(1310-09-04) Both Alike In Dignity
Summary: A considerate gift from a much regarded relative inadvertently notifies Matthieu de Rocaille of other problems plaguing Siovale.
RL Date: 04/09/2018
Related: The Customary Fruit Basket

September 9, 1310 - Rocaille Townhouse

He had been cutting into one of the fresh nectarines sent to him as part of a collective of luscious and perfect fruits when his afternoon repast was swiftly interrupted by a courier clad in the distinct colors of House Toluard. The messenger, a young man who couldn't be older than fifteen, had been shown to the garden patio where the Rocaille heir had been reading, ever accompanied by Gabriel de Montreve, his Cassiline protector and boyhood companion.

Gabriel was already looking expectantly at the door when he arrived, as if blessed with preternatural senses for that sort of thing, dark-eyes as sharp as an eagle's falling upon the youth as he bowed from the waist towards the two men. Ever lackadaisical, ever casual bordering on irreverent, the dark-haired man inclined his head towards his best friend and charge. "He looks nervous, Matt," he said out loud, tapping a forefinger upon one of his gleaming vambraces. "Doesn't he look nervous to you?"

The boy swallowed audibly as Matthieu de Rocaille's eyes, ice-blue and threaded by the occasional silver filament, fell upon him, his silence an expectant, but stony and weighty thing. He strode towards the duke-to-be and handed him a familiar looking envelope, which the man took. He recognized it immediately.

"This message was to go to my great-aunt, the Comtesse de Bordeaux," Matthieu began. "Who I understand is in the city. Why has it been returned to me?"

"My lord…" The courier paused. From his vantage point, Gabriel could have sworn he was sweating profusely now. "…your great-aunt. She's always been gracious to my father, you see. There's been…I mean…I don't know how to tell you this, but she doesn't set foot in the premises anymore unless she has been specifically requested and correspondences addressed to her that are sent there tend to be redirected. I thought that before this letter disappeared with the others…"

Gabriel's eyes narrowed faintly at the boy's stammering. "What the bloody hell are you going on about?" the Cassiline wondered, pushing off the pillar.

Matthieu raised a hand towards his friend in a deliberate attempt to stay him before anything else could be said. His cutting stare, however, did not waver towards the boy. "Where is she residing if not at the Toluard manse?" he asked, face and voice devoid of any expression.

"The Maison de la Porte Bleue, my lord. Along Rue du Port."

The man's platinum-blond head nodded once, and turned his attention to one of the waiting valets. "Take the lad to Bouchard, to be rewarded for his trouble and his loyalty. Whatever he asks for within reason."

The boy's eyes widened faintly before bowing hastily. "Th- thank you, my lord!"

With the courier and valet departing, Matthieu reclined back against his seat, the edge of his returned envelope tapping against the table. The Cassiline watched the boy's exeunt, though he gave off the air of a bristling cat. "Matt," he said slowly. "I don't understand. If the comtesse is here, why isn't she with the Toluards? And what's this nonsense about her letters disappearing?"

The Rocaille said nothing, at least not yet, never in a hurry to vocalize his thoughts while he mulled them over. To his friend, the silence seemed to go on for eternity, but it isn't long until Matthieu moved again, tossing his returned letter on the table.

"There's no sense speculating," he replied, ever decisive. "If there are any explanations to be had, my great-aunt will state them more eloquently than anyone else's hearsay can provide." He gestured to the remaining valet. "I need parchment and my stylus."

Writing implements provided posthaste, he wrote a quick message to Oriane Somerville de Toluard, dripped wax in the end and applied his signet upon it, then handed it to the waiting valet. "Have a carriage sent for the comtesse at her residence in Maison de la Porte Bleue, along with a full retinue of guards. They are to wait for her, however long it takes for her to get ready."

"Yes, my lord. Is there anything else you require?"

Matthieu's eyes lidded faintly. "Make certain the driver knows to pass the Toluard residence with her full escort."

The valet bowed, and once the man had left, the ducal heir returned to his meal, slicing the blade deep into another nectarine.

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