(1310-12-23) First Steps
Summary: Eneas tells Helene about Gwen's disappearance, and they begin to investigate
RL Date: December 23, 1310
Related: Gwenaelle Disappears
eneas helene 

Marsilikos - Port

Fortune laid the foundation for the grand port of Marsilikos; look how the arms of the land spread wide to embrace the setting of the sun, welcoming a bay of still waters rendered all the more peaceful by the presence of a small island to the south, on the flanks of which the waves cut themselves into powerless ripples as they move in from the sea. But what Fortune gave the D'Angelines their cunning and craft has improved to a hum of efficiency and culture. The natural bay has had its curved shores sharpened into straight edges bolstered with ridges of heavy stones on which the tides have left long mark when the waters are low, algae and barnacles hung onto the rugged stones. Then stone foundations have been piled out into the harbor to hold up wide wooden pillars and the great treated slats of the piers and boardwalks which extend into the bay, now at wider intervals for massive trading vessels, now at shorter intervals for private fishing and pleasure yachts.

The southern arm of the bay is reserved for the great southern fleet of the Terre D'Angan Navy, which is headquartered here in Marsilikos, and is ever a hub of activity, the giant slips outfitted to haul the massive warships up into the air for repairs, while further inland on the southern peninsula a forest of masts rises into the air where new ships are being built and old ones repaired in full drydock. Between the naval slips and the drydock rises the stately edifice of the Southern Naval Headquarters, glistening with huge latticed windows on the upper floors. Beyond the headquarters rises the massive fortified promontory of the Citadel, with bleached-white parapets and fluttering banners.

Markets and vendors throng the plaza at the innermost fold of the harbor where civilian and military seamen alike might find a bite to eat, supplies for their next mission, a good drink or a little bit of companionship. Far in the bay, that little isle sports a lofty lighthouse to guide the ships in by night.

It is a winter morning. The weather is freezing and overcast.

It is still early morning, and the port is in disarray. It was closed overnight, and Helene heard as soon as it happened, woken from her bed by an anxious captain who was preparing to sail at first light. She isn't even dressed against the weather, having grabbed a cloak more suited to an autumn day than the winter's chill, but so be it. Currently, she is just leaving the office of the harbourmaster, her eyes darting around the docks, trying to catch each face in turn, her green eyes cautious and alert. Jean-Marc, her guard, oddly cannot currently be seen, even as she starts to take off at speed towards a nearby city watchman asking frantically, "There was a man, Eneas d'Aiglemort. Do you know where he went?" While she tries to maintain an even voice, there is a note of trembling just peeping through her façade.

Some say that chaos and disarray always follow in the wake of Eneas in some form, but this might yet be one of the bigger ones he caused, at least in the City of Marsilikos. Well, at least at a hand in creating. The watchman blinks at the Lady inquiring of him and looks apologetic. "Terribly sorry, m'Lady, but I do not think I know the man." Surely all those nobles look mostly the same to him! Ahem.

As luck has it, though, Eneas might be spotted near the entrance of the Kraken's den, speaking quietly to Renauld, who might still look a bit pale from his affliction, but merely nods to some instruction given to him. A Shake of hands between the two men, a small pouch of coin handed to him, and the two parts. One to head to the Kraken once more, while Eneas turns to head further into the port proper, craning his head one way, then the other, to perhaps loosen muscles that have been tense for too long. The man was awake most of the night, and it is beginning to show, the shadows under his eyes and around his chin, but his stride is long.

Helene shakes her head at the guard, and begins to fumble through a description when she sees Eneas and Renaud, and, apologising to the guard, all but runs towards them. She reaches down to hold up the hem of her cloak and gown so as not to stumble on the wood and cobble, her hood down and hair loose, a small testament to how quickly she left her home. "Eneas," she calls out, at least giving him warning of her impending arrival. When he looks, Helene stops still a few metres away, her eyes soft, watching him with compassion as she awaits his response.

The call of his name does make Eneas slow his step, the head to turn in the direction, sweeping the moving crowds once, and only catching her face in it at the second pass. The concentration, the mask of determination does soften as he sees and recognizes her, he turns from his intended goal he had before, to step towards her instead. Lips even curve upwards a little in a weak smile. "Helene…", he offers. "…been meaning to find you…", he offers in lieu of a proper greeting, though he does lift a hand to reach for one of hers.

Her slender hands reaches to find his, soft fingers entwining with his own more calloused. her eye watch their hands before returning to Eneas' face, Helene's head tilting slightly and offering the slightest of shakes as she takes him in. Stepping forward, Helene reaches her free arm around his neck and rise onto tiptoe to embrace him tightly, her cheek pressing against his shoulder and neck, and the smallest of kisses given before she says, a note of command in her tone, "Tell me everything Eneas."

Eneas does not resist the embrace, when it comes, instead steps into it, the free arm to wrap around her for a moment. A deep breath is taken, her scent inhaled, but there is no real deflation in the man before her. Chaos and Disarray? In some ways the merc thrives in it.

So when Helene speaks those words, he shakes his head lightly against her, his voice low. "Not here…", he tells her, before he draws back, only so he can lean down to kiss her lips, briefly. "You have a ship in port, don't you?", he states. How does he know? Well, apparently the man has been busy! "Where?". He already is looking around for it. It would do as a spot to talk with a bit more privacy, if only the crew can provide a bit of a buffer, right?

"I have two currently, come with me," she answers against him before pointing to a nearby ship flying Verreuil colours. Helene walks a half step behind him, her hand holding his tightly, and eyes never leaving the mercenary. Jean Marc it seems is already on board, and stands at the end of the gangplank, his eyes holding each of theirs in turn as they board. Helene lets go only long enough to speak with the ship captain, and arrange use of his quarters for their meeting, before directing Eneas through the low door, her hand reaching to touch his back lightly before following him in.

It is a ship, and the Captain's quarters are small and cramped, but adequate for purposes. There is a desk, chair, and low bed, with a trunk at the end. Even that takes up all the space, and pulling out the chair bumps the bed frame, not even room to swing a rat on the floor space between.

It is her family's ship, and Eneas lets her do the talking and the leading on it, merely giving a nod to Jean-Marc, and then the captain when he surrenders his quarters for the meeting. Eneas is not too familiar with ships: Yes, he made several voyages on one, but clearly only as a passenger, and while the relative calm in the harbour does not threaten to make him green around the nose at all, that the 'ground' moves is noticeable in his gait and the way he reaches out to steady himself on the doorframe when he steps inside the quarters. And yet, that alone seems to sour his mood for some reason, jaw to clench for a moment, as he looks around the cabin, before indeed making way to let her step inside as well, close the door behind them.

It only takes a deeper breath, before Eneas begins. There is none of his usual preamble or jesting, witty banter. This is something he has been going over in his head for hours now, broken it down with the analytical mind of a tactician rather than the seething rage that lies underneath it all, waiting to break free at something, someone that gives him a good enough reason. "The short of it is that Gwen was on duty at the temple. Late morning, she got called away by a sickly looking sailor who said his wife and kid had fallen sick and were too weak to travel. So she went with him somewhere in the dock area to tend to them. By evening, they send a acolyte to me, thinking she might have detoured afterwards to see me, for she had not returned yet.". Eneas pauses, to move and settle his hip against the table, to lean against it, rather than sit, his arms to cross in front of his chest. "Not like her, to not send word. To go missing for so long.". Blue eyes finally settle on Helene. "I have no chain of events yet. But it is likely that something did happen. If it had been a robbery or the kind, someone would have seen, heard, reported it by now. So the next thought is that she is being kept somewhere. Perhaps still in town, if the closure was quick enough. If not, then finding out which ships left port is the next step and I may have use of a fast ship to run them down.". Of course, who knows how many ships did leave port the day before. They do need to narrow it down.

Helene follows him in, letting him choose where to sit or stand before following suit, leaning back against the desk beside him, a hand reaching to rest on his thigh as she listens. She keeps her breathing even as she listens, though there are a few tell tale twitches around her eyes that show her concern, both for her lover and for the Priestess. She nods slowly when he finishes and answers at last, her voice low and even, "What can I do for you now Eneas? Do you want my thoughts on what to do next, or do you have enough thoughts running through that head already and just need someone to speak to? I have things I can do, people I can reach out to help, but… not everything I have to say might be comforting." She squeezes his thigh gently, and continues, "So if you what you need is comfort instead, I can do that."

Helene pauses and pushes herself off the desk to move before him, her hands rising to cup his face and look at the dark circles, and the lines of worry etched upon it. "And get you some food, perhaps some sleep. You… I will help you search, and seek out anyone who has seen or heard anything, but, if you do not eat, and sleep, you will do neither Gwen nor I any good. Your reflexes will be off, your awareness limited, and your mind full of cobwebs. You need to take care of yourself so you can help her."

There is a bit of a snort that comes from Eneas, eyes to lower to slits for a moment. "Comfort is a thing of the past.", he states, perhaps a bit harsher than he intended, and surely harsher than she deserved. "I know the game we play now is merely to see her back alive and the odds are slim.". Hands clench for a moment, before he turns those blue eyes back at her. "If they took her out of the city, the chance to find out on what ship she is will be a toss of the dice. But they will think they got away with it. So she will live. If she is still in the city…", he pauses, gesturing with a hand to a nearby bull-eye out towards the port. "…this will scare them. And they might decide to cut their losses, to not get caught and hang, or worse.". No, there is little illusion in Eneas about which ways this can go.

Still, Eneas closes his eyes once more, the shuddering inhale perhaps once more seeking to force himself to calm. "If you have ideas, let's hear them. There is no sense holding back at this point, Helene.".

And yet, when she steps in front of him, cups his face like that, she might feel the muscles tense in his form, the mercenary still running on anger and have been burning that fuel for hour snow, surely. So he does roll his eyes at her suggestion for a moment. "There will be no sleep.", he tells her.

"Then if you find them, you will die," Helene answers plainly. "you will not be fit to save her life, and will waste your own in the process." There is, perhaps some heartbreak of her own in those words, but they come from her mouth firm and confident, even as she adds, "And if I am with you, I will die too."

That said, she takes a deep breath and answers him, "If she has been taken from the city, it might not have been by ship. It would make more sense to take her by land, at least past the gates. A ship would be too clean, too obvious, given the man who came from her was a sailor, unless, of course, he really was a patient and just unlucky in his choice of Priestess. Past the gates, they could get her onto a ship if they needed to without it ever mooring here. No records. No hint as to where it was from or where it would be going. If she is here in the city, then running into bars and threatening to beat people will only get you so far. It’s the washerwomen, and the mothers watching their children, the everyday people who might also have seen something, and quite frankly, in your state you would scare them. If you storm the streets in a temper, running brashly into people's homes, you will give the impression that you are as likely to hurt her as help her." She takes a breath and continues, "I will send word as fast as I can to Siovale and to our trading network. If I send a rider, and have them meet up with the river boats, it will be fastest. My family… Our trade network extends from Aragonia past the tip of Caerdicca Unitas, with allies beyond. It will take time for the messages to travel that far, but know that all I have is at your disposal."

"I will get you something to eat while I write the letters Eneas," Helene answers simply, diong her level best to keep her own expression calm, and her own temper in check, "but, if a full day passes and you have not slept, I will find a way to make you if I can." Her expression soften again and she lens in once more, letting her forehead come to rest against his own, "Do not say she is not alive until you know she is not alive Eneas. Do not get ahead of yourself. We will find her, together."

There is then a break in her composure, the slightest, her eyes watering over slightly as she turns her head upwards to press a kiss against forehead before she lets go once more and reaches for the paper on the desk. She reaches a hand out and opens the door, calling out, "Jean-Marc, bring some food please, and then I will need you to take care of some message for me." She leaves it open a touch as she tells Eneas, "Let me sit, please."

Well, sometimes Eneas can be a little obtuse. In this case it might be excused for he is clearly in crisis mode and discarding things left and right that are not strictly needed. Like manners. Ahem. Still, the rebuke of not saying it, makes Eneas sigh a little. "I do not know what it is about, Helene. She is not from a rich family, despite her family name. There were no notes to the temple, so it is not randsom…", he grits his teeth. "If it is about her offering aid to someone they disagreed with? Like that skaldi changeling or…", he pauses at that, eyes narrowing a little, eyes to flicker breifly to her, before away again. "…who knows what their plans are then.".

Still, when she pushes his head against his, he seems to still for a moment, and his hands tightening on hers. "I bloody told her it is bound to happen at some point. They have too few guards at the temple.". So what if it would not have prevented this specific scenario?

When she goes to call in Jean-Marc, then asks him to move, he does, pacing away the half step that is possible, really, to let her sit, turning to take a look out of whatever window is closest to him, once more craning his neck, to make his spine crack a little.

Helene nods, even as the pen begins to run across the paper, her careful script blurring as a tear falls on the paper. "And I will ask about… the issues with the Carthaginians, perhaps? I… I promise you, I will learn all I can." There is another sigh and she continues. She is done the first missive, and has sealed it with wax using the small ring on her hand, a stylised crest of Verreuil. It is not the ring of the Baronnie, not a proper seal, but one that her family and their traders would know. That is when the food arrives, simple fare, just bread, hard cheese and cured meat, the kind of food one would expect on a ship of this size. She pushes the plate towards Eneas, and continues her writing. She remains silent while she works, even raising a hand to shush him if he tries to interrupt her, working until there are seven missives, some shorter than the others. Stacking them, she pushes the chair back and turns to Eneas once more.

Eneas stares out the window for a few moments. It are the moments of relative quiet that need to be siezed, he knows that as much as Helene does, even if he refused to acknowledge it when she brought it up. Sure, he might not be able to sleep at the moment, but rest will come in some way, eventually. If only for an hour or three. "Perhaps…", he agrees, without looking at her at first. "You'd think they'd be more careful, but one should never underestimate the stupidity of some people…", he agrees, grumpy, still, yes, but happy to go through every angle that seems halfway reasonable. With the plate brought, he finally turns. "There is enou—", he begins, only to be sushed by the Lady, and he blinks at her. He might have missed the tear that fell to be smudged, but he does not miss the quietness, or the redness in her eyes when he looks at her. What is it with him managing to make women cry lately? Ahem.

Still, he waits for her to finish the last letter. They are similar, all three of them, are they not? The'll go through obstacles if they have to to get things done and perhaps, on some level, he understands that she needs to finish this part before he can address the next. When the last is stacked, the chair pushed back, he meets her gaze, pushing the plate back onto the table. He did not really eat much more than a bite or two, but that is not important at the moment, is it?

"I am being ungrateful.", he finally says, his features for once softening a little, and he seeks to reach out to cup her face in one palm of his. "You're here and helping. I do see that, Helene. I…", he trails off, not sure how to wind himself out of that, perhaps.

It is Helene's turn to be sharp, withdrawing her cheek from his hand as she snaps back, her eyes firing up and jaw setting, "I am not helping you for your gratitude Eneas." She clutches the letters, her nostrils flaring, "I am helping you ebcause it is the right thing to do. I am helping you ebcause I care for you, and you clearly care for Sister Gwenaelle, so therefore I care too." She shakes her head, her free hand clenching and takes a hard breath, unable to contain her own anger, "I am helpign because that is what you do when someone you love is in need, even if they don…" her voice trails off into another deep breath. "You should have come to me as soon as you knew Eneas. I should not have heard from the harbourmaster. I could have had this very ship out after anyone leaving the port. It's small, and fast, and…" She turns away and reaches for the door, banging her head on a low beam as she turns right into it, and cries out, "Shit!" And now she is as angry with herself, as she is with anyone else it seems.

There is surprise from Eneas when she reacts that sharply, when she draws away from his touch. Which is probably the reason why his own temper does not flare in turn, and he just blinks at her when she launches into that triade. Oh, there are plenty of little barbs she hurls at him, and for once they are not meant for laughs, but she was aiming to cut, and yet oddly enough, Eneas seem to take it easier than all that went on before.

When she telegraphs her movement to turn, he already is pushing off the desk to follow her, to reach out to try to hold her back, perhaps grap a wrist. Of course the dull thunk of her head against wood? It actually stops him short. There is a sympathetic hiss from Eneas, but as she curses, the hiltarity of the situation does get to him? The laugh is subdued, but it is there, and he does try to draw her into his embrace, not as forcefully as he had originally planned, perhaps, but with a certain insistence. "Let me see…", he tells her, reaching up to inspect her forehead, to make sure she did not cut herself or the like.
"I'm fine. Not the first time I've forgotten to duck," she answer, though her own temper is shortened by the shock of hitting her forehead. She closes her eyes as he goes to check, and there is a red mark, but unlikely any bruising to follow.

Helene is pushed forward as the door swings open into her back, causing her to grit her teeth and lurch towards Eneas as Jean-Marc calls out, "Are you alright?" His head enters through the opeinng, the door having been stopped by the Lady herself. Helene reacts by simply turnign herelf around and eaching out the hand with the letters to pass them to him, her gaze holding that of her guard. There is an unspoken message passed between them, born of their many years of service and friendship, and Jean-Marc nods his chin answering, "Fast as I can, I promise."

When the door shuts behind Jean-Marc, Helene lets her breath out slowly, though her composure does not fully return.

At least the arrival of Jean-Marc stuffles the giggles in Eneas, even if it means poor Helene is smacked again, this time by the door, and he catches her. Yep, close, cramped quarters. Surely not meant for two, this room, especially not with his bigger frame taking up most of the room.

When the door is closed again, the letters gone off, Eneas dares to try to wrap his arms around the woman. "Hard-headed.", he comments. Sure. Let's lead with something to incence her even further, right?

"I came to find you, when it was time to find you.", he states, instead. "It might have been she just got delayed or otherwise held up. By the time the port got closed, I went to see you, but you were already off to the docks.", he explains. "Does not matter, for I still do not know even which ship to send yours after. I knew you would agree.", he finally admits. "So I arranged other things that I could not depend as steadily on first.". He pauses then, seeking to lay his chin on her shoulder, and only then loosening the hold around her waist, to let her pull away if she wants to, then.

Helene does not debate her own stubbornness, it is far too much on display this morning. She does not even stop his holding her, but he can feel as something in her deflates. When he starts to explain that he came to find her she snaps sarcastically, "I came to find you…" Of course, the next few sentences correct her, even if she is too pig headed to admit it. She simply chortles, her head shaking.

Helene lets her hands come to rest on his as he leans his head forward, not pulling away this time, but saying through gritted teeth,"I am sorry Eneas. I was… harsh." That couldn't have been that hard to say, could it? Too similar by far. Her jaw unclenches before she continues though, "We will find her Eneas. One way or another, we will find her. The city should be waking up, we can go ask questions, just… don't go for your sword until we know a kind word sin't sufficient. Please? The people around here…."

Helene turns around, her hands coming to rest on his upper arms as she starts to explain, "They closed the port, and if it continues on longer the people here will suffer Eneas. It's not us traders, it's the everyday people here.. They rely on the docking fees, on the day labour of loading and unloading ships to feed their families. The fishers dock to bring in the day's catch to feed the city. The closure of the port is… it's terrifying enough already. I don't want to make it worse by running in with threats and daggers." An there is the Helene he knows once more, her mind moving to the consequences not for herself but the denizens of the district and the city.

The sharp retorts only cause arms to tighten more around her midsection, even before she ends up eating her own words. Ahem. Her reassurance is nodded to, though he does not acknowledge it verbally. "There are those who need a firm touch, and there are those who don't….", Eneas grants her that much. "I have little to gain from terrifying anyone who is not involved in this, Helene. No matter how much better it would make me feel.". And perhaps she did touch on something there, for the next makes him snort once more. "Sword? Please. I'll wring their neck with my own hands if it comes to that…". Yeah, the man is pissed, still, even if he holds her in his grasp. There is no pretense in Eneas about what he wants to do, in how he reacts to things. Contradictory feelings in him, yes, but they are not calculated, merely refused to be acted upon for the sake of getting things done.

As the effects of the ports being closed is explained, Eneas shrugs. "That is not in my control. That is the City Watch doing their thing because a Mereliot is missing.". Okay, perhaps he did manipulate /that/ to his advantage. "They will reopen the port when they think the Duchess will not rip off their heads for it. Enough time to search for leads and search a few holds and warehouses. A day. Perhaps two. After that…", he trails off, closing his eyes.

What Helene gives him is a Look, the kind that deserves the capital L. "I spoke to the Harbourmaster before I found you," she tells him, letting him know he has been caught. She sighs once more and leans into his embrace, offering what comfort she can with the simple embrace, her nose and forehead burrowing into the fabric of his shirt. She may not be a Balm, but her compassion and caring would have perhaps suited her well to that House. She takes a deep breath, hands running gently over arms to his back, just stroking him gently until one or the other stirs.

neas has his eyes closed, so he does not see the Look. Ahem. Of course the tone in her voice is enough for him to imagine it. "So?", he wonders. So mayhaps he was a bit short with the man when he first talked to him, but Eneas is unapologetic. It got him what he needed to know. And he did not use any sharp implements on the Harbourmaster. Ahem.

Still, when she embraces him, offers those touches, Eneas does sigh, allowing him that guilty few seconds of just being comforted, before he does stir, draw back a little bit so he can watch her. "Thank you.", he finally tells her. "I'll forget, likely to say it otherwise. Thank you. Even if you're not doing this for me.". Okay, so he has to slip in that little counter barb at least. Sometimes he can be a bit petty.
GAME: Save complete.

Helene chuckles softly, her hands rising to his cheeks as she answers, "Eneas, I am /absolutely/ doing this for you, just not for your gratitude, not to make me. I am doing this because I couldn't /not/ do it. I could never watch you hurt like this and do nothing." His pettiness is matched with a gentle stubbornness, and a well of compassion she cannot hide.

Her green eyes soften once more and she adds, hoping to get the point across at last, "Even were the situation not so dire, I want you to be happy. That is what love does, as far I know it, it reorients your priorities until someone else's happiness matters more than you ever imagined it could, and seeing their joy brings you more joy than anything else." She reaches up to brush her nose against his as she finishes, "So I am absolutely doing this for you, but not for your thanks. Not a favour for you to repay or to ever be beholden to me. I am simply doing this for you." She presses a lingering kiss to his lips if he will let her before separating, and pulling back, her hands finding his to pull him towards the door with a half-smile. "Now, let's go find your Priestess." This time, she remembers to duck.

Oh, now she meets it with kindness, does she? Not that Eneas presses the point, letting her confess, explain, press home the point, and yet, when she tries to pull him towards the door, he will tug her back, to kiss her, briefly, but firmly, again. "I know.", he tells her, lips to part, as if to go into a likewise longwinded explanation, but he stops himself, sighing. "I know you would, Helene.". There is no doubt in his tone, his expression, before he finally lets go of her, and yes, lift a hand to make sure she ducks by placing it on her head to press down a little.

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