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Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 8:59 pm
by Nedan Sandair
Quijas truly was a marvel. Wedged between the chalk and cheese of Morua and Belleza, the duchy had managed to thrive despite the rivalry that flourished along the borders with its sister duchies. Not only that, but it had managed to turn a borderline lethal level of magical corruption into a desirable selling point, rather than the crippling weakness it was elsewhere. They'd harnessed it, slapped a ribbon on it, and set it to walk the gutter for them before the other provinces for their amusement. It was so very... Corezan... of them. While Nedan did not necessarily agree with them about its value, he did have to admit that the magic and the fragility of the seal there did add some spectacular colours to the twilight. As the looming walls of the city fell further and further behind him and the walls of the Pazo Guiate loomed ahead, he rode in splendour through the countryside, bathed in almost every hue from inky blue and violet to scarlet. The waning, prismatic sunlight seemed to suffuse everything with an otherworldly energy, and the leaves of the trees, the flowers by the roadside, and even the blades of grass on the ground glittered in a thousand shades. Such a shame the flora tended to die if they were brought elsewhere, he thought; it could have made a wondrous export.

Nedan enjoyed riding. He liked the feel of the wind on his face, the sensation of speed and motion as his horse ate up the distance with hungry hooves, but more than that, he liked the fleeting sensation that he was above the world, beholden to no man or woman. Bathed in the light of Quijas, with a fine blade at his side and some money in his pocket, it was an easy frame of mind to slip into. But he had known hunger, he had known desperation, and he had known true uncertainty, and he had no intention of returning to that state of being. If his ongoing comfort required a sacrifice or two then so be it; he would simply have to ensure that those sacrifices were someone else's and not his own. Sadly that was not to be the case on this day, else he would have remained in the city for the night, in Nerea's charming company, rather than setting off immediately after depositing dear, dull Nicolao at the brokerage. He took a moment to spare a fond thought for the lovely Nerea, jewel of Jasmine Square, her flawless bronze skin, nearly black eyes and silky black hair so at odds with every other elf he'd met. She was a young thing, not yet twenty, but to hear her sing or giggle, even falsely...why it set a man's heart aflutter. Thinking of why he'd had to put off such an encounter set his heart beating to a rather different tune.

Changes in management were far from unusual, as politics did not stop being politics, but even so, Corezan ambitions were cutthroat in more ways than one. Still, Don Hector had been a rock, a staple of Guiate affairs in the duchy, and nothing had been more surprising for Nedan than his departure for Hasele. Don Ramiro did not seem the kind to change staff on a whim, and leaving Qadis unmanaged, however briefly was a great risk. Already Senor Alvaro was pushed to the limit securing the estate, and the departure of Don Hector and his rather expansive personal staff left the door open for any number of miscreants to sneak into the Pazo disguised as servants. It was a testament to the man's diligence, and, though he would never say it aloud, the skills of the men under him, that no agents had made it through the net unmarked. No move had been made against them yet, Alvaro believing that the decision about that should be left to the new Don or Dona, but they and their acquaintances were being watched closely. Nedan completely approved. He only hoped Dona Marcella shared the same view.

Speaking of the Dona, he also hoped that his new mistress' evident disappointment with the household upon her arrival did not colour her decisions. He had overheard the consternation and panic among the servants when Nicolao had arrived with his news, but he'd not had long to reflect upon it. Alvaro had not been idle while the other man cooled his heals waiting for the Dona, rather he had dispatched Nedan, as his fastest rider and most... subtle... blade, to look for signs of their missing man so that they had at least some positive news to relay. Sadly, the trail, if it could have been called such, had gone cold, and even if it hadn't, they couldn't risk an in depth investigation quite yet, not without tipping their hand to any interested parties. He had made inquiries, discreetly, and followed the man's steps as best he could, but without the Dona's sanction, they could not risk further action. The news had not gone down well, but they could still say they had not been idle. It all combined to keep him in the Pazo barely long enough to see the Dona and her party before rushing off to saddle Francesca for another departure. She was pretty enough, he supposed, and intelligent if the rumours were to be believed, but it was dangerous to think so of one's betters. Sometimes the danger added to the fun, but in the case of Don Ramiro Sebastian Guiate de Morua's only daughter, a certain amount of caution was called for. Her companions were another matter.

Don Bertran was a familiar face, as were his bodyguards, even if Nedan did not trust any of them. Don Hector clearly thought highly of the man since he had taken him some ways into his confidence, and any man of intelligence stricken by Don Bertran's lamentable handicap would surround himself by skilled men capable of performing those tasks which he could not. The surgeon was a non presence; talented, and obviously well paid, but his loyalty was to Bertran, and while he had no doubt overheard his share of secrets, Nedan did not imagine he would still be in his position if he were possessed of loose lips. Besides which, Bertran was something of a novelty for medical treatment and a rather regular source of income, so Nedan could see why the man might wish to stick around. Pau and Miguel were something different, though equally skilled. Nedan suspected that money was their motivation for staying, with a sprinkling of boredom, but they were insidious in their efforts to glean information for their master. Nedan had passed many a congenial evening with Pau during Bertran's visits, sharing stories with the ugly little swordsman while his companion loomed in the background, watching. He had to admire how skillfully the little man handled himself; it was a joy to behold and such a test of his abilities to keep track of him.

The Dona's companion, Senora Catalina, by contrast was an unknown. By all accounts, she was a scrutineer of impeccable references, but what did that count for? He had never heard of her in his years in Qadis, and yet to judge by her papers she had been everywhere. It wasn't impossible for her to escape his notice, quite the opposite; scrutineers were numerous and highly sought after in the mire of high risk trading and the skilled ones often travelled quite far and wide in the execution of their craft. Still, for him to have heard nothing at all of a person who had performed so admirably as to attract Don Ramiro's personal attention spoke volumes, even if those volumes were in several unfamiliar languages. Judged against Don Bertran's companions, the demure, careful little woman was something of an oddity. Not a fighter, he judged, but there was more to her. There had to be. Don Ramiro was to Don Bertran what a court tailor was to a housewife, and if Don Bertran chose his confidantes carefully... A woman to be watched, certainly. Preferably from a distance.

He slowed Francesca to a canter as he approached the gates of the Pazo, throwing back his cloak so that Juan and Pedro could see him clearly. It would have been a shame to ruin such a wonderful evening by being shot at the last hurdle, and he pulled Francesca up short a respectable distance from the gates, waiting to be admitted. The Guiates were nothing if not refined in their tastes, and the pazo reflected this refinement clearly in everything from the architecture to the lay of the grounds. Even the improvements that Don Hector had commissioned had not detracted from this, rather they had added to the structure's allure and functionality in small ways; a corridor here, a concealed parlor there. Ever onwards and ever upwards, was that not the Guiate motto? He pondered this as he spurred Francesca towards the stable at a trot and dismounted, passing her into the capable hands of grooms there. Spotting the Dona's white stallion in it's special stall, as well as the female stablehand that had been brought in to tend it. It was a fine animal, he thought, admiring the woman as she passed, even if Sugarlump could eat it twice over. A thump from further down the stable and a sharp whinny announced the presence of his other horse and he smiled, pulling off his gloves and moving to greet his erstwhile brother in arms. Sugarlump acknowledged his presence with roll of his blazing eyes and kicked more bricks from the wall of his stall as Nedan advanced, both hands visible and one holding an apple to soothe the savage beast. The horse regarded him imperiously before snorting in resignation and approaching to claim his tribute, while Nedan patted his neck gingerly.

"Don't worry," he said, smiling, "we'll find you someone to kill soon enough."

Right after he ate and got in a few hours sleep, he thought to himself. Then he could seek out the Dona's wonderful maids and see if the men spoke true. Now there was a pastime fit for the Changers themselves. Humming slightly under his breath, he stretched and made for the barracks.

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:57 am
by Saguzar
While Marcella bathed, Catalina and Girardo strolled around the estate, the head footman familiarising his companion with the household and its domestic operations. In the eyes of Corezan society, Catalina and Girardo were of equal status within the household, sharing somewhat analogous duties with respect to aiding the mistress of the Pazo. Catalina noted, with mild amusement, the tall man's complete dedication to propriety at all times. She was noticing a distinctive trend in the kind of men hired by the Guiate. Girardo was being a perfect gentleman and, by extension, exemplary head footman.

The pair did not stop to interact with any of the staff for any great length beyond Catalina's warm greetings, as their time was limited, but Catalina made the most of the opportunity to memorise names and faces. The petite woman wanted to ask Girardo to tell her more about the people who helped keep Pazo Guiate De Qadis running smoothly, but she sensed that a slower, more delicate approach would more reliably unravel the reticence of a man whose fabric was woven from cautious cloth.

Catalina's stroll around the household was cut short by necessity. As she and Girardo made their way through the living quarters they spotted Merielle approaching Catalina's chamber. "Thank you Girardo, I am very grateful for your consideration. It seems that I am needd though." With a small shrug and smile to Girardo, as if to say 'duty beckons', Catalina waved to Merielle "Why hello! It seems fortune smiles, and I did not make you wait. Does Dona Marcella need me?"

Girardo offered Catalina a polite bow, murmured "But of course. It was my pleasure," then discreetly took a shortcut through an empty room and into another corridor to return to his own duties, thereby leaving the two women to privacy.

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:55 am
by Bertran
"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."

Marcella's words repeated themselves in Bertran's mind as he sat at his specially made chair, at his specially made desk. Over and over. He could not help but pick at them: her tone when she'd said it, her expression, the way she sat, the way she'd shaken her head...the way she'd immediately gotten up to go. He was not sure if that move had been calculated, knowing full well he would not be able to hobble after her quickly enough, or if she had merely been trying to escape the situation.

A blob of ink soaked into the paper. His pen had gone idle as he thought, and now he had to start over. He did so, resignation forming creases in his forehead.

Would she even read the report?

He leaned back in his chair, frowning, and set his pen to the side. His eyes hurt. His side was starting to cramp again, spiralling out from the knot of tension in his lower back right over his spine. He was ten pages in, having spent the first six outlining the players suited to this context (he'd lectured her on them before, but this was information he'd considered to be beyond her immediate need to know). Now he wrote on potential reasons why any number of enemies (including the Consortium themselves) might want Guiate wrestled out of the way.

It was rambling speculation. It was horrible to put to paper, but . . . Bertran grimaced. It was speculation Marcella would not be able to formulate on her own. He would need to make sure no one but her saw what he was writing. It would not look good for her to be known to be in possession of such basic notations. Either it would make him look ineffective, or her look stupid, and either one would reflect badly on her.

He was leaned back awkwardly in his chair, fist to brow, when a knock came upon the door.

"Don?" Miguel.
"Anton has arrived."
Bertran looked up, "Enter."

Miguel opened the door partially, looking in, his expression perfectly neutral.

Who said you couldn't teach an old mercenary new tricks?

"I want Senor Anton to be placed in charge of discovering evidence in relation to rival coffee markets. New Eyropan markets, in particular. You are to continue seeking inquiries in regards to the Consortium, until Sancha is found." He tapped his fingers on the desk. "I want a replacement hired, to be held in reserve in the case of an unfortunate event."

Miguel bowed.

Bertran watched him carefully, and smiled thinly. "Ah, but of course, you have already anticipated that need. Very well. Submit your list of names to me when you have completed it to satisfaction, in no more than three days. I believe we have a retainer, as well, in the city. . .?"

"Agueda de Salas Donoso."

"Ah, Senora Agueda, of course. See to it she is offered a six-month contract for continuous active work."


"You disagree?"

Miguel was stony, hand still on the doorknob, looking in. He was being petulant about Fernan still, if Bertran was any judge. It didn't matter, though the lack of manners was annoying. Miguel would do as he was told, as would Pau, no matter what their opinions were.

"While I appreciate your wariness, without adequate evidence to support your distrust, I will not tolerate your moody silences. We are beyond the dance of new employer and new employee. I do not have time for your petulance. Do you understand me?"

Miguel bowed. "Don."

Bertran was two seconds away from crumpling up the papers and throwing them at the former mercenary, but as always he controlled himself. "Go. Do not disrupt me again before morning, unless it is an emergency."

The door shut.

With no small effort, Bertran collected his pen and resumed his task. He only had so much time before he would need to present himself before the Dona Marcella, and it would not do to spend it in pointless temper.

Not when there was so much opportunity for their enemies to ruin them.

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 7:05 am
by Marcella Guiate
The sun was barely peaking above the horizon as Marcella stretched her toes and then each limb and muscle as she listened to the sounds of the house slowly rising. She grinned as she sat up, practically scaring the young bit of thing who was quietly trying to coax a fire to start to warm up the chilly room. Seeing the little girls wide eyes she held back a chuckled and waved her hand, letting her know that everything was fine and to go back to work.

Scooting to the edge of the bed Marcella slide her feet into her slippers before grabbing her robe and wrapping it around herself. Sitting down in front of her chiffonier she attempted to pull a comb through her hair. After her bath the night before Marcella had given Marisol the night off, much to the maid's disappointment. Whether it was in her for not insisting on one of the two girls spending the nights as was 'proper', or simply because Marisol had felt that she had done something wrong and was being punished, Marcella did not know. But she made a mental note to herself to give a little bonus to Marisol in her next paycheque. Whatever her sister lacked in the domestic skills she more then made up for it. Which reminded her, Merielle had not returned the night before with her report of what Catalina's intentions for the morning where. Which either meant there was nothing important or the silly girl got distracted.

Marcella slammed the brush on the table with a sigh. She loved the young girl but Meri seemed prone to find ways to give her headaches. If she wasn't so good at sneaking around Marcella would have certainly been debating sacking the poor thing. Even breaking up such a perfect set of ladies maids would be a difficult choice though - for Marcella could feel the envy emanating off the other girls at society events - matching servants were all the rage but hard to find without some kind of 'help'.

She sighed again be grabbed a red ribbon and did her best to tie a makeshift knot at the nape of her neck. Marisol would probably hate her for the extra would it would cause after the ride but Marcella was lacking in patience currently and if she knew Erasamo (which she of course did) nothing less then a strong glue would keep her hair in shape after the journey.

Changing into a simple riding habit Marcella exited her room and made her way to the stables. The smell of fresh hay, warm animals and even a slight whiff of manure greeted her as she entered the fairly large building. Already she could hear her white beast making a racket at the end of the building and Viviana's soft voice attempting to soothe him. Marcella took her time walking past the stalls - inspecting the horses briefly and occasionally patting the muzzle of some of the more friendly ones. From everything that she had seen so far whomever was in charge of this place was doing a remarkable job.

Before long Viviana was helping her mistress into her saddle as Erasamo chopped at the bit and practically pranced in place. With Viviana's help Erasamo didn't have very many bad habits besides his extreme dislike of men but even then, he was a stallion and could be rather high strung and after the past few days of travel Marcella knew she was going to have her hands full on this ride. A grin spread across her face as she gave her horse the go ahead, making sure to keep him under control until they reached an area where it was less likely for someone to come around the corned and be trampled or spook her horse. Both girl and beast were almost shaking with excitement at the run to come, Marcella knowing far to well that this was likely to be the only freedom she experienced for the rest of the day at least.

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:10 pm
by Merielle
(OOC: Bertran (Kat) and Saguzar (James) are on hiatus with an undetermined return. We can continue as Ned, Marcella, and Meri or table this - your call)

Merielle waited.

And waited.

And waited some more, until eventually the Senora arrived accompanied by Girardo, a nugget Meri stored away. She also noted the direction in which Girardo left, resolving to investigate that area after she'd delivered her message. Before long, the maid would have ferreted out passageways and cut-throughs. These things were important to know.

"Si, Senora Catalina. My Lady wished to inform you she would take an early ride in the morning, an hour before breakfast. My Lady plans to stay within the confines of the property during her morning ride. My Lady extends an invitation for you to join her during the ride and for breakfast, should you be so inclined. Alternately, if the Senora chooses to break her fast in her rooms or with her peers, My Lady says she is content."

Meri curtsied and regarded Catalina with a guilelessly sweet expression, eyes wide and gaze curious. Catalina dismissed her in due course, leaving Meri to follow her curiosity and Girardo's steps.

The maid pulled a piece of paper from her bodice and studied it. She'd made a map for herself and needed to mark this new piece of information. Meri felt around her hair clip and smiled.


The pencil she'd tucked there hadn't fallen. A few lines and the new area was mapped. Meri pursed her lips, tucking the pencil back into the clip.

"Hm. Where to go from here..."

Meri followed her map and turned left.

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:40 pm
by Bertran
"The Dona is riding, Don Bertran."

Bertran came to with a start, and was immediately breathless with pain. Do not disturb, he had ordered. They had complied. Oh, they had complied. Too late, beyond when he should have been woken, and now. . .

"Fetch Senor Benito." It was a statement, yes, but a weak one; his voice held the croak of a much older, much feebler man. That wasn't yet him, dammit.

"Don." Miguel's voice was so carefully neutral.

It wasn't.

An eternity later, Miguel returned, and together he and the physician carefully worked Bertran upright, politely ignoring the gasps and groans he was unable to stifle. It was always grueling to be unmanned before one's lessers, but this went beyond. It was humiliating. Bertran had allowed his body to dictate his actions, a sign of a weak man.

Weak. Here. Now.

It would have been funny, if Bertran's eyes weren't wet with unshed tears, teeth gritted hard enough to hurt. Benito had half stripped him, rubbing this and that into his side, back, and (more humiliation) ass while they tried to uncurl him from the position he'd taken when he'd fallen asleep at his desk like an imbecile. At least Miguel had the presence of mind to wait until Bertran was able to uncross his eyes before resuming the morning litany.

"Senor Pau has gone to fetch Senor Anton. Besides the morning meeting with Dona Marcella, there are three informal briefings with the Pazo staff this afternoon. The first is with Senor Hieronimo, the second with Senor Girardo, and the last with Senor Ferrand. Senor Pau is of suitable rank to attend the lattermost in your place so that you may meet with Senor Anton. There is a tentative meeting with the captain this evening. As well, several invitations to various social gatherings and other overtures have begun to arrive as news of the Dona's attendance within the Pazo spreads."

Bertran licked his lips, a buzzing in his head putting gaps into the words, making them seem hard to follow. "Fetch me a bath," he snapped, biting down on an urge to apologize.

The enormity of the task ahead weighed on him, overwhelming.

It took too much time to bathe, drink coffee, get the muscles to un-cramp enough to let him stand with more or less his usual amount of hunch. Getting dressed was a secondary nightmare, during which both of his servants once more politely ignored the whimpers that made it past his attempts to be stoic.

Once dressed, hat firmly in place and his most sturdy cane firmly in hand, he dismissed the physician and met Miguel's eyes. Squarely. He would not show shame for his weakness, not to these men, not to anyone. "Fetch the papers from my desk, and the Senora Catalina. I would hold a brief meeting with her before the Dona finishes her ride."

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:59 pm
by Saguzar
Her evening duties had been brief, fortunately, giving Catalina a chance to commit the faces and names of the staff she'd met to memory. Marcella had understandably seemed quite done with any further discussion of the day's events.

Sleep had been a blessing, but her morning presented a difficult choice: to ride with Marcella, or accept Bertran's invitation to a meeting.

It took only a moment of deliberation: there'd be many opportunities to ride, but fewer chances to forge an alliance with the self-contained man chosen to help the young mistress find her feet in Qadis.

Catalina nodded to Miguel. "Lead the way, please."

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:38 am
by Bertran
"The Senora Catalina."

Miguel announced, and stepped into the sitting room, the first of three rooms Bertran had been afforded. It was the suite of rooms Hector might have occupied, in his time, before he'd risen above them. It was laughably bland, neutral, decorated in Guiate colors and expressions of hospitality and welcome. It was a standard, safe choice for a nonstandard man in anything but a safe situation. Bertran couldn't say it'd been done on purpose, but . . .

"Senora Catalina," he said, warmth suffusing his voice not an iota above what was considered appropriate for a guest one was congenial with. "Please, sit."

He was not sitting. He was at the window, overlooking a not completely unfavorable view of the estate wall: beyond it, the city.

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 6:35 am
by Saguzar
Catalina effected a perfect curtsy for the occasion. "But of course, Don Alcaçar."

The petite woman made herself comfortable on the offered seat, choosing a prim and conservative posture.

She took his positioning at the window as a gambit to encourage her to further break the silence, which she accepted gracefully. "Thank you for the invitation. We've not had a chance to talk privately. Hopefully Dona Guiate will forgive my failing to accompany her on the morning ride, but I suspect this is more important."

Catalina smiled softly "I will never claim to be a completely open book, but I shall try to answer any questions you might have with minimal obfuscation."

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:51 pm
by Bertran
"What has passed between yourself and Most Illustrious Guiate is not my place to question," Bertran started, smoothly, turning just enough from the window to incline his head to Catalina. Some of the strain of his morning's pains showed in the tightness of his lips, the pallor of his skin, but he maintained his pleasant facade.

"The Dona Marcella is my concern, however. As an advisor, I only have so much reach with her. As a new advisor, and she new to her position, I have even less."

He paused, leaned on his cane, didn't quite look at her. He frowned, instead, at a display of flowers, noticing for the first time the colors of the blossoms, of the vase.

The vase itself was emerald green, tied with a ribbon of gold and steel blue. The flowers were a yellow, he'd thought them -- no, they were too close to citrine, with his head full of impossibilities and challenges, it caught him, and he paused overlong before tearing his eyes away. Too late, he smiled at Catalina, and tried to regain the threads of his carefully prepared statements.

"You have been placed in a very. . . influential position." It hadn't been what he'd meant to say, and he almost winced. Shifted, instead, as if his leg pained him.

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:16 pm
by Saguzar
Here was a man cautious to a fault, Catalina mused, yet filled with enough of that peculiarly stubborn brand of pride which frequently pushed a man headlong into danger.

A new tactic, perhaps. "I am going to dispense with the usual circumlocutions and be blunt. I give you this advice because my success and survival relies upon yours." Possibly in a literal sense. She just couldn't shake the feeling this contract was a setup to sabotage her reputation within the Society.

"We have both been placed in positions of equal influence: none, save what we earn through our actions." Catalina brushed an errant bang away from her eyes "It was clear to me that a father's recommendation would hold little water with his estranged daughter. If I have somehow obtained any influence in my short tenure thus far, senor, it is through competence. A scenario I suspect you are familiar with."

His focus on the vase had caught her attention, an arrangement of colours which could be construed as a warning against poor performance. Catalina continued. "You can have more influence, Don Alcaçar, by being more flexible in your mind. I'm sure you have noticed, but Dona Marcella is not an orthodox young lady in terms of the Corezan nobility. She appreciates unorthodox things. You will never make a female version of Ramiro Guiate out of her."

The though of a female Ramiro was a strange one. "Instead, try working with her as she is. There is a saying: the ocean is eternal because it takes the shape it needs. Water that can't adapt to changing terrain splashes and dries up. Don't splash, senor. Embrace the shifting terrain of a young woman's moods and accept that, to be of influence with her, you must be interesting to her. Find a way to make her want to listen, and you will have the influence you need to be effective."

Catalina stared pointedly at the vase in turn "We have been launched headfirst into a battlefield. I don't expect you to like or accept my presence here. But mutual survival does require us to be able to work together effectively. And that means open lines of communication."

She locked her gaze back on Bertran as the sound of hoofbeats echoed across the compound.

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:31 pm
by Bertran
He flushed.

Don Bertran Casimir Guiate Alcaçar was not merely a cripple, he was the cripple. Being interesting to a woman was simply something that did not happen to Guiate's cripple, not in Corezo, not in any meaningful way. He ignored the betrayal of his blood and skin, squaring his shoulders as much as possible, and deliberately chose what he heard, out of those statements.

"There is a camaraderie, within the bounds of a woman's private chambers, that I cannot trespass." He had chosen bluntness, at least, in return. "I cannot become a comrade, nor a source of confession. There are ways that I cannot speak to her in public -- and make no mistake, senora, there will never be private speech between myself and the Dona -- that you will be able to speak to her in private.

"She has to learn certain things. There is no way to soften the blow of learning to those who do not enjoy it. But learn she must."

He gestured to Miguel, who produced the sheaf of papers from Bertran's overnight task, and handed them to Catalina for perusal.

"As you may know, to write down one's lessons is reserved for children. It is, perhaps, a form of social suicide to be caught with such things. See that she reads them, studies them -- and then see that they are destroyed. I cannot be certain things to the Dona. You, however, can."

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:13 pm
by Saguzar
Catalina supressed a sigh. "You underestimate yourself, which is dangerous. You also misinterpret me, which is unfortunate, because to adequately support Dona Marcella you need to understand that women are not much different from men - but different enough to require adaptation of approach."

"Do not think that only matters of the bedchamber are of interest to a woman in terms of the men she surrounds herself with or finds interesting. I speak of how one converses, behaves, and interacts. I have met men with far less to work with than yourself who nonetheless have no problem delighting the women of their acquaintance through conversation alone. You are bitter about having a bad leg? Try having no legs. That man still had no problems in tutoring young men and women in... well, the nature of the class he taught is not pertinent"

"It is not the leg that holds you back here. It's the bitterness which seeps through your pores and translates into sullenness and anger. These things isolate one. You cannot work effectively if you isolate yourself."

"Understand that I also have cause to be displeased by the circumstances. Let me be clear: I will not let you palm off your obligations to me because you refuse to learn how to smile and engage with Dona Marcella outside of business interactions. You do not make a young woman a lady by treating her like a child. She is not stupid, and she will resent any implication that we are tutors instead of advisors."

Catalina breathed to maintain composure. "It is your obligation to learn how to be an effective advisor - no more and no less - I can be your ally in that, and aid you, but I won't do your work for you. I have too much of my own work ahead of me for that. If you want her to listen to your advice? Be a better, kinder person. Try to be her friend, for she will find precious few of those in Qadis."

Catalina took the papers "I will read this, and burn it, because it is important her advisors are knowledgeable. But you will be the one to teach her these things. I will be too busy teaching her other things she needs to learn that only I can teach. Learn grace, Don Alcaçar. Just because your leg is stiff, you as a person do not have to be. I need to be your ally, but I will not be your servant to make that happen. I shall take my leave now, unless there is something further to discuss. Please think on all I have said if you truly want Marcella to survive and thrive in Qadis"

The small woman rose primly to her feet, papers in hand.

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:37 pm
by Bertran
Bertran regarded her steadily. "Making assumptions is a dangerous pastime in Corezo, Senora Catalina. Pray remember that." His voice had gone very soft.

Re: Out of the Nest and into the Snake Pit

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:48 pm
by Saguzar
"Of course. I am glad my concerns are unfounded. Good luck with Marcella, Don Alcaçar, I suspect she shall be in high spirits when she completes her ride."

Catalina curtsied once more "It will be a perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate that her assumptions about you have been wrong, and that learning from you can be engaging and enjoyable. If you need me, your capable assistants shall undoubtedly be able to find me. I must return to my own duties now."

Catalina departed with an unhurried step, already mentally planning the best way to efficiently investigate the compound more thoroughly for any traces of magical interference.