(1867-09-06) Dark Secrets
Dark Secrets
Summary: Having been deemed trusted enough, Talia reveals one of the House's closely held secrets to him. And a choice is laid before him.
Date: 1867-09-06
Related: None
Odilia  Philippe  Talia  

Basements - t'Corbeau Castle - Three Rivers - Couviere
See Scene

It is nearly midnight. The Witching Hour. The hour that most Good People are asleep, in their beds, save those unhappy few who must patrol, and walk the streets, man the doors as dutiful guards. It is the hour where strange things in stories happen, where in the dead of night someone, somewhere, is being silently killed in that bed they have always found comfort in. And someone else is being robbed blind.

And, it is the hour that Taliah t'Corbeau has given her husband a sleeping tonic and has sent the staff to tend other matters in the household. It is also the hour that Odilia, who had accompanied the group back by Talia's insistance, had been instructed to come 'prepared' and meet Talia in the cellar.

And, most importantly, it was the hour that Philippe, too, had been told to meet Talia in the cellar. Few good things were there, save Talia's pottery wheel. This was, the two would know, where poisons and potions were created in her alchemial lab. And, where much torture was done.

It is a small room at the end of the hall that Talia waits. Only now she wears a robe of velvet, and a hood. Like, and unlike the priests of the One. And, she waits.

It was the best time to be awake, to troll through the shadows and submit to the purpose that life had finally laid out before her those years ago. But tonight was not meant for that or other delightful pursuits that might be taken. Odilia had returned, her indulgence upon fine mystrey meat now past. Until the next tournament.

Talia summons had been acknowledged and Odilia had arrived to the small room at the appointed hour. 'Prepared' as instructed, Odilia wore a robe of her own. Even if lesser in many ways, more like one might see a simple acolyte wear, and yet not.

It isn't the first time Philippe has been summoned to the t'Corbeau manor at such a late hour. The bard had performed for the Viscountess at odd hours of the night, subjected to his patron's whims. And…he was well aware of what was in the cellar. For part of the minstrel's education and indoctrination to the darker side of his psyche had been performed in said cellar. And…that in and of itself was not unusual.

But…the late hour and the request to meet in the cellar together? That…was a somewhat perplexing request. And so, when Philippe arrived at the manor, it is with his lute in his hand, and not on his back, as per the norm. What is also pecular is that Philippe leaves his lute in the foyer, leaning lightly against the grand staircase that leads up to the more residential rooms. Parting with his choice instrument? It would seem that Philippe expects that his playing accumen will not be required this time….and if so, then it isn't that far to fetch.

There isn't the usual leading to the cellar with Philippe. He knows the way quite well and walks silently through the halls, descending down the stone stairs into the cellar proper. The door opens, allowing the bard passage within. And, only the slightest bit of curiousity is prevalent to show Philippe's confusion…a confusion that is swiftly obfuscated with a rather blank expression. A performer, after all, should know how to retain composure.

Talia nods to Odilia, subtle. The girls cue to move behind Philippe. To not let him escape, and slip the blade in between his ribs in time, should things go sour. One, afterall, could only prepare, and assess so much. Much was left to the makeup of the individuals mind, and penchant. And while confidant enough to bring Philippe here, Talia is not so blind as to risk exposure to her House, her Family, and everything she holds dear.

She speaks quietly, the tone and manner of her perhaps - odd. Only one other time, mayhap, would Philippe had seen this side of her. But at that time, they were surrounded by jabbering priests, and the death bells were tolling for all of them. "Philippe. My bard. My loyal subject. I call you here, this evening," she intones, in a near ritualistic manner. Her hands fold in front of her, conjoining the oversized arms of the robe into one. "I call you here to ask you a simple question. You give me fealty, Philippe. But to whom do you give your faith to?"

Odilia moves upon cue at that subtle nod. Shifting the few steps it took to take her behind Philippe. Her hands hidden within the sleeves of her robes, the blades within hidden as well. She was prepared to slip that blade just so between the ribs if it called for it. Even if the bubbly assassin had potentially fond feelings for the bard, she was an assassin and unfailling loyal, devout. Any risk would be elliminated. That blade held just so as Odilia silently awaited what answer might come from Philippe and to which direction he might send his fate and this evening.

Oh…this just got rather interesting. Odilia, recognizable despite the velvet cloak and hood, stepping around and behind Philippe. A slight, but noticable straight crease a few inches from the end of the right sleeve….possibly a hidden edged weapon. Talia, in a similar and yet more elaborate velvet robe with hood, standing before him….asking what he has faith in. No…not what. Who. To whom he gives his faith to. All of this taken in within the first few moments of his entrance. This wasn't the time for eloquent speeches. This was the time to answer honestly and pray the answer is pleasing.

"We…had this conversation before, Mistress." An odd way of starting, but it is true. He had been asked this question before. "I could tell you that honestly my faith would be in you. But…I do not believe that is exactly what you are looking for." There is a pause…before he ventures another answer. One that Talia has heard before. "To whom other than you? I know not. To what? I believe in absolutes. That there cannot be merely one force guiding everyone…but many." He does not elaborate more. The knowledge that Odilia is right behind him, with a possible weapon trained on him, is rather sobering for Philippe.

"Yes," hisses Talia, as if someone had just caressed her skin in just the right way. Her eyes lid, "You never cease to please, Philippe." She turns, then, towards the wall. And, both pressing into a stone and twisting the scone, a secret door panel begins to slide open. "There are no more tests, Philippe. Follow me."

She leads, then, through a narrow hallway from the end of which dim light comes. The room is not huge, but neither is it small. A simple altar sits in the center of the floor, a pyramid of obsidian as tall as Talia herself, triangular and perfect. The room is circular, and there are no seats of any kind, but there are sections built into the flooring that might suggest places to kneel, to pray.

"Not One. But Many. Here, Philippe, those of t'Corbeau worship those that The Edge would foresake. Here, Philippe, we worship in what the rest of the world would call blasphemy. Here, Philippe, we remember the Truth. Of the terrors that The Many fought to cleanse this world of blight. We come here under the cloak of Night, to give thanks to Hearth for bringing us another to realize the Truth."

Odilia stands silent behind Philippe as the answer comes. Possibly a little pleased at the unease she causes in him, ever the performer, but there were things that were simply sensed. Especially in her line of 'work'. Her lips curved into that cheery little smile of hers at the answer, in hearing that hiss of a response from Talia.

Allowing Philippe to continue to proceed her as Talia was followed. Ensuring that the secret panel closed securely behind them. Blocking that passage back just in case Philippe might yet opt to bolt, one could never be to careful in these matters.

Oh, Philippe isn't bolting. Oh no, not yet. Curiousity grips him as Talia reacts to his answer….and more so when a panel he wasn't aware of. A flashback to an older time…a Philippe just starting his bardic training, before Talia begging for his life. So long ago…and yet, he has gone so far. And this time…less words. But still so similar. The thought is shaken off as he follows Talia in, mindful of the assassin at his heels, as he descends further into secrets.

And…secrets he walks into. He knows of the Many. There has been enough bardic stories and songs he has heard that explain at least somewhat what he sees now. And…he doesn't seem all that scared. If anything…it is more awe. And, for one, he remains quiet. Simply content to observe…to listen. To accept.

Talia inclines her head to Odilia, a simple indication that the girl can stand down, relax, and it will not be necessary to use the blade. "I'm pleased I have judged you rightly, Philippe. Indeed, you've become far, far more than the whimpering bard, pleading for his life at my feet long ago." Talia smiles, then, utterly approvingly. "This is our closest guarded secret. And one that you will not share, with any other. Nor will you come to this room without myself, Sophia, or one of my family." She gestures, briefly to Odilia as if to demonstrate.

"Here is where we pray. Where at proper times our rituals are performed to The Many. As numerous as the stars. Night, Death, Hearth, Wisdom, and so many others, Philippe. You clearly have Song's favor, and Charm's. But Cunning, too, has aided you, in letting you arrive to this final point. What sa you?"

Odilia's arms to ease down to her sides, the knives finding home into what sheaths were hidden beneath her robe. Her lips curving into a smile as she echos softly,"Quite far." It was not easy to 'win' the trust of Talia, to be allowed so far into the secrets of the family. A subtle drift of her head in acknowledgement that she was family. Even if in a convulated fashion, but even Odilia had earned her place. That was the way of the family. Curiosity coming to hear which Phillipe mimght think to favor out of the Many, each had a place, each a purpose. Yet a person always favored one over the Many even if seeking the favor and aid of all in time.

A slight grin pulls at the corners of Philippe's lips. Charm's favor, indeed. A bit of that favor slides into him, as he rather noticeably relaxes and almost slides into that familiar mindset. Almost. Enough of the caution remains so that he chooses his words carefully, rather than trust to Charm's intuition. "I deal in secrets. It is what you taught me. I know the value of secrets and this…" with that, he indicates the chamber, "shall remain with me, never to be shared." The proclaimation comes out so easily…but here, in the inner sanctum, it rings true. For Philippe may play the fool, but he certainly isn't one.

There is a nod as Philippe listens to the sanctum's purpose. And…when asked, Philippe answers. "I believe you are right, Mistress. It makes sense. I feel that I do certainly owe a great deal of gratitude to those that saw me to here…to this point. Certainly Song and Charm, as well as Cunning, as you say. Though, there are certainly more." Then…as he looks around more freely, he repeats himself. "This makes sense. I have never really felt that the One guides my actions….for, if so, I would have not survived. There had to have been more."

"You have seen me," Talia murmurs, reverently, "Dance with Death." She's referring to the time when she - when they -all- should've been dead. And somehow, she'd gotten up from the bloody pile and decapitated several of their insanely jibbering attackers in the odd warehouse where Talia's stock of slaves had been sacrificed. "We must work as one, as They did, and do, Philippe. While I am the head of this family, both noble, and Syndicate, I encourage those around me. Your mission, now, is to look with new eyes in Three Rivers. It's towns, people, and villages. And see the truth we have cultivated. Quietly. Purposefully. With subtle skill. They are unaware. But they have been gently guided to reflect the teachings of the Many. And much of their number praise the One."

She looks to Odilia, inviting the woman to add that which she may.

"Unaware of the Truth that guides them, that they themselves live by. A Truth, if they knew they would cast aside in disgust." Odilia making a face of disgust herself, so misguided were those who followed only the One. "Each of the Many is needed, each has their place, a need. The Sea, The Wind, The Winds, The Moon, The Stars important to us, aiding just as Cunning and Charm, Night and Death do. Know this Truth and look upon the world with open eyes. "

"I remember…" How could Philippe forget? Even if he didn't already possess near-perfect memory recall, the image of Talia reaping the cultists like wheat would remain. "I can still picture that night. We should have died." Yes…he said 'we'. One of his first jobs outside of looking pretty and performing. "I…shall keep my eyes open, now that they are well and truly open. I…will see what others deny themselves. And I will do what they will wish of me…to help maintain that truth."

Talia's fingertips alight on Philippe's cheek, then. "Good." She smiles. Pleased. Very, very pleased. "You will be informed on the occassions when rituals will be performed. If you have questions, ask them, now. Such is not a subject to brooch - not even in the walls of my home, save here. While all of my servants know my reach, in the matters of faith one does not toy, or risk. Coin turns many heads. Fear of retribution just as many. But faith can stir hearts like nothing else. Even it has stirred my own, Philippe."

Odilia nods her head once,"Only the truly trusted are privy to our Truth. This Truth." Indicating not even all within the house hold were aware. Not even all those who were 'family' knew. There was a reason that husband had been given a sleeping draught. "You have seen what people will do. They would use this to cut us low, if they could discover it. " It would take little to set the Church of the One upon them. There had been just reason for the assassin set to the ready if Philippe had not seemed willing, ready. If by some unconcievable notation Talia had misjudged his readiness.

Philippe shakes his head, gently but firmly. "I have no questions presently." A beat…then he continues. "I am humbled to be considered so trusted." A response to Odilia's words. "I do not owe anyone outside of those in this sacred place anything. They will not be betrayed by me." 'They', in this case, should be obvious as to who Philippe refers to. "I shall not betray this confidence. For I know what lies in store will be infinitely more damning than the blade hidden in Odilia's robes." To show he knew, Philippe taps lightly through the velvet along the flat of the blade. "I shall be a willing vessel."

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