(1866-07-14) Shady Business
Shady Business
Summary: Sent by Talia to discover more about the situation in Hartswood Philippe and Gastogne investigate a possible contact and conduct a bit of shady business.
Date: 1866-07-14
Related: Ale, Flesh and Secrets and for another end of this plot see Trouble in Hartswood
Players:
Philippe  Gastogne  

Tommard's Shop
In Scene
Juliet 14th 1866

The mood is tense in the town of Hart’s Home. The people here seem to be on edge and most of the idle talk seems to be about the late peasants rebellion and the missing priest. Guards walk the streets armed and watchful and question newcomers often. Still men and women on honest business are allowed to pass such as those on the way to the shop of Old Tom a local trader in well… just about everything. His shop, one of the biggest in the town centre is half a warehouse half a shopfront with a pair of hired toughs standing outside the doors with cudgels.

Walking along, Gastogne can only murmur over to his compatriots, “Well, this is an ill omen.” Wary as the two go along. Of the peasants going on edge, of the limits of what exactly they’re after and they can do as they meet ‘Old Tom’. “You’ll be in charge. I’m an associate.. Sellperson, and we’re looking to get some of his stock as possible. He was recommended by a couple of sellswords.. You do the talking.” That was what Phillipe was best at.

A sideward glance to the pair of guards is given. It seems to be just a quick glance, however, as the bard’s eyes also flicker beyond, taking note of the warehouse, the makeshift storefront, and, specifically the exit points, should things go south. It is one of the little quirks that Gastogne would soon discover of his compatriot…Philippe has a sharp eye for detail. The two do not approach yet, but rather Philippe takes his time. He is being cautious, that is for certain, and he definitely wants to make sure he has the story straight.

“This person made some market decisions that betray he may have had prior knowledge of the assassination, correct?” Phil’s voice is a murmur, just for Gastogne’s ears. “We’re here to get a feel for his contacts, then. What he might know…or how he might know that would be of some assistance to us. And…see what sort of stock we can purchase from him. Is that correct?” Somehow, that tone doesn’t necessarily imply that Philippe is looking for an answer…but he certainly doesn’t seem the type to be upset should the answer be given. Then…there is a legitimate question. “Am I missing anything?” There is a pause, then a soft phrase is spoken, again mostly to Philippe himself than to Gastogne.

“Just need to be friendly. That’s the key.”

There’s a slight nod over from Gastogne given to Philippe as the two walk along. “Aye. Enough that the local mercenaries were talking about him, so he has his hands in many things. I’m not quite sure, but he might have had some under the table dealings in his barony, given the mercenaries were quite up front in noting that they noted honesty and obligation to pay the local nobles their fair share.”

Gastogne nods over at Philippe quietly as he surveys the area. “So we heard he had some overstock from things that he needed to get off his hands and quietly at best, and we’re looking to do what we can to help in matters.” Softly spoken, for once the egomaniac taking his time to do things warily as they walked towards their meeting. “you’re in charge given you have your ways with people.”

—-

The doors of the shop open and the toughs stand aside as man dressed as a woodsman and a beefy townsman in his middle years exit the shop and embrace. “Be well, coz,” the beefy townsman says as he claps the other man hard on the back. “We’ll talk soon and…” he leans in to whisper the rest to the man who nods. “Thank you cousin, I’ll give your love to Nora and the children.”

The townsman nods. “Good, good, now off with you I’ve business to attend to,” he says shooing the man away with a good natured chuckle. The Woodsman goes and the Townsman surveys the town hands on his hips. “Still tense as ever I see,” he remarks to the toughs.

They nod.

“Keep an eye out then,” the Townsman warns before heading back into his shop.

There is a slight nod towards the shop door, as Philippe indicates to Gastogne the brief exchange. “See that?” He doesn’t expect an answer from the man…just that he actually turns and looks before the two men part ways. "I assume that would be our objective…the stocky townsman." Philippe's voice is pitched to a low murmur…just loud enough for Gast to hear him without having to strain. Always helps to see who one is to meet before hand.

It is only a short time later when Philippe nudges Gast with an elbow. "Okay…let's go in. Follow my lead and don't say anything out of place. We don't want an incident like the one you had in Rovilon at the inn." With that, he straightens himself, drawing up to his full height, and starts walking for the shop door confidently. Just like a performer should.

Gastogne gives a nod over at Philippe, "But of course, my lord." Giving a nod over at Philippe, and then following along. Gastogne takes a moment to muss up his hair. His posture slacking over some then as he tugs his shirt to dishevel it. Philippe is, for the moment, his superior and master, and Gastogne takes on the role of a servant then, bowing in obeisance then and putting himself over into the background as he follows with his posture low and respectful as he takes on his role.

The toughs by the door note the pair approaching the doors and look them up and down. "You have business?" the bigger of the two grunts out.

There is a bright smile and a cheerful exclamation as Philippe answers the question posed. "Why yes, we do! My compatriot here has informed me that the owner of this here fine establishment has a bit of a surplus of stock upon his hands and we have come to see if we could possibly help to alleviate that problem. I do believe that we are expected." With a half turn, Philippe glances back to Gastogne. "You did send word ahead that we would be coming, I hope?" The tone is still pleasant, but with a hint of command in there. Philippe's establishing his place in the hierarchy with a bit of a show.

Gastogne gives a quick and enthusiastic nod of his head, keeping with his role as he grovels, "Yes, Master. I sent word ahead." Playing up his subservience as he gives a quick bow. "We are here to discuss business with Master Tommard." Giving a bow to the goons.

The two men look at one another. The big one grunt. "A moment," before he turns and heads back into the shop. A few minutes later he returns. "Go in," he says holding the door open for the two strangers.

Inside the shop is well ordered, with long shelves of merchandise, a few craft items needed by the locals and then larger bins and baskets of tradable goods, maple sugar, hides, samples of lumber and other large scale commodities to be traded. The beefy townsman, which one could safely guess is Tommard, waits by one of the bins peering curiously through the door at his new customers.

As the door is opened, the bard walks on in, showing that confidence and just a bit of flamboyance that people may come to expect of a performer…especially one such as Philippe. After waiting for Gastogne to step in, Phil turns and approaches Tommard with that ever-present smile. "Ah, Master Tommard, I presume? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Philippe Giscard, and this here is my associate Gastogne. Gastogne has stated he sent word ahead about our intentions, I hope? We have come to inquire about a bit of business with you, if you are free." Of course, judging from the appearance, Tommard may be free…but that is not something Philippe is going to take for granted.

"You see, good Master, I have recently obtained some prime storefront real estate in Pacitta and wish to set up shop there. My associate here has informed me that you may have a surplus of inventory that you may be somewhat motivated to move and we simply came to determine what you may have to offer."

Gastogne gives a light bow over at Philippe and then over at Tommard, "Yes, thank you. Your name came strongly recommended from some that I met as a businessman." Giving a low bow over to him, "I work for Master Philippe here, and we hope to make a mutually beneficial deal with you." Taking his hands together and giving a low, almost servile bow over to the bard. It came naturally then over as he turned up and over to wait to be told to speak again.

Tommard nods to the big tough who shuts steps inside and shuts the door. "Sorry for the caution," he says turning to study Phillipe and Gastogne with a frown. "But I got no notice you were coming and given the late troubles that puts me on edge. So, what's this about extra stock?"

<FS3> Gastogne rolls Perception: Good Success. (8 6 3 3 2 8 1 8 3 4 5)
<FS3> Philippe rolls Perception: Good Success. (2 4 1 4 8 5 8 4 1 5 1 2 4)
<FS3> Philippe rolls Charm: Good Success. (1 8 8 2 5 3 3 1 4 4 7)

There is a slight frown from Philippe as Tommard shifts on the defensive. However, he quickly shifts to Gastogne, mostly to hide his initial reaction and give him time to think of a course of action….which he covers up with a quick reprimand to Gastogne. "You absolutely sure you sent notice ahead of time?" That quick question is all the time Philippe needs to come up with a new plan.

And that plan is to turn up the charm. "Please, excuse the intrusion then. I greatly apologize for the confusion and the suddenness of our meeting. I understand it is rather confusing to be caught unawares." He takes a step forward, his hands at his sides, palms outward. "You see, I am afraid that the information I was supplied was vague as to exactly what sort of wares were involved. I had hoped to determine what it is you had to offer, and I was operating under the pretense that you was aware of our intentions. If there is no surplus to be had, why, we can depart now and trouble you no longer…"

Gastogne definitely picks up over on the light level of defensiveness, and then quickly plays to his guise of the fool then, "But of course! I remembered to.." He goes to rub over on his fingers then, "Oh, wait, I.." Then playing up the angle of his having been of somewhat slacking then, and in his position his hands go up to quickly cover his face in a half prepared wince then at having not 'done' his rather simple job to provide another deflection for Philippe as well if necessary for Tommard to be set at ease - or at least bemused.

Tommard rubs his chin slowly before he says "You should dock your man's pay for his laziness," he says finally. "I may not have extra wares but business is business, especially in these troubled times. What do you plan to sell in this shop of yours?"

"Indeed. It would serve him right." Philippe doesn't even bother to glance back at Gastogne. Instead, he keeps his focus upon Tommard completely. "Well, it would entirely depend on what I am able to procure. With the shop being in Pacitta, I would be able to more easily move items that may not be entirely all that easy to disperse in Couviere at the present time. I was thinking about possibly providing those sort of goods, if you understand my meaning."

Gastogne takes a moment to blink one eye, and upon no 'blow' coming, and hopefully Tommard's attention deflected, he goes to add a little more slump to his shoulders then as he goes to lower them down then and mouths a quiet 'thank you' then as he watches out of the corner of his eyes. Not fidgeting, but adjusting himself as he memorizes the layout of the location and listens for the burly guards outside.

There is a glance shot to the tough by the door as Tommard crosses his arms. The tough lumbers forward cudgel gripped tight in his fist, "I am getting the impression you men think me a dishonest trader. I would like the chance to refute those lies, so who's been telling them? And why'd they tell them to you?"

Philippe takes a step back, his hands in the air in a classic warding gesture. "Just a moment, good sir! No one ever said anything of the sort!. While my own inclination is whatever the powers that be don't know won't hurt them, I would never impune a man's honor as such! Why, I wouldn't have come here directly if I even remotely thought that you wasn't a forthright individual!" He takes one more step back. "Look, I can see that we have gotten off on the wrong foot. Perhaps we should just cut our loses and trouble you no longer."

A hand reaches down and snags Gastogne by the collar lightly, giving it a tug…"Come on, you. We're going to have some words when we get back to the inn…"

Going to flail his arms up and around then as Gastogne goes over to gag some, being yanked over by it then as he can't help but squawk, adding to his denials with a series of half-flailings, "No one said nor intended an of the sort. The men merely said you were a merchant with an excess of stock in need of help moving it. That's all my lord!" He waves his arms about, stumbling then and managing to avoid tumbling as Philippe grabs him by the collar, playing his role.

The tough steps in the way of Phillipe and Gastogne's retreat. He makes no move to strike them but he is a bulky and imposing barricade to their escape. He looks to Tommard. The man rubs his chin again and says to Phillipe "Who's been telling tales about me?" he asks. "Give me that and you and your friend can go as long as you stay going until you're out of this town."

Philippe oddly enough does not seem afraid of the lumbering brute in the doorway. He probably should be, but he doesn't seem all that intimidated right now. He does seem rather annoyed and turns to Gastogne, his normally pleasant tone slightly soured with a tinge of annoyance. "Well? You heard the man. Who is it?"

Gastogne plays up his fear then and nods over at Philippe, quickly turning his attention back to Tommard, "They were a pair of sellswords by the name of.." He recalls, "Cas and Ben. They said they were guarding the warehouses in the area among other things and helping to escort supplies." He then adds in a half whimper, playing up, "They were after a local woman in a brothel that they had a fancy to and I paid for her, and in turn they gave me advise that you, milord, had some wares you were looking to get into the market and were having issues with. I was.." He sniffs, "Merely attempting to help my master get wares for his business, and they said you were in a sort of a pickle but did not elaborate what on, so I thought I could also come to the aid of another man as well in doing so." Gastogne plays up the light edge of desperation in his voice - leaving to the conclusion whether Ben and Cass 'played' him in return for him getting the girl for them or something else.

Tommard's jaw drops for a moment then he grits his teeth. "Those loose lipped bastards," he growls then turns to gaze thoughtfully at the pair before him. "On second thought, you'd better stay, until we sort out what's what," he looks up to the tough. "Go get Boren. And you two, come on in the back with me."

There really isn't much of a choice for the two, at least as far as the bard can see. With thug number one stepping just outside to most likely fetch thug number two, the logical way out is not good. And, judging from the shade of annoyance, this disturbs Philippe. But…they are here to check into what the merchant has in terms of wares, both physical and informational, so the only way to go is in.

But Philippe is no fool. With a glance, he indicates to Gastogne to take up the rear vanguard as he steps into the middle, behind Tommard. His words are still pleasant enough, as he says "As you wish, good sir." Even now, Philippe is alert…the blue eyes sharp as he takes in as much detail as he can.

Gastogne is quickly and covertly surveying the room as well then, letting out a somewhat more emphatic whimper, "We just wanted to do business, that's all." His eyes also looking around the room quickly,memorizing the layout in a quick glance. Positioning of objects, doors, windows, furniture. Where everything is and remembering where things were outside as he goes along. "And the men were quite reasonable, they said you had some excellent things in storage."

The shop is well organized, but there are plenty of loose objects of use within reach, the outside of the shop was well ordered as well, it had a steep roof and a small distance between the shops on either side.

Tommard leads them to a back room and opens the door, "Get in," he says ignoring Gastogne's protests. Though he casts a nervous glance to the door of his shop waiting on his guards. "You got anyone outside?" he asks the pair.

Honesty got them in this situation. Seems only right to continue with it. "No." replied Philippe. He then tries a bit of self deprecating humor. "It wouldn't endear us to your good graces if we had, I had thought. Though, from the way our negotiations had turned, I may have prefered to have been outside and just send my man in on his own." The phrase is said in jest, most certainly apparent with the lilt of the voice…but still, there is a small nugget of truth within.

At the very least, the bard can probably blame anything over on Gastogne and use that to get an escape. Glancing furtively over his shoulder, Gastogne adds, "No, just myself and my employer." A slight shiver. "We wanted to come light then so we could.." The next look over makes him shut up then as he glances over at the guards. Are they going to keep to their role then for now?

Tommard grunts and waits for his men to join them. He posts one on the door and the other he beckons to join him while he walks away talking in low voices. The guard stands in the doorway glowering down at the pair.

<FS3> Philippe rolls Perception: Success. (4 7 3 1 6 6 4 6 2 3 4 2 6)
<FS3> Gastogne rolls Perception: Great Success. (1 8 4 8 7 1 3 7 5 7 5)

Glowering guard? Again, the bard does not seem half as fearful as he probably should be. He stands there, keeping his eyes affixed upon the guard's own, glowering be damned. In fact, Phil seems completely nonchalant about the whole situation, stretching languidly as he yawns, obliterating any chance for him to actually hear anything outside of his own apathy.

Settled back over, Gastogne fidgets as he listens. He's leaning back against the wall then, his back over to the men who are talking and playing up his cowering while under guard. As he lightly and nervously taps his fingers against his sides, seeming tos hiver, he keeps his back to the guard then. Glancing at Phil and letting out a whimper, he mouths silently, timing it in-between the whimpers of supposed cowardice. "Wondering.. Who else.. Mercs.. Told.. Who knows.. Goods." It's not an exact science, and Gastogne is having to do it carefully to avoid doing something to register on the otherwise irritated guard.

It's a little while before Tommard returns with the other guard. He enters the room and looks over the pair. A mix of nervousness and anger written plain on his face. "So, what is it you've really come here for? And what did those open-mouthed fools tell you about my business?" he demands.

Philippe trusts to honesty once more, lifting his hands and crossing his chest with the fingers upon his right hand. "Truth be told, we had come because of what those 'open-mouthed fools' had told my associate. Quite simply, that you had goods that you may have need to unload in a discrete manner. I merely came to attempt to establish relations in regards to that. I feel that you may be a valuable source of information for which way the wind blows, though that is only based on my own personal observations rather than anything anyone told me. The caution you are exhibiting here, just for a pair of fools such as us, informs me that any secrets that we might share with one another shall remain secret. Such a thing is rare in this world…and highly prized."

There's a glance over from Gastogne as he takes his quick cue from Philippe, "They said that you'd had a great deal of goods that you had to dispose of and were having a deal of difficulty with the dead priest and the barony going mad from it. We aren't with the lords; do you think any of them would suffice a fool such as myself in their employ? We're just businessmen out to try and earn a profit in a world where all things end up in the coffers of the lords. I thought given the circumstances we might get a little bit of an extra cut that ordinarily they would keep in the take for themselves."

Tommard blinks. He had not expected honesty. He glances to the other thug then back to the pair he has captive in his store room. "Then you'll swear to the One you're not law? Not that it'd do you much good here, my brother's a judge and my brother-in-law runs the watch."

"No, Master Tommard. We are most certainly not law. I will swear to whatever authority you so desire." Philippe takes a single step forward, remaining steadfast and earnest. "My original calling…truly, the means in which I have earned the finances that allows me to own a storefront…is bard. A minstrel, if you will. And a damned good one. Most certainly not law." Philippe seems to have no problem telling Tommard the truth of his profession. Considering the level in which Philippe performs with his trade, he is probably assuming that the merchant already has a passing knowledge of who he is.

Either that, or Philippe is completely wrapped up in his own ego. Which may not be far from the truth.

The bard continues. "It certainly does seem that you are a well-connected individual. One that we would be idiots to attempt to cross. And, I assure you, I am, at least, no idiot."

Gastogne holds his hands up, "By the Many no, we are not with the law. Or whatever you would have us swear to properly then. I am merely charged with helping Master Philippe expand his business, and that is all. I only care for myself to help pay off a significant debt I have that is owed to him for some lost wagers." Gastogne's voice tinges ill then with a hint of amusement. "Never lay a wager on a performer not performing directly to his face when a competition is on the line. His performance was grand enough to make the Queen and Heir themselves swoon. I'm an indentured servant for the better part of a year."

The man frowns and study's Philippe and as he does one of the toughs asks "What's your name, maybe we've heard of you?" Tommard gives him a look and the man goes quiet again.

"Okay, you both swear to not being law…" Tommard begins before he pauses trying to think quickly here, see the angles. "Then the question is can you afford what we've got to sell," he nods to the back quarter of the room. "I've got three chests of valuables too recognizable to sell here. If you men can come up with a two-hundred crowns you can have them."

There's that wry grin of Philippe's once more as one of the guards asks. Even though Tommard silenced him, Phil provides the answer. "Philippe Giscard. Recent winner of the artistic competition for performing arts held at the coronation tournament held in celebration of our beloved liege."

After the answer is given, Philippe does return fully to Tommard. "In fact, it is because of that very tournament competition that allows me to not balk at the price you have set. May it be possible to see the wares before purchase? I would ask as to how you might have acquired such baubles, though I feel that really isn't a necessary bit of information at the present time."

Gastogne nods lightly then over at Philippe's words then, "Aye. A fine performance he gave. Enough for even one such as myself to recognize the folly of betting against him in the competition. Truly the finest bard in all the lands of Couviere." Otherwise he returns back to his light sulking state then. "Would you permit us to inspect them as well? To help ensure that we follow proper.. Discretion."

Tommard nods to his men and they move to the back of the store room and drag some heavy boxes out of the way. Then, grabbing tools pry up the floorboards before at last producing the chests. All the while Tommard watches the door nervously, careful of the sound. "Here you go," he says as he opens one of the chests from a key he produces from a hidden spot. He opens it up, it's filled with various items of value, none of them alone particularly valuable but together equal a sizeable sum. The other chests are opened as well and it's more of the same. They look like the gathered goods of many a family. Though not two-hundred crowns worth.

As the chests are opened, Philippe watches with intent interest. And, it is apparent, even to him, that what is being presented is not a fair representation of the price being asked. "Now then, Master Tommard, you cannot possibly expect me to pay 200 crowns for this." Philippe's tone is still cordial. However, he is not the least bit impressed with the trinkets, not in comparison to the price. "I would consider 100, possibly, since the impression that was given that this was too hot to move otherwise in a more open setting. I might be willing to offer more, but really only if there is more on the table. Such as information as to how you came upon your hidden trove here and why it is too recognizable for you to sell."

There's a quick glance over from Gastogne as well then as he evaluates over the goods being put out. Not seeing anything immediately recognizable or that screams dangerous in the items or associations. Remaining quiet and trying to look over the items as the duo inspect them as he tries to parse anything that looks to be of significance such as heraldry, signs of ownership.. It looks to him like fine trinkets, but nothing immensely expensive in the lot, though he could be wrong. Quickly glancing at Philippe, a quiet nod intended to confirm his evaluation.

Tommard licks his lips and looks down at the chests again. "One seventy five and I will tell you that tale," he offers. After all the goods themselves tell much of it. There is no markings to speak of save makers marks but the nature of the goods speak of the treasured possessions of trade and woodsmen, some of them old, likely passed down through the generations.

There is careful consideration occurring within Philippe's mind. The wheels are turning…and the bard comes back with a counter-offer. "160 for both the chests and the tale. However, I will also throw in the caveat of paying for more information in the future, should your tale be of great interest. Being paid for telling tales is something I am quite familiar with. I would be rather inclined to continue our business relationship should the tale be rather fetching, indeed."

Gastogne quickly glances over at Philippe, giving him a quiet nod over of support then as well as covertly surveying the room one more. Remembering the escape routes, as well as memorizing the shape of the goods as well and their age, before turning his eyes back to his employer and Master Tommard.

Tommard lets out a breath then nods. "One-sixty then, for the goods and the tale," he says. "As to the tale itself. The brigands said to be raiding this barony? I got my goods from them, whatever they took I bought. Got rid of the easy stuff to move, coins, things like that, but now that the priest's dead they've all gone elsewhere. At least for now, it was good business for them and the raiding made the cost of wood and fur go up, and that didn't hurt either. Anyhow, like I said everyone was making too much money for it to be over for good, when the baron's hung a few woodsmen for killing the priest we'll likely get back into it. How's that for a tale? Tells you where your stuff is from and gives you some hope of more to come."

A single nod is given, as a smile plays over Philippe's countenance. "Now that is a worthwhile tale. One worthy of payment." He gives a nod to Gastogne, indicating that he personally is quite fine with the information given, even as Philippe himself reaches for a sizeable coin pouch upon his belt. "Gastogne, we are going to need that wagon we made arrangements for earlier. The covered one. We are going to take our wares back to Pacitta, but we need to do it without too many questions. No faegates, nothing out in the open." As Philippe gives the instructions, he shakes out the coins in due order, passing payment to the awaiting hands of Tommard. "We will leave under cover of night, tonight. I am sure our esteemed business associate here would appreciate a swift removal of these items from the general barony."

As the final few coins pass hands, Philippe returns his attention to Tommard. "I look forward to your tales soon, Master storyteller. May your words enrich all of our lives."

Gastogne nods lightly over at Philippe, eyes spinning then as he processes this, "But of course. Excellent business with you Master Tommard, and hopefully more to come." Gastogne goes to start doing the mental work of how to quickly plot a course out of town and set up the wagon appropriately, and evade or have a story for any inquisitive patrols in the area, as well as the mental details of making the wagon not quite look appealing enough for any of those bandits to possibly take an interest in them as they go off. Then giving Tommard a bow then as well as he brings his hands together and then looks over at Philippe.

Tommard takes the coins and makes a quick mental tally before slipping them into his purse. He seems relieved when the transaction is over and nods to the chests. "They'll be ready for you come dusk, just bring your wagon around back and my men will load them for you," he says before clasping Philippe's hand with his own and nodding to Gastogne. "Well master bard you will be welcome here anytime you wish to hear my tales," he says before a look is given to Gastogne "And may this deal lighten your debt."

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