(1311-08-20) Of Trials and Animals
Summary: Philomene sends for Jacquet of the City Guard, to inquire about the current investigations.
RL Date: 19-23/08/2019
Related: Incident Plot
philomene jacquet 

Maison aux Herbes — Rue du Port

In contrast to the gaily painted yellow door with its fragrant pots of vibrant green herbs which guard either side, the interior of this house is austere to the point of severe. The whitewashed walls bear little to no decoration, if one precludes the single, almost full length mirror in the main room, and the tiny, framed pencil sketch of a pair of horses beside the door. The front door enters directly into a spartan salon, equipped with a single dark leather sofa and a comfortable chair in front of the fire, where a square section of the rugged brown carpet has been stripped away to facilitate drying out firewood or cleaning out the grate with minimal upkeep.

To one side of the room, an opening leads through to an equally minimalist dining room, containing no more than half a dozen stiff backed wooden chairs and a table that could comfortably fit only four of them, and from there a door leads to the small kitchen and on to simple quarters for a single servant. On the other, a plain staircase leads upwards, the carpet laid in a strip down the centre, with bare, unpolished floorboards visible to either side, to a pair of small bedrooms and a cramped privy. Where furniture has been placed, it is mismatched and looks more as though it's been bought and dumped in the closest available spot than that any sort of thought to interior design has been paid.

A little over two weeks since what we shall refer to as ‘the incident’, and a few days after Philomene has been permitted, finally and with great relief by the acolytes, to leave the infirmary, word is sent via the usual methods that the lately injured Vicomtesse de Gueret would like to speak with the sergeant dealing with the investigation and subsequent result.

Still in somewhat of a bad way — there’s a new maid there to open the door in her stead, for a start, and she doesn’t rise from her seat by the currently empty hearth to greet her visitor when he arrives at the small, tidy house on the Rue du Port with the pots of fragrant herbs outside the front door — it’s still clear that Philomene is no longer in quite as poor a condition as she was the last time the pair met. Her pupils are an actual, genuine, normal size, and she’s taken to hallucinating only when asleep, which is a definite improvement. She has not, however, risked trying to peel into her old, worn, riding jacket, and instead sits in a loose fitting shirt, the better to hide her awkward posture and the strain it still takes to take anything but a small, careful breath, dark, well-worn breeches, and her customary riding boots with the slightly uneven soles.

A bottle of wine and a carafe of water are set on the low table in front of her - she is after all expecting company and these things are expected, even if the company is only the city guard - along with a pair of goblets, one conspicuously about half full of wine which she finishes in a single long gulp as Jacquet is shown in.

One could think that Jacquet is used to visiting noble residents of the city. When he is shown in, the sergeant does seem little impressed — not even intimidated in the slightest — by the surroundings. That doesn't mean he is oblivious to them. Keen dark eyes sweep the area as if he scans the territory of the Vicomtesse de Gueret. Dark hair clings to his scalp, be it through moisture of a light spray of rain or — even more likely — through the use of hair oil. He wears the attire of a city guard, and he is armed, even if the sword remains in his scabbard, for now. Spotting Philomène, he approaches and greets her with a slightly slurred formal bow. "My lady.", Jacquet addresses her, and noting her current arrangement at a table with wine, dares to add, "Didn't mean to interrupt your breakfast." His voice is of the already familiar gravelly quality, uneven and with a lack of smoothness that corresponds to the old battle scars that adorn his face.

She had sent for him, and still, he makes it appear as if he were the intruder. Lifting a brow, Jacquet offers a vague gesture that encompasses the entirety of Philomène's frame. "Seems you're already better." It is a statement, but maybe also a bit of a question. "You wanted to see me?" This added in a question, indeed, brows furrowing as he looks towards the Camaeline born lady.

"I'm still breathing," Philomene insists, looking the man over with an inscrutable air. "Although I'm told it was touch and go once or twice." She gestures vaguely towards the wine, arching a brow at him, then flicking her hand towards the seat opposite. "Sit. Join me. A little wine?"

It might be noted that she makes no move to lean forward. That way, still tender and more than a little pained, madness lies. Filling her goblet with wine appears to be a large part of the new maid’s job, so filling a different goblet for the city guard will make a nice change for her.

"I trust that you have finished your investigation now to the satisfaction of all, sergeant?" she inquires, holding out her goblet as steadily as she can as it’s topped up from the bottle. One can hope that perhaps the wine is watered down at least a little, otherwise she’s on a sure route to a hangover.

Jacquet sits down with a faint smile ghosting over his features, born out of polite courtesy rather than gratification. A curt nod is given at her offer. "Thank you, m'lady. Yes, I'd like some." It is still somewhat early in the day, but this sergeant obliges Philomène, accepting the wine. Her question is considered, as he lifts the goblet to his lips, and Jacquet seems to be in no hurry to respond, taking a good swig of the wine, watered or not. There is a low click of his tongue before he swallows and directs his gaze towards the vicomtesse. "The investigations are still ongoing," he informs her then, after a moment. Politely. But Jacquet's attention is on Philomène, studying her, observing her reactions. "There is a lead one of my subordinates is pursuing, but I haven't heard back from him yet." He blinks, with a slight flicker of irritation showing briefly in his expression. "One thing that is still to be determined is the identity of the culprit. We want to know her name, her origin." He sets the goblet down on to the table, eyes lifting to regard his hostess. "Why? Do you have anything to add, to the testimony you have given me already?"

A finger runs lightly around the rim of her goblet as she considers, watching Jacquet carefully in return. The pair of them looking for some sort of clue in the other, it would appear. "I hear," she notes mildly, "that the creature first threatened the niece of the Duchesse before turning to try its luck with me. Perhaps, sergeant, you might be able to clarify for me the special circumstances under which this clearly falls, whereby such vermin is still permitted to breathe good d’Angeline air?"

Philomene takes what she intended to be a deep breath, but is stopped half way through by the sharp pain this engenders, her features tightening a little rather than wincing as she hides the worst of it. Years of practice not wasted.

"Is this city so far removed from the mountains that it has forgotten how to deal with a sworn and demonstrated enemy?" she challenges, brow raising. "A blade was drawn against d’Angeline nobility, and somehow we are still ‘investigating’." One hand comes up to draw the quotes in the air with her fingers, the other still rather more importantly occupied with her goblet of wine.

"Vermin is allowed to breathe air for as long as it is not condemned," Jacquet replies. "The high judge insists that we gather as much evidence as we can. The origins of this woman are of importance. If she *is* the enemy, I expect that there won't be any issues in having her tried and executed." His tone is matter-of-factly, detached.

"As for the blade drawn… there was another drawn as well. Neither of you called for the guards, so…" His dark eyes settle their gaze on Philomène. "You yourself told me that you wish her dead. I do get your point… And, by Kushiel's rod, I can't wait to see this creature meet her justice." His right hand is clenched into a fist, even as his lower arm rests lightly on the table. There could be a faint fire there, in the sergeant's gaze, the flames of an urge for vengeance, but it remains a brief flicker in his overall composed countenance. "Her Grace wishes to have this matter handled *properly*, without any blunders or mistakes. There are a lot of foreigners coming to Marsilikos, at the moment. Even more than usual."

"If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck," Philomene snorts scornfully, taking a sip from her wine. "When we saw those creatures in Camlach, we didn’t stop and ask them politely where exactly they were from. Nor did we stand back and say ‘after you’ when they went for a sword. Nor," she points out, eyeing him rather pointedly, "did we call on other people to fight for us. If you see a Skald, you don’t send for the guard, you end it. You know this as well as I."

She rolls her eyes, leaning back in her seat. "This city, the south, they’re soft. The priests preach peace, the guards let known enemies wander the streets armed, and when an honest woman steps up to deal with the issue, it’s drawn out into ‘investigations’. Take these people back home with us and we’d lose the war in a day."

One has to assume she means Camlach when she refers to home. Cows, pigs and wheat are probably not huge protagonists in the current war, and l’Agnace isn’t famous for tactical genius.

"In Camlach.", Jacquet confirms quietly, lowering his head in the hint of a nod. "In Camlach we knew better. But here… This is Eisande, m’lady, and the guards of this city are bound to act with the same gentleness, Her Grace is known for. The Lady of Marsilikos may have an affinity to the arts, but that doesn't mean I’d dare to act against her law." One corner of his mouth lifts in a wry grin. "They are soft, but they expect those that enjoy they hospitality to abide by her rules. But you, my lady…" And here his dark eyes flick down. "Even if I may agree with your motivations, I ask you to leave matters to the law."

"Gentleness is not stupidity, sergeant," Philomene insists, her tone somewhat dour and her eyes narrowing a little as she considers him. "The safety and security of our people is hardly something Her Grace takes lightly. This insidious infiltration of this city by maleficent, evil creatures, bent on destroying our way of life, tearing down the very arts and culture that this city and the lady represent with their barbarism, is a very real threat. Tell me," she insists, tilting her goblet towards him. "Had you been met by a Skald at the gates of the palace, the palace which represents the authority and the magnificence of all of this province, by an armed Skald who went for her blade and called for blood no less, would you have hesitated? Would you expect any red-blooded fighting woman to back off and let the enemy creature roam free, wreaking whatever havoc she intended? The law had thus far allowed the enemy to roam, unwatched, unguarded, and being permitted, from what I gather, to threaten not only me but Her Grace’s niece."

She shakes her head, brows drawn together. "If I saw another such creature, I’d aim to dispatch it too. That, sergeant, is my sworn duty as a d’Angeline and as a d’Aiglemort. We step up to hold back the enemy forces, so our people can live in safety. Like a good shepherd, we hunt and kill the wolves that would slaughter our d’Angeline flock. As Camael defended Blessed Elua, so we are that bulwark against the abyss. If we are to let them invade our cities and pledge their violence against us, why, should we just let them? Open the borders, stand down the armies, and bow the knee to Skaldia?"

Again she gives that scathing little snort. "I may be slow and I may be old, but I do not forget my duty, Sergeant. And if I die to a blade between my ribs while fighting to keep our land free from Skaldian treachery, I’ll die proud. And you can put that, word for word, in your damn report."

Jacquet leans back in his seat, and his brows jump upwards in hearing Philomène's counter. "We are far from the border, m'lady. Any Skaldi coming to Marsilikos is on their own. This particular creature has been taken care of. We took her off the streets and are ensuring safety, by keeping her in the dungeons until a verdict has been spoken by the High Court. We can't even be sure she is of Skaldia, as of now. She doesn't know herself where she is from." And yet, his gaze hardens a little as the sergeant continues. "However. There are Skaldi, known Skaldi here in Marsilikos. They roam freely, and are allowed to, for as long as they play by the rules." A low snort then. "Any Skaldi drawing a blade on me is a dead Skaldi. I've killed some of them… a long time ago. But obviously… obviously not enough."

Lost in thoughts he stares at the goblet on the table, fingers reaching to touch idly against the stem of the drinking vessel. "Is this why you wish to see me? To taunt my ability of protecting this city? May I ask, m'lady, what exactly the point is you wish to make?" Had Jacquet sounded detached before, his voice now has a weary ring to it. "I'm just a sergeant, of little consequence. If you wish to put in a complaint… you should direct it to the Commander of the City Watch. Or…" He *almost* smiles, were it not for the slightly pained look in his eyes. "To the Lady Of Marsilikos."

Philomene presses her fingers against the arm of her chair, forms a fist, then very slowly and deliberately lets it relax, exhaling as she does.

"You’re right," she eventually allows, "and I apologise. It’s not your business to make the law, only to abide by it. Even," she adds, a touch of that former vehemence coming back into her voice, "if it’s fucking stupid."

She presses her lips together, then takes another sip from her wine, shoulders lowering from their former somewhat belligerent stance. "I asked you here because you seem like a sound fellow, and from the accent a man who’d understand my point far more than most here. And I asked you here because I’m fucking frustrated that nothing seems to have happened. Two weeks. More. And all the update I’ve got on the damn creature is the occasional pitying glance in the street, and the scorn of young, fit men and women who should have had the damn gumption to do the job themselves, but seem to think it’s a bloody joke."

Again she takes a breath, brow settling into a scowl of irritation more than anything. "I’m Philomene d’Aiglemort. I used to have Skaldi bastards for breakfast, and now I’m what, some little old lady who tried, bless her, to cause a fuss over a poor innocent little foreign girl? I’ll admit it, I want to see some action not just because it’s one less enemy in our midst but also an acceptance that spies in among us shall not and will not be tolerated. I’m only fifty three, sergeant. I’ve still the experience and skill and knowledge I ever had, even if I’m a little slower than I once was. And I’m still conscious of the threat those animals pose to us."

"Can you tell me, then," she asks plainly, "what we can expect to be done about the creature, and when?"

"A fucking stupid nightmare," Jacquet agrees with a low mirthless rumble of a chuckle, and for a moment there is that dark disillusioned look in his eyes. "Camael would frown upon us. But here it is. We are far away from the border, where killing Skaldi is considered a virtue rather than a crime." He snorts. "It is not my place to have an opinion. But I understand you — better than anyone else here." That is all he says on the matter, even if the look in his eyes betrays there may be more on his mind. Clearing his throat, when the Vicomtesse de Gueret poses her question, the man of the city guard sits up in his seat and lowers his gaze for a moment. "I've been told there is to be a trial on the last day of August, m'lady. I'm certain they will invite you to present your side of the story. Regardless of further success of our investigations, we will present our findings before the court. I expect, the creature will be convicted and receive her sentence, whatever it will be."

"You are a man of the law," Philomene points out quite reasonably. "If I’m called upon to speak, can you advise of the sort of words most likely to sway a court to find justice?" She raises a brow. "I shouldn’t want to muddle my phrasing in such a way that there is any doubt about the insolence of this Skald spy and the only logical course of action to deal with her."

"My advice," Jacquet begins after pondering the question for a moment, eyes lifting to meet Philomène's gaze, "would be to tell it like it happened. Don't try to sway the court. Let the facts speak for you." A faint smile curves his lips. "And don't use any swear words, m'lady."

Philomene gives a grunted acknowledgement, flicking her hand vaguely towards the wine on the table. "Please, help yourself. You know as well as I that the facts can be stated in many different ways. But if you’re afraid to commit to a position I shan’t force you." She half smiles. "You, after all, have your job to think of. If they don’t like what I have to say, I simply go back to Gueret."

"It's not like I'm afraid… of anything. M'lady, I'm already beyond that. Having seen what I've seen. And you, having seen what you've seen… It isn't like that is easy to forget. Ever." Sergeant Jacquet inclines his head, his eyes remaining locked with those of Philomène, as his voice rasps through the silence of the room. "I'm not afraid to commit to a position. I'll stick to the facts, though. And do what I can to find what is missing to…" His dark gaze hardens. "Convince the court. It's a little less than two weeks away. That's plenty of time, to find evidence. And to question the creature, in case she may remember more things about her past and her identity." There is a faint trace of sarcasm in his tone, as he states this. "She spilled your blood, m'lady. That in itself constitutes a severe crime. Her Grace cannot close her eyes to this."

"Evidence," Philomene responds drily, her thumb absently running around the rim of her goblet. "And when did the sworn word of a d’Aiglemort start to count for nothing at all? I would posit that the most pressing piece of evidence needed would be the witness account from the Vicomtesse de Gueret."

"It would be," Jacquet responds. "I have learned however, that a name alone… and a word… and a sword… may not always hit their mark, m'lady." Gravelly is his voice and dark his expression. "Do as you must. Give them your witness account, and I shall see to back it up with my own findings."

"There was a time when they’d never have dared," Philomene points out softly, lifting her goblet to her lips for another swallow of the watered down wine. "Sergeant, will you perhaps do me the favour of sending word if you hear more? To keep me updated on the lies that filthy thing spews out?"

Jacquet ponders her request for a long moment, gaze going distant as he is claimed by considerations and memories. His nostrils flare faintly as the sergeant exhales. Dark eyes rising to meet the gaze of the lady. "I will. I shall. My lady Philomène d'Aiglemort de Chalasse. By the blood of Camael." Shifting in his seat a little before he moves to stand, he asks, "Will that be all, my lady?"

"Thank you, sergeant, it will," Philomene responds with a nod of finality. "Will you take a glass for the road, or am I keeping you from your duty?"

This elicits the return of a faint wry smile in his features. And Jacquet hesitates indeed, tempted perhaps by the offer. "I'm on duty.", he rasps after a moment. "But my time is not that limited. You are after all a witness in the investigations." Whatever that may mean. A nod then. "I would appreciate another drink, m'lady. But after that, I must be off."

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