(2018-05-01) Mercy and Justice
"Thieves and smugglers in the making."
Vittorio and Sofia discuss whether or not a fish-smuggler deserves mercy… or justice.
Part of the May theme (smuggling)
Misc Info:

Just a touch of the bucolic here in the city: a handful of ragamuffin children are trudging from the waterfront, each carrying a cane fishing pole and a little bait bucket, some squealing delightedly about their catches, all of them in good spirits despite clearly being down-on-their-luck. Attending them are several smiling men and women with the look about them of the faithful, one of them being Sofia. She watches the train of children snake along the path, then detaches herself from it somewhat with an air industry and a farewell call to the stern-faced woman heading the column, searching the ground at her feet as she winds back toward a patch of blooming clover in the thick grass.

The Conte di Necchi is out for a day with a few kinsmen of his house after more than a year of absence from Matora, but he seems a little… pertubed by the presence of urchins below his casual picnicking: as if the commons would dare intrude on his pleasant view! And so with a good deal of arrogance, the signore descends down a bit to where the green meets the edge of the Domino Mare.

"Thieves and smugglers in the making," he grimaces, thinking aloud to himself.

Indeed, as they pass out of earshot, the sounds of a squabble are just audible: "He stole my fish!"

"I didn't touch your stupid fish! Who would want your stupid fish!"

"Matre, matre! He stole my fish and hid it in his coat, I saw him - " And so on, until they're gone completely.

Only once the voices are gone, with the soft amusement of the infinitely patient, does Sofia register any evidence that she overheard Vittorio's muttering. She has stopped perhaps a dozen paces away, amid a patch of that blooming clover, and her eyes are still cast down upon it, but it's obvious that her words are meant to be heard in turn: "So were we all once, thieves and smugglers in the making. There but by the grace of the divine go us all." Some people are obnoxiously religious; she might be one of them, but at least she sweetens the pot with mellow humor.

"Oh," Vittorio raises an eyebrow and shakes his head — "Perhaps many of the rabble, but I for one was taught to have manners." He looks over Sofia and hums, considering her dress and obvious allegiance. "I wonder if your own faith has been providing a good enough education for these children so they _do not_ turn to thievery, good woman." The Conte might be known as a little pious, but more so to the faith of the Divine Empire over the Paragons.

There's a particular brightness in the eyes that Sofia lifts toward Vittorio, a 'gotcha' shine beneath the lifted eyebrows when he says that, about being taught to have manners, and she follows it up with a grave nod. "Precisely, signore," is all she says, then busily kneels with her skirts folded to make a cushion for her knees. "We always welcome those who are curious to come and visit, to see how the children are being reared. Perhaps you would have some suggestions for how we might improve?" While she pinches the heads off the clover flowers.

Vittorio takes a second or two to consider his response to Sofia's words. "I am afraid I have little and less time for such matters being part of the city's governance, but you're kind to offer. I believe I shall send one of my children; why even my heir. She seems to be very concerned with the… lower denizens of Matora and has some ideas about funding. A little too much of a laissez-faire attitude towards them if you ask me, though," he rambles on, more lost in his own proud thought than truly addressing Sofia, now.

Sofia has the good sense not to interrupt the man's train of thought, her activity muted so as not to be a distraction from the stream-of-consciousness. Only at the break in Vittorio's words does she answer, "That is a gracious compromise, signore. I would welcome the chance to show her how the children live, and I am sure the matre would be happy to listen to her ideas about funding. I am Sofia, you may tell your daughter to ask for me at the Chantry." Excise the orphanage aspect, and her warmth to the notion of bending a noble's ear would be straight-up avarice: she sees dollar signs around Vittorio, make no mistake!

He notices her again and nods lightly. "I am Conte Vittorio di Necchi," he returns the honour, at the very least, even if he quite adopts the manner of talking to an inferior. "So this is your gaggle of children," he narrows his eyes just a touch though there's nothing too sharp. "Tell me, sister, why did you not punish the child who stole the fish?" That seems to be a question that's out of curiosity for once, and not just a jab at the Paragons.

Oh, the fine line walked by the faithful, deference vs. kowtowing, and Sofia tows it conscientiously, bowing her head to acknowledge the title and murmuring a blessing for the good fortune of the Necchi family. After, she pauses in her decapitation of clover flowers and, hands clasped on her knees, takes a moment to compose her answer. "All of the children will share the fish they caught today, Conte di Necchi. If the boy has stolen a fish, it means they will all eat less. He will confess and surrender his fish to the cookpot - or else the fish will go bad in his coat, I suppose." She laughs at the mental image, then shakes off the amusement, though it still touches her eyes. "Either way, he will have punished himself if he does not give back the fish?" The questioning lilt, does he not agree?

"I see, so you believe that the consequences of his very action of stealing should be enough without berating him here," Vittorio nods to the sister and seems to be engaging in at least some lighthearted debate. "It is a tactic my dear wife used when raising our own children, but I always thought that a direct approach was the better option. The smuggler might get away with his gold and live a happy albeit sinful life, and it's all too often only our fine city's watch that stops them, rather than their own conscience. But that's just my own take on it." A grim beginning to what's almost a smile starts drifting across his face.

Benignly, Sofia nods to the first assumption, that she believes the consequences are enough as they are. "But I do not believe anything is always the better option, direct or indirect. In this case? He is a hungry child who has stolen a fish without thinking it through. Shall I beat him for being ignorant? Or hungry?" She shakes her head in answer to her own question, smiling much more freely than Vittorio does. "Perhaps that is why we are given two parents, so we can know mercy when we need it, and justice when we deserve it. Your wife and and you," with her hands used to demonstrate balancing scales.

Vittorio's look turns stark, "I am sure she was a merciful balance, but I am afraid mine own children will have to deal with the right sort of justice as long as she is not with us any more, sister." He says it measuredly, but there's a touch of pain in his voice too, albeit subtle. "At least until I find them a step-mother," he coughs lightly.

The weighing hands drop and re-clasp promptly, though Sofia has the good grace not to gawk at a man having a moment of pain. Another murmured prayer, this for the deceased, followed by her saying, "I am sure she was a good woman, and at peace in the arms of the divine." Vittorio's cough releases what might otherwise be an awkward moment, and it ends with another of her kindly smiles, this one touched by a shadow of darker humor. "The matre is a fine match-maker, Conte di Necchi. Ask her and she will tell you so, many times. If you are truly seeking to remarry, I could mention it to her? Many fine women come to us to pray for good husbands." (And surely pay a small fee for the services.)

Oddly for a man so proud and seemingly a little hurt by a reminder of his loss, the Conte takes up Sofia's suggestion with a good dose of seriousness. "Well, it does depend on if the fine women she'd know would be of the Great Houses of Matora, or their equivalents in the other cities and the Empire," he thinks. "Truth be told since my wife's death I have been a little out of touch with the politics of the city in my seclusion of mourning in my estates. But now that's done and it's simply a practical matter of finding a signora to manage my household and a signore to give my daughter her own heirs in time."

|          Sofia (Recognize)          |
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|          Critical Success!          |
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|    Skill: 7  Mod: 0  Total: 7       |
|    Roll: 7   Status:                |

"They say that a practical marriage is a happy one, for at least everyone has the same expectations. I will ask the matre if she knows of anyone suitable for you or for your daughter. Perhaps she will know someone." Sofia pauses then, lowering her eyes while she resumes picking the clover flowers, now with her basket partially filled by the purplish blooms. Tossing in a couple more, she adds, "You and your daughter could come to our services and see for your own eyes some time, perhaps? I am of the Sect of the Devotion, but you might enjoy the sermons on Exoneration."

"A kind offer." But if one knows of the Necchi's religious inclinations, then it's evident than it's less than likely. "I think I ought be returning to my children now, sister. Thank you for your… musings," he ends, with the hint of a smile creeping up his mouth.

A kind offer, "That never expires, Conte di Necchi. It has been my pleasure to talk with you this morning, and I hope to see you and your daughter soon, whether in worship or in passing." Sofia would probably curtsy or something, but she's currently kneeling on the grass, so she only folds her hands in prayer and murmurs the appropriate farewell from the clergy to the layfolk - go with god, or whatever the culturally appropriate version of that would be.

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