(1310-12-23) At the End of the Day
Summary: Eneas tracks Helene down when she misses dinner to share information.
RL Date: 2019-01-03
Related: Shortest Day Disappearances Plot
eneas helene 

Temple of Shemhazai

The temple of Shemhazai is a cathedral dedicated to knowledge. The temple is built of grey stone and the interior is floored in white and black marble mosaic tiles. The most prominent fixture of the temple, overseeing the main hall of the temple in an elevated sanctuary at the back of the hall, is a silver statue of Shemhazai. The sanctuary is gated save for steps that go from the main floor to the sanctuary floor at the feet of the statue. Braziers on the walls give plenty of illumination at night and a few candelabras hang by chains from the ceilings.

The main hall is an elegant library, bookshelves have been put into the walls as well as thick oak shelves flanking both sides. The main aisle between them has several rectangular tables with comfortable chairs set for each. Doors lead out from the main hall to adjoining rooms which the Priesthood use for teaching or people could use for private study. Built into the back walls flanking the entrance are spiral stairwells that lead to the upper floors of the temple where priest lodgings, labs and other necessities of the Priesthood are found.

When looking out of the windows, you see: It is a winter day. The weather is cold and drizzling.

It is dark by 5:30 in the evening, and darker still by 8:30, long enough after they had planned to meet for dinner and to share information, and Hélène is nowhere to be seen. If an inquiry is made at the Verreuil residence, Eneas would be told she had changed to visit Le Coquelicot, but had not been seen since. A few suggestions are offered as to where she might have gone, including back to the port to see the harbourmaster, or her usual haunts, like the Leaping Fish and Temple of Shemhazai, perhaps even Raziel's Sanctum. To the surprise of none, the libraries are near the top of their list.

Of course, Eneas would not go to the libraries first. She said she would be looking for information, but he doubted that the particular information could be found in books, the kind they were looking for at the moment, anyway.

So it might have be rather late when he arrives at the Temple, having checked with the Leaping Fish and the Harbour Master first, then made the trip across town again. By now the d'Aiglemort's mood has not improved by the ordeal, though apparently, he had changed, washed and perhaps even managed an hour or two of sleep before he went to meet for dinner, surely by now most of the evidence is already gone again.

When Eneas arrives at the Temple, it is late, but the candles are lit, and the books inviting to those who are so inclined. While it is mostly quiet, a quick word with a guard would send him towards a back corner, where a Siovalese woman had camped out. There is an acolyte cleaning a trail of mud from the floor that seems to lead from entrance to the stacks, and on to the corner, tracing pathways through a few sections. It might seem out of place, but they are accustomed to people coming for knowledge from all classes of life, and all states of being. It isn't that strange for a noble on a nature walk to run across some plant or shell and come running to the Temple to learn more.

Eneas does not make it to the corner though when a shape lurches from the shadows, a fist raised, and voice low. It is likely to Eneas' benefit that Jean-Marc has clearly not slept, and has clearly had a rough day of it, because the punch is clearly going sideways, six inches to the left rather than being well aimed. Perhaps it was the suddenness of it as well, sending the guard off kilter. He dos manage though to get up to Eneas, and growls, "You! Do you have any idea what I've had to deal with today? She was never this bad before you came along." There is fire in the brown eyes that bear down on Eneas from the man who is perhaps a year or two his elder.

Long steps do walk through the temple to reach that corner, only to be assaulted. It is perhaps to Jean Marc's benefit that the first does not connect, for surely if he had given such an excuse, the countless hours of frustration and pressure would have taken the welcome reprieve to give the guard a whopping, act as the whipping boy not for Eneas himself, for the world as a whole.

As it is, however, Eneas just is forced to jump back, his own arms coming up to further deflect the blow, to send the guard off-kilter, though when he is growled at, the Camlach born and raised man's posture changes, and the expression darkens. "Deal with…?", he practically hisses. "From what I heard you didn't deal with anything. What in the hells were you thinking, letting her stay well past nightfall at the docks?". Yep, he is blaming the guard. Okay, no, he is blaming the Verreuil, but she will get her part in due course. "What? She overpowered you and you couldn't throw her over a shoulder if she was being stubborn and stupid?". At least it is not yelling, yet, right? Though surely far from hushed tones between them.

"Have you ever tried to get something through that thick head of hers?" Jean-Marc spits back, his hand rising not to Eneas, but to point his entire arm and then his finger into the corner of the space where Hélène apparently is hidden from their hushed argument. "Or have you forgotten that /she/ is the one who pays my wages to protect her wherever she chooses to go? She would never have been there at all if it wasn't for you." Perhaps not the most accurate statement Jean-Marc has ever made given her tendency to follow any mystery presented to her, and how it has her own ships on lockdown as well, but Eneas makes a more convenient target than the woman whom he has served since her sixteenth birthday. It takes a priest coming to interrupt to shush them for Jean-Marc to stop, his lips sealed, but eyes still sending daggers towards Eneas.

When they manage to round the corner, Hélène is sitting there, seemingly oblivious, her focus intent on the work before her. She is dishevelled, but dressed unusually finely for her, the silk gown though ruined by the mud that creeps a foot up the hem. There is dirt on her hands and arms, and a thin streak of blood by her temple. The table before her is littered with books and scraps of papers from opened folios, some care given to not mixing things up, but barely enough. Currently she is leaning over a map of the city and nearby coastline and country, one finger tracing a path, and another in her mouth, being sucked on.

Eneas glares right back at the man. "You protect them, even if they fire you after.", he lets the man know. Fair? No, of course not. The guard won't have a comfy cushion of a monthly stipend to fall on that his brother pays him for breathing. But Eneas is no longer caring to be fair to the man, at the moment, at least. After all, it was not fair to blame him for the danger Hélène was in. then again, there is a grain of truth to it, and perhaps that is the only reason why Eneas does not lay into Jean Marc more so.

Rounding the corner, Eneas is still fuming, though he does come up short when he gains sight of her. It is ridiculous. That is what it is. The situation. Her state. The way she sits there engrossed in her work, looking like a six-year old who played in the rain despite being told not to. And so there is snort, something caught between an exasperated laugh, relief that she is more or less whole, and the releasing of pressure so he does not start yelling at her.

"Hélène Agnes Verreuil….!", he finally calls her, by her full name, no less. Yep, she is in trouble. "What in the name of his…", he gestures around, to indicate the temple, "…wrinkly balls do you think you are doing?".

She was too bloody mindedly set on her work when he came around the corner, so it is only when Eneas actually says her name that Hélène looks up, green eyes wide. The finger leaves her mouth, and she wipes it on the dress, her other hand not moving from it's place on the map. As she takes in Eneas, and Jean-Marc fuming behind him, she seems to stop, entirely speechless. she looks from one to the other and answers simply, "I think I know what is going on." Another blink. "What's wrong? Oh Elua, what time is it? Did I miss dinner?"

"Dinner…". Eneas just had to echo that word. Just to affirm that that is what she thinks she is in trouble for. Another step is taken towards her. Then another, before the mercenary actually looms over her form, of sort. Perhaps poor Hélène might get a taste of just the lord inspires discipline into troops if it is needed. Surely there are men that are taller than him, and yet when he stops next to her at the table, setting his hand down on the tabletop with fingers splayed, it is done just in that tiny little slower pace than one would expect. With deliberation and tension. "Dinner was three hours ago. That's back in ancient times, when I was still worried.", he lets her know. "Since then, I learned that, instead of taking me. Or one of the City watch with you, you went galivanting around the docks. You know. The ones they abduct women from?". His hand then lifts again, to cup her face, and while the touch is firmer than the countless other times he might have done so to caress, he is very, very careful, apparently. "Would you look at yourself?", he scolds her a little more. Yeah, like he cares that she is muddy, but it might be a distressing sight, because she seems to oblivious to it. "And whose blood is that?".

"Eneas, I am in no real danger. They are taking women with Angelic powers. They took Gwen for the gift of Eisheth, and Lois, the adept, for her Oneiromancy. Even were I a scion of Shemhazai, what are we good for? Reading very quickly?" she answers dismissively. She really does not appear to understand, or at least seems confident in her own understanding. "And I had to go back after speaking with the guard from Coquelicot Eneas. I /know/ where they took the women, and how they moved them. They left by wagon at sundown yesterday, before the port was ever even closed. I found this…" She turns from him to move books across the table, looking for something hidden beneath, a scrap of blue fabric. She gives it to him, a scrap of a blue robe of Eisheth. "See, I had to go back."
There is a pause and then she asks, "What blood?" her hand rises to her forehead, wiping it for a moment and then looking at the remnants on her fingers. Raising her other hand she tells him with a shrug, "Paper cut." It's why she was sucking that finger.

There is a blink from Eneas at her dismissing his worries. A blink of genuine surprise, before his head turns upwards, eyes cast ceiling-wards. "You have given her cleverness. Would you please grant your Daughter wisdom as well?", he beseeches the Companion of the Temple they're in, before eyes fall back to her. "How would they know, you silly bint? Did I miss a stamp or branding on Gwen's forehead? Or one on yours that says: Not a scion?", he grumbles at her. Yes, he is still furious, "For all those bastards know, every one of us is gifted somehow…".

Still, when she speaks of the clues she found, his eyes wander to the maps, briefly, trying to gather quickly what information she has, and how it might be acted upon, before she finds out about the blood and the papercut, and he shakes his head at her again, letting his hand slide from her cheek to the side of her neck. "One day, love, I will throttle you, you know that?", he finally tells her, and yet some of the anger seems to evaporate, as he seeks to press his forehead to hers, eyes to close for a moment.

"Yes, well until that unhappy day comes Eneas, we have more important things to worry about," she answers, her lips edging into a smile as brushes her nose against his. More important than her wanton disregard for her own safety? At least it seems to be more important to Hélène.

Hélène's hands move to rest upon his hips as she continues, "Many people know she bears the touch of Eisheth. She is actually VERY well known for it, for a healing touch. There are others in the city known for similar. The Coquelicot, she was known to bear the gift of dreams. Scions may not bear marques, but that does not mean that some people aren't known for it. I have been trying to think where they might go next. They took them in a wagon, and I know at least someone in that shack was screaming bloody murder in the afternoon, so unless they are being kept sedated, I have to imagine they have left the city Eneas. And I… I don't know where to look next so I came here."

Eneas just shakes his head at her. "This conversation is not over…", he lets her know. Oh, no, she will hear about it a plenty. Somewhere where he can yell at her freely, probably. Ahem.

But if one thing, Eneas has been in prioritizing mode for almost two days know, and so he shoves that aside to listen to what she learnt. When she speaks of Gwen being well known for her gift, Eneas sighs. "She was. And the recent healing of the Skaldi changeling has made a spectacle out of it, no less.", he points out, before he frowns a little. "What shack?", he wonders. Surely that is something that should be investigated. "Yes, they might no longer be there, but if one leaves in a hurry, one tends to forget things.", he lets her know. Another glare is given to the Verreuil. "You could have let me know. Send a messenger. Or …anyone! If you are right, and they did leave the city by wagon, their head-start is growing bigger by the minute.". Still, he turns to glance at the map she has been peering at. "No cross-country trips though, unless they ditch the wagon. Then they have to take them by horse, which means they cannot ride by day, or risk being spotted or questioned why they have a woman-shaped package on their horses…".

"A lean to, barely, between the sheds and the market. There is an alley there, and I spoke with a leather worker who pointed me at it. Squatters use it mostly, and there were a few horse blankets, and this," Hélène answers gesturing back to the fabric for a moment. Leaning over the table again, she traces the same path as before on the map, heading out of town, but then to places along the coastline where are semi-protected. "They could get them out of the city and onto a ship outside of the harbour Eneas. Without some clue as to where they might be headed, I am… I am stuck." She sighs once more, her head shaking, and shoulders slumping. She has been working steadily since three or four in the morning, barely breaking, and now, without an idea of where to look next, she looks defeated.

"Two women Eneas. Remember they have two women. I know you want to find Sister Gwenaelle, but they also took a girl of barely sixteen who wasn't even behaving dangerously. She was walking from the Night Court to the market, with an armed guard, in the middle of the afternoon. Whoever is doing this does not care that they have to incapacitate the guards to do this. They do not care about doing this in broad daylight Eneas." Her hand slaps down on the table and she adds, gritting her teeth to keep from yelling in the Sanctum, "And I have no idea where next." He knows her well by this point though, and he can see it, the way she is fighting to maintain what composure she can, fighting back tears of fear and frustration.

The info about the lean-to is nodded to. "Horse blankets. How many?", he wonders, trying to figure out the size of the operation, probably. At least two, likely, in his mind.

When she berates him about the adept, however, Eneas just gives her a look. "I have not forgotten, Hélène.", he replies, perhaps a bit more sharply than he intended to. "If they ditch the wagon, they will split up to arouse less suspicion. So there will be only one package per horse and probably even per group. Especially if they fear they might be followed and chased. Though you mentioned leaving before the port was closed? What makes you think that?".

As for her being stuck, and the coastline she traces, Eneas shakes his head. "People do not just ignore a ship waiting off the coast. That will make people talk. Shepherds, hunters, people who live nearby. And if they saw it, then there is a high chance it can be identified.". Another pause. "Two abductees. They are greedy and not very careful. Thank the companions for that. So they did not come ashore just for this. If they have a ship, they hauled cargo for the extra money. So when it is identified, we can find out where it went to harbor before. Where it came from…". The leads are slowly thinning, yes, but there are still breadcrumbs to follow.

When he looks back to Hélène, watches her struggle with her own temper, Eneas cannot help but to smile, lightly. "Is that how I looked like yesterday, to you?", he wonders.

"They were in a cornre, but when I inspected them, they were common, and stale. They looked like they left in a hurry though, with the boot marks in the dirts, and well, it tallied with what the cook said. I caught her as she was coming home from work, that is why I went back," Hélène tries to explain, her head shaking slightly. "She said that she heard something, and saw things, large things, being loaded into the wagon yesterday evening. The port was only closed this morning. And Eneas, there are plenty of ships hanging off the port, or up the coast, one of my own among them, waiting for the port to reopen so that things can get moving and they can come and berth," Hélène answers.

At the last though she asks, "What do you mean? I didn't see you yesterday."

Eneas listens, eyes half closing as she speaks, though when she once more reiterates that she had to go back, he sends her another glare. "Crates, likely. Would do well enough to hide from causual onlookers. Did she not say how many were loading? And how many were loaded?". All sorts of things that can affect how quick they can move.

As for her ship and they waiting off the coast? Eneas shakes his head. "Now they do. Two ways about it, Hélène. They berthed in a natural harbor, entered the city by foot, did their deed, then return to the bay. That means that ship is laying at anchor for three days now at least, long before the harbour closed. And will have been noticed. Or they arrived by ship, did their deed, and arranged a place to be picked up. Then the closing of the harbour might delay them, for their ship is trapped.". Of course, there is a third option, but Eneas grits his teeth, apparently not ready yet to say it out loud.

Instead, her question makes him blink. "Yes, you did…", he insists, then blinks once more. "Well. Or…this morning. I slept for an hour. It is yesterday for me…".

Hélène slowly exhales and shakes her head, "No, she kept to herself, like you would have preferred me to apparently. She said it looked like there was a rug, but then she went inside. She probably thought they were just smuggling and wanted to keep her nose out. I couldn't find anyone else who knew anything, and I tried Eneas. I really tried. If anyone down that way hears anything, they have my name, they know I will pay for the information."

She shrugs as he speaks of the ships and harbour. She simply does not know more currently, but when he grits his teeth and bears himself against the third possibility, Hélène reaches to take his hand with one of her own, holding it gently and letting her thumb run soothingly along the back. "They are taking women with abilities Eneas. They are alive, otherwise those gifts are meaningless," she says as assuring as she can.

Sighing again Hélène answers, "One hour is not a night's sleep Eneas. It's barely a nap when you've been awake since yesterday. Have you eaten yet?" Of course, they were supposed to meet for supper to do just that, though she is skipping over the part where the same questions could be asked of her.

Really? She goes there? "I would have preferred for you to not be stupid.", he shoots back, simply. "For you to have taken more than Jean Marc, when you _knew_ they do not shy away from lone guards.", he finally tells her. "Sure. Perhaps they only had specific women they targeted. That did not make you safe, you …", he bites back that choice word he might have hurled against her. "…There are not only them who make the docks dangerous. But if they had not left already? What do you think would they have done to one woman they could not 'use' who got too close to their trail, Hélène?". There she got him to bristle again.
Of course, when she brings up it not being a night's sleep, Eneas just rolls his eyes at her. "I am a soldier, Hélène. You take sleep when you can, as little as you get, until the crisis is over. This is not the first time I've been awake for a few days. And I would have slept longer, if I hadn't had to leave to meet you for dinner.". He gestures with a hand. Sure, he does not say it, but surely the words are there in the gesture, 'to which you never showed'.

She sighs again, "I will be more careful Eneas. You recommended sell swords I could hire for my trip to Siovale, and I will see about hiring their services tomorrow. I worry that people will not speak with me if I have too many guards though." He won, at least a small victory, if not the war on her stubbornness. "Let's get something to eat. We can try and pick up the trail in the morning Eneas. It's after ten, people will be asleep, and too dark to see anything useful on the road."

She starts to pile the books before looking over to Jean Marc, giving him an apologetic look that is answered with a nod. They have been together long enough that little else is needed, even if Jean-Marc is perhaps near aging out of being her day-to-day guard. Rolling the map up, she looks to Eneas once more, and he can see the exhaustion on her face as she asks, "Take me home Eneas?"

Volatile they are at the best of times. And in the stressful hours that passed, surely some of the more pronounced character flaws have been rubbing against each other in quick succession, but when she concedes that she could take more precautions, be a bit better prepared? Eneas takes the victory for now. Surely, they will have a more rational talk when this is all over.

As she starts to pile up the books, Eneas moves to help, though he does roll up the map, and while he places it in the container it belongs, he hangs it over his shoulder, rather than to leave it for the acolytes to sort back among the shelves. He'll return it. Promise. Ahem.

Only then does he step up to the stubborn lady, and her request is nodded to, agreed to with leaning down to kiss her forehead. At least once he found a spot that is not muddy or bloody. "Let's go.".

Jean-Marc gives Eneas a nod as the pair pass him, leaving a tidy stack of books and folios, sorted roughly by where they will go back. It is a sign of her state that she doesn't even complain about the map. It does not take long though to make their way back to the Verreuil Estate, and for Hélène to send a message to the d'Aiglemort residence that any messages for Eneas be sent there for a few hours at least. Requests are made for a bath, and for dinner to be brought to Hélène's chambers, which is where she leads Eneas.

Hélène clears her desk, moving the folios and letters to a safe place on the shelf beside, and in the drawers where she organises her business affairs. She gestures for him to lay out the map before moving to the other area to change out of the muddy attire. Her feet are white, veering on blue from having been wet and cold in the ruined stockings for so long, but aside from the muck, she looks entirely unscathed. She is quiet as she pulls out a robe to change into before walking back to look ovre the map even as she changes into the silk robe.

Traveling to the Estate is uneventful at least, the last tendrils of anger to evaporate. You can only be angry for so long before it has to turn into something else, after all.

With the map rolled out, Eneas studies it for a few moments, until Hélène reappears, and the d'Aiglemort shakes his head, turning to look at her. "Fresh eyes…", he tells her, seeking to take her hands into his, and then steps back from the table and the map. Yes, almost reluctantly. His own instict is to keep staring at it until it blinks, but she was right. It is dark, they cannot go out in chase before morning and their minds are running ragged since they have not been thinking about anything else for longer than one should.

Seeking to tug her to sit with him, he leans in to kiss her cheek once more, waiting for dinner to be brought up, and her bath to be filled. "You scared the living daylights out of me, you know that?", he wonders, frowning at her.

Hélène rests her forehead against his, her eyes closing. She has been staring at the map herself for too long, and doesn't go to it quite yet, possibly until after she has bathed. "I did not mean to Eneas, you know that right? I admit, I did not think how it could affect you, but I…. I had a lead. I had an idea, something I could run with, and that is… That is just how my mind works, love. I find a thread and I cannot let go," she tells him, "And I forget everything else, and couldn't concentrate on anything else even if I remembered, until I've chased that thread as far as I can." She sighs again and assures him, "I will take more guards, but I cannot promise I will never go running off chasing things down. That is just who I am Eneas."

"I know…", Eneas replies, nodding his head against hers. "Does not mean I have to like it…", he adds, and yet, when she rants about the lead and the thread and how she could not not go after it, he cannot help the low laugh to escape him. Blue eyes to reopen, to peer into hers, a hint o mischief in them, underneath the tiredness. Surely, she realizes, that this is more or less how he described what he went through when she yelled at him on the ship? Ahem. "You'll be the death of me, someday, Hélène Agnes Verreuil…", he prophesises.

Pot, kettle and all of that, the most infuriating things are the traits that they share. "Now you knwo how I feel," Hélène answers him wryly. She brings a hand up to gently run along his jaw and then rest on his cheek, teasing, "And isn't a shorter life with me in it just more fun than a longer one without?" It has been a stressful day, and a long one, and the lighter moment is a much needed reprieve from the fear and grief. "Now I am hungry, how to speed up the staff?" She leans in to give him a kiss; it's worked before, and sure enough it does again. A few moments in, the door opens as the upstairs maid brings in two bowls of hearty goose stew and bread baked in the morning, good, hearty food to strengthen them against their day in the cold.

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