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Return to Inquisition (M) Jabba x Firesblood

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Offline Firesblood

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Valaria had no desire to tell him who her grandfather was.  For one, she did not know how many enemies Ampetrion had, but there were enough of them running around to pose a serious threat if she said too much.  She couldn't give him a false name either.  Roe's cry of pain disrupted her thoughts and caused her to flinch, head immediately turning in the direction the sound was coming from.  They were hurting him.  Her brow furrowed, but she tore her attention away from the sound and focused it back on the danger in that room currently making conversation with her.  "He had no intention of harming me.  He was far kinder than the company I keep at home."  She tried to keep her voice even and managed it by the skin of her teeth. 

When Don Alejandro posed the question of who Roe worked for, she shook her head.  "I do not, sir.  He only mentioned a name once, but I did not hear it clearly.  I believe it starts with a 'T', but I could be wrong."

More pain from the other room, and Valaria felt a brief wave of nausea twist at her insides.  She was beginning to feel very afraid of the outcome of this.  She did not know what to expect, and she was not enjoying that feeling.  How was she going to get out of this?  How were they going to get out of this?  "Are you going to hurt me now too, Don Alejandro?"



Offline Jabbathejack

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Don Alejandro's smile did not waver even for an instant as he watched Valaria's reaction to the pain being caused not far away.

"No intention, just as long as the prospect of being paid the ransom remains." Don Alejandro's smile widened. "I wonder how long his kindness would have lasted had the ransom been withheld?"

The Spaniard did not seem to be too perturbed that she could not remember the name of her captor. He shrugged, smiling thinly.

"No matter, I am sure that man will tell us what we need to know, in time."

As if on cue, there was another set of screams from the other room.

"Oh, my dear, no. I'm sure that it won't need to come to that."

Don Alejandro chuckled quietly, shaking his head.

"Now then, you were about to tell me about your grandfather?"


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria winced when Roe loosed another scream, her hands balling into fists below the ropes binding them.  Roe didn't deserve such treatment and she wanted more than anything to say so, but what good would it do?  Don Alejandro would likely torture Roe until he got what he wanted, and making a plea of mercy to him on behalf of Roe's family wasn't likely to sway the man.  He struck her as far too cold for true sentiment.  She looked away when he asked her about her grandfather.

"My grandfather is a monster.  I had only just managed to escape him when the gentleman Roe found me.  I would rather die than be returned," Valaria said, surprised to realize that this was true.  Certainly life under Ampetrion's roof was softer, not to mention safer, and the education was a rare privilege not afforded to many, but Valaria knew she was only a form of currency to be traded in exchange for whatever goals his ends dictated.  He kept her in the dark, ignorant of anything even when it affected her.  Her chin lifted in subtle defiance.  She would not go willingly back to the prison Ampetrion had constructed for her.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Don Alejandro raised an eyebrow.
"Who said anything about returning you?"

The Spaniard began to pace slowly in front of her.
"All I seek is information. It might be that your situation is utterly unrelated to my own, or it might be that your kidnapper is linked to the criminals that I am searching for."

"I cannot afford to ignore this."

He paused in his pacing and turned to face her.
"If your grandfather is a monster, then why do you protect him by not even speaking his name?"


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria met his gaze, mouth turning downward in a hard frown.  She wasn't protecting Ampetrion.  She was protecting herself.  Her family had been murdered and buried in a shallow grave on a remote hillside, and she could only assume that such a thing had been done because of Ampetrion, directly or indirectly.  She did not know Don Alejandro, but even as she considered telling him these things, something inside of her warned her not to.  There was no telling what he would do with that information, but the truth of the matter was that he could very well have her killed whether she admitted who her grandfather was or not.  She did not want to, but was there really a choice?  Should she not hope for the best?  She had been honest with Staunton, after all...but he was not Staunton.

"I am not protecting him," she finally said, her reluctance to do so obvious.  "He is hated, and I did not wish to be tainted by his name, but I see that I have little choice in the matter.  His name is Ampetrion Nyari.  He is a Baron within the Italian court." 


Offline Jabbathejack

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For the first time in their entire conversation, Don Alejandro seemed taken aback. His surprise at the mention of Ampetrion Nyari slipping through the mask before he could put his well schooled features back under control.

They had happened upon a human relative of Ampetrion Nyari? Don Alejandro could not believe his luck. Slowly, a smile spread across his face.

"I see." He whispered softly. "My dear, I can honestly say that I have no intention of returning you to your grandfather."

He closed the gap between them and leaned down. In a sudden movement, the Spaniard removed a small knife from his doublet and slit the ropes that held her so tightly.


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria caught the expression on his face before he managed to conceal it again.  He recognized the name.  He knew who Ampetrion was, and just like that Valaria's heartbeat began beating as rapidly as a hummingbird's wings.  She found that she did not trust his smile, and she could not help but to cringe back a touch as he drew the knife and came near.  Her breath caught in her throat and held, even as he sliced through the ropes that held her.  She didn't immediately stand, nor did she take her eyes from him while she rubbed gingerly at her wrists.

So he would not return her, but that left a lot of options open that were just as unpleasant, if not more so.  Her intuition was insisting that she had effectively tightened the rope around her neck in admitting Ampetrion's name. 

"Then what is your intention, my Lord?" She whispered, hating herself for asking.  She didn't want to know, not really.   


Offline Jabbathejack

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Don Alejandro stepped back slowly, returning his knife to its place, concealed in the folds of his clothing.

It was a very good question, indeed, it was not one that he was able to answer truthfully at this moment. Ampetrion having links in this part of the world had the possibility of changing everything.

"I do not wish to see you harmed."

Don Alejandro was truthful in that sentiment, but he was thinking more of how her presence there would benefit their cause.

"Italy is some way away, Miss Valaria. Did you come all this way, or... perhaps... Ampetrion Nyari is closer than expected?"

He watched her intently, frowning in irritation as the screams of his other captive cut through his thoughts.


Offline Firesblood

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He could wish her no harm, but living under Ampetrion's roof had taught Valaria that a person could wish another no harm and still order harm be done.  There was little reassurance in his words, but it was good enough for now.  She remained seated, still rubbing at her wrists absently. 

"I do not know where Ampetrion is.  I purposely left while he was away on business--and before you ask where he went, My Lord, I can assure you that he never deigns to tell me anything," she sighed.  The young woman paused then, her hands stilling.  "The truth is that I convinced one of his hired men to spirit me away, but that soured not long after.  He made...certain assumptions and I felt endangered, so I left him somewhere near the border of France.  Not long after, Mr. Roe found me.  As for Ampetrion, Don Alejandro, I do not know where my Grandfather is.  For all I know, he may still be away conducting his business and is still unaware that I have gone."

She flinched again when Roe screamed, eyes squeezing shut tightly.  It was despicable, what people were capable of doing to other people.  All she could think of was Roe and his family, and the small toy he had been carving for one of his grandchildren.  Would he be able to finish it?  To gift it to the babe he was making it for?  It was not right, that he should endure such pain.   


Offline Jabbathejack

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Don Alejandro was silent for a long time, watching Valaria, weighing her words carefully.

"It seems that you have had a very difficult journey to get here, my lady. And to face so many questions after you have arrived?"

He chuckled, his previous unsettling manner melting away to reveal the perfect charming gentleman.

"Forgive me, my lady. I will let you rest now. We may speak again, once you have had time to recover. I will have food brought to you."

He motioned towards his guards with a flick of his fingers.
"Show her to the upper room." He bowed at Valaria. "I hope it will be of adequate comfort, for the time being. I have business to attend to."

He turned and swept out of the room, leaving Valaria with the two hard faced guards, the same ones who had shown no qualms in striking her on the journey up the steep hill.

***

As darkness fell, Malachi pulled himself out of the burrow that he had dug for himself, underneath a barn. He had taken just enough blood from the farmer and his wife as they slept, ensuring that they would both be surprisingly tired and lethargic during the day. It would not matter much to them; it was a mysterious illness that would disappear after no more than a few days.

Brushing himself off, he went to find his horse, grazing peacefully where he had tethered it, in a secluded area not far away.

Climbing into the saddle, Malachi turned his horse towards the road and began to look for signs of Roe and Valaria. The ground was still soft after the recent rainfall and he found their hoofprints easily, noting where they had left the road and their campsite not far away.

Frowning, Malachi dismounted. In a way, it seemed to be reminiscent of the camp that they had found the night before, hardly the tidy and discreet remains that a man like Roe was in the habit of leaving behind. The sack that had contained their supplies lay on the ground, the crumbs spilling out for the birds to feast on.

Were those other footprints? Large boots in the sodden ash that had been their fire? Yet perhaps more damning was the small object that Malachi found in the grass close by, the small wooden whistle that Roe had been carving. He picked it up and slid it into his pocket.


Offline Firesblood

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"It has been a whirlwind, my Lord," Valaria agreed.  He ordered her taken to a room where she could rest, and assured her that food would be brought.  Valaria was not fooled; generous as the offer was, she knew that she was still very much a prisoner.  Still, she bowed her head slightly.  "You have my sincerest gratitude for your hospitality, Don Alejandro."

Without a word, she stood and accompanied the guards upstairs to a high room, glancing behind her as they closed her within.  She took stock of her surroundings; a small room with simple furnishings and a window.  She promptly moved to the window and looked out, noting that she was at least three levels up.  There was no escape through it, and she knew the guards had not gone far.  Sighing softly, she curled up on the bed and waited.  She could no longer hear Roe's screams, but that was only of minimal comfort; she may have been removed, but that did not mean that whatever torture he was enduring would stop. 

There was a part of her that wondered if Malachi would come back and find their camp.  Would he track them down, try to help?  Could one man rescue one person in an enemy's heavily guarded fortress, not to mention two?  Would he bother?  For Roe's sake, she sincerely hoped so.  Even if Malachi could only get to Roe, that was enough for her.


Offline Jabbathejack

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The further he went, the more of a picture that Malachi was beginning to build of what had happened. Several men, heavy set and strong, from their bootprints, had intercepted Valaria and Roe. They had changed direction abruptly, heading up into the hills together, on foot.

There had been little attempt at disguising their path and Malachi was glad of this; the emphasis seemed to be on speed rather than any form of stealth. They were confident men, sure of themselves and their positions. Soldiers after a recent victory perhaps. Malachi thought of the grave that they had found and he grimaced, some victory.

There was only one point where he was not sure where they had gone; the ground had grown rocky on this section, without the soft mud that had made tracking them so easy. He dismounted, looking this way and that for signs of their path.

He frowned, staring into the undergrowth. Was that something catching the moonlight? He bent down and looked closer, finding a small silver ring. Malachi slid it into his pocket and then returned to his horse, glad of a clear direction.

He could smell the fire from the farmhouse's chimney long before the building came into view. Malachi dismounted at a safe distance and tethered his horse before venturing further.

He watched the house for a long time, noting the path that the guards made as they patrolled. Waiting until one of them neared, out of sight of the other guard, Malachi struck, smothering his cries as he pulled him back into the shadows by the barn.

"You found a man and a woman earlier, where are they?" He spoke quietly into the man's ear, holding him with a vice like grip.

Clearly, the guard did not understand his French, so he repeated it in Spanish.

"The Frenchman was taken for questioning."
"Then you should pray that he still lives." Malachi hissed, tightening his hold.
"He does, I swear it, He's inside."
"Where?"
"Ground floor. Room next to the kitchen."
"And the woman?"
"She wasnt harmed. She's in the attic room. Please, sir, let me go. I can show you, I..."

Malachi silenced him abruptly, snapping his neck. He dragged the man's body to the undergrowth behind the barn and approached the house.

Moving silently, Malachi entered the house using a small side door, finding himself in the kitchen, although what would normally have been a warm and inviting environment was now cold and dead. Malachi paused, hearing the sounds of someone pacing the corridors, yet the moment he heard them disappear, he carried on. Standing outside the door that the guard had mentioned, Malachi could hear the sound of ragged breathing within.

He found Roe stretched out on a table, shackled tightly. He had been beaten badly and was bleeding from a number of small wounds, calculated to cause pain rather than to cause too much damage.

"Etienne." Malachi whispered as he reached up to unlock his shackles. The scout groaned, his eyes fluttering open.

"Mr Crane... I'm sorry, I couldn't stop them. I..."
"Hush." Malachi shook his head, his voice uncharacteristically gentle. "I'll find her. Come now, lets get you out."

Malachi supported Roe, carrying him out of the house, once he was sure that they were not in danger of being seen by any of the surviving guards. He left him in the trees, out of sight, hopefully, with promises of his return.

He had no idea how long he had to work, but it seemed that the easiest way of reaching her without being spotted was to climb. He stopped outside the single attic window and knocked lightly, not wanting to cause any panic by startling her.


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria spent the greater part of the time pacing.  She tried to sleep, but her mind and her heart were both moving far too quickly for anything remotely close to rest.  She moved from the bed to the door and listened, hearing footsteps down the hall moving towards the door, a constant back-and-forth patrol.  She crossed the room to the window and peered out, feeling cagey at the stillness of the night outside.  She went to the small chair and sat down, folding her hands on her lap.  Her mind threw useless plans of escape to the forefront, none of which did her any good.  She thought that she could perhaps break the window and jump out, but there were two major problems with that; it was too high for her to leap without sustaining injury, and she did not want to leave Roe behind.  She didn't even know if Roe was still alive, but if there was a chance that he was, she didn't want to abandon him to a fate at the hands of the Don. 

A tapping on the window alerted her and she looked up, making out a face hovering in front of the glass.  Valaria frowned and bolted to her feet, crossing the short distance between the chair in the window like a breeze.  Bracing her hands on either side of the window, she realized that it was Malachi, and he had scaled the house to reach the window.  Such a feat would not have been easy even for a skilled climber.  How could he possibly be so skilled at such things at such a young age?  Valaria forced herself to stop thinking about how he had done it.  He was here to help them, and he probably had some sort of rope to aid his climb.  Had he found Roe yet? 

She signaled him to wait a moment, then moved back to the door, listening for the patrol outside.  The steps were growing closer, but soon they would move away again and she would have a better chance of getting away.  She couldn't open the window, but perhaps she could break it.  When the footsteps moved away from the door again, she gathered the blanket from the bed and draped it over her shoulder.  Next she grabbed the chair. 

"Move away," she mouthed, waving Malachi away from the window.  When he had, she covered the window with the blanket to muffle the break, positioned the legs of the chair, and thrust her shoulder against the seat.  She was rewarded with the sound of shattering glass.  Dropping both the blanket and the chair, she scrambled forward and squeezed through the busted panes of glass, hissing softly when the glass sliced through cloth and into her flesh in the process.  She stopped just short of coming completely out, eyes fixed on the ground well below her.  Her breath caught in her throat and she looked to Malachi for guidance on what to do next. "Did you find Mr. Roe?" She asked in a whisper, pulling herself the rest of the way out in case one of the soldiers came through the door.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Malachi nodded silently, shifting his body over to the left and dangling by one hand from the eaves of the house as he waited for Valaria to break the window. Despite the precarious nature of his position, he looked as if he could hang there indefinitely.

The window smashing from inside was probably the quietest way of doing it, especially with Valaria covering the glass. If she had not, then he would have probably resorted to breaking the wooden frame that held the glass.

"He's out." Malachi nodded, whispering softly. "We need to move quickly."

Still keeping his grip, he turned his body around, dangling with his back to her.

"Hold on. I'm a good climber."

They did not have time for any discussion on exactly how a young thin man was strong enough to hold both himself and her weight as he climbed.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2019, 03:11:54 PM by Jabbathejack »


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria allowed herself a moment of relief at hearing confirmation that Roe was alright and out safely, but there was little time to spare for anything else.  She was prepared to do anything that Malachi told her to do, but there was a moment of doubt when the words actually came.  Her expression became perplexed and uncertain.  Setting aside that he was holding to the rafters with only the one hand, her added weight would surely send them into a violent drop to the ground below.  "Are you completely mad?" She hissed softly, glancing back through the window.  She could hear the steps lingering outside.  It was insanity, but their time had run out.  Either she did as he told her, or risked remaining captured by the Spanish. 

Punching down the panic trying to overwhelm her, she grit her teeth and climbed onto his back, eyes immediately fluttering shut so that she didn't have to watch the plummet to the ground that was sure to happen next.