When Elise arrives for her appointment with the Arch Inquisitor, his secretary is at her desk, scribing out something on heavy parchment. The avian holds the quill carefully in her wing-hand; the angle at which she has to hold her wing to keep her feathers from dragging across the page looks uncomfortably awkward. Despite this, Becky doesn't seem to have any trouble forming neat, calligraphic characters on the page. She finishes the word she is working on, then sets the quill to one side, chirping a bright, "Good morning, Executor!"
The somber poodle Executor inclines her head briefly to the avian. "I am here to see the Arch Inquisitor. You will find he is expecting me," she says. Hearing her new title spoken again infuses the lady with a sense of pride. She certainly never expected to feel so proud of the achievement, but that was back then. Now after looking back at all she went through to get even this far, and all she has had to endure, she can say that she is pleased with herself. It was hard, but she made it.
Just as Elise finishes speaking, a wet, fleshy sound comes from behind the closed door to the Arch Inquisitor's office, followed by a muffled groan. Becky seems oblivious to the noise as she twitters, "He said he'd be busy and wasn't to be disturbed oh, now, wait a moment, maybe he did say he was expecting you." She clicks her beak together nervously, opening a desk drawer. "I wrote down his instructions, just a moment "
The top of Becky's desk is conspicuously clean, apart from the parchment she's laboring on, and a small sheet of pencil-scribbled paper off to one side.
Perking an ear and raising a brow in reaction to the noise from the other room the lady takes a moment to glance to the door with that vaguely curious expression. "It would seem the Arch Inquisitor is indisposed." She turns her head back to regard Becky. "Wouldn't it?"
"maybe no I don't know," the bird twits, anxious. "I'm sure I put that note some place. Would you like some tea?" She turns to the drawer on the opposite side, clicking to herself.
The oddity that is Becky's friendliness combined with the sounds of what she assumes is an interrogation in progress causes Executor's expression to shift from curious to amused. "Why, yes," the lady answers. "I think I would indeed."
Another sickening thump, followed by a sharp crack, sounds from behind the door after the poodle makes her answer. Becky abandons her search for the missing note to fuss with her stove and tea kettle. "I'll have some ready in a jiffy," she promises, beaming at Elise. "What flavor would you like? I have berryswort, kuresall, and black."
Again the poodle Executor glances at the closed door and this time she smirks faintly before looking back. "Why, oh, black," she answers.
"And don't forget that note, Becky," adds the lady.
"Oh! the note!" Becky flutters her wing-hands, flustered and about to resume her earlier search, when the door cracks open.
"Becky, what " Tsagairt stands in the doorway, toweling off his hands. "Ah, there you are," he says, spotting Elise. "Good." He shoulders the door open the rest of the way.
Becky chirps, "Hello, Arch Inquisitor! The Executor just arrived, I couldn't remember if you said she was to go right in or wait, I was going to check my note but I "
"That's fine," Tsagairt interrupts Becky, waving a hand in dismissal. A spatter of red smears the right shoulder of his dark gray uniform. A few dark streaks water? cross the chest. The beige towel in his hands streaks with red as he rubs them off. "Yes, I'll have a cup of tea. Come in, Executor." He stands to one side to let Elise enter.
After having snapped off a salute as the Arch Inquisitor the lady watches the exchange between the Jupani and his secretary in silence. Her amused expression because highly muted, and she leaves it to a minor smirk shadowing the edge of her muzzle. When she's directed inside the office she replies with a bark of "Yes sir" and proceeds inside.
The Office of Arch Inquisitor Gaelan an Tsagairt
This chamber shows little evidence of the personality of its occupant. The unadorned walls and floor give stark emphasis to the few furnishings a heavy maple desk, a few chairs, and a case lined with torturer's implements. Tilted near one wall rests a man-sized frame in the shape of an X, with restraining straps affixed to it.
An unusual addition mars the orderly room: a Gallah male, tied to the frame, his head sagging forward. One eye is swollen shut, and blood drips from his nose to contribute to the spreading stain over his bare chest. Bruised patches of skin show purple-black on his stomach. Two fingers on his left hand are twisted at an unnatural angle.
"Black's fine," Tsagairt is telling the avian secretary, paying little attention to his earlier 'guest' or his latest one. "Just give me the whole pot. Two cups. No, three. And put another kettle on." He takes the laden tray from Becky's hands, adding, "The note is on your desk. Throw it out. I am not to be disturbed until further notice." He closes the door, takes a deep breath, shakes his head, then turns to walk to his desk.
As an Tsagairt returns to his desk he finds the lady poodle standing before it and facing him. Her expression hasn't changed much though now her brow is raised and her ears are slightly perked showing the lupine has her full attention. She watches him as him as he proceeds across the room.
"Have a seat," Tsagairt tells her, seating himself behind the desk. He pours steaming tea, still watery from the short time it's been steeping, into two of the teacups, and pushes one over to Elise's side. "You got answers for me?"
After having seated herself the poodle lays her cane across her lap and folds her hands atop it for the moment. "First I didn't shoot Rinaldo in the bazaar, I don't think the risk of political problems was that severe in hindsight. Second, I let someone doesn't matter that they were kids or if they were adults get too close to me. And I don't just mean physically, you understand." She pauses here to allow the Arch Inquisitor to comment if he feels so inclined.
Tsagairt's only answer is a grunt. He takes a sip from his cup, grimaces at the taste, and sets it to one side. He lifts his chin, indicating for Elise to continue.
"As for what I think I did right first I'd say I didn't fail to execute the targets when taken. That might have bothered me once, but that was then. Second I didn't fail to extract justice when justice was due. Letting people off with their crimes because of excuses or misplaced pity only encourages them to stand against the law. Shows weakness," answers the female Executor.
The wolf snorts. From the corner of the room, the prisoner on the X-frame makes a bubbling sound as he breathes. "Your second correct action sounds a lot like your first. Try again," Tsagairt says. He leans back in his chair, arms folded across his chest.
The lady nods. "No? Alright. I 'followed my instincts'," she smirks at that, "and caught up with Rinaldo in the bazaar. Maybe if I had just shot him down that would have been that. The point being I pursued him when I felt the chance was right even if the Executor Majoris wasn't present. And if that isn't sufficient then I also identified the packets in the Golden Peninsula as a trap. Wasn't for us, but it caused us enough problems when it went off."
Tsagairt gives a grunt that might be satisfied. "Learn to analyze what you do. I'm not pulling teeth on you again like this." Something in his voice conveys a sense that 'pulling teeth' was the more desirable of the two possible results from a failure to self-analyze. "Now, the last?"
"I was too easy on Rinaldo. On one hand his death on a public street might cause a panic and garner us some complaints from the local officials. On the other hand he might have been present for any number of reasons, and given his record I might be inclined to think he wasn't the sort for a relaxing evening of "recreational shopping"," the poodle says "recreational shopping" with a emphasis on her noble accent, "and therefore the faster he's trudging his was along the Procession the better for all of us, and all of them. If it troubles a few onlookers then maybe they should be thinking what he might have been doing there. To them. As for the tavern I've considered it and I don't think the action was unjustified. Not that I'm saying it's well and fine to repeat everywhere, from the Noble District to the Mongrel Quarter, but in this case it was an acceptable loss of a blaspheming nobody. And it was effective."
The Arch Inquisitor continues to watch Elise for several moments after she finishes speaking. His victim in the corner whines, a quiet but oddly penetrating sound, akin to a stifled scream. Finally, Tsagairt gives a one-shouldered shrug. "Then you know where you stand." He rises. "Your new uniform is approved. Make sure the axes are on the shoulders and that it's in my colors. Anything else?"
"No, sir," answers the lady. She stands shortly after he does with her right hand set to rest upon her cane for support.
"Dismissed, Executor." When she salutes him before departing, he returns the gesture as usual. His salutes have a military precision to them, seeming at odds with his typical brusque informality.
It occurs to the Executor as she passes the bound Gallah that his plight stirs much the same emotion as the plights of those whom she executed on her missions. While somewhere inside her there is a place that feels disturbed the feeling is not nearly so great as it used to be. Overshadowing it is a sense of justice done, of vengeance against crime and the law of Rephidim made clear and strong. On this she muses as she walks out the door and continues on her way home.
The next few days are pleasant, if relatively uneventful. Lord Jean Dunbarre calls on her, as anticipated, spending quarter of an hour in idle small talk in the parlor. He arranges to spend an evening out with her. "At a new place that I know of. I think you'll like it," he says. The lord suggests formal attire, but refuses to give specifics, begging off on account of a pressing engagement.
Life at homes continues to be easy, restful, and utterly unlike the way of things on her missions. Gone are the uncomfortable treks through foreign locations and the rude treatment from low-life scum. It almost feels like a dream. A dream of another life. But a life she knows to have put aside in favor of the one thing the old life could not provide the carve out her revenge against those who oppose her way of life. Now that she is off duty she finds all those things that were once second nature to her as a child distant and confounding. She realizes she doesn't know the latest fashions, or even quite remember all the little details and tips for such occasions her sister always fretted over. With a sigh weary sigh she peers with a disgruntled air in to her wardrobe as she leans heavily against her staff. This is only the second time she has been with the Lord Jean Dunbarre on a formal occasion, as a "pair", and she thinks of the event enough to bite down on her pride and call for reinforcements seem due. "Armand," she calls towards the door, "fetch Katherine."
A few minutes later, her sister enters the room, wearing a lavender day dress and a composed expression. "Armand said you were asking for me, Elise?" she inquires, solicitous.
"I need some help here," answers Elise as she waves vaguely at her wardrobe with her free left hand. "Formal. For a an outing with the Lord Jean Dunbarre. At a "new place" he "thinks I'll like"."
Katherine's mouth twitches. "Are you … " she pauses, delicately, before continuing, "asking me what you should wear?"
A sigh longer than the first escapes the elder poodle. She turns her gaze heavenward in a 'First Ones help me' expression her sister can't see. "Yes," she answers.
The younger poodle folds her hands together. "Why, Elise," she says, "What's wrong with what you have on?" Her older sister is currently dressed in an old Temple uniform.
"An excellent choice," chimes Elise. Lifting herself up and hobbling back out of the doorway she reaches and closes the closet door with a satisfied thump. "Good riddance, too. I should think I would have stood there forever." She turns and makes her way for a nearby armoire that holds all her Temple robes with a grin on her face.
Katherine bobs a curtsey. "I am glad to have been of service. Shall I return to my reading, then, or did you need me for aught else, sweet sister?"
"No, that'll be all. Thank you Katherine. I knew I could depend on my dear sister to help me," the older poodle answers. The armoire she swings the doors open and steps back to review the contents, taking but a moment to glance back at her sister and regard her with that grin still plastered on her face.
Another curtsy from Katherine helps hide the answering smile on her face. "It is good to be of use," she observes, mildly, then withdraws.
A few minutes pass as Elise sorts through the uniforms of her closet, then the door to her bedroom cracks open again. Katherine pokes her head through, and says, "You're not really going to wear a Temple uniform to a formal dinner … are you?"