Session 2: Plugging the Leaks
Late Evening, Friday 10th of Death Y119
Al was not drunk and he was concerned there might be a spy in the Comte's house. He took it upon himself to find a vantage point and watch the house in the dark, looking for anyone scurrying or signalling.
There were only innocent movements as house proud servants stayed up late into the night clearing up the mess from the bombardment and seeking to create an illusion of gentile safety for the morning. They could not fill the holes in the wall or fit new windows, but the rubble and mess were gone, and boards and hangings disguised as much of the ruin as possible.
At some point after 3am he noticed lights on boats offshore. The kind of lights that might be shown if someone was taking a smaller boat on board a ship. They lights were gone before he finally tried to get some sleep at 4am.
Saturday 11th Death Y119
Al tried to delay his being woken by sleeping in the back of a walk-in wardrobe, away from enthusiastic staff and people trying to get him to fill his role as valet. However Bernard was on a mission and systematically looked in all the spaces in their rooms before finally finding and waking Al at 9am.
Bernard was keen for Al to question the villagers and then for them to bring the singer with them to recruit the shipwright. Al smiled, and told Bernard that Mademoiselle Megane was more than just a singer, and that he was pretty certain that she was the one setting fire to the enemy marines.
Bernard was delighted, "That would definitely be a good turn of fate! A singer who can set heads on fire!"
Once Al was ready they headed down to the breakfast room and Bernard looked for Megane, who was found eating in the senior servants room, being spoilt by the staff for her performance the night before. When Bernard walked in the senior staff all grabbed their plates mid meal and left the room. Al stayed and asked for food, which was decent but not as nice as what was on Megane's plate. Megane was happy for him to eat what she didn't want and he filled his stomach as Bernard clumsily talked about hiring her because she had certain 'skills'. Megane blushed and Al was quietly amused as Bernard was oblivious that he seemed to be hinting that he wanted to hire her as his mistress.
Eventually it became clear that he meant mage powers and the singer seemed interested. Then Bernard, without consulting Al, offered her 5000 for one months work! Al managed not to choke. She would be lucky to get 200 for a high class soiree two or three times a month. He took a deep breath, he was not really Bernard's secretary, he was there for his own reasons and anyway Bernard could afford it. It was just unprofessional to overspend on something so... unnecessary. At least she was a mage, so it was not quite the same as just hiring a singer and entertainer; she'd actually be useful.
It also turned out that the shipwright's twin brother was a choirmaster and organist, so she would be key to that part of the mission as well.
What really caught Al's attention was the town. Sardonee. The choirmaster was based in Sardonee, a town renowned for being a place where celestium artefacts were investigated it. He smiled to himself as he chewed on a piece of tasty ham from Megane's plate. His handler Emile was bound to get in contact with him when they reached Sardonee, and maybe he'd get a chance to be involved in an important relic transfer. It had been nearly 10 years since he had joined the Magpies, surely he'd proven himself by now? Maybe this time he'd get promoted? Maybe they'd want him to do something more than play spy and secretary for Bernard? Maybe this was why he'd been assigned to Bernard?
Al pushed the thoughts out of his mind as breakfast finished. He agreed to go into the village with Megane and see what the villagers knew about the attack.
Taking to the Locals
Bernard decided to check out some goat paths to the cove next to the village, his presence was making the villagers nervous.
Al and Megane head into the village and spent time talking to the villagers. There were definitely smugglers, but no-one wanted to be open about it.
A one legged man mending a net didn't say a lot but he let them know about Phillippe's Public House where people could get beer, and where people gathered later in the day. He also mentioned Esme the Quaymaster.
Esme was quite open and blunt, but even she talked around the S word, hinting about the smugglers that must use the cove next door. There were still smugglers operating in and out of the village, but she wouldn't say much more. She thought the village needed cannons on the headland to protect them and Al promised to pass that on.
She described walking over the headland and seeing a longboat with 12 men, land in the cove. Four had red coats and guns, and the rest were dressed as common folk.
Bernard came back from this walk and let Al and Megane know he'd found signs of a boat in the cove. This tied with Esme's information and Bernard was concerned that the commonly dressed men might be spies and might have gone to kill or kidnap the shipwright. He said he will make sure their luggage was packed and the horses were ready to ride and gave Al another hour to question people.
Al spent time talking to Phillippe in his house, buying a couple of beers. By this time he knew the smugglers that people avoided talking about used the cove, but managed to suggest that the Albions wouldn't know about the cove unless someone, possibly a smuggler, told them about it. How whoever sold the information might have more money than they should, and that their money was blood money given the guests and staff that died at the Comte's house.
Philippe was very concerned as he knew a woman that worked for the Comte. He eventually let Al know about Colette, a widow who was having her roof fixed when she shouldn't have the money for it. Phillipe poured him another beer and rushed off to check on his friend.
Philippe had mentioned that the one legged net mender was a smuggler, and Al went back with a beer and tried to talk to him. But he'd given himself away and the man didn't say anything interesting.
Megane met Al from having spent more time talking to Esme, and they discussed what to do about Colette. They were running out of time and would soon have to leave to take care of the shipwright. Was Colette guilty of treason and murder? Or was she just desperate and needed to be forgiven? Megane suggested they should just tell the Comte as it was his village and his house was bombarded.
Bernard had got some servants in the Comte's household to help pack everything so the horses were ready with their possessions packed on them.
Al and Megane shared their information with Baron Bernard who didn't want to spend more time talking and investigating.
The Comte came to say farewell and Bernard let him know about the unexpectedly rich Colette in the village and the suspicion that the secrets of the cove were sold to the Albions. The Comte nodded and Bernard kicked his horse and rode out.
Al followed Megane and Bernard, wondering if the singer would be able to keep up with Bernard's fast mission pace.
Al found himself smiling with an excited feeling in this stomach; Sardonee could hold the opportunity he'd been waiting for.