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 an unlikely Samaritan

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PostSubject: an unlikely Samaritan   Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:03 pm

It was late when a fist hammered against Chantilly's door at the tavern. The knocks are frantic, frenzied, and uneven, interrupting Chantilly's usual sleepless reverie. The pounding came again, the heavy blows echoing throughout the chamber. Chantilly sighed in annoyance and rose, arming herself, pulling her pistol and sword from their resting place on the table next to the bed. She made her way to the door with trepidation. "What do you want?" she yelled out to the source of the noise.

"Chantilly? Thank God." The voice was hoarse, interrupted by sporadic coughing, but despite that, it was faintly recognizable.

"Reynaud...?" Chantilly put away her weapons and unlocked the door, hurriedly flinging it open. A bloodied figure stumbled through the door. His frock-coat was in tatters, the torn fabric stained a sickly scarlet. His eyes were swollen blue-black; warm blood trailed down his cheek. His breath came in ragged gasps, his face pale and gaunt, to the point Chantilly scarcely recognized him.

"Forgive me. Only safe place..." Reynaud's voice came out as a pitiful croak.

Chantilly gasped. "Mon Dieu..." She pulled Reynaud further from the entry and protectively positioned herself between him and the still-open door. Cautiously, she peered around its corner to check if he'd been followed.

"Lost them... bastards..." he said between rasping breaths. "They... tried to... someone tipped them off. Tried... tear down my printing press... arrest me..." Despite the frantic, labored speech, Reynaud's eyes still burned - not with fear, but anger.

Seeing no-one outside, Chantilly sighed in momentary relief and shut the door, finally turning to assess Reynaud's condition. Her eyes went wide as she noted he was in desperate shape. "Who? Who tipped who off?" she asked, but there was little need for him to reply. His broken body told the story all too well, and his hands are caked with blood.

"Not... certain. Someone... told them who was writing the... pamphlets. They knew... who I was... and... more importantly... where I was." Reynaud staggered to the center of the room, collapsing to the floor with a dull 'thud'.

Seeing him collapse made Chantilly completely forget herself, and she rushed to his side. She pulled the bedding onto the floor next to him, and sliced her dagger though, making long strips of makeshift bandages.

"Nothing's more dangerous than a man who knows too much," Reynaud continued weakly. "Women inherently know too much; that's what makes them so dangerous." He managed a grin despite the wounds.

"A joke about how awful my sex is? At a time like this?" Chantilly shook her head in disbelief.

Reynaud attempted a laugh, but it gave way to hacking up more blood. Chantilly looked at him, alarmed, and tried to pull him upwards. "Careful... don't want you to choke..." she warned him, positioning him against one of the bedposts to keep his torso upright. "We have to stop meeting like this," she said, feigning lightheartedness as she let him go. He laid limp against the wooden post, blood still trailing from his wounds.

"Tried to shoot me," he rambled disjointedly. "He had two friends... killed one, ran... not often I take a life." A spreading patch of blood seeped across his chest as he spoke.

Chantilly bit her lip, evaluating the spreading blood for only a second before swallowing hard. "Forgive me," she whispered, the apology sounding every bit as meant to herself as to Reynaud. She took hold of what was left of the front of his shirt and yanked, ripping the material way to assess the damage. His chest is battered, and a neat, circular pistol-wound lay above his ribs - mercifully missing his heart, she noted with a brief sigh of relief. A set of deep, painful-looking cuts run across his chest, matching a second set that had cut through to his shoulder.

Panicked, Chantilly pulled Reynaud close to her again, leaning him forward so her own chest supported the weight of him. She pulled what was left of his coat away and, craning her neck over and around his shoulder to search for any further serious wounds.

The wounded writer's mind began to wander. Under normal circumstances, he would have enjoyed being this close to her... Reynaud bit back a grin at the thought. The bullet wound stung harshly, sending a sudden jolt of searing pain through his chest as Chantilly leaned him back against the post, having found nothing else of immediate concern.

As she reached for her makeshift bandages, she noted with annoyance that instead of Reynaud's chest being smeared in blood, her own clothes had become a makeshift bandage while holding him against her, and she was now soaked as well. "Suppose that's one way to clean up a wound," she muttered.

"I'm in your debt," Reynaud replied as Chantilly began to wind the bandages around him.

"I'll do the best I can, but I'm no doctor," she replied apologetically. "The Marquis' office is here, and he's in port as well... perhaps he'll lend me his ship's physician..."

"Help? From the Marquis?" He forced a grin, a stream of blood running from a cut on his cheek. "In that case, you might as well kill me..."

"Not the time to be principled, Reynaud."

"... No? He'd do it for you, no doubt. But the surgeon's hand might 'slip'." He gave a wry smile, wincing as another jolt of pain coursed through him.

"He wouldn't." She bit her lip hard. "I wouldn't let them do that to you," she corrected herself grimly. A tiny line of her own blood appeared along her lip, betraying the depth of her worry.

Reynaud smiled warmly. "You have my... thanks, Chantilly. You've saved my life. How will you ever forgive yourself?"

She finished tying up the bandages and looked at her work disapprovingly. "Don't pretend like you didn't do this on purpose. I didn't realize that you were serious... that you actually wanted a pretty girl to watch over you," she teased, trying to return a smile. "You could have just asked me... it would have been a better idea than trying to die on my floor, anyway."

"You're an intolerable cynic. I should have found a quiet corner to die. Better that than a woman's abuse... and you seem to be resorting to flattering yourself."

"If you're going to ruin my clothes and steal my room for the second time this month, I think the least you can do in repayment is take a little abuse."

Reynaud's tone immediately became the fawning facsimile of a gentleman. "Apologies, madame, for ruining your clothes..."

Chantilly's mouth turned up in the hint of a grin, but it was clearly tempered by concern. She tried to look him in the face, but the blood on cheek unnerved her. "But not about the room, hmm?" She reached out with a remaining scrap of bedsheet and ever so gently wiped the half-dried blood from his face.

The room swims as Reynaud struggled to meet her gaze, nearing unconsciousness as the loss of blood caught up with him. "And if you... wanted a man moaning... on your chamber floor, you could... find a cabin boy to oblige... He could manage it... without the blood..."

"If I wanted a cabin boy, I'd have sought one out by now..." Chantilly sighed, seeing Reynaud's eyes rolling back in his head.

She pulled him close to her again, preparing to lay him down on the floor. He slumped backwards, feeling weaker by the second. She felt him go limp in her arms, and fear and adrenaline took over her better judgment, and she simply held him, shocked and afraid.

Reynaud closed his eyes, growing mercifully unconscious.
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:03 am

Chantilly couldn't stand staying in the room. The stench of the blood was overwhelming, and sleep was impossible for all but the near-dead. Reynaud still laid on the floor, passed out, mercifully resting after his close call.

Too close, Chantilly noted. He'd been lucky to get away alive, and... lucky to have her nearby. That last thought weighed on her heavily. She already had too many people to watch over: Emile and Seamus were the chief concerns, but the rest of the Confederates were not beyond her protection either. Could she really watch over this revolutionary man - a man who would, always, seek to put himself in the line of fire?

The question was irrelevant, she answered herself grimly. She already was watching over him now, and she doubted she'd be able to will herself into stopping.

She had to get out of this room. The sight of Reynaud on the floor was making her crazy, and inaction was no longer an option. She had to know who had done this, punish them somehow. Make them pay. She gathered her weapons and slipped outside.

She made her way down the streets in the general direction of where she knew Reynaud occupied himself during the day. She wasn't sure the exact building, much less the room, but as she approached, a trail of dripped blood caught her eye. More luck for Reynaud - and herself - that the trail hadn't continued all the way to her own location.

She followed it to a room that had been completely ransacked. Papers and books were strewn about, and a smouldering fire in the hearth indicated Reynaud's attackers had burned quite a bit more than what remained.

"Returning to the scene of the crime. An amateur mistake, even for you," a voice hissed in the shadows, interrupting Chantilly's assessment.

"I am prepared," Chantilly replied coldly.

"I'm sure you believe that." The queen slipped into the moonlight coming through the window, her gaze glinting with malicious interest as she eyed Chantilly's blood-stained clothes. "I suppose it's fortunate for you that I dispatched the lookout they left behind hours ago."

"You know who's behind this, then," Chantilly pressed. "Tell me."

"I shouldn't have to, if you still had your gift. But you don't," the queen sneered in disdain. "Suppressing your visions. Your one advantage in this world. After all I've done for you -"

"What have you done for me? Tricked two friends into betraying me, attempted to assassinate the other. Oui, I'm ever so grateful for that," Chantilly said, each word more biting and sarcastic than the next.

The queen stepped dangerously close to Chantilly. "I saved your life, child," she whispered angrily. "I offered you a chance at power and knowledge beyond imagination. And that means nothing?"

"None of it absolves you," Chantilly growled.

The queen huffed and pulled away. "Then why should I assist you now? You clearly have no interest in protecting yourself. The visions -"

"The visions didn't save Marcus, and left unchecked, would have killed the rest of us too. They don't save lives. They only complicate them."

"So you gave them up. Did that bitch Katharine put you up to it?"

Chantilly shook her head. "No. In fact, she warned against it. Said I would want them again in the future."

"And for once, she's absolutely right." The queen sighed, then looked about the room, her eyes peering over the remains of the office. "I believe the moment she was speaking might be now. Your new friend's life may depend on it."

Chantilly's icy expression melted a bit at the thought of it. "I need to know who's responsible for this," she admitted darkly. "I don't have access to the kind of information I'd need to find out. I'll need help."

"Yes, you do. But you won't be getting that assistance from me." The queen smiled, tight-lipped. "At least without a price."

"Name it."

"Your little priest friend, Father Carvell. Kill him."

Chantilly's jaw dropped open. "You can't be serious. He's never done anything to you. He's no threat."

The queen shrugged nonchalantly. "I don't recall saying that he was."

"Then it's senseless. You're actually asking me to kill him in cold blood."

"One life for another. That's my price." The queen grinned. "So who do you like more? Mr. Langford might not be so lucky next time."

Chantilly shook her head and crossed her arms. "No. I won't do it."

"Oh? You swore that you would not so long ago."

"That was different," Chantilly spat.

"Is it really?" The queen crossed the room, heading for the door. "You know the price. If you decide to pay it, you'll know where to find me."
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:04 pm

It was a cruel morning sun that beat down on St. Augustine. The rotting causeways swayed in the breeze, and the ramshackle houses creaked and groaned with each strong gust of wind. Mongrels whined pitifully, swatting away flies, watching as half-hearted mademoiselles plied their trade beneath the shade of the pier. The town had been drained of vitality. Of life.

The Magistrate's office was old, a shabby construction of rotted planks and flaking paint. A notice, printed on fresh parchment, was tacked to the wall.

AN EDICT

By which one REYNAUD LANGFORD, alias KASPERL,
is found guilty of HIGH TREASON,
INCITEMENT TO REBELLION,
SLANDER, FRAUD,
and MURDER.
Crimes punishable by DEATH.
A REWARD of four-thousand freshly minted doubloons
to any who CAPTURE, KILL, or OTHERWISE SILENCE this
DANGEROUS CRIMINAL. Anyone found harboring him will face
SEVERE PUNISHMENT under the law.


Signed on behalf of Perrine Duchesnois,
Magistrate of St. Augustine




Last edited by Kasperl on Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:29 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:39 pm

Chantilly retreated to the Nemo Malus Felix as the dawn began to break, searching through her wardrobe for something clean enough to wear. Being seen in bloody clothes in the light of the day would bring stares, questions and gossip that she could not afford. She rummaged around her cabin and, after finding something suitable, changed and headed back outside again.

The sun had fully risen now, and as she made her way back towards the inn, she noticed a commotion in the direction of the magistrate's office. She detoured to follow the small crowd. They were centered around a notice that had been tacked outside.

Chantilly's heart sank as she approached, as she could clearly overhear someone reading it aloud: "... guilty of high treason, incitement to rebellion, slander, fraud, and murder..."

"Damn," she muttered. She'd missed the name, but there was only one man she'd ever known who met that description. Reynaud had warned that this would likely happen, and although Chantilly had tried to ignore that possibility, denial was no longer an option.

She still didn't know who'd tipped off the magistrate, but at least the 'why' of the attack was settled. She sighed, and pulling the brim of her hat low, she briskly walked away from the crowd and made a beeline for the inn. She didn't know what she'd do now. She could only hope Reynaud was still unconscious. She'd need some time to figure it all out.
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:31 pm

A dusty beam of light filtered in from the narrow window, causing Reynaud to stir. He blinked wearily and tried to rise, wincing and falling back to the bed. His eyes opened wide, scanning the cramped quarters curiously. "Dear God... what's happened to me?" he mumbled. "Last night three royal marines took turns curring me to pieces, and... now... I'm in a lady's chamber? Out of the frying pan and into the fire..." He smiled at the thought.

Chantilly hurriedly pushed the door to the room open, spotting Reynaud on the bed. "Oh God, you're awake," she said with an air of panic.

"Jeanne d'Arc returns." He gave a faint smile, still struggling to sit up. He bit his lip as pain coursed through him.

She stiffened noticably at the name. "Don't call me that," she snapped sharply, closing the door behind her.

"As you wish," Reynaud replied, taken aback her her sudden stiffness.

Chantilly sighed, immediately regretting her reaction. "Sorry... I'd explain, but we have bigger problems."

Reynaud propped himself up against the headboard, blinking himself awake. His face carried a look of concern. "Bigger problems? Old ghosts."

She sat down on the far edge of the bed. "The magistrate just posted a bounty on your head. Four thousand doubloons. Dead or alive. I'd tell you your crimes, but you'd know them better than me."

He rubbed his eyes, laughing bitterly at her words. "Rest assured, Chantilly, I know them all too well. A bounty? In a way, I'm honored. If the right people want to kill me, it means I've been doing my job. Still..." He paused, running over the events of the previous night. The harsh rapping at his door, the sound of splintering wood. The crackling as his books, his children, went up in flames. The blood...

Chantilly looked down and away from him. "I can't believe it. All this over... what, an idea?" She shook her head in disbelief. "I saw the room. They destroyed everything. What in the world... what idea is worth this?"

"My life is built on ideas. Without them, it would hold little meaning, Miss Angevin. And with them, I've put your life at risk." Reynaud closed his eyes, drawing in a long breath. "You shouldn't have taken me in. I've become a burden. Worse; a danger. If you were to be caught helping me, you'd be on trial as well. And 'trials' are little more than prolonged death sentences here in the New World."

She shook her head. "And what would you have me do instead? You came to me, not the other way around."

"Turn me out. Or send me to your Marquis. You've no obligation to me." He sighed, his voice carrying a tone of deep mourning. "They burned my children... my Locke, my Demosthenes..."

"I can't turn you out. I... I can't," Chantilly stuttered. "The books... we'll find new ones; they're replaceable. But you?" Her voice cracks suddenly.

"Me? I'm just another soul for you to watch over. I'll add 'burden' and 'complication' to my credentials."

"Stop it." She finally met his gaze. "I... am done letting things happen to people I care about. I swore to myself. I..." She trailed off. "Just... I'll find some other way. I am not letting you martyr yourself to avoid inconveniencing me."

Reynaud's eyes opened. They flickered dimly, still burning with the same fires. The morning sun cast his face in a strange glow, and he smiled softly. "You swore an oath to defend what you cared for. As have we all, Chantilly. As have we all. Do you think I don't understand? You've experienced ten types of hell, that much I can see. Lost loves, old gods, half-forgotten battles. Bloody victories. I can sense them. I asked you once, and I ask you again... do you think me blind?"

Chantilly sighed heavily, but it came out gentler than she'd expected. "No... of course not."

"Then tell me. What's on your mind?" he asked softly.

"I... God, Reynaud, this is not the time."

"I'm almost forgotten. What a woman lacks in logic, she compensates for in emotion..." He smiled teasingly, but added in a serious voice, "... and I care for you, Chantilly. I look at you, and see so much... so much. Freedom. Freedom, tempered by pain."

Chantilly looked away, unable to meet his gaze, and clasped her gloved hands together to keep them from shaking.

"So I ask again... what ails you?" His voice was full of a tenderness that surprised him; sympathy, feelings he thought were foreign.

"Guilt... I suppose." Her admission came with a half hearted shrug, her voice flat.

"Guilt accomplishes nothing. Nor does pity. When I mourn, I mourn. When I fight, I fight." No sooner were the words out of Reynaud's mouth did he regret them, and fell back into silence.

Chantilly's face contorted into an even more miserable expression. "Just... never mind. I'm fine. We have bigger things to worry about," she answered him, all the emotion sucked from her tone.

He closed his eyes in frustration, wishing he could heal her as she healed him, knowing that he couldn't reach her. Loathing his own ignorance.

She slipped back off the bed and began to pace back and forth, her visible eye firmly focused on the ground. "You won't like it, but my speaking to the Marquis is our best hope on this," she began, all business again.

Reynaud frowned. "What do you hope to accomplish?"

She sighed, recollecting the past. "You... wouldn't believe this, but your death edict is actually shorter than mine was," she offered reluctantly.

If he was surprised by the revelation, Reynaud didn't show any sign of it. "There are a few differences between you and I. Foremost among them? You're an attractive woman. I'm a man with a careless and wayward tongue. Unlike you, I've got few charms to ply and fewer connections."

"The Marquis... he wasn't a marquis then, but... he managed to get my charges dropped. And I was quite a bit more dangerous than you are. Charm doesn't figure into it. I'm probably the best-known pirate on this coast to still be alive." Chantilly shrugged faintly. "I don't think your case is any worse than that."

Reynaud shifted uncomfortably. "What leverage would I have against a Marquis? I have no doubt that he would love to see me in a cell."

She stopped pacing in front of the far wall and leaned into it, her crossed arms and forehead bearing her weight. "There is another option. But... it's a deal with the devil... if I ever had one."

"I'll strike no deals, and do no groveling," Reynaud insisted. "Do you think that I took up this line of work in the hopes of having a life of happiness and safety? I expected this to happen, sooner or later."

"It isn't just your deal to make, Reynaud." Chantilly spoke in a low voice, almost coldly, a rare tone for her to use with anyone. It frightened her to hear it. "You're no good to anyone dead. Especially not your cause."

"Nothing worth having is won easily, Chantilly. And I live life on my own terms." Reynaud's reply is equally cold. It frightened him as well.

She spun around from facing the wall to focus on him, her expression filled with frustration and rage. He met her gaze, his eyes bearing a quiet sadness that Chantilly was unprepared to see. His expression disarms her impending tirade, the fight going out of her. "I'm not letting this happen, Reynaud," she says, her voice having dropped to a whisper.

"Chantilly..." He stopped, forgetting what he was about to say and trailing off into an awkward silence.

She swallowed hard. "Look... you're just... the first person in a long time... very long time..." she stammers, struggling with the sentences. "I'm not willing to let that go. Not like this."

For once, the orator is at a loss for words. "I... I won't. I don't intend to die... rest assured, I..." He paused, meeting her gaze a bit hesitantly. "Five years. It's been five years since I've..."

"All right... not quite that long," Chantilly interrupted, nearly smiling as she sunk back onto the bed. "But... it's seemed so."

"I know." He managed a soft smile and sighed. "It's during times like this that I feel so... small. With the winds changing... on the brink of a new world. So many things beyond me. Beyond anyone. I close my eyes, and feel like I might slip away."

"That's what I'm afraid of. That you'll slip away."

Reynaud's hand sought hers, giving it a comforting squeeze to assure her that he won't, but she pulls away.

"You... maybe you should see this much first. You want to know... what tempers me?" Chantilly peeled away the glove on one hand, revealing flesh crossed over and over with tiny pink scars. "I have borne... much this past year."

She watched his reaction with trepidation, but his gaze never faltered. His hand returned to hers, fingers tracing across the scars with a strange tenderness. "We've all been bent and buckled. There's... more to bear. I can sense it. Planting new seeds. A new world..."

His voice wavers for a moment, then he closed his eyes, his grip on her hand tightening as he poured out his soul.
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:17 pm

It was early evening before Chantilly had an opportunity to intercept Emile outside his office. "Marquis deMontfort," she greeted in the most pleasant and humble voice she could muster. "Might I... speak with you?"

Emile gave her a look of mild surprise. "I suppose I can spare you a moment or two," he said, opening the door to the office. He paused for a moment to allow her to enter first, and she did so.

Chantilly was dismayed to find the office still occupied by staff. She looked at Emile. "It's... important. Sensitive. You can't... send them out?"

He sighed. "I could... and we could even speak in the apartment upstairs, if that would be suitable." He turned to address his staff. "Capitaine Danton, I would like you and your men to go on a patrol of the harbor, s'il vous plait," he ordered.

After a few moments, Danton and the rest cleared the office. Upstairs, Emile sat down behind his desk and offered Chantilly a seat. "Now then, I would guess that this has something to do with Langford," he supposed aloud.

Chantilly sat down and sighed. "Normally, I would complain that I am so easily read, but..." She nodded slowly. "You've seen the notice?"

"Of course. It was delivered with my morning meal."

She looks down, fidgeting with her gloved hands. "I... see. And may I ask what... do you think about that...?" she asked.

"You may ask." Emile smirked.

"Please..."

"It honestly does not surprise me that the 'infamous' Kasperl and the derisive Langford are one in the same. Nor does it surprise me that the local authorities, having made this discovery, posted such a notice," Emile replied flatly.

"But do you think he deserves to die for it?" Chantilly prodded further.

Emile raised an eyebrow. "Now that is something to consider. He has been quite outspoken in his criticisms against the King. Any officer would be duty-bound to see that he is executed."

"Would you consider criticism better or worse than acts of piracy? Or an actual murder - unlike one of self-defense?" she pressed with a hint of desperation. "My wanted notice was much longer than his could ever be."

Emile laughed darkly. "That it was. And you would like for to make his 'go away' as I did yours?"

Chantilly looked down. "I... should not dare to ask that favor, and... yet I am."

"And what exactly is in this for me, presuming, of course, that I agree? I do not, after all, share my brother's apparent fascination with the man. I will not do it simply for the sake of the deed itself. Not in this case."

"I can't lie to you. I don't know if there's anything in this you. I don't have anything to offer beyond my gratitude. This... edict touches more than just Langford himself," she admitted quietly.

Emile began rhythmically tapping his fingers on his desk and appears lost in a thought. "For your sake, I suppose... I could lend some form of help."

"Really?" Chantilly brightened.

"I will not, however, put my reputation directly at stake. Not when treason is among the charges. You will have to find a suitable scapegoat, and we will have to smuggle Langford himself out of the port."

Chantilly blinked. "A... scapegoat?"

"I do not believe that I stuttered."

"So someone else will have to die in his place."

"That is, indeed, the role of a scapegoat," Emile replied firmly. "To be made to suffer in another's place."

She sighed heavily. "The Umbra did well in picking you," she mumbled. "The queen made a similar offer."

Emile blinked, almost disbelievingly. "You solicited help from that... woman... before you came to me?"

"Solicited? No. She found me, when I went to see what was left of Reynaud's office. I found her offer just as unpalatable. But..."

"Her offer was, no doubt, just another ploy towards her own ends," Emile scoffed. "My offer is purely practical in nature."

"Does the intent matter? The result of both is the same - some innocent will have to die for... for what?" Chantilly scowled and crossed her arms.

"So that you can buy Langford a few more days to live."

"He won't like it. If someone's going to die, he'd rather it be himself."

"And I never said anything about involving an 'innocent'. My heart is not quite that dark," Emile continued, ignoring her protests.

Chantilly looked at him. "Who did you have in mind?"

"No one, at the moment. I tend not to spend much of my idle time plotting out hypothetical situations."

"Hypothetical," Chantilly spat. "Don't make this sound like... like some game. Maybe you're desensitized to the suffering of others, but I'm not. There is a life at stake."

Emile rolled his eyes and seemed as if he was about to say something, but stopped himself. "I have no desire to sit here and discuss the morality of the issue. I have offered you what I can, and unless there is anything else, I have other matters to attend to."

"Fine. I'll... get back to you."

"I sincerely hope that you do. In the meantime, I shall endeavor to hamper the magistrate in his efforts. I think that should allow you some breathing room."

Chantilly sighed painfully. "Merci beaucoup, Marquis deMontfort... for that much, at least."

"It is nothing."

She stood and let herself out. Her posture as she left was slumped, as if weighted down by the conversation.

Emile sighed deeply and began to rummage through his desk drawers for parchment and pen.
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:24 pm

Fire at every turn, licking up the columns of some great monument that towers before her. She gasps for air but chokes on the thick, billowing smoke, so hot it sears her mouth, her lungs seizing. Dropping to her knees in agony, she watches another errant ember land atop a nearby scroll, watching it grow and spread across the paper until it is engulfed and lost forever in flame. She tries to scream but nothing comes; her mouth is bound. She closes her eyes and -

Chantilly woke, scarcely containing her panic. Slowly she remembered where she was, what had happened. Why there was a man in her room, still sleeping.

She struggled to think, slowly slipping herself off the bed. Nightmares, she thought to herself with a shake of her head. And here I thought I'd banished this sort of problem with the visions. She sighed. Apparently I've only become more... human in the process. A human with nightmares.

It was still dark outside, but her mind was completely awake now, even if her body still could lay down again without a second thought. Still, she didn't sleep much on a normal night, at least without the assistance of rum or strong wine. Why would tonight be any different? Her gaze floated back over to the bed, softening as she looked over the sleeping Reynaud. Oh. She nearly laughed. Right. That's why tonight is different.

She didn't feel as guilty as she thought she would. Maybe it was the extraordinary circumstances. Having him nearly die on her floor, his insistence on a life as a fugitive... reminders that she ran the risk of again leaving words unsaid, feelings unexpressed, if she continued to let what had been a rapid development stall in the back of her mind. It would be repeating an old mistake.

And in some way, Seamus' absolution was nearly enough to push the doubt out of her mind: "Marcus would have wanted you to find happiness. Same as I still do." Of course, at the time, Seamus hadn't known that she wasn't talking about Emile. She doubted it would have changed his mind, though. He seemed to have an affection for the troublemaker as well.

The thought about Seamus reminded her to go downstairs and take a brief look around. He'd promised to send some of his friends to keep an eye on the place to back her up. Chantilly retrieved her eyepatch from the floor where she'd first attempted to sleep, and tied it back around her head in preparation to face the world.

Sure enough, no sooner had she made her way down the stairs, she saw a small group of unscrupulous-looking fellows in the corner that gave subtle smiles and nods as she passed. They'd obviously been drinking; she couldn't imagine they could be in here without doing so, if they were Seamus' friends. Still, she figured it didn't matter if they were drunk or not. If the guards came in force to retrieve Reynaud, there would be little any of them could do.

Chantilly went over to the bar. "The usual, mademoiselle?" Victor greeted her. She nodded, and he poured her a glass of wine. Suddenly he leaned over and whispered in a low voice, "I know he's here."

She reached for her pistol instinctively, not realizing she'd left it in the room. "Not necessary, Mlle Angevin," the bartender laughed, putting her back at ease. "You're my best customer; practically a resident. Between you and the company you bring in here, that reward is a pittance. I just thought I would warn you. Neither of you are safe here. My walls are thin. The sooner you get him out of port, the better."

"I know. Merci, Victor." She took a long drink of the wine and sighed. He was right. The sooner, the better.

"Oh, and a lady left this note for you. Said she was a friend. She didn't look like one, but she didn't look like Royal Guard material, either." Victor slid a folded piece of paper over to Chantilly. The handwriting was ornate, looping about frivolously, all for a two-word message: "Outside. ~ deCoeur".

She sighed. "I'll be back," she muttered to Victor, stepping away from the bar and walking towards the front door.

"Careful," he called out after her.

Chantilly blinked as she stepped outside, the darkness rendering her nearly blind, but she didn't need her eyes. "Around the corner," the queen's voice hissed in her left ear. Chantilly obliged.

The shape of the aging woman was barely visible in the shadows. "I've changed my mind," the queen stated. "I'll give you what you want."

"Why would you do that? Yesterday, you wanted me to kill an old friend in cold blood. And now the information is free?" Chantilly replied skeptically.

"Consider it a gift."

"You don't do gifts. What's in it for you?"

"I have to at least make a better offer than Marquis deMontfort. Otherwise, you'll never believe that I truly do have your best interests in mind, despite your acting so foolishly." The queen smiled. "And I've decided I like your new friend. We fellow agents of chaos ought to stick together, hmm?"

"You're nothing alike," Chantilly spat. "Stay away from him."

The queen laughed. "Oh, Celestine. You know I can't do that." She sighed deeply as a strong breeze blew through. "There'll be a storm soon. You should make your escape then. The guards won't bother hanging around outside with the wind knocking them off their feet."

"Are you going to tell me who turned him in to the magistrate or not?" Chantilly interrupted.

"Of course. But not now." The queen smiled, looking at Chantilly. "I'm pleased to see you still have that vengeful bent. At least you haven't rejected everything I tried to teach you. Unfortunately, as much as I enjoy watching a good assassination, revenge isn't the priority."

"Are we done, then? Because I'm going to go back inside."

"My my, such a hurry to get back to your man. The sex is that good, hmmm?"

The old woman's head jerked sideways as Chantilly's open hand connected in a furious slap. The queen rubbed her cheek and began to laugh as Chantilly stalked away, around the corner and back inside.

The group of Seamus' friends, along with Victor, watched her storm past them on her way back upstairs. She paid no mind to their quizzical looks and headed straight for her room.
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:54 pm

He drifted slowly to sleep, his head filled with troubled dreams. Fire, fire at every turn... he watched the world burn. And old nightmare. Familiar buildings gave way to smoldering ash. There was the crackle of burning paper as books burst into flame, the words flying from the pages, whispering and murmuring in the firelit darkness, screaming in his ears. People talking without speaking, hearing without listening. Cities falling to fire and sword. A brave new world... an empty, desolate world. The dead and dying sang mournful hymns, hoarse voices rising in sorrowful song.

Reynaud awoke, shivering, sweating, to an empty room. Outside, the wind was picking up. He leaned his head out of the narrow window, wincing as the chill wind whipped at his face. Grey clouds were gathering in the harbor. A storm was coming. He sat by the window, pressing his knees to his chest and letting his gaze fall on the harbor below, watching the ink-black waters churn and boil.

Chantilly returned, and seeing Reynaud by the window, heaved a disappointed sigh but said nothing. Her face was dark in a way not unlike the brewing storm, and she scowled as she made her way across the room and plucked a comb off the bedside table. She began to work the comb through her tangled mane of shoulder-length gray hair, angrily picking at the knots that the wind had placed in it. Her eye is far away, stoking an unseen fire that gave her a violent appearance.

"Where were you?" Reynaud asked softly, but his tone was unmistakable.

"Outside," she responded tersely. She didn't look at him, and seemed almost to be speaking to someone else entirely.

"So I've noticed." He was equally terse, his voice carrying an angry concern.

The edge of her voice sharpened, drawing its blade to do battle. "You shouldn't have noticed. You should still be sleeping."

"Lost friends, old gods. A season of mists. And may each of us give the devil her due." He refused to rise to the bait, slipping instead into a pensive silence.

She bit her lip angrily, and jammed the comb through her hair even harder, as if to stifle her next thoughts through violence. The force was too much for the old comb against the knot. A half-dozen teeth snapped off in the tangles as the rest of the comb jerked downward with the motion of her arm.

"Goddammit." Chantilly dropped the broken tool on the floor and worked at the knot with her fingers, removing the teeth one by one.

Suddenly he was at her side, a hand resting on her shoulder, his eyes full of foreign fear. "You're safe. Alive. That's what truly matters," he says in a low, hoarse murmur, betraying his concern.

"Oui, but... my hair... it's a mess."

Reynaud was silent for a moment before breaking out into peals of laughter, shaking his head. "Oui. So it is."

She felt a bit hurt for a moment before realizing the humor in her vanity, and the corner of her mouth turns up a bit. "Cursed woman must control the damn weather now," she murmurs to herself.

"There are worse thing, believe me. When I was in France, wigs were the fashion. I'll forever remember the evening when Madame Froissard's hairpiece go caught in a chandelier. It was quite the impressive blaze... and the way she panicked, called for her servants..." He smiled faintly at the memory. "Unforgettable."

Chantilly smirked. "You shouldn't laugh," she chided him. "That's all we women have, is our looks."

"She looked positively radiant."

Chantilly swatted Reynaud with her hand in a mockingly punishing way. "Seriously, it isn't nice!"

"We put too much trust in appearances. A woman can hide so much behind powder and paint. I've met courtesans who looked like noblewomen, noblewomen who looked like harlots... but there's a deeper beauty. A different beauty." He paused, rising to meet her gaze. "The soul. And you can't mask that with paint, nor hide it behind a pretty face. Eyes, burning with wild-fire..."

She sighed heavily, recalling her dreams. "Fire. Too much of that lately, maybe." She shook her head lightly, banishing the memory.

"Fire is misunderstood," Reynaud disagreed. "It can create, just as it can destroy. Fire is passion, change..."

"Still powerful. Still dangerous," Chantilly reminded him.

"All power is dangerous. And all passion is danger, in and of itself. It can blind a man. Make him forget."

"All forms of obsession are dangerous..." She sighed and shrugged dismissively. "Sorry, I suppose that's my resistance to causes and goals talking."

"No," Renaud countered. "Without a purpose, life would be... empty. Meaningless. My passions give me life." He looked at her. "And you - you're led by love. Fear. Fear that you'll lose yourself, lose what you love."

"Your passions very nearly got you killed."

He laughed. "No better way to die."

"Perhaps, selfishly. Not so wonderful for those left behind."

"Few would mourn me, Chantilly."

"Ah, so that's a good reason to not care." She crossed her arms in frustration and fiddled with the broken comb still in her hand.

"'Methinks by most, 'twill be confessed / that death is ne'er a welcome guest.' I care for the world. For life, and for liberty. That's why I live my life as I do."

"And that's enough?"

Reynaud shrugged. "Better to live a short, full life than a long life of complacency. Quietness. It's who I am, Miss Angevin. What more do you want of me?"

"I want nothing but to understand. But perhaps it's a futile effort."

"Let me put it this way: if I can die knowing that I made the world a better place, I'll die a happy man. I wish I could help you to understand."

"Maybe you're right. I'm too afraid. I suppose I can't understand."

"What are your fears? That I'll die? Know this much, Chantilly - I won't go quietly and without a fight."

Chantilly sighed heavily and gave Reynaud an uneven look. "It's not just you. It's... all the people that have come this far, survived this much. That we could all end tomorrow, and that it will mean... nothing. That in the end, the demons win, and we all disappear and are gone. That none of the suffering will have mattered, and the sacrifices were never worth it."

"No word, however small, goes unremembered. No deed is easily forgotten. Whether we win or lose is immaterial - we will disappear. But each ending is a beginning, and out sacrifices will not be in vain." His voice dropped to a gentle whisper. "Yours least of all. The Old World is breathing its last, and we stand on the brink of a new age. Every sacrifice will be remembered."

She shook her head. "How can you be so sure?"

"How?" His eyes burned with an old brightness, lit by new passions. "Because. Because we'll make it that way."

"'We'? It's barely even my fight."

"I'm not talking about revolutions and overthrows, Miss Angevin. It's... bigger than that. Bigger than both of us." Reynaud's gaze turned to the window, and he eyes the darkening sky.

Chantilly followed his gaze. "And there's the storm..." she mused. She walked over to the window and peered outside, watching the winds blow. A chill ran through her, and her face darkened.

Suddenly, Reynaud was afraid again. The gravity of her fears began to reach him, and he closed his eyes. He wanted to hold her. To cling tightly to her, make sure she won't blow away in the wind. "And there's the storm," he echoed. He reached out to her, his fingertips brushing her hand. "You're... cold."

A rash of goosebumps tingled up her arm. "More than you know."

"I wish... I knew how to heal you. As you healed me."

"Heal... me?" she repeated, her voice strange and low.

He closed his eyes and gave a shuddering breath, searching for the right words and finding none.
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:57 pm

His silence unnerved her. She looked at him with wondering eyes. "How is it... that a man with so many words suddenly has so few to give?" she asked quietly.

"I've... nothing left to say." He met her gaze, smiling softly while shaking his head.

"That sounds... terrible, actually. Knowing you." She peered at him with fascination.

Reynaud laughed. "Yes, you should be frightened. A speechless orator."

"It it frightening, in its way. Now I don't know what you're thinking."

"And I can't seem to put it to words. I've..." He started to speak, but thought better of it, falling into silence again. Wishing, more than anything else, that he knew how to speak his feelings.

"It's all right," Chantilly said reassuringly, sensing his frustration. "It's been a rough couple of days. You'll find your voice again."

"I... hope so. I sincerely hope so." His gaze fell on her face. Scarred, rugged, wild. Beautiful. "I've... grown fond of you. Too fond of you, Chantilly." Reynaud's voice dropped to a low murmur. "You have a wild beauty. The fire in your eyes, the passion in your voice. And I'm making a fool of myself." He resisted the temptation to turn away in blind embarrassment.

She looks at him in surprise. "What does it mean to be too fond? There isn't such a thing in all the world, in my experience."

"To... want your company. To be your mornings and your evenings, to heal you when you hurt. To hold you. To stand next to you against the darkness, side by side. Changing the world." Reynaud sighed, shaking his head. "And... that's my confession."

Her heart leaped into her throat as she contemplated the meaning of the words, spoken in a tone she'd never heard him use before. Affection. She hadn't been sure he was capable of it, but now... she realized the reason for his silence. "Don't... be afraid," she whispered to him in return. "Fear and... love... do not coexist well."

A wild tangle of emotions coiled in his chest at her response. "Now do you understand? Why I had nothing left to say?"

"I thought... you said that you wouldn't. Nothing but your cause, your... words. You'd seemed so sure, before..." Part of her still disbelieved, but as she looked at him now, he seemed not to be the troublemaker she'd met on the docks in Charlesfort. His self-assured, cocky tone, the wit and the mocking charm, all had evaporated.

"Strange, the way that feelings can change." He recognized how she looked at him and laughed, as if reading her mind. "I regret to inform you that I haven't changed. I remain, tragically, the same man, but... I look at my life. My hopes, my dreams. My fears. And there's a gaping hole. Something missing."

"A woman who knows how to bandage a bad wound. Oui, I can see why that might have been a troublesome hole to not have filled, in your line of work." She shook her head and laughed with a touch of bitterness. "If all this is to thank me..."

"Rather, a hole that needed to be patched." He grinned impishly, but his smiled faded as he realized the bitterness in her voice. "Cynical to the end. A little sincerity is a dangerous thing. Too much of it can be fatal. If this was to thank you, it would make it a great deal simpler. But non." He drops to a gentle whisper. "There is a hole. And it lacks Chantilly. Not a companion, not a healer. You."

She breathed inward sharply, fighting off a new wave of her own fear and uncertainty.

"You gave me a haven when most would have turned me away," he continued, his voice gaining strength and momentum in its passion. "You healed me. I want to give you a haven in return. I want to heal you, to be beside you. Do I sound mad? I would love you, as a man would love a woman. And that is the greatest madness of all."

Chantilly felt her walls crumbling. "Completely mad..." She smiled shyly. "Completely."

"Yet I've never felt saner."

"Two sides of the same coin."

Reynaud laughed. "Such wisdom. Yes, a lover and a fool. One and one the same."

She reached out, touching his arm lightly. "King of Fools," she said, smiling, remembering the mock royal introductions they'd traded one afternoon in Orleans. Not so long ago. Had they known?

His fingers brushed against hers. "Queen of Lunatics."

Chantilly's voice dropped down to the faintest of whispers as she moved close to him. "I'd hoped they might be meant for each other."

He rested a hand gently on her cheek, brushing aside a disobedient strand of hair. "They would fit each other well."

"Surprisingly... well..." Her eyes closed involuntarily as his hand reached her face. He kissed her gently, heartfelt. Softer than she expected.

His eyes closed as well as he lowered his many defenses, fingers trailing through her hair. Soft shivers ran down his spine as he drew her close, clinging to her like a drowning man. His heart beat wildly, frantically.

She trembled slightly, a flood of thoughts and feelings rushing through her mind and breakneck speed. Their closeness disarmed her, little by little, until there was nothing left to resist. Nothing left but a woman, falling in love.

He slowly drew himself away, his heart leaping, exulting, eyes burning as they meet her gaze. He smiled softly, letting his forehead rest against her own, his arms pulled tightly around her. His voice, his wit, his wry charm and impish grin - gone. Nothing left but a man, falling in love.

He closed his eyes one more, arching against her and pressing another, gentler kiss to her lips before breaking away. "Utterly insane," he mused, whispering.

She smiled. "We couldn't have it any other way."


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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:51 pm

It was a simple plan: once the revolutionary felt well enough, they would have him crouch up in one of deMontfort's crates and carry him down to the docks. Hope that they wouldn't be stopped by the magistrate's guards for an inspection, and if they were, hope that the threat of the Marquis' wrath would be enough to keep them at bay. It was a lot of "hoping". Chantilly was never good with so much uncertainty, so much reliance on chance and fate. She'd already had fate up-end her plans one too many times for hope or faith to motivate in the slightest.

But tonight, neither one of those emotions were required - at least not for her, not in this. Getting Reynaud out was of paramount importance, no matter what. A week ago, if someone had told her that she would spend the evening saving the man's ass from certain death, she might have laughed a little. Disbelieving that his antics would ever involve her. Denying any flickering feelings in the back of her mind. Not knowing how deeply intertwined they would become in such a short time.

Maybe, she thought to herself, for once, she'd been dealt a workable hand. Certainly not an easy one, but... maybe, if she played it right -

She shifted the weight of the corner of the crate in her arms and heard what she thought was a groan, nearly inaudible, from inside. A lick of guilt flashed through her mind, and she bit her lip to keep herself from apologizing to what otherwise appeared to be a wooden box. This could not be comfortable at all, being curled up over one's wounds like Reynaud was at this moment. She'd wanted a different crate, maybe one a bit bigger, or more elongated to minimize the amount of bending he'd have to do around his chest, but Emile had insisted that it look as regular as possible so to arouse the smallest amount of suspicion. He was right and she knew it; still, she couldn't help resenting him for it. A part of her wondered if he enjoyed causing Reynaud any pain. She wondered if he knew. What he knew.

Right now, it felt like everyone knew. Even Conagh MacLoran, a friendly fellow Confederate with whom she'd barely had any dealings of late, had been able to read in her voice that something was up when she had been discussing Langford's plight with Cathern Flowers earlier that day. "Ah! So there is a bit o' flame in yer heart then, eh lass?" MacLoran had teased her. "Making us all think ye be nuthin but business and sailin' an' such! I think I see a chink in the armor o' the ice queen as it were!" Chantilly had defended herself vigorously, even had Cathern backing her up to an extent, but wasn't sure if she'd done anything but flail about angrily, further confirming that something was amiss when it came to the topic of Langford, and upset and alienate MacLoran in the process. Chink in the armor of the ice queen, huh. She sighed heavily at the thought of it.

"Look alive back there. We have company," one of Emile's personnel snapped at her and the other box carriers. Chantilly immediately wiped as much emotion from her face as possible, attempting to look busy, slightly strained under the box, but otherwise bored. Uninteresting. No thoughts of fear or hope or love or abject terror here, no sir. They walked past one group of guards without incident. Then another. They were close to the harbor now, closer to getting him to safety. Her heart began to beat faster, and she held her breath, not daring to even think -

"And just where do you think you're going with that?" The harbor master's voice, the sound of half a dozen boots coming close. She looked over into the face of the suspicious man and pair of Royal Guard that accompanied him.

"Round shot for Marquis deMontfort's vessel," Emile's staff member answered crisply. "Let us pass, s'il vous plait."

"Just the one crate?" the taller, rougher-looking of the two guards asked skeptically.

"Left behind by mistake," Chantilly added quickly. "The Marquis is very displeased over it. We should go. Wouldn't want to make him angry."

"Hold on just a moment there," the smaller second guard said, stopping them and peering at Chantilly. "I know you. New Orleans. The Maugan murder."

Chantilly put on her most innocent expression. "Long time ago. I was pardoned."

"Pardoned? Mean Celestine? Surely you jest," the guard replied.

"The mademoiselle is here quite often, sir," the harbor master interjected. "Practically a resident. She's even assisted the magistrate himself with various tasks from time to time. I don't believe he'd associate with a wanted criminal."

Chantilly could hardly contain a smirk. "You see? Now can we go?"

"Perhaps. First, I'd like to look inside the crate," the larger guard insisted.

"Surely you aren't suggesting that the Marquis is assisting in anything illegal, to be looking through his property in such a manner?" the staff member snapped, giving the guards a poisonous stare.

"Well, of course not, but -"

"But?" the staff member raised an eyebrow. Chantilly noticed it was practically the mirror image of Emile's, as if hanging about the grumpy noble had rubbed off on him permanently.

"But... the girl..." the guard stammered.

"Is simply assisting the Marquis," the staff member finished for him. "Are we done here?"

The guards looked at each other and then the harbor master, and collectively they shrugged in defeat, none wanting to do battle over lines of authority. "All right," the harbor master relented.

Chantilly stifled a sigh of relief. They crossed the docks to Emile's ship and loaded their crate of 'shot' on board. It was the final step before his crew began serious preparations for departure back north to Charlesfort. She wasn't exactly sure what would happen to Reynaud now, but she had to trust Emile would take care of him. She still had to take care of the rest here in St. Augustine first. There was a scapegoat to frame, and an old queen to confront.

It wasn't until Chantilly watched Emile's vessel slowly pull out of port that she let out the stifled sigh she'd been holding onto. Maybe, she continued her earlier thoughts, just maybe if she played it right, for once she could win this hand.

Maybe she just had.


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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:11 pm

Blood. The sound of torn flesh, snapping bone. Shouting - senseless, shameless, and terrifying. The terror of the end. The roar of the cannonade, belching clouds of black smoke. The sharp report of the musket. The ground, rising to meet him, reeking of blood and black powder. Of death.

He awoke, sweat trickling down his forehead. His world swayed gently to and fro, rocking softly. He was surrounded by thin wooden panels, stifling him, choking him, forcing him into a fetal position. The old wounds began to sting again, and his battered body was wracked with a harsh pain. It was unbearably hot, and he could feel the sweat running across his back. If there was a hell, it probably felt like this.

Reynaud blinked, vague details of the previous night returning to him. The plan, the escape, the crate. Chantilly. Chantilly! The name brought up a confused tangle of emotions. He was a thinker, a speaker, a revolutionary. The world was his to reform, his to remake. It was his cause, his calling, and his life. No time to love, and no time to live. But nevertheless...

His head spun, and the writer fought the overwhelming urge to be sick. Not now, not here. He remembered the evening before. Heard the fear in her voice as she told him what he had to do. Chantilly! She'd planned this behind his back. No warning, no proper farewell. He would forgive in time, but for the moment, Reynaud let himself be angry.

Dazedly, he examined each corner of the crate, looking for a vulnerable point. A weaker section. He pulled a slender dirk from his boot, jamming it into a gap between the boards and yanking downwards. The plank splintered under the force of his tugging. Smiling in triumph, he pressed his weight against the gap and burst through, landing on a moonlit, splinter-strewn deck. He gasped for air, happy beyond words. He was free. Alive.
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:18 pm

Chantilly wrote:

Emile sighed deeply and began to rummage through his desk drawers for parchment and pen.

For a few long moments after Chantilly had left, Émile simply sat, stared at the blank sheet of parchment before him, and thought about what exactly it was that he had just offered. There was no doubt in his mind that Langford was guilty of all he had been accused, and worse still, there really would be no inherent payoff for all of his risk. Indeed, he might even have to risk more if he hoped to come out of the whole affair on top. But he knew that there was no real way he could have refused. Though he would be manipulating the system this time for a man he wasn't even fond of, it was at the behest of Chantilly, and he could deny her nothing after all the ills he had done. He would give it his all, and hope that it would prove to be another path towards reconciliation.

* * *

Even as the last rays of the sun disappeared from the horizon, the self-satisfied smirk Émile had worn since Langford's crate had been brought safely aboard never left his face. Everything thus far had gone smoothly, even considering the nosey harbormaster, and the letter from Jacques that he held in his hand assured him that all the rest was going to plan as well. It would not be long until both he and his guest would be able to return to St. Augustine and as freer men in their own respective ways.
“Boatswain!” Émile suddenly barked, much to the surprise of his officers, each of whom jumped back at least an inch. “Bring me a levier, s'il vous plait.”

As the man in question headed below deck to fetch the tool, Émile slowly made his way from his usual position on the quarter deck, down the starboard ladder, and to the hatch grating on which his deck crew had so “lovingly” secured Langford’s crate. A part of him felt bad for the man. Being forced to crouch inside of a crate in the sweltering heat of Les Antilles had to be among the worst ways to spend the better part of three hours. But it could not be helped. The sea lanes from St. Augustine to Charlesfort were generally quite busy, and there would have been hell to pay if some local trader had noticed a man emerging from a box.

Then, of course, there was that pitiless part of him…

Just as the boatswain reemerged from the hold, Émile raised his hand to stop him. Being used to apparently strange orders from his captain, the man made no objection and simply stood where he was. As Émile lowered his hand, his smirk broadened into a vicious smile, and with a loud crack Langford broke his way through the side of the wooden crate.

“Ah…” Émile began in a sing-song voice while offering his hand to help the man up, “so there was something I was forgetting. I do hope you will accept my most heartfelt apology, Monsieur Langford.”
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:05 pm

He clambered from the remnants of the crate, tossing the splintered wood aside. Reynaud blinked dazedly, and found himself staring into the malevolent smile of the Marquis.

He's enjoying himself. A bit too much.

"Monsieur Marquis. The arrogance in your voice is unmistakeable. Still, how very thoughtful. Do accept my most heartfelt thanks. I assure you, the pleasure is mine."

He pointedly ignored the aristocrat's outstretched hand, hoisting himself to his feet. The writer winced as the familiar pains return to him, stiffening and offering the noble an equally vicious smile. His voice carried a tone of exaggerated courtesy, a thinly veiled mockery.

Reynaud stared the Marquis in the eye, his gaze holding a playful glimmer. He stood in stark contrast to the nobleman and his retainers; Emile was composed, well-groomed, carrying himself with the quiet dignity his station demanded. Reynaud was disheveled, his clothes in a wild dissaray, his hair an unkempt mop that fell to his shoulders in errant strands. Despite this, he managed to carry his own type of dignity. Something in the way he stood, the way he spoke - it held a strange air of authority. Dignity. Passion, bordering on insanity. Reynaud's lip curled into a sardonic smirk as he brushed stray splinters from the shoulder of his tattered coat.

"I would owe you a debt of honor. But then again, I'm an honorless man."
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Deoiridh
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Number of posts : 669
Localisation : Belle Isle (Virginia, US)
Registration date : 2007-05-22

Character sheet
Locations: Belle Isle, New Orleans, Irish Point
Production: Shot, Cannons, Fittings, Powder, Unrest Supplies
Requirements: Saltpeter, Limestone, Doubloons

PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:44 pm

The office was packed with people. There was nothing like the emergence of a new pirate gang to generate vast quantities of paperwork for even the lower level naval offices. But amidst the swirl of people and papers the Marquis de Montfort only had eyes for the chair behind his desk. The big, soft, leather, padded--most of all, padded--chair. He was desperately tired; it had been a long voyage back against unforgiving winds, although on reflection it had seemed not half as taxing as the much shorter voyage spent in close proximity with the rabble-rousing Reynaud. But now he was back. And his chair awaited him. He would order some tea. Yes, tea would be very nice.

He was lowering himself into his seat, readying himself to savor the moment when his aching buttocks contacted it's plush surface. . .maybe he even had his eyes closed in anticipation, and so never really saw the door to the office fly open and crash into the wall. But he heard the several framed maps on that wall crash to the floor together with a not inconsiderable amount of plaster. Surprised, one hand slipped and his left buttock crunched painfully against the wooden edge of the seat. He only saved himself from a humiliating slide to the floor by the swift and painful exercise of muscles that no man should be forced to use unless engaged in some of the more extreme forms of, well, let's call it dancing, that some of the Highlanders were wont to affect.

Deoiridh forged into the room like a Leviathan Bark shipping a heavy sea, scattering men, paper and furniture. Capitaine Danton blocked her way and Emile made a mental note to give the man a commendation. Of course, it would probably be posthumous.

"Madame, you cannot just arrive comme ca, making of all the noise and fuss!"

"Stand aside, Capitaine, I have business with the Marquis."

"But you do not have an appointment. You. . .mon Dieu!"

Danton stared wide-eyed into the pistol cocked inches from his forehead.

"Capitaine, I am an exceptionally busy woman and a woman who has also been sadly neglecting her practice with the pistol. I find I can still cock one, however, and I believe this little metal thing here is what you call a trigger?"

"Danton, it's alright," said Emile, and then, in response to Danton's quizzical look, "Well, no, you are right, it is probably not alright, but there's no sense both of us being killed. Mes amis, kindly give us the room for a while. And Danton, see about calling the carpenter from my ship to do something about the door and the wall. It would be unseemly for my office to resemble The Albatross."

"Well," he continued, seating himself but finding the pleasure markedly diminished by a spasming muscle in the back of his thigh, and the cocked pistol that did not disappear back into Deoirdh's dress but remained on the table within easy reach as she leaned over the desk. "I did not know that you were returned from down south. You had a good voyage, I trust?"

"I'll thank you not to patronize me with the grandee routine, Monsiur de Marquis. What in the name of our sainted Lord were you thinking? Chantilly, I can understand. She's lunatic even in her lucid moments. And she has a tendency to drop her petticoats for the first likely fellow that comes along."

He straightened involuntarily, but said nothing.

"But I credited you with more sense. Good Christ! Harboring a fugitive with a 4000 doubloon bounty on his head! Have you lost your senses, monsieur?"

"Not at all. Everything is quite well in hand, I assure you."

"Oh, I can see that! Perhaps a brief review of our events is in order? The French authorities finally crack down on Reynaud, a known, shameless, and vociferous rabble rouser absolutely convinced that his cause makes him not just right but invincible. . ."

"You know I have no love for the man, Deoiridh. . ."

". . .and that's another thing that needs explaining. . ."

"But he wields a noble pen. He is in the service of ideas. They are not necessarily my ideas, not all of them, certainly. But he is a man of conviction, of fortitude and resilience. . ."

"The man is an idiot!" shouted Deoirdh, pounding on his desk, making the pistol jump and causing him to look somewhat nervously in its direction. "Anyone with half the wits God gave him would make at least some attempt to hide his activities. But this man, fomenting dissent all over town, openly slandering some of the town's most prominent citizens, finally has the French army pay him a visit, an event that apparently surprised only himself. He then drags himself in what I admit is a cunningly well-judged move to the doorstep of our crazy-as-a-loon Chantilly. She, of course, being, as we have already established, soft in the head, proceeds to nurse him back to health and then takes her fee out in trade. Much as it pains me to lambast a member of our sex, the woman thinks with her womb."

Emile raised a hand in protest, "Madame D'Alembert, such crudity is unnecessary and truly beneath you."

"Don't play the delicate fop with me, Emile. At this point in my life there is very little that is beneath me. And I know very well why you have no wish to hear of Chantilly's amorous episodes with that weedy lowborn little troublemaker"--she was hurting him now, deliberately, and didn't care--"and the reasons have little to do with the delicacy of your constitution."

Emile was pale with anger but said nothing. He was, however, wondering if he could get to that pistol before her.

"Meanwhile," Deoridh continued, "Because Chantilly can't keep her mouth shut anymore than she can keep her stays laced, the entire town it seems knows that she is harboring the fugitive. The only saving grace in all this is that our local magistrate is a drunken sot who spends most of his few sober minutes each day forcing his attentions on the hapless Widow Latour. But, as if all this weren't enough, it takes me five minutes in port to learn that "somehow" the fugitive avoided the capture and there are "rumors" that he was smuggled out of the port, and there is "gossip" that says that dark forces have interfered with the military's attempts to catch him. . .the somehow, the rumors and gossip all add up to your hand in this, Emile. So let me put this question to you, as nicely as I am able under the circumstances: are you insane, or merely stupid?"

_________________
Deoiridh D'Alembert, Freetrader.
Merchant Captain of Le Rire de Dieu
out of Belle Isle, New France
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PostSubject: Re: an unlikely Samaritan   Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:30 pm

Kasperl wrote:
Reynaud's lip curled into a sardonic smirk as he brushed stray splinters from the shoulder of his tattered coat.

"I would owe you a debt of honor. But then again, I'm an honorless man."

"Honorless?" Emile repeated, raising an eyebrow. "Even the meanest of creatures have their own sort of humble dignity."

"Hm. So there is hope for me. I thought I was beyond help."

"Do not get too far ahead of yourself, monsieur. You may have honor, but that is not akin to hope. In fact, I am fairly certain yours is a hopeless case." Emile gave a self-satisfied sigh. "At any rate, I am sure you are tired from your... ah... endeavor."

Reynaud glanced at the splintered crate. "I'm not easily worn out, Monsieur Marquis. Tragic, isn't it?"

"Tragic indeed. But in your condition, I would suggest rest."

Reynaud bit back a sharp retort, felling a biting pain course through his body. He drew in a slow, shuddering breath. "For once, I'm inclined to agree with you. My wounds, courtesy of His Majesty's loyal soldiers, still need time to heal."

"Merveilleux..." Emile mused. "I suppose even you can be made to see sense."

"On rare occasions." Reynaud smiled teasingly. "Don't become to accustomed to it."

"Oh, trust me, I do not plan to share your company for long enough to become 'accustomed' to it," Emile replied, his voice regaining a businesslike tone.

"That's the first truly intelligent thing I've heard you say," Reynaud said playfully, his voice a mockery of Emile's aristocratic tones.

Emile stiffened, his annoyance with the exchange becoming apparent. "Then, I would suggest that you attempt to spend more time listening rather than speaking whatever comes to your mind at the precise moment that it does."

"Noted." Reynaud smiled. "That being said, what is your proposal? I'm a relatively accomplished swimmer, should the need arise."

"That will not be necessary... Chantilly was kind enough to send along a few of your personal effects, and I have taken the liberty to set them up for you in the cabin next to my own."

Reynaud noticeably changed at the sound of her name; his eyes flickered, and he shifted restlessly. "Thank you, Monsiegeneur," he said, almost politely.

Emile slowly raised an eyebrow at the response. "It is nothing." He waved a dismissive hand, then began slowly walking aft. "I do, however, have a request to make of you."

"A request?"

"Yes, one that would do much to settle your 'debt of honor'."

"And what would that be?" Reynaud quirked an eyebrow curiously.

"I need for you to write me one of your infamous pamphlets." Emile stopped midstep to wait for a reply.

Reynaud's face darkened. "Need?"

"Yes, and I also 'need' for you to resist the temptation to reproduce it once we arrive in port. At least for a time."

"I am capable of resisting everything - except temptation. And you're dodging my query. Why do you 'need' my pamphlet?"

"I would imagine that my reasons should be obvious to someone as intelligent as you are. Unless, of course, I have made the error of overestimating you..."

"Please, enlighten me."

Emile turned around once more at this. He did not answer at first, but instead simply studied the other man's expression. "She did not tell you, did she?" The smirk that had fallen from his face moments ago slowly began to creep back onto his face. "And she accuses me of being manipulative."

A look of confusion played across Reynaud's face... and then it hit him. The Marquis wouldn't have consented to aid in the escape out of love for Chantilly.

"Ha!" Emile continued, clearly amused. "What Mademoiselle Angevin neglected to inform you is that I am preparing a scapegoat for you."

A scapegoat! Reynaud frowned, his chest a wild tangle of emotions. Chantilly! She'd have more than one thing to answer for. But for the moment, he settled into a look of dry amusement. "She... neglected to inform me. It seems I'll have to adopt an alternate strategy." He reached into his boot and yanked out a rusted dirk.

"That, I cannot allow. Not at this point." Emile raised an eyebrow at the blade. "I would advise against that particular course of action. And you really have no reason to object."

"I'm not one to abide by advice, monsieur. Surely a man of your intelligence would have figured that out? I won't see an innocent suffer in my place, or answer for my crimes. Now, if you'll excuse me..."

Emile sighed. "Lieutenant, s'il vous plait..."

Reynaud turned to one of the thick ropes tethering a longboat to the deck and proceeded to cut through it, heaving it over the side. Rough hands seized him from behind and forced him to the ground, ending his attempt to escape.

"I am amused... almost to the point of tears, monsieur," Emile said dryly.

"I can... hear it in your voice." Reynaud struggled to wrench himself free.

"Did you really think that in your condition you would accomplish much more than that?"

"I've no... intention... to abuse your hospitality. Now, if you'd kindly order your men to unhand me..."

Emile shook his head. "No, you will first listen to reason."

"Reason? You'd have another man hang in my stead? And you'd stand there, calling it 'reason'?" Reynaud replied, incredulous.

"I have not asked for any great sacrifice on your part!" Emile exclaimed in a rare display of anger.

"You've asked for an unwitting sacrifice. Which, I assure you, is far worse," Reynaud muttered, his voice full of a quiet fury.

"In fact, my interference on your behalf is almost charity work befitting a priest!" Emile continued angrily. "But unlike a priest, I will not be made a martyr! I do have a reputation to maintain. And not only have you been inconsiderate in this, you have outright insulted me! I would never trade an innocent's life for your own. It is far from worth it!"

"What do you intend to do? Find a criminal to hang in my place?"

"I have already found one, monsieur, and he is one that deserves a far worse fate than a hanging." Emile stopped short, taking a heavy breath to compose himself.

"You sound positively livid. And you really think that I'll find another man to die for my crimes? And live the rest of my life in silence? Your judgment is flawed. If I'm to live, I'll live on my own terms. If I'm to die, I'll die on my own terms. You propose that I see Kasperl hung? Why not order your men to kill me? Considerably quicker."

For a moment, Emile seemed to consider the option. Reynaud laughed. "A tempting proposal, no?"

"It is, indeed, rather tempting, but I fully intend to see my promise through." Emile waved his hand dismissively. "Let the man go," he instructed his men.

The battered writer got to his feet shakily, his wounds stinging more than ever.

"No matter what decision you make now, the man chosen to act as your scapegoat will die," Emile informed Reynaud flatly.

"And you want me to write and incriminating pamphlet."

"I do. Would you really let a man that is going to die because of you do so in vain?" Emile smirked.

Reynaud shook his head in open disapproval. "He's a victim of your own callousness, not my actions. I'll not kill Kasperl."

"If not because of you, then at least on your behalf. In your name. Do not presume you had nothing to do with any of this."

"Do not presume you can manipulate me through guilt. My answer remains the same, Marquis."

Emile narrowed his eyes. "Had you not seduced - or rather, been seduced by - Mademoiselle Angevin, then you would have long ago been caught and it would be you facing the hangman's noose."

Reynaud reddened, strained, but managed to keep his composure. "You think yourself a saint, no?" he replied in relative calmness. "Your feelings for Miss Angevin. Are they so saintly? You speak of what you don't understand. Of what you can't understand. And you mock it. How sad."

Emile laughed darkly. "I understand far better, and far more, than you, boy. But I can see my breath is wasted..."

Reynaud gave an idle gesture with his hand. "Please, don't be pretentious. It doesn't suit you. And you were doing so well... a shame, really."

"Boatswain!" Emile snapped. "Get this man an oar!" He turned to Reynaud. "If you swim quickly, you might just find that longboat before it is lost in the night. I pray you do... it would be such a shame for you to drown."

Reynaud smiled amiably, turning and beginning to lower himself over the rail. "Send Chantilly my warmest regards... and allow me to thank you for your hospitality. Really... pinning a guest to the floor? Things have changed since I last visited Versailles. I could learn so much from you." He grinned. "But don't let me detain you. I've got a bit of swimming to do."

"Do enjoy it," Emile retorted. "And try to avoid the sharks."

"Sharks? I look forward to meeting one. After meeting you, I'd find the company of a cold-blooded carnivore... refreshing."

There was a loud splash as Reynaud hit the icy water. He bit his lip and paddled to the longboat, a bitter taste lingering on his tongue.

For a moment after Reynaud entered the water, Emile considered having the longboat sunk, but sighed heavily, knowing it wasn't truly an option. "Lieutenant," he barked as he returned to his place on the quarter deck, "wet down the topsail. I would like to reach port by morning."
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