Laure arrived about half an hour after Oriel had expected her to. No doubt intentional. Maybe it was a test of Oriel's faith. Or maybe the Inquisitor was double and triple-checking that it wasn't some manner of trap. Or any number of other reasons. It was not Oriel's place to question the ways of the Inquisition. They were the eyes and ears - and hands - of the Saint himself protecting the faithful from the disease of heresy and the threat of witchcraft.
"You sent for me." Stated Laure flatly, her monotone voice betraying not the sort of disinterested disapproval of Helena's monotone, but rather a sort of judgmental paranoia. The Witch Hunter was wearing a new outfit, not surprisingly given that the last one was rendered a fine confetti by the claws of the Succubi, one which, to Oriel's sinful pleasure, left a considerable amount of Laure's ample chest on display. "If you have called me here to personally confess your sins, then I sincerely hope that they are dire indeed that you would take my time rather than another's. It is, Oriel, a sin to waste the time the Saint has given us on frivolous matters."
"O-of course not, Lady Inquisitor Guidonis..." Oriel was a little caught off guard by Laure's outfit, her hazy blue eyes letting off more than a slight note of inappropriate fondness. The fanatic was clothed the opposite way; Now bearing more modest loose-fitting trousers, and small spiked chains threaded into the back of her hair as a noble woman might with frilled ribbons. "..That would be a... t-terrible vanity... for certain!"
She cupped her hands before her face and bowed rapidly as she spoke, but then paused and seemed to freeze in place whilst trying to think about how to break the news to the inquisitor. Wasting her time felt utterly wrong. She knew the holy woman had more important things to be doing.
"In... t-the catacombs... when the paths forked... we encountered something that we did not inform you about. It's... It's unforgivable..." The flagellant sounded honestly pained under the still all-too-fresh memories of being rendered powerless and humiliated in front of the others, and was hunkered down onto one knee, as if personally asking Laure absolution for failing so utterly. "We saw a man... monster... thing. Called himself the Tyrant. Said he was the leader of the horned society... In a red robe, with a mask. The place was lined with s-strange tubes... and small, unholy infant-things in flasks... fake blood that could be manipulated by his f-foul magic... he defeated all of us, soundly. Even Lady Noireaux... and... and he knew absolutely everything about us... and..."
"He told us about the carnival. Told us to wipe them out. He also said that they had a friend in a very high place, back here amongst us... It makes me feel utterly sick to be carrying out his wishes, but he specifically wanted to inform you that such a man existed, but not who or where..."
"I'm truly, truly sorry for all of this, Lady Inquisitor Guidonis. But there was no telling who we could trust... Any punishment you s-see fit to a-administer is... undoubtedly deserved..."
In an instant Laure had grabbed Oriel painfully by her hair, slammed her face hard into a pillar, and then shoved the girl's back up against it, pinning her wrists over her head with one mailed hand and the other holding a small knife to Oriel's neck. Laure wasn't nearly as as strong, as Theresa was, but given that Oriel was, if anything, helping her along rather than resisting, she still managed to pull off the maneuver with ease.
"The Tyrant?!" She barked, pressing the dagger-like heel of one of her boots pressing against Oriel's bare foot. "Did he say anything else?! You're not lying to me, are you?!" She pressed both blades closer, drawing blood in each case.
"... No... No, that was... all he said!..." Oriel gagged and writhed reflexively, only able to avoid screeching due to her formidable pain tollerance. She closed her eyes. The instinctive panic of a trapped animal was raging inside of her gut, and blood pounded around her system so heavily she could feel it in her fingertips. "I would never lie to you, L-Lady Inquisitor G-Guidonis!"
Resisting was suicide, she knew that. It wasn't a show of faith.
Through the blood draining from her nose, however, her face did seem rather too red overall. It was accompanied by, of all things, an expression of great disgust or perhaps betrayal.
It had taken them almost half an hour to prepare the water for his bath. Ramirez was disappointed. While he wasn't staying at the most expensive inn in Lareaux, it was hardly as though it had rats crawling up the walls, so by the nine hells, couldn't they just keep the water warm?
Never mind. It wasn't important. All that really mattered was that he had a small meal, a comfortable room, and a glass of wine.
The wine was dark red, and apparently the best the inn had in stock. It was mediocre, too acrid, too metallic to be any more than a second-rate imitation of actual quality. It reminded Ramirez of the mission, and more specifically of killing the infants. That hadn't been anything more than a second-rate imitation of murder. They were barely conscious, little more than animals, and as such exceptionally dull to slaughter. Would a baby fall to its knees and beg? Would its eyes widen as death revealed herself to it in her true, horrible form? Was a baby's life worth anything? No. It had no life, and few ties. Who would a child's death affect? Only the parents and immediate family, really. Children had nothing to lose. It had been a series of senseless killings, without aesthetic appeal, and the only enjoyment he'd derived from it was the vague irony of painting them with the Cuthbertine mark. And such fanaticism, killing children for being born to demonic parents! Demons - and Tieflings - were capricious and unruly, but keeping them alive would serve more use than murdering them. The Church was lunacy incarnate.
With this last thought in mind, he dried himself, got dressed into clean clothes, and headed off to report to Helena.
Laure continued to hold Oriel against the pillar for several minutes, reading her facial expression and body language. The woman's stare was terrifying - she could see Oriel's sin, she knew it. She could feel the Witch Hunter's gaze.
Finally, after several terrifying moments, Laure relaxed and released Oriel. "I think you are telling the truth." She said coldly. "And," she went on, "if you are not, it will come out soon enough. Sin begets punishment as surely as the sun rises each morning. It is the way of the world." She said solemnly and confidently before turning and starting to leave. "There is much work to be done, and I must inform my superiors. I would suggest you not leave the city."
She paused and turned her head to give Oriel a Look. "I would also suggest you consider where your eyes wander, and what thoughts you have. To the eyes of the saint, the content of one's mind are no more private than the contents of an open field. If you cannot control your urges, I remind you that it is better to be blind than a sinner."
Helena met with Ramirez in an office that had been set aside for her in one of the larger cathedrals of the city. She was, after all, a Very Important Person. Although one who knew her might debate exactly how much a sociopath like her was deserving of being called a person.
Helena was wearing a simple black outfit, modest but not modest enough to hide her attractive figure. She had been doing paperwork before Ramirez entered, and for several moments after, before she responded. "Mr. Aquila, if this is about Mr. Bellerose, I do not believe I am the best person for you to speak with." She said in her usual monotone. "I know several priests who have helped my men in the past and I am certain they would be happy to aid you with your troubles." She finally looked up from her desk. "Or is this about something else?"
"While Mr. Bellerose's death was certainly-" he paused for an instant, unable to think of any words besides pointless, "-unfortunate, and he will be missed, that's not why I came to speak to you."
He launched into an explanation of the chamber they'd found underneath the city. He took particular care to describe his sampling of the Tyrant's elixir as something he'd felt forced to do in order to protect the rest of the party, and spent a significant amount of time elaborating on the bravery of the other members of the party in attacking the leader of the Horned Society. His own behaviour was almost an afterthought in comparison. He completed his monologue with a brief summary of the information the Tyrant had given them, and the accusations he had made towards the Church.
Helena listened in silence. It was hard to read her. Did the raised eyebrow now and then suggest surprise or accusation?
"The servants of the Enemy seek only to enslave and mislead, Aquila." She said with her usual flat coldness. "It is unwise to listen to them." Fortunately for him, she seemed to let that go after those words. "What about Inquisitor Guidonis? Have you informed her?" She paused for a moment, eyes closed in thought. "Can she be trusted, even? Do you trust her, Aquila?"
"The flagellent-" he squinted into the distance, past Helena, "ah, Oriel, went to Lady Guidonis to inform her of these events. They ought have met by now. I'm unsure of their trustworthiness, but I have very little acquaintance with either of them."
"By the way, you seem troubled, Ma'am," he added. "Is something the matter?"
"Mr. Aquila, you come to me to inform me that on a routine cleansing you and your associates came across the Tyrant of the Horned Society dwelling beneath our very feet in a labyrinthine lair wherein he was somehow creating a veritable legion of horrors and alleged that we are all unknowing agents of the Enemy." Helena gave him a Look. "Yes, Aquila, I am troubled and there is something the matter."
She let her look return to its normal look of 'glare' rather than 'holy shit you are dumb glare.' "The servants of the Enemy mislead, Aquila. It is what they do. I do not know what truth, if any, there was in what the Tyrant told you, but we cannot act on unknowns. All we can do is act on what we know, and on what we know to be necessary. We cannot be sure who is and is not an agent of the Enemy, and I think it is then prudent that this information be told only to those who can be trusted. I suspect that Inquisitor Guidonis may have already told her superiors, but it is the role of the Inquisition to handle such matters. Still, Aquila, we must be vigilant and steadfast. We all have our parts to play, and through determination, strength, and His favor, all things are possible."