New Opportunities

Title: New Opportunities
Time Period: April 24, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Lucien returns to Dornie after a lengthy winter expedition. He bears gifts.

Not coincidentally, it is always a nice day when the ships return from their expedition.

It matches the season, a chill but clear spring day, with the clouds forcibly shoved aside and any mist that might have thought of lurking upon the loch waters that was not already burned off by the sun during the day is readily dismissed. Two vessels have already been settled near the docks, the Clàrsach Ghàidhealach, a wide ship that rides heavy in the water, and the Kraken Prince, a ship of sleeker make and grander style and currently anchored further away from land, rowboats moving between it and the harbour. Dusk is dimming the setting, but there's plenty of light to see by - the remaining sun gleaming across the water, and lanterns illuminating the docks.

Lucien Bassingthwaighte is eager enough to get on land, but not so much that he can't make sure that disembarkment is more or less organised. He'd sent a runner to go and grab some of Dornie's muscle to assist with the livestock and loom over the affair itself, first, and then some time onboard to quietly order people around so that everyone is being efficient. By the time he sets foot on the docks, crates of saints know what and even furniture are being hauled over the side of the Clàrsach Ghàidhealach by ropes and strong hands.

He's dressed in leathers and cottons, and he has the signs of having been on a long journey; his hair has grown into a thicker peppered brush from his scalp, but he's kept his face clean and neat. Leather acts as resistance against the cool and the damp, in the form of a waist coat with some length and embroided edges as low as his knees, and matched trousers; he wears a quilted cotton shirt beneath, its dye faded and some hems frayed. His boots are of pliable material rather than sturdy, and navigate the docks lightly and quietly. It's been a boring day of return, and it's set to be a long evening of work.

He's already spread some tendrils of gossip that someone can earn themselves. A mule brays as a wagon is loaded up to take directly to the Rowntree castle. Apparently, some fineries are more important to get on solid ground than warm bodies.

As one of the muscle gathered, Jain is waiting patiently on the dock for the first herd of livestock to be dispatched. As of now, his concentration is set on keeping the vultures back, the ones gathering for any bits of wealth they can glean that's been dropped from a cart. There are a few following the wagon that quickly disperse when one of them looks back to a pistol being aimed at them. The inside militia have duty of care for the civilians, the raiders are generally a wilder sort.

His leg leathers are spattered with water from the knee down, a hazard when standing a little too close to the area things are being moved in on but it doesn't seem to bother him. No more than the boots on his feet that are soaked through from previous days rain and other forays too close to water. It makes him just uncomfortable enough to be a little angry with policing the locals. Something he's never really been good at without the aid of a weapon or fists.

It's one of the events that will always get Mariah out and about, the ships coming in. It's cool enough that she's indulging in the decadence of a velvet dress, but warm enough for it to be a parasol open over her head instead of a proper umbrella. Even her shoes are of a costlier sort, like she were trying to make a good first impression. Or a good first impression… again.

She's not too close, at first, but the blood red of her attire does make her stick out some. But spotting Lucien walking about, she lifts a hand covered in a black lace glove to get his attention. "We need a smile from you, Lucien," she greets with a crooked smile, "Or else we'll be forced to assume you haven't brought anything fun home with you."

For all that Algernon might not self-identify as 'muscle,' he fits the bill well enough to have been summoned forth from the stable where he was preparing (an unhappy) mare for patrol. Tack given way to pistol and truncheon, he paces the dockside without specific aim. Overseeing, from beneath the low brim of his hat, with eyes that draw as often to the boats being unloaded they do potential disruptions at closer proximity.

He is not as focused as he should be, lately.

Something is eating at him.

Multiple somethings.

But he looks professional enough, in his suit and coat. Boots and bowler.

Lucien can be moved to smile (and he does, now); particularly when requested to do so in a woman dressed in black lace and red velvet. "Mariah, isn't it?" he says, turning his trajectory towards her. His Scottish brogue doesn't quite clash with a wordy way of speaking. "I have a feeling that if I brought what counts as fun for me back to Dornie, our benevolent overlords may bar me from the bay. But for you, I'll manage it." The absence of a familiar near him might mark him as mundane, but then, not every mage walks around with their familiar worn like a hat; and his status isn't much of a secret for all that the details are unclear. Earlier in the evening, a rat had emerged from beneath the docks, turned into a skinny, stray dog to the startlement of a patrol guard, and disappeared into town.

That might have been something to do with it. Back near the looming shadow of the Clàrsach Ghàidhealach, activity continues. This time, there are the shapes of men, women, and children descending onto the piers, moving slowly, forced into a single file line. The tethers at their ankles have been released, but they're attached by ropes, neck to wrists to neck. The sailors are sick of them, these thin, underfed looking things; food had gotten scarce as their journey had extended, and one sailor is worth a handful of hostages.

"Mr. MacCruimein," Lucien says, immediately spying the familiar figure, his voice lancing sharp enough that he doesn't need to be loud; he never is.

A twist of Jain's head has him meeting the dock master in the eye and he lifts his chin. There's no real direction needed as the highlander moves toward the row of tethered prisoners. The sailors might be sick of them, but he's not yet and he's got fresh muscle to herd them with.

"Right," because there's no order needed, he moves toward the keeper of the livestock and takes hold of their rope. He leads them toward the end of the dock before stopping them to take stock of how many, what sort, and— least importantly— any injuries that the cattle might have.

"I think they need a little shaking up now and then," Mariah says, and given that he remembers her name, she steps forward enough to offer a hand out his way. "I'll consider it a personal favor," she notes, a subtle lift of an eyebrow coming to join a sly smile. "Always a pleasure to have you on land."

She withdraws some, as he calls on the militia man, her own gaze sliding in the man's direction and, inevitably to the tethered people. She migth have an urge or two to go give them some words of encouragement, but coming from a town whore, it might give the wrong impression about what awaits them. Any impression at all might be… unkind at the moment. But the sight of them does sober her expression some. Anyone might guess she were nervous around them, with how quickly she shifts her attention to her gloves. They are very nice lace.

Well. There is a first time for everything, and if Algernon's line of interest in any indication, this may be the first time he's seen a line of yoked prisoners being led from a boat. He turns to better see where Mariah looks down, shadowed eyeline unremarkable amidst however many other faces craning for a look at the latest stock.

There are as many as ten, the total that have surived the trip. They wear what they wore whenever they were captured, and in total, there are four men, two women, and four youths, the youngest being a boy that can't have been more than ten, and the others being one girl and two boys in their teens. Likely in more savage states as are most of those that aren't in settlements as privileged as Dornie, living a difficult life in the bowels of the Clàrsach Ghàidhealach has made them even wilder in soiled clothing, open wounds. One of the male teens still stands straight and tall, eyeing Jain without particular fear.

"Have them taken to the abattoir, south of the castle," Lucien continues to direct. "In the morning we'll move them to Gilroy's properties; I can't fathom the journey at this hour, can you? It's passed supper."

His hand then closes over one of Mariah's, interrupting her inspection of her gloves. "Now, before you inform me as to the price've a good long bath and a clean bed at the Dovetail, you'll tell me who the gentlemen in the hat is? He looks awfully official." And new. Lucien doesn't go for sly; he looks towards Algernon more directly than his fleeting glances prior, without losing the obvious study in favour of acknowledgment should he be noticed.

"If you're looking for a clean bed, try a lonely woman, they'll likely be more grateful for the company.. the Dovetail ain't got nothing clean." Jain's comment is made with the most innocent smile he can muster. Turning his back on the two, he walks back up the line of prisoners, alternately poking at wounds and grabbing faces for better perusal. He might want one at Mairi's farm.

The tall teen gets a longer than usual stare as the soldier's muscles tighten in the arm and his hand forms a fist. "Try anything, boy, and I'll kill one of the others for your trouble. Then I'll make the rest of you drag the corpse to the castle before untying the lot of you."

The touch is enough to get Mariah to lift her gaze, a smile coming with her. "Of course," she says, turning to look in Algernon's direction. "That's our Mister Fogg. Algernon. He's in the militia and Dornie's most laconic gentleman. But we're proud to have him." Which is fairly high praise from her.

There's a glance spared in Jain's direction for his comment, but it only turns her smile crooked when she looks back to Lucien. "Well, I find I must beg an opportunity to right the Dovetail's reputation, suddenly," she remarks wryly. As far as price, she doesn't quote him anything just yet.

Muscle flanking Fogg's spine on either side winches taut beneath his coat, invisible in all but the slightest buff of shoulder over back. Short of direct contact to confirm, the same movement could be as easily attributed to restlessness as stress — a resettling of feather and crest that doesn't amount to much of anything while he's being watched.

He's a background figure. Not involved. This long into his stay in Dornie, distinctness of dress and aspect mark him effectively as a visual deterrent.

One that has to force himself to turn his head enough to inspect Lucien once he's informed that he's being inspected.

Lucien is watching Jain in a way that might portray concern for his stock, but only fleeting; he is honestly more interested in finding somewhere to lie down with a warm whiskey in his hand and a lady on his cock, at the same time. Priorities.

"What prouder profession can a man have?" he notes, invading her space enough to place a hand on the small of her back. He is clean enough, but he has mostly used artificial scents to mask the fact he's been out of civilisation for as long as he has, cloying and not completely pleasant. "And don't worry, I'm certain Edme's running a clean ship, I've been a friend to her's for a long while." Or whatever counts as having a friend in Lucien.

The boy doesn't answer Jain, just goes even stiffer of posture when he's addressed. Like only a couple of them, he has bruises on his face and arms that speak of some physical abuse, so it's probably not a surprise that he responds, then, with sharply spitting at Jain.

"No, wait," says the girl behind him, breathless with fear, "he doesn't hear right— "

To Jain's credit, the girl who speaks isn't shot. The butt of the pistol is brought down hard alongside her head and when she crumples to the ground, he watches with some amusement when the rest of the line begins to go down like dominoes. Then the barrel of the gun is swung up and held less than an inch from the boy's eye. "Now, will someone please explain to the crippled boy that you all get to drag this girl to the castle. Not carry and that the wounds she receives from this will be on his head."

He waits, glancing from one prisoner to the other before using his rope hand to flick the spittle from his face.

Mariah smiles at the hand coming to rest on her back and she shifts enough to hold her parasol with both hands as she steps in closer to him. It's certain she notices the smell, but she's good enough not to show it. Plus, she's used to sailors who don't even bother with the perfumes. "I do believe you'll find it as pleasant a place as ever."

Her attention drifts toward the display with the prisoners, and she watches for a long moment before she turns back to Lucien. "And, I dare say, a less crowded venue," she adds with a gentle laugh. If she's bothered by the display, it's hard to pinpoint exactly why.

From Algernon's post there's sudden start of movement after a break of still, uncertain silence: a shabby onlooker to his right champs forward and is just as quickly intercepted by the flat of his club. Politely. There isn't even a thump to call attention from the source of his ire, although — a sideways look coupled with a turn of the truncheon at an angle between jaw and neck is a promise.

The suspect in this case declines to take him up on it.

There is a buckling in the ranks as the captured stagger to compensate for the sudden weight on their own ropes. There's a murmur but no one has words for Jain, not really, and the woman nearest to the boy grabs a fistful of his shirt before he can attempting a strangled dive at the militia man. She takes her chin into his hand and forces him to look at her, eyes wide, a brisk shake of her head.

"And finer company, I'm sure," Lucien says, only blinking at the sound of what's happening yonder, "what with there being a charge. Why don't you run ahead back to Madame Edme's, and I'll catch up? I have things yet to do here." Like maybe making sure half his two-legged plunder don't die less than fifty feet from the docks.

He turns back towards where Jain is. Managing things, and intrudes. A knife is taken from a pocket, and it slices cleanly through the rope at the woman's throat. She slumps unconsciously onto one of his feet, and he nudges her aside as if she were a sack of potatoes. "Have the lad carry her on his strapping shoulders," he says, to Jain, a little cooler in tone, "so that you might reach the castle before dawn."

He can't hear very well, it's already been displayed, so Jain relies on action to get his point across. Picking the woman up by the scruff of her neck, he tosses her onto the boy's back, letting the others rush around to help keep her on before clearing his throat for attention again.

"Listen up, walk fast and you'll be fed and wounds tended to. Test my patience and there'll be nothing until the first one dies of starvation or blood poisoning." The soldier glances at the dock master for a moment before pressing his lips into a pensive line and grinding his teeth. "The boy's going to be a little hard to train."

"Oh, that much is sure," Mariah says, and there's a nod at his suggestion. But before she turns to go, she leans in to whisper against his cheek, "I'll be looking forward to it." And when she draws away, her smile is crooked again, and sly, and she walks with an extra bit of sway. For everyone's benefit.

She isn't lingering back to watch whatever other business is set to happen at the docks like she might have in the past, but perhaps she's just eager.

Algernon and his well-intentioned friend remain connected via blunt instrument until both have relaxed enough to recede from the potential for confrontation. It takes several seconds.

By the time they've parted ways, Jain has hauled the girl up onto her companion's back and there is less to be riled over. The onlooker's would-be-hero retreats to nurse the hurt in his bottom somewhere out of sight and Fogg moves forward in his place, billy club back to belt.

As his lazy aim is Lucien, it's inevitable that he should pass Mariah in red along the way. The look he favors her fore with is unremarkable acknowledgement.

A second look after her aft is similarly inscrutable.

"He has eyes. Strong hands. Show him how to turn a wrench once, Mr. MacCruimein," Lucien says, briefly warmer, smile never widening, "or muck a stable, and he can do that for the rest of his life." He takes a step back out of the immediate space of the captives, glancing up and down the boy now given the woman's weight to wield; possibly a more effective hampering than ropes or chains, as the teenager is occupied with his bound hands gripping a limb, back bowed.

Lucien would much prefer be drifting for the Dovetail, that brief intimate exchange a few moments ago warm in his memory. But there are things to flit around like a swallow to oversee, and besides, there's the shape of approach shadowing his periphery.

"He has eyes. Strong hands. Show him how to turn a wrench once, Mr. MacCruimein," Lucien says, briefly warmer, smile never widening, "and he can do that for the rest of his life." He takes a step back out of the immediate space of the captives, glancing up and down the boy now given the woman's weight to wield; possibly a more effective hampering than ropes or chains, as the teenager is occupied with his bound hands gripping a limb, back bowed. This is more of a spectacle than he counted on, but. It happens. Blood runs from the girl's head injury to dot crimson on the ground.

Lucien would much prefer be drifting for the Dovetail, that brief intimate exchange a few moments ago warm in his memory. But there are things to flit around like a swallow to oversee, and besides, there's the shape of approach shadowing his periphery.

"I s'pose," admittedly, Jain didn't think that far ahead into the boy's future. It might be one of the reasons he follows instead of leads. He only thinks ahead to his own future instead of the collective. Pistol kept in hand, he uses the rope like a weapon to snap the herd into movement.

If only he had come prepared with a whip.

The slow progression of prisoners is surprisingly quicker with the threat of a bullet. This accomplished, hands off the rope to one of the other soldiers to lead while he keeps an eye on the ranks by walking up and down their line. "Come on, hurry up," his voice is harsh and echoes over the water a little too loudly. "You'll reach the castle in time for scraps if you don't dawdle."

"Mister Bassingthwaighte," Algernon greets from that shadowy periphery, having no need of the copy-paste function to address Lucien by surname. He offers a hand as well, ungloved, eyes diverted briefly from direct contact to tail Jain's departure instead. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you."

"I had no idea I was being waited for," Lucien says, turning at first sound of his deveptively simple sounding last name, and readily takes the offered hand in a brisk shake of greeting. His own is clean, for all that he's clearly been at sea for a while; but hands are easy to maintain that way. "Mr. Fogg. Likewise. Where did Duncan scare you up in my absence?"

He doesn't glance back at the progress the men and women and Jain are making; they appeared to be going in the right direction, and that would have to do.

"A small band of magical gypsies," says Algernon, somewhat unkindly. His hand is less clean, courtesy of the dust he'd been scrubbing from horse hide before he was summoned from one venue to another. The calluses are in different places; his primary knuckles have been split more than once, at odds with the effort he's spent on the rest of his appearance. "You're a local, if I recall correctly." Actual doubt is missing where it's implied. "Welcome back."

Pleasantry doubles as fairwell, in this case — introductions exchanged, he steps to the side.

Lucien's hands aren't the kind that punch people, but they're rough with other work as well. It's difficult to get by in a world like this without doing any unless you're born into certain manners of privilege or gender. The exchange done, he puts his knife away, and his hands fold together. Greying eyebrows raise in polite agreement regarding his heritage. "You'll have to tell me the full story when I'm not in the midst of chaos," he says, mildly apologetic, each syllable dancing over the rhythm his accent has that Dornie cultivates, "but thank you for the welcome."

He takes the cue as it's given, his small smile fading once the exchange is more or less done; he sets off once he casts a glance for an ever darkening if cloudless sky.