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Treasure Flowers

PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2022 12:35 pm
by CaitlinCallahan
POINT OF CLARIFICATION: These events take place after Episode 24, and the LARP (for reasons that will become clear at the end).

As Caitlin made her way through the streets of Altamira, the sight of the fire-ravaged town tore at her heart. Though she had been here for less than a year, the town had definitely become her home. She couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take for things to return to “normal”, and fought back the doubt that it ever could. It wasn’t just the sights that were painful, but the sounds as well. Though it would be more accurate to say the lack of sounds were disheartening. Specifically, she missed the sound of children’s voices ringing through the air, and the sound of those same children running through the alleyways, and along the rooftops. She took some consolation in the fact that at least Los Hermanos de Nacio had survived the fire, and the ensuing ambush in the sewers. Surely it wouldn’t be long before the children were up to their normal mischief. She paused a moment, realizing that she even missed the chiding she often received from their mothers.

Eventually, she reached her home. A hint of a smile crossed her lips as she paused at the gate. The house was so different from those back in Inismore. The whitewashed walls and red tiled roof were a dramatic change from the gray stone of her family home. Though much smaller than her family estate, it was more than enough space for just her. Her smile dimmed slightly as she walked up to the front door, missing her twin and her brother.

The smile returned when she entered the house and discovered a bouquet of flowers in a vase on the small table in the entryway. They were absolutely beautiful – white with hint of pink at the center, and the petals were a dark purple that faded out to almost white at the edges. Her brow wrinkled slightly, as she struggled to identify the type of flower. Almost absent-mindedly, she picked up the note.

Her smile widened and warmed as she read the note. Eres mi único Tesoro. “You are my only treasure.” She murmured, half under her breath. The note was signed by Gabino. She called out to Felipa, knowing that the woman would not yet have left for the day. “Hola Felipa. Do you happen to know what type of flowers these are?” The young woman nodded, and smiled a bit knowingly at Caitlin. “Si. They are gazaneas, the treasure flower. They only grow in Castille.”. Caitlin nodded, before tearing her eyes away from the blooms, her gaze returned to the note in her hands. There was something a bit odd about the note, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. The paper was a bit yellowed, as if by age, and was frayed along the edges. In the last few months, especially in the time since she had “rescued” him from the Kavanagh brothers, she had become rather familiar with his handwriting. The signature definitely appeared to be his. Felipa’s next words snapped her out of her reverie.

“And when Gabino stopped by, he seemed to be a bit concerned. I thought he must have forgotten something, he left so very abruptly.” “Gabino was here? But he didn’t actually deliver the flowers?” “No, he did not. He looked at them, then rushed off. I thought he must have forgotten something.” Caitlin looked down at the note in her hands, as the furrows returned to her brow. “He looked concerned, or worried?” “I suppose he could have been worried. He took off on his horse at a gallop.” Caitlin sighed, realizing that this was a mystery to solve. “Who actually delivered the flowers?” “A young man named Enrique.”

She tucked the note into her pocket, and with a nod to Felipa, went out in search of Enrique Pena.

Re: Treasure Flowers

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2023 11:47 am
by CaitlinCallahan
Caitlin made her way quickly to the flower shop, figuring that to be a logical starting point in her search for Enrique. After some discussion with the owner, she was more confused than when she had started.

Apparently, the flowers were not supposed to be delivered to her until this afternoon. She began trying to track Enrique down. After checking several of his scheduled stops, she finally caught up with the young man. Unfortunately, the conversation proved to be less than fruitful.

She then changed tactics, and began checking the places Gabino usually frequented. He wasn’t at either his home or his office. The swordsman’s guild proved to be a dead end, as did Dos Caballeros y Doncellas. Her eyes narrowed slightly, her right hand subconsciously moving to twist several strands of her hair, as she considered her options. With a slight nod, she left the cantina, and strode purposefully back towards Gabino’s home.

She hesitated for a moment upon reaching his front door. I can’t believe that I’m actually going to do this. She knocked on the door, not really expecting an answer. When no one responded, she tried the door handle. As she expected, the door was locked. Glancing around to see if anyone was watching, she made her way cautiously to a window near the back of the house. With any luck, no one will be calling the alcalde. She opened the window as quietly as she could, and climbed into the room.

A quick search of the house revealed nothing unusual. Her frustration growing, she began a more thorough inspection. On her third pass, she found the remains of a note in the fireplace. It referenced a property just outside of Altamira, a family home of the Colon. I have a bad feeling about this….a little help might be in order.

Re: Treasure Flowers

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2023 11:51 am
by CaitlinCallahan
A slight shiver ran down her spine, creating a sense of déjà vu, as she approached Aleksei’s room and knocked on the door. Her friend’s initial smile dimmed slightly, as he took in her expression. “What do you need, Caitlin?” His tone was light, but serious, and she took some comfort in knowing that she can count on him. “It’s Gabino, Aleksei. He’s missing, again, but this time, I think something is really wrong. I found the remains of this note in his fireplace. It references a small estate outside of the city.” Aleksei’s eyebrow arched slightly at the statement, and she took a deep breath to calm her nerves. “Will you help me look for him?” He smiled, his head bowing slightly. “Of course, my friend, whatever you need.”

Her spirit lightened a bit, knowing that she would not bear this weight alone. As they made their way downstairs, heading for the door, they encountered Francois and Ekaterina, as well as Bogdan. She had barely begun to tell them what is going on before they offered their assistance as well. Tis Theus’ own truth, I have made good friends in my time here!

Francois offered the use of his carriage, and the journey to the estate began. The road became more and more rough the further they get from town. It is obvious that this road had not been traveled in some time. In fact, at some point, calling it a “road” might have been a bit generous. Eventually, they reached the estate.

The building was surrounded by a stone wall, and appeared to be a minor noble’s house. The wall was obviously well-made, and appeared to still be in good shape. A broken sign hung crookedly near the open gates – “Salon de Gazaneas”. The sinking feeing in Caitlin’s stomach, previously alleviated by the presence of her friends, returned with a vengeance.

As they stood in the gateway, the house appeared to be abandoned, though still solid. Flower beds bordered the walls, mostly filled with gazaneas, though it has obviously been years since anyone has tended the plants. Caitlin glanced about, the hairs on the back of her neck standing at attention. She could swear that someone was watching them, but could not locate the spy.

She and her friends made their way inside. The front portion of the building appeared to be laid out as a modest dueling school, though no furniture or furnishings were present. It seems like this is where he intended to live, and teach. What made him leave? She moved to the kitchen, her friends following her. The room was large and airy, but as empty as the dueling area, a layer of dust making it clear that no one had been here in some time. Next for inspection was the study. The dust in this empty room also appeared to be undisturbed. She made her way to the bedrooms, only to find the same indications of abandonment. Finally, she headed to the sitting room. A single set of footprints were visible in the dust, heading from the backdoor to the fireplace.

Her stomach twisted in apprehension, and she turned to Aleksei. “Can you tell from the footprints if it was a man or a woman?” He nodded, and inspected the trail closely. “A woman, I believe.” She nodded in response, not surprised by his answer. Slowly, she approached the fireplace. Unlike the other rooms, the mantle was not bare, a painting rested on it. The carved wooden frame was ornate, and someone had obviously taken great care of the painting. It depicted a scene of the local foothills, with two figures at the forefront. The man, kneeling, is obviously Gabino, before his face was scarred. Caitlin does not recognize the woman. She almost smiled, though her expression held little warmth, if any. Something to commemorate a proposal. This is not going to end well.

Her eyes dropped to a folded piece of paper, resting against the bottom of the frame. Her heartbeat quickened, certain that whatever message was left would not bode well for her. As she slowly unfolded the note, her jaw clenched and her eyes narrowed, her temper sparking as she read the message. “I may not want him, but you can’t have him. Come alone.”

Re: Treasure Flowers

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2023 11:57 am
by CaitlinCallahan
She took leave of her friends, unwilling to gamble with Gabino’s life. It took some effort, and time, but she eventually located the setting for the painting. This is definitely it – I dinna think I’ll be forgettin’ the image any time soon.

The serenity of the small meadow surrounded by the foothills was marred by the image at its center. Her fists clenched and unclenched at her side, and her eyes went cold as she recognized the man kneeling in the middle of the clearing. He appeared to be chained or tied to some sort of torture device. She moved forward quickly, towards Gabino.

As she left the sparse treeline, a cloaked figure, obviously feminine, stepped out from behind a tree on the opposite side of the meadow, much closer to both the prisoner and the device. “Tell her, Gabino. Let her hear it from you directly.” Caitlin paused a moment, and the other woman dropped the hood of her cloak. Gabino remained silent. The woman continued. “I can have them kill her now. Tell her.” Caitlin’s brow wrinkled slightly. She obviously doesn’t believe in a fair fight – I was told to come alone. I wonder who ‘they’ are?

Her heart clenched as she heard his voice, filled with pain. “This is Soledad Azarola Vila Verde de Colon de Castille, Knight Inquisitor. She was the love of my life, and my wife. We had planned on opening a swordsman’s school. Alvara Arciniega was enrolled in my school. When the Inquisition came for him, I chose to stand between them and my student.” “The heretic.” She practically snarled, as she interrupted him. He continued. “The scars on my face were my punishment, and were ‘gifted’ to me by my wife. I assumed, from her actions, that she no longer wished to be married to me.”

The look she gave him was a mixture of disgust and possessiveness. “What Theus has put together….” I’ve had about enough of her. In one fluid motion, Caitlin drew her bow and took her shot. She felt a certain satisfaction as the arrow embedded itself in the woman’s shoulder. Unfortunately, the satisfaction was a bit short-lived, as Soledad fired her pistol, and the favor was returned, the small lead ball having found a home in her own shoulder.

She charged across the meadow, and grabbed the woman, no, the Inquisitor, by the shoulders, ramming her knee into the woman’s gut. Soledad dropped her pistol and drew her swords. Caitlin’s stomach twisted, as she recognized the blades the woman was using. The hag has no conscience at all – usin’ Gabino’s own blades against me! She quickly drew her dagger, and the fight continued in earnest.

Her mouth twisted slightly, almost forming a grin. “You obviously didn’t deserve him, you couldn’t appreciate what you had in a man like Gabino.” Soledad frowned, her blades – or rather, his blades – moving with no small skill. “I appreciated him.” “Ha! Funny way of showing it!” They exchanged blows again, each of them coming out worse for it. “Yes, I gave him the scars, but I gifted him his life. It was more than he deserved, for defying Theus’ will.” “And you know Theus’ will?” “I do.”

Caitlin laughed aloud. “Really? Is that not the height of hubris? Or is pride no longer a sin? Tell me, do you hear his voice in your head? We have a word for that at home, for one who hears voices – balmy! Ye’d best be careful, or you’re liable to end up…” Her words died on her lips, as Soledad landed a cruel, well-placed blow, and Caitlin dropped to a knee, her eyes closed as pain coursed through her body. So this is how it ends. May Theus have mercy on my soul….

She looked up at her opponent’s face, resignation at the smug look of victory she saw. Her jaw suddenly dropped, and Soledad’s eyes widened in disbelief, as a tree limb suddenly erupted from the woman’s chest. The Inquisitor dropped the swords, and her hands grasped the rough bark, before dropping to the ground.

Somehow, Gabino had managed to free himself while the two of them fought, and he caught Soledad completely unaware. Caitlin lunged to her feet, and wrapped her arms around Gabino, as tears raced down her cheeks. “How did you…” His arms circled her for only a moment, then he pulled back. “We must leave. There will be others, looking for her.” She nodded, though she refused to relinquish his hand as he collected his swords. Once the swords were returned to his sword belt, she pulled him close, and their lips met briefly. His voice was rough, heavy with emotion. “Mi corazon, we must leave here, leave Altamira, as soon as possible. I do not believe we will find safety anywhere in Castille.” She nodded again, and glanced around at her surroundings, saddened at the thought of saying goodbye to the life she had found here. She smiled, if a bit sadly, as she met his gaze. “I believe you are right. Perhaps it is time you met my parents.”

Re: Treasure Flowers

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2023 11:59 am
by CaitlinCallahan
Thank you so very much, Mark, for yet another thoroughly enjoyable PA!!!!