(1867-09-06) About The Masque
About the Masque
Summary: Corvin asks Esyld to do something she doesn't like. Also reveals some secrets about the l'Saigner masques.
Date: 09/06/1867
Related: None
Corvin  Esyld  

A small set of quarters in a Manse in Ostvor
See Scene-Set
Septembre 6, 1867 IA

Evening falls on Ostvor yet again, and while the City still has a long way to go towards being completely repaired, at least most of the loose debris has been collected, and most of those buried have been found (whether dead or alive). Of course a few that were pulled into the Storm have yet to be rediscovered…and may never be, if the storm carried them into the mountains. Regardless, attention is now beginning to shift from "recovery" to "departure" for those that were delayed. For now though, that's a worry for tomorrow, as Corvin Fremont makes his way to the small(ish) quarters he'd procured for himself in the Manse, divesting himself of his usual pile of concealed (and not-concealed) weapons and generally looking like he's preparing to sleep, though the door to the room is, for the moment, left open.

It's been another long day in a series of seemingly endless ones, in which Esyld, now that her Lady is safely under watchful eyes once more, has been lending a hand wherver it's needed.. and wherever it might be most profitable to the house she serves, of course. While she may be raised now to the 'proper' position of household guard, she still tends to think like a mercenary. Dusty, marred here and there with dried blood that's clearly not her own and with ebon hair tousled in forgotten disarray about her features, the woman is likewise trudging through the manse, looking forward no doubt to the respite of a straw-stuffed mattress and a few hours of oblivion. So much for a swift departure back to Lonnaire, eh?

En route along the halls, the blue-eyed creature notes the open doorway of the Wraith Commander, and chooses to pause there on the threshold. It's rare to see her looking blatantly exhausted - generally she brazens out such weakness, and convincingly so. But not in this moment. Leaning a shoulder to the stone doorframe, she regards Corvin for a moment before breaching his solitude, arms folding across her slender midsection.

"Seems most of the work left is for the gravediggers." she observes, in her standard, matter-of-fact way. "Does that mean we'll be leaving soon?" Anxious, is she? Hard to say. Her features are impassive, aside from the shadows beneath her dark-lashed eyes.

"At Alina and Gabriel's convenience, really. But I suspect they won't want to linger much longer, unless Gabriel intends to wait until his father is safely back to Murnord. I rather doubt that, though." Corvin replies to Esyld, offering a brief smile that's about as weary as he ever allows himself to show, while beckoning her further inside with a gesture, "Come in…close the door. I do need to talk to you about something else." There's nothing ominous in his tone or manner, so it's…probably…not anything bad.

Obligingly, Esyld does as she is bid. She must be tired. "His father is faring well enough then, I take it." she murmurs, as she closes the door at her back. It's not really a question. The man is alive, which is more than can be said of some. Many, actually, based on the grisly discoveries uncovered throughout the day. Human bones don't stand much chance against crumbling stone walls. Once inside, she resumes the folded-arm posture, though now without anything upon which to lean. The arch of a slender brow is silent enquiry as to whatever is on the Wraith's mind.

Not much more than a gash on his head and a solid bump. He'll be fine…headaches for a few days to a couple of weeks, but the healer's have done a fine job with him. They doubt there'll even be a scar from what I've heard." Corvin explains as to Duke Cesare l'Corren's fate, before moving to seat himself in the small chair here, gesturing for Esyld to do the same upon the bed, should she so choose, "I don't know if you've been informed yet, but Alina is planning a Masque for the Twin Moons. A belated birth celebration and whatnot."

Nodding slowly at the relatively cheerful prognosis for old Cesare, the mercenary pads across to the foot of the simple bed, easing herself down to a seat with a stifled groan. Aching muscles. Aching everything. Once settled, she leans forward, resting her elbows upon her thighs, hands dangling idle between her knees. Another, more attentive nod follows Corvin's latter question. "Mmm, yes, I'd heard a few mutterings of such amongst the servants. That ought to please her.. she didn't exactly get to enjoy the last one, I expect." Regarding the man where he sits in the basic chair, the woman tilts her head curiously. "I doubt you're bringing it up to discuss costume ideas, however. What's on your mind?"

"I'm going to need your help with something during this particular Masque." Corvin isn't exactly one for beating around the bush wuen business is being discussed, "Specifically, I'm going to need you to keep me thoroughly occupied. Since Alina is organizing this one, she'll likely insist I be off-duty for it." As off-duty as he ever is, anyway. "And in that case, I need to avoid being snapped up by Talia."

There's an unladylike snort of amusement from Esyld, initially. But seeing as the man actually seems serious, her wry expression clears after a moment or two longer. "I wasn't certain that was an outcome you'd have any desire to avoid, to be perfectly honest. Isn't the point of the event to seek one's pleasure without fear of repercussion..?" Unbidden, a smirk tugs, little more than a twitch, at the corner of her lips. "Not that I take any issue with the task personally, you understand.. it's just.. why? I'm sure you're more capable than any other man in Couviere of saying a firm 'no'." Her hands clasp loosely together, those striking eyes remaining steadily upon the Commander, studying his features.

Corvin smirks just a touch, "That's the point for most of the guests. The ones that aren't part of our house. But given your position, perhaps it's time you learn a bit more about the Masque and all it entails." He shakes his head, "This isn't really about what I want either way. It is about Talia, and Alina, and making sure Talia doesn't end up taking actions that further damage her esteem in my sister's eyes." He snorts, "It is, in effect, for her own good, however much affection I may retain for her. Or perhaps because of that affection." He leans back in his chair, "But first…the Masque. An evening of revelry without repercussion. Or so it is said. Certainly…guests are encouraged to behave so. Now…why do you think our House holds these affairs, and made a point to become famed for them?"

"The point could be made, of course, that I couldn't give a damn about the Countess' esteem. That ought to be on her own head. Hasn't she the sense for her own cares? But if it's important to you…" Mirroring Corvin somewhat, Esyld releases her hands and braces them behind her a little to lean upon, still watching him contemplatively and sighing softly. On to the matter of whys and wherefores, then. Hm. Politics, no doubt. Not her area of expertise. But that subtle frown suggests she's at least attempting, at Corvin's urging, to mull over the finer intricacies of such an occasion. "..leverage? All other Houses seem to place such stock in propriety and morality, I expect one could learn a lot from watching their heirs at play without inhibition. See where their weaknesses lie?" It's a dubious answer. She mostly just kills people.

"Not quite that direct, but you're at least pointed in the right direction." Corvin notes with a faint smile, "It is, certainly an opportunity to learn. We would never be so crude as to resort to simple extortion or blackmail over deeds at the Masque unless the Kingdom depended on it. After all, that trick would only work once before the whole idea of the Masque would be ruined." Corvin drums his fingertips on the small desk he's seated beside, "No…not leverage…but information, nonetheless. You see…who these people are when they're wearing the masks tells us a very great deal about who they are behind the masks they wear every day. So yes…people are being watched at the Masque, and while some of the disguises are excellent, we always manage to discern who's who eventually."

"So it's more about weighing the true nature of potential opponents..? Or allies. Even if they're forever unaware of it." Esyld falls silent for a moment, before venturing an afterthought. "How exhausting it must be, having to pretend to be something you're not, day in, day out. Brave. Noble. Pure. Capable." There's a humorless smile to accompany the emphasis on that last. "Am I allowed to enquire as to what interesting faces have been revealed beneath, then? Or about where an attentive gaze might be best placed?"

"Oh certainly." Corvin answers Esyld's question, "Let's start with say…Cesare l'Corren. Cesare has been a regular at the Masques for years, long before any betrothal between our houses. Indeed l'Corren have always been common at the Masques, even in the most tense of times. But Cesare…Cesare is a deeply loyal man. In every single visit, he arrives, and he spends an hour or two enjoying the food and drink, but not overindulging, and socializing freely. And after that couple of hours is up, he always ends up meeting and departing with the same woman year after year…his wife, of course." Corvin chuckles, "While this may well not seem particularly surprising…it is valuable to know. It tells us that the Duke of Murnord is a man who can be trusted. A man who will not break his word, no matter how strongly he is tempted…and believe me…I'm sure near to every temptation imaginable has been tossed at him at these masques, just so we could be sure."

"And then you have his son, Gabriel…." Corvin grins at that, "A hard man, with a fearsome reputation for bloodshed on the battlefield and victory on the Tourney field. He wasn't an ordinary attendee of our Masques, but when he did finally arrive, we learned that Sir Gabriel could be tempted. And that was likely the last piece of information my father needed to pursue the match with Alina. Having a mighty warrior is all well and good, but if he couldn't be turned, ever-so-slightly, to a different path than that his family professes to follow…if he couldn't show interest in anything but where the next battle was to be fought…he would have been of far more limited use to us."
"He wouldn't have accepted the methods of your family." Simplifying it for her own sake, Esyld offers the ghost of a smile. "Thank the One your sister is such a beauty, else the l'Saigner line may have become awfully.." The curve of her lips widens for a moment. "..unremarkable."

Scooching a little further back, the woman draws up her knees to sit cross-legged at the foot of the bed, perhaps relaxing a touch as the discussion continues. Though it remains unfamiliar territory for a simple mercenary. "The Countess, then. Quite the opposite. As indulgent and greedy as they come, as I understand. What temptation can be laid before her to gauge her loyalty? A dozen virgins? Euphoric-laced strongwine?" Fleetingly, the raven-maned woman captures her lower lip between her teeth; releasing as soon as she catches herself in the unconscious mannerism. "..is that the point? Remove you from the menu and see what next catches her eye?"

"No, we've long since learned that Talia has rarely met a temptation she didn't enjoy. But that's not really the point. Talia has been denied my company in the past, and it is for the best that I continue in that manner. Not because I'm looking out for just Talia. She is as close to me as all but a select few." A brief, perhaps-meaningful glance directed towards Esyld at that, "But this is for House l'Saigner as a whole as much as Talia, or Alina, or myself. You see, while Talia loves her vices…she has never allowed them to cloud her loyalty or her efficiency in performing the tasks she and her house are instructed with carrying out. My sister, however…allows her low opinion of Talia to color her interactions with the t'Corbeau as a whole, and that, I believe, is to the detriment of our own House. Especially when it means my sister leans ever more closely to the t'Rannis."

One hand rises, the palm rubbing wearily across Esyld's features, then serving as a prop, elbow to knee, knuckles to jaw. "If the loyalty of the t'Corebaus is so unwavering, does it matter if they are perhaps less favored than another? My loyalty is no less than that of the full-fledged knights who serve the House, even if I count as lesser in their company." Heavy-lidded cerulean eyes regard the Wraith thoughtfully, lacking any sign of ire. "I understand your opinion, Corvin. For obvious reasons, you have a greater understanding of them.. and affection for her. But.. I also understand Alina's perspective. From an outsider's point of view.. nobody can deny Talia does her duty. But Alina will one day become the Duchess, and it is for her to decide who she trusts to keep close. I.. can't help but feel you are asking me to pull the wool over the eyes of the woman I serve, regardless of whether it's for the best intentions."

You're also… I am trying to think of a delicate way to put this but that's not exactly my specialty." Frowning, Esyld uncharacteristically lowers her gaze, studying her boots. "..you're asking me to be the thing standing in the way of what she wants. You. Bad enough that I fucking lost to her in the bareknuckle, now I'll have to appear as if I'm clamouring, threatened by her when it comes to your affections." This time, when those blue eyes flit back to Corvin's features, they've lost that softness. "Should I be?"

"Do you serve Alina, or do you serve House l'Saigner, Esyld? Because while the two are closely linked, they are not the same thing, at least not yet. That is an important distinction for all in the House to remain aware of…it is a distinction that has gotten previous Dukes killed for failing in their duty to the Kingdom. I intend to insure that that fate does not befall my sister." Corvin sighs a bit, and shakes his head, "Outside of the last Masque, when you were with us, I haven't touched Talia in three years, nor been with any other besides you. Talia and I was always a casual sort of affair when it came to that sort of thing. So no, you needn't worry." Corvin shrugs, his tone still purely conversational when he continues, "But if you are uncomfortable with the task, I can find an alternative solution easily enough, if a more crude one. But let me make clear that I'm not talking about House t'Corbeau retaining the favored status it has held under my father. I don't care one way or another if they lose some influence, but Alina is…stubborn, and in this case that stubbornness may prove to push a loyal vassal house so far outside her circle that they may not be in a position to respond in a timely fashion when they are needed most."

Corvin pauses a moment, contemplating, and then adds, "Sometimes true service requires that we do more than simply wait and obey. If Alina learns of these things and decides my efforts are not in her best interest, then I will cease them. If she believes I should be punished for them, then I will endure that punishment without complaint. But that will not stop me from making the attempt to protect her, even from herself."

To her credit, Esyld takes all this in without interruption, or even the apparent inclination toward argument. She remains perfectly still, listening and observing, without so much as batting an eyelash. "I've never been put in a position where the distinction has been required, until now." she eventually replies, the words soft-spoken. "And I certainly don't consider myself qualified to try and steer either one in a particular direction. But if you think this is the best course, then.. fine. In this instance there's a rare chance to give a vassal the opportunity to help themselves. That's as far as my involvement goes, though. And likewise, if it turns out to have been the wrong choice, I'll accept the punishment that follows." Maybe her affection for Alina has skewed things a little, in the woman's mind. It's a delicate line to walk. Particularly when the subject matters comes to another noble who she has little time or patience for.

Unfurling her legs and setting her booted feet to the floor, Esyld pushes to a stand. "I suppose I can add 'cock block' to my ever-growing list of titles. Maybe I'll get something engraved." stretching tentatively and grimacing as she finds her muscles still fatigued, the woman casts a blue-eyed glance Corvin's way. "If there's nothing else…"

"It's just as well…you'd have needed my invitation to get into the Masque anyway. Unless you could pry one out of Alina or Lucas or Her Grace." Corvin notes with a glimmer of his usual infuriating smirk, though it fades quickly enough, "In a hurry to leave? You're welcome to rest here if you like." He chuckles, "And I do mean just rest. I'd wager I'm near as tired and sore as you are."

"Not being one for masks, I'm sure I could have amused myself with simpler temptations elsewhere." Esyld fires back, calmly meeting that smirk with a serene half-smile. "Ones that wouldn't require me spending coin on a dress when I'd rather a new bridle or sword-belt. Nonetheless, my thanks for the invitation, Fremont." Shaking her head gently, she heads for the door, fingertips resting on the weighty iron handle as she pauses. "I can 'just rest' well enough in my own bed. Early start and all." Hauling open the door, the mercenary steals a last look back at the Wraith before slipping out into the hallway. "Sleep well. I'll see you in the morning."

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