(1867-08-18) A Minor Diversion
A Minor Diversion
Summary: While returning from a round of inspections, Odilia, Philippe and Talia experience a slight inconvenience in the form of a band of bandits.
Date: 08/18/1867
Related: None
Odilia  Talia  Philippe  

Couviere - Three Rivers - Wooded Road
A secluded section of road in a forest.
18th of Aout, 1867

It has been a mostly successful evening. The group has checked on some of Talia's smaller operations through the countryside to make sure they are functioning well, and is now heading back home together through some of the woods. Twilight is upon the forest, the sun dipping against the horizon.

A successful evening always called for cookies, even if it wasn't exactly an evening requiring her defined purpose. Odilia was idling munching on one of her not entirely famed cookies. "I dare say, that was almost boring. Not a bad thing. But at least a comma or two out of place would have been a bit more exciting."

"Almost," agrees the Countess. "Odilia," Talia murmurs, quietly, "I want you to return here in one month's time. I have a feeling that they expected our arrival, and they were - not entirely untruthful, but they were also hiding something from us," Talia proclaims upon her mount, as the three of them, accompanied by just a few of Talia's hand-picked guards, "And I don't like my people keeping secrets from me."

She smiles, then, sharply so. "Speaking of secrets, Philippe. After we return, and before Odilia returns to her own duties, it may be that you shall find out some of ours."

"Secrets, Mistress? You know how fond I am of secrets." The bard of course had his lute in hand, the fingers idly strumming a tune fabricated from whole cloth…which seemed to be something Philippe does to keep himself busy, it seems. Yet, despite of the playing, Phil himself is rather alert, as per his usual. "I do have to admit. Our surprise visit did not seem to be so much of a surprise. They were…too dutiful. Almost to the point of smugness." Casual observation from the figure most people see as Talia's pet bard…but one of the reasons he was there. After all…he did say he liked secrets, and he keeps them well.

In the forest that the group is going through, the twilight is making visibility easy, but the pathways are otherwise somewhat rough and less than used then, which otherwise makes it easier to get lost in if one does not know the ways. Up ahead, far off in the distance, one might see some shuffling that could be some of the larger animals going through the forest.

"You will is my desire," says Odilia without so much as batting an eye. "I shall back certain they have no hint to my arrival in that next visit. And we shall see just what it is they are hiding behind all of that smugness. Whatever secrets they think to hide, will not remain hidden for long." Odilia quirks an eyebrow at Talia that then transitions towards Philippe at this talk of secrets of another kind being share. That cookie being wagged slightly, "I am not sharing my cookie recipe. We already discussed this." A wink and smirk following a beat later. "Hmm, looks like we might have a bit of company up ahead."

"So it would seem," agrees Talia to Odilia, without halting in her steps as she moves forward. She speaks quietly, then, "At least six. This is not treachery. If it were, there would be more skill behind it," she mentions, in reference to the potential of the ambush ahead. "Leave one alive," are her only instructions, "If they are foolish enough to ambush us." She glances to the guards with her, nods imperceptibly that they have freedom to do as they will. In whatever manner they wish.

The lute grows silent as the minstrel's sharp eyes catch the stirring up ahead…though Philippe, being him, made sure to end his impromptu number rather than cut it off abruptly. He slides the instrument onto his back with practiced ease, while his left hand grasps the reins of his mount. The right? That slides behind him, resting on the pommel of the dirk tucked in snugly back there. His voice drops to a soft murmur…just loud enough for the two to hear. "I agree. About six, from what I saw. All wearing leather armor and rather armed. I saw the glint of steel in their hands from the available light. It would appear that they are rather foolish…for they are coming this way and making a rather poor job of being stealthy about it." Those sharp blue eyes…they peer ahead for a moment longer, then flicker towards Talia. There is a nod as he acknowledges the order…then a soft chuckle. For whatever reason, though it should be obvious, he finds the situation amusing.

The men are now clearly heading over on an intercept course towards Talia's group then. As they get closer, coming at a faster trot and spreading out to prevent their prey from escaping, they can be seen for likely what they are. Common bandits then. They're spreading throughout the trees then to head over towards the group then, and the one in front calls out, grinning, "Why hello there. You're going to be good now and behave and give us what we want." The look of.. Amusement passing between some of the members of their targets has not been noticed.

Odilia finishes off the last bite or two of her cookie before brushing the crumbs along. She listens to Talia's direction as well as Philippe's assessment of the men ahead. She murmurs quietly, "Foolish, or expecting far easier prey than what they shall find." A hand vanishes along to acquire a knife, though it does not glint. A darkened steel. She actually shoots the man a beaming smile, "Why hello there darling. Can't say I am one much for behaving all ta well." Did she just even wink at him? Before Odilia looks over to Talia, "One you said?"

"Now, Odilia," Talia says, holding up her hand to suggest quiet, stillness, "Let us hear what the man wants." But one thing is quite certain. Talia does not look afraid, in the least. She looks directly into the speaker's eyes, her own features unyielding to any consent that she, or those in her party, are in any measure of disadvantage. "Is it directions, you seek? You do look quite lost. My bard here has been over this countryside many times, if that is the case. If not? Well, name your wish, then. I am nothing, if not generous to a fault." She smiles, then, warmly. But there's something just a shade off to that warmth.

"And just what is it that you wish? A spot of entertainment? A little song and dance?" Philippe makes a grand show from within his saddle, bowing low, while all the while his eyes remain on the spokesperson for the band of brigands. "I can certainly supply the song if you will be so willing to supply the dance." As he returns to an upright position, both hands slide behind Philippe, as if to fetch his lute…when in actuality the right hand grips the dirk handle, hidden just under the lute. "As my mistress says, I have been most everywhere. If it isn't dancing you seek, then certainly instruction to the nearest inn or tavern so that you may quench any thirst is simple enough to give." Philippe remains *most* cordial…as one would expect a performer in front of a crowd.

The men are clearly amateurs when it comes to banditry - none of them have scars, and while they watch the group with weapons ready, spreading out then to lightly surround them, they don't have the air of veterans. The seeming leader of them smiles. "Well, I suppose we would take a toll. And we have plenty for entertainment, so we'll take whatever you have on you. Simple. Pay us whatever valuables you have, the toll is satisfied, you go on your merry way and we go on ours." They seem rather casual, even as their hands are on their blades or other weapons. "For twould be a pity to have to break some fine things like your bard there."

Odilia nods to Talia, before giving that sweetly beaming smile again at the man. Her eyes wandering over the others, one or two getting a more than friendly wink. While Talia and Philippe speak, seeking what it is the gents want, Odilia is content to just listen for the moment.

The hands of the bard throw up in outrage as they forgo the lute on Philippe's back. First the left…and then the right as it seems that the musician is struggling for words. "I am not some little trinket to be broken!" It would appear that Philippe is truly outraged, when in truth the quick outburst with the left hand was merely a distraction to allow him to draw the dirk with his right, sliding it down his sleeve to nestle in the crook of his arm. "Why…I don't know if I should be amused or offended at your insinuation that I am nothing but an ornament, good sir!"

"As I said. I am more than generous." And as she pretends to move towards the satchel tied to the horse where some coins or other valuables might be stored, she's instead unsheathing the Sidhe Blade in a smooth motion. "The most valuable possession I have on me is the Viper's Fang." She points the dark blade towards the leader of the bandits, pointedly. "I shall give you exactly what you ask for." She speaks coldly, now, in the manner, tone of someone who has killed, and will kill, countless lives. And the dead eyes of someone who holds human lives as little more import than a bottle of wine. "You will receive the Viper's Fang."

She tilts her head, "Philippe. Do you wish him to be the one to be left alive? I think so. I think," she agrees, suddenly, "We shall keep you alive. Philippe needs practice, with his skills of extracting information."

The bandit's leader seems a little startled - this definitely isn't going as he planned. On one hand, Talia is seemingly being cooperative, but the banter amongst her and her companions definitely has his men uneasy. "Give it to us and then you'll be on your way. And no -games- woman!" The Bandits tense then and go to draw their weapons even as Talia so casually speaks of 'leave one alive'. "You can't possibly take us all on. And we can just as easily take our toll from your bodies when we're done." But, still not attacking, even with weapons out.

Odilia continues to smile all so sweetly, even rather cheerfully. In spite of the active turn the situation seems to be taking. It is a rather different turn to how cold Talia has turned. Her eyes are however tracking the men as they spread out and move to surround them. There is a spark in them, much like a cat watching the prey it is eagerly awaiting chance to play with.

"Can't I?" Talia's voice seems perfectly confident. Without moving her head, her eyes shift from one side, to the other. "Six of you. Yes? You were really quite sloppy. We spotted you several hundred paces away," she proclaims. "And, if you're that lax in your ambush, your skills with weapons are equally subpar. Any one of the Wraiths I trained could likely deal with the lot of you, by themselves. It's almost - unfair, really," she pretends to lament.

There's a hesitant look over from the leader of the small bandit party. "Wraiths?" He tries to straighten his shoulders up and over then to look more defiant. "They clearly aren't here now, or you'd have sent them already if they were." He smirks, "So, lovely little game, but the time is up." The men shift a little bit in fear, their eyes darting over the forest then as if expecting Wraiths to slip out as ghosts from behind each tree.

A soft laugh escapes Odilia. "My dearest me. He thinks you only train Wraiths." She shakes her head, that dark blonde hair bouncing around. "Wraiths are for Lonnaire, my darling man. Since when ever do Wraiths run about in Three Rivers?" Looking over at Philippe and Talia, "I think they haven't done their homework at all. It almost seems unfair." Almost.

"Nonsense. It's perfectly fair." Philippe levels a gaze to the supposed ringleader as all traces of bardic civility leave him. Philippe isn't a happy individual at the moment…no sir. "One must be held accountable for one's actions." Then…a slight smile curls the corners of his lips. "Don't you worry none, good sir. I shall see to it that you get a proper education…one that will last you the rest of your life. Your compatriots….well…that's another story." No mention of how long that education…or the use of it afterwards, may last…

"Oh, very well." Talia has had enough of the game, and her smile falters, belying the dangerous undertones of someone who not only has killed, but is about to kill again, and think nothing of it. "We are going to kill you, now. But, before you die. Before you are taken my prisoner. Know that had you picked better prey, you might've gone on living, just a few short years longer. But then, the t'Corbeau never really cared to suffer bandits in their County. It's not good business, for the Syndicate."

That such casual ease with which the woman taunts them, the deadly air about her compatriots.. Three of the bandits cut and run, breaking into full sprints through the forest. Odillia vanishes to cut them down as the would-be robbers flee in terror, dropping their weapons en route.

The leader goes to yell, "Come back you!" Turning towards his fleeing men. The two who had Philippe covered just watch their comrades flee in dumbfounded silence, not watching the bard at all.

That smile remains in place as Odilia silently vanishes after the trio fleeing into the wood. An almost casual air to her speed as she followed. The trained assassin seen twirling a knife between her fingers as she went to play with her prey.

Oh….the bard isn't being watched. It probably wasn't a very good idea for the would-be assailants to take their eyes off of him. With a quickness that betrays more than merely musical training, he lunges forward with seemingly an empty hand towards one of his handlers. Though…it isn't empty anymore, as the dirk blade he hid within his sleeves slides neatly into his hand. The bandit would have thought it a feat of magic, if it wasn't for the steel blade piercing his throat and taking his life as swiftly as it was produced.

Without a pause, Philippe yanks the blade free of the throat of one bandit, shifting about to take a swing at the other near him. Philippe misses the throat, but catches the thief under the arm, his blade finding purchase as it draws a line along barely protected flesh. It does make for a bit of a spectacle, as both bleed in various quantities.

Never take your eyes off the bard. Particularly when he's been able to get his hands out of sight. The leader of the bandits then can only hear the gurgles coming from his men then over as he watches in almost terror then as Philippe casually slashes through one and then the other. The not quite dead bandit then is more focused on trying to avoid bleeding out as he falls to the ground, the first dropping and clutching at him then.

The leader takes a stumble back, eyes wide with terror, "Please.. Please don't kill me!"

In a sudden motion, Talia's blade moves through the air with extreme precision, the blade twirls, expertly in her hand with the grace and finesse of a master swordsman showing off in display in mannerism that if someone were to try it prematurely, they might lop off their own arm, or risk a significant scar to the face as if she were seeking to mesmerize the leader of the bandits before the blade reaches out to slash against his cheek in a superficial cut that also slices a few blades of hair off.

"You should not upset the Syndicate. Philippe," she ventures, "Watch him, closely. First," she suggests, "He will begin to hallucinate. Usually, such hallucinations are exasperated by fear. Stress. Then, he will start to sweat, profusely, before his heart tries to pound through his chest and finally, he'll collapse. Still alive. But, as harmless as a doll."

Staring wide eyed over then as Talia goes to just so casually explain it all, the leader turns to face her and the barb, blubbering a bit, "Please, let me live! I.. I shan't make this mistake again!" The sudden slash through that Talia makes has him tremble once again over with fear then, and as she describes the effects over and the blade just -whisps- past him, he blubbers over then and just listens to her describing what will happen. He trembles.

As one of the bandits falls lifeless by Phil's hand, Philippe shakes his head slightly as he regards the second…with him trying valiantly to staunch the flow of blood. "Here…let me help you with that." The blade glints a dark red, from the blood it has already tasted, before the minstrel calmly maneuvers behind and pulls the edge across the would-be robber's throat smoothly, letting the individual fall by the wayside. Then, with a detached air, Philippe cleans his blade before sliding it back home in the sheath upon his back.

Philippe looks up in time to catch the instruction from his patron. "Ah…alchemical in nature? It would explain some of the myths and legends surrounding the Fang that I have heard." Being a teller of tales, he has probably heard more legend than fact. He sits and watches with interest…even answering the ringleader. "Oh, but I assure you. You won't make the mistake again. One way or another. And you will live…at least for the moment. You should consider yourself special."

Talia takes a step back, as if eager to watch the proliferation of her poisons at work and just how this particular man will be afflicted. "Oh. I won't kill you. Philippe will. And slowly, at that. Then, you will be forgotten. Your possessions - and those of your comrades - will be made mine. Given out as I desire. And all I find worthless, destroyed. You will not even be a shadow of a memory. Where Philippe, my lovely bard, shall be all the wiser for having tortured you beneath the world, until every inch of your flesh is on fire, and your mind shuts down and kills you for it's own mercy."

The leader of the bandits can't quite manage a scream. All he can do is look over at Philippe as raw terror goes through his veins then. Seeing his men cut down in the forest, seeing this woman so casually describe how he is going to be treated. All he can do is look up with a sort of warped terror in his eyes as he gurgles and looks over at the bard then,and perhaps think that his men who died quickly will have the better of it.

He looks up and over at Philippe, and tries to wheeze to sit upright, even as Talia so morbidly described it. Letting out a groan, "We.. We would have let you go. We're just robbers.." As if what he would have done did not deserve this then - what the pair were going to inflict upon him for.. Practice?

In contrast to the wheezing fear emanating from bandit leader, a few notes of a rather jaunty little tune being whistled proceed the reappearance of Odilia from the trees. The little game had not taken long. While one hand finished up with tidying a few locks of hair that had gotten out of place, her other hand fetches out a cookie. A brief turn of it towards the other two as if to say 'Cookie anyone?’

There might have been a slightly sympathetic glance from the minstrel to the highwayman. But, it is gone so fleetingly that it might have been merely imagination, or just one of those hallucinations. "You attempted to rob from the wrong person this day. Fate just was against you." He just shakes his head as the ringleader gasps for air. "And that…is why the lesson must be given. Any good performer knows that you must commit to your role. You have to be willing to take things to their absolute conclusion. You don't know now…but you will. We will see how far the limit is. And…then….we will step over that." A slight shrug from Philippe, as he turns to regard the nameless bandit eye to eye. "See? I told you that you were special." With that, the bard slides off his mount…to pick up his charge and throw him over the horse like a sack of grain. The plans for him are not ones to be performed in the middle of the road, forested or not, but are for behind locked doors…in windowless rooms.

As Odilia returns from her playtime, Philippe retakes his seat on the saddle. Gone is the sullen and serious demeanor, replaced effortlessly with the typical playful bravado the bard defaults to in public. “Well then, that didn’t take long at all. Such a minor diversion, though somewhat engaging. Now then, where were we? Oh yes…I believe somewhere around here…” The lute is produced in one hand while the other reaches around and pats the head of the ringleader, now the only survivor left of his group. The voice drops, with that cheerful tone somehow worse than the cool detached version Phil used before. “Don’t worry. We will get to you soon enough.” With that, he turns to face the road, the lute plucking out the same tune that Odilia was whistling. A wink is tipped to Odilia as Phil plays, leaving the failed ambush much like the highwayman upon his horse….behind him.

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