Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

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Marcella Guiate
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Name: Marcella Guiate de Morua
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Marcella Guiate » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:42 pm

As Marcella step down from the carriage with the assistance of Girado her nose wrinkled and her lips formed a small pout she saw the lack of turnout by what was to be her new household. The expression of disappointment and chagrin melted away into a small forced smile she heard Hieronimo explain the situation.

"Well these things can't be helped." She said, as a response to his apology. "Although perhaps next time there is something that needs my urgent attention it would be advisable to send a messager on ahead. Then we could have hastened our journey and not have kept the Señor waiting so long." She looked down at her dress and tried not to shudder, she didn't even want to know how wild her hair probably looked. Perhaps Catalina had some tips for hair management. She doubted leaving her hair down would be very appropriate as a the new head of the Guiate's Qadis sector.

"As it is, we will have to keep the Señor waiting just a few moments longer. Please have my large trunk delivered directly to my room, my ladies will know which one. Send Nicolao our apologies for keeping him waiting so long and let him know that we will be there shortly. I would like a few moments to freshen up, it will not do to greet a guest as we are. Don Bertran, Señora Catalina," she turned to addressed the two, "Meet me in the parlour in no more than 30 minutes, although 15 would be advisable. Someone will show you the way. Now, let's just go freshen up. I leave the rest in your capable hands." She had turned back to Hieronimo half way through, nodding at him as she gathered her skirts and headed towards the house.

She had no idea if what she had just ordered was the right thing but she was going to stand by it. Personally she felt as though it would be disrespectful to entertain someone in such a state of disarray, emergency or otherwise. It would take much more then 15 minutes to look the way she would want to for her first appearance but that was no longer an option. She would change quickly, jab a couple dozen more pins in her hair and that would have to do.

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Bertran
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Name: Bertran Guiate Alcacar
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Bertran » Tue May 06, 2014 8:42 pm

Carriage rides were part blessing and part curse. They were a gambler's flight of fancy. They were everything Bertran hated about traveling with other people. His leg had felt fine for the last hour; he'd been impressed with the relatively low spikes of pain that had crawled up his lower back and pulsed behind his ribcage. Yet, as soon as he'd swung out his cane and shifted his hips to allow his good leg first descent, a vicious cramp had pierced his hamstring and shot down to his toes and across to his tailbone, where it repeated the first stab. He sucked in his breath, and would have toppled forward if Pau hadn't smoothly intercepted him, taking his left shoulder and saying, calmly, "Don Guiate, I've news."

It called Bertran that he'd need to save face, especially in Qadis, but he accepted it. "Later, Senor Pau. Thank you."

Feet planted on solid ground, he took his time recovering as the buzzing of tongues set themselves to forwarding events. The pain had made him dizzy; he shook it off by moving away from the carriage at a stately pace. Pau walked a half step behind him: an attentive manservant. Not a bodyguard who aimed to keep his master from falling flat on his face. He watched the proceedings with a small smile, and managed a slight bow for Marcella. She'd assumed control, which was good, but he suspected there would be the need of some small corrections for the next moonspan. But, he knew now that she would adjust and learn. She had passed the first hurdle. Not without some wobbling, but it was what it was. "Of course, Dona Guiate."

The title did not carry any estates behind it, but it was necessary if she was to carry with her any sense of power and responsibility. It had been something they'd discussed on the way to Qadis. He barely noticed the lack of staff, had a hard time focusing past the narrow zone of pain. "Fetch Senor Benito, and a manservant to guide us," Bertran hissed in an undertone to Pau.

The man hid his confusion, "Sir, your rooms. . ."

Bertran smiled tightly at him. "I am not entirely useless, senor. Go."

As he stood waiting and unattended, he wondered what Senora Catalina thought of the whole mess.

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Saguzar
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Saguzar » Wed May 07, 2014 12:35 am

It was perpetually amazing, in Catalina's opinion, just how frantic and critical an activity adjusting someone's appearance could be. In Corezan high society, the colours a person wore often spoke more than what came out of their mouths. It had been a mere half hour, and yet it felt like double that had passed.

---

There had been much to do. The moment Marcella gave her commands, Catalina advised Girardo which bags would be required immediately, and accompanied her mistress to their room. The moment they were alone, Catalina whispered urgently. "Dona, we do not have much time, so please listen while I ensure your appearance is perfect for the meeting. Please, your red dress, in the standard Corezan dye. No time for embarrassment, change now, we must ensure you appear every part the empress."

While Marcella changed, Catalina gathered an assortment of accessories and spoke all the while "Remember that, as mistress of the household, it is acceptable to make someone wait upon your convenience if you have only just arrived. And sometimes it is wise to do so just to make a point. We shall make use of the full half hour, to emphasise your control of the situation."

Ah, white gloves would be needed, they were in the smaller bag, if Catalina recalled "I might counsel, though, against making unreasonable statements to those who will help you manage this estate. There is no possible way that Hieronimo could have successfully sent a message to meet us, when our route of travel was designed explicitly for secrecy. It would have been more ...diplomatic... to thank him for attending so well to the comfort of the guest while awaiting your arrival."

Hmm, on that topic, perhaps some carmine ornamentations to show the appropriate sentiment. Catalina went through her collection of jewellery. Marcella, it seemed, was almost done with the dress. Catalina continued her advice as she laid out the accessories and hair pins in readiness for the important touches. "If you can win the hearts of those in your household, then you will have less to fear in the way of betrayal at home. In Qadis, this is especially important."

Catalina knew too well how easy it was to turn a servant into an ad hoc assassin if their employers were cruel or indifferent. It took little to convince a disgruntled servant to use a powder in the drinks, assuring them it was a sleeping powder so that a thief could embarrass them by making off with a prized ornament, and the foolish resentful servant has in their ignorance accepted a poison and ended their master's life. There was a reason why prosperous individuals often employed special taste-testers. Oh dear, Marcella's hair was travel-worn.

Catalina had Marcella sit down while she took care of her hair. "Finally, this man you will be meeting, it is possible he will speak of mercantile matters likely to be understood only by Bertran. It is important, if that is the case, to advise that Bertran will meet with him separately to 'go over the finer details' with the man at a 'more leisurely pace at a time of their own convenience'. This will save you from having to take in too much unnecessary information so soon after our journey ended. What is needed, truly, is a synopsis of the crisis so that we can evaluate just how high a priority it is in comparison to all the other tasks which await you." Catalina's fingers moved deftly, manipulating and pinning Marcella's hair into a neat and attractive chignon while pinning in a white ceramic orchid with gold filigree to send the correct message.

Finally, Catalina had helped Marcella choose the appropriate accessories, and neatened up her own hair a little. "It would have been better if we could have spend more time on makeup, but it is the colours that are important, less so the powder on one's face. You look stunning, mistress, like a Marquesa. Now is time to handle yourself with the calmness and poise of one."

---

Marcella and Catalina had arrived fashionably late, escorted by Girardo, and so Bertran would have been spared some embarrassment - and possibly been granted an early chance to make the acquaintance of the brokerage liaison. Nicolao Benito De Olvera was a young man, of placid demeanour, but whose sharp eyes spoke of intelligence and ambition. He kept his brown hair cut short and preferred to remain clean shaven. Nicolao rose to his feet the moment he saw the flash of red skirts and bowed courteously upon Marcella's entrance.

The man was neatly and conservatively attired in a sky-blue doublet with steel-blue trimmings and matching trousers. Catalina's eyes were drawn to the black gloves, however, which called attention to the likely nature of the message. To wear such a stark black on the hands in contrast with more gentle blues was to suggest dire circumstances were to be disclosed. "Dona Guiate, it is my pleasure to make your acquaintance, and I thank you for your hospitality this day."

Once all the greetings and polite necessities were completed around the room, Marcella gave Nicolao permission to speak. Yet, for all that the man had waited hours to deliver it, the message itself was comparatively short. "Dona Guiate, I bring poor tidings. The Guiate representative Alfonse did not arrive at yesterday's meeting with the Algonquin Consortium. The consortium has subsequently made arrangements with an undisclosed competitor, and have terminated their negotiations with us. We are trying to ascertain who has outmanoeuvred us, but have failed to do so at present. Additionally, we have yet to find or hear from Alfonse."

Nicolao steepled the fingers of his black gloves, the subtle meaning clear: the brokerage suspected Alfonse was no longer among the living. Catalina glanced at Bertran and then Marcella. She was not at present playing a role which allowed her to speak freely in public, so for now she contented herself with observing how her companions responded to the scenario presented before them.

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Bertran
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Bertran » Mon May 19, 2014 4:22 pm

Walking with a limp was bad enough, but hobbling was unacceptable. Bertran had long ago accepted that he could not change his condition, but he was no martyr. He resented the pain it took for his physician to work out the cramping muscles within the small period of time he'd been allotted. Unintended weakness was never good to show at the bargaining table, but now it was more imperative that he played his part flawlessly. He had to account for Marcella. He had to make up for any of her flaws. He was roughly dressed in a non-45 blue, with orchid and scarlet embroidery and piping. He hated wearing orchid; it looked terrible on him. Still, it would hopefully draw attention towards himself and away from Marcella. He was the workhorse.

Pao held the elbow of his bad side as they rushed to the appropriate room, taking a good part of his weight in order to speed their progress. Miguel played scout ahead of them. Dangerous thing to do, but to be anything other than punctual was not an option. Once they arrived before the door, there was a flurry of hands tugging and pulling at Bertran's clothing to ensure perfection. The two men had once been mercenaries, but they had learned quickly when Bertran had hired them into Corezo. The battlefield required armor of a different sort -- and they had adjusted to prepare accordingly. Bertran had been lucky to find them. Very lucky. He suspected Hector's hand.

No matter. He threw up his head and took a strong step into the room as Miguel threw open the door. Pau stayed a step behind and to his left. Miguel announced him, and Bertran walked forward until he stood opposite Nicolao. The two exchanged slight bows; Nicolao's making up the difference between their respective ranks. Once they had settled down, he spoke to Bertran of the Algonquin situation with some hesitance -- Marcella had not arrived. Yet, as senior trade representative on the grounds, it did no disservice to Marcella for Bertran to be apprised of developing situations ahead of her, especially because he had the freedom to move his people independently of official assignments. He did so, gesturing Pau closer and whispering in his ear. Pau disappeared for a moment, spoke to Miguel where he waited outside, and returned. Miguel would see the necessary duties handed out. They needed information, and Bertran could get some of that information through his own personal channels. Hopefully.

The Algonquin Consortium was from Hasele, and infamous for its owner's mercurial temperament. They were often unpredictable, and notably ruthless; while an admirable trait for any business, the Consortium often displayed a lack of courtesy and honor that was often viewed as shocking -- even in their modern age, with all the shamelessness that came with the degenerate youths of the day. Still, their very unpredictability lead to some assumptions that could be made about them when combined with their callousness of trade arrangements, and one of those would be that they were likely to take the next best offer without regards for the current tangle of merchant politics. The ones most likely to want the Consortium the most would be one of the enemies of the Guiate House -- or someone who was looking to cut them out of that business.

The Consortium dealt in many products, but were renowned for their stranglehold over southwestern Haselian glass. The characteristics of the glass produced a particular family of glassmiths (or gaffers, as they were sometimes referred to) was highly valued by artisans throughout the Eyropan empire. While it did not rival the artful application of Apthonian glassblowers, the stuff the Consortium could provide was considered to be necessary for those wealthy individuals who could afford stained glass windows and some of the cleanest, clearest and most even window glass in the known world. The Guiates, in return, had their own exclusive deal with coffee producers in Ta Netjeru, and could provide exotic strains and blends from the so-called birthplace of coffee: these were in turn beloved of connoisseurs and the wealthy.

Glass for coffee was not the whole of the deal, of course, but there was demand in upper class Corezan society for such glass, and Haselians did not have reliable access to high quality coffee. It had been the perfect match.

Business being business, there were other perfect matches. Bertran had some suspicions, but he would need to do research. In the meantime, he shared idle chat with Nicolao until Marcella and Catalina arrived (rise, bow, greet, sit) -- which was when he first heard the second part about Alfonse. He stiffened, but with Marcella present he had to remain quiet until she spoke or gave him an opening to share his own words -- even with Pao.

He grew tense. It was difficult to hide, but he gave it his all.

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Marcella Guiate
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Marcella Guiate » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:34 am

Marcella remained relatively quiet at Catalina scurried around the room finding all the little things that she needed to make Marcella presentable. Actually Marcella was fairly impressed that Catalina had been able to do such a good job in such a short time, even more so that she had been able to tame her eternally flyaway hair. But then that only went to show how good the Senora must be at her job - certainly dear old daddy wouldn't hire anyone but the best even if Catalina's main assignment wasn't merely acting as her chaperon and ladies maid. Nobody would be able to find fault in her.

But finding out more about her knowledgeable companion wasn't her concern right now. Once they were finished they were escorted to where the men where most likely lightly glazing over business. After the niceties were exchanged Marcella gave Nicolao the floor. It was most shocking news. Certainly nothing that she had prepared to death with.

Marcella bowed her head in the pretense of muttering a quick prayer either for Alfonse' safe return or that soul of the (possibly) departed might rest in peace. Those few short second her mind ran as she tried to assess her best course of action. Certainly being too emotional would be the equivalent of admitting that she was too weak to stomach anything that went on but this was a pretty big deal as far as she was aware. One of the men that she was responsible for was presumed dead and a business deal was lost to a competitor. She had only been in the city for an hour!

She raised her head and tried to ignore the feeling of eyes boring into her, watching and waiting for her reaction. "Well let us continue the investigation for Alfonse for the time being." She stated. "I know it is too late for him to be of service in the Algonquin dealings but in the very least I am sure his family would be thankful know what happened."

She tried not to make it sound as if she was naive enough to believe that the representative was still alive but at the same time, she was sure the family would rather bury a body rather then an empty casket. That honor at least should be granted to them if at all possible. Although it would also be very possible, depending on who the competitor was, that there would be no body left.

"Meanwhile, we can't let business to be poached out from us like this. We shall continue to investigate who is trying to weasel their between us meanwhile Don Bertran and I will discuss what can be done in order to regain the Algonquin Consortium, if it is at all possible. As well as what retributions will be expected when we find out who did this and precautions to take to keep this from happening again. If we let one business be stolen from us it will just let other competitors think that if we are weak enough to let one go we will be week enough to let others fall prey to them. My family worked hard to create a foothold in Quadis and I shall not let it be lost while under my watch."

Marcella paused for a breath. She had decided she would certainly not be taking this lying down. Fighting doubly hard to maintain their old clients and struggling for continual growth was not how she was going to spend her time and resources.

"Now is their any other business you wish to discuss, anything I can do for you Senor De Olvera?" She momentarily debated inviting him for dinner but considering he had already wasted the afternoon waiting for them and most likely had more pressing matters to get to Marcella decided again it for the time being. If she was lucky there would be more then enough opportunities for her to invite business associates and the like over for dinners.

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Saguzar
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Saguzar » Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:29 am

Catalina was pleasantly surprised, and not a little impressed. When thrown to the wolves she'd raised her hackles and bared her teeth right back at them. It boded well for the future, if they could but ensure she was provided with the tools and knowledge to sustain the girl's fiery spirit with effective decision making. Don Guiate's apparent roll of the dice with sending Marcella to Qadis might have been more calculated than she had originally given the old man credit for.

On the other side of the room, the brokerage liaison was equally impressed. There had been concerns, significant concerns, about the viability of the Guiate's Qadis portfolios when they heard that the Don's daughter was being sent down to manage things. There had been, in fact, a significant level of nervousness in the offices. Which then turned into full-blown panic when Alfonse disappeared and the Algonquin Consortium snubbed their attempts to keep a line of negotiation open. Nicolao had been sent, not only to impart the news with the gravity it deserved, but also to gauge the personality of the woman who was nominally responsible for their future prosperity. Although time would, of course, tell - the first impressions had been positive, and Nicolao could assuage some of the fears of his colleagues.

Nicolao bowed. "Thank you, Dona, for your time. That is all I had to report. It was imperative that we ensured the message was delivered to you, personally, in as timely a fashion as possible. With your permission, and my apologies, might I cut short my visit? There is much to be done, now that your intentions are clear, to aid in this endeavour. Again, I thank you for your time and hospitality." Once consent was granted, the liaison made his departure as swiftly as good manners would permit, fearing the pile of tasks which had inevitably stacked up in his absence from the brokerage, and leaving Catalina, Marcella, and Bertran to the privacy of their own counsel.

Catalina spoke first, the petite woman clapping her hands together with an exclamation of delight "Bravo, Dona! Impeccably handled. Just the right balance of compassion, clarity, and bloodthirst. It was as if you were born in Qadis, bravo!" She paused a moment "Now, of course, this has been a serious issue raised by Nicolao, but it will not be solved in one night. With your permission, Dona, I will ensure that Girardo was as good as his word, and has arranged for you a hot bath to recover from the trials of this day. I imagine that Bertran... My apologies, Bertran, I did mean to say Don Alcacar."

Saguzar batted her eyelids in a winsome fashion, an amused glint in her eyes. That glint, however, did not reach her face which instead wore an utterly apologetic expression "I imagine that Don Alcacar will have much to say on this, and I do not wish him to hold anything back on account of my presence. My input regarding these details would be a distraction at any rate, when there are preparations I can be making for milady's comfort." Catalina offered a curtsy, and awaited Marcella's consent or alternative instructions.

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Bertran
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Bertran » Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:36 pm

A shudder rippled down Bertran's side and into his leg, testament to the release of tension at Nicolao's exit. It was with that relief that he offered Catalina a small, genuine smile; no ire at her no-doubt intentional slip of manners was present in his countenance. There had been worse slips of manners in his presence, with sharper edges behind them. Until she proved more dangerous to his own aims, he would treat such lapses as if they came from the breast of a girl-child -- to be corrected, but with more stern amusement than insult.

"Indeed, Senora Catalina," he said, adjusting himself in his seat as he prepared to stand. "If the Dona Marcella would permit, I would like to review the Algonquin Consortium's standings before you retire; it would behoove her chaperone to be present during any such meetings. It is one thing for there to be some relaxation of formalities when in Guiate's home estate, but while in Quijas I would caution care be taken in regards to Dona Marcella's image and reputation."

His stare was level as he directed it towards Catalina. "After refreshment would be acceptable."

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Marcella Guiate
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Marcella Guiate » Fri Nov 21, 2014 10:52 am

Marcella held back an exasperated sigh. The last thing she wanted to do was spend more time with these two. The trip to Qadis had been far too long and much too boring. All she wanted to do was go for ride, have a snack and a bath and then perhaps just take a nap. Yet things were going rather well, from her perspective, and her horses were probably tired from the journey so it would probably be a good idea to simply stay and continue. She doubted that proving herself during that one conversation was going to be nearly enough to convince everyone that she was a good fit.

Her cheeks coloured slightly at what Bertran had just said. She understood him perfectly, a single young woman of her status and recent position did not want any sort of rumors floating around. It was still slightly embarrassing to have it voiced, regardless if it was probably of anything happening or not. And in this case there wasn't, besides the obvious shallow reasons, Marcella simply found Bertran to be much too boring. Although perhaps, with a little coaxing, it might be possible to find a less serious side of him although Marcella doubted it.

Taking up a slightly relaxed position on her couch she offered Catalina a grateful smile before waving for Bertran to begin yet another review while she did her best not to let her thoughts wander. As inconvenient this whole situation was, it was crucial that she did not drop the ball in this situation, for as she had stated to Nicolao, if she did not handle this properly she, and the company as well, would seem weak and open them up to more and worse attacks.

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Saguzar
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Saguzar » Fri Nov 21, 2014 1:40 pm

Catalina was pleasantly relieved. Bertran was not as entirely inflexible as he'd first seemed. Still, now that she had worked out where the man's boundaries were, it made sense not to push them further at present. There was nothing to be gained, and much to be lost, by prodding the man more than she already had.

But every silver lining had its cloud and Bertran's reminder of propriety and the duties of the chaperone was very much a cloud of the dark and stormy variety. Of all the roles she could have been given for this task, that of the chaperone offered her the least personal freedom. Another barbed jest on behalf of Guillen, no doubt, and a velvet leash to keep her close by in Qadis. It was just like him, damn the smug son-of-a-goat. Still, at least he hadn't made good on his threat to make her a housemaid. At least as a Lady's companion and chaperone she was a slight step above the servants in the household pecking order. A very slight step. All she could do, as Marcella gestured for Bertran to continue, was smile brightly once more and say "But of course, Don Alcacar, that makes perfect sense. We cannot yet be certain of all the servants, after all. Dona, please allow me to summon refreshments while the Don gathers his thoughts."

Performing her given role, Catalina arose gracefully and swished to the door, where she rang the service bell. Girardo swiftly appeared to answer its summons. The tall footman seemed even taller by direct comparison to Marcella's chaperone. "Milady would like some light refreshments for herself and Don Alcacar. Something sweet, something savoury, and a service tray of coffee as well. Business has usurped the bath in priority for now. Dona Guiate will let us know when it shall be required." So that only Girardo could see, she mouthed the words 'One hour' and held up a finger with a smile. There had been a slight hint of resignation in how Marcella had reclined on the sofa, which suggested there would be a limit to her willingness to endure too much more for the day. Girardo nodded in minuscule fashion to Catalina then bowed to Marcella and stated "I shall return promptly, Dona." The footman made his exit towards the kitchens with diligent haste.

Catalina returned to take a seat next to Marcella's sofa, sitting primly as she commented "I'd wager that one quietly has his eye on the position of Butler in the long term. He's certainly been practising the appropriate comportment for the role."

Girardo's return was as prompt as promised, taking only a handful of minutes. Catalina had the distinct impression water had already been boiled in anticipation of the request. Girardo and one of the maids (Catalina made a mental note to start learning all their names at the earliest opportunity) arrived with trays in hand. Pastries and fruit were set out, along with a tray containing a pot of coffee, a small pitcher of milk, and an assortment of sugar, spices, and strainers to cater to the tastes of those present. Once the refreshments were settled on and served up by Girardo and the maid, the two servants vacated the room to allow the trio their privacy.

Catalina personally enjoyed spiced tea, styled after the Khazyani custom which had made its way into Qadis years ago along the Southern Trade Route, and she often frequented niche tea houses which specialised in preparing the beverage. She did not know the complete recipe, but she knew it contained ginger, cinnamon, and other spices she did not recognise. Qadis, however, had largely embraced the coffee culture of Samar and Semerkhet rather than the teas of the distant Khazyani or Tian Xia. In the absence of her own preference, Catalina had a sweetened black coffee instead.

With refreshments present and accounted for, Catalina mentally prepared herself to take in whatever important details she might need from Bertran's discourse. At the same time, she would need to pay subtle attention to Marcella and gauge how far her concentration would last in the aftermath of what had been already been a draining day.

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Bertran
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Bertran » Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:31 pm

Bertran ignored Catalina. It was not meant as a slight; he was tired of dealing with her. The day had been long, the trip had been grueling, and the last thing he needed was the fluttery tripe that came from extended social niceties. He still needed to check up with his own retainers, specifically to see if Anton and Sancha had arrived, and whether they'd time to begin making delicate inquiries. Considering what he paid them, there should be something. Something worthy of headaches.

He drew his attention back to the matter at hand with some difficulty. There was so much to say, but . . . where to begin? He resisted rubbing his temples, as he might have in front of Hector or Ramiro. He did not trust this Senora Catalina. He had weakness enough; he did not need to show her more.

Once his thoughts had been marshaled into order, he settled his full attention upon Marcella. She would need all of it, and his best, if they were to survive the coming days.

"As you know by now, there is no trust in dealings. This is moreso with the Algonquin Consortium. Their tongues are sweet, but they carry the sharpest of blades. They do not make any moves that have not been planned, and though they appear as being unpredictable, I have some evidence that they are meticulously prudent in planning their moves." His eyes went distant. "I suspect they had anticipated Hector's arrival, and were unaware of Senora Marcella's assignment here while this particular gaffe was in the works."

He took a breath, picked up a cup of coffee. While he didn't particularly care for hot beverages in general, he knew he would need the beverage's properties to keep himself going until the major circumstances had been dealt with. There was much that could not wait for the following morning. "I suspect, therefore, that we have an opportunity to surprise them; they are aware of Hector's. . . habits in maneuvering, but the Dona is an unknown entity. In that vein, we have some room to do things that we otherwise cannot do; she has more authority at hand than does Hector, and can thus act in ways he cannot."

He took a sip. "It's possible that her relative inexperience could also be used to be forward in ways that would otherwise be unforgivable. I suspect this will be necessary if we desire to bring the Consortium to heel. We must keep in mind, however, that such tactics can only be used in the short term, and must be done precisely. As well, we will not be able to repeat them once we have made such moves. Consider them as emergency tactics."

He looked upwards. "As for how we proceed, first we must identify the competitor; I will have one of my men attend this. If the Dona wishes to put an estate servant on this task, I would find this course wise; independent sources of information are always of value. So long as discretion is made a priority. Guiate cannot be seen to be sniffing after the Consortium. It will make us look weak.

"Second, of course, we must discover who gave the order to dispose of Senor Alfonse. Third, we must discover why, in particular, besides the obvious. Then we will use this information to devise a course of action that will head them off. But before that, we must begin our own action. We cannot be seen to sit still; however, neither can we appear to be ruffled."

He paused, and took a longer drink from his cup. He sighed and put it down. "I do not advise going straight to the Consortium's rivals; it will make us look petty. I would prefer an indirect strike. We know the Consortium's preferred means of . . ."

He pursed his lips. His eyes narrowed. "Eastern Tinariwen. There is a small -- " Bertran barely stopped himself from swearing. He took another breath: in, out. "There are three small growers in eastern Tinariwen who are beginning to expand production of coffee. While it does not begin to touch the quality of our coffee in northern Ta Netjeru, with the right access to the right lands, and proper funding, it is possible there is good money to be made. While I have not heard of any such sponsors, it is possible a deal has been struck and this is why they have made their move. I will see it looked into.

"In the meantime, I would suggest we look into North Haselian markets for our coffee. It will not be seen as directly threatening the Consortium, but enough saturation will hamper them if that is the route they have chosen to go. Too, with them taking their glass elsewhere, we will be shunted out of that market before we begin unless we find an adequate alternative. We should start looking at other options -- we will lose both money and prestige if we allow this opportunity to slip by. Is this acceptable, Dona, or would you prefer a different route?"

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Marcella Guiate
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Name: Marcella Guiate de Morua
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Marcella Guiate » Fri Dec 12, 2014 1:51 am

Marcella had willingly made herself a cup of sweet coffee with the idea that it would make her alert enough to pay attention for just a bit longer but even sipping on her hot refreshment didn't seem to do anything perk her up. She only half listened as Bertran rambled on about what they would need to do while she did her best to at least appear as though she was giving him her full focus.

Bertran paused and seemed to look at her expectantly, she had a vague feeling that she was expected to respond and make some decision here but she had no clue as to what he had just asked. Shaking her head softly Marcella smiled apologetically.

"I am sorry Señor. I do not wish to be rude and certainly do not desire to shove aside important matters. But it has been a long day and I wasn't prepared to be tossed right into the middle of everything so quickly. I would appreciate it if I could be given the even to rest and attend to matters of the house and then tomorrow we can dive into the thick of things. If you wish you can write up a report that I will read upon completion."

Standing up to show finality of the matter she nodded politely to Bertran and moved towards the door. There was much she wanted to do before bed but sitting down listening to lectures once again was not currently a priority. Plus she wanted something a little more appetizing than the food that they had packed or ate at the various establishments they had passed.

Catalina was right, Girardo more then likely had his sights set high and she felt that it would be advantageous for her. It would be good to find out who in the house was trustworthy, who was prone to gossip and such. Certainly her maids, that she had demanded come with her, would be of some help in that area but having someone who knew the city and everything around her currently would no doubt be a good pawn if anything.

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Saguzar
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Saguzar » Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:45 am

Catalina would have smiled if propriety allowed for it. The girl had at least learned the art of delaying tactics when faced with a surfeit of information and decision-making. Marcella's stamina for the tedium of such business matters would hopefully grow in time. They would need to, if the Guiate concerns in Qadis were to remain profitable.

As it was, with Marcella's pragmatic decision to recuperate from the journey and unpleasant news, Catalina had work to do as well. As Marcella's chaperone she arose with Marcella, offered Bertran the correct curtsy for his rank, and followed in Marcella's wake.

The moment they left the parlour, Girardo made his presence know by the expedience of offering Marcella a deep bow. "Dona. Your bath is ready, and your maids Marisol and Merielle are in attendance and shall wait upon your convenience." From behind Marcella, Catalina offered Girardo a grateful smile. An attentive footman was a blessing to any household. A moment later, cued by Girardo's statement, Marisol appeared carrying towels and offered Marcella a deep curtsy.

Catalina did not know much about Marisol or Merielle, only that they were Marcella's maids, and that upon arriving in a separate carriage had been whisked into the quarters of the Housekeeper Maria for instructions on the household at the Pazo Guiate de Qadis operated.
The question of the maids' accompanying Marcella to Qadis had been the source of some conflict with Ramiro, as Catalina recalled. Eventually her client had consented to his daughter's pressure and sent them - albeit in a separate carriage - with some of Marcella's additional belongings. It had been clear to Catalina that the maids had been utilised as a diversion, as their carriage had been marked with the Guiate heraldry, and Marcella's carriage had not.

Still, with a bath ready and Marcella's maids in attendance, Catalina was potentially free to explore the estate. "Dona, I should use this opportunity to become acquainted with the household members. May I entrust you to Marisol and Merielle?"

With Marcella's consent Saguzar offered a curtsy and watched as Marisol led her mistress to the bathing room. Temporarily free of that responsibility, Catalina smiled brightly at Girardo and said "This is perhaps the first moment I have had during this chaotic day to properly introduce myself, senor! I am Catalina Lucia El Viso Moriles, chosen by Don Ramiro Guiate de Morua to be Lady's companion and chaperone to Dona Marcella. I am already in your debt, for the rigors of our travel today were considerable, and our mistress was in dire need of the relaxation a bath offers."

Girardo was the epitome of gentlemanly comportment as he offered a slight bow and responded "Think nothing of it, senora." Catalina wondered what kind of personality he hid beneath his mask of polite competence as she continued with her smile taking on a playful hint "Might I place myself further in your debt? With the unusual events of today, I have been deprived of the chance to become familiar with this household, and am in need of a guide. Would you be willing to be my guide?" Which was how, ten minutes later, Girardo found himself giving Catalina a tour of the estate.
Last edited by Saguzar on Sun Jul 26, 2015 1:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Bertran
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Name: Bertran Guiate Alcacar
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Bertran » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:25 pm

Under the ministrations of Senor Benito's fingers, Don Bertran had relaxed. With him, his closest staff also relaxed, if a bit more marginally for the two guards. Don Bertran had taken off his hat, which signaled a more casual discussion was allowed; Don Bertran was ever so fastidious about his hats, and was never likely to be far from one while in public. If he was, then things had gotten serious, indeed.

Pau watched his master, and saw the effects of the journey upon him. Don Bertran was overtired, and unwilling to admit that the trip had sapped him. In all likelihood, even with Senor Benito's gentle insistence, the Don would be up half the night working on something or other, and make mistakes in the process.

It wasn't that Pau loved his master, not by any means. What Pau had that passed for uncomplicated and genuine loyalty was given to Miguel, and received from that quarter in return -- but the job with Don Bertran paid well, and was generally easy. It was interesting, and kept him on his toes. Don Bertran was mild-mannered, as far as most lordlings went, and generous in reward for a job well done. Besides that, there were reasons for Pau and Miguel to want to keep him where he was, perhaps even help him advance in his chosen ambitions. So, yes, it was concerning when Don Bertran chose to act like a raging idiot and make himself look like a fool in the process.

Idiots generally didn't last in politics. Neither Pau nor Miguel could be considered politicos, but they were observant and intelligent enough to see some of the things Don Bertran was too head-in-the-clouds to notice. Or consider important.

"I need word on when Sancha is due to arrive in Qadis," Don Bertran was saying, in a tone of voice that suggested Sancha should already be in Qadis. Which, all things considered, was true. She should.

"She's been waylaid."

"I am aware; I heard you the first three times. Is there something you have decided to withhold from me?"

"She crossed the border into Quijas."

"And. . .?"

Pau made the choice to rescue Miguel. "Anton said she'd made it to Qadis, or at least just outside, but no contact asides what he said."

Don Bertran stared at Pau. "What? What do you mean no contact? How long has it been?"

Pau shrugged, and met the stare without flinching. "Couple days. We pulled Fernan. He'll arrive soon enough, and he'll -- "

"You what?"

Miguel was grimacing at Pau in a way that Don Bertran wasn't supposed to notice. Senor Benito was too busy focusing on the wasted muscle before him to notice.

Don Bertran did, however, notice the look. "Am I boring you? Fernan was in Apthoni in order to gather information for the upcoming meeting with the South Eyropan Trade Company, which -- if I need to remind you -- is due to happen in less than a month, for which I am acting as senior adviser to the Guiate representative!"

"Don -- "

"Send him back. Immediately."

Pau did flinch, then, but it wasn't out of any sort of fear towards his employer. He continued to meet his employer's stare. "Don --"

"I want to see Anton tomorrow, as soon as my schedule is cleared from assisting the Dona Marcella."

"Don Bertran, if you but allow me to -- "

"Have I made myself clear?"

Pau shut his mouth, and counted backwards from five. He was well aware of the upcoming meeting, and the importance of Fernan's placement in Apthoni, but what Bertran did not seem to understand was that if matters in Qadis went poorly then there would be no more senior advising positions. He was presently advising Marcella, for all love of the Changers, the daughter of Don Ramiro Guiate! The game was already stained with blood, though they had not yet found that first body, and they would need all the aid they could get. Sancha had disappeared, and if that alone did not justify Fernan's recall. . .

They would have to hire a new man. That was all there was to it.

"Yes, Don," Pau said, finally, lowering his gaze from Bertran's firm stare.

Miguel murmured the same, and remained quiet.

Don Bertran stared between the two of them until whatever he saw satisfied him, and then he looked down to Senor Benito.
"Senor Benito, that balm you had the last time we were in Qadis. . ."

Senor Benito rose and bowed. "Of course, Don."

It was not long after that the Don was settled in his bedroom with explicit orders to not bother him unless the estate was about to fall upon their heads, and Pau and Miguel were left, once more, to their own devices. Such was Miguel's mood that the man did not speak, would not speak; Pau knew the look and knew that there would be no more to discuss between them. They both knew what had to happen, and only after action was taken would they have anything to talk about. So, with a grunt and a nod, Pau left his partner to the guarding of Don Bertran, and left to take stock of their newest battleground.

Pau made a dashing figure as he strolled about the estate. His face might not be pretty to look upon (years of fighting in the sun and dirt had significantly contributed to that, and he had never been pretty to begin with -- pleasant, perhaps, in his youth, but that was long ago), but he was both stylish and graceful, with the tamed energy of a man dedicated to the blade: and those things were highly prized in Corezo. Thus, despite his face, he was well-liked where he tread. His demeanor saw to that.

The household staff knew him on sight, though few knew him. Don Bertran and his retinue traveled frequently, and were never in a place long enough to establish anything more than formal acquaintances with most. Pau had always chosen to maintain careful pleasantries, and work his charms on a select few who were aptly placed within the greater household to give him the information he was always needing. To that end, while gossip was never encouraged (and often discouraged, given the wide array of sensitive subjects nearly every damn household in Corezo could be found participant), it flowed like wine in certain servant circles, and once you found an end to play a sympathetic ear to, well.

Of course, the most valuable servants in that regard were aware of what they were doing, and the value of those services. It was a careful, unspoken game played between them, of catering to needs without betraying masters. It wasn't Pau's preference; he was not Corezan by any means. But he was fond of things that were efficient, and this was such.

So, it was no accident that he found Madalena in the servant's wing, finishing up her late supper. Presumably she'd already tended to turning down the bedrooms for the newly arrived guests, together with other maidservants in her area of the estate. She was senior admist them, though she had no formal charges under her wing, or extra responsibilities. She was, however, highly respected, and had the ear of not a few of her betters.

Pau didn't like to brag overmuch, but her current position, poised on the threshold of a promotion, was not entirely of her own merit. A few words to Don Bertran, here and there, had seen her abilities recognized by the right people. So it went.

He approached her with some concern, hand outstretched to receive her in the formal Corezo way. Those scattered servents left received nods of respect and acknowledgement.

"Senora," he began, commiseration in his tone, "I have heard there have been difficulties in your household, as there have been in mine. May I treat you to some wine before you retire?"


Don Bertran would have what he needed, come morning.

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Marcella Guiate
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Name: Marcella Guiate de Morua
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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Marcella Guiate » Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:54 am

Marcella sighed contently as she sunk down into the steaming tub of water. The heat made her skin redden and her face flush but it felt good upon her travel worn skin. The elder of her two maids brought a cool cloth to rest over her eyes as she lounged before her almost ceremonious scrubbing began. Marcella's nose twitched for a moment before she turned toward the direction that she knew Marisol would be standing.

"Did your sister add the salts and oils to my bath." She stated more then asked as she lifted up the corner of the cloth to look at the young woman.

"I'm sorry señorita, I should have checked to make sure she did it right. Do you need me to draw you a new bath?" Marisol bowed her head in an apology and Marcella covered her eyes again as she continued to talk.

"It's not unbearable simply a little stronger then usual. I do expect you to talk to Merielle about this, she is getting too old to make mistakes like this if she wishes to continue as a lady's maid. But don't worry, I am sure she will figure out the minute details with you to guide her."

Marisol had been with Marcella for close to seven years now. At first it was a struggle since the young miss seemed to enjoy coming up with near impossible tasks or rather unpleasant ones as some sort of rebellion to chase away the various maids that her father and aunt hired. Marisol though was persistent, she both wanted and needed the job. With no prior experience as a lady's maid and precious little training she didn't consider herself 'above' any task and more afraid of failing then she was of anything else. Thankfully it didn't take long for Marcella to realize this and make amends and while there would always be that servant-mistress wall between them Marisol took a certain amount of pride in most everything that Marcella did.

Merielle on the other hand was hired more on a whim as she visited her sister one day. Marcella liked the idea of a 'matching set' of maids and as a young woman just entering her early 20's she felt that she was entitled to more then one maid - especially with her ever increasing duties around the house - her father's effort to try to keep her too busy to cause trouble or create even more rumours. With even less training that Marisol had began with it was taking an almost unbearable amount of time to train Merielle but she had proven to be more then apt at relaying messages, collecting information and other such errands.

The young maid returned just as Marcella was stepping out of the tub and was already bearing a few stories, as well as food, about the household staff. Apparently the head housekeeper reminded her a little too much of Isadora which caused Marcella to grimace a little. It would have been nicer if she had been a bit more relaxed but perhaps it would also be a bit of a blessing. Mrs. Martínez might be more inclined to want to maintain her control over the household staff instead of handing most of that power over to her which in turn would lighten her load as she learned the ropes of Qadis and her new duties.

Marcella sighed as she lounged and ate her late super. "This whole ordeal was aweful." She complained to her maids, a habit that they were used to by now. "I mean, they threw off everything. I didn't get time to greet all the staff right at the start like I was supposed to. It would have been so much easier if I could have just been introduced to everyone as the start and been able to make the speech that I prepared. But now! Now I have to find time between my 'lessons' with my dear cousin, and when the relative members of the estate aren't going to be upset that I am pulling them away from my duties. I suppose it will be easier to gauge each person individually, but still, it is awfully inconvenient to all parties."

Once her meal was done the girls set about getting Marcella ready for bed. As she got her impossible hair brushed and braided for the night she discussed her plans fir the next day with the girls who would be required to make the necessary arrangements until Catalina either decided to take that responsibility or Marcella deemed to be a suitable task for her.

Once finished their duties Marisol stayed behind while Merielle made her way to Catalina's room to inform her of Marcella's plan to go riding an hour before breakfast. There was also to be an invitation to join her if she desired even though she promised to stay within the confines of the property for the time being as she pushed Erasamo through his paces and made sure the journey hadn't been too hard for him. Catalina was also invited to join Marcella for breakfast if she so desired otherwise she could have breakfast in her rooms or with the other servants if that was her desire. After the long day she figured that it would be a little easier for a more informal breakfast the following morning rather then a big song and dance first thing. Once everything was settled and acquainted then perhaps they could figure out how the day-to-day life would look.

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Merielle
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Name: Merielle

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Post by Merielle » Sun Jul 26, 2015 2:18 pm

The estate was impressive. Larger than her father's, but that was to be expected. Merielle resolved to explore every inch of the place once she was given the opportunity.

Excitement filled her and she did her best to temper it, but a small smile and the sparkle in her eyes as they glanced here and there would not stay repressed. Merielle nodded a greeting to Consuela and Abene as carried their buckets and rags below stairs. The two girls were close to Merielle's age and had already shared quite a bit of information about the staff and the people who lived here.

Merielle finally reached Catalina's room. Merielle bit her lip. She was unsure of Catalina, who had taken over or seemed to want to take over the duties that a Lady's maid would do. Catalina had picked out Marcella's, no Dona Marcella's, clothing and had done her hair, even though that had been Marisol's duty in the past. She had also counseled the Lady on what to do and say. This meant that Catalina was more than a Lady's maid. She was a Lady's Companion and that mean both Mari and Meri needed to watch themselves around her. Merielle inhaled a breath and knocked lightly upon the door.

"Senora Catalina?"

Meri thought it best to defer to proper honorifics just in case someone was listening. Connie and Abbie weren't the only people still working.

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