1229.3 To Live and Lie in Normandy

Stultus quirks his head curiously to one side, looking between Fiona and Mathieus. He's picked up on the undercurrent, but has no idea what it's all about...
... and a moment later, the penny drops, and the rage the killer feels about homosexuality cinches it. "Allips."

"Yes. I have been unable to stop her, for any number of reasons. She is, all I have left of any kind of family, he says without any idea that he has a grandson of sorts. "And I find myself unable to do anything about her activities. I expect there will be two more bodies discovered tonight. And while I have no love for the street thugs, the damage she is doing to herself, her soul, is heart wrenching to me."

Stultus sighs. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Mathieus, but it's far worse than you think. It's quite possible that she is actively dealing with the Infernal. The leader of the men who accosted us last night had some sort of infernally invested device. A knife." The dwarf shudders. "I could feel the thing through my Parma, Mathieus. It was that strong. It rattled me so badly that when he dropped it I didn't even attempt to deal with it in any way. I'm still kicking myself about that..."

He rubs at his forehead. "You told Allips I was coming, I assume. Did you tell her Fiona would be accompanying me?"

"I didn't tell her about you. Does she know you? I told her Fiona and a friend were coming." Mathieus looks concerned "Unless she were possessed by a very powerful agent of the infernal, I don't think she'd be able to come into the House. She is still grieving, but in a very bad way. The ward against demons is sixth magnitude, and fully invested[1]. She doesn't spend a lot of time out of the House. And while I don't have any knowledge of infernal rites, I don't think she is out of the House long enough to consort with infernal agents. I could be wrong, but I believe that what she is doing is indirectly causing this infernal aura to occur, and something else is growing in power. Of course, I might be blinded by my love for her." Mathieus seems near tears.

[1]Fully invested means it has enough penetration. I forgot to add this detail. I just didn't like saying penetration in this context, so I came up with this new term...

Stultus shakes his head. "Then the attack on us is only tangentially related. Crap. Double crap. I'm sorry, Mathieus. I jumped to an unwarranted conclusion."

"What do you mean?"

"The leader of the people who accosted us was specifically after us. After me. His exact words were 'grab the girl, kill the dwarf wizard'. He knew I was a wizard, but didn't know Fiona was. How? I have the Gentle Gift, she does not. I didn't have any active spells, she did. So any ability they may have possessed to reveal someone as a wizard would have revealed her as well as me. Only possible conclusion is that they were told I was coming, but weren't told she was. I've been wracking my brain to figure out who was behind it... and Allips looked for a moment like she might fit the bill, but that's not the case."

((Bit of clarification, since it wasn't obvious. The instructions to grab Fiona were after Stultus spoke Latin and wiggled his fingers at one of the thugs making him go to sleep.))

(( facepalm ))

Fiona gets a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach as she fears that she knows who he's talking about.

[color=blue]"No," she says, shaking her head in disbelief.

The conversation between Stultus and Matthieus fades into the background, as she tries to digest the accusation that woman that, in a way, she loves could have murdered people, or that she is involved in diabolism or may even be possessed.

These phrases work their way through the fog that momentarily shrouded Fiona's mind and she looks at Matthieus with surprise.

[color=red]"Tell me what happened, and what makes you think she had anything to do with it," she says, a little more bluntly than she would normally.

"Not much to tell, soon after she arrived, thugs, not my thugs, to be sure, started disappearing and found as I'd described. She was also late at night on those same nights. And my agents indicate that they've seen a woman hanging around the thugs shortly before they've disappeared. And Anacrôn has gone to ground." Fiona might know who that is with an OoH roll of 12+, Stultus gets a pass on it, because of his back story.

Fiona (who was in her room when Mathieus was describing the goings-on to Stultus) looks back and forth between them. [color=blue]"Thugs? What about them? And who's Anacrôn"

((Int 1 + Order of Hermes Lore 2 + die roll of 4 = 7.))

As to the thugs, I'm not sure what you're asking. Some are mine, some are not. Mine will not target my guests. They keep their eye on my House, or even through channels ask me directly. The thugs who operate more independently haven't usually become a problem, but since these murders they've strangely become bolder. Anacrôn is a magus of your House who has organized all of the ragamuffins into an army of sorts. He lives on the streets. He's not a member of Eboris, and is considered an eremite."

[color=blue]"What murders?" Fiona looks back and forth between Stultus and Mathieus, feeling like there's a lot of information that she's missing out on.

I'd rather play it that Fiona has heard everything played out and just sat quiet in stunned disbelief. Otherwise, He will repeat it as he told to Stultus.

(( It was Mallory who said it to Stultus, not Mathieus, but we can say that Stultus repeated it all. ))

((Okay, re-reading the posts from Thursday, I see where the confusion came from. I had assumed that Stultus saw Fiona to her room, and then bearded Mallory outside...after Fiona was settled into her room, with the door closed and working on her stuff. If I had realized, as everyone else seems to have thought, that the conversation happened while Fiona was still outside, she probably would have participated in the conversation. Be that as it may, between Stultus and Mathieus, they get her pretty much up to speed on the murders, men in pairs found dead in compromising positions in the throes of passion or pain (can't quite tell which) with erections, and no apparent cause of death, and that Mathieus for some reason thinks Alips is behind it.))

Fiona continues to shake her head in disbelief. [color=blue]"No. Not Alips. She wouldn't...I know she was angry when Praxiteles died, but that was anger at Valerian. She wouldn't...no."

She swallows. [color=blue]"Do you mind if I go talk to her?"

"You may, but more than anything, I wish for you to take her with you." Mathieus continues, "If she isn't involved these killings will continue, and I might be able to act with a freer hand. If she is the one, then they will stop, and she will be in an area with perhaps fewer temptations, or people more capable of acting against her."

"You'd be surprised what love and grief can make people do," murmurs Stultus. "Especially if she never came to terms with her husband's desire for other men."

Stultus winces. "Well, we cannot take her with us to Confluensis. After this is done, taking her to Mons Electi..." He frowns. "I'm not saying no, Mathieus. Mons Electi may be a good place for her -- a strong Aegis, and a lot of magi to watch over her and help her. But I can't say 'yes, of course' either -- not right off the bat, and not acting for my entire covenant. I need to think about it for a little while, since it doesn't involve just me. Can we give you our answer once we get back from Confluensis?"

"I don't believe she had an issue with Praxiteles sexuality. They both loved people of both sexes. I probably had a bigger problem with it than she did. How long do you expect to be at Confluensis? And with Fiona there, she might be capable of distracting Alips."