A Constable Calls.

Postby Carnath-Emory » Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:37 am

On the other hand, of course, one cannot expect too much of the man: there are a year's worth of complications intervening, here. They lend some distance to her gaze, even as she listens to this new ploy, draw the lips into a thin, uneven line as she nods her way through it: assent, this gesture indicates.
Not acceptance, not yet.

"From my point of view, ser, these trivial concerns are not what ... concern me," she interjects into the midst of this, and not without a moment's wry humour about the edges of her. "The Governor does not trust me very well, mn? And I will not have him seize upon something -- a name, a poorly-spoken word -- and have me hanged for it."

There. Cinnabar has clarified, and the favour has been returned in equal measure. Here is a lift of her cup as if in toast to such sentiments, and a measure of its very fine contents sipped; most grateful for you generosity, Agnisezka. Most grateful.

"So we begin with the simple things, yes? So..." and she has rediscovered that very small grin, on noting Calomel's newfound eagerness -- or avidness -- or intensity, at least; perhaps she thinks to recognise this for what it is.

"This became known to me the night that the beast came to my door, wearing a face it reckoned I would trust. I did." The Governor has noted the woman's tells, and here one shows itself again: the slight tightening about the lips, the very slight motion there. Guilt, perhaps. Disgust.

"It requested this of me, wearing this face, and when I refused, it drew its blade and cut open its own throat." A moment's pause, for him to digest that. "To our misfortune, the thing is no suicide: it did not die to this wound. It was then that it threatened three persons, and leapt through my window; the fall did not damage it, and by then it had become another thing, a wolf thing, perhaps -- the night was dark, I did not see very well.

Does this satisfy?"
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Postby Cinnabar » Mon Apr 23, 2007 8:02 am

"Indeed, to begin with." The pen is once more taken up, dipped and skimming across the page to leave a trail of elegant script behind it. Notes on abilities displayed. Shapechanger, Ariane might read were she to decipher the upside-down letters, can assumes the faces of others and hard to wound?. A few lines of such, with question-marks and underlines peppered about. A pause, and he looks up again. Considering for a time, then nodding.

"Your name shall appear in no report of mine; nor details which might identify you."

An interesting promise, perhaps in the unfortunate sense of the word. But moving on.

"Have you encountered the creature directly at any other time? Witnessed it, spoken with it, stood in its presence? What do you know it to be capable of?"
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Postby Carnath-Emory » Mon Apr 23, 2007 8:34 am

Ariane's reading has improved, but not to that advanced state. Still, shameless eavesdropper that she can be, when circumstances invite, the woman proves able to make out ... some of it. The simpler parts. But what he speaks is far more important than what he writes, for an offer has been made, and it is ... remarkably generous. That the woman is almost immediately doubtful of it speaks more of her nature, than Cinnabar's.

"And the Governor? What does he hear?" But her hand is lifting from the rim of her cup, is briefly setting that question aside, for again Cinnabar has turned his questioning in a direction which she can tolerate.

"I had encountered Baie on two occasions before this, yes? The first, Townsedge: you know this name, Sera Kaczmarek spoke it you. The other -- but we speak of Townsedge first, and then you answer me that thing, mn?"

A small, tidy nod: she has arranged the moment in a manner that pleases her passingly well, and in time -- with wine -- continues.

"But I must first confess that I am not the best to ask, for there were others there, and many who saw more clearly than I. The Captain is long gone from us, but there are men of the Brotherhood who will recall some of this, for Thessilane men were a part of it; many of the Militia surely will. And particularly M'Ser Bromn, but -- " There it is again, that resigned glance towards the door. "It is busy, such mornings.

"Townsedge was ... it was the worst of many things. They say after that it began with a riot, for the people were not much pleased with their Council: they meant to march upon the Meetinghouse, some say now, to demand better things of the Judiciary. They were met by Straka, and by a contingent of Thessilane troops, for it was so large a crowd by then -- ah, but you needn't know such things, mn? Except for this: that there were hundreds there that day, and that not one of them will admit honestly that they saw Baie wounded. He came into the midst of them, and none know how: just that at first they fought Thessilane shields -- for they were guarding the Meetinghouse, you see? But that then they were crushed against them, by their own panic. The Captain meant to fight the beast, and Straka as well, and even the Thessilane --

It came to nothing."

A pause is required here, to reorder thoughts, to sip at wine; to run fingertips lightly across the rim of that mug, as if it were familiar and a touchstone. A nod, at the end of it; a very quiet exhalation.

"He ... tore his way through them. I mean this as no, no ... tale, ser: he tore the limbs from their bodies, or the stomachs from their spines, you see? He was not hindered, even when the Captain dove into their midst, even when Altias did.

"I know not how he took his leave of them: by that time I had seized my ward, and was taking him away."
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Postby Cinnabar » Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:00 am

"What was it assailed with? Swords, halberds, crossbows, I presume? And when you say the creature took no wounds, was it that they could not touch it, or that the wounds troubled it not?"

The account of Townsedge troubles him, quite clearly. Whether for the sake of the townsfolk and soldiers slain or that the Baie seems possessed of such powers, though, is hard to say. Still, more writing as she speaks, names noted down, further additions to the list of the creature's abilities.

"The Governor hears of the creature's capabilities, as recounted by eye witnesses, those who have seen it directly. I would strip away any rumour or speculation, and list only that which it has been known to do. Only the facts. The tales of its abilities will be noted, and borne in mind, but I am more concerned with what it has demonstrated to be within its abilities." A moment taken to dab at the pen's nib with a rag, keeping it clean such that the ink will continue to flow smoothly.

"If you are aware of others who are... familiar with the cult, or with the Baie, it may be possible for them to have their names similarly omitted from the report if they are willing to share what they know. As a gesture of good faith, you see." He glances up, grey gaze meeting her own. "I am willing to compromise in some regards, if people are willing to meet me halfway. And I believe that almost anyone has the potential to reform, if they truly want to."

He readies the pen once more, dipping the nib into the inkwell and shaking off the excess with a neat flick.

"The second time?"
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Postby Carnath-Emory » Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:31 am

"Ah -- this, I cannot say."

Does it disappoint? Almost surely, and there is some wordless apology for that in the pale edges of her eyes, some acknowledgement that this is far from what the man had hoped for here. But there is a tilt of the undamaged shoulder, a sip from the wine-cup, and she continues in a similar vein:

"I am a guard, ser, or was: I saw a good man plunge into that mob, and had eyes for very little else. But the Thessilane bore pikes, and the Captain his swords, and the Militia -- well. They carried what they could, mm? You might question Karolinger on this, do you know of him? Janeiro's Captain, now that..."

Ah, but we needn't speak of Kerrak's death, for this is a recent wound, and one that bleeds a little even now. That in some sense always will. She is setting aside that concern quite physically, with a tilt of the forefinger, and resting her palm flat upon the tabletop between them after it. A silence, then. A short stretch of that, before she continues.

"You ... are willing. I do not disbelieve that, I do not distrust it. But you do not answer to yourself, Cinnabar. You have sworn yourself: I stood there for it, yes? You are here as, as.. Cinnabar of the Constabulary; we know this.

"Of the Governor's Constabulary. So." And here fingertips brush the polished wood of that tabletop, coil a moment about the stem of that cup: a very tactile creature, this is, a very restless cripple.

"This second time, I do not describe it, for there come questions of it that I do not think... I will answer for you. Perhaps it is not important. It is only that I saw the beast, yes; none at all perished at its touch."
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Postby Cinnabar » Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:07 am

"Very well." He reviews his notes, considering for a moment. "So. It speaks, thinks and reasons. It can change its face, and indeed its shape. It is possessed of strength enough to tear men apart through main force. And weapons do not seem to harm it. You have seen all of these things yourself." He glances to her for confirmation before looking back to the paper, choosing his next words thoughtfully.

"I am sworn to the Governor, yes. I am tasked with investigating the cult of the Baie. The goal is to break up the cult, and to bring its members to justice. I have a certain degree of... of flexibility in how I accomplish that. The Grand Warrant grants... powers, shall we say, which can be applied to the pursuit of this goal. Quite extensive powers, in fact, a few of which I am very reluctant to use because they are dangerous." He frowns slightly, glancing up to gauge the swordswoman's reaction.

"I do not want to use them, which is why I am here, talking to you and trying to find out about this cult. It's like being faced with a tangled knot of string and rope. I could just take a knife and cut the knot on half. But instead I am trying to tease out the ends of the string and unravel it that way."

A sigh, and he takes up his pen again.

"Enough of the beast. What do you know of its followers?"
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Postby Carnath-Emory » Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:34 am

Ariane is nodding through this summary, excepting for the point at which a forefinger is lifted for pause, and she interjects:

"This matter of weapons, I have not seen this for myself. I do not count on it. My regret is that I did not test the beast when it made its threats, but -- " Some thin shrug of the shoulder, for regret and acceptance mingle alike in her torn features now. "Better to take it by surprise, mm? No mind."

Cinnabar is free to continue after this, and continue he does, in such directions, in such a manner as to leave a lasting silence in his words' wake. Is it reaction that he means to reckon? For there is very little here at all, save for silence and ugliness, and the distracted solemnity of very careful thought indeed. Again, the wandering of her gaze: towards that window, that street; that eyeglass of brass and emerald-sheened lens. And after a time, is shooting him a particularly reckless grin, for of a sudden:

"Hah! Your rope is a puzzle? Mine, Cinnabar, mine is a hangman's noose."

Her turn to gauge reaction, to watch a moment, before continuing hard and fast upon the heels of it. If the world is a chessboard, then such debate as this is sometimes a battlefield, and if she has shocked the man, she is going to seize what small advantage that's given her.

"Do you trust my word? For I can give you names. I can name for you the founder of this cult, I can name for you his second, I can name for you the man who provoked the god they worship to appear before them, and I can name that god, as well.

"I can list for you no less than twenty of the Order's members -- now. Immediately. Upon that very page. I've a page which bears a dozen more, of which I am less sure; I would not rely upon it, ser.

"And now..." This smile, this quietened smile. "Now, you have questions, I think. I hope that you might have an answer for this, as well."

This. This impasse.
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Postby Cinnabar » Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:53 am

A quiet nod at the point about weapons. The rather grisly spin on his metaphor, one has pale brows raising sharply, but there follows a grin to match her own as her offer is made. So many? He'd hardly dared hope for such.

"Names are precisely what I'm after. And I trust your word well enough. I would hope that you trust mine." Clearly pleased that progress appears to have been made, but then he tilts his head, eyes narrowing shrewdly.

"On what condition would I be granted these names?" There's always something. He can recognise when a bargaining chip is dangled before him.

"Bearing in mind that a noose is a knot that can be unravelled like any other."
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Postby Carnath-Emory » Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:37 am

There's always something. And what was that about chessboards? For a woman who allies herself with no recognised authority, Cinnabar had once said himself, might easily find herself at the mercy of them all...

"Yours, I trust quite well. The Governor's...

"He means well, mn? So I shall tell you this terrible thing, this awful thing: that it was a simple, mortal man who first conceived of this cult, and that when he first set it into motion, he, too, 'meant well'."

It's back a little into the seat that she eases then, a subtle adjustment of her weight to ease what pressure the faulty hip suffers. Wine eases a little of the dull ache which has set into the joint -- or she imagines that it does, at least, which amounts to much the same thing in the end. But here's a glance for a different table, and for the pitcher set atop it, for that's how they brew the willow-bark tea for her: by the jug, for a little time longer yet. The time for that approaches, but the woman greets this with the same perverse stubborness that she does any such obligation: it is put off, it is made distant, it is denied until the body screams its demand --

"There are other things that I may describe for you, Cinnabar. Simpler things, mn? The beginnings of this. But these names, such details: for that, I will have you unravel that noose for true.

A Governor's pardon. For myself and for two others."

And these pale eyes are lit fiercely with the audacity of this demand, the fingertips are paused very still upon the rim of their wine-cup. Her gaze does not swerve from his now, and it is very solemn indeed, very intent.

"I will not be dragged to trial a second time for doing the Council's work for it, mn? I will not be accused, I will not be condemned, I will not be jailed and murdered -- nor will the two who've suffered for sake of these answers. A full pardon, Cinnabar: without condition, without reserve.

I accept nothing less."
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Postby Cinnabar » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:04 am

This prompts consideration on the young man's part, pale gaze meeting hers unblinkingly, features and posture neutral as he thinks upon her demand. There are questions, of course there are questions, clarification required. One might imagine tiny clerks behind his eyes, weighing with scales first one way then another, flicking beads along abacus-frames, checking ledgers, calculating, assessing, evaluating. Moments stretch, the steadiness of his inspection somehow old far beyond his smooth features, before eventually, finally he nods, lids blinking once across those grey eyes, then looks away to retrieve his pen and add a few more lines to his notes.

"Three pardons from the Governor, signed, sealed and dated, names to be confirmed at a later time. What has gone before will be forgiven." A glance to the swordswoman as he writes, quietly noting her reaction. "If they go against the law after the pardons are granted, they will reap the normal consequences of such. In return for which, a list of known and suspected members of the cult of the Baie, full disclosure of your knowledge of said cult, including the names of others who you believe would be able to provide more information."

He underlines with a sharp scratch of the nib, and sets the pen down. "Is this agreeable?" Perhaps the hint of a smile upon his lips.
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Postby Carnath-Emory » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:42 am

Being neither a fool nor a villain, that Cinnabar would have questions is quite inevitable; Ariane had accepted this from the moment she'd first begun to phrase her offer. It is also much of what's prompted this particular demand, for her crimes are not so very great, unless one begins to ask the wrong sort of questions, the distrustful sort, and then...

Why, then a woman hangs.

So Cinnabar is regarded closely throughout this period of quiet, for he sits at the table of a woman who'd much rather read faces than words, who communicates more easily in gesture, than actual speech. They are observed, these careful calculations, by a woman who sips sparingly of her wine's fine remnants; they are gauged in manners that she herself could not quite name, if asked on them, because hers is a mind that's been thrust in directions for which it was never made, and its vocabulary remains inadequate to describe them. Its understanding certainly does.

A year ago, this conversation would never have occured.
A year ago, she would never have proposed this exchange.

"Dated," she echoes the young man, at the end of it all; her nod does not hesitate. "I do not mean to place myself beyond the law. Nor the others; their future is ... theirs to decide, mn? Theirs to make."

And oh, to say such a thing somehow shakes a woman, if not quite visibly. It echoes another time, a very dark night; it is the essence of what she and her sister had both insisted to a very furious Agnieszka. A very pained Agnieszka. It carries with it sorrow and hope and dread, and not for all the coin in the Governor's purse, Cinnabar Calomel, would she have resisted adding dates to those pardons...

"So we are agreed. When I hold these things in my hand, ser, when they have been read and made certain of...

Then you will have all that I know."
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Postby Cinnabar » Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:16 am

He nods, satisfied for now.

"I cannot guarantee that the Governor will agree to such terms, but I will do my best to persuade him." Tidying his writing things now, cleaning the pen and stoppering the inkwell as he waits for his notes to dry properly. "It is not hard to see that three criminals going free is preferable to twenty." A brief grin at the mention of the three. Finally his papers are gathered, straightened, and slipped safely into his satchel.

"May I ask who the other two pardons are for?" He leans back in his own chair to take a more relaxed posture - a quite marked change from the businesslike formality of mere moments ago, switching from one to the other as if removing a mask. Business is concluded for now, so he can take time for more casual talk. "Merely to sate my own curiosity, you understand."
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Postby Carnath-Emory » Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:39 am

And it is concluded.

Or the beginning of it is, at least: that the Governor will not like this notion of pardons and cleaned slates is assured, that he will not like the names she'll have him write upon them is certain. But this is a start, and it is far more hope than she's had on this matter in a year and more, having relied on the fierce promises of Kerrak al'Nerrun for all this time, and nothing more certain at all. Should the Governor not pen these things blindly, should he inquire in certain directions...

Well. Then we shall see how he balances justice against outrage.

But for now, there's a nod to mirror Cinnabar's own, and Ariane's gruesome features are relaxing into far easier contours at the conclusion of it. As he arranges papers and quill and whatnot, the woman's bearing down a little on the arm of her chair, is easing a reluctant body carefully up to its feet. Reluctant but needful, and that is written in the tension across its throat, in the stiff lines of shoulder and spine.

"It ... will be hard for him, I think. He was a barrister, before he sat upon the Council -- did you know this?" With a glance across one shoulder, as she starts for that other table, where a pitcher waits in mute invitation. It is a gradual, careful journey. "His mind ... is brilliant. It loves to win.

"Although we are often not friends, I do not fail ever to respect that."

Ahh, masks: we all have those, don't we? Imagine this: that in a kinder time, a happier time, Ariane and the Governor had sat for an hour and more in a teahouse, discussing just that. Masks, which are worn and discarded, which are not so much personas, but roles. So that for a time, the Governor becomes a Tyrant, so that for a time, the Guard becomes a Monster...

"These names... you do not know them, I think. They are for your ears, no other's -- yes? This matter of pardons and criminals, I will not have it become ... talk, gossip." As she pauses a moment now, shoulder rested against one of the bed's tall, glossy posts. There is breath to be caught, lungs to be filled, and only then does her head lift again, a tilt of wry smile turned back towards the man.

"Altias Bromn. And Michael Renne."
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Postby Cinnabar » Tue Apr 24, 2007 6:19 am

To the issue of confidentiality: "Of course."

And then a somewhat perplexed tilt of the head. "Altias Bromn as in the former governor Altias Bromn who owns this bakery and who I very nearly brained with a chair some while back?" A wry grin at that. "I am passingly familiar with the name. The other, though... I have heard him mentioned, but little in the way of specifics. Who is he?"

Mentioned as connected in some way with the cult of the Baie, he can't help but recall. A passing reference in some other conversation, perhaps, an unexplained aside or such. Hm. Curious.
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Postby Carnath-Emory » Tue Apr 24, 2007 6:53 am

Yes. Yes indeed, and here's a nod to confirm those questions: she is preoccupied for a time with tea and sweetening honey, but not so fully as to preclude reply.

"This bakery, this home, this chair upon which you sit; he is a generous host. You're welcome to that wine, if you wish. There's a cup..." Somewhere thereabouts. We exist in a particularly casual state up here, in this loft which sometimes seems almost... removed from the world, lavish pocket of space that it is. It is a dedication to comfort and leisure, and nevermind that she's made a library of it, an exercise-space; nevermind that for a time it had hosted a doctor and his opium. Speaking of which...

"It is ... as I've said: if a man wishes to see a wrongdoing, he will see it, yes? In even the most innocent things, the most innocent people. As for ser Renne, he is an aquaintance; for a time he served as one of the Rememdium's doctors." She is returning then, and with some small difficulty: only one hand functions, and it cannot support her against the bedposts while it holds the mug. It frustrates: the small tension in her blackened features makes this quite clear. It irritates. But meantime, and not without some admission of irony:

"It is from his help that I walk at all today. From both of theirs."
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