(1310-05-22) More Investigations
Summary: Carenza and Sombra arrive to be caught up on current investigations by Antoine, Belmont and the castle steward.
RL Date: 24/05/2018
Related: Béziers Plot
antoine carenza sombra belmont leonard_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.

Morning has arrived, and it finds Antoine standing in the courtyard, looking rather thoughtful. He leans towards one of the walls right now, muttering something under his breath as his gaze moves around the area rather carefully. What is he hoping to accomplish with this? It's not even certain that he knows himself.

Glorious, fresh-faced morning, the perfect hour to be slipping through the marketplace or filching a bun from the kitchen. The Chavaise lands are fecund, beautiful in the flush of spring, and the pallor of misery leaks from the stones. A few passing looks follow the tall, honey-skinned young woman sauntering towards the shade of the walls on her morning walk. Never mind she stops probably every fifty paces to talk to those going by, a warm word and a knowing, sombre nod over a shared confidence. One thing stands out at a distance; with that utterly rare complexion, she's a Mereliot through and through, since only their house bears Eisheth's stamp in that particular way. Her lips part and she might be heard to say, "The Lady will see the region stabilized and fruitful, madame. You may count that your troubles are near to her heart, as they are all of ours. Elua bless you." Up rises that smile before she passes on, hands touched together.

Turning a bit, Antoine's gaze goes to the woman, watching her in quiet for a long while, but he doesn't move from his spot for now. If she looks in his direction, he'll offer her a nod, but he doesn't say anything yet.

Light-footed, that one, she presses her way through the surrounding clutch of activity before finding solace relative to the buzz of activity. No point trying to disguise whom she is or her presence, Carenza shakes out her heavy braids. A gentle flick of her fingertips returns the nod from Antoine in her own fashion, that mobile mouth unable to fashion something of a smile. Everyone holds their distance hereabouts, something she'll ransack sooner or later.

"Morning," Antoine offers after a few more moments of pause, shrugging a little. He glances around again, eyes narrowing a bit in thought for another few seconds, before he looks back in Carenza's direction.

"Seeking the lost?" asks the young woman, her voice a lilting soprano that flickers with curious embellishments. Soothing, perhaps, for those inclined to exotic melodies. Antoine receives the direct assessment through heliotrope eyes, the corner of her mouth lifting slightly. "You would not be the first if that were the case, sir."

Antoine pauses for a few moments. "Lost or displaced, I suppose…" He goes silent again briefly, before he adds, "Many of us were sent here to help investigating this. I don't think any of us will be the first, or the last." A brief pause, as he offers another polite nod.

"Displaced." Carenza rolls the words around her tongue and finally nods, her bangs swaying across her brow and sheeting one side of her face in deep copper. "I understand. It's become something of an open question for what happened, how, and why."

Antoine nods as he hears that. "Well, for the what, we at least know the main parts," he offers, before he lets out a bit of a sigh. "The rest of it, we'll know when we know the how, why, but also the who, I believe."

Carenza inclines her head. She drifts to a wall and leans back, the line of her spine pressed to it. "May I inquire how much you've determined on the who front? For I've been racing mad through the countryside at the moment." And because missing events sucks.

"Unfortunately, the who is still quite unknown, at least from what I know," Antoine replies, before he lets out a bit of a sigh. "If we only could find out that, it would probably make a lot of the other parts fall into place."

The slender breath of a sigh flickers from the younger woman. "Carenza Mereliot," she says without preamble. "Though Chavaise is not my home, my family — my cousins — died here. It's a personal matter as much as any." If the golden stamp of her sunny skin failed to isolate her identity, her name certainly might. "So let me be uncharacteristically blunt and pray you will allow me the cover of grief and grace of mourning that such a thing happened in Eisande. What is the sum of what you know thus far? I've a few pieces and theories, and they may at least draw a better picture. Or some idea of a method to manage."

Sombra arrives to Beziers upon horseback, soon her horse getting tied up and she is heading further into the city. She spots Antoine and Carenza, a brief smile curls her lips then it fades given the reason for all of them to be here and she begins to make her way towards them, though not wishing to interrupt Carenza as she speaks.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, my lady. I'm Antoine de Valais," Antoine introduces himself, before adding. "Although the circumstances could have been far better." Glancing around for a few brief moments, his gaze pauses on Sombra, and he blinks a few times. "Lady Sombra?" he asks, looking a little surprised.

With the tumble of her coppery hair bound in braids, the weight of those delicate strands emphasize the greater motions of her body. "My lord de Valais. The circumstances do amount to a tremendously poor scenario, don't they?" Her fingers curl and so her expression shutters, coloured into mute neutrality once the rider comes nearer. Not much of a smile thus, though the inclination of her head is anything but rude, measured and cautious. Taking in Sombra as much as her horse, she murmurs, "Fair day to you."

From the keep exits Belmont d'Eresse, a young noble with a dark expression. Heading towards the courtyard he notices the Valais standing with two ladies, and so the man pauses to offer a courteous bow of greeting to the three of them. "Good morning. Lord Antoine." At least with Antoine he is acquainted. The other two though… perhaps Carenza he has seen once before.

Sombra offers a soft smile to Antoine as she says "Yes, it is I Vicomte Antoine. I wanted to try and come help research." Her attention returns to Carenza as she says "Fair day to you as well. I am Lady Sombra Morhban, apologies if I am intruding upon conversation." Her attention then looking to Belmont as she says "Fair day to you."

In Belmont's wake, another man slips out of the castle keep. A man in his mid-forties, Mereliot kin, Carenza may recognize. It is Léonard Mereliot, cousin to her and to the missing Marquise, his expression is grave but it lights up faintly as he spots the familiar face. "Carenza!", the voice intones in a full baritone. Catching Sombra's introduction, he offers her a bow. "Welcome to Castle Chavaise, my lady. I trust you're related to our missing marquis, Armand Morhban de Mereliot."

Antoine nods, "I'm certain we could use any help we can get," Antoine replies to Sombra, before he nods a bit at the others. Pausing briefly as he hears Belmont, offering him a nod. "Good morning, Lord Belmont. Lord Leonard." The last name added as he sees the man exit the castle.

"An open space in the aftermath of great sorrow will ever attract company and attention. I do not regret that," says the Mereliot noblewoman. The cant of her smile carries a certain mournful edge, barely notching a faint dimple in her cheek. "Your thoughtfulness speaks well of you, my lady. Carenza Mereliot." That stamps her kin to the departed and absent. Touching her finger to her collar, she dips another nod Belmont-ward; he's not a cardinal direction but near abouts. "Lord Antoine and I were seeing what might have reached common gossip or been done. It seems your purposes are even with ours. And Elua knows the considerations of your province may be useful here." The polite way of saying it, she twists her tongue well and easily enough. A kind of grace there, perchance. She swivels more to Leonard, standing upon her toes, and the flare in those uncanny violet eyes — no guesses needed what family /her/ father belongs to — carries a lamenting note. "Ah! Cousin, we shouldn't see one another under such circumstances. If there is anything to be done, Eisheth show us the path. I'm about ready to host a memorial for the children tonight if it comes to it. Something must shake out."

"I am Belmont, my lady.", the same introduces himself to Sombra in return of her own introduction. "Belmont d'Eresse. I am pleased to make your acquaintance." Extending this to Carenza as well, as she so gracefully introduces herself. Stepping aside to allow Carenza to approach her kin, this brings the young d'Eresse lord closer to Sombra and Antoine.

"Ahhh, dear child…", rumbles Léonard towards Carenza. "How I wish this were the morning of the Festival of Lights, and we could prevent the atrocities from happening…" He adds in a sigh. "But… We have deposited the four bodies in the depths of the dungeons below the castle. I would… prefer to postpone such memorial… so that their parents can attend, after we manage to free them. But find them, we must first."

Sombra briefly smiles at Antoine comments about needing any help they can get. Her attention then to Carenza as she speaks and says "I have a decent bit to catch up on since I arrived late I fear." Her attention then looks to Belmont as she says "A pleasure to make your acquaintance as well Lord Belmont. Her attention then upon Leonard as he speaks and she inquires "What do we know about those who took them?"

Carenza inclines her head seaward. "Raising hopes to Eisheth and Elua of their safe return may not go amiss. Especially if we were to bring some warmth to people here. Nonetheless, we're left with countless many questions. For sake of Lady Sombra and I, shall we share what at least we know? I concur on this front, it might not hurt to determine the basics." Some flicker of shadow rolls over her violet gaze, and she casts that grim mood aside. "If we can manage that much, who knows. There may be some quality of a breakthrough. I appreciate your willingness to listen, at least, my lords and my lady."

<FS3> Belmont rolls Mendacant: Good Success. (7 3 4 4 8 2 4)

"I'll share then," Belmont pipes up, clearing his throat as he straightens and then stands there, gaze lowered, hands joined at his back. "Marquise Monique de Mereliot and her husband were last seen at the Festival of Lights, when, prompted by sudden uproar in the common folk, they were forced to leave, and the four younger Mereliots with them. Guarded by guards, they must have returned to Castle Chavaise, but… Upon the arrival of others, the two sons and the two daughters were found dead in the courtyard, their throats had been cut. And no trace of the Marquise, the Marquis and the guards that had accompanied them there. One of those guards was apprehended later, on his way up north. He has been questioned and it seems he has been under some curse… but I wasn't there when he was questioned. But a cask was found in the guard's quarters, containing wine, and apparently a foreign looking woman had brought it for the guards, claiming it was on orders of the marquise." He delivers the tale in effortless ease, were it not for the grave expression in his eyes, knowing it was a real account and not the product of a bard's imagination.

"Others have… requested entrance to the library," Léonard chimes in. "The library that is locked, usually. I don't know what they found. Lord Alexandre de Morhban seemed to be intrigued, however, and I fear he took a book or two from there for closer study."

Sombra carefully listens and says "I will have to start my own research it seems as well then. A curse brought upon by wine… Did he say what the woman looked like besides foreign?" To Leonard she requests "Perhaps I could be allowed into the library as well so I can attempt to find something?"

The dark-eyed vicomtesse purses her lips. "I can imagine they might, assuredly." A flicker of thought blooms into something, something buried behind the distant set of her features. "It's easy to say foreign looking. Has anyone found the location of said woman, or at least consulted with someone competent in art to render a likeness of her? We may be a port city in Marsilikos, and Beziers considerably less, but that sort of person is like as not to stand out." The imagination renders plenty of things. Her fingers trail through her hair. "I've an idea where at least to start on that front, though I regret it's an obvious line of inquiry to me. We shouldn't dread wine."

<FS3> Sombra rolls Investigation: Failure. (5 1 2 2 5 2 4 2)
Sombra spends 1 luck points on Reroll.
<FS3> Sombra rolls Investigation: Success. (6 1 5 4 8 1 1 4)

<FS3> Carenza rolls Investigation: Good Success. (4 3 3 2 4 7 4 3 8 3 6)

Léonard inclines his head towards Sombra, and a faint albeit regretful smile tugs at the corner of his lips. "I can't see the Marquis objecting to yet another of his kin plundering his private sanctum, when the damage is already done," is murmured lightly as he leads Sombra inside and unlocks the door to the library. The young woman will find a variety of 'odd' books, some of them focusing on foreign cultures and some even more obscure in that they deal with topics of occultism.

Sombra easily goes into the library and heads over towards the books on occultism, looking to see what all is available and in what languages if not in D'Angeline.

Carenza, meanwhile, earns a slightly surprised glance from Belmont. "An interesting thought… if one happens to have a painter at hand, which I'm not. May I accompany you as you make your inquiries around the castle? Perhaps we should extend this to the city, as I can say, there have been more affected by this… spell. The baker. A woman selling vegetables in the market. This one guard. All three of them are in the care now of a priest of Eisheth. But maybe there were witnesses. Some not as… impaired in their current state." He offers Carenza his arm. "Shall we?"

Ah, plunder, what sort of terrible things cross in that path? Whatever Carenza might overhear on that front, she wisely keeps to herself. Instead, she is swift to respond to Belmont. He has proven more than fair in giving direction; the least she can do in turn is share her thoughts. "I would be delighted for the company. You would not be unwelcome, for at the very least, we might get somewhere with the questions. Those who see a Mereliot in me may be less troubled by you. And so it goes. What effect had the curse or spell, as you saw? Did it bewitch them or simply cause them to act in a befuddled manner?" Those are inquiries a bit too on the nose, perhaps, but she's not about concealing her hand.

The more obscure works Sombra has to lay aside after a while, not really knowing enough of these topics as to make sense of them. The books on foreign lands are more easy a read, and if Sombra likes to, she can indulge in travel reports of exotic lands like Ephesium, Khebbel-im-Akkad and Bhodistan.

Sombra collects the books of foreign lands and makes sure to collect travel reports before she heads off to go and research what she can within her room.

Belmont meanwhile arches a brow at the eloquent creature at his side. "I wasn't there for the interrogation," he repeats. "But I was with a small group following the lead that finally ended in seizing the baker. His… state was that of deep apathy, when we found him. The baker's assistant told us, he'd been like that since the festival.", he tells Carenza. "I'm glad to hear I wouldn't be unwelcome, it must be quite the compliment, coming from one such as you. And you are right. I think a Mereliot at my side may loosen tongues of the people of Béziers. So… where are you suggesting should we head first?" A wry grin twists his lips, as he meets Carenza's gaze.

"I imagine not, but 'tis a difficult matter all the same. Nothing to be done happily by enduring the trials and troubles of asking questions of that sort." Musing, the dusky-haired girl twists a braid around her finger, pushing it back over her shoulder. "I dare not think that anyone would claim it a /benefit/ on my part, but you honour me nonetheless." Laughter almost threatens to bubble over her lips, even if the notes are a tad flat. "Loosened tongues indeed. I regret that you should know I am considered a far-roving Mereliot, and not always to my credit." She doesn't manage a wink, but the tip of her tone is sufficient. "Did they seem stripped of emotions? Or merely so traumatized they could barely respond? I had a thought that this sort of matter — poisoning of wine — carries a certain element. A curse in wine isn't exactly common, surely. If that's the case, than we might narrow down likelihood. It's not a guarantee by any means, but I can point to a few regions where it's more common in their tales and stories."

Belmont's brows furrow a touch. "I understand the matter itself casts a sobering shadow upon the pleasure of my company, but know this, that I believe there shall benefit in this for the both of us." His hand touches casually the pommel of his rapier. "I can ensure you'll be safe, Lady Carenza Mereliot." Said at a lower volume before he adds: "As for the baker, as he is the only one I can five a first hand for. It looked as if he were not really there. Physically present, yes. But unable to act or reply to questions. In this, yes I assume it must be a curse."

"My lord, I should probably have significantly far more care for my safety than I do. But for the moment, I think of those children who passed into the true Terre d'Ange beyond, leaving their family to grieve them, and that propels me to take a few risks beyond the norm." Her shoulders lift gracefully beneath the slant of her coat. "I appreciate that you would put your blade up in my defense, though I am equally bidden to tell you I have no demand you do so." The pert wrinkle of her nose says everything, eyes a thunderstorm bruise in the golden dawn of her face. "Would it be a danger to your own life, run." Still, she's a long-legged thing when they start moving, and she accompanies him easily enough. "Poor baker. So he's witless, or taken under this curse. Perhaps we can make something of it. What of the wine, and the woman, that eventually might lead us one way. Why target them?"

"I assure you, this won't place you in my debt," Belmont states with a smile. "As for your advice, you'd have to find a wiser subject to bestow it upon." His eyes follow that graceful shrug of her shoulder, before he shakes his head. "Yes. The poor baker. Caught in that state he is, unless the Priest of Eisheth hasn't found a way to break the spell." And there the d'Eresse sighs, indeed, with what would appear as some form of empathy. "The wine? There's the cask. It had… an odd smell to it. If I'm not mistaken, it's been brought to the kitchens. The cook hopes to cleanse it, so that it can be put to some purpose. As for the woman… are you referring to the woman in the market? Both the baker and she were among those acting strangely during the Festival of Lights. Those that suddenly began their attack on the Marquise's family, down by the waters."

"One has to wonder what does constitute a matter of debt with you, my lord. Surely there has to be something." She shrugs in kind, long hair licking between her shoulders. "I imagine a priest might be a starting point, though not the ending. For a temporary stay, a chirurgeon might offer a better assessment. Hmm, that may be worth considering. That or, oddly, a Balm courtesan, for their expertise with calming the mind might give some insight. Mind you at this point, I'm grasping any number of straws and tossing them airborne to see what manner of intrigue appears." A wink then, though her mouth simply cannot carry the weight. But to his questions, she nods. "I would confiscate the barrel — pay for it if I must, I'm sure someone will reimburse me. Inside that could be a clue, something important. A chirurgeon or a chemist won't be able to identify the compound if the damn thing is washed. Elua save us all from well-meaning washers, but tidying things to right is wrong right now. I assume that the woman in the market or the baker were affected by proximity then. They started acting curiously, but the question I have is why. Were they near one another? Did they all drink this? Were they targeted or accidental, something to cause a stir to interrupt everything? The common folk are, after all, caught up as much as the nobility and it would be a sin against them to forget it."

Her counters make Belmont raise a curious brow at her, slightly baffled by her words. "What would place someone in my debt would be… a secret perhaps… loyalty demanded knowing what it could cost me to give it," he muses, thoughts drifting and forming the words that come out of his mouth. "But as I said, to offer the safety of an armed escort is not to be sold for a favor of any kind; it is a requirement of courtesy, my lady." His head he cants in the direction of the kitchens. "We should hurry then. I saw the cask brought over there some time ago. Let's hope the cook is busy with preparing breakfast rather than cleaning it."

That warrants a slight loft to the Mereliot's brows. Appraising Belmont again in a new light, she provides her arm to him if he cares to take it. Might as well be in cahoots and give the servants something to gossip about, rather than leaving a suggestion they're up to no good. "It may be a requirement of courtesy, but it would be neglectful and rude of me to imply that it is a given, without acknowledgment. Or gratitude, for that matter. Doing good for its own sake is very well. Nonetheless, we do ourselves a disservice to overlook it." Her footsteps are light enough and she can move when she wants to. "If I had thought of it, I would have sent someone on asking her to preserve it. Lady favour us with a bit of luck, no?" She can probably find her way enough to the kitchens, and it wouldn't do to stir up everyone yet. Not unless there's good reason to disrupt them.

The cook is a rotund female with rosy cheeks and a decidedly stern look, as she glances towards the pair now intruding upon her in what must be her habitat and realm. What Belmont and Carenza can see, is that the cask seems be be stowed out of the way, beneath a table. "M'lady. M'lord. Have you got lost?", the cook asks. "What can I do for you?" Kitchen maids can barely hold back a giggle, but whether this happens because of the cook's astonishment, or the interesting constellation of the Mereliot's hand placed on Belmont's arm as if he were leading her to a dance remains unclear.

"The cask, madame," Belmont utters, with whatever charming smile he can muster. "We would like to purchase it, -as is - if you haven't cleaned it yet."

<FS3> Belmont rolls Charm: Success. (6 3 8)
<FS3> Carenza rolls Persuasion: Success. (3 3 2 6 3 5 4 4 8 4)

They might as well be going to a dance, and highly charmed by this turn of events. She allows a slanting glide of her gaze — L'Envers stamp on Mereliot template — to linger upon the table, and then further, as though espying whatever treats might be prepared for the meal. Lead cook, we've come to bargain. Alas, no flipping of the timepiece allows a certainty of anything, and she can only prevail with a low, soft sigh. "Madame, I would ask your compassion and assistance. For it would be a great help to me, and I assure you, we are doing nothing nefarious. Hardly a time for mischief." Not with those guileless, wide eyes downcast a moment. "Eisheth bless you for your forethought."

For a moment there is ominous silence, hardly broken by the choked giggles that are about to cease as soon as the cook casts the pair of kitchen maids a hard glance. "Purchase, m'lord?", she asks Belmont. And by extending her hand she expects some coin to be placed upon her palm - an expectation Belmont obliges to, counting a few silvers into her hand, until the cook gives a pleased nod. "Thank you, m'lord. The cask is yours." When Belmont collects the cask from beneath the table, they can see stains of wine it still has within - and it has that distinct scent to it. Of red wine. But also another, more subtle note.

<FS3> Carenza rolls Investigation: Great Success. (6 1 6 5 8 8 4 7 8 6 8)

On their stroll about the market, Carenza and Belmont can question a number of individuals. While those affected by the curse (which are the baker, the female fruit and vegetable stand owner and a few others) are in the care of a Priest of Eisheth, not receiving visitors nor even allowed to be questioned. There are several eyewitnesses from the Festival of Lights. They all more or less can report that there was a woman in red skirts, wandering among the crowd, tossing wineskins among the folk. She looked foreign. A Tsingano maybe. She also was seen dancing, shortly before the Marquise began to launch her speech. If pressing on the subject (and due to the great success of the roll), Carenza can even acquire one of those wineskins. They have that same distinct smell. Something… herb-like. A description of the woman would be… young, dark hair, dark eyes, dusky skin. Seductive appearance, definitely. She hasn't been seen in Beziers since the Festival of Lights.

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