(1874-08-20) We're not at War with Them
We're not at War with Them
Summary: Ludovic meets with Jasmina intending to make sure she hears about the qatunax prisoners and the incoming mountain folk that were mentioned. In the course of the discussion he clears up his position on the Imperials.
Date: 20th August 2018
Related: Qatunaxstories stuff
NPCs: None
Ludovic  Jasmina  

Someplace in Hellsmouth
A meeting room with a table, chairs and cow themed tapestry.
20th Aout 1874

Its funny how meeting places all look basically the same. Theres a round table and about five chairs, all quite lovely with carvings and all that. A carpet and a tapestry showing someone in lordly attire petting a cow and wine and nibbles at the table. Ludovic's here too but he's skipped at least some of the typical meeting things. He's got his feet up on the table when Jasmina comes in for one, although he drops them down pretty sharply when she comes in. A genuine grin of welcome is offered too. "Jasmina. So glad I caught you. I've things to talk about. Knowledge to share. The air to clear." He moves up to his feet as he talks, moving so that he can give her cheek a formal kiss. "You've been to Paras?"

Jasmina has been fairly scarce, really, not seen much since her part in the dissolving of Ludovic's marriage, only having come out as recently as the beginning of the games. The way he greets her has her surprised but the kiss is allowed, it returned in kind to the Viscount. "It is good to see you as well," she counters, sounding very much like a woman with entirely too much on her mind, that vague tone of someone who is very distracted. "I was at the games," she admits while sitting down, not bothering to wait for Ludovic to invite her to do so. Liege's prerogative.

Ludovic doesn't seem to be discomforted by her sitting at all. He just drifts back to the table and starts pouring out some tea for her. "I expect they had some pretty impressive displays of soldiering. Gotta say thats something they do well." He chuckles and looks up at her. "Bet he managed to insult the west at least six times in all his speeches too. All on about how we treat our people as slaves and all that." He adds the extras as he remembers Jasmina prefers and then offers her the cup. "The Raging Bulls brought me a gift the other day. Two imperials who'd sworn to the Qatunax. One of them spat his tongue out rather than talk to us but the other seems like he might talk. We've learned some things about their culture from him already. Doubt he knows much of worth tactically like so i've not put him to the question or anything like that. Honestly not sure I will. Man's a prisoner of war and I dont see how us giving up our standards is a good thing."

Jasmina takes the cup with a sigh, listening to Dovi as he speaks. The tea is accepted with a nod of thanks and is sipped from, it giving her time to formulate her opinion on the subject. "Give those men to the Pinceps once you're done questioning him," she answers levelly once her first drink of tea is enjoyed as much as it can be. "Let them see to the punishment of the defectors. But not before you get what you can in the way of useful information out of them first." Another sip and then her cup is set down.

And no, she is not adding any commentary on the subject of the games and what Darius might have said during his pontifications. She will not add anymore fuel to the fire that is Ludovic's hate for the man and his people.

"Why the heck would I give them to the imperials?" Ludovic squints at Jasmina. "Are you saying we need to start working with him again? After he proved he cant be trusted? I passed on the important part, about how they are getting reinforcements, which is a big part of why I wanted to talk to you today. But these men dont have a damn thing to do with the imperials except that they are qatunax now." He makes a sound remarkably close enough to harumph and then starts to very purposefully prepare himself a cup of that tea. "I did send him a letter about the mountain folks the man mentioned. He said that they are going to come and join the main host. They'd fight each other first, for rank or somesuch, and then they'd combine together and come after us. I've no idea if they are aimed at Darius' men or mine yet. The mans got to many useful bits of knowledge that can only be got with honey." He sighs and sits down facing her. "Are we cooperating again Jasmina? Am I gonna have to start letting them move supplies and men through?"

A hand is lifted, Jasmina asking for a moment to gather her thoughts. Once she's given herself enough chance to think she speaks again, her voice calm but authorative. "I need to speak as your liege, not your friend. At this moment, we can not afford any more enemies, Viscount. Especially ones with armies that can easily, and vastly, out number ours." With a groan, she stands, her hands smoothing down the front of gown before, with a shake of her head, she starts pacing. "I understand your dislike of them, Ludovic. But your hostility towards them will only lead to our ruination. There's enough threat of death for our men at the hands of the White Hallers and the Qatunax. Do we need to add more? So many families will lose their loved ones as things stand now, Viscount. I, for one, refuse to throw them at the Imperials as well as our other enemies and pray for a favorable outcome."

Glancing at Dovi, she guages his reaction to all that. "Please, I am asking as your liege, Viscount, to cease all hostilities against the Imperials. This includes razzing the lands you have deamed unable to be recoverable. As much as I know it'll pain you to hear this, and I am not very happy to say this, let them move their men and supplies through. When the time times, you can have your war with them. But right now?" She shakes her head.

"Anyhow, please tell me more about these men who defected. Why did they? Do you know?"

"I aint done nothing hostile against them." Ludovic tells her with an expression that starts off surprised and then goes through suspicious and onto anger about the fact the subject even needs to be discussed. Its not the sort of anger that makes a man rant and shout, his voice doesn't change volume at all, but his expression tells enough to display the fact he finds the subject an unhappy one. "All I've done - and intend to do - is close my borders. If there is anything hostile that happens it will be because Darius can't stay out of Aequor and I'm forced to act in defense because of it."

Pushing off his automatic tendency to loom when he's upset in favor of staying on the opposite table and restraining the force of his movements. He puts his hands on the edge of the table, leans towards her a bit and bluntly asks. "So. You want me to outright facilitate the efforts of Darius to set himself up to invade Aequor then? And you want me to stop raiding Qatunax held territory for fear that Darius will get offended. You're absolutely sure thats what you want?"

The question about the prisoners hes putting off for the moment.

"The last we spoke, you were talking about setting fire to the fields and poisoning the land, Viscount. As much as I believe it to be something said out of anger, I wanted to make sure no such actions would take place." She looks away from the incredulous expression on Ludovic's face, her own faintly annoyed. "I understand you not wanting them…" Grunting, she looks back at Dovi. "I am not saying don't deal with the Qatunax. Or set them up to invade, Viscount. But we…" Damn it. he's getting her flustered.

"Yeah I was." Ludovic tells her. "I was asking your opinion on tactics against the qatunax." He looks at her expression, sighs and then pushes his chair back before sitting down. "Look." he says. "I'm not planning to attack the Imperials. Heck I'm not even planning to attack the qatunax anymore. I'll keep raiding - the qatunax not the imperials - because it would be wrong not to. Thing is, attacking the territory rather than the men, was the only way i could see to really hurt them. But, Jasmina, you made it clear you didnt approve last time and honestly I wasnt keen on it anyhow, so I haven't even thought on how to do it."

He clears his throat and then says. "Look I wont deny that I could have worded stuff better when I told Darius that I'd treat any offensive act by him as an act of war but I have never, once, considered myself to be at war with the imperials. I wasn't even planning to take Paras afterwards, its too damn far away, and we promised, in the senate, that we'd deal with it after the qatunax were dealt with." He grimaces and adds. "And we both know that Darius was always gonna walk away with that city. I just didnt wanna close the door on us taking it back one day."

"These prisoners, they are from the local area, they aren't imperial. So its got nothing to do with Darius how we treat with them. Like I said I already sent him a letter warning that the man said there were gonna be mountain men moving to join the attack. Even said that he should come see for himself if he wanted. I aint heard nothing back. So thats it. I've done more than my fair share of co-operating already." Another grump under his breath. "But I get that there can be politics above my head Jasmina. So if you insist that I start working with him again. I'll do it. Just dont expect me to be happy about it."

Jasmina feels a bit better once it seems that there will be no actions taken upon the Vir Sidus but there's still the tension in the air that keeps her from fully being able to relax. A nod of thank you is given at his assurance that he will not act against Darius, a small source of relief, but then she still finds herself having to play the role of liege and it always leaves her feeling uncomfortable.

The more Dovi speaks and clears things up she finds herself realizing she perhaps misunderstood, both the Viscount's intentions as well as the situation with the prisoners. "I am sorry. I thought you said the prisoners were Imperial. No, there's no need to involve Darius in that, then. I will defer to your judgement on what to do with them."

Finding her cup empty after a few more sips, once her cup's back in hand, she sets it down, letting her host refill it for her. "I am not sure what to say about Paras." She is truly at a loss as what to say on the subject and she's quiet for some time, her eyes eventually closing. "But I guess, for now, at least, we should shift our focus to the battles that are to be in the near future. And yes, Viscount. You will have to cooperate with the Vir Sidus, just as I will and everyone else who will be participating in the battles will. I know it isn't pleasant but it is a hardship we will endure together."

"No." Ludovic says. "They are locals. I already sent the one into the city to, well, you know how that sorta thing goes, but this one is talking. I already learnt some useful things from him. Hoping that if we can learn something about who the qatunax actually are we can work out some way out of this. Already learned they worship a pantheon. Sounded kinda like the northern faiths actually. Death and the moons and that sorta thing." He shrugs and adds. "If nothing else it might be nice to have someone who can speak their language."

"I dont want to waste men helping the imperials." Ludovic says. "I want to focus on defense. So you're gonna have to tell me exactly what you want me to do." He goes quiet for a long moment then he says. "What do we even get by working with them? I know Darius doesn't care for us and I'm sure that he's planning to invade us after he's done. Only reason he would have had his people behave like that to me was to provoke me." He gives Jasmina another forthright look. "Can you even point at one occasion when he's not been trying to goad me into war?"

"See if we can work that to our advantage," Jasmina murmurs, nodding. "I will leave you in charge of that, Dovi." Feeling better about everything, Jasmina's back to calling the Viscount by his nickname. "Although I don't know if we need to focus that much on their culture, it might give us some insight on them as warriors. Also, see if you can find out information on those reinforcements. Maybe we'll be able to cut them off before they can ever reach camp."

Returning to the subject of Darius and how he and his people conducted themselves she simply shrugs. "They were trying to get us riled, which is exactly what they managed to do. They wanted to push and push and see how long it'd take for us to lose our tempers." It worked, too.

"Hopefully theres something." Ludovic agrees. "But I'm not expecting much. Best case scenario we learn some way to damage their morale or we learn some weird cultural tidbit that changes the situation. Like.. what was that combat about with Tavat - I learned that was his name. I've a nagging feeling it was important. Hell what if this could all have been solved by something as stupid as two champions duelling it out? What if they killed baron d'Mollari like they did because he insulted them because he didnt know." He shakes his head. "Just seems like its a better gamble than trying to get military secrets out of him. I doubt he knows anything about that really. I mean.. if you captured most of my men he'd not know a damn thing neither and the qatunax seem rather less likely to share than me."

He lightly pushes his teacup a little aside, changes his mind and lifts it to drain the warm drink. "Right." He says. "Darius is just playing with us. He has as much respect for us as he does for the qatunax, maybe less. Most of the time I feel like he's just making fun for himself at my expense. When i'm feeling generous though i reckon its all about politics. If he makes me out to be incompetent and that life in the empires so much better than life over here then he'll get recruits and stuff and I think he's desperate. You know he told me the Empire sent him here to die?"

How is it that Jasmina tries so very hard to clear things out of her head only to wind up with more stuffed into it than was before? "I have many things to think about. I am going to go and send a missive home, asking for more of my men to be sent here as well as to help elsewhere in the Kingdom, as needed. Go ahead and keep your borders closed for now. I will add that to my list of things to discuss with Darius when I can meet with him." She holds off on leaving, letting him add anything else before she departs.

Ludovic gives her an honest smile. "Thanks for taking the time to talk about it Jasmina. We're so far apart. Its hard to share everything that might come up." He frowns a moment. "I'm sure you've already planned for your protection but know you can ask me to accompany you if you need it." Moving to his feet he adds. "Would you like me to walk with you to the ship?"

"And my thanks for allowing for things to be cleared up. It was long over due. There's more we should probably discuss, but I think we touched upon the truly important issues today." Jasmina looks at Dovi and smiles, giving him something of a shake of her head. "I am fine, Dovi. My detail's outside. Thank you, though." He's given a peck and then she turns to go, a swish of satin being the last heard from her.

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