(1310-05-31) The Gravest Mistake
Summary: Alexandre visits Armand to get an ingredient and some information.
RL Date: 31/05/2018
Related: Béziers Plot
armand_npc alexandre 

A Chamber — Temple of Eisheth

On the day of their arrival to Marsilikos, Armand had requested to be allowed to visit Kushiel's Temple. It had been the one single wish he had uttered, when the darkness looming above him had increased with each minute, each hour, each day that passed since the untimely death of his wife and his offspring. Perhaps trusting that Armandine would handle further steps, or perhaps suddenly rendered unable to think, with clarity fading, he had asked for permission, and his sister-in-law had granted him that wish, under the condition that he would speak and give open testimony upon his return.

Five long days the widower of the Marquise spent inside Kushiel's halls. It was on the sixth day, that he was transferred to the Temple of Eisheth. It will be here, that Alexandre de Morhban will find him, and he will find him well guarded. Temple guards along with Mereliot guards sent by the duchesse make sure no one enters without permission to do so, and in Alexandre's case, after his talk with Desarae, he had obtained such permission, signed by Armandine Mereliot herself.

There is a hallway further back in the Temple, a flight of stairs leading up to a few chambers usually reserved for priests and acolytes. Into one such chamber, Alexandre will be admitted, led there by an acolyte of Eisheth who then stands back, holding vigil. Interior in the chamber is sparse, limited to minimal requirements. Upon the narrow bed at the side of the wall lays the frame of a man, his back turned upwards, covered in bandages, that are dotted in blood in some places, with larger red stains at others. His head is turned aside, away from the wall, eyes light but having an empty stare. A blanket covers him, from the feet up tp the waist. Beside the bed, there is a mug of lemon water, and an assortment of salves and ointments, left there by a healer or a priest.

When he arrives and is lead to the temple of Eisheth rather than Kushiel a ghost of a frown touches the corners of Alexandre's lips and eyes, a single faint line creasing his forehead. He walks through the temple to where his uncle is being kept however with guard, with escort, and with the acolyte overseeing the visit. Catching sight of Armand with his bandages and his vacant stare, Alexandre moves around the cot to get a good look at the man. "Can you speak. Uncle." Not a question so much as a demand for an answer. Though his voice is low in volume there is an edge to it, a crisp hardness that touches everything about the Kusheline from the stiff backed stance to the way he holds a small leather satchel at his side.

As he waits for an answer or any indication there might be one, Alexandre studies the bandages on Armand's back and where the blood is thickest that seeps through. After a few moments he starts to pull the satchel from his side and opens it up to show the Acolyte nothing more than a silk handkerschief and a pair of small scissors. Just in case the Acolyte was worried.

"Shall I have a chair brought for you, my lord?", asks the acolyte evenly. He is clad in sea-blue robes. He looks at the satchel Alexandre opens for him, and then gives a nod.

Armand's eyes regain a bit of clarity, once Alexandre comes into view. It is visible from the slight twitch of brows, of eyes blinking, from the way they flick towards the Morhban, his kin. "Alexandre…" Armand's voice is slightly hoarse still. And then Armand falls silent, gaze going distant again for a moment. "How… what… my daughter…" He clears his throat. "Desarae." A long ominous pause. "Where is she? Why are you here, and… not her?"

"Yes." Alexandre tells the Acolyte in the blue robe, "Thank you." There is a faint nod of thanks there, his tone much more gentle to the Acolyte and he moves around to get right in Armand's view and he crouches down on the balls of his feet, "Naimah cursed Desarae as she said she did when we took her. Your daughter is dying Uncle. My cousin is dying. She has at best just over a week left before she is taken by this curse. Maybe less." There is a hardness in his expression there, "I am here instead of her because she cannot walk. She can barely breath. Barely eat or drink." He stares /hard/ into Armand's eyes at those statements. There is no mercy in his words, nothing soft about that look at all, "I am here because I have found how to cure her. I am going to do everything in my power to save her life."

The Acolyte moves to the door and has a chair brought. It is a quick and unobtrusive thing to do, the request being followed immediately. Accepting the chair, the Acolyte approaches the space where Alexandre is kneeling and sets the seat down, only to withdraw back to his spot at the wall. Lips begin to move in silent prayer, focus turned towards the man in obvious recovery.

"Naimah…" Armand's brows furrow as he spits out the name. "Kushiel seize her. I… had hoped…" His eyes close for a moment, "Then she is still alive?" It is an ominous question, and upon opening his eyes again, Armand holds Alexandre?s stare with her own. "A death curse…yes… that is so much like her, damned witch that she is… Desarae must live… We can't let Naimah have that triumph… Desarae…" Hoarse are his words, but spoken with more momentum now, than just before. "How… how can it be, that you found a cure?", the marquis asks, flinching slightly as he tries to shift onto his side. "Kushiel's Balls," he curses, perhaps more aimed at the sudden wave of pain. "What do you need?" Noting the hard stare of his nephew, Armand adds: "You don't seem to like me very much, Alexandre. There is no shame in being weak after a few days of penance at Kushiel's Temple. You should know that…" A certain sharpness touches his voice. If anything, this makes him sit up even higher, disregarding the pain, that shows after a few moments, in fresh light red adding to the dried blood on the bandages. The bandaged front of his chest, sports similar areas, by the way.

"I don't like you because this is your fault, Uncle." Alexandre says, "I don't like you because you got yourself entangled into this mess. I found the books in your library that listed the curses used by Naimah to take control of the guards and the citizens who attacked you at the festival. I found the cure for that too, and they are all free of that curse. I don't know what business you had with that woman, but I suspect you tried to double cross her in some fashion. Which is why she has killed everyone close to you." He pauses, "Except Desarae. She won't get Desarae if I have anything to say about it." He moves to sit down on the chair that is provided and then goes to open up his satchel to get out the silk cloth and unfolds it. "I would very much like to know why you have put this black mark on our family name." Setting the piece of silk cloth on the satchel itself. Taking the scissors, Alexandre looks towards Armand again, "In order to save Desarae I will need some of your hair."

"You are very quick to condemn someone, nephew, without knowing the story behind it.", Armand retorts. "Since when…" He flinches, brows pulling together from a wave of agony. "Since when," he continues with a slightly lowered voice, "does a curse infer I caused all this…" There is a slow blink of his eyes. "How could I ever suspect Naimah to act as she did? It was she who… claimed and demanded… what I could not give. A tragedy, I didn't intend, but there you have it." He snorts, shifting a little as he keeps himself upright now, leaning against the wall, whilst pulling the blanket in place. "It only seems fair then that I tell you what happened. As I will testify before the Lady of Marsilikos and anyone who would hear it." He frowns, lifting his chin. "If you need some of my hair, go ahead and help yourself… Reversal of the ritual… hmm. Interesting. I had thought of that, but never got it to work."

"Then convince me, Uncle." Alexandre says, "You had a book by her in your library. That indicates a level of familiarity beyond simply being hoodwinked." He rolls those massive shoulders of his in a slight shrug and then reaches out with one hand and the scissors. "I have to say that Naimah still lives. We took her alive. So she will be testifying on her behalf before the Duchess of Marsilikos and the tribunal called on this matter." If Armand lets him he goes to cut off a lock of hair that is similar in size and amount to that which Desarae gave him of her mother's hair. "Fortunately for Desarae, I have some small interest in these things and was able to figure out how to undo what was done to her. Time is of the essence however, the Curse can kill within a week. Two at the most."

Armand looks astonished, when Alexandre makes that assumption about him having one of Naimah's books. "Nonsense! She doesn't even know how to read and write, apart from her own vile language." He ponders for a moment, though. "I remember writing that name of hers down in one of those books though. It was about the… reversal of curses, and I've tried it and it didn't work." He holds still for long enough for Alexandre to cut off some of his hair, then lowers himself slowly back onto the bed again, resuming the position he had when the Morhban had entered. "Naimah… I met her so many years ago in my travels. I shouldn't have… Or things wouldn't be where they are now. I was young, I was carefree… What can I say? We had an affair of sorts. She was beautiful. But it never became more than just an affair. At least not for me. She wanted me to take her with me to Terre d'Ange. She wanted me to make her my consort to bear me children… I had gotten her with child, you see, and she had lost it." He reaches out for the mug of lemon water, lips feeling so very dry, and he takes a sip. "Naimah and I… got into a terrible argument… I denied her what she wanted most, and so she… cursed me. I left then, never thinking her curse would hold. I sailed back to Terre d'Ange, and met Monique."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Alexandre=Perception Vs Armand=3+5
< Alexandre: Good Success (8 2 2 6 8 6) Armand: Failure (6 6 2 5 4 3 3 3)
< Net Result: Alexandre wins - Solid Victory

Alexandre somehow gets the feeling this may not be all to the story, as if Armand were holding back some details.

"Cursed you how?" Alexandre says simply, putting the locks of hair into the silk cloth and folding it up to be stored safely. "The curses that I broke were not ones done to you. The curse on Desarae was one that required hair from you, and your wife." He looks over at Armand and then sets the folded up cloth with the hair in it in the satchel with the scissors. He closes the satchel up tight and keeps it away from Armand as he leans back in the chair. "So you are leaving something out, Uncle. As distasteful as your sleeping with a foreigner is and begetting a child upon her, kept or not." He reaches out to try and grab hold of Armand's head and turn it so he can stare into Armand's eyes, focusing his attention and all of his portion of Kushiel's essence into that gaze, "You are doing a piss poor job of convincing me." And that intense green eyed gaze of his bores into Armand, the weight of it almost like a physical impact as Alexandre brings the power of his heritage to bear on Armand.

<FS3> Eisheth rolls 9: Good Success. (7 7 5 4 4 5 2 8 1)

"She cursed me," Armand replies evenly, "Said I was destined to one day be forced to watch all of my children die, along with the women that would bear them." A calm settles on him, the calm of someone who has very little left to lose. "I've already lost almost anyone of my family. All these years, I'd never heard from Naimah again, but… somehow… I had nightmares now and then, reminding me of that episode in my life… I tried to get books on curses, hoping to learn they were naught but a means to scare enemies into believing, that this would be the means how they work. Scaring the cursed one, make him bring about his own downfall."

"Alexandre?", the older man sounds surprised, when he feels the nephew's fingers lifting his chin and turning his face to lock with Alexandre's eyes. "What are you…" Armand's brows furrow. And then he falls silent, holding that stare, a faint line between his brows speaking of utmost concentration. "Are you using your heritage on your own kin?" There is a chill in that voice, a warning perhaps, or even a hardly veiled threat.

While Alexandre dives into the wide stare of Armand, digging beneath that layer of outward composure. He can almost hear a soft sigh in his mind as Alexandre's gaze dives deeper, into the core of the other man's soul. Piercing through the foggy haze of memory is the shrill voice of a woman, in waves growing and then ebbing like the tide "…CURSED BE YOU…" "YOU WILL WATCH THEM DIE…ALL OF THEM! WITH YOUR OWN EYES. THEN, AND ONLY THEN I'LL RELEASE YOUR DEPRAVED SOUL." The image of a woman comes into view, eyes red with tears and anger and disappointment and hatred. Naimah, so many years younger, so very beautiful even in her rage. "Are you mad, woman?", this the deeper voice of Armand. His hands grab her by the shoulders as he begins to shake her. Violently. "Stop this. At once. I won't take a foreigner as consort. I won't father any foreigner's children. It is WRONG. Yes, I know. I take it as a sign of fate… That you lost the bastard. It wasn't meant to live; never will be…" There is a harsh slap to her face, and Naimah cries out, stumbling in the moment his hands let go of her. And she falls several feet, from the rocky slope in a foreign looking landscape. Her loud cry rings through the air even as she falls. Until the *THUD* of the impact, and everything is quiet. Too quiet. Glancing down, Armand can see Naimah laying there, blood trickling from her temple. Not moving. So still. She must be dead. Armand is about to climb down to her to check on her when he hears his name called, by his d'Angeline companions. With a low curse under his breath he hesitates only briefly before he moves off.

Alexandre lets go of Armand and then wipes his hand off on his pants as if even touching Armand was disgusting. "So you thought you'd killed her, but quite clearly you did not. That's why you've been having nightmares." He shakes his head a bit, "So what did you do when she showed up in Béziers Uncle? She clearly had been in your home, the Guards accepted her as being under your employ. That is how she poisoned the guards with the cursed wine." He looks away for a moment and then back to Armand, "There is more you aren't telling me about why she was there." He frowns faintly.

Armand has grown pale, his breath coming labored now, wheezing, as he holds Alexandre's gaze until the other man lets go of him; after which he slumps to the bed, and closes his eyes.

"My lord… Please…", the acolyte tries to intervene, rushing to the side of the bed, gathering some of the lemon water to sprinkle some of that upon the marquis's face. "You made his condition even worse… We shall report this to the Duchesse." A soothing hand is placed upon the shoulder of Armand Morhban de Mereliot. "Breathe, your excellency. Breathe evenly. Relax. You are here, in Eisheth's Temple. Shall I call for the guards?"

The question was aimed at Armand, but the uncle of Alexandre just shakes his head. "I never knew she was here," he states towards his nephew. "Until I saw her, moments before hell broke loose at the Festival of Lights… By then, it was already too late. She had drugged some people and brought them under her spell. The guards… when we arrived at the castle, Naimah stepped out of the shadows and had us seized by our own men. Tied. And then killed. She made sure, Monique and I watched when she ordered one of the guards to slit the throats of our dear ones."

Standing up when the Acolyte rushes over Alexandre considers Armand for a few long moments, "Good. Tell her. If I do not tell her myself when I see her next." He pushes the chair out of the way and then says to Armand, "The question remains Uncle, as to why you were taking up with a foreign witch to begin with. Yes, she was beautiful, but that does not explain why you feared her curse so when you thought she was dead." He moves away to let the Acolyte tend to Armand with enough space to move and he starts over towards the doorway. "You should have told us all of this before you decided to have yourself punished. Now a week has gone by, that your daughter has lost." He shakes his head faintly and then goes to ask for an audience with the Duchess concerning these matters, and make sure he can get hold of the other materials he'll need to try and save his Cousin.

"A curse is a curse," Armand replies, his voice broken. "Who knows… Maybe Naimah chose to send me those dreams… to keep me alert. To torment me." A faint frown then, before his features relax and a low mirthless chuckle leaves his lips. "And how very effectively she has tormented me. As for foreigners mingling their blood with our own…? It is happening, Alexandre. Everywhere. In other lands. Even in Terre d'Ange. Look to the Capital. Look to Marsilikos. Eisande. Other Provinces. Political matches are made with foreigners… I realized my mistake, but on the other hand, being away from home, what did you expect? As I said… I was young. And yet… I brought this upon us. I should have made sure she was dead back then. That is the gravest mistake I made." A faint smile tugs at his lips. "At least I have Desarae, still. So I ask you to hurry. Go back and do whatever you need to do to perform this ritual. Her Grace will grant you all the help you need. Desarae… at least… She needs to be saved."

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