(1874-08-21) A Question of Loyalty: Part III (Finale!)
A Question of Loyalty: Part III (Finale!)
Summary: Susanna finally gets in touch with Thomas, and the resulting conversation is less fraught than expected.
Date: 21 August 2018
Related: http://eternalcrusade.wikidot.com/log:1874-08-18-a-question-of-loyalty:part-ii
NPCs: Nik (Pompey's assistant)
Players:
Thomas  Susanna  

Nik  

Paras
It's…the streets of Paras!
21st of Aout, 1874 IE

Still in Imperial territory, Thomas Chandus migrated from Candeo over to Paras just before the start of the games and festivals that have been ongoing for the last few days. In his off time, the Galenthian Viscount has been talking to locals and browsing their (relatively sparse) wares, as well as doing much reading. Thus far, he's unfortunately unable to find the books he's looking for, but the man is determined to get what he wants before leaving. It's dark outside now, and yet, he still browses. One of the sellers turns him away with a wave. "We're closing now." The man answers, rather curtly. Thomas shrugs.

As soon as Susanna spots Thomas all on his lonesome after a long day doing various chores for Pompey Magnus, she knows she needs to find a way to distract her handler, the sixteen-year-old Nikolas. She looks around for something…ah.

"Did ya see tha', Nik?"

"Huh? See what?"

Susanna points to a few tall, broad-shouldered men in traditional Imperial armor. "Those hafta be gladiator. Don'cha think they mus' be real tough fa makin' it this far in week? Mus' be a rare sight ta see 'em out an' about, huh?" Whether they're actual gladiator or now, the very idea of getting to bother one of them has Nik's jaw hanging open. "Why don' ya go try ta talk to 'em, eh? I'll stay 'round here an'—" The boy skips away before she can finish. Easier than she thought. Good.

She quickly and silently makes her way to Thomas and curtsies to him from across the book stall. Quickly, though. She has to get to the point. "Viscount Chandus, good ta see ya. Been lookin' fa ya everywhere. Ya think it arright if we speak somewhere in private? Quickly?" She gives him an urgent, meaningful look.

As the man packs up his kiosk, Thomas watches him with a frown, arms clasped behind his back. Perhaps it was the nature of the man's reply - pleased to be able to tell an obvious nobleman whatever he feels. Or, maybe it's just the fact that Thomas did not find what he was looking for. He turns about immediately, hands falling to his sides, though he wears nothing but a roundel dagger on his belt and a simple long sleeved tunic and trousers. He does appear genuinely happy. "Miss Summers. What an unexpected pleasure. What in the One's name are you doing in Paras? I thought you were serving the Countess Hellsmouth." He keeps his voice conversational, and simply shrugs at her. "I suppose so, for a fellow soldier at Mathis. Please, lead on."

Susanna nods through Thomas' relaxed niceties, wanting to be out of sight before Nik has a chance to look around and see her speaking with the viscount. With any luck, he wouldn't recognize the man at all anyway, but better safe than sorry. Still, this would have to be very fast, so that the boy wouldn't have to spend any time wondering after her disappearance. She leads Thomas behind a building, nearby—a relatively secluded place where just a week earlier she had spent a quiet moment with Vemmorn Bordeaux. But this…is business. Serious business.

"Lady Anders has divorced Viscount d'Korbina an' is now returned ta Firen a' the Queen's behest," Susanna tells Thomas. "I found a way ta stay here, so I may still be o' use ta ya. I work fa Consul Pompey Magnus, now, an' am workin' hard ta gain his trust. We need ta work out a proper way ta communicate, though, or this is all fa naught, an' there's…one more thing besides." She takes a breath.

Thomas's voice drops much lower still after he's followed Susanna. "This is an inappropriate place to speak, but since we are here, we shall. It is suspicious looking." He listens to her after saying this, nodding gravely. "Never use my name in anything. Ever. Never use your name in anything, either. I will know. Go on."

"O' course, Excellency, bu' I have na had a chance ta contact you at all. I am very closely monitored, an' besides tha'…" Susanna is ashamed to say it, but she has to. "Viscount, I was forced ta sign an oath of allegiance ta the Vir Sidus Empire. They would na take me on otherwise. 'Tis awful strange, bu' I had ta do it if an' I was ta stay loyal ta Galenthia. Ta ma Queen." Susanna is obviously distressed about what she's done, but she doesn't have time to dwell. "Stakes are higher, now, o' course. Pompey made it clear tha' if an' I'm found in breach o' this oath, I'm ta be tortured ta death." A brief, shuddering intake of air. "How do I contact ya in secret, Viscount? Wha sorta cipher do I use? How am I ta remain in ya service?" Her dark blue eyes are wide, intense, pleading. Susanna didn't exactly have much of a choice when she took on Thomas' request, and she hopes he cares at least a little about the huge danger he's put her into.

Whatever taut muscles had been holding onto his frown are let go completely now, and that expression takes Thomas's face over. "You what?" His eyes narrow. "You don't. An oath is sacrosanct in the sight of the One. Until they release you from it, you are an Imperial subject." He raises his hands rapidly in an exasperated manner. "That was incredibly foolish. Contact us secretely? The Imperials are not our enemies, Miss Summers. Saint Daved, pray for her, for you need all of his wisdom!"

Susanna's insides go cold. "Ya…ya said ya wanted me as a spy. An' when ya said I could work fa ya where I was near th' Imperials, I assumed… I assumed." Susanna puts her hands over her face, head hung in shame. "I'm no use ta ya now, am I?"

"You are now an Imperial subject." Repeats Thomas, but his frown slackens, at least. "But, at least, you can serve them well. I had meant you more for passive observation of what was happeningh here." He sighs. "I suppose I ought to have been clearer. Acquit yourself well, for you are a Galenthian, too. And fear not for your family. They are to be taken care of, and I shan't let anything jeopardise that. Now come. Let us get out of his fetid alleyway. It's unbecoming. When you leave their service, you must do so in good standing, not in shame and subterfuge."

It means more than Thomas can know for Thomas to say that he will keep her family safe, and that she is still a Galenthian—at least in his eyes. And this is almost enough, really. She might not like Darius or Pompey at all, but she liked the idea of working with 'shame and subterfuge' even less. She was willing to, if it was what her queen wanted of her, but now that it isn't a great weight is lifted. "Yes, Yer Excellency, I think I should much prefer tha'. Thank you." She follows him out of the alley.

"Come, let me buy you a meal and some drink at least. It's the least I can do after this, and I'm certain that God will find a way for all to be as it ought." Thomas says, his tone growing more and more gentle as he realises how fragile the peasant-cum-spy has become. As he walks out of the alleyway, he puts a hand on her back in a paternalistic way, urging her towards one of the local inns that is booming with clientele from the games.

"Thank you, Excellency," Susanna nods gratefully—and then remembers. "Though I, er, I hope ya do na mind if an' we bring Nikolas along? He's sorta m' handler…th' thing I meant about me bein' monitored close."

"That will be fine, of course." Thomas waves it away like it's truly no problem. There are benefits to being a Viscount, after all.

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