turn his gaze towards him. It looks as if he were not even noticing the l'Envers. The guard nods and moves out of the cell to get a bucket of water, just as Jean requested. Maybe some more things as well. At least, this will leave Jean alone with the prisoner for a moment. Prone to his intense stare, a stare that burns with an intensity as if it were the probing stare of… Kushiel himself.

"You will answer my questions, prisoner. What led you to commit multiple murders and killed a March's entire line of succession?" Jean presses a hand flatly against the door while he studies the man. "Cooperation might get you a lighter sentence than execution when we march back to Marsilikos. And by 'execution', I mean being quartered. Alive. I am not sure if you want that to happen to you. So answer my question." And, yes, that stare remains upon Dubois, digging for something. Searching.

Maybe the time she visited a book was needed or sought and she was able to give the name. That alone might have gotten Reina into the library at that time. Who knows really and the Lady does not mutter anymore on the issue, at least not yet. Her steps, her very movement is silent and graceful, a little odd as well as she seems to glide, sway and float as she moves into the room with light steps. Kneeling next to one of the children she removes the sheet from around the eldest's face and closes her eyes to speak a soft blessing of comfort before she steels herself and looks much closer at the sliced neck. Those stormy eyes have an edge of intelligence and oddly enough knowledge of what she is searching for.

Florent's eyes flicker suddenly. But it is just a momentary phenomenon. He stays silent. Even if a tiny bead of sweat begins to roll down over his forehead, in slowish trail. The bound guard does not even glance towards Jean.

Jean sees… the man's soul is hard to make out, as there is a dark layer, hiding it, suffocating it. What Jean sees are wisps of memories… flashes of what may have happened at the Feast of Lights, where Florent took the Marquise by the arm and guided her off to her carriage. More… cruel memories. Of the courtyard. Where another guard slashed the throats of the four bound people, shouts and cries ringing through the air, a guilt clinging to that soul even as it is struggling. Florent held onto the Marquise even as she cried out, sobbing, pleading with them. It was not him. But this does not lessen the pain, and the burden.

Reina will see the nature of the cut on the throat, it is a clean cut, as if executed with a sharp blade, be it a dagger or a longer weapon. Either way, Anais wouldn't have had suffered overly long, as blood would have pulsed out of that cut, draining her swiftly of the blood she needed to survive.

Edgard had been there for some time, watching as they questioned the prisoner. He'd previously offered his arrows, to use to spark pain, if need be, but, as the man was questioned, he saw the flicker in the man's eyes. "Death comes swiftly to some. I'm afraid for you and your conspirators, that is not so the case."

"That's what I think." Gauge says to Antoine, looking at Aziza again he hmmms, "See, there is no reason to have just one guard behaving oddly left behind. If the Guard is anything like the baker, he won't respond to much at all." He rumbles with a shrug, "So if the Guard was directed in a separate direction… to throw off the trail… we have to assume that whoever was controlling him at that point had him go that way for a reason. If it was all the guards becoming like this, then they'd all be there… or have taken their compatriot with them in order to hide where they were. Which is why it is a gambit." He starts to check the map to the east and west around Beziers.

Alexandre spends 1 luck points on SEKRITS!.
<FS3> Alexandre rolls Occultism+20: Great Success. (4 1 3 8 5 3 4 1 2 7 8 5 2 2 8 2 7 1 5 2)

"Really." Jean squints at Florent, stopping for a moment as he rubs his cheek. There's a moment for reflection, wherein he inhales a deep breath. "You're guilty about it, aren't you? You regret what you did, and I understand that. On the other hand…" He touches the bar of the door. "Who put you up to this? Who met you and turned you that way? It isn't your doing, Dubois. I can tell."

Jean mutters, also, to the prisoner, 'Fight the veil or you'll never be yourself again.'

Reina will check the other children, saying the same soft whispers of a Blessing and a promise to what out what has happened. It's a personal thing but she does it nevertheless before her body slowly stands, the swirl of her skirts dramatic as her steps take her back to the Guards who waited outside. She nods towards the one who has lead her up to this point. "As there are others within the library I will make my way there.." Her voice has not changed, it's still soft with a pondering tone as she moved past the cell with the door closed and then up the steps to the castle above.

Alexandre is looking through the various volumes in the shelves, and it seems the Marquis has gathered quite a collection there of books circling about the topics of foreign lands, some on cultures of the middle east, some on lands further away. There are a few esoteric works on curses and witches. And others on exotic religions. A particular book catches his interest. It seems.. oddly absurd in places, mostly folklore and little based on true knowledge. A supposedly Akkadian work on curses and reverting of those. There are many fine illustrations, which makes it at least interesting from an artistic point of view.

Gauge studies the map in the study, meanwhile, and he'll find Montpellier to the east of Béziers, just a bit further, and there is Marsilikos. T the west… there is Toulouse, in Siovale.

Down in the dungeons, it must seem to Edgard as if the prisoner reacts to Jean l'Envers, even if those reactions remain subtle. Just a widening of pale eyes that continue to stare, a faint twitch of a brow.

Aziza shrugs a bit as she sighs. "A distraction…." Taking a deep breath as she closes her eyes. "So….now what?" One of her ears would twitch but she opens her eyes again. "Are you thinking to go exploring or….?" Looking between the two men she smiles slightly. "That maybe we can see where they may have taken them?" A brow raises. "Question is…which direction…..?"

Edgard gave a nod to Jean, and spoke quietly to him, "Seems you are on the right track. Continue to press." Edgard himself, pulled out and arrow, twirling it in his fingers idly. He used it to poke at the prisoners collar, to look at the back of his neck.

Jean can sense Florent stirring beneath that darkness, trying to fight, but it seems that darkness is too strong, too overwhelming. It tries to shield more glimpses of memories, making them blur slightly. A faint impression of a guard's room. Laughter, jesting between the guards. A mug of wine. A toast. More laughter. And a cask, standing there ominously upon the table.

Antoine nods, frowning a bit as he looks to the map as well. He moves one finger to follow the coastline, first in the direction away from Marsilikos, looking at it carefully. "The other question is how they moved them. If they saw their children being killed, would they go willingly with their captors?" Another brief pause, before he lets out a bit of a breath.

"I would think by cart, bound and trundled up like a package, under a sheet or tarp or something to cover what they were." Gauge answers Antoine, "It is the only way to keep such high profile people, who should be resisting, from being seen." He places a finger down on the map where the guard was found and then traces a circle around Beziers, "I would think they are somewhere within this circle. You would not release your tools until they are no longer of use."

"You'll have to fight it if you want to live, Dubois. Focus on your happiest memory and go from there. Then tell me who put you up to this. Who put the cask on the table?" Jean continues to press, giving Edgard a sidelong look and nodding once. "Please stop poking him. Give him food and drinks, though, if they've come through. He'll need to eat, he'll need to drink."

Gauge adds to Aziza, "That's the thing, which direction? We should also check the docks to see if any ships left between then and when we arrived. If they got put on a ship… well, that makes things much more difficult." He rumbles thoughtfully, "I am inclined to think we should go here." He points to Toulouse, "That's where I'd start, but we should also check Montpellier."

<FS3> Florent rolls 3: Good Success. (7 8 7)

Aziza exhales a bit as she stands up a bit more straight. "Then maybe we should split up. I can take Nazir with me and then each of you can take two of the others in my guard. It might be faster than going to each spot one at a time…." Folding her arms she then waits a moment. "It is just a suggestion….but it might be faster….."

Edgard gave a nod, "Just looking him over, to see if they'd left any marks on him." He pulled the arrow back after looking at the man's neck, and went to see if any servants had brought food or drink.

Akkadian curses. Now that is interesting. Alexandre reads the book looking not only for curses similar to what has been plaguing the guard, but also what might work to counteract it if it's found. There is also a search for region of origination, if any of the materials used in these curses can only be found in foreign lands, and if so which might be linked to some of the other books to try and cross reference them.

There is a faint heaving of his chest, and another bead of sweat runs down Florent's forehead. And suddenly, an odd sound breaks free from his chest. Like a grunt of sorts. Again. He repeats the sound. Jean may notice that it is reminiscent of the word 'cask'. Florent blinks. Blinks again. Jean can sense the veil lifting. Just a tad. "Cask.", Florent croaks. "Wine. Poi…", he clears his throat. "Poison." Eyes are still unfocused. He doesn't move. But this is far more than he's managed before.

Nodding a bit at the mention of the cart, Antoine pauses for a few moments as he seems to think of something. "When you spoke about distractions, it made a part of my mind consider something else as well," he offers in Gauge's direction. "We should also ask the Steward if there are anywhere in town, or just outside it, that someone could use to hide." There's a brief pause, before he nods to the map. "What if the distraction… is thinking they have left at all? If they had a place to hide for a long while, maybe that would be what they would do? I know it's a crazy thought, but would we expect it, hmm?`"

"The wine got poisoned," Jean states to Edgard. "Someone sent a cask of wine to the guard's barracks, and they all drank, which made them vulnerable to… something. I'm not sure what it is, exactly, that it weakened them for, but let's just say I've a feeling that man's mind is foggy and distant. Like he's a spectator in his own body. Bring an apothecarist, if you would, please." Having said this, he looks to Florent. "You're making steady progress, sir."

Edgard gave a nod, "Would certainly account for the strange behavior." He stepped into the hallway, and spoke to one of the other guards, sending him for an apothecarist, before heading back inside.

Jean adds, after a moment. "Bring a priest or priestess of Eisheth as well."

Reina steps into the library finally and she puts two of her guards to work while the rest watch outside and then the library itself. When she finds Alexandre already at work, she let's those stormy eyes roam over him before speaking softly so not to startling him to much from his research. "M'Lord, Have you found anything of interest? An Herbology by chance?" She questions as she moves towards the stake of books that have been brought from different places. While she asks that question she turns those storm hued eyes to their own search and then pauses to tap one of the books, "And have you found the hidden books?" For there are /always/ hidden books and items in something that is closed so tightly.

"It could be possible." Gauge says to Antoine, "But the entire city is already looking for the missing nobles so we are likely better off looking elsewhere. This was a lot of work to get them." He looks at Aziza and smiles slyly, "I don't think separating is a good idea. Considering how many people they had working for them… it would be easy to get overwhelmed and outnumbered." He rumbles with a shake of his head thoughtfully. "I don't know. It's all just a guess really. Maybe a local would know more about the destinations and anything in between. They'd want to follow roads because it's quicker and easier for a cart to travel… and a lot less noticeable."

Edgard poked his head back outside again, and added the latest request as well. Slipped back inside, still studying the man intently.

"This was an outsider's work, it feels like," Jean tells Edgard, quietly. "They had to use men of trust of the Marquises, but they probably had means of getting them to betray their sworn liege unwittingly. Hence what we've arrived at. That cask was definitely part of it. The men we're looking for might be disguised as a merchant outfit but they may have conspicuously failed to sell at large. Or… they are also someone of trust to the guards. Someone who has come through for the Marquis before. An alleged friend, someone not truly so. I'll try and get a name." Turning to Florent again, he draws in a breath. "I need a name, sir. Even a first name will do. Focus. Push the darkness away. Do not let the grief make you sink further. This isn't your fault."

Jean catches something. A flash of green, in Florent's memory. Green skirts. Dark long hair, bound into a bun. Darker skin than a d'Angeline would have.

"I…" Florent manages, and the strain is visible from the line that appears between his brows, eyes wide with effort. "Don't know… name… She… came… brought… said… was… from… Marquise." And there he closes his eyes, his body shaking from the strain.

<FS3> Reina rolls Perception: Failure. (1 6 3 1 4 4 1)

Edgard put his hands on the man's shoulders, squeezing gently in support, trying to calm him down, "You're doing great, Florent." He offered the man encouragement, as he let Jean ask the questions.

Reina goes through the books. It seems there are only books of non personal nature there. No personal journals. Just books. And a Kusheline, reading most avidly in one.

"We're looking for a foreign woman. Green skirts, dark hair, darker skin than a d'Angeline's. Either Tsingano or someone else." Jean tells Edgard, squinting at Florent. "Have the guards close the gates as soon as possible, but discreetly. Round up every foreigner until we find the right one."

Jean adds, to Florent, "Thank you. We'll have a Priest of Eisheth look over you, and hopefully make the fog go away. When you are ready again for subsequent interviews, I will let you know. Also, I will speak in your favor to the Duchesse, so that she treats you with mercy."

Edgard gave a nod, "That I can do." He flipped the arrow up and into his quiver, and slipped outside with the guards to start a good ole man hunt. Outside, he spoke with the guards, telling them to close the gates, but to try to do so discreetly. He also gives them the description of the woman, and tells them to bring any women fitting the description straight to Edgard himself. Then he sets off to go help them with it all.

Aziza was still with Antoine and Gauge, simply listening to the two muse ideas.

Antoine nods, "I think it still would be better if someone from our group checked as well. Just in case this runs deeper around here." He nods at Gauge as well, "While splitting up would cover more ground, it would be more trouble if we run into a group of them."

Aziza chuckles softly as she looks to Antoine. "If I have Nazir…I will be fine if we run into a small skirmish. But…I will follow your leads…." A bow of her head as she smiles then gives a playful wink to the man. "Now's the time to make decisions…."

"Kushiel keep you, good sir. If anyone kills you in your captivity they will have to reckon with me." Jean tells Florent, nods to the man, and heads out after Edgard. He's going to fetch his blade, first, and then work his way through the populace of Beziers to find the foreigners. It's a March's city; how many foreigners can there be?"

Contrary to what some might hope… there is no woman fitting the description to be found on castle grounds. If given directions to look for a cask though, some men will find it, beneath the table in the guard's room. Empty. Of course.

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