There are a number of ways to describe the Marquis de Carabas. ‘Animate Pile of Rags’ is one. ‘Walking Fashion Disaster’ is another.
Very Scary Man is not usually one that comes to mind but it’s quite true. At the moment the patchwork dandy is sauntering down the street new Clothier Z whispering a jaunty tune. One might almost think he’s loitering, waiting for someone. Perhaps making himself obvious so a man whose eyes are everywhere might see him.
And if one were to think that… one might be right.
Much thought has been put into the location of Clothier Z as well as its interior setup. It’s in a spot nestled adjacent to one of the busiest thoroughfares in the Downtown area, allowing for a fair bit of foot traffic which not only allows for curious walk-in customers who might catch a glimpse of something interesting in the shop windows, but also provides ample views of the area by the range of passersby.
Luck has nothing to do with the timing of which Varos Jenek decides to take his break, tossing his favorite short cloak, just a touch darker than the rest of his grays, before he steps out of the shop then. Despite having no need to do so, he turns his head, casting a ‘look’ around before he smiles, looking pleasantly surprised to spy the colorful self-proclaimed Marquis there, even if in truth it’s hardly a surprise at all. But no one else needs to know that.
“Marquis de Carabas,” the visored clothier greets, offering a polite bow of his head as he steps over. “What brings you by?”
In the shadows, not far from the Marquis is a woman dressed in black leather with a nice, sturdy pair of boots on her feet. They’re nice boots and anyone who knows her, knows how much she likes them.
“Do you really think this a good idea.” She asks her voice low as she watches the dandy loiter. “And must you sing that song? Uh, heads up …”
Melting from the shadows, not that she was trying to hide, the Baroness… is that what she is today? … offers a smile. “Mister Jenek, what a pleasant surprise. We hadn’t expected to find you here.”
No. Of course not. Not outside his shop. Not at all.
“It’s jaunty.” The Marquis says as if that explains why he does it. When Varos comes out the feathered, patch-cloaked man offers him a florid bow.
“Master Varos. So good to see you again. And quite the stroke of luck that you should be here at this time when we are simply passing by.” Of course it is.
“I understand that you’ve been having some problems with a… Rift Herald.”
“My lady Elise,” Varos greets as the woman slips out from the shadows, “and whatever title to be inserted as apropos.” He smiles in that sly way of his as the two claim how much of a coincidence it is to have found him here at this very moment in such a place. That smile fades just slightly as the Marquis brings up his business.
“A Rift Herald?” he echoes, lips pursing as he turns the words over mentally. “Unless it pertains to one of the consistent annoyances that have been plaguing me on and off of late, I’m not familiar with the term, I must confess.”
“It’s annoying.” Elise mutters to the Marquis. “Find something else. Why not a love song? You know how much I like them.” Does she? Her tone is dry enough to indicate that she’s being sarcastic. “And what is my rank today, my dear?”
“Yes indeed. A Rift Herald, by the name Baron Nasher. There’s rumours in our circles that he’s taken an interest in you.” There’s a side long look at the patch work man “When we heard we wondered, why our friend Varos? What is it he could have done to gain the attentions of one so strong.”
She smirks a little, canting her head “And to see what assistance … we … might offer.” We, being not just she and the Marquis.
“Comtesse? Baroness? I’ll have to consult the auguries, my dear. What rank would you like tonight? Marchessa, perhaps?” That would put her close to him. They must be feeling pleased tonight.
“Von Nasher commands certain beings of void and darkness. Creatures that are… fond of darkness. And boxes. Also fond of boxes.”
Varos might know, now, of what they speak. It’s annoyed him recently. “Rumor has it that there have been some odd sounds coming from your shop on occasion, is that not so Marchessa?”
Just… how close an observation do they have him under?
Brows lifting behind his visor, Varos opens his mouth in with an ‘ah!’ as his lips then quirk, although not particularly in an amused manner.
“So you have more information of him? Baron Von Nasher? I believe I asked if you’d heard of him some months ago. Back then you’d only told me he was unpleasant but thorough, frowned upon by certain societies.” But a Rift Herald… The implications….are not good. Void and darkness and…boxes. Varos flat-out frowns at that.
It’s hardly a surprise that the shop has been under observation. He’s been taught to simply assume that the eyes of the Nighthand are everywhere, especially having served as such when he was younger and training under the guise of a pickpocketing waif on the streets.
“The Twins are still slightly paranoid about being in the back with shipments even now,” he says, obviously still displeased with the last attempt by the box-possessing creature. “It was quite some time ago that a couple of mercenaries had come after me, answering to the Baron, or at least a job he had apparently put out. I did some investigating about it. Met a charming archdemon in the process,” he says dryly.
“My. You did enjoy the job I did for you earlier, didn’t you?” Elise smirks at the Marquis yet again, teasing him as much with the choice of her words as anything. “Marchessa, I might like that.” As long as he doesn’t try to change her behaviour.
“It is true though, dear Varos…” The black clad woman places her hand on the knife she has at her hip, it’s a resting position and there’s nothing aggressive or dangerous about it. “… the sounds seem to be quite horrifying and if we’re not mistaken, there was some cleaning up required recently.”
“I recall you asking, but his attentions must have been quite new at the time.” She adds thoughtfully “If I’m correct though, it’s not mercenaries he’s using now, is it? Your assistants are quite correct in being concerned. His direct involvement…” she shakes her head. “… What is that he wants, do you think?”
Do they know? This pair. The raggedy man and the leather clad woman?
“Ah yes. And thorough he is. A rumor. But we’ve heard other rumors in that time and his associates – such as the Rift Herald and the Host – have been rather revealing.” The Marquis smiles and gestures for the other two to accompany him as he walks.
“What do you know of the term ‘alien intelligence’?”
It’s not a nice term. It’s often used for hostile, extremely powerful beings of an other-dimensional origin. The Vampire Intelligences down in Mexico – the things that spawn vampires in their tens of thousands – are one such. The Splugorth are another. Alien intelligences are dangerous. Even minor ones are many times more powerful than virtually any mortal.
Varos easily falls in step with the Marquis and his Marchessa, fingers weaving together behind his back as he considers this new information. At Elise’s question, he snorts lightly in a laugh that’s hardly humored by it all.
“No idea what he wants, but I assume he knows more than he lets on. The bounty he’d put forth was for my eyes,” he murmurs, no smirks nor smiles accompanying that.
“Alien intelligence..?” Now he outright frowns, head tilting towards the Marquis de Carabas. “An existence outside of this realm, or some such? Nothing to be trifled with.” Tales, rumors and footnotes, that’s what makes up Varos’ familiarity with the term and nothing more, but he regards the two with growing tension as he wonders. The Marquis may be frivolous at times, but he does not drop such information without reason.
“Your eyes. Another woman’s ears. Someones legs …” Elise murmurs, eyes scanning the street as the walk. It’s strange how she keeps close to the patchwork noble. One might think she’s almost a bodyguard. Is she? Or is it something else. “But yes, Alien Intelligence…”
The look she bends on De Carabas is flat.
“Power beings, D-Bee’s if you will, that are generally vicious and hostile. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Splugorth – the overlords of Atlantis, where the Splynn marketplace is. The market where slaves are bought and sold.” Among other things. “There’s a very good market for bio-tech there as well.”
“It is a long list of parts that the Baron is supposedly after and seemingly only the finest will do. One might almost wonder what he is building…” The Marquis trails off in a moment.
“Alien Intelligences can often fragment their life force and inhabit… other things.” He lets that hang for a minute. What does one do with a shopping list of body parts?
“We have heard a rumor that hen is losing patience with you and one of your associates will soon have a hit on them. I’ve asked The Mantis to take the contract when it comes up.” For which he… surely has a reason, right?
Varos makes a face. “What, really? He’s actually put bounties out for other parts?” It’s more than a little disturbing. The suggestion that the Baron wants to build something makes him shudder.
He doesn’t at all like the turn of the conversation, but then comes the clincher, and his steps slow to a stop, allowing the two to get ahead of him. It’s for but a second or two, and whether they stop or continue, Varos is quick to start after them again, a laugh all too forced and all too short in his incredulity, but even he knows better than to dismiss such things. “I’m not sure as to whether I should be more disturbed or flattered,” he says, lips twisting, but there’s no mirth in his expression despite his jest.
It’s not quite a frown that he wears then when the Marquis shifts gears on the subject. Varos sighs. “I’ll tell them to be careful, then.”
“… one might…” Elise murmurs again in response to the Marquis. “It would be an interesting thing to see but I suspect one you don’t really want to. The list certainly has multiple … copies … of things on it.”
“Tell your associates to be careful, but The Mantis will have instructions. He’s to make it look like the contract was carried out.” Now the woman’s eyes fix Varos, he’ll see himself through hers “… We’ll need yours and theirs complicity to pull this off.”
More importantly though, the Marquis has a reputation of not doing things for free. What is the fee going to be?
“Ideally this will give us something more concrete to go on. His followers are quite difficult to crack externally. They’re fanatical. Almost cult like. So we are going to try to get a man on the inside. Or woman on the inside. Whichever the Mantis is. I’m not entirely clear on the matter.”
“But yes. Out of curiosity now, did Elise’s young ladies get properly placed?”
“Ah, yes, of course. I’ll be sure to inform them,” Varos promises, turning his head then towards Elise as he finds himself at her attention. He knows all too well that there will be favors to be had of this. It’s how things have always worked, and if it’ll keep his associates alive and unharmed, there’s no price Varos wouldn’t pay.
“Heh. Cultlike, eh? I can see that,” he mutters. He smirks briefly. “The Mantis likes their secrets as much as I do. I wish them the best of luck, then, and hope that we can perform just as admirably to ensure it.”
Varos turns his head towards the Marquis then, nodding at the inquiry about their operatives in Dogwood. “They have. I imagine both parties will keep each other on their toes.”
Elise smirks again at the patchwork Marquis and nods in confirmation with Varos. “I’ve yet to get full reports from them, but there’s time yet. I’m intrigued to see what filters back to us.” She’s not said what she’s looking for there and given Natsu’s and Jericho’s tactics, she might not get what they wanted. Time will tell.
Well, almost. “I hear, dear Varos, the Crown Prince wishes to honour you and the Guild and the House, have something in store.” Rumours are always good for that sort of thing.
“Yes. You’re moving up in the world and the court has definitely taken notice. We’ll help you take care of this little Nasher problem. Wouldn’t do for our rising star to have his meteoric ascent cut short now would it?”
The Marquis almost preens with that grin, “Anyway, I should be moving along. Elise has an engagement. I will have the Mantis be in touch. Do say hello to your lovely assistants and your nervous little errand boy.”
That end’s something Varos has decided out of his hands. He’s gotten them placed, and trusts both parties to do what they will in this stage of game. May the best side win?
Ah, and here it is. He’d expected such rumors to circulate, so it’s no surprise when Elise finally does broach the subject. He smiles at the both of them.
“It would certainly be most appreciated to have a little less to be concerned about. I would hate to miss a good party,” he says. “…although I might be a bit torn if I had the opportunity to strike back at the dear Baron.” He shrugs his shoulders. “But you know I trust your judgment in these matters. Please do continue to keep me updated, and I shall likewise do the same.”
Feeling able to smile more genuinely as it seems their meeting is at an end, Varos bows his head in a nod to the both of them. “That I shall. Have a good day, Marquis de Carabas, Marchessa Elise.”
The Marquis de Carabas and his Marchessa catch up with Varos to drop some slightly disturbing information regarding a certain Baron's interests in him.
April 09, 2411
Jericho Trent, Natsuki Taniguchi