(1866-09-19) A Story over Wine and Cheese
A Story over Wine and Cheese
Summary: A chance meeting between Amara, Gastogne, and Justine leads to a story.
Date: 1866-09-19
Related: The Trials of Guardian
Amara  Gastogne  Justin  

Mercat - Pacitta City - Pacitta
The Marcat is the main sales district of the city. While many of the other areas of the city have small marketplaces where merchants sell their wares, here is the main market promenade by the docks where things are sold from the ships. It is moderately sized but very properous, benefitting from Pacitta's prime central location on most trading routes. Guards are bribed to look the other way, monopolies are enforced by strongarm tactics, and wares are frequently stolen. Districts often may change 'hands' overnight in who holds the strongest influence in a sector. It makes for particularly interesting games to keep track of whom is owed a tariff and customs. However, the market does well enough, and rarely breaks into open violence. The groups that divide up the turf understand that to make money they have to sell things, so long as they get their cut.

In the main common area of one of the somewhat more reputable but less costly inns in the Mercat, that catered to merchants as opposed to Nobles and thier guards, Gastogne was sipping a drinkand listening. To rumors, annoyance, and some of the feudsbetween Rivana and COuviere from the tournament. The rumors were flooding, andhe was listening.

Making his way down the main street outside of the bar is a well-dressed man in black and silver with a dirk at his hip. He may be a nobleman but he knows not to wonder the city completely unarmed. Pausing at the bar itself the black-haired man slips inside as Justin t'Acuto looks about with ice-blue eyes surveying the establishment and its possible worth.

Just after the meele duels, a young lady decided to pay a visit to her older brother. He rents a room in one of these Inns she is not used to spend her time. Maybe that is why she climbs down the stairs after the meeting so carefully and cautiously like a kitten, who investigates unknown territory for her.
A blonde with ivory skin, an easy smile and plush lips is wrapped in a lovely dress of gold and sheer honey lace. From her ears dangle beautiful amber jewels in gold settings, and the nearly floral patter that creeps down the sheer sleeves of her dress follows over snug, reinforced middle of the elegant form and down into the flowing bell of the gown which covers her long legs to the ankles where small golden silk slippers complete her wardrobe.
Her pale and fragile fingers are holding the skirt raised a little bit just in order to avoid to make it dirty. Once she gets to the first level, Amara turns to her guard and handmaiden, "Gaela, maybe we could get a drink before going home?" Her look scans the crowd.

Gastogne is passively following things going on then,and the man approaching quickly gets his attention as he looks up and over. But, Gastogne being Gastogne, his attention quickly turns over to the lovely woman. The jewels inlaid to her outfit have his attention, and he's barely able to suppress a light jewel - whether directed at the woman or the vast expense put over to her outfit then. Otherwise, he reminds himself, look, don't touch. After his previous experiences with some of the less than appreciative nobles. At which he whimpers some.

Scanning the room he nods to Gastogne as their gazes meet, then follows the man's gaze as it finds a new target. One which he knows. After a few moments of looking the young Lady over his gaze returns to the commoner and takes note of the prolonged stare. Making his way over casually Justin draws to within a few feet and says in a soft voice, "Perhaps it is better to set your sights on more attainable goals young man. Though Justin isn't overly old himself, based on looks he is noticeably older. His words are softly spoken, but the meaning of them is very clear 'look to your own station'.

It's not just Gastogne, who would set his look on Amara a little bit longer than proper. There is a reason, why Elrick, the big brother, said a very strong no, when she asked if she could stay with him! These Inns are filled with men who love to stare.
Maybe that is why Gaela offers that the lady should go back to her Princess sister Antonia. However, Amara looks at her guardkind of proudly. She feels safe with the man. So, a young girl moves through the crowd to find a free seat. That's a hard job, because after meele dueals the place is crowded. So, she stares at people adorably like a kitten as if waiting when someone will offer her his seat.
Of course, she is followed by her guard, of course, while Gaela moves to bring some refreshments.

The guard is, for now, an impediment to Gastogne doing more than looking. While otherwise he might offer his aid to the lady thenand to protect her, the fact she has what is likely a Huntress or Wraith with her is reason enough to stay somewhat away then unless approached. However, he can still enjoy the sight of her from afar then. And so, the ratty looking commoner maintains a smug grin on his face, a half pleased look on his face warmed by the ale then.
Justin is given a somewhat more curious glance and then an acknowledgement. As the man speaks his smug grin vanishes and he gives a surly nod back then, but slumps in his chair and acknowledges it then, his eyes falling down to look at the table. The fact the man has a very lovely looking blade is reason enough to do this!

Justin simply nods and moves through the room, keeping his distance from Amara, likely trying to avoid notice as his gaze scans the crowd, keeping a look out for anyone who might try to get too forward with the young Lady. After all booze and the adrenaline of even witnessing a melee can lead many men to forget themselves.

Well, that guard might be the reason why anyone offers a seat for a lady. Nobody ever wants to be friends with his blade! So, a young lady has to show some initiative. It happens, that the lucky boy is Gastogne. Justin perfectly hides himself in the crowd moving away from the commoner just when Amara arrives. She smiles at the man and offers him a curtsy, "Maybe this young lad would be so kind to welcome me near his table, because otherwise I will have to go home and bore myself to death with lessons." She keeps her lovely emerald eyes fixed stright on his. Just at that moment Gaela comes back with a glass of wine and cheese for her lady. She looks displeased, that Amara speaks with a commoner.

CRAP! Whomever thought he would be saying that while a lovely lady was coming down to sit by him? Gastogne looks like a duck out of the water being dived on by a falcon. He blubbers, "Milady! An honor." A quick eye given to the guard, and then over to the knight that is somewhat by then. "You honor such a common man as myself by gracing our ladyship with his presence!"

Justin doesn't seem to catch where Amara has gone to, perhaps because there is only so much one can pay attention to at one time. An older commoner reclines back and spreads his legs extra wide as he makes himself comfortable, giving a lecherous leer at the Lady. He may not be willing to say or do anything with the threat of the guard, but doesn't stop him from staring in a very improper way. "Perhaps it best you look elsewhere or depart." comes the soft-spoken voice to the man who starts to say, "And who the…" The expletive is cut short as he spots a nobleman with a dirk, and grows silent once more, sitting more upright and downs the rest of his ale before getting to his feet to make his departure.

Amara laughs seeing the man's confusion or how to call all this, "Don't tell me that a lady did not speak to you before!" She settles near the man's table and Gaelaplaces a goblet of wine with some cheese in front of her. The handmaiden and the guard remain standing, close to their "apple".
"Don't be tense. I do not bite. I am a person like anyone else in this room. I am looking for company, good stories and… I decided you must have a good story for me!"
She is unaware of her "guardian" in this Inn still.

On one hand, the lady seems impressed by him! On the other, Gastogne has no idea why, and otherwise is suspecting a setup of sorts. Quickly going through his head, and filing away some of the stories that he has heard over, he adapts a few songs over from Philippe in his mind that he has heard the bard play, going to weave them together then to a somewhat plausible and coherent tale, and from some of his own experiences. Giving a bow then to the lady as best he can while sitting.
"Aye milady, for you have heardright. I am a salesman by trade, a merchant who travels the world helping those move their wares from place to place. IF you wish a story, I can spin one. But if you wish an experience, I can weave one." The man half grins then.

Amara shakes her head, "I don't need stories about others. I would love to hear your story!" She leans back in her seat after taking the goblet into her hand. She just plays with it idly. Still does not drink. "I would love to get to know you, merchant. Tell me of your own adventures. What have you seen!.."

Justin continues his patrol of the room, largely in silence as most aren't doing or saying anything too improper in regards to the Lady now. Most not captivated by her has noticed the knight moving about now, and the two he has spoken to, even if the first is currently sitting with the Lady in question. Between the knight and the bodyguard not many aren't behaving themselves. Yet Justin patrols still, like a knight along the border seeking out the uncivilized barbarians seeking to assault a fortification.

There's a quiet laugh from Gastogne. Then remembering some old tales then, and going to spice them together, "you have heard of the Hungry ones?"He whispers,"The Hungry demons, some call them." His voice lowers lightly then, adding on a dark little tone to it with what he can recall. "They are real. For I've seen them. They are no story. They are beasts up to the far north that rend, rip, and slash the flesh from anything they encounter. Man, beast, one another."

Amara rolls her eyes, "Pity. I thought you are a story teller, not a liar. Likely, I made a mistake. It happens," she looks at the goblet in her hand and sighs, "I lost my appetite." She places the glass on the table and raises to her feet, "Maybe we will meet again later. I hope that you will be more willing to share real stories then. Have a nice evening!" And the young lady turns to leave.
It's hard to describe the happiness of Gaela, when they turn to go home.

Gastogne continues on, "I have seen them. They say up in the north then, that the Barbarians would toss them in a pit. T hat they would crawl upon one another and fall back to the bottom of the pit then and collapse upon themselves in an endless quest for escape. T hat the barbarians would sometimes toss them down captives then to appease whatever dark gods.. Or merely play."

As Amara goes to get up, Gastogne lets out a somewhat of a sigh, "And Milady, while you honor me with your presence, any story worth it's salt is worth coloring up some. If the Lady does wish herself a proper story, then let me set the pace for the story a bit? As otherwise it is hardly as entertaining then? A bard does not sing to a crowd out of nowhere. He learns the tastes of the crowd, and he sets a mood. I have no qualms about singing, but I do request to be able to properly tell my tale."

The patrol brings Justin closer to Gastogne once more, noticing the Lady along with him, though standing up seemingly to leave. The nobleman side-steps a bit closer to the door and turns as though to imply he had just entered the establishment as he casually looks about scanning the room once again, hopefully going unnoticed, or at least Amara will be distracted enough not to pay him much mind if he is.

For a huge disappointment of Gaela, Amara sighs and gets back to her seat, "Alright. I will give you a second chance. Though, remember that my tastes might be different than the crowds. The truth was always more amusing to me than some childish stories about mythical creatures."
Amara does catch the sight of a man who refused to catch the kitten. That is the reason why she indifferently turns from him away and pretends enjoying commoner's company a lot. A wide smile curls her lips up.

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

There's a light twirl then as Gastogne glances up and over at Justin, "And would milord care to join us then, to see that the Lady is properly minded?" Assuming Justin is part of her guard then of sorts then. And he works on another tale then in his mind, spinning something from exprience.
"Since Milady doth not seem to enjoy the more monstrous of creatures, perhaps a tale spun then of man then and the wrongs he inflicts on others then out of haughtiness and spite then?"

Justin is caught, but he does his best. Amara is clearly trying to ignore him but he does offer a formal bow and says, "A pleasure once more My Lady." then to Gastogne he adds, "I am sure the Lady's guards and handmaiden is more then capable of 'minding' her. I may be a knight but not every Lady requires a knight to constantly be at her side to ensure her safety." In a calm, serious tone. He is clearly trying to find a way to excuse himself as the Lady doesn't seem to want his company, especially as she has not offered an invitation.

No no no, Amara is a proper lady and when Gastogne invites Justin to join them, she plays indifferent then too. She is not all crazy that a handsome knight will come to their table, but she does not play an offended kid and does not requests him to leave. Instead she offers him a bow. She does not raise from her seat, "M'lord, here we meet again. Please, listen for a story the man promises to tell. He said it will be a true story."

Gastogne leans back over, and debates how to turn it - apparently the Knight Errant is not with the Lady! So, Gastogne quickly turns his tale over. "There was a man of some fame and some pride. A good man. Whom had fallen upon hard times,as some men are wont to be. Sometimes even the best men can occasionally do something that under betterones they might not have." Recalling upon some of his own experiences, perhaps?
"This man was an important man in a land. A mid sized village. He had a debt he could not climb out of. So, to try and ease the debt he made a deal. With some bad men. Brigands."

Justin nods once more to the Lady, though he has not actually been invited to join them really. Standing a meter or two away he listens to the story and says, "A common enough tale when speaking of commoners, though is it not a bit aggrandizing to claim he was an important man and yet fell to debt? In my experience important men, even among commoners, tend to have a degree of wealth or fame, if not both to their name. With either I see little cause to come into debt, especially with brigands unless of course they fall to gambling and waste what they have been blessed with by overindulgence of greed." in a calm, somber tone.

Gastogne continues on then, "It was just a small favor at first. Have the officials be a little slow in investigating a theft. Have some of the lawmen look the other way when it came to customes. Move some things. Nothing quite seemed enough over to settle it." Nodding at Justin, "And all men have greed, Milord. Whether it be greed for power, greed for slaughter, even. Greed is not just limited to money. But a great many things as you no doubt well in your travels. The Bloody Baron indulged in endless slaughter for little more than the sake of it." Gastogne's face goes ill. He has just heard -tales-.

Amara is quiet. She just listens while chewing on her cheese. She got her appetite back at least.

Gastogne goes on, "Men and women can have greed for many things. A man who has but ambition can see cutthroats behind the loyal, and shall cut all throats in his quest for what he is after. A man who has but lust would cause a war but for a woman." He goes on then, "But, such things are part of the human nature and likely always shall be, to the Mythic age and now. Greed forges and undoes empires.. But, tihs is but a simple tale of greed and men rather than a great one."

Gastogne goes on lightly, "The brigands had this man, of bigness and smallness by the throat. For, not only did they have him by his debt, but they had him by the things he had done for them." He nods over at Justin, "I'm sure you understand that sort of thing as well MIlord." Glancing at AMara, "And Milady."

Justin nods and says, "A cautionary tale, then perhaps its telling is worth it, if one can learn the lesson of it and why such ambition and greed, whatever the goal, is the be avoided for the betterment of all." in a serious tone. He may not be the most devout or the most knowledgeable of the One Faith, he does have his views of what is holy, what is evil, and what are flaws to be avoided by the wise and rational.

Amara remains quiet. She does not answer to Gastognes question if she and the lord understand things the man describes. She just listens.

Gastogne nods over, "Aye. And so the brigands had the man by his proverbial balls then. For they had his betrayals of what he stood for and in turn the betrayals he had made other men do for them. And they had him by his debt which seemed to never shrink no atter what he did." Gastogne goes to twirl his fingers. "And so they slowly infected the realm, as one man turned indifferent as did another to bouts of pettiness. Hunters had their game culled, lumbermen not paid for an honest day's work, crops culled. And so the realm seemed to otherwise turn in and of itself."

Gastogne loops his fingers through his long ponytail, "And teh lord of the realm was not blind, and could see the lands were suffering. But could not tell what was afoot, for there were many small cuts made by many small men made to be indifferent to many small things. And the man for whom the brigands had bent had had enough. For, not only was he suffering, but the lands themselves were from what he had wrought. And so the good man rediscovered himself. He would tell the brigands he would turn them in to the constables and to the lord of the realm, and give himself to the Church to divine punishment."

Justin nods and says, "A just end for the man, and a good lesson of how one should act when they have brought harm to the realm." In the same calm, serious tone and adds, "Though perhaps less crude terms would be favorable in the presence of a Lady of good reputation and honor." no doubt a reference to the proverbial term used to explain how the man was held by the brigands.

Seeing that the speech might be longer than expected, Gaela leans to whisper something in Amara's ear. This time the handmaiden must be really convincing, before Amara raises to her feet, "Thank you, merchant, for your story. Sadly, my handmaiden remainds meof my duties. I still shout interrupt you and leave. I wasn't expecting for such a long story."
She stands and curtsies to Justin, "My lord," and then she really disappears.

Gastogne tsks over at Justin, "Milord, this is but half a story then. Since the Lady shall not see fit to hear the rest of it, would you care to? For in the end the lesson is not about the man, good or bad then. What do you think the brigands did to him when he told them this?"

Gastogne goes on lightly, "They did what they would to any man whom challenged thier authority who did not bring armed men with them." Quiet.

Justin bows to Amara as she departs, once gone he looks back to Gastogne and says, "In all likelihood they murdered him, as befitting his crimes. His story, if believed would lead to the brigands and the brigands would have taken the life of the man who aided so much in harming the realm he called home. The One I supposes chooses the path to the outcome we have earned. As to the rest of the story, I have little taste for it I fear. I also have little stomach for liars. I have known merchants as the lady calls you. I have no cause to doubt her word, so a merchant you must have informed her. Yet you spin a tale like a bard desperate for coin. Merchants tend to be too busy to act as bards as well. So are you a bard lying about being a merchant or a merchant trying to deceive others into thinking he is a bard? Either way from what I have seen and heard you lied to the Lady to keep her company. A display of personal desire over the enjoyment of another. Seems I was correct in warning you to keep from her, even if that warning went unheeded." as he turns to make his way from the establishment as well.

Gastogne laughs softly, "Milord, I Travel with a bard. I'm a middleman who moves from village to village." He holds his hands up, "For example, in Rivana the country is readying for the wedding fo the Queen that is in the coming months. All the tailors are busy making outfits as befits the Queen's wedding. They are also working to the maximum that they can." HE twirls his fingers. "So the prices for cloth are through the roof, particularly fine ones. So, for example I act as a middleman, in this instance, between those who sell fine silks in Pacitta and tailors in Rivana who are selling fineries for the wedding so that they can keep up wtih demand, and for the menn who sell cloth in Pacitta to make a higher profit than they would merely selling in the city. I get my cut as a middleman, the tailors in Rivana get better wares, and those in Pacitta get better prices on their cloth. I travel with a bard because he is damned good at gaguing markets and the spin on things." He sips at his drink. "And he's rubbed off on me a little." That admittance is mostly true.

Justin pauses and says, "The only 'middle-men' I know of who are reputable are certain traveling merchants. The way you explain things sounds more the type who tries to deceive each party so you can benefit yourself at their expense." in a disapproving tone as he steps outside back into the flow of the street outside.

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