(2018-04-29) Hera, ubi Antonia ad copiam, virum novum vidit
Corruption breeds corruption breeds confusion.
faraman garden 
Piazza
Summary:
A young boy and a foreign merchant become involved in an argument over thievery. A Wyvern intercedes… but does he choose the right side? The witnessing noblewomen attempt to mediate, but does justice or corruption prevail?
Related:
Misc Info:
How is a mere Ventura to win his drinking money when Signora are there to force him into honesty?!
elizabetta 

"You bloody thief!" "You're a lyin' fat sack o' shit, I didn't steal nuffin!" "THIEF!" "LIAR!" The commotion has dragged a fair few onlookers from the busy streets, drawn to the theater and spectacle of possible violence, and guarenteed dramatics. In the center there's a fat foreign (you can tell by his clothes) merchant shaking his silver ringed fist at a scrawny kid with his chest thrust out in proud defiance. Once or twice the merchant tries to grab the accused thief, who wriggles free rather effortlessly. Each time he's foiled, the audience burst out in a laugh that only deepens the crimson glow of fury and embarassement and shame that's lit up his face.

One of the onlookers happens to be wearing a cloak blazoned by the sigil of the city, marking him as a member of the local constabulary. Which means he's also a mercenary, this indicated by a second sigil, a smaller wyvern. He's armed, and he's wearing some light chain mail. His dark hair and thick full beard both look like they could use a scissor and/or a comb, and his eyes have the blood shot suggestion of a late night drinking before role call thrust him back into service. Further proof is on the distinct smell of alcohol on his breath. He scratches at his beard. He probably aught to be interrupting, but by the small crooked smile on his lips he's finding the whole thing too funny to bother just yet.

From within one of the buildings — a seamstress — steps Garden and her small entourage. The Gaspari Contessa is accompanied primarily by house guard, but also by a maid or two; one of which is assisting her with her skirts as she navigates the doorway into the street beyond. The pale, more northernly woman looks to the commotion, brought to a pause by one of the men as they move forward to ensure it isn't something to be concerned about.

Left to wait — not far from the Wyvern man — Garden turns to one of the maids with a tilt of her head. "Drawing quite a crowd, is it not?" There's the slight lilt of Southern Avicorse to her accent, though she speaks the local tongue impeccably.

"Stand.. still.. you.. you.." what follows is a litany of curses in half a dozen languages, all cobbled together in a glorious bastardly tale of the worst things men and pigs can do to each other. The youth keeps avoiding being caught, though some of the crowd push him back into the center when he makes a run for an actual exit. Can't have the entertainment ended too soon, and of course he is an accused thief. If the merchant hadn't been a foreigner, the kid'd probably be snatched up already.

"When life gives you the gift of some entertainment, why, it'd be damn rude to turn it down!" The mercenary shoots in the direction of the noble woman before actually having looked in her direction at all. When he does a moment later, he immediately clears his throat and removes his helmet. He might not recognize her in particular, but he certainly recognizes she has to be someone important with all that entourage. "Uh, if the Signora does not mind my addressing her. Greatest apologies if she does! In fact, I probably aught to intervene. Wouldn't want anyone to think I wasn't doing my job. I take great pride in my work! Yes. Uh.." he trails off for permission to disengage. Or not.

"Stand.. still.. you.. you.." what follows is a litany of curses in half a dozen languages, all cobbled together in a glorious bastardly tale of the worst things men and pigs can do to each other. The youth keeps avoiding being caught, though some of the crowd push him back into the center when he makes a run for an actual exit. Can't have the entertainment ended too soon, and of course he is an accused thief. If the merchant hadn't been a foreigner, the kid'd probably be snatched up already.

"When life gives you the gift of some entertainment, why, it'd be damn rude to turn it down! I once watched a wife beat her husband half to death with his whore's own shoe, and I still laugh when I think about it!" The mercenary shoots in the direction of the noble woman before actually having looked in her direction at all. When he does a moment later, he immediately clears his throat and removes his helmet. He might not recognize her in particular, but he certainly recognizes she has to be someone important with all that entourage. "Uh, if the Signora does not mind my addressing her. Greatest apologies if she does! In fact, I probably aught to intervene. Wouldn't want anyone to think I wasn't doing my job. I take great pride in my work! Yes. Uh.." he trails off for permission to disengage. Or not.

There is a fracas in the piazza. A thief has been caught by a merchant.

Well, he has not been caught: that is the crux of the matter. The overweight foreign merchant is attempting to catch him and the onlooking crowd finds the whole matter to be quite a laugh at the man's expense.

Just outside a seamstress' building, Garden di Gaspari has gathered with her own entourage; minus one guard who has pressed forth to ensure that it's not an unsafe sort of situation. The Avicorsan woman lingers with her maids and now… a Wyvern mercenary who has just spouted some rather uncouth language before realizing just who he is speaking with.

Upon being issued an apology, the Contessa gives a faint smile. There's a slow upward curl of her lips; nothing angry, but also not amused. It's the sort of expression of someone storing something away for later. It is not an entirely kind smile. "Perhaps," she answers Faraman, "you should see to the matter. I imagine the man will be quite grateful to be saved from his predicament."

Faraman does not look relieved by her smile, especially when she does not actually accept his apology. His lips move once, as if starting to say something, but then nothing comes out as he reconsiders. A second passes. Two seconds, several seconds. PErhaps he is considering all the ways a noble lady could make his life utterly miserable. "Uh, yes, Signora." He dips her a bow that's technically deeper than necessary, perhaps to make up for his earlier language.

Its with authority that he spins around and bullies his way to the center, as if this is what he always does. "Enough! In the name of the City, both of you stand still and account for yourself and this ruckuss!"

"He called me a thief'n a liar but I'm not a liar or a thief and he has no right and he's a foreign bastard and a liar and probably gambled'n whored all his stupid money and it wasn't me!" The rush of words come so fast the foreign merchant can hardly keep up with any of it. But seeing as the boy's no longer moving, he finally clobbers him over the head with a meaty palm, and down goes the kid.

Elizabetta emerges from one of the other buildings, talking at a rapid fire pace with the man next to her, with embellishment added using her black glove colored hands. It takes her but a few moments to pause in her presentation and take stock of the current situation, brown brows lifting up as she comments quietly to her companion, and they part ways, in a seemingly amicable manner. Watching the the ruckus, she strolls languidly over to Garden.

"Never a dull moment, aye Contessa?" Elizabetta's sharp eyes study the boy in particular - does he look thin? Is he sickly? Are his clothes ragged? The corner of her mouth purses. Sometimes children need to be disciplined, but it might be suggested that the swordswoman's heart is not indifferent.

"I saw the look on your face when that man was talking to you. Has he offered you insult?" Elizabetta inquires of Garden. The query is one of sincere concern, even if her focus is still on the altercation. "He seems to be attempting to restore order, at least. What did that merchant say the boy stole?"

Her guard returns and sees no need to explain the situation; just satisfied that it's not some brawl or — worse — uprising. His charge is safe and the Conte won't see fit to, well, have a fit. Thus he just settles back somewhere out of the way. Garden watches Faraman go off to see to his duty, eyes narrowed slightly not in frustration or anger, but genuine interest. She's drawn away by Elizabetta's approach, nearly missing that clobbering by the merchant.

"Oh- well, that… mmm." Not quite sure what to make of that outcome, she looks to the other woman. "He did not offer me insult, no," the Gaspari Contessa says with a brief, bemused smile. "Though he may find it wise to watch his tongue until he is certain whom he is speaking to." She clasps her hands before her, standing up a measure straighter. "I did not overhear what was stolen. It was already a heated argument when I arrived. And I suppose-" she looks over, craning her head just a touch to see if the lad has yet stirred. "we may not know. A shame."

The boy falls, and then when he stirs its with - to anyone with an eye for acting - exaggerated pain and misery. One of the onlookers is a kindly looking woman and she takes sympathy, rushing over to hold a protective arm against the clobbering merchant. Using that distraction, again requiring a keen eye to notice, the boy tosses something away and out of view behind the onlookers. None of _them_ at least appear to have caught on. Nor the City Guard.

The boy starts emptying his pockets and claims: "See? I ain't got nuffin!"

"He stole my purse right off the bench over there while I was eating!" "I did not!" "He did!" Faraman looks between them. He says: "Well, the boy doesn't have your coin purse it doesn't look like." "But he DOES!" "I DO NOT!" "IM GONNA WRING YOUR NECK YOU THIEF!"

"Enough!" the Guardsman growls. "He doesn't have your purse, but I sure saw you hit him. I'm fining you for public disturbance and beating up a kid for no good reason." "What? But.." "No buts." "But my coin purse! I don't have any coin to pay with!"

Elizabetta may be watching the boy, but it seems he managed to toss the purse just as Elizabetta's eyes were focused on Garden instead. "At least he's doing his duty to the city. Not all of the warriors drafted into the city's service necessarily have the manners required to deal directly with the nobility, but some common sense should apply, yes?" Her arms fold in font of her as now her regard is focused on the soldier instead.

Garden, however, does happen to be looking towards the boy as he stirs and throws something off to the side. The Contessa's eyebrow arches by a measure. The three — 'thief,' merchant, and Wyvern — get into their tri-fold argument and the Gaspari tilts her head a touch in Elizabetta's direction. "One would hope so, but a man does not always take a position with the Ventura out of common sense." She lifts a hand and crooks a finger towards the other noblewoman. "Come." There is a touch of mischief, perhaps, in her mien as she summons along those with her, sending one of her maids — the smaller of the two — on ahead, pointing to where the fallen coin purse might be found.

"The question is," she offers in a lower voice to Elizabetta. "Do we hand it over to our wayward guardsman, or to the merchant so he can pay his fine? The boy surely has lost his run of luck for overplaying his hand so."

"The entertainment is finished!" Faraman adominishes the crowd (abeit not in the direction of the noble and her entourage; them he doens't as much look at). They start to reluctantly disperse, talking among each other, occasionally sharing a laugh or a disapproving look at either the merchant or the boy, depending on where their sympathies lie. "You get going too, boy." The kid is only too happy to oblige, and darts off towards where he'd tossed the purse earlier. Unfortunately there is no purse to be found. He looks around with confusion and frustration, and then suspicious squints at everybody else! Who took his loot?! But rather than chance the guardsman changing his mind, he darts off down a street.

"Well, perhaps we can come to some kind of arrangement. How about you give me those rings," Fara points to the man's silver clad fingers. "And then tomorrow you come over to the guard house and pay your fine. Ask for Duilio Lucio Faraman." The merchant squints suspiciously at the guard, as if suspecting that he won't find his rings at all when he shows up. Possibly a not entirely unfounded suspicion. Fara shrugs. "Or I can take you to the jail, and you'll be in the stockades tomorrow." "No! It would ruin my reputation! I have partners!" There's zero sympathy in Faraman's expression, however. Slowly the merchant starts to pull off his rings.

Elizabetta makes an uncommittal mmmm sound, head tilting as if she's become an inquisitive bird, looking first to Garden, then to the fracas. "I suppose that depends entirely on whether we'd enjoy making the guard feel like a fool, or the merchant. Either way, it would mean the boy suffering for it." She lets out a snort. "Somehow I don't think that fine is going to end up in the chest for the common good." Her arms remain folded, mouth still pursed. "I admire the guardsman's cleverness, even if I'm not particularly impressed with his air of corruption." She lets out another low chuff that's almost a laugh. "Fortunately for him, he has no need of my opinion."

The maid returns soon enough and places the purse into Garden's hand. The Avicorsan woman weighs it much as she does her options. She nods along with Elizabetta's assessment. She makes a thoughtful sound even as she watches the display between guard and merchant while the crowds disperse. Eyes partially lidded, she finally gathers up her skirts in one hand and begins moving towards the two men. One of her maids scurries to grab at the back of the heavy coat (moreso than the gown beneath) so it doesn't drag too much across the dirty piazza.

"I do wonder," she calls out, lifting the purse as she nears, "if this is what the good messer is looking for?" She does not offer it to the bumbling merchant, no, but rather proffers it to Faraman himself with nary a glance at the overweight foreigner as he struggles with his rings.

Faraman takes care not to look _too_ pleased as the merchant pulls of his rings to act as insurance for the payment of the fine. Still, there's a shrewd gleam in his dark eyes, and in the corner of his lips there's the hint of a smile all but dying to come free and rejoice in honest avarice! Just as the rings are about to be handed over, though, disaster crashes home.

"What?" He asks with a furrowed brow, looking towards the source of the voice. He hastily adds a: "Signora."

"Yes! Yes! That is my purse, oh dear Signora, where did you find it?" The fat merchant blubbers eagerly. The city guard looks between the purse, and the man, and then at Garden again. Thoughts are clearly working hard behind his shrewd eyes. Finally he says: "No wait a moment. We can't know if that is _your_ purse. Clearly the Signora doesn't know, or she wouldn't ask. If you have found it somewhere, Signora, I shall have to take it into custody and then wait to see if anyone shows up to prove its providence."

"But its mine!"

The merchant is ignored. Why settle for some rings and a fine, when you can get rings, fine, and a purse as well? His expression is utterly serious and business like. He's mostly gotten rid of his earlier greedy smile, too. Though a ghost of it still lives in his eyes.

"Are you suggesting something about the Contessa's mental fortitude?" Elizabetta inquires blithely, studying her nails. "There would be no way to determine the provenance of the pouch, but the circumstances of his loss and its proximity make it far likely that either an accident caused it to drop from his belt, or a talented cutpurse manages to take it…whoever that might be."

There's a small step forward as the far less diminutive of the two women takes a half step forward, that blithe smile still on her face. "So you will do no such thing." There's a turn to the merchant. "Signor, perhaps you could show use your belt? The spot from which your pouch had hung? If you have a cut lace there, and they match the laces of the pouch my dear friend now holds in her palm, then we can confim it is yours. And if not, then the most prudent thing would be to offer it to the Paragons, as it is clearly in their hands."

If anything, Elizabetta's smile is even sweeter as she looks at Faramon. Like she's inviting him to debate the notion with her.

"Oh, I am certain he knows my mental fortitude is of no concern." Garden does not seem bothered in one way or another. If anything, she is watching Faraman with an intent curiousity. Both for his responses and reactions. "I do wonder if anyone has a good enough description of the lad, should it be proven that the purse does belong to this good man, so that justice can be found." She turns, slightly, to hand the pouch off to one of the Gaspari guard with her.

"Perhaps it should be held by my house, until an agreeable accord can be struck. I agree this man should be fined for seeking his own brand of justice when the city constabulary was so close at hand. But we do-" a slight nod to Elizabetta in appreciation, "have a means of ascertaining whether or not this man was truly robbed, do we not?"

What is happening?! Why does the universe keep conspiring to try to withhold from him his rightfully (ill gotten) profit? His work-around had been beautifully executed and aught to be respected! This sentiment is declared not aloud, but clearly writ in Dulio Lucio Faraman's expression when Elizabetta steps forward to intervene. His jaw works as his mind races to figure a way around this new obstacle, stop-starting words without any coming out. Its belatedly noticed that she too is obviously a noble. Damn nobles!

He chomps down on his frustration and then takes a different tack; a sad slow shake of his head, as if he would _like_ to comply, but his hands are tied. "While I would surely _like_ to hand it over to the Paragons, or your House, Signora, I fear that custom dictates it be given into me. What is some poor man or, forbid, a poor wretched widow with a dozen starving children come asking for it? No, no. And we wouldn't want to bother your gracious lovely self with having to deal with such people."

"But its clearly mine!"

"And purse strings all look alike. Really, I thank you, and I greatly admire you for your civic desire to help! Its very admirable! And helpful, really. I shall speak of your good deeds to all I come across, I assure you. But with all due respect, it aught to be handled by the constabulary. We have our ways, tried and true, and we really aught to trust them." He extends his hand towards the purse, but _likes_ his hand attached, rather than chopped off by some over eager guard, so he certainly doesn't reach out to grab it, or touch the noble lady.

"Do they?" Butter wouldn't melt in Elizabetta's mouth. "Signor, if you wish to try and prove you are the owner, show us the strang remnants of the belt. If you were accosted by a cutpurse, the material of the string will be the same, as will the the direction and edge of the cut." Again, an idle check of Elizabetta's nails. "I'm an Arbore, you see. We know the nature of blades." The Arbore family are where most of the Houses - and the mercenary companies - by their weapons, everything from swords to siege engines, in the region.

"Else, I shall myself escort the good Contessa home, with the purse to be held as she said, and you may both attempt to plead your case with House Gaspari."

Her lashes lower just so, that sweet smile turning feline as she studies Faraman. "How far do you want to push this, guardsman? Enough to offer insult to Cosimo's wife? I really don't advise that. I suggest you quit while you're ahead."

A glance at the merchant. "We're waiting. Show us your belt, or say no more of this for now and we will be on our way."

There's a period of consideration from Garden as she considers the man from Wyvern company, lifting her chin at long last with hands clasped before her. "If anyone steps forth with a claim to the purse," she states finally, "they may come to Plazza Gaspari to inquire after it. If, after two days time, none have done so, it can be turned over to this man. In the mean time-" she turns to her guard and opens the purse itself, drawing out some coin. With it in hand, she turns to Faraman to drop the coin into his hand.

"I am certain this ought to cover the fine." There is, though she makes a fair attempt to cover it in her gestures, more than is necessary to cover the fine. Enough that the mercenary can probably fund an evening or two out for himself. "And the messer-" a glance to the merchant, "can surely trust that my own will keep it under safe guard until all is seen to and that none will spirit away with it, if that is his concern-" there is an arch of brow. "As he said, he has partners, and I am sure they can assist him in the days until there is claim placed. And should the lad attempt to claim it as his, well, I shall see he is escorted to the guard housing to be properly dealt with."

"I would never dream on insulting the.." a few things click. "Contessa! Never!" He gives Garden a bow anew, deep and respectful. "I am merely a servant of this city sworn to uphold the law and the peace, and doing my _very_ best." See what a selflessly dedicated a civil servant he is! He subtly glances up from his bow to check if either of the nobles are buying it.

The weight of a coin in his palm seems to ease some of his frustration. "Of course, Contessa" he smoothly suggests. "Signora."

The merchant looks at Elizabetta, then Garden, first stepping forward as if to show his purse strings, then stepping backwards when its suggested he come around at the Plazza Gaspari instead. Now _he_ is the one with a certain gleam of avarice to his expression, as if he's considering how to leverage a meeting there to the advantage of himself and his partners. "Thank you, Signora!"

Elizabetta chuckles a bit, offers a one shouldered shrug, and wheels on her heel to look over at Garden. "You have things well in hand. And I need to return home and make sure Hanno has remembered to put on clothes today." Her brother is brilliant, if odd. She offes a smile and a brief, "Good day, Contessa." With a look over her shoulder at Faraman. He just gets a grin before she strides away,

"Of course, Signora," Garden offers after Elizabetta, though there is a slightly curious look for the mention of the Arbore Conte and his… potential lack of attire. She takes a deep breath and looks back to the mercenary and merchant both. Satisfaction crosses her features, briefly, as both men dawn upon the potential. Her own guard tucks the pouch away and the Contessa breaks into a touch of a smile. "Wonderful, messers. I do look forward to having you stop by the manse."

There is a pause and her gaze lingers, briefly, upon Faraman. "Both of you." She shifts back on her heels, just a touch, in preparation to leave.

Elizabetta's look over her shoulder is matched with one that follows her. As if not entirely sure what to think about it.

This time it is Faraman's turn to raise his eyebrows just slightly in question. Still, he takes the invitation (or command, considering whom its coming from) in stride. He delivers a second bow in her direction once. "Of course, Contessa. It would be my delight and honor to visit the famous Plazza Gaspari." With that he too withdraws, taking her demeanor a dismissal. The merchant gets an annoyed look on the way. The kind of annoyed look that suggests if they ever cross paths again, it won't end quite so well for the fat foreigner!

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