(1311-03-10) Unwelcome Home
Summary: Martel brings Helene home from the Temple to an unwelcome surprise. Gal is called from the City Watch.
RL Date: March 10, 2019
Related: Cutthroats, Crooks, and Conmen Plot
martel helene gal 

The Verreuil Residence

The large foyer that welcomes guests upon arrival is carved elegantly from rich walnut with expansive corbels set with an enameled carving of the Verreuil crest upon each and crown moulding. The flooring looks to be brought in from Caerdicci, the white marble streaked with black. Plush burgundy curtains cover tall windows and is the same color as the large rugs and runners that soften the appearance of the hard floor. Several velvet chairs rest against the far wall beneath two large landscape paintings. A double set of stairs run on either side to terminate to either side of the main entrance.

The door to the left that goes beneath a set of stairs leads to an expansive library with floor to ceiling bookshelves full of books. Most are from foreign countries with the histories of Terre D'Ange shown front and center. Along with the precious tomes are small display cases of items brought back by the Verreuil adventuring scholars. The items small things from Aragonia all the way to Bhodistan, carefully cataloged and labeled for the viewer. Several large cushioned sofas have been set about near a wide fireplace. A window seat also affords a place to enjoy the many volumes upon the shelves.

After making sure Marie is as good as she can be considering the circumstances, and making sure she has company, the short drive in the carriage to the Estate is mostly uneventful. Having draped the Verreuil in a blanket, Martel will once more leave the cane behind to carry her up the stairs and to her room once they arrive, aching leg or not and leave it to the servants to collect the things they left behind, though he will stress they are to bring it all, including the ruined dress, to his room and leave it there.

Surely one of the servants will rush ahead to open the door to Hélène's room for him, and Martel gives a nod in thanks, before he stops at the threshold. "Send the carriage back to the temple, in case Marie requires it.", he instructs. "The Baroness will have to rest. Expect a visit from one of the priest of Eisheth in the morrow.". And with that he does cross it. That threshold, waiting for the servant to close the door behind him…

Hélène has mostly slept, the drug and the injuries keeping her ina half-sleeping, half-wakeful state where she occasionally whimpers, or says something softly, but then closes her eyes again. The servant who runs forward to help is a young man, perhaps 17, who seems uncomfortably familiar to Martel. He smells faintly of the stables, and his hands are calloused from training as a groomsman. He even offers to take Hélène, asking questions all the way. "Is she all right? Is she with Papa?" the young man begins, before adding, "I'm… I'm Sebastien. Jean-Marc is…" His father. The relation is written plainly over the young man's face.

When the door is opened, it's abundantly clear someone has already been there. The room is near frozen, air flowing freely through broken glass and an open window. Hélène's room is sparse, a mish mash of styles put together by Hélène when she first moved in. Even though Martel has not been in here before, he can likely tell that it is not in its usual state. The books have been pulled from the one shelf, her wardrobe open, and gown of wool, silk, and linen pulled onto the floor. Her desk, normally stacked in piles by what has and has not been dealt with, the account books lined along the back, has been tossed. Paper lies on the floor outside of the folios she usually keeps it in, and letters have been torn open. Even her bed has been pulled apart. A small box has been left in the centre of chaise by the bookshelf.

When the realisation finally hits, Martel's features soften a little from the annoyed look he gave the boy when she started to fire of the questions. "They are still working on him when we left, but yes, I am sure she will see him once they have done all they could…", he lets the young man know. "Why don't you go and see to it that the carriage is returned to the temple and ready when they need it?", he suggests, perhaps giving the boy an excuse to hitch a ride with it.

Of course, that is before the door is opened, and Martel stops in his tracks once taking a single step into the room. One short glance over the carnage, and he makes a sound that is somewhere caught between groans and perhaps an annoyed growl. "Sebastian…", he calls, softly, over his shoulder. "Fetch the City watch. And rouse whatever guard is not yet on duty. I want the grounds patrolled and checked. Make sure all guards and servants are accounted for.". Seems Sebastian will not catch that ride, afte rall, as Martel simply backs back out of the room, and turns to carry the Baroness towards his room.

"Uhm, yes Sir," Sebastien answers, stopping dead in his tracks already halfway to the stairs. He returns, looking into the room and then takes three steps back before turning and punching the wall. The next word from his lips is significantly less couth as he waves his reddened knuckles, and turns back to Martel, following him, "We didn't hear anything. Or thought Lady Jess was in a temper. I… I will go get the Watch."

Hélène did see it fortunately, she is simply leaning her cheek into Martel's chest, and asks softly, "What happened? Martel who is here?"

Martel just smirks faintly at the punch of the wall. Oh, to be young and stupid again. Not that he could rule out he wouldn't have done so in the boy's shoes if not for carrying the Baroness. The explanation is nodded to. "Don't you fret about the apologies and the excuses, Sebastien. Just go about what I told you quietly and swiftly now.", he tells him, giving him a taste of how he might be conducting himself on a ship with crew. Bringing order into chaos. Ahem.

As he steps to his own room, he turns so he can push down the handle of the door with his elbow, even if that may shift Hélène a bit uncomfortably. Her question, however, just makes him shhhh slightly at her. "Nobody is here. They broke in and already left.". Or so he both hopes and fears. "But I want to make sure to know how they got to your room.".

It definitely does earn him a whimper of pain as the broken ribs shift in his arms and then she resettles. Her voice is small, frightened again when Hélène asks her next question, "How do you know they are gone Martel?" She turns her head upwards, looking at him as she is carried in his arms.

Sebastien returns swiftly, one of the house guards behind him. "We sent a messenger to the Watch Lord Guillard. I am going to look over the Baronesse's chamber. Will you be joining?" the guard asks. He is a short man, but stockily built, and in his early thirties.

Carrying her into his room, Martel places a light kiss against the top of her head at the whimper in apology once more. Oh, he has caused her plenty of pain today, he knows, but always in seeking to aiding her in some way. Still, he steps up to his bed, before laying her on it as gently as he can. The question? "Because it would be counter-productive for them to be still here. They are trying to erase evidence. Even one of them getting caught now would set them back…", he states, oh-so-confidently. Perhaps more confident than he really is, for the alternative is that they are looking for something specific, and having not found it, would turn to more even cruder manner of acquiring it. Ahem.

As the stable boy and the guard arrive at his threshold, he nods to the middle-aged one. "I will eventually but stay at the threshold. I don't want the room disturbed until the Watch arrives and until Hélène has a chance to sort through what is missing.", he says, and even as he says it, grimaces, as he knows what the woman on the bed will say. "No…", he turns to her. "…not now.".

Hélène simply nods up at Martel, wincing as she tries to find a more comfortable way to lie on the bed, still fighting back tears each time she looks towards Sebastien, seeing there the face of his father. "Be careful Martel," she says softly, taking his hand, and gasping, "I can't lose you too." A soft squeeze of his hand and she lets go, allowing him to do what he needs to do next. It is telling, given how hard she would normally fight against the order that she is not right now, the pain not the issue, but the attack throwing her so far off her normal.

The guard looks to Martel and nods his head in acknowledgment, standing with the straight posture of his training, "Yes Sir." He turns and points Sebastien to the door to await the Watch, then heads for Hélène's room, opening the door and looking inside. He steps aside when Martel arrives beside him to allow the other man to lead.

"I am like tar. I am hard to get rid off.", Martel tells Hélène, squeezing her hand back, and leaning down to kiss her. "I will not be long…", he promises, though by now, he hopes it is the poppy that will lull her back into the half-wakefulness and the passage of time be somewhat distorted for her. Martel is at least partially lying to her, yep.

Sebastien is given a squeeze of his shoulder when the man passes from the room and is send to await the arrival of the Watch, before the two men enter the room of the Baroness. It isn't like any assailant could hide in many places in the room, could they? The wardrobes are open, and unless they were hiding behind the door or under the bed? Still, he makes a quick search of the room, just to see if he spots anything out of the ordinary among the tossed belongings, or the way the window was broken. One hand is on the dagger on his belt, just in case, still.

The room doesn't give up that many clues. It was ransacked in a hurry, but clearly most attention was paid to the desk and the correspondence on it. The small box should not be there, and when Martel opens it with the tip of his dagger he sees why. Inside is the finger and a small piece of folded paper. If he opens the paper, he will see the note written on it. "Stay away from my business, and I will stay away from you."

Composed was Martel for all the time. Doing what needed to be done, but the severed finger, the obvious and crude attempt at intimidation? There is a moment where he considers the stable boy's answer and seems to eye the wall behind the chaise for a moment, the hand on the dagger to turn white with effort. "You…little fucking rat…", he mutters under his breath, even before he takes out the little note to read it and then gingerly puts it back into the box, before closing it, and then just picking it up.

When he turns to face the guard, those brown eyes are furious, but he tries hard to not raise his voice. "Not a word about it…to anyone…", he tells the man, as he starts to make his way past him.

A guard from Verreuil House went for the City Watch at the guidance of Lord Martel. It is late in the evening, going on ten o’clock at night, but the lights in Verreuil are all lit. When Gal arrives, he is met by a youth of perhaps 17, who introduces himself as Sebastien and leads Gal through the hall, up the stairs and into the family wing. He knocks on the door to the sparsely decorated chamber, and then speaks up, "Lord Guillard, Sir, Um Lord Gal of the City Watch is here.

When Gal passes through, it's abundantly clear someone has already been there. The room is near frozen, air flowing freely through broken glass and an open window. Hélène's room is sparse, a mish mash of styles put together by Hélène when she first moved in. The books have been pulled from the one shelf, her wardrobe open, and gown of wool, silk, and linen pulled onto the floor. Her desk, normally stacked in piles by what has and has not been dealt with, the account books lined along the back, has been tossed. Paper lies on the floor outside of the folios she usually keeps it in, and letters have been torn open. Even her bed has been pulled apart.

Gal, drawn from his post down in the Place at the bottom of the hill, attends the youth with all due haste and trades his duty pike to the doorkeeper with the general attitude of someone who has been invited into the halls of the nobility in the past. Thence, down the hall, up the stairs, to the chamber. "Lord Guillard," he stands at the ready, taking stock of the scene but not acting before being told the situation.

Surely by now the little box has been stashed somewhere for later retrieval, Martel to have taken the time it took for the Watch to arrive to try to compose himself again, leaving the lone house guard to watch the room, checking briefly on Hélène to make sure she has what she needs: More poppy milk, water, perhaps a maid to sit with her to make sure she does not fret too much about the burglary.

So when he steps back outside, soon to be met with Gal, he nods his head to the man. "You're the watchman?", he wonders, perhaps a little needlessly. He might look a bit worse for the wear: The pants of his attire stained by dust and mud around the knees, the vest and coat showing signs of blood, though by now it is well darkened and clotted, rather than bright, wet and fresh. It has been hours by now, surely.

Giving the young man a once over, he begins. "You are aware of the attack on Baroness Verreuil and her guard earlier at the docks?", he inquires, before gesturing him to enter the room more fully. "Apparently whoever was responsible went straight here afterwards. It seems they were especially interested in her correspondence, so I would suggest the watch contacts Viscomtesse Philomene de Gueret. As well as Viscomte Drake Rousse de Draguignan, as I believe the Baroness might have had contact with them in letters about smuggling and theft of wares from the port here in Marsilikos and in her homelands. They might be in danger of attack as well.".

"Yes, Lord," Gal answers the first question, then, again, with a downward tip of his chin, "Yes, Lord. So it was like this when she was brought back? It wasn't a second attack upon the Baronesse?" Gal makes sure, taking a wooden diploma from his baldrick and opening it to expose the ceraceous interior, as well as a stylus imprinted into the wax, which he frees with a fingernail and begins to make notes upon.

Martel shakes his head at the question. "Well, not directly her person, but I would say it clearly is an attack on her business.", he states, once more clenching his jaw. "The Baronie has recently invested heavily in constructing a new port and expanding their trade fleets and shipping. When goods from her trade partners has gone missing, she begun investigating. She was on her way back from the Harbormaster when the first attack happened. This is a continuation of it, as far as I see it.", he explains, before he glances the house guard for a moment. "The other guards and servants are all accounted for?", he inquires now, making sure the burglars had not harmed anyone else in their daring raid of the Baroness room in the Verreuil estate.

"My father was with her," Sebastien offers, "But everyone else is here. We were… we were gathered down in the kitchens while we waited for news. No one is missing, even her cousin came down."

"I only mean that she wasn't here during the attack, my Lord," Gal re-phrases his question, "Having been taken instead to the Temple? Such that the portside attack may have only been in aid of facilitating this invasion?" He gives a glimpse around the place. "Would you mind if I took a look around? Have you noticed anything missing?"

Martel ahs and nods his head. "Yes, it was discovered when we returned from the temple, trying to bring the Baroness to her room.". Well, clearly, it is not fit to be housing an injured woman right now. As for vacillating the burglary with the attack, Martel's eyes narrow a little at Gal. "I do not think it was 'merely' to aid…this.", he states, perhaps showing some cracks in his composure finally. "The attack was vicious and aimed to harm, if not kill. Her jewelry was not touched, but for her signet ring. This is not a robbery. This is an attempt at intimidation.", he declares.

As for looking around, he gestures him into the room, giving permission in Hélène's stead, perhaps presumptively, but since there is nobody around to countermand him, right?

"I do not know what the Baroness keeps in her room regularly, so I would not know if anything particular is missing. But I know she keeps busy with her correspondence, and it appears it has at least been gone through, sealed letters being reopened. I would not be surprised if some of them are missing.".

Gal does look back from his scouting about when he hears of the loss of the signet ring, "Or an attempt to defraud her. If they took her signet ring and letters, they may forge her signature and be able to lay her seal upon all manner of… arrangements… orders," Gal does a quick tour to see whether he can spot anything obviously missing, dallying next to the chaise for a second. "Was there anything on the chaise when you got back? Or did you clear it for the Lady to rest upon?" he wonders.

Martel nods at that. "Indeed, a possibility. Though I would lump it in with intimidation.", he does state. Though before he may say more on the issue, Gal stops by the chaise and the question makes Martel pause. There might even be an uneasy moving from foot to foot of the house guard behind him. Martel is not looking particular pleased, but he finally states. "It is not something that should be shared further than necessarily. If it lends credibility that the Baroness might cave to such tactics, it could hurt her business. It could hurt her business partners and make creditors pull away from arrangements already made or yet to be made.", he explains, calmly. "So I need you to swear this will not leave this room unless absolutely necessary to find the people responsible for this…", he lets the an know, brown eyes to fix on him.

Once Gal does agree to the terms, he will be told: "There was a wooden box on that chaise, placed, prominently. Inside was the ring she wore the signet ring on that was severed in the attack. With a note. 'Stay away from my business, and I will stay away from you.'".

Gal lifts a brow at the request of the promise of secrecy, "I mean… I'm not really in charge, I'm supposed to report to my commander when I get back—" he trails off when confronted by the grisly find on the chaise. "They took her finger off?" he whispers, turning a little pale. "O…k… um, we should really get the note back to the citadel, maybe some of the city officers will be able to recognize the hand. I mean. The. Handwriting," he backpedals a little away from talk of hands.

Martel sighs, finally reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose for a moment. "Look, young man…". Well, he hasn't exactly introduced himself, did he? "There are times where one has to make decisions. You are here. You are in charge.", the naval officer informs the man in the tone he might have used a hundred times when instructing cadets or crew on ships.

"A bunch of smugglers and cutthroats chose to attack a Baroness of our country, brazenly, openly. On the day she offered her findings to the Harbormaster.", he sums it up for him, finally lowering his hand, to step up to him. "How did they know? Or was it just coincidence? How can they operate both out of Marsilikos and perhaps half a dozen other ports on the southern coast without the Watch knowing?". He lets that sink in. "What you pass along to your superiors is your decision. Whom you trust. Make your choice, and that watchman can come see me to see the box and the note. Make sure you pick well, so you're not the next one missing a finger…or worse.". With that, he glances at the house guard. "Make sure the good man here has anything else he needs, then have someone board up the window, but leave the mess. I want Hélène to go through the things to make sure we know what is missing, later.", he tells the guard, before turning to the watchman. "If you excuse me. I have letters and messengers to send to warn people of the possible forgeries. If you need me, I you can reach me here for the time being.".

Way to make a kid feel paranoid about life, Martel. The corners of his mouth scrunch upward in an uncomfortable sort of squint, "B—" he starts, but doesn't really have it in him to fill out the gaps he's sensing in his own rather limited worldview. Finally, he just finishes taking his official notes, leaving the box out of the picture as had been requested of him. "Aye, Lord," he only answers, agreeable, at least, that all her correspondence should be put on the lookout for the use of her seal until she can have a new one fashioned. He finishes up and then is on his way again.

Gal is shown down the hall into a different chamber, this time in the guest wing of the house. The room bears the clear markers of belonging to a man rather than the Baronesse, but she has been made comfortable in the bed. She wears a robe from the Temple of Eisheth, though Gal can still see the wounds, her arms scratched up and bruised, one hand wrapped in a bandage over her missing finger (the rest broken), and half her face a mess of bruises and cuts. She has been cleaned up, and her eyes are open, but she looks foggy. Martel did check with Hélène first, but the Baronesse agreed to the visitor.

Gal quite possibly shouldn't have come. He certainly doesn't want to question her, in her current state, or put her through any more trauma. He only wants to visit, offer a friendly face, if he can. Edging into the room, he treads a bashful step. "Hey," he whispers, easing closer. "It's… Gal? You remember me?"

The last time he saw her she was all confidence, working hard to find the missing women. This time? Hélène seems small somehow, or smaller than before. “Gal,” she answers, nodding her head, “Of course I remember you.” She has to pause for a moment, and tries to sit up but as soon as any weight is placed on her injured hand she winces, yelping in pain. “You… You heard what happened?”

"… Yeah," Gal winces even as he says so, hurrying past his hesitation and going to offer her his arm behind her back to help her sit up as she had intended. "I'm so sorry," he whispers, not even really sure what else he can say beyond that to someone who has been put to such treatment.

“Before you ask, I did not get a good look. I heard my name being called, and I walked over with Jean-Marc, and then it all happened. He told me to run, but they… they dragged me back between the buildings. I… I recognized the first voice, but I… I do not where from anymore,” Hélène tells him one she is sitting up. She winces again, and the robe falls open slightly. the scratches and bruising from being dragged go all down the one side into the neckline. Hélène looks down, pulls the rob in closer and tells him, “I have… Uhm… they took my ankle. I was, most, I have broken ribs from the beating. They broke my hand to get my ring then…” Her eyes well slightly as she looks down at the bandage. “Did Martel tells you?”

"Shh-hh-hh, it's OK," Gal tries to soothe her, running his hand along the back of her shoulder, the palm warm through her robes as he tries to tell her she doesn't need to testify to anything right now. But he listens, no less, with attention, in case the light of day might find her memory fuzzier. "He did," he murmurs.

Hélène looks up and swallows, green eyes caught between tears and the hazy effects of the milk of poppy. Slowly she nods her head. “How… How can I help?” she asks softly. Occasionally she glances over his shoulder towards the door, clearly checking for when Martel returns. Somehow, her mind shifts from herself and the incident, to him instead, “Is Martel alright? I saw… blood.”. She apparently does not know that is all her own.

"Right now you need to rest, OK? That's all. I'm not here to question you, I just wanted to check on you," Gal explains his reason for coming back. "Come on, let me lay you back down, alright?" he asks her, easing his arm down along to the small of her back to help her get situated back onto pillows. "He's alright," he assures her, "Just shaken, I think." That would account for the rampant paranoia— although damn if he didn't raise a coup real questions in Gal's mind.

Hélène does let herself lay back, grimacing throughout before letting out a shallow breath. Even breathing hurts currently. She turns her head to look at him through her good eye, the other swollen, and says, “I was turning things over this time. How come this happens when I go to the authorities, but not when I ran around the port on my own?”

Gal helps ease Hélène down into place— then leans down past her hip to take up further blankets to draw up over top of her. "I don't know. Someone was afraid you were getting close to them, maybe," he keeps his voice low, uncertain, then draws himself back to rest on a fist pushed down into the covers, looking down upon her.

“The harbourmaster has everything. I could not do anymore damage,” Hélène tells him, letting herself be tucked in. She yawns, and there is a knock at the door to announce a maid with a sleeping fraught for her. She really does need rest. The rest can wait.

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