(1311-02-28) The Miller's Tale
Summary: Philomene and Drake investigate the mill where the de Gueret wheat left from.
RL Date: February 28, 2019
Related: Cutthroats, Crooks and Conmen Plot
philomene drake 

A Mill Near the Port

The mill is a hub of activity when they arrive, workers moving swiftly back forth amid the haze of flour. Approaching, you can see where deliveries come in on the side nearest the port, where a canal of running water draws water in and around the water wheel turning it along the side of the mill before moving out to sea once more. The wheel works on the tides, spinning the grinding mechanism one way as it comes in, then the opposite as the tide goes out. The other side of the building has a warehouse for processed grain, and wide doors from whence the deliveries and purchases leave. The nearest buildings are set a slight distance back, or else, are just plain warehousing, lest someone need heat and fire catch.

While technically close enough to walk, Philomene would always rather ride wherever she goes, and thus it is that she arrives, a model of serenity, on the back of her trusted dun mare, with a mounted Drake in tow. She pauses the pair of them before they get too close, however, noting, "We leave the horses here. The sparks from the horseshoes." A shrug of explanation as, with surprising grace if a somewhat odd manoeuvre given her obvious disability, she dismounts and gives her horse a friendly pat to the neck as she eyes the scene in general.

<FS3> Drake rolls Perception: Good Success. (3 6 7 5 8 8)

Drake notices that there is definitely one man looking scared as he oversees repairs, watching as the dull thud of a rubber mallet knocks a nail into a wooden panel over a shattered window. There is still glass on the ground, but not much. It appears to have been shattered from the /inside/. The hustle and bustle is also likely more than usual, given the mill was shut down the day before.

Philomène exhales as she watches for a time, noting the number of workers, their regular routes about the mill, and those who seem to be loitering about, on lunch breaks or otherwise. This, as far as Philomene is concerned, is a mission to be planned and strategised as much as any military evolution. Sure, these fellows are just carting wheat around, or laying in repairs, but every movement is examined and analysed as though they were wielding spears and drilling in formation.

Drake doesn't dismount just yet. He looks at the on-going repairs, noting the fear in the man and the glass of a shattered window on the ground. "Something's fishy here.", he tells Philomene quietly, before he finally gets off his horse. "Let's ask the chap there what happened…", he suggests and tries to nudge Philo the way of the scared man.

Philomène nods once, eyes not leaving the mill as she responds. "Very well. You're to stay here and be ready to move in, or chase down any runners. I'm about to ask some awkward questions. If anyone looks guilty for a moment, drop them."

Drake arches a brow. "You… asking questions? Can you.. at least TRY to be diplomatic about it?", he wonders.

"I'm asking questions," Philomene points out drily, "not setting the whole place on fire. That is diplomatic."

Drake facepalms. literally. Then waves her off to try and do her thing while he hangs back, looking around with a cheerful smile.

Philomène nudges Drake in the side, rolls her eyes, and limps her way forward. It's a fair distance to cover, having kept the horses well back, but she walks with her head high and her back straight, despite the odd, distinctive gait. And yet somehow Drake's words seem to have sunk in, as she fixes a polite smile in place and waits for the man pointed out to acknowledge her. Which he must, surely. She's right in the bloody way.

<FS3> Philomene rolls Tactics: Failure. (5 5 4 1 4 1)

He is a heavy set man, hair dusted up both with flour and the peppering of grey hair that marks his age. He is likely the proprietor. He doesn't even look properly to Philomene, just barks out, "What do you want?" Before taking the other man by the shoulder and pulling him back, hard, grabbing the mallet, "You'll blow us all to hell that way." He changes the man's stance and watches the next one go in.

"How about we start with some answers?" Philomene requests in a low, deceptively quiet voice, hands folding behind her back to square up her shoulders. "Your name for a start, monsieur. You own this mill?"

"Luc Chanter, and yes, this is my mill. Now who are you asking about it?" He turns on her, brown eyes beady and full of anger. He is on edge, clearly, though it miht just be having to do repairs on an operating mill, and whyever that was. He looks back at the younger man making repairs and gives a gruff grunt of approval before stepping away towards Philo.

Drake waaatches. It's all he can do. Except pat the horses from time to time to keep them still

Ah. Anger. That's more Philomene's speed. Anger she's used to. Anger she can handle. She fixes her gaze on the man for just long enough to be uncomfortable, as though he really ought to know why she's there, before finally shaking her head and asking, "The window. What happened to it, Monsieur Chanter? And then we'll go through your books, please. I'll take a full list of employees and deliverymen while I'm at it, thank you."

"I've already had the City guard in, and you don't look like the damned Duchesse, so who the fuck are you looking into business that isn't yours?" he fires back. His own gaze doesn't falter, and neither does his anger, "Or are you some bitch from another mill trying to see if you managed to take me down too?"

Drake winces. Oi, language.

"This. Is. My. Business," Philomene intones, every word clipped and precise. "You've been supplying " the bakers who totally have a name and a location and this is included, "with sawdust and chalk instead of good flour. This mill is responsible for producing and delivering shit, and putting my fucking name on it." Her voice remains at that disturbingly soft volume.

"What the hell are you talking about?" he answers, grabbing her arm and pulling her to the side. "If you are saying I am cheat, you are as bad as all the assholes sending the letters!" He isn't yelling anymore, but growling under his voice.

The moment of physical contact, and Philomene's forearm comes up to block, twist and neatly evade the grab, a practiced move that is almost balletic in its simplicity. You can take the woman out of Camlach, but… as they say. "I'll need to see these letters too, monsieur," she spits back, eyes narrowing. "And if you fucking touch me again, you'll end this day with a blade between your ribs."

Drake might try to clear his throat but obviously nobody is listening and so he decides to wade in with the brightest smile he can muster. "Excuse me, is this really necessary?! WE're among friends here aren't we?", he says ever so sweetly.

"How the fuck should I know?" the miller asks, "She won't even give me her fucking name."

"It's the one on your sacks," Philomene points out, touching a hand to her chin and loudly cracking her neck. "Which I'll also need to see."

"Which ones?" the miller retorts, pointing to the warehouse.

"Oh, both incoming and outgoing," Philomene deliberately misunderstands, giving Drake a nod of acknowledgement. "Feel free to lead the way, rather than having me pull them all out and making a mess of the place. You've enough mess to deal with."

Drake gives the man an admiring look for not making the obvious wisecrack."This the Lady Philomene Aiglemont de Chalasse and I am Lord Drake Rousse.", he introduces himself, "Her family is supplying the wheat and she is rather upset about recent events." As if he couldn'T tell. "Please, let us take a look, shall we?"

The miller gestures them inside with a gruff, "Well fine. Come on. "Inside, there are four different areas, each set up for a different family brand of grain. Mostly it is wheat, though there is one which is another, and each have stacks of full bags of grain, as well as stacks of the bags used to repack the four afterwards.

Philomène doesn't even dignify the man with a glance, beginning to methodically examine a sample of grain from each sack, from each of the different areas. She first leans in for a good sniff of the sack, then takes a pinch of grain between her fingers, rolls it a little between them, holds it up to the light, and finally bites down on the end of a seed and spits the resultant morsel to the ground beside her.

"See, it's bad business for everyone is people receive sawdust instead of wheat, don't you agree?", Drake tells the man in amiable tone, while Philomene literally sniffs around, "If people think you send dodgy stuff, they won't order from you anymore and then, where would your business be?"

<FS3> Philomene rolls Agriculture: Good Success. (7 5 6 1 3 7 6 6 8)

"I do not send dodgy flour out. I have my own reputation to look after," he answers hoarsely, pointing around. Were it not for the flour in the air he would probably be stamping his foot or banging on something.

"I require a list of your deliverymen," Philomene insists as she straightens, apparently satisfied with the grain for now. "And the names of the men working to fill the sacks four days ago." Or whatever the timeline is. "The wheat is sound, which means the adulteration is happening somewhere between here and the final destination. And I'll need a list," this to Drake, as though he might for some reason know, "of all the sawmills between here and the town on a fairly direct route. Thank you for your time, monsieur."

Drake lifts his arms and opens his mouth in helpless protest but knows better than to make a scene. "Thank you for your help, my good man.", he smiles at the miller, "I'm sorry, she can be… somewhat impetous. We're working on it.", he assures the man and tries to nudge Philo out of the room.

"You can have the deliverymen easily enough. I hire day labour for cash though and I don't keep a list, but I'll ask around," he answers, and walks over to a wooden cabinet to pull out some pages. He flips through and then pulls out two to hand over. "Oh and the letters, just the usual threats merchants get. Do what I say or you'll pay and that kind of shit. Half the windows were broken two nights ago, but the guards know about it. We had to punch out the remains after stopping the mill for two days to prevent fire catching." Hence why the glass was on the outside.

"What demands?" No, Philomene is not bothering with niceties like full sentences. She's back to sniffing things - the woman is obsessed apparently - the papers going to her nose to see if there's any hint of a fragrance to the paper or ink which might indicate its origin.

"You didn't catch who did it?", DRake asks the man with little hope.

"Splitting orders, shit like that, or taking their sacks and milling them up," Chanter answers, "Paying them off even." He looks at Drake and answers, "no one sleeps here Lord Rousse. If it happens in the middle of the night no one sees. All I know is a couple of street rats were seen early morning, but that doesn't mean anything. They could have done it, likely for a few copper, or just come to see about the spoils."

"If you receive any more, or hear about anyone who does, let me know," Philomene decides, tucking the papers away to take with her and turning to limp out towards the exit.

"It would be worth speaking to those street rats and find out what they may have seen.", Drake muses, "Or ask them who gave them the coppers." Seeing Philomene limp back, he offers the miller a smile. "I'll accompany the lady home, but I may be back."

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