(2018-05-010) Interrogating the Staff
Is there a thief in our midst?
marsilia vittore 
An
Summary:
A summary of the log
Related:
This comes after http://valorous.wikidot.com/log:2018-05-07-a-sister-s-return And before http://valorous.wikidot.com/log:2018-05-26-thieves-at-the-dockyard
Misc Info:
Any other details to add? Commentary on the intent of the scene, anything to point out, other information other players may find useful or amusing?
cosette 

After taking inventory yet again and not finding the missing bolts of silk, both Marsilia and Cosette has called for a household meeting. Someone has to know something after all. The entire staff were told to stop what they were doing because an important matter was at hand. Everyone from the maids, to the cooks, all the way up to the steward himself are currently present within what should be the peace and serenity of the grand courtyard.

As the lady of the house, Marsilia speaks up first; drawing her small frame up as if to look taller than she is, in an attempt to give her this air of authority. "Many of you already know what we are about to discuss. In fact, the matter itself was brought to my attention by the family's long-time steward, Sirio." She gently gestures in the man's direction, though her features do not soften one bit. "Some silk is missing from our storage. A rather large amount of it, if I must say… and if anyone knows anything regarding this matter, it would be in your best interest to step forward now before we learn the truth ourselves."
(>-------<)
| Marsilia (Orate) |
| -----— |
| Failed |
| -
------ |
| Skill: 10 Mod: 0 Total: 10 |
| Roll: 19 Status: |
(>-------<)
Certainly, the missing shipments were brought to Vittore's attention no sooner than they were discovered. From his office overlooking the street, he is known to spend a regular hour every day updating and otherwise attending to the house ledgers, volumes which record all manner of trade. Sirio would likely know the master of the house to be very cross if so much as a missing scrap were not reported by said hour and left to linger another day. Of course, the absence and the cause of the absence are two different matters. No sooner than it was discovered, some weeks prior, he had questioned his new bride on the matter, both because their trade in finer goods has always been her specialty… and perhaps because he had suspected that she might have put the silk to some more frivolous use and not thought to tell him.

What Vittore had not been immediately made aware of were the subsequent investigations undertaken by his wife and sister. Of course, he did make it clear that just as it was Marsilia's responsibility in the first place, it would be hers to set right, so that she would be doing something is no surprise. But the full meeting of the house staff is a touch more than he expected. This evidenced as he comes walking from the house to note the large gathering with raised eyebrows. He does not interrupt at first, however, merely lending a serious atmosphere to the whole thing and waiting momentarily to see how the ladies of the house continue.
Cosette remainded beside Marsilia through the revisiting of the inventories which were probably counted over a dozen times. The Sister of Devotion kept up a serious of questions in order to build a foundation of understanding into how this misfortune had befallen her family's finances. When it was drawing time to interview the servants of the house Cosette had chosen to attend this as well. In the counteryard after all had been called from their duties. Clad in her simple gray outing robes of thick wool, she maintained a silence pressence as the newer Lady of the House spoke.

Normally she exuded an air of welcome, an inviting smile to bring comfort to those that happened to be within proxmity however Cosette's features were weightened. Disappointment downturning her normal mirth and plesantries. The Sister of Devotion's chin raised a little higher as Marisilia addressed the servants who were observed carefully for their reactions.
(>-------<)
| Cosette (Awareness) |
| -----— |
| Success |
| -
------ |
| Skill: 10 Mod: 0 Total: 10 |
| Roll: 4 Status: |
(>-------<)
The steward, Sirio, for the most part looks to be exempt from any accusation for now and unlike the rest of the servants, he stands off to the side and near the two ladies. Besides being called so suddenly to the courtyard, the servants themselves, stand in a more orderly fashion. The kitchen help remain grouped together, as do the maids, etc. The first to feel the annoyance of Marsilia's gaze are none other than the general servants — most of them being men, but they tend to be the ones who assist in dropping off deliveries to the storage area or preparing them to be sent out to market or for an awaiting ship at the docks. They are mostly young, as this is an entry level household position, though there are some men who have been in this position since they were the same age as even the youngest of men here.

"Let us start with all of you. We often don't bat a lash with your appearance in the villa. You're moving about the home doing little jobs for the family and that, in itself, is commendable work. That being said, due to this ease of movement, would it not be simple enough for any of you to spirit away some of that missing silk?" She pauses in her pacing in front of these men and looks at a particular servant in the eye when she says, "You also know where things are being stored, for when called upon to retreive them, you readily… or should readily know where to go to address such requests." Her gaze then moves on to the other faces, "I can only assume that at least one of you must know something."
(>-------<)
| Marsilia (Manipulate) |
| -----— |
| Success |
| -
------ |
| Skill: 10 Mod: 0 Total: 10 |
| Roll: 7 Status: |
(>-------<)
Still watching, Vittore circles the outer edge of the gathering, walking along one of the tiled paths until he can make his way 'round to take up a place behind his wife. His is not an intimidating appearance, in general, and he does not attempt to put one on now. A construction of that sort, out of full cloth, might well seem a little more silly than something to be taken seriously. In fact, he goes on at first to remind them of such, albeit with a caveat. "Most of you know well that I am not a wrathful man, not like my elder brother was, or my father. I rely on the fact that there are better ways to get things done. I hope it is not a decision I should come to regret."

Marsilia seems to have an idea where to start and again, Vittore allows her to continue. This is her show. Maybe, in a way, it's her test, if this young woman he has wed can be relied upon as a staunch ally and strong member of the Household, rather than just being a lynchpin in an alliance and a source of respectability and heirs. "Please keep in mind," he goes on to add, when she is done, "That it is possible you might know something without knowing that you know it. That you may have done something without realizing it. I do not suspect many of you would think to steal from us outright, because we treat you well. But a careless comment here, in a tavern to a friend, at a dice or card game while in your cups. Think upon any who may have shown interest in our business."
Both hands, exposed without gloves or anything fanciful are folded before Cosette's abdomen in a lady like manner. Still the observer as her sibling and in-law sibling addressed the servants with somewhat kind authority. A much lighter approach to the servants than what she had witnessed in her childhood. She decided upon speaking up then, "If I may dear brother and sister." Cosette's assertive tone remained warm, "I suggest they should taken aside privately to account for their whereabouts on the days in question. One by one. There the ones who have witnessed something out of character for another could confide in us. Though I will say it is disappointing that no one had the honor to speak up sooner." Cosette then looked to Silvio, "This is everyone then? All the staff is accounted for here and none have been relieved?"
(>-------<)
| Cosette (Stewardship) |
| -----— |
| Failed |
| -
------ |
| Skill: 10 Mod: 0 Total: 10 |
| Roll: 14 Status: |
(>-------<)
The steward, so used to the family, having served them for so long, looks the most at ease during this crisis. "This is everyone, yes. Leena, the scullery maid just returned from the market. She is the last." Often times, it would be Sirio's job to speak to the servants in his steward position, but he relenquishes this duty to the actual heads of house, for they mean business.

Hearing Cosette's suggestion, Marsilia nods her head slowly. "If you believe that we will get to the bottom of this quicker and more accurately, then I am all for speaking to each member individually." Then beneath her breath, she utters, "They may break far easier when alone."

Here, Sirio steps forward, "Very well. We can start with the boys. Who knows what things they hear when out at the taverns during their free time." The steward even wrinkles his nose at this very idea, "Come along boys. Do not dawdle and be as truthful and helpful as you possibly can."
From her study of the mass of house servants that filled up the courtyard all in simple and status appropriate attire, she didn't miss those nervous ticks coming from some of the common members. It had prompted her to seek a private audience, one suggested and agreed to by the new Lady of the Farro House. She then murmurs a little quieter for Marsilia's ears only, "Then you will make your own assestment of them." She offered before turning to Sirio who chose to start with the boys, her gaze moved to them last. "By the mercy and love of the three, you are sworn to uphold yourself with honor of the self and a duty to one's house you serve. I will pray that truth will be discovered this day.

The young male servants are gathered into the room, many of them working as a sort of footman or general laborer, but there is also the dashing carriage driver that any smart Count (or Duke) will keep their young daughters away from. Knowing that Cosette and Vittore are watching, Marsilia's posture straightens all the more, her chin raised even higher as she addresses the assembled. "We all know that despite the size of the villa, that it would be difficult to spirit away not one, but two bolts of expensive silk without anyone else's notice. So, as many of you often assist in the transport and delivery of goods, I would like to take a garner that one of you must know something." She pauses in her words before adding pointedly, "Or have something to do with the matter at hand."

For the most part, the young remain silent. There are some very confident faces in the group, but of course, when confronted by the Conte and Contessa of the household, there are also very many nervous ones as well.

"There's no doubt someone cooperated, in a fashion," Vittore agrees with his wife. "But how and to what degree is the question. Very easily it could be a matter of a misplaced word." And with Sirio's remark, he turns to that point, as it is one where he has some familiarity. He's not the barfly that his younger brother is, yet neither is he a monk - and especially in his various dealings with ship captains and the like, it is not uncommon to meet and converse among those same establishments. "You lads have better ears for all of that than I do, even if I stop in time to time. And yet even from my own passing familiarity, it's no secret there has been a great deal of illegal business in the city recently. Illicit trade in various contraband, and of course, in stolen goods. And if I've heard about it then I have no doubt all of you have as well."

And in this, one of them does speak up to admit, "Well aye, m'lord, there's talk like that." In grows from there. All of them know that smuggling is happening. It's an open secret, not a protected one. And spoken aloud, it becomes fact rather than secret at all. Eventually, there is talk of some of the goods being resold, if not the Farro silk. But the whole thing provides another problem: The men seem to know of the smuggling, but not the connection. They've had men proposition them with cheap goods, or even seen some of it moving around on the docks. But the smugglers and black marketeers are not thieves. There is something missing, and the workers strenuously deny having any part of it, even those that seem fearful or nervous. And perhaps they are fearful or nervous for good reason: they're the most obvious suspects in any such theft, and by far the most likely to be punished for it - guilty or not!

Listening to these poor boys spill their guts out to the pair, Marsilia shoots Vittore a curious glance before returning her hard gaze on the young men once again. "Are you hiding something out of fear of sorts?" She starts, her eyes narrowing somewhat now, "Is that why you hesitate to give us the information that we seek, in full?" Her words quicken, speaking in her no-nonsense tone as she gestures idly, "Otherwise, you would have told us exactly who the culprit was that actually went away with our silk rather than give us these vagueries." Surely she knows that they have given her more than they did before the questioning, which is very disappointing of them as well, for the boys should have come to them or the steward first.

"Now then, how exactly did our silk leave the storage room? Did one of you simply invite thieves into our midst and then let them walk out themselves with our goods or did one of you deliver the goods to them?" And here, some of the boys become all the more nervous now, a few even look shiftily to one another. Eventually, one of them, a tall and lanky sort, speaks out with quick words, "Don't be upset, but Fabia was afraid for her life!" Fabia is one of the young maids still waiting outside of the room with the others. He goes on, "They were gonna hurt her if she didn't help them!"

It is a little curious that Marsilia plays the bad cop while Vittore the good, but it may also play somewhat to their reputations. Or his, at least, as a thoughtful and fair-minded man, while she is far more the unknown factor, the newly-made lady of the house. Perhaps she is eager to stake her command of the servants by exercising such swift and sure discipline here! In any case, the paired approach is a time-tested one, with him instilling a trust that there is some way out of this while she pushes them hard enough to break their silence. That being said, the actual admission may be the one few suspected, and perhaps this is why the matter has gone on as long as it did.

"Ah, of course." It does make sense, that none of them might be counted among the guilty themselves, but that they might protect one of their own forced unfairly into such duplicity. And a pretty girl? All the better to inspire such noble loyalty. "Very well." He glances toward the steward. "Send her in. The rest of you," and his eyes settle on the lanky fellow who spoke up, imagining that he must be the star-crossed among their number. "May go, though we will consider how to address your silence." Given the opportunity to escape greater punishment, the rest do quickly scurry on their way, as the poor maid is brought in to join her would-be beau.

Poor, poor Fabia steps in, but once the door is open, an audible gossiping can be heard outside with the head cook openly stating, "I knew nothin' good was gonna come of that one. Too young and pretty to be trusted, did'n I say?"

Fabia looks to be around Marsilia's age with a bright face. At first, her eyes remain downcast, when she starts to speak, "I.. I apologize, Conte, Contessa. I didn't want to help them with the silk, but they said that they would kill my family if I didn't." She rambles on, "I was thinking of making some money on the side to try to replace what was taken, but silk is far too expensive for even someone who has two jobs to afford."

All the while Marsilia is looking to the young maid with a scrutinizing gaze, "Were you really thinking of trying to find another means to make the money to purchase more silk? You do know that being the maid of a household such as ours is a full-time commitment and that we expect you to be on the ready at a moment's notice."

Fabia sniffles and hurriedly states, "Yes, yes, I understand. I… I was just looking out for my family and I wasn't thinking properly, I'm afraid." Her words become a trembling, teary mess at the end of it. "The men, they came and delivered things from the shipment at the docks and then later, they met up with me when I was running an errand at the market and that's when they threatened me and my family. It's not just one person, there's a lot of them and I'm afraid that they will hurt us now."

Regarding the young woman, it perhaps does not escape Vittore's notice - or consideration - that she is of an age with his own bride. Then again, it is as much a thing of contrast as of comparison. Where one stands in command of the household and now accuser and judge, the other is the cowering suspect, fretting over her choices. Its a stark gap in the maturity and responsibility commanded by each. "Obviously you made poor decisions in all of this, and you as well," Vittore adds, extending the condemnation to the single young man still with them, who presumably encouraged her silence or at least bolstered her in thinking it the right decision.

"By employing you, your lives are very much our responsibility. If someone should place a threat upon you, that is a threat against the workings of our House and something we would answer very seriously. I think if you had thought to warn us, told us in advance, we could have acted to intervene in the theft and the men troubling you would already be dead or in custody." Vittore is quite matter-of-fact in his reporting of this. Here, though, he breathes a little sigh. "But I understand your fear, and that you thought to protect your own family as well. However, it is now done, and the only chance in protecting them - as well as securing any small shred of a future for yourself - is in locating these men and dealing with them after the fact. So you must tell us everything you know."

There is a pause here, and he reiterates: "We will act regardless of how much you tell us, we will investigate, we will call out the Wyverns to assist. But if you tell us little, the investigation will be a long and difficult one and the thieves will probably catch word of it. So for your sake, and your family's, I think it best that we act swiftly, yes? That we have the information to strike true with the very first shot."

The frightened young man, Claudio steps forward now to stand alongside the pretty Fabia though he does not dare reach a hand over to take hers in a show of support, no matter how much he wants to. "We know, Conte and I realized our mistake once the crime was committed, but it was too late to do anything about it." Thinking hard on what he does know, his brow furrowed, "The men. I've seen them around before, often delivering shipments to various households. So I know that they work at the dockyard somewhere. That is when they threatened poor Fabia."

Fabia nods quickly now, still shaken by everything and feeling all the more guilty for her deeds. "Yes, they are regulars at the docks. I don't know who they work for but.. but I see them so often that I'm afraid to run into them ever again now."

Marsilia makes mental notes of all of this, even thinking back on which warehouse their latest shipments may have come from. There are often many. "And from what the other boys have said, there seems to be a network of smuggling going on at the dockyard. I do have to wonder if this is larger than even than, that the reach of these smugglers spread far and wide. If that is the case, we may be out of luck in finding our stolen property, but perhaps, if we act quickly… it hasn't been that long since the missing silk was reported to us by the steward."

Listening to their descriptions, Vittore is largely silent, although no doubt he makes his own internal catalogue of what details they share, much like his wife. "A few names would be better, but we will work with what we have." He glances between her and the young man, then, with a furrowed brow. "It is too late that we have had to come to this information only now. Anything sooner would have been of greater benefit, and lessened the risk- both to our losses and to your family's safety. Such deceit earns no advantage in any of this, and it is what concerns me most, as your motivations are… understandable, or at least preferable to the simple greed that we suspected."

Here Vittore glances back toward his wife. "I will speak with the Wyverns and with Corso about searching the docks, and, if we find them, about finding the rest of the ring as well - although no doubt it will be hard to catch all of them now." Perhaps this is meant to shake Fabia a little, to show her the consequences of her actions, that she has made things worse for her family, rather than better. "But I suspect their threats were empty, thieves profit little by murder, and they will be cautious once the guard is after them." And then he turns a stern look back on the younger pair. "I will leave you to the steward and to my wife, as far as punishments are concerned," he tells them both. "Your choice of honesty came late, but it should still earn some small consideration."

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