2018 05 13 Stolen Property The Road To Recovery
"I do not care for people who /touch/ my /things/."
default.jpg
Summary:
Baldessare and Antonella track down the site of the deal to try and recover Capello's stolen property.
Related:
(2018-05-06) Stolen Property, (2018-05-07) Stolen Property - Calling in a Favor
Setting:
Run by Morosina.
baldessare antonella 

In this area of the city, lamplighting is not a priority. After the sun goes down, the streets are almost entirely dark, with the few street lanterns that exist routinely broken and their candles and wicks stolen. Not that it seems like the people are using them in their houses - the windows are shuttered and dark, for the most part, and those on the streets are mostly drunks who have been kicked out of their taverns of choice. One business bucks the trend, however - a city stablery with a high-fenced paddock, office, and attached stable. Here, the gate is lit by burning torches, and there's the movement of other torches, likely borne by servants or toughs, inside the building and along the paddock. The whickering and occasional stamp of equine hooves can be heard from within, and the air is heavily scented with horse. And horse dung, which tends to get shoveled out onto the street and just left to age and ripen.


The message from Morosina came shortly after Antonella returned from her meeting with her mysterious source, and just after darkness settled on the city. It's short and bittersweet: A string of horses led by a woman and two men have been reported to have come in through a smuggler's breach in the walls by one of Morosina's agents, and one of the horses seems to have an unusually black patch on the flank where the Capello brand would usually be. Rather than have to track the string through the city, of course, Baldessare and Antonella have a good idea of where they're going, and headed in the direction of Nera's Stablehouse. There's definitely an unusual amount of activity for a stable after dark going on, but there's also a large man with a cudgel leaning against the gate, keeping a watchful eye on the streets from the comfy glow of the torches. Bright side, being in that puddle of light means that he probably can't see anything that doesn't come forward into it.

For many of the nobility, it doesn't matter if they dress down: there's no mistaking their carriage. And while Baldessare is dressed more practically than otherwise, he has that straight bearing and lifted chin of the peerage, and certainly a /stableyard/ would recognize the quality of the courser he rides. He's at least cloaked, so that he's not /projecting/ his identity. He is not one to skulk about, though, and he draws the horse up directly to the man with the cudgel. He looks down on him in more ways than one. "I am here," he says crisply, "to speak with Nera."

Antonella's a little better at wearing her more common clothes, at blending in with those of lower birth. It's how she goes about with her schooling most days. And almost certainly how she gets up to some of her mischief. Tonight, that ease serves her well, allowing the young blonde to pass as a servant to the obviously important gentleman whom she follows. While he speaks, she watches, casting her gaze about what she can see of the place from here, trying to gauge whether they've beat the culprits here or if they'll be crashing a party already in progress.

(>-------<)

| Antonella (Awareness) |

| -----—— |

| Success |

| -----—— |

| Skill: 10 Mod: 0 Total: 10 |

| Roll: 4 Status: |

(>-------<)

"We're closed," the fellow with the cudgel says, hardly looking up. Although when he takes in the bearing of the man at the gate, he makes some effort to straighten his back, and adds a, "my lord," that sounds awkward and forced in his mouth. He glances back at the ramshackle office, a touch nervously. He glances back, looking the lord and the servant over with unease.

"No you're not," Baldessare says, his tone short, from astride his mount. "I am here to speak with Nera, and I very much believe she would rather speak with me than speak to others that I could make aware of certain matters."

Antonella makes no eye contact, says not one word. Really, she hardly even moves. Amadea and Amanda are surely to credit for teaching their sister how to remain so perfectly properly statue-like. Not quite statuesque, mind. She's hardly worthy of notice. If all that fine listening she's been doing has netted her any worthwhile guesses about the current state of affairs, it's nothing that merits interruption, and so she lets the conte work.

There's a moment where one can almost /see/ the thinking happening in the man's head, weighing the potential trouble of trying to whack a sword-carrying, mounted noble with a stick in the middle of the street versus the trouble that interrupting his boss is likely to bring. After a moment, he says, gruffly, "Wait here." A pause. "My lord." And then he opens the gate just enough to slide through, and moves towards the office, presumably to complain that he's not getting paid enough for this.

Baldessare is rarely happy to /wait/, but there is a certain way that nobles sometimes wait where it's like they're doing the rest of the world a favor by sticking around and giving them time to appear. This is what Baldessare does in this moment. "If she has any mind at all," he tells Antonella in a lower voice once the man has slunk off to the office, "she'll see that she's better-served losing one client than her entire enterprise."

"I imagine she's shrewd, yes," Antonella answers Baldessare. She's quiet for a brief moment, listening for any evidence that they might be overheard before adding, "I believe we've outpaced the thieves. There are only a few horses in the stables, not enough fuss to suggest newcomers."

There's about five or six minutes of wait, and keen eyes might notice a shape move in front of one of the shutters, as if someone is trying to peek out between the slats. Then, the door opens again, and the same man shuffles out, head ducked a little. He opens the gate. "This way, m'lord. Nera will see you. You can tie the horse to the post." He points at a post outside the office.

If only he could simply ride the horse right into the office. Wouldn't that be nice and dramatic! Even nobles are subject to the laws of physics, though, and so Baldessare simply rides past the gate and dismount sin one smooth motion near the post the man indicates. He ties the reins off at the post and strides into the office with a sense of prickly entitlement.

Antonella doesn't quite conceal the relief which washes across her features wehn the man returns. Even before he's instructed them to head in. It's the end of the agony of anticipation for which she's appreciative. She flashes a tight, uncertain smile… not quite /at/ the man as they head past, playing silent shadow to the conte as he makes his way in.

The inside of the office looks a bit better than the outside - it's as clean as regular sweeping can make it, and the plain wooden floors and walls have been softened a bit with woven rugs and hangings of mediocre make. The focal point of the room is the desk, and the woman behind it…something which is clearly of her design. She's tall and broad shouldered, with the muscular arms of someone who's used to manual labor. Her dark brown hair is tied up with a strip of leather, and when she stands to curtsy, her servicable but drab dress can be clearly seen. Perhaps more attention getting, though, are the two large men, also with cudgels, who flank the desk. Although they don't look quite as sleepy or as thick as the gate guard, their features have enough of an echo to suggest that all three are related. "My lord, it's an unexpected pleasure to have a member of the gentry visit my humble establishment. How can I help ye? Boarding a mount?" Her eyes flick to Antonella, watching the woman with much keener eyes than the guard. "My lady."

"Retrieving one." Baldessare's gaze is sharp as he takes in the room, the guards, and, most specifically, the owner. There is a low-burning fury simmering in his gut. "One of my most valuable stallions has been taken from the Capello estates. It is to be sold here. Tonight. I have little interest in interrupting your /business/, but I have no intention of letting my property be sold under my nose."

Addressed, Antonella flashes a habitually friendly smile toward Nera, though there's almost certainly a nervousnessand perhaps an excitementwhich she can't quite contain. It comes with a respectful dip of her head. As Baldessare gets right to business, she straightens ever so slightly, studying Nera's expression as best she can while remaining aware of the men who flank her.

Nera looks from one to the other. Her expression remains neutral, professional, and even a little subservient. "I'm afraid there must be some mistake, my lord. This is a boarding stable. We don't do sales. Certainly not of stolen stock," she says, quite firmly.

"Shall I call on the city guard to come take a closer look, then?" Baldessare arches a brow at her with an edge of impatience. "As I said, I don't care about your other sales: only this one. If I can have the heads of those who stole the stallion and those arranged to purchase it, I will be satisfied. And in my satisfaction, I will have no further thought of your establishment."

(>-------<)

| Antonella (Prudent) |

| -----—— |

| Critical Success! Prudent |

| -----—— |

| Prudent |

| Trait: 7 Roll: 7 |

(>-------<)

Antonella chews pensively on the inside of her lip as she looks between Baldessare and Nera, catching a possible point of discrepancy which could benefit from clarification. It could also make them seem as out of their depth as they may well be if she were to interrupt her conte, and so the philosopher fusses silently over the semantics in her own head as she continues to keep watch for signs that the situation might be going south.

Unlike the gate guard, Nera doesn't flinch. She meets the impatience with that same professional look. "Of course, that is your right, my lord. The nearest guard post is a few minutes away, but I assure you, when you return with the guard, you will find absolutely nothing amiss in my business. But," her lips purse, "I fear I will have to send a strongly worded letter to the Councils about this unwarranted night-time harassment. You said you were of House Capello, Signore?"

(>-------<)

| Baldessare (Manipulate) |

| -----—— |

| Failed |

| -----—— |

| Skill: 10 Mod: 0 Total: 10 |

| Roll: 16 Status: |

(>-------<)

When the conversation doesn't turn in a productive direction, Antonella takes a measured step nearer to Baldessare that she might lean in and whisper something she hopes is below general hearing. Ever so quietly, she tells him, "Miss Nera isn't likely to have a direct hand in the sales, her books almost certainly clean. She simply provides the stables. What her clients do isn't her concern." She lingers a half second longer before straightening again.

Baldessare's gaze narrows on the woman, and he bites back his temper with something of an /effort/. It's rather clear that he's used to getting his way with less /difficulty/ than is currently happening. Any immediate response is forestalled by Antonella stepping closer, and he shifts his head just /slightly/ closer to hear without drawing his eyes from Nera. When Antonella straightens, he purses his lips. "I'm sure that won't be necessary," he tells her, forcing a smile. "I'm sure that everything is quite above-board. Perhaps you'd be so kind as to show me some of your grounds, then. My family is always interested in working with quality businesses within the city, and I would like to see how well-maintained yours is before making such a decision."

Nera's eyes flick towards Antonella as she leans in to whisper. She smiles a little - it's not the smile of someone who has recognized what is said, so much as it is the expression of someone who recognizes the dynamic. As Baldessare bites back his temper, she ducks her head in apparent fear. "Oh, my lord, I can't imagine that my humble stable would ever be fit for so fine of horses as I'm sure you have. And we /are/ closed for the evening." She drums her fingers on the desk - which is, as a note, devoid of parchment or writing tools. "I'm afraid it would be terribly out of bounds to rouse the horses for such a tour. I'd lose a great deal of money if they were discomfited. Such delicate beasts, my lord. Temperamental."

(>-------<)

| Antonella (Awareness) |

| -----—— |

| Failed |

| -----—— |

| Skill: 10 Mod: 0 Total: 10 |

| Roll: 13 Status: |

(>-------<)

(>-------<)

| Baldessare (Awareness) |

| -----—— |

| Failed |

| -----—— |

| Skill: 6 Mod: 0 Total: 6 |

| Roll: 12 Status: |

(>-------<)

Antonella's gaze dips when Nera demurs and declines, another step taken, this one away from Baldessare. Lest his temper get the better of him. She does not look particularly disheartened or worried just yet. The conversation again moving in what might be a productive discussion, should the conte find a profitable path forward.

"I'm sure we very much wouldn't want to disturb anyone," Baldessare replies evenly. "Certainly not the horses /or/ your clients. I'm sure a discreet view of matters would be much more preferable. And if there was any disturbance that might incur some cost of business, I'm sure we could — ease such a blow."

Nera smiles, a little wider this time. She ducks her head in that mock-servility. "My lord is surely too generous." Her tone suggests that he had better get to being generous, and 'too' generous would be even better.

(>-------<)

| Antonella (Manipulate) |

| -----—— |

| Failed |

| -----—— |

| Skill: 4 Mod: 0 Total: 4 |

| Roll: 16 Status: |

(>-------<)

Antonella tries not to smile as the conversation takes a productive turn. She tries. And she fails. It's not an especially wide sile, but it is achingly innocent, so terribly sweet. This darling girl almost certainly does not belong her, no matter how she tries in her quiet whispering and calm demeanor to appear otherwise.

Baldessare exhales a thin, slow breath that's almost like a seethe, but he does reach into his tunic for a small money pouch. He considers for a moment, almost weighing in his hand, and then he drops it on the desk in front of her.

Morosina rolls 1d20 and gets (20) for a total of: (20)

Morosina rolls 1d20 and gets (1) for a total of: (1)

Nera tries to hide it, but her eyes widen just a bit at the jingle of coins in the money pouch. When it drops on the table, she picks it up without hesitation, looking through the coins inside. One is pulled out, inspected, bitten to test the metal. She grunts, thoughtfully, then crooks her finger at one of her looming guards. Whispering happens, and the guard, with a narrow eyed look at the nobles, leaves out the back door. "Bollo is going to get your horse, my lord. If I /were/ to have other late night guests, they wouldn't come in with a strange horse tied out front," which may be why the gate guard had Baldessare do it. "But Bollo will take him to the apple stall - if you go with him, you absolutely won't run into any other guests I might be having. They'll be at the other end of the stable. Not too talkative, those sorts. But let your horse try out the stall for a while - there's some feed and water. Mayhap he'll get some company soon enough, and you can see how he behaves with others. Bet it's a bit more crowded than he's used to." She seems to be speaking more to Antonella, in some regards, from the flicks of her eyes in that direction - maybe she's decided which one of the two is likely to pick up what she's laying down.

Antonella's attention flicks irregularly between Nera and Baldessare as she listens, trying to gauge her conte's willingness to play along now that he's out some coin and his impatience is running high. At the end, she offers a gracious nod to the stable owner then another, should her brother-in-law look, toward him as well, this one encouraging.

(>-------<)

| Baldessare (Reckless) |

| -----—— |

| Success Reckless |

| -----—— |

| Reckless |

| Trait: 10 Roll: 8 |

(>-------<)

The flare of Baldessare's temper is patently obvious as Nera so thoroughly delights in the bribe — and then has the nerve to /check its veracity/. It's probably Antonella's encouraging look as much as anything that has him jerking his chin in a sharp gesture of acknowledgment. His manner is too edged to do anything as polite as /voice/ his acknowledgment; he simply turns with every expectation that he will be led exactly as Nera has described it.

To someone's credit, when the nobles are shown the back door, Bollo is already there, stroking the nose of the fine animal Baldessare brought with a gentle touch. He nods silently to the two, and then takes them around to the far end of the stable, opening the door carefully, and ushering them into the first stall on the left. There's a crudely carved apple on the front half-door - similar inept renditions of fruits and vegetables mark each of the stalls, clearly meant to substitute for numbers for clientele who can't read. This end of the stable is dark, and dark it remains - Bollo doesn't light a lamp, just grunts at them, and departs. The /other/ end of the stable isn't dark, though. And there are rustles in the stall, like someone shifting about in one of the stalls. Only a very few of the stalls are occupied, and sleepy horse heads poke over the doors, whickering softly at each other.

Once they're out of Nera's view, Antonella offers Baldessare a reassuring smile, as if utterly certain this will all be alright. She's a smile for Bollo, too, before he departs, all bright with gratitude. Like this were some ordinary business transaction. Once they're alone, she goes for a bucket of feed to bring to the courser, following instructions, going through all the motions of stabling the horse while they bide their time. Even as she turns an occasional look toward the shuffling sounds at the far end of the stable to keep tabs on whatever it is that's down there.

Baldessare is the expert hand with the horses, but he's focused enough on the other end of the stable that he lets Antonella handle things. Well. Eventually he turns a bit towards the stall his courser is in, if only because he can at least recognize when he's being /ridiculously/ unsubtle. So instead he'll only be — moderately unsubtle. At least they have the darkness on their end to obscure things.

They don't have long to wait - only about a half hour with the soft accompaniment of the sounds of horses shuffling on the straw covered floor. And then there's a change. The big door at the occupied end of the stable swings open, and one by one, seven horses are led in. They're all mottled dark brown, with manes and tails looking a bit raggedy - trash horses, past their prime (or never /had/ a prime) whose next step is probably a knackers. Two hooded handlers, one tall, one on the petite side, move the horses into their stalls, and a new figure emerges from the stall he's been waiting in - this man is in his late forties, and carries himself with the easy arrogance of money, although (much like Baldessare), he's tried to dress down for this occasion.

(>-------<)

| Baldessare (Recognize) |

| -----—— |

| Success |

| -----—— |

| Skill: 5 Mod: 0 Total: 5 |

| Roll: 4 Status: |

(>-------<)

(>-------<)

| Antonella (Recognize) |

| -----—— |

| Critical Success! |

| -----—— |

| Skill: 4 Mod: 0 Total: 4 |

| Roll: 4 Status: |

(>-------<)

Antonella settles rather effortlessly into that waiting. It's not that she's a patient creature by any long shot, but there's a comfort to the status quo, to everything going as expected, to keeping the quiet company of a fine horse and a conte with whom she doesn't need to speak. When the footfalls from outside tell of approaching horses, she settles into the shadows close to Baldessare where they might be able to whisper without drawing much attention. As they file in, she points to their handsome stallion, settled into the third stall to the right. After a moment, though, she catches something else and whispers to Baldessare as quietly as she can. "Do you see the marks? The same care to dress the poor things down? Not only ours among them."

There's an undeniable bristle of outrage in Baldessare's frame at just /seeing/ his stallion so /dressed down/. He stares down at the man who's just emerged from the stall, trying to see if he can recognize him. (Money recognizes money, after all.) "I see /ours/," he hisses back at Antonella. His hand goes to the hilt of his rapier. "We'll need the guards." His gaze flits briefly to the door on their end, lips thinning when he's reminded that it's closed.

The horses get settled in, and the hooded handlers step up to the buyer. Because, as he reveals a sizable sack of coin, that is /certainly/ what he is. They speak, but it's fairly low - what the two Capellos can hear suggest it's rather mundane details of transfer. Whatever haggling took place clearly did so before the delivery. The sack is handed off, and the two handlers pause to divide the coin and pack it into money belts around their middle.

Antonella's eyes go wide at Baldessare's insistence on having the guards here now. Well, yes, they'd surely benefit from having those gentlemen a might bit closer, but there aren't a lot of graceful options for making that happen. "One of us could try to slip out," she ventures uncertainly. "We could approach?" Her brow knits deeply. All of this sounds awful. "I could just scream…" Really isn't any better.

"I do think that would encourage them to /run/," Baldessare replies blandly of the last option. And then, after a moment's additional consideration, he says, "Go make friends. Stall them." To apparently give himself a moment to mount his horse. Because if he's going to be chasing anybody down, it will be on horseback.

The two handlers continue to pack coin in their money belts, and the new owner of a string of stolen horses turns to inspect the teeth and shoulders of his new merchandise.

Go make friends. Antonella's steel-blue eyes go wide at Baldessare's instruction but he's already moving, which means he'll also surely miss the sour expression which follows. Setting her shoulders, she draws a deep breath and puts on a brave face. No, not brave. What good's that going to do her. She puts on a warm and weary expression. She lets her uncertainty express itself, utilizing what she's genuinely feeling for the scenario to follow. Plucking up an empty bucket, she starts toward the other end of the stables at an unhurried pace, hoping to seem neither out of place or all that interested in them, as if she was just passing through.

Morosina rolls 1d20 and gets (2) for a total of: (2)

Morosina rolls 1d20 and gets (13) for a total of: (13)

Morosina rolls 1d20 and gets (10) for a total of: (10)

Yes. GO MAKE FRIENDS. While Baldessare gets back on his courser. Uh, quietly. It's hardly an involved process, but Antonella is sure to be noticed by the three before he gets involved.

As Antonella is making her way towards the group with her bucket, one of the new horses sees human + bucket and makes the obvious conclusion. It sticks its head over the door and whinnies imperiously, neck stretching to try and reach for the grain that must SURELY be in the bucket. SURELY. Heads turn, eyes widen. "Hey, you girl, what are you doing here?" the buyer demands, moving forward to confront Antonella. The other two just hastily finish arranging their ill-gotten gains into the money belts, and start edging towards the door. This is officially Not Their Problem Anymore.

Antonella can't help but smile at the horse as she tips the bucket to show that it's empty. Nevermind that the horse almost certainly doesn't understand what that means. It still smells like the oats that were in it not so very long ago. When the buyer addresses her, she turns that same smile his way, though it's a little less steady. "Just heading out for the evening," she answers. A quick glance flicked toward the pair preparing to take their leave, she adds apologetically, "I hadn't meant to interrupt, signore."

Well that's enough of that. Baldessare has the seat of a born horseman, and once he has a mount, he's in his element. He can see the two sellers trying to edge towards the door, and the horse lunges forward, trying to catch and block the entrance before they can slip out, or at the very least getting in a position to give chase. "I would /suggest/," he snarls, "that you do not /run/."

The buyer reaches out to grab the bucket from Antonella, then stutters to a halt as Baldessare leaps forward on his courser. Which, being a hunting horse, is /perfectly okay/ with this sudden run in enclosed spaces. The two thieves? Not so much. They both try to bolt, almost as soon as the snarl is begun.

Morosina rolls 1d20 and gets (5) for a total of: (5)

Morosina rolls 1d20 and gets (17) for a total of: (17)

Morosina rolls 1d20 and gets (19) for a total of: (19)

(>-------<)

| Antonella (Dex) |

| -----—— |

| Success |

| -----—— |

| Attribute: 14 Roll: 1 |

(>-------<)

Antonella might've been willing to relinquish the bucket had the man got his fingers on it, but when the noise in the gloom at the back of the stables cuts him short, she's whirling back to get out of the way of the charging courser. Bucket still in hand. Just in case. Once the horse is past, she considers her options and, well… /now/ she screams, calling for the guards. Maybe she's calling because there's some madman charging through the stables. Maybe not. Either way, she's watching the buyer, making sure he doesn't take the opportunity to flee.

(>-------<)

| Baldessare (Horsemanship) |

| -----—— |

| Success |

| -----—— |

| Skill: 15 Mod: 0 Total: 15 |

| Roll: 2 Status: |

(>-------<)

It really does help that Baldessare is now /in his element/. The horse seems to follow his thoughts as it bounds down the stable hall, passing Antonella and the buyer without a second look and reaching the entrance before the sellers can. Baldessare yanks the door closed from the saddle, and then he turns on all three of them with a hot fury in his eyes. "I do not care," he says in a low snarl, "for people who /touch/ my /things/."

The buyer flings himself to the side, cursing quite fluently in shock and anger as the horse bounds by. And then Antonella starts screaming, and Baldessare is an avenging mounted angel of fury, and the two thieves panic, scrambling back against the wall and showing their hands. And their heads, although that seems to be an accident - one is a woman who has been made up to look older than she is, but upon closer inspection definitely appears to be Orielle, who both Capellos will vaguely recognize from visits to the estates as a stable girl.

The screams trigger the invasion of the three Capello House guards, and soon they are banging on the doors of the stable to be let in. They are toned, armored, and carry swords - what little resistance there is crumbles as they enter the room, and soon the thieves and buyer are in custody, and Baldessare can be reuinited with Airs Beneath the Moon.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License