(1310-10-07) Trust
Summary: Lady Desarae Mereliot braves Castle Chavaise's occupied dungeons to speak with her Cassiline, who is presently languishing under house arrest, to ensure that nothing will prevent him from fulfilling his vows.
RL Date: October 19, 2018
Related: Everything in this page.
nicolas desarae 

Dungeons - Castle Chavaise

There are people in here, and it smells gross.

The remaining hours of Desarae's morning and early afternoon have seen Guillame haunting her every step. Leaner and taller than Nicolas, her father's Cassiline is imposing in his own right and demonstrates the typical traits found in every experienced body the Brotherhood's monastery ever churned out - he is quick, sharp, and mostly silent. He attentively keeps watch over the young lady even without appearing that he is, gaze and body following her no matter where he positions himself in a room.

It seems almost too much, especially when Castle Chavaise is so fortified - the massacre at Beziers had driven the family steward, Leonard de Mereliot, into reorganizing and bolstering its security with the help of the captain of Armand's marquisate guard. It still remains her family home, warm and familiar, but to strangers, it is practically a fortress, now, practically impregnable against threats from without.

However, Desarae manages to claim some respite from this new change in her daily routine. Her father's appointments for the day include a visit to the port, a business meeting that he is reluctant to attend - the months since his wife's death have rendered him reclusive and reticent to engage even in the simplest of social affairs, leaving the castle only when necessary. But it seems that the meeting is important enough that even he acknowledges that it is. It is in the mid-afternoon that the man sets off in his carriage, with his Cassiline in tow and several members of his personal guard, to embark on the path leading to Beziers.

The path leading to the dungeons is a steep one, designed as it is to be unwelcome for a reason. It rests in the underbellies in the castle's western tower, connected to its main body by a stone hallway that extends over its gardens. There is only one way in, and one way out, and the door that keeps others at bay is barred by a pair of guards dressed in Mereliot livery, polearms in hand and ready to turn people away save for castle staff instructed to feed whatever prisoners are being held until justice is meted out by Armand or another of his agents.

It is drafty here. The autumnal wind blows freely through the hall, the way it is constructed rendering its interior dim enough to require torches burning along the walls at all times. Shadows flicker as if alive at every zephyrous pass.

<FS3> Desarae rolls Intimidation: Good Success. (6 7 1 1 4 8 3 8 1 6 5 1)

The wait has been interminable, and the act of keeping the stress of being under observation from showing upon Desarae's face had come close to cracking her composure at least a time or two. It's with a deal of relief that she watches her father and his entourage leave from the safety of her chambers, and his carriage had scarely cleared the bend in the road before she'd got the warmth of her travelling cloak settled about her shoulders and made her way down through the levels of the castle and into the passages that lead to the cells.

Her feet are silent as she strides with a confidence that's bolstered by sheer force of will and a deep-set stubborness towards the castle's bowels, the flickering torches casting eerie shadows upon the floor and her face. What should be an unimposing figure is lent gravitas by the severity of the manner into which she's styled her hair for this task; slicked back sides that are pulled into a tightly coiled knot at the nape of her neck. The style enhances her features, pushing them more into the Kusheline side of her inheritance, and her cloak is a sinuous thing that quite resembles the dark wings of a raven as she approaches the guards and the entrance which they flank. She'll be known to them, of course she will, not only from the time that she'd spent at the castle following the death of her mother and siblings, but also from the whispers that have surrounded her sudden return.

"I have come to speak with my Cassiline."

Her statement is plainly spoken, and eyes that are as bright and as sharp as the finest cut emeralds, glitter where caught by the light as they dig deep into those of the guards. "Please stand aside."

The guards stand on even sturdier alert when Desarae sweeps into the hallway like a raven in flight, eyes like virid lanterns. They give the lady a salute in unison, recognizing the Marquis' daughter as she approaches. But when she makes her request, there's a heavy silence - indecision radiates from the bodies before her. They exchange glances.

"My lady," the guard to the right begins. "I would, but the dungeons aren't a place for a— "

But the steely-eyed look cuts through his protest and he swallows. There may be a little bead of sweat running down the man's temple. "…as you wish, my lady."

They open the door for her, and when she descends into the cold and dark of the tower's dungeons, she'd find more light at the end of the winding stairwell, opening up to an archway that leads right into the cells themselves. She would find that, while she knows which cell Nicolas is kept in, some of the others are occupied - criminals awaiting the Marquis' judgment. There aren't many, but there are a few, and these eyes in the darkness follow her, this pretty young thing, whenever she decides to make the long walk towards her Cassiline's cell.

Thankfully, nobody dares touch her. She carries herself imperiously enough that most of them know not to reach out through the bars in order to do so. But there's a catcall or two, an offensive suggestion from the man at the third cell.

It is the last that draws another reaction. From the very last cell, Nicolas' familiar tenor remarks, simply:

"Any more of that and I'll break your face."

The tone he adopts isn't even overtly hostile, wreathed with the same, easy confidence he demonstrates in most things, especially in his ability to turn those threats into a very painful reality should he be freed. He can't see Desarae yet, being at the very end and the darkest part of the dungeons, but the manner in which some of the more verbal prisoners are reacting to the new presence in the cells suggests that a woman has arrived, and whether common or noble, Nicolas would say the very same thing.

The catcalling ceases, the dungeons becoming so silent that the air grows still with it, indicative enough that those awaiting Armand Morhban de Mereliot's judgment are fully aware that there is a Cassiline in the cages with them.

<FS3> Desarae rolls Composure: Great Success. (7 1 6 6 7 4 3 8 8 5)

It'd be clear to those that she passes that Desarae's no visiting servant girl; the proudness of her carriage would suggest that much to them, even if that fact weren't clear from the lack of anything borne in her arms. Trained well by the Night Court, her composure refuses to crack at the lewd remarks and cat calls that follow her down the corridor, though she'd not be blamed for keeping herself well to the left of the cells and away from any stray hands.

The walk is long, or perhaps it just has the appearance of being so, her thoughts dogged a they are by worry that one of the guards might decide to follow her down. The walls are damp with condensation, the floor slippery underfoot — and there's not a person in all of Terre d'Ange that could claim the cells of Castle Chavaise don't reek. Her nose crinkles against the acrid smell of human excrement and sweat, and her shoulders hunch as she comes to the end of the passage where the last of the cell's to be found.


Her eyes hunt for the figure within the dark and shadows of the cell beyond the bars even as she utters his name on a hesitant breath, her hand closed in the tightness of a fist around the key that she's brought.

<FS3> Nicolas rolls Composure: Failure. (3 1 3 4 2 1 4)

In the hours since he had been locked in a cell, the Cassiline has whiled away most of it in prayer, and the young woman would be able to determine it easily in large part due to the meditative way he has kept himself seated. In the middle of the cell, on his knees with his knuckles curled on his lap, for a man who has been consigned, however briefly, to the same fate as his traitorous father had been, he remains perfectly composed and easy until he hears her voice whisper through the bars. Violet eyes snap up to regard her face, fey features highlighted by dim torchlight, the angles of her all the more emphasized by shadow. The look of him is so surprised that his easy facade actually breaks.

He's by the bars in an instant, his hands coming through the bars. Fingers curl around her shoulders, gripping securely, but not too tightly. Even now he knows his strength. His boyish features twist - he almost looks like grimacing, brows scrunched with worry.

"What are you doing here?" Nicolas whispers. The fact that she's even here, brushing past criminals and smelling the stagnant and foul air in the cells, is almost too much for him to tolerate - it's downright appalling. "My lady, I understand that you're concerned but these people are mad at best and dangerous at worst." They're confined, certainly, but he is in the business of protecting others - when it comes to her safety, he does not leave anything to chance.

"I've come to get you out, of course."

Desarae's answer would be comical under different circumstances, but it's delivered with the sincerity and honesty that Nicolas will have come to know her for. "You shouldn't be here." Her eyes dig into his. Searching. For what? Her own composure almost cracks, and there's a welling up of emotions in her face that are wrought by the circumstances of her return to her home. "Consumed by fear and worry, my father isn't himself. He would never have done this were he thinking straight, so I have taken matters into my own hands." Eyes glitter beneath the darkness of her lashes, her mouth downturned at the edges as she pulls her hand free of her cloak and lifts it, fingers uncurling to reveal the iron key in the centre of her palm. "Nicolas." A breath. "I simply can't trust that my father won't leave you to rot the night away in here, or possibly longer, I have to get you out now." Her shoulders sag a little beneath the weight of his hands. "If my father still wishes to interrogate you when he returns to the castle, then he can do it in his study with a dozen or more guards." A steeliness shows in her voice, her resolve unwaivering in the face of Nicolas' concern, her mind made up and not for changing. "Your vows will not be broken, at least not by my father." She looks down to the key, then back to Nicolas, a ferociousness finding a home in her voice.

"I trust you."

If nothing else, those three words would have been enough.

There are questions in his eyes, watching her intently, glimpses the fissures that threaten to make that porcelain face collapse and reveal the heart underneath. Something constricts within himself, followed by a breathless wave of pure, unbridled affection - not even at the fact that she so desperately wants him released, but the fact that he had spent the last few hours wondering what she must think of him now. There is only one reason why the Marquis would be so suspicious of him and considering his family's present situation, he certainly can't blame him. It is the primary thing that inspired him to submit to his incarceration without protest - violence on his part would only expose his ward to it when it doesn't have to go that way.

Some would call this a failure already, but it is a commonly held misconception that Cassilines are war dogs that fight to the death immediately when pried away from their charges. Situational awareness is something that they have all been taught, and one in which he is particularly gifted, given his eidetic memory. He remembers everything - who is involved, where everything is, what he has been told is happening.

But here she is anyway. She must know, who he is, where he had come from, and she doesn't care.

It means more to him than he can rightly articulate.

Nicolas' hand reaches out to close his hand around the smaller one gripping the key. His smile cuts brilliantly through the dark.

"I'm glad that you do," he mutters, unashamed in expressing the sentiment, looking her right in the eye.

He pauses. "But if your father intends to interrogate me, I can't…" His jaw sets. "You've already risked his displeasure coming here to release me, if I can spare you from any of the other consequences, I would. If he intends to question me here, I ought to wait for him, if not just to protect you from his ire. You can leave the key with me - I will use it if I can't convince him of my character." There's a glance up the hallway leading towards the stairs, grimacing faintly. "Not to mention the two guards upstairs will loudly protest if they see me coming up with you - violence will be imminent there."

Desarae's voice wavers as she acknowledges the sense of what Nicolas is saying, along with the unlikeliness of her simply walking him past the guards when she leaves. The key glints between them, resting in the curve of her hand as she waits for him to claim it. "But I could get you out of here now if you'd let me," she says. "I'm my father's daughter in very many ways, the guards don't worry me." But there's holes in her plan, and even as she's telling him she's seeing those problems for herself. It's unravelling at the seams, and there's a bite to her lip that shows a sudden uncertainly as to how to progress.

"I'm scared, Nicolas. I need you with me, not locked away down here." The hand not holding the key snakes through the bars and wraps about the curve of his elbow.

"Promise me that you will use it if my father fails to release you? That you'll come and you'll find me, wherever I am?" Her hand tightens on his arm, her eyes locking painfully with his, dark and blown, enormous in the reduced light of the dungeons.

"Promise me…"

Attacking her father's guards will not make him trust him more. That, and considering the state Armand is in, he wouldn't put it past the man to accuse him of beguiling his own ward. He had read something like that, once, about how empathy could transfer between two people if they've been around one another long enough - no matter their relationship, whether friendly or adversarial. Between prisoners and warden, as well.

The uncertain face she wears gentles his smile, and with the barest pressure, he attempts to relieve the key from Desarae's fisted grip. "Your courage is something else entirely," Nicolas tells her quietly in an attempt to be reassuring. "And I know. Believe me if I could get out of here right now without risking you, I would do it. But to act hastily will only make things worse, I think. To leave these premises without speaking to your father man-to-man will make him less inclined to have faith in my fitness to stay by your side and might decide to relieve me from you permanently when you need me most. If he's giving me a chance to change his mind, I ought to take it." His smile turns rueful. "Brother Guillame is not a terrible person, he's only bound by your father's word. You can trust him also, until I return to you."

The strength in that delicate grip surprises him, and Nicolas watches her for a moment, her eyes large and pleading. But only for a moment, before his expression hardens with determination.

"I promise," he tells her decisively. "I'll find you wherever you are. Nothing will be able to keep me away."

With the key hidden in his uniform pocket, his arm folds over, hand placed over the paler, slender one grasping his elbow. He leans forward, forehead nearly pressed against the bars.


There's another glance to the stairwell he can't see. "You should go before the guards check on you," he urges. "And I'm….my skin is crawling that you're in a place like this."

Desarae is nothing if not intelligent, and she sees the wisdom in Nicolas' words. Her hand remains upon him a moment longer, and he'll feel the pressure transferred through the muscles and tendons of her arm to her fingers as she mirrors his action and leans into the bars. "I'm so sorry this has happened." she whispers, her breath a warmth that'll stir the air before his face. Though only inches separate them, the bars make it a gulf, and he'll feel the wave of unhappiness that washes across her as her hand drops away.

"Be safe…" Her words fall between them, a wish, a hope, a command.

Then she's gone, the echos of her footfall fading as the shadows between the torches swallow her back from his sight.

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