(1866-10-12) The Measure of a Man
The Measure of a Man
Summary: Philippe charges Gastogne to uncover what sort of man Dominic t'Corbeau is and warns of the cost of failure.
Date: 10-12-1866
Related: A Need to Fill
Philippe  Gastogne  

Inn - Three Rivers - Couviere
In Scene Set
12th of Octobre, 1866

It has been quite some time since the bard had called upon Gastogne….and it seemed that Philippe might have forgotten about the man. It might have given Gastogne a bit of peace. After the last encounter, when the normally boisterous bard was so flat…so calculating…without visible emotion, it was a wholly different side of Philippe. It could have been considered frightening, the way that the minstrel flipped his demeanor like a coin. But…he surely has gotten over the incident by now, hasn't he?

Then, an invitation from the bard himself is delivered by courier. It is a simple enough request, asking Gastogne to meet him in. The location of the meeting…an inn close to the t'Corbeau manor. The date and time set. All that remained was for Gastogne to show up.

On the appointed time, Philippe sits within the common room, waiting patiently with his eyes to the door. What is unique is that Philippe is the *only* person in the common room, as even the innkeeper himself is absent. It is wondrous what the power of a little coin can do. Fingertips drum on the table lightly, the only sound within the inn.

For Gastogne, having not seen Philippe over since the end of the Pacittan tournament has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing in the fact it has given him his time then over in which to try and move past his fears, and a curse in that he doesn't know what Philippe is going to do with him. He just knows he doesn't want to end up over in the chair. And having learned that his 'boss' is just as terrifying and soulless as his lady hasn't helped Gastogne any. But, service is service and obligation is obligation.

A few days spent during the tail end of the tournament trying to track down anything substantial about the Pacittan handling of the tournament mostly fruitless, then a return back over to his home to hear rumors of.. Barbarians raiding up and down the coast has not done much to settle him otherwise.

But, a summons is a summons, and so on the date and time he has been told Gastogne arrives at the inn near the t'Corbeau manor, a short brimmed hat over at his side then as he enters over into the common room, giving a light bow over to Philippe, "Master Philippe." He does not make any questions as of yet, just waiting for Philippe to instruct him why he has been summoned and what his duties are.

A smile stretches across Philippe's face as Gastogne arrives. From his position in the center of the common room, with his lute settled in its own chair beside him, he looks quite unassuming. Then again…it *is* an empty room. "Ah…Gastogne! Welcome,welcome! Please, have a seat!" He indicates a chair in front of him, on the opposite side of the table. A perfectly innocent, normal chair. "I am rather pleased you could come."

The minstrel waits until Gastogne is seated, that smile never leaving his face. "Are you thirsty? I have a bottle of wine here I would be most willing to share with you." Indeed…there is a bottle on the table, with two glasses. "Rest…take a moment. I have somethingto ask of you, but I rather you be rested and receptive before I go further."

He's learned not to whimper, and then Gastogne gives a quick glance around, "But of course, I live to serve you and obey your commands, Master Bard." There is a quick and surreptitious glance given at the chair. No obvious broken points in it to make it fall and shatter, no blades hidden in the cushions.. A completely ordinary chair!

The wine once more has a quick thought of suppressed paranoia - did one of the poisons Talia mentioned work best in alcohol? No, Philippe wouldn't have made a show of summoning him over to here then if he was going to give him a poison. He goes to give a bow, "At m'lord's discretion. How can I best serve?" Going to take a seat, still glancing about somewhat warily but a little more relaxed, in any case. Or at least making a show of being relaxed.

Philippe waves his hand, shaking his head. "Please….I am not a lord. There is no need to address me as one." As he speaks, he pours a glass…then two. He places one down in front of Gast…and drinks from the other. Well…at least the wine itself is not drugged.

"Well…as you know, Mistress Talia has asked me to offer a test to you. A lesson, if you will, on poise, stealth, and the upmost subtlety. " Another sip. "And…it was something that took me some time to consider. For it needed to be an appropriate challenge. But, I believe I have that test."

Another pause. "Are you willing to prove yourself? Not just to me, but to Talia as well?"

Gastogne nods over at Philippe, "But of course. However, you are my superior as assigned by the Lady, so I defer to you as I would to her." Then taking a quick sip over of his wine then, a little bit of fear in his eyes at the last memory of his encounter with her.

His braggicio from earlier is gone, and he just nods over at Philippe. "Yes, I will accept the challenge, particularly as it serves the plans of our lady. And I will do whatever I can to help further them and make amends for my failure." His head is bowed then. "And I will do whatever I can to prove myself." Famous last words.

"Ah…well. What if I told you it was more serving my plans?" Those bright blue eyes watch Gastogne carefully. "It will indeed help to serve the Lady, as you desire, but not directly." The glass sets down…and both hands rest upon the table…in plain view of Gastogne.

"Tell me, Gastogne. How much do you know of Talia's husband….Lord Dominic?"

That particular question caught him by surprise, even as Gastogne carefully keeps Philippe's fingers in his eyes at all times then and otherwise keeps his face neutral. "But in passing. I have met him on a few occasions while reporting to the Lady.." He recollects then and thinks back. "I believe you were present on most of them. I.. Believe the Lady was grooming him for a position within her structure of a sort then?"

Gastogne thinks back over and assesses, "And was training him, for she would ask of his opinion on a matter and then give her reasoning fro a decision. So at least the few times I was present I believe she was.. Teaching. Other than that I know little of him other than what is the public history of him."

Philippe leans back, propping his feet up on the edge of the table. "See, that's the problem. There isn't much that I know of either. And yes, I have seen what Mistress Talia had been doing with him, what little I have seen, and honestly…I want to know more." Those hands reach up to lace his fingers behind his head. "I have seen him as a knight. But…a man that close to Talia….that could be dangerous. To her, to himself, and to us." Philippe doesn't clarify the us in his scenario….but rather leaves it blank.

Then, the feet leave the table. The bard leans forward. "I want to know everything there is to know about him. I want to know his dark secrets. I want to know his habits. Does he have any skeletons in his past…anything that can be used against the t'Corbeau?" The bard pitches his voice lower…as much for dramatic effect as not. After all, he *is* a performer. "Any weakness in Dominic is a weakness to Mistress Talia. Whatever information you uncover will be delivered to her, so that she knows fully what kind of man sits besides her."

"Can you do this for me?"

There's a solid frown upon Gastogne's face over as he processes all of this. Quickly going over what he knows of Dominic, what he knows of Mistress Talia and her ~tastes~ and then a somewhat contemplative nod over at Philippe. The Bard's words make complete sense over to Gastogne then, in their intent and their logic. For once, the man makes no boasts, no promises of things, just has a light little frown upon his face as he thinks.

THinkings of what little he knows of Dominic, thinks of what sorts of things he might go about digging up and over, and thinks about things over in general. "Aye. I'll get to work on it." There's a thoughtful frown over on his face then as he just sits, stirs, and strokes at the somewhat stubbled bits of his goatee, plotting out where to start.

That smile returns to Philippe's face as Gastogne agrees to the task. Then…a finger raises up. "I do have one caveat. As much as I trust your abilities, Gastogne, I want you to be aware of one fact." That smile slowly disappears…as a glimmer of that *other* Philippe returns. "If you are caught, I will disavow all knowledge of this request. I will sit back and watch you twist in the wind while Dominic decides what to do with you. For, this is as much a test for him as it is for you. And…if you do implicate me…you know what I have in my possession. And what I am willing to do."

The cold demeanor breaks into that warm smile…the smile that the rest of the kingdom sees upon its favorite and most famous performer. "Just so we're clear." With a laugh, he pushes the bottle of wine over to Gast, the bottle virtually untouched (except for the two glasses) and very expensive. "Here….for your trouble."

And Gastogne gets that bit. He gets that all too well. And inwardly he is cursing the puerile whims of fate then that has left him this obligation from his family and that he will likely pass along then. He takes a quick breath, and Philippe is rewarded with just a little shiver going through him and he nods up and over at Philippe and wheezes, "Not a word." He knows that the other man is a shadow forged from Lady Talia's fancy, and a quick death will be the only grace he gets from disappointment.

He closes his eyes then and puts his hand over the bridge of his nose, softly rubbing it. "I'll cut out my tongue itself if it comes to that." He wheezes, another faint promise borne of bubbling fear. The wine bottle left alone for now, Gastogne too distracted to even notice it out of the corner of his eye.

Ah….that's the answer Phil wanted to hear. With that, he rises to his feet, picking up his treasured lute and slinging onto his back in one smooth motion. The Bard walks around the table, placing a hand upon Gastogne's shoulder lightly. "Perfect. Absolutely perfect response. I'll be in touch."

With that, Philippe takes one last drink of wine and walks for the door. "Feel free to stay here for the night….I told the innkeeper that you might wish to."

If there isn't any attempt to stop him from Gastogne, Philippe will be out the door and into the night.

There's a not quite haunted look over on Gastogne's face, and he finally looks over at Philippe then. "Do you honestly suspect something over about him unpleasant? OR is this just a test then?" The 'for the both of them' is left unsaid. After all, thissounds like something that is an evaluation of Dominic as well.

It's a question that's likely to be left unanswered as Philippe departs then, or to get nothing more substantial than just a terrifying (for the bigger man) look.

Just before Philippe leaves, he stops. Without turning around, he offers an answer to Gastogne…one that he does not have to offer, but does anyways. "Everyone has something unpleasant to hide. Your test is to find it before he finds out." There is another step to the door, then a final parting.

"Good luck."

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