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Visiting a Grieving Mother (Ellowyn, Ka'Ri, Sithani)

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"Ma'am, I have a few more questions," Ka'Ri began nervously, recalling what Thimb had told her she had discovered in Gwynn's diary and remembering some of Toph's chosen rants about her own overprotective parents. "And I fear these might be a little more raw than our previous questions if that's all right?"

She waits to see Laerdya's response before proceeding, making sure she seems braced. If she is, but not dissociating, she continues.

"We've uncovered some things and it would help us if we can understand Gwynn's state of mind before the incident. Did she have any disagreements with anyone before the incident day, no matter how small, or seem especially agitated during any of the time, or did she begin to try and tell you something but then go silent?"

Knowing where a depressed mind runs under such questions, she was quick to add on. "None of these are things you should blame yourself for. Nor should you blame yourself for her disappearance, hindsight after all is a brutal and dishonest judge, but knowing the landscape of her mind and interactions will greatly help us answer some lingering questions."
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Laerdya seems confused by these questions. "N-no? No arguments. She was ill for several days. Violently so. Hardly left her bed. Then she was on the mend, or so we thought. But the heat was so oppressive and she didn't like moving around much when it was so warm. She mostly stayed in her room, resting."

A frown creases her smooth brow, and the tiniest flicker of anger alights in her eyes. "Why should I blame myself? A pirate took her. I told you that!"
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"Yesssss..." Ka'Ri says awkwardly. She definitely felt more adrift with Laerdya's answers and how she was fucking this up so badly. I know I'm no good at talking to nobby folks about shit like this.

For a second she thought about bringing up the diary and the growing suspicions, but some bare remnant of her self preservation cut her off in dire knowledge that mentioning it would be a fairly painful form of suicide.

"It's just..." she shuffled awkwardly and channeled the self she was when in this room for the first time. Despite the changing beliefs about Gwynn, there were still a few pieces that bothered her about everything including how few seemed ready to help her until so much time had passed and how well nobby all the motives seemed for at least the ransom letter if nothing else. "I'm sorry, I'm no good at this tactiful stuff."

Her brain strained against the ropes as she figured another approach. "What the jackboots did to you was bordering on neglect in how they've handled things. And I have a different way of responding to loss than it seems maybe nobby types might, so I apologize if I overstepped. I genuinely did mean no offense."

She steadies herself, "I suppose the main gist of what I'm tryin' to figure out is why someone with power would have a vested interest in preventin' her safe return and drawin' things out. Now, I admit to bein' just as drawn to a showy display, but there's a hell of a lot of things that'd have to go right on the day for Korogur to work alone and not a lot of reason for the handlin' of things to be so tangle-knotted."

She could feel herself getting more worked up and tried to channel it down. "But like, if there's someone inside that wanted her gone just as much as he and anyone else he was working with, then that'd explain some things. Like, as you noted, she's a fixture of the tower and is usually in bed. So what if she wasn't? What if she saw somethin' or overheard somethin'. Something bad enough to work to help prevent a quick means of rescuing her."

"As you noted, she's a fragile girl, and maybe that means she don't speak up much and maybe you're right that there weren't nothin' out of the ordinary for her. But if there was something, no matter how small, something she was too scared or too worried to say fully or some out-of-place act of frustration, hoping some time alone would give her the chance to process what she seen?"

"A piece like that could be meaningful not only for getting her back, but making sure she's not in danger once she is."

Her leg and hand was shaking uncontrollably as her mind caught up with the amount of shade she had just thrown on people Laerdya had far more reason to trust than some criminal who had managed somehow already to insult her three times this morning. She drew silent and very slightly pulled into herself hoping Laerdya's response would only be a growled order to leave and not something more severe.
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[TW: euphemistic references to rape]

Laerdya seems more confused than anything by this speech; her frown shifts from anger to genuine puzzlement. "I don't... I don't understand your meaning?" she says, studying Ka'Ri with tired eyes as though there's some vital key she's missed.

"Gwynnestri was kidnapped by a pirate," she explains again, slower and more carefully now. "He- He climbed into her room and- and attacked her. He is keeping her prisoner somewhere even now, probably h-hurting her even as we speak, and he'll continue to do so unless I meet his demands or kill him myself." She draws a deep breath, her voice thin. Reedy. Shaky. "Why would anything Gwynnestri 'saw' or 'overheard' be relevant to a pirate's decision to torture her? I don't understand."
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Ellowyn speaks up before Laerdya can work up enough outrage over Ka'ri's less than socially acceptable attempt at getting to the heart of a lot of the problems with all working theories so far.

"Ma'am Ka'ri's not wrong. There's no way at least one person didn't see someone coming or going.

it's obvious the paths below her bedroom in the garden are patrolled of an evening yet only the birds saw anything? So there's at least one person who works here knows something.

We also have reason to believe that it may not be the case that she may have known the kidnapper previously. It seems they were courting for at least a few weeks prior to her disappearance, we have an eye witness who saw who we believe to be korogur with Gwyn near the temple complex. Please trust me Ma'am that I wouldn't suggest this at all if I hadnt promised you and Marta that I would do everything in my power to help in this situation. Right now we need to know if Gwyn ever had anyone including staff to turn to and confide in."
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Ka'Ri shoots Ellowyn a desperate grateful look and goes back to silent mode.
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Laerdya's confusion now turns to bafflement. "No, you're wrong," she says, frowning deeply. "The paths are patrolled, but the tower guard is practically ceremonial. The Feytower hasn't been seriously threatened for decades; our 'guard' is composed of castoffs from the army and city guard. Elders and teenagers. Luther launched an investigation himself and has tightened protocols, but there were simply no witnesses that night." She laughs hollowly. "Did you think we didn't question the guards once the ransom note came?"

Regarding the theory about Korogur, she narrows her eyes. "I would say your 'witness' is lying or mistaken," she says, her voice turning cold. "Or... perhaps he spoke to her and she didn't know who he was. Why should she? She is a sweet, gentle soul who never harmed another living being in her life. It probably pleased him to speak to her, knowing how he would hurt her later. None of this suggests to me that someone at the Feytower arranged for this tragedy. Everyone here adores Gwynnestri."
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"Okay ma'am I appreciate that. Is there anyone in particular besides Luther and yourself who paid particular attention to the girl someone she might talk to or who might lie on her behalf? Everything we rule out brings us closer to finding her ma'am I'm sorry this is so frustrating."

They bow their head in contrition trying to be slightly more subtle in their approach. As subtle as Ellowyn can manage at least.
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Laerdya shakes her head again, weary and confused. "Everyone here adores Gwynnestri," she repeats. "There's no reason to lie for her. There are no lies. I told you who took her: the pirate Korogur. The birds saw him come and go in a black cloak in the dead of night." She sighs. "No one believes me. You all want to think she ran away, because that's prettier than the ugly truth. I don't blame you."

Waving a delicate hand, she rises from the vanity and walks back to her spot on the bed to sit and languish over the wax form of her daughter. "Leave me alone."
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"As you wish ma'am" Ellowyn bows and then leaves and waits for the others outside.
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Well, shit. Who else can we ask? Laerdya's about the only person we can be sure didn't want her daughter taken.

Sithani walks over to where Laerdya sits and kneels down to meet her eye level.

"You're right, madam. If Korogur did attempt to seek your daughter's acquaintance, he would have lied to her." Doubtless about something, if not his identity. "And it is unlikely that anyone here betrayed her and you by helping him... but as you say, Gwynnestri is a kind, gentle person. And you know the mages here better than us, you'll know if I'm wrong, but is it possible someone here was doing something unsavoury, and Gwynnestri found out?"

(OOC: Persuasion, 14; she's trying to make Laerdya think of this as a possibility rather than an accusation.)

"We will find your daughter; I promise."
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Laerdya nods slowly at the promise to find her girl, appreciating this. "I... I suppose anything is possible," she falters, looking between Sithani and the wax figure with a worried frown. "But I... I don't know of anything unsavoury. I spend most of my time working on my plague research. I can't... To imagine someone here might have helped that man out of a desire to harm me or my child is... chilling."
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"I understand. And as I said, it's unlikely." Unless they thought you'd prefer a wax daughter to a living one with her own desires. Sithani gets up and steps back, looking at Ka'Ri. <Do you have anything more to ask? Or should we go pester Luther now?>
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