Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
GM
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Wed 30 Aug 2017
at 13:13
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
It's a quiet night...for Chaville.  That is to say, music spilling from open doors, small groups of people hurrying through back alleys, carriages rolling by hither and yon, chatting nobles pacing the streets (houseguards brushing commonfolk from their paths), flowergirls hoping for a copper or two...the poor in the poor quarters, but who really notices them, anyway?

But no festival, no great gatherings, no Grand Ball (presumably there's a ball somewhere, but likely held by a minor house, so really of little import save for those desperate for attention...).

It is in this atmosphere that Annais finds herself before the manorhouse of Du Rosselle.

It's even more quiet than the rest of the city (in other words, there's light, there are houseguards at the gate, but that's the end of it).  Recently occupied as well, having long been left fallow, so to speak.  It might prove reasonable for shelter, at the least...the viscount, if memory serves, was a decent man, the viscountess a kind, clever woman.

The houseguards certainly do not turn Annais away; one of them accompanies her to the door, with a sidelong glance or two.

That door opens at his knock, revealing a young, straw-blond woman in servants clothing.  Her eyes widen, and the guard steps in.  "Someone to see the viscount, Elaine," he hurries to say.

Steadying, the woman slowly nods.  "Of course.  I-"

"A visitor?"  A voice from behind the woman, Elaine; she quickly bows, stepping aside to reveal a man - taller than many, pale of hair caught back at his neck, and with eyes of startlingly placid blue - studying her.  "Indeed," he states, with only a flicker of uncertainty.

Then he blinks and, oddly, the uncertainty grows further after he has taken Annais' measure.  After a moment, the reason becomes clear.  "I...am Clovis Du Rosselle, mademoiselle."  A small, country bow follows.  "Have we met before?"
Annais de la Tour D'Emeraude
 player, 2 posts
Wed 30 Aug 2017
at 18:15
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
In reply to GM (msg # 1):

To be recognized had been unexpected, particularly given that even she could only draw tenuous links between her old memories of a boy and the young man in front of her, but it wasn't unwelcome. Smiling demurely, she pushed back the hood of her cloak that she had worn to fend off the night's air, and returned his bow.

Bowing had become quite difficult, over the years. The polite nod of the head that most nobles used toward each other had started making it look like she was simply looking down on them, and so she had learnt to exaggerate it, bending the knee and the spine slightly to increase the humility of the motion; not enough to be the gesture of a servant, but enough to get the feeling of respect across. She did more than the usual now, for she had come begging assistance and must act the humble part.

"Indeed we have, monsieur. Please pardon my lack of etiquette; I fear I know not what title you currently hold." Her smile became brighter and more genuine. "We were but children the last time we met, so I confess surprise and must praise your recognition. I am Annais, de la Tour d'Émeraude."

It had to have been around twelve years ago. Her memories of those times were...not faint, but difficult to bring to mind past the veil of tragedy. She could recall the bright laughs, the dances and the games but she didn't dare venture too far into them, else she fall into melancholy. It was enough to recall the Rosselle family however, and those memories were enough to bring her here.

Trying to fight off her embarrassment, she passed a hand through her long hair. Hopefully it hadn't been too disturbed by the hood; it had been terrible work to make it presentable for polite company this morning, after so long.

This message was last edited by the player at 07:03, Thu 31 Aug 2017.

GM
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Mon 11 Sep 2017
at 14:13
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
Clovis' eyes grow a touch unfocused as Annais speaks of their first meeting.  "Children," he muses as she speaks, then, simultaneous with her introduction, "Annais, de la Tour D'Émeraude!"  With that, he breaks into laughter, clearly amused at their conjoined speech.  "Yes, of course!  My thanks for jogging this recalcitrant memory."  A bow of his own follows; low, to match her own.  "Please, please, come in."

As he ushers her into the brightly lit foyer - Annais cannot help but see the furniture is at least a decade out of date, even to her eyes - Clovis continues.  "It's 'baron', actually, but really, Annais, might we drop such things?  If I recall, I've made an ass of myself enough to put that behind us."  One bright eyebrow cocks, slightly, as he looks up at her.  "Unless, of course, you'd rather...?  I'm afraid I haven't kept up to date, having been in the country; for all I know, you're a Duchess."

With one hand, he offers to take her cloak, waving off Elaine, the woman hovering a touch nervously nearby.  Past them, a well-dressed, older man heads in their direction; something about him seems vaguely familiar to Annais, though certainly he is not the Viscount, himself.  "So," Clovis continues.  "Have you come to see my father?  Or the family, in general?  We can continue this in the sitting room, should you wish."

"My lord," the approaching man begins, looking up toward Annais.  No, not quite - up past Annais, just over her shoulder.  "May I assist?"

"It's Madamoiselle Annais de la Tour D'Émeraude, Sterling," Clovis fires back.  "You recall?"

Gears turn in the butler's head, then something in the man's stance changes; he immediately bows.  "Ah, of course.  My apologies for not recognizing you, madamoiselle."

This message had punctuation tweaked by the GM at 14:13, Mon 11 Sept 2017.

Annais de la Tour D'Emeraude
 player, 3 posts
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 01:36
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
A polite wave of the hand to acknowledge the butler's apology, then she shrugged to confirm that it was nothing.

"Hardly a failure on your part, it has been years, and I am not the young girl I was then."

Which was true, she had grown several feet and put on quite a bit of muscle. Although she had always been abnormally large and athletic for her age, there had been no way to guess just how far it would develop as she reached adulthood.

She frowned slightly, turning back toward Clovis with a strained smile.

"You have not heard? Well I suppose some news travel slower than other. I fear that if anything, my status may be less than it was as a child. My family is...gone."

Her throat catching her attempt at elaboration despite all the time that had passed, she straightened herself and coughed politely.

"Pardon me, I would rather not be the one to tell the tale; not tonight at least. If you wish to dispense with the formalities, it is more than welcome."

Her smile became more honest once more as she took a step toward him, unfurling the abnormally large coat from around her shoulders and gratefully handing it to him.

"It is good to see you again. You may describe yourself so unflatteringly, but my memories of those days are fond."

It wasn't some sort of political positioning, but rather her true opinion.

This message was last edited by the player at 01:47, Wed 13 Sept 2017.

GM
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Wed 20 Sep 2017
at 15:23
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
Clovis' smile slips, drastically, as Annais gives a short explanation of her circumstances.  "I...no, Annais.  I regret I had no idea.  My family has been out of touch for many years, now.  Clearly some very important new has slipped our grasp, which does not reflect well.  I must apologize."  He takes the coat without hesitation, passing it carefully to the young maid, Elaine (she struggles a moment with the size, but manages, trying hard not to stare).  "Sterling, please inform my father that Annais de la Tour D'Émeraude is visiting -"

"Such is my purpose, my lord," Sterling quietly interrupts, with a small bow.  "And my memory is not yet so poor I require a reminder as to the lady's family."  Clearly the news of Annais' loss of status has not turned her into persona non grata.

Clovis' smile is strained - the word of Annais' family is still settling in.  "Of course, Sterling.  Wouldn't dream of telling you your job."  The smile relaxes a touch as he turns back to Annais.  "Well, if you see my childhood foolishness with such positive eyes, I would be churlish to protest...as for your family..."  Questions abound in his eyes, but Clovis refrains.  "We shall set that aside until you feel well enough to tell the story."  Reaching up, he offers his arm.  "If you will join me, we can perhaps reminisce over better days.  And you might possibly tell a tale or two of your...travels?"  His own eyebrows twitch upward as he looks toward the weapon on her back.

It's not precisely the norm for Chaville, but if his family hasn't been 'in touch', if they've been sequestered at the country winery, it would explain the lack of astonishment.

"The manor hasn't changed," he continues waving toward a hall and starting that way, whether Annais takes his arm or not.  "Sitting room this way, perhaps a trifle out of style, but I have a feeling that matters less to the two of us than it might to some."  A few paintings adorn the walls of the more personable hallway - no grand ceilings here, though not quite enough to make Annais duck (the doorway ahead is a different matter).  Here, a landscape Annais judges to be from close to the border to Moth, there a painting of a blond woman reading in a brilliant pool of sunlight (the viscount's wife, if memory serves), and another an image of a somber city, dark beneath a dark sky, all filled with burning lights.

The viscount's work, possibly, all three.

"Are you tired?" Clovis inquires as they arrive at the doorway - he opens it, stepping through to hold the door.  "Hungry?  I can send down to the kitchen for something to eat."

The interior is somewhat in less-than-perfect condition.  While large shelves line the walls, most are as of yet free of books, looking bare and empty.  No paintings, here, on those free places of said walls - instead, they are still leaning in the corner, awaiting placement.  The rug upon the floor looks a tad dusty, possibly requiring a good beating, and only four of the wall-lamps are water-filled with small, burning stones within.  The remainder look to need a good dusting, first.  But the sideboard, at least, is clean as are the several bottles upon it - wines and brandies, no doubt - and the furniture, while certainly out of date, is likewise spotless.

Also, there's a fire laid and burning.

"A drink, perhaps?" Clovis motions toward the largest of the chairs in the room.  "Allow me, but don't tell Sterling."

This message was last edited by the GM at 18:17, Wed 01 Nov 2017.

Annais de la Tour D'Emeraude
 player, 4 posts
Sun 24 Sep 2017
at 15:14
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
She smiled with some hesitation as he offered his arm; one of the many courtesies that her stature made more awkward than they were meant to be, then accepted it and followed him gladly, taking in the familiar atmosphere - not that the house was particularly known to her, but there was something about the dwellings of nobility that gave off a certain feeling of comfort that she had sorely missed in her time at the cabin. It was something of a challenge to bend down to avoid the door's frame without stumbling into him, but she endured; it was nothing new.

When they reached their destination, she accepted the chair in silence and carefully removed her bow from her back to set it down on the floor besides it before sitting down, glad that the furniture was of better making here than in some of the less reputable places she had had to visit since her circumstances had worsened.

"I would gladly accept your offer of a meal and drink. I confess that I haven't eaten in quite a few hours; I've only just arrived in the city." A small miracle that her stomach hadn't already started grumbling like some beast, probably. "As for my travels, I'm afraid there isn't so much to tell, they were no great quests or legends. I've mostly been staying at the family lodges, and the most exotic encounter I've made were wild animals."

It wasn't even a lie, to her distress; there had been no sign of Laurent anywhere, which was what had ultimately pushed her to come to the city, where he might have migrated.

At his request, she smiled in amusement.

"I'll not be the one to tell you how to stay healthy, but if you receive a scolding I'll not be the one to save you either."

This message had punctuation tweaked by the player at 15:14, Sun 24 Sept 2017.

GM
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Thu 5 Oct 2017
at 14:58
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
"No?  How disappointing - as a guest, none would gainsay you..."  An amused smile flickers across his lips for an instant.  "In any case," Clovis pensively states, "I doubt I'll get in serious trouble.  Just a dirty look or three, perhaps a caustic reminder that it's his job to pour drinks, that kind of thing."  Pausing, he glances down at the sideboard.  "If you've not eaten yet, perhaps we'd best keep to light wine," the Rosselle heir decides.

Pouring a red - likely slightly watered - he strides back and offers one stemmed glass, taking the other to his chair.  "Wild animals indeed," Clovis notes, eyeing the bow beside her chair.  "That is...a curious item you carry, Annais.  My guess is there would be a story involved with it."  He leaves it there, open for discussion or ignoring.  "And you've been travelling?  In this time of upset, in the world?"  Light-shaded brows knit together.  "Alone?"  A long breath, exhaled, and he shakes his head.  "I shall not tell you your business, only that I am simultaneously impressed and appalled by your confidence."

Footsteps, then.  Clovis glances up, toward the open door.  Sterling enters a moment later, his backbone even more straight (were that possible), followed by a tall man - not to Annais, but to most of the population - of broad shoulders and frosted, black hair.  The Viscount Du Rosselle.

That frost in the hair, the hardness around his eyes...he has changed, from Annais' memories.  But not so much she cannot recognize him.

"Annais."  Striding forward, the Viscount holds out a hand to help the traveller to her feet.  "My deepest condolences.  And apologies."
Annais de la Tour D'Emeraude
 player, 6 posts
Tue 10 Oct 2017
at 03:20
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
GM:
"No?  How disappointing - as a guest, none would gainsay you..."  An amused smile flickers across his lips for an instant.  "In any case," Clovis pensively states, "I doubt I'll get in serious trouble.  Just a dirty look or three, perhaps a caustic reminder that it's his job to pour drinks, that kind of thing."  Pausing, he glances down at the sideboard.  "If you've not eaten yet, perhaps we'd best keep to light wine," the Rosselle heir decides.

Pouring a red - likely slightly watered - he strides back and offers one stemmed glass, taking the other to his chair.  "Wild animals indeed," Clovis notes, eyeing the bow beside her chair.  "That is...a curious item you carry, Annais.  My guess is there would be a story involved with it."  He leaves it there, open for discussion or ignoring.  "And you've been travelling?  In this time of upset, in the world?"  Light-shaded brows knit together.  "Alone?"  A long breath, exhaled, and he shakes his head.  "I shall not tell you your business, only that I am simultaneously impressed and appalled by your confidence."


"My frame is hardly one that beckons bandits, I believe." There was a glimmer of humor in her eyes as she said so. "Besides, without an entourage, I am no more than a traveler among hundreds of others; there is little to be gained by harassing a mere hunter in the woods."

She turned to give a small pat to her bow, which had been such a faithful partner in the times since.

"Yes, a story that I suspect would be quite long were I to know all of it. It is something of an heirloom, from the family vault. I'm not surprised you'd not seen it before; even I only knew of it because of grandfather's love of stories. Do you recall how he would go on and on at parties? Let me assure you that that was nothing compared to what he could do when the objects he spoke of were right in front of him."

GM:
Footsteps, then.  Clovis glances up, toward the open door.  Sterling enters a moment later, his backbone even more straight (were that possible), followed by a tall man - not to Annais, but to most of the population - of broad shoulders and frosted, black hair.  The Viscount Du Rosselle.

That frost in the hair, the hardness around his eyes...he has changed, from Annais' memories.  But not so much she cannot recognize him.

"Annais."  Striding forward, the Viscount holds out a hand to help the traveller to her feet.  "My deepest condolences.  And apologies."


A long time it may have been, but he she could recognize; he'd not been a child still to develop when last they met, and while her vantage point may have changed his features had stayed mostly consistent.

She took his hand gladly, though as she rose she made sure to take the brunt of her own weight; no doubt he was strong, but she was no frail lady of the court who weighed scarcely more than the jewelry that she wore. Even if she hadn't been as tall as she was, the layers of muscles born of hard work would have ensured it.

"There was naught that could be done, your excellency; we were taken off-guard, and without one who could see the future I suspect any other would have been the same. Your condolences are accepted and welcome, but I cannot accept an apology from one who holds no blame."

She offered a shy smile to try to dispel the tension as she curtsied, rather than merely a bow. He was her elder by much, of high nobility, and moreso a man she knew to be worth her respect, unless much had changed in the years since their last meetings.

"I beg pardon for imposing upon your hospitality with no warning. If there is some form of aid I can offer in return, please do not hesitate to speak."

An offer of aid she would have made even without being in term debt, granted, but it was all the more important that she do so now.

This message was last edited by the player at 03:24, Tue 10 Oct 2017.

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Tue 17 Oct 2017
at 17:56
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
Clovis offers a small chuckle at Annais explanation of any outlaws lack of interest in accosting her.  "True.  I'm certain that you - and this storied bow, and yes, I would enjoy your account of the old lord's tale - know your business.  It's merely that I have had an...incident of late."

But his father's entry puts paid to that discussion, and the shadow disappears from his face.

Renard - possibly due to Annais' grace, possibly not - shows no difficulty as the towering woman rises, though his eyebrows twitch in some surprise.  "You're too kind," he states in reply.  "I wish that I...but I'm sure you've had many wishes of your own, over the years."  At her curtsy, he offers a bow of his own - not so low as to embarrass, but a touch lower than he should.  "But if you will not take my apology, and state it has no place, then I must do likewise and you cannot argue."

Straightened, he studies her features with a penetrating gaze.  "Our hospitality is yours, Annais, with neither favour nor doubt necessary.  Avail of it at your need, and know you are always welcome here - tonight, and in the future."

"Well-said, father," murmurs Clovis, still standing.  He coughs, then.  "Rather, I agree."

"Most certainly we will call upon you if in need as well, Annais," Renard continues.  "In the past, our families were most certainly allied, and more.  But for the moment, it seems I am in the lucky position to offer.  Clovis, you have asked..."  Pausing, he shoots a look at his eldest son, who returns it with a blandly raised eyebrow of his own.  "Of course you have.  Dinner, then.  You look well-travelled, and I know that can work up an impressive appetite."

Clovis leans forward slightly, wincing as he does.  "Father, I realize you and Sterling are old campaigners, but it's possible that the lady might wish a few moments before you whisk her off to the dinner table...."

Renard blinks, then shakes his head.  "My manners.  Apologies, Annais.  Would you like a moment before dinner?  We can sit, enjoy a drink...or if you wish privacy, I can have Elaine show you a room."

"Finally," Clovis mutters.  "Travellers often want to clean up before dinner.  You do recall this, father?"  But there are no barbs in his criticism.
Annais de la Tour D'Emeraude
 player, 9 posts
Mon 23 Oct 2017
at 14:39
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
In reply to GM (msg # 9):

She blushes slightly at Clovis' words. Not at the generosity, though it is very much appreciated, but rather at the suggestion that she would still need to clean up - and she probably does, that much she does not doubt. Too long in the wild, with no one to judge her appearance but a poor mirror, must have gnawed away at her sensibilities. Though Clovis no doubt meant no insult by the suggestion, the fact that it had to be spoken for her to think of it is a bit shameful.

"I wouldn't object to an opportunity to clean up before dining, that is true." She does her best to merely smile in appreciation. "As for the matter of a room, I have fairly little possessions with me; I'm sure that whatever is chosen will suffice."

She hesitates for a moment, torn between politeness and her conscience, but as it almost always does the latter wins out swiftly.

"You and Clovis have both suggested that there is something afoot, your excellency. If it doesn't intrude into your personal business, I would very much like to hear the news; as you can imagine, I am rather lacking in familiarity with recent events."

In all likelihood, it is only the common trouble that haunts most merchant families; but that in itself is enough to offer her aid to kind souls, and if it were more...then it is not only a matter of duty, but also of personal interest that drives her onward.
GM
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Wed 1 Nov 2017
at 15:48
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
There comes a short pause.  Clovis and Renard exchange glances.

"Something we can speak of over dinner," Clovis murmurs, but Renard waves a hand in the air.

"You're correct, Clovis.  I'm an old campaigner.  When there's a problem, we don't wait to chat about it in discreet circumstances.  And I've picked up a thing or two about judging people."  One corner of his mouth quirks slightly.  "And...when a guest might be in danger, it behooves me to speak first before they sluice the dust of travel away."

Clovis winces.  "I didn't mean it quite like that," he grumbles.

Ignoring that part, Renard faces Annais directly.  "You might reconsider your offer, Annais.  My family finds itself under siege.  After years away from the merchantile world, I decided to rejoin it...and almost immediately, severe attempts were made on the lives of my business associates and family."  He shoots a look at his son, again.  "Clovis, here -"

"Father!" snaps Clovis, clearly incensed rather than embarrassed.

Renard hesitates, then nods.  "Very well."  Back to Annais.  "Thus far, there have been attacks, attempts to sabotage our return to this city, threats...I might lay them at the feet of Chateau du Tariquet -"

Clovis winces.  "Premature," he quietly states.

"- BUT," Renard continues over his protest, "I cannot say they are alone in this.  There have been instances of...a curious nature.  Disturbingly curious."

To Annais' ears, there comes a hustle and bustle outside of the study.  Renard glances toward the door, eyes narrowing, then turns back to her.  "That is the foundation of the situation in which we find ourselves, Annais."

The door cracks open.  "My lord," Sterling states, leaning in - it's not exactly the act of an elegant butler.  "Your, ah, guests have returned.  With more guests, it seems.  And not in the best of condition."

Clovis groans quietly.  "It never ends, does it?"

Renard stands.  "No.  It doesn't.  Annais...consider yourself a friend of the family.  I don't mind you knowing our business, so remain if you wish.  Sterling?  Show them in."
Annais de la Tour D'Emeraude
 player, 11 posts
Wed 1 Nov 2017
at 16:04
Chapter 1a: Two Spaces Forward
In reply to GM (msg # 11):

She never really entertained the thought of leaving, to be honest. His hesitance at speaking the truth only making her decision all the more instinctive.

"If I abandoned those who call me a friend and offer me hospitality simply because of danger, I wouldn't be able to stand it, your excellency." She nodded solemnly, then added in a lighter tone. "My offer wasn't a conditional one. And if you feel some misplaced guilt over it...well, then consider this a selfishness on my part; my family name is a rather shaky one these days, and I must restore its honor by myself. Coming to your assistance is as good a start as any."

Better than any, truly, and one that was in line with her heart to boot. Yes, she owed them much thanks for allowing her to assist; the specter of her days of loneliness might finally pass.