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The Hand that Feeds You


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It is early evening in the city, the streets full of respectable citizens were ending their workday, and the less respectable starting theirs. In the hustle she spots a familiar sight walking away from her, and she squeezes through the crowd to catch up. Reaching him she gives his shoulder a friendly pat, "Hey there."


Jameson turns, and Natalie resists the urge to criticize his latest outfit, a rather rebellious affair in white and gray. "Dear Natalie, you look... absolutely glowing today."


"Ah... is that so?" She laughs, "Thought I'd go for something lighter today." She looks down at her outfit of loose fitting shirt and pants, giving a tired smile. "And just Nat is fine, as you know... anyway I really need to speak to you."


He tips his feathered cap and grins. "And I have been looking for you as well. How fortuitous."


She grins back, "Well then, shall we go speak somewhere quieter?"


"Let us do that. Somewhere away from the prying ears and eyes." He gives a devious smirk and leans in, lowering his voice to a whisper. "Rumours abound when I am seen with you."


Natalie rolls her eyes, though there is the slightest hint of a blush. "Hardly... will the coin and coffer suffice?"


Jameson clucks his tongue and grimaces slightly. "Dusty. Hot. But it will do. Shall we?" He gestures towards the gate.


She laughs. "Did you have some place else in mind? Perhaps I can ask Nanamo to borrow one of her parlors."


Jameson flashes her another grin. "That would suit me better. But alas..." He gives her a feigned tragic shrug.


She tilts her head with a smirk. "Alas... you're stuck with me and a run down tavern?"


"It is my lot in life. A tavern. A beautiful female across the table. I suffer for my duty, I do."


"We all have our burdens to bear." She says with with some sarcasm as they head out the gate and down the dusty road to the Coin and Coffer. It was hardly a fine establishment, so no one would think to look for Jameson there.


"So how have things been, dear Nat?" He asks after a walk through the dusty roads, his hazel eyes regarding her curiously.


"Oh you know... a plot here, a cult there..."


Jameson snorts, "Still cavorting with Ser Kiryuu? And yes, I've got wind of this cult."


"The usual... Cavorting?" She laughs, "Is that what the kids are calling it these days? Either way I wouldn't worry too much about it. For once Ul'dah isn't their only target. I think they have their plate full."


They make their way up the creaky steps and into the dilapidated tavern, the place was rather empty on a hot midday. Natalie heads straight for the bar. "Anything to drink?"


"Dusty. Hot as usual. I will have a glass of whiskey." He sets his feathered hat down on the table, settling down into a seat.


She returns with two, each with a generous sized ice crystal floating in the middle of the glass, "Here... at least this will be cold." She looks at her own in front of her as she pulls up a chair. "So... would you like to start, or shall I?"


Jameson slides the glass near him, his eyes lingering on the glass. He gives her a slow nod with a gesture her way, "By all means. Ladies first."


Natalie sighs, "You know... you and this lady stuff is wearing me down over time, I'm losing the will to be outraged." She chuckles. "Anyway, I talked to Nero. He's as dense and insufferable as I expected."


He slowly arches a brow, although a smirk stays affixed to his lips, "Mm. I suspected as much. A pirate with a cause and blinders on."


She shrugs. "You know, is it so strange to love a thing despite its flaws? He kept bringing up the problems of this city as if they would be some sort of revelation to me." She rolls the amber liquid around her glass before taking a small sip. "I know of them better than he."


"Perhaps that is the same drivel he fed your girl, Deneith. As I understand it, they are still thick as thieves."


Natalie sighs with a shake of her head. "I can only assume... anyway I asked him to leave the city, and leave Roen behind when he does."


Jameson lofts both brows. "And how did he take that?" He lazily reaches for the glass, taking a sip.


"He... tentatively agreed, though I haven't checked to see if he's actually done so. He seemed to think I was strongarming him... though I only intended it at as advice. He and Roen both have no idea what they're getting into."


The noble nods, "I think we can both agree, his absence in our city-state would only be for the good of all."


She swirls her drink around before taking a sip, "That one only see's the world how he wants to see it, not how it actually is."


Jameson Taeros spins the ice crystal with the swirl of his drink, "As long as it gets the message across." He smirks at Natalie with a tip of his glass towards her. "He does not see the charm about you as I do, mayhap."


"I made that clear if nothing else, that the next 'suggestion' wouldn't be so cordial." She shakes her head and there is the hint of a wry smile, "Evidently not."


He curls a slow but broad smile, "Your 'suggestions' Natalie do carry with it a subtly if an anvil sometimes, I do appreciate that."


Natalie sighs. "Well that's the point isn't it?" She laughs. "Subtlety can get lost sometimes, especially to one as dense as he. I considered just bashing his smug face into the table... but I didn't want to give him any fools notions of revenge."


"Indeed. I am only complimenting you on your good judgement, I wish your former student had the same."


She laughs, "A compliment? I'll take it I suppose... and Roen?" Natalie sighs. "Aye... I don't understand what she's thinking. It's all black and white for that girl." She frowns and takes a drink, "Black and white is a such a terribly boring viewpoint anyway."


Jameson clucks his tongue and shakes his head. "A pirate and a white knight in shining armor. Indeed, We all live in the greys here. Especially in Ul'dah. I pray that Lazarov takes your advice. Had he stuck around longer, I only predict more trouble for our Jewel. He is looking to offset the delicate scale. That will not do.”


She nods, "I felt that as well... I'd only heard bits and rumors, but I was hoping to head things off for once." She takes another sip of her drink. "I'm tired of reacting to catastrophes once they're already in motion."


Jameson nods, taking another languid sip of his own, "Then let me also inform you of this, dear Natalie. I hired him, because he presented himself the best choice. He was the best choice, because the rest of our shipments from Limsa has been slowly choked off." He swirls the drink around gently. "Pirates," he says with a look of distaste, taking another sip of the whiskey.


Natalie chuckles. "Privateers, I think they call themselves."


"That may be the more forgiving title that Merlwyb has allowed, But for those of us who get raided and robbed… pirates, raiders, thieves, and murderers, would be more apt. He is one of those pirates, Natalie."


She nods, "I assumed as much. His men were far too well armed and trained for smugglers."


"I suspect he is behind much of the most recent efforts against our supplies. And then he comes to Ul'dah to ingratiate himself into our business.”


Natalie frowns. "Oh...? To what aim? It seems far too involved for simple profit."


Jameson takes another lip of the whiskey, "Indeed. I am not certain. Yet. But he sees me as a wrongdoer, or at least competition to be eliminated? Hence the frame up job. I suspect he is in this for something far more than just profits. He has roped your girl into believing him and taking his side. I suspect he will try and make more allies within the city."


She sighs. "You know... I think he' in this for something far more dangerous than money. When he spoke ill of Ul'dah and the Syndicate, its chaos, I mentioned that's the price we pay to avoid dictatorship like his own land." She chuckles. "He then spoke warmly about the benefits of living under the supreme power of a single woman's thumb..." she sighs, "I think he's a patriot, and a true believer at that."


"Pirates know naught but chaos lest they be brought to order by an iron fist like Merlwyb. He does not understand the Jewel. He wants to shape it in his own view. An outsider's point of view. To think they can just march in and fix things as they see fit."


Natalie shakes her head. "He does not, Limsa is many wills made slave to one... Ul'dah is many wills which sharpen each other, like a whetstone to a blade." She shrugs. "Some steel will not survive the sharpening of course, but it is the way of things."


"He, and perhaps your girl, cares for the small flaws and the facets, when truly they need to see the entire gem for what it is. How it works. You have the right of way, dear Natalie. You and I understand how the Jewel works."


She smirks at his compliment, "I like to think so..." She tilts her head. "So what do we do about this outsider then? As I said before, he has no understanding of complexity..."


He pauses for a moment before taking a long breath in, setting the glass down. Natalie takes a sip from hers, watching him curiously as she does so.


"I have a notion. An idea, that... may help oust the outsider... but also aid the Jewel in its prosperity. Our outsider's power lay in the seas. As does Limsa. As does our weakness."


She nods. "Any trade bound to anyplace but Gridania or Ishgard must pass through it."


"We have no power on the seas," he continues, "We... the most powerful city-state in Eorzea, is at the mercy of greedy privateers. We should look to rectifying that.”


"I agree.." she swirls her drink around. "But how?"


"Somehow, Lazarov has come to know all of the shipments headed from Limsa to Vesper Bay, for it is only our private ships that starting to get targeted. It is not blanket mind you, at least... not yet." He taps a finger on the rim of his glass. "I am left to understand that his... first mate, is in the gaols?


Natalie nods, "He was, I'll have to check if he remains, a Roegadyn."


"Surely, he must know something. Or... if not, it is at least some leverage. If all else fails, we may need to investigate his business in Limsa. Find out how he knows to target our ships. The Syndicate's business specifically."


Natalie gives him a look. "No."


Jameson arches a brow but said nothing.


"If this is for the Jewel, it should be for all of it." She meets his eyes. "Not just the Syndicate."


Jameson slowly grins. "Of course, dear Natalie. I speak for my employers since it is their affairs I am most intimate with. But you know as well as I that I care about all of the Jewel. My employers have nothing if Ul'dah does not prosper."


She keeps her gaze up for a moment, then slowly nods. "As long as we have an understanding..."


The noble curls his sly smile. "But understand this, Natalie. As much as the Royalists say otherwise, the Syndicate brings in the most gil and business for Ul'dah. If the Syndicate shipments are heavily hit, all of Ul'dah will suffer. If our suspicions are true of Lazarov, he means to tip the scales."


Natalie chuckles. "I think you have the wrong of it." She shakes her head, "The common merchants and traders are the true life blood of the city. I understand you though..." she sighs, "and I suppose I'll... 'talk' to this crewmember of his."


"And who employs many of those traders and merchants? It is not I who man those ships. If those ships are hit, it is the very merchants, and traders and sailors who try and support their families that are hit. My employers only see the loss of gil. You are to save their livelihood, Natalie."


She rolls her eyes. "Aye, aye, though it's not as if every merchant house in the city is on the Syndicate’s payroll, Jameson... either way though, I could use your help with something."


"Of course. I would like to think our relationship is... mutually beneficial" He smiles again.


She chuckles. "Well this will help you out too... I need you to get me a concrete sentence against the crewmember, something scary... like the aforementioned piracy."


"He'll likely be much more talkative if his sentence is already signed, anything for a pardon, after all."


"I think I can arrange for something like that, after all, the cargo he brought in had a tonz of somnus and his men did kill some of my men. So perhaps a death warrant?" He waves a hand vaguely in the air. "These are all legitimate charges after all, simply placed on hold when Lazarov attempted to frame me."


Natalie nods. "Sounds good... I can dangle the chance of a deal over him." She stretches slightly. "And if he doesn't accept, just one less pirate on the seas."


He smiles with a nod. "Indeed, one less pirate to raid our ships."


"Aye, and if I actually figure out something I need from you... I'll be in touch." She grins. "Was there anything else?"


"I will be here. As I always am. And no, I think that concludes our business, dear Natalie.” He dons his feathered hat, rising from the chair. "It is always a pleasure."


Natalie stands as well, laughing. "Somehow that feels less and less sarcastic every time."


Jameson smirks. "Someday, you will take it for what it is."


She smirks back at him. "Maybe... someday."


"And someday, it will not always be about business. Mayhap." He gives a slight bow.


Natalie laughs nervously. "Mayhap..."


Jameson seems to delight in that, as he turns and makes for the door.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To a certain Snake,


I have returned to Limsa, though the Maelstrom remains a challenge to deal with. I am dealing primarily with a man named Edgar, with whom I've agreed to share information on this case. I attempted to mask the fact we knew very little in this case. He seemed to know Roen, and became offended when I expressed my lack of interest in her fate. We might need to watch him in the future. He did however share that the Maelstrom had tracked some of his shipments back to Vesper bay. They believe that he might have a base in the area, and that the Garlean weapons come from the abandoned Castrum nearby. I will stay in Limsa, send word if you need help investigating.


Speaking of investigating, I believe you might be able to draw upon the talented Ser Crofte. When we last spoke she expressed... interest in you. Perhaps we can turn that to our advantage. She, like myself, is loyal to the Sultanate and Ul'dah, but as you know, such loyalty can be expressed in many forms. Perhaps you can nudge her closer to our point of view on the matter. I suggest giving her some small tasks at first, if she is amniable, we can involve her in more.


Don't get murdered while I'm gone,

- Natalie

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She waits at the Bismark, looking out into the harbor as sea breezes tug at her hair and clothes. She is garbed in loose flowing black, though the glint of armor is hard not to notice underneath is. One can never be too careful in the city of pirates after all.


Otto Vann quietly walks beside Natalie, leaning on the rails as he overlooks the harbor not saying anything to her at first before turning to her "I'm glad you remembered my invitation from yesterday at the Grindstone"


Natalie smiles, "Mr Otto, glad you could make it, How could I forget, you made quite an impression." She looks at him, "Though it seems you're wearing something more traditional today."


"Well, I can remove my coat if you'd prefer. I know others, myself included, wouldn't mind"


She grins, "I don't think that will be necessary." She mentions to the table behind them, "We wouldn't want any of the other patrons getting too excited..."


He shrugs and with a humored tone, "I'm used to it, but let's take our seats shall we, unless you prefer the view here. We've got a lot to discuss you and I."


Natalie nods, "That we do..." She heads towards the table, "They have good coffee here, one of the few things I enjoy about this city."


"I enjoy coming here when I make my way to Limsa. The salt-sea air, usually a woman across from the table, the food is good considered usually an assistant of mine lets them know ahead of time I'm coming, so they know to prepare accordingly. I don't drink a lot of coffee though, but I'll have it if you are".


She chuckles, "Well then..." She flags down a waitress, "Two coffees... and scones if they're fresh." She turns back to him, "Oh? Not a coffee drinker?" She taps her jaw, "I wouldn't have thought it. She tilts her head and thinks for a moment, "You dislike bitter things?"


"No I prefer bitter things, I just rarely need coffee since I have other ways of staying awake. When I rarely drink it its always black"


Natalie grins, "What sorts of things Mr Otto?" She winks at him, "Oh let me guess..." She affects a deep voice, "My beautiful women keep me up every evening and morning until they are satisfied..." She laughs, "Something like that?"


"Women tire a man, not energize him. You should know that. But if you must know they do keep me company at night. No I use various medicine made from alchemists who couldnt quite cut it doing legitamate work to get through most days."


She gives a sly smile, "Oh is that so?" she laughs again softly, "Perhaps you've been with the wrong sorts of women." She leans back, "And perhaps it's not wise to share such information with a Royal Guard of the Sultanate." She tilts her head, "We have policies banning certain.... substances."


"It wouldnt matter if they were banned I dont even live in Ul'Dah anymore. I had to move to Gridania a few weeks ago. Rest assured you can focus on enjoying me this evening versus what I put in me"


Leaning forward, "Oh? You don't live in the city..." She taps her jaw, "Hm... we might not be of as much help to each other as I hoped." She laughs, "And Mr. Otto, please, business before pleasure."


"Well let's speak frankly. You say you need help, I still spend most of my working hours in your fair city since all of my business is there. What's on your mind Natalie?"


Natalie tilts her head, "First, a question." She gauges his reaction, "What is your opinion of the Sultanate, and the Syndicate?"


A blonde haired hyur approaches their table in serving garb, "Good evening, is everyone enjoying their night out?" She continues, bowing slightly, "Does anyone need anything? Drinks? Appetizers?"


Otto waves a lazy hand "I am Syndicate. They are largely a good thing due to how they keep the Sultanate in power. The Syndicate is most definetely a dirty organization when it needs to be, but without it I wonder how much your queen's coffers would suffer without the rigid and structured taxation that flows up from business to pay people like you." He smirks "I am exceedingly indifferent to the Sultanate."


Natalie nods to the woman, "Ah... we are well Miss, thank you."


"Yes, Im glad you could make it dear, Tsubasa told me a lot about you" he says to the server. Bring us both my usual please."


The woman bows "Yes sir, I will be back shortly"


Natalie waits for the woman to leave, then considers his answer, "Well then, perhaps we can work together." She smiles, though there is something dangerous in it, "My... associates and I have certain goals for Ul'dah."


The serving woman returns shortly after, holding some soup in her hands.


Otto nods, "If those goals let me maintain my womanising and way of life theyre largely inconsequential to me. What are your goals, and who is this assosciate, and I will decide if I can or should help you" He turns to the serving woman, "What's your name dear?"


"Pai sir" she said with a bow of her head


Otto smiles, "Well isn't she lovely. Thank you for working for us tonight you know I'm sure I always compensate well." Im fine with just this for now thank you"


Pai nods, "Would either of you like some wine tonight?"


Natalie studies him for a moment, "Our plans... I'll make you aware of those if you prove yourself a valuable ally Otto." She steeples her fingers together, "But first, I'll give you a task, complete it, or don't." She turns to the woman, "I think two glasses of red would be appropriate."


Pai nods, "I'll be right back then."


Otto looks at Natalie, "Its unusual for anyone to come to me to test me for anything. This better be interesting."


Pai places two wine glasses on the table, pouring wine into both before putting one before Otto, and then the other in front of Natalie, she then stepped back.


Natalie laughs, "Why Mr Otto... there is more to life than just money." She shrugs, "We need to know you're dependable, and that you can keep secrets." She takes the glass and nods to Pai before swirling the wine gently in its glass. She raises it to her face and takes in its aroma, "If you can... money will be the least of the things you will gain."


"Who is... we." Otto asks.


Natalie simply smiles, "Exactly."


Otto clears his throat, "Consider this, to someone like me, the amount of money I earn and mantain and groom into a larger sum is largely unimportant, what it represents is important."


She shrugs, "In Ul'dah, money flows like sand. If that's all you're interested in... perhaps we can't help each other after all." She continues to gently swirl her wine around the glass.


Otto leans forward in his chair to accept the wine glass as he uses his free hand to wave in front of him as he speaks "I could lose ninety-percent of my wealth today and be more than comfortable for the rest of my days. I don't care about money anymore. I trade it away too willingly for whatever I feel like each day. Tell me what this test is, and I will consider it."


Natalie grins and leans forward as well, "There is a... rabble rouser, a minor trader who has taken it upon himself to spread lies and slander about our fair city. We want him taught a lesson... one that he will remember."


He leans back in his chair shrugging "And? Evven I do not speak speak well of the city at times. Im not that disconnected that I can't see hes not so minor as you say. Else you wouldn't want me to give him my attention."


She shrugs, "It is not the speaking, it is the talking and convincing. He aims to disrupt our government with his words, to rouse up the refugees, and to cause general unrest." She looks down at the wineglass she has cradled in her armored hand, "We cannot allow that to happen. A simple beating should suffice... perhaps a few broken bones." She shrugs, "And you not need do the deed yourself, as long as it is done."


Natalie narrows her eyes, "And he knows why it is being done."


Otto nods, "Well at least now you're being a bit more honest. If he seeks to disrupt Ul'Dah, then sadly he seeks to disrupt my business as well. Still though, you keep saying we and I have to wonder why you don't say the Sultanate".


[Natalie laughs, "Why indeed Mr Otto." She grins coyly at him, "Help us out with this matter, and you'll find out. The firebrand is a duskwight peddler by the name of Verad, he shouldn't be too difficult to find in the city."


Otto lets the conversation grow silent for a moment as he takes his attention off Natalie, swilling his own wineglass before drinking it unceremoniously, obviously not caring for the taste. "I usually drink dry wine," He grimaces, "However it all ends up making you feel the same in the end." He places the glass down, "I find it very hard to believe Verad is a threat to anyone or anything. I've dealt with that man a few times." He knocks his hand on the table "Pai come here please".


Natalie laughs and downs her own glass, "That it does." She shrugs, "All men are not as they seem Mr Otto." She grins at him, "Nor all women. If you do this... no need to give names." She nods, "Simply let him know he must keep his mouth shut."


Pai steps up to the table, "Is everything alright so far?"


Otto turns to Pai, "Bring us dry wine, I'm not interested in anything sweet at the moment."


Pai nods, "Yes Sir."


Otto thinks for a momeny, "I'll have Ridley look into it then I guess. I'm not sure if he needs to be 'beaten' to be taught a lesson, if any lesson is there to be learned. I'll look into it though."


He turns back to Natalie, "Now let's discuss the real reason you're here."


Pai returns with a large bottle of dry red wine, and begins pouring them in a fresh set of glasses.


Natalie shakes her head and smiles, "Mr Otto, this isn't an investigation. It's a question of trust... how can we trust you, if you can't trust us?"


Otto leans forward pulling his glass of white dry away the second Pai finishes pouring and taking a sip. He closes his eyes for a moment, seemingly enjoying the flavor, "I'll handle it" he finally says with a wink, "However I see fit."


A strangely garbed womman approaches, armored everywhere but her chest and abdomen.


Natalie sighs, "Well then, that's a shame." Placing the wineglass onto the table, "Really too bad Mr Otto, my associates and I could have done ever so much for you."


The new armored woman walks up and salutes Otto, "Here I am, you called?"


Otto nods at the new arrival, "Ridley, look into finding a man named Verad for me, if you would be so kind I want to know what he really sells." He waves his hand at Natalie in a placating motion, "Please Natalie youre going to get your wish I assure you." He turns back to the other woman, "Ridley, Verad will most likely need your special attention."


She nods, and begins writing down information, "Alright..."


Natalie smiles slighty, "I hope so Mr Otto." She laughs, "It would be such a shame if we weren't able to... strengthen our relationship" She rises, "I'll look forward to the good news." She laughs, "Perhaps we can share it over another meal."


Otto nods, "Ridley will keep us both in touch as she does her work don't you worry.


Ridley looks up from her list, "Yeah, I'm on it." She nods "I've been researching stuff too, about "the other" person."


Otto waves a hand, "Take Ziuz off that list as well I dealt with him myself already, he practically fawns over me now offering favors."


Ridly laughs, "Sounds good, I guess that's one down."


Otto nods, "Always more to go though." He turns back to Natalie, "Natalie, do you have anything else you want to say, other than your unending adoration for me?"


Pai just barely stifles a chuckle and turns away.


Natalie watches him interact with the other woman curiously, "Well you certainly have the resources Mr Otto." She smiles coyly, "Just need to see if you have the ambition." She laughs, "No I think we understand each other." She gives a short bow, "As I said I look forward to meeting again... as associates."


She turns and bows slightly to his two companions, "Ladies," before walking off.

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Natalie waits at the bar of the Coffer and Coffin, leaning against it idly and watching the door.


Crofte enters, nodding curtly, "Natalie, we meet again."


Natalie nods back, looking for once, her usual irreverence, "Coatleque... can I get you a drink?"


Crofte sits and rubs her temple, "Water, please... I just had one in the city."


Natlie nods, and heads over to the bar, acquiring a water, which sets a water in front of Crofte, and a squat glass of spirits in front of her own seat. "One moment..." She leans out the door for a moment and looks around, though she sees only the usual crowd of drunks, mercenaries mercenaries. She returns and sits at the table "I needed to ensure you weren't followed..."


Crofte smirks, "As if I am that interesting."


"Oh but this conversation will be..."


"As your private stories usually are."


Natalie shakes her head, "Nothing like that this time." She takes a deep breath, "Coatleque, I'm willing to tell you everything going on here." She nods "You just need to decide if you want to hear it."


"Willing to tell me? Is that not our jobs? I would be remiss if you kept secrets of national security from a fellow shield sister."


Natalie peers into her glass before taking a drink, "My involvement with this is not... entirely on the level." She looks back up at Crofte, "That's why."


Coatleque takes a long drink from her glass before setting it down quietly. She looks at Natalie with a somewhat flat expression, clearly not surprised. "You say that as if you expected me to think any less."


Natalie laughs, "Oh I knew you suspected." She takes another sip, "But if I say it, it would take little for you to use the information to have me disabarred from the order, peramanently this time... or worse."


Crofte blinks twice before pinching the bridge of her nose with a sigh. "What did you do this time? Execute the Admiral's brother?"


"Her Aunt."


"Just as bad."


Natalie grins, "I'll take that as a yes then..." She looks down at her glass, "Jameson and I have been working together quite a bit. His feelings about Ul'dah, and its policies... I'm starting to find we have much in common."


Crofte takes another drink and blurts out "You're sleeping with him."


Natalie's face reddens, and she takes a quick drink, "N-no..." She coughs, "Though I've considered it. I felt it unwise to get involved with someone I knew so little about."


"Oh, you are being serious now. Apologies. I thought next he was to be from another world."


Natalie rolls her eyes, "I'm not that really that bad Coat... I just like teasing you sometimes."


"And so now you're falling in line with one that we know works for Garleans?"


Natalie blinks, "Does he?" She taps her jaw, "That's news to me. Why would he have brought me the antidote to Jin'li's poison then?"


"Why does anyone two-faced do anything? Because he not only wants to supplant the Sultana, but remain alive to live in the new order he's helped create."


Natalie taps her jaw and looks thoughtfully at Crofte, "Hmm...... What makes you think this?"


"Honestly, Natalie, the survival instinct is always strongest with the most heinous of people."


Natalie shakes her head, "No not that... how do you know he's working with Garleans?"


"I've no proof yet, but I can make my own assumptions based off what he himself has said, and Roen's own accounts matching up. The city seems to be rank with them lately."


Natalie looks up at the roof for a moment, "Hmm... let's just say you're right."




"Has he ever done anything to harm this city?" She looks back at Crofte, "You might not always agree with him... but I don't see how he's ever had bad intentions."


Coatleque sighs and rolls her eyes. She looks around the room before admitting, "No, he has not." She raises a hand, "Except for the whole smuggling of Somnus and weapons into the city. Even if it was supposed to be a false front. The whole deal does not sit right with me."


Natalie taps her jaw, "So even if you're right... maybe he's a..." She searches for the word, "Double-Agent! Truth be told I have some reservations about that as well." She tilts her head, "But hired or not, Nero is a route for illegal goods, and a pirate none the less. So Jameson aside, he still should be dealt with."


Crofte turns her attention back to Natalie. "Aye, and what of the pirate then?"


Natlie sighs, "Slow going on that front. He's been ever so quiet ever since his first mate was executed..." She shrugs, "Perhaps that was all it took. As long as he leaves us alone I don't feel the need to chase him."


"So you've learned nothing else? You had mentioned Roen the other night. Master Arasgain has not reported any news either?"


Natalie shakes her head, "Though it seems you have evidence of him being Garlean as well. Roen has been just as quiet as he has... though Verad has been stirring up trouble." She drums her fingers on the table, "I don't get it."


"It is not I who acquired evidence, it was Osric. And Verad? I would not have thought him to be one to make trouble. Are you sure? He... has told me he has a less than reputable brother..."


"He and some... half baked reporter grilled me for over an hour about this issue. He was... quite heated." She nods, "Though I think I solved the issue."


"A reporter? Master Bellveil is a merchant. A poor one, but still, what would he care?"


Natalie sighs, "I think Roen filled his head with nonsense."


"Nonsense about what? What is Roen doing, exactly?"


"Sleeping with Nero mostly, from what I can tell, and trying to defend him with the rest of her time."


"...I warned her..."


Natalie shrugs, "As did I, She seems to hold Nero on a pedastal, apparently we are the big bad oppressors, and Nero is just a free spirit living his life." Natalie sighs and looks thoughtful, "He must be pretty good in bed to gain that sort of trust..."


"Yes, well... some men can have that effect. I just hope she fares better than I. I mean... before it is too late. He is caught. Nevermind." She clears her throat before continuing. "What are we doing in the mean time while he has gone to bed. Err.. to ground?"


Natalie stares at her for a moment, "Something else on your mind?"


Coatleque chugs the rest of her water. "Nothing."


Natalie walks over grinning slyly, "Oh ho..." She leans down and peers at Crofte's face, "Feeling a little jealous of Roen perhaps?"


"Och, jealous! Cerrtainly not!"


Natalie laughs and pokes her in the cheek, "Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery!"


She waves her hand up to brush Natalie's hand away from her face. "Ah've nae problem, norr intentions of standing in Roen's wae if she choses to bed the man. Ah've just had my own share of prroblems lately.Though Ah could say the same fer ye, judging by yer own actions lately."


Natalie keeps grinning and squeezes gently at her shoulder, "Man problems...?" She blinks, "Ah... well I'm feeling better now. Kage's... change was a bit shocking..." She nods, "But I found a beautiful flame corporal to share a bed with last night..."


Natalie sighs happily, "I wonder if I'll see her again..."


Coatleque clears her throat again and tries to compose herself. "Not that our love lives are the goal of this little chat."


Natalie grins, "Of course not... but it's still important." She nods, "A woman has needs you know."


"Hrmpf... perhaps -you- have needs. I have desires. It sounds much less sordid that way you know."


Natalie smiles and winks at her, "Oh I think we both know they're one and the same..." She sighs, "I have half a mind to try and help you satisfy them..." She taps her jaw, "Though somehow I think I don't have the proper equipment."


She rolls her eyes once more. "No, your cannons will not help you there. But this is not answering my question as to what we are doing now about the matter."


Natalie blinks, "I thought I just told you... me, bed, other woman..." She leans against the table and takes a drink, "Did you want me to go into details or something?"


Crofte blinks. "About Nero, Natalie. Did Master Arasgain tell you about the building he found?"


"Oh!" She shakes her head, "No." She tilts her head, "How come we can work with Fiona but not with Jameson."


"Were this a few days prior I would say because he is a trusted member of the Maelstrom. Today, I cannot use that excuse. However, he has already been employed by you to an extent, and he does not yet know that we have suspicions against him. In the end, perhaps we will be catching two rats with one trap, Aye?"


Natalie nods, "True..." She taps her jaw, "Well I dislike punishing people for their heritage. If Fio serves us well I'm content to let his secret lie."


"Aye, but if we were at war with Gridania I would be saying 'Be wary of those Keepers and Elezen.' All I am saying is to tread lightly."


Natalie nods solemly, "I never do." She taps the table, "Oh there is one more thing. I met with Otto, he wanted to prove himself to us as an ally. I tasked him with handling Verad's rabble rousing. I'm interested to see what he does."


"Honestly, Natalie... the man is no threat to anyone."


Natalie shrugs, "Well he certainly won't be now. I told Otto to cut out his tongue."


"... the more you do this the more transparent you become. No matter, I will simply have to keep my own eye on the merchant for the time being."


Natalie winks and nudges her slightly, "I just told Otto to scare him." She clucks her tongue, "So quick to believe the worst of me Crofte."


Crofte sighs, "Not you, Natalie... just those you continue to employ."


"Hmm..." She taps her jaw, "You may be right Crofte." She sighs, "Speaking of them, I believe Jameson wishes to meet with you. I'd take him up on his offer."


"The man knows how to reach me. He above all should have no problem with that."


Natalie laughs, "Well then, that's true." She nods, "I apologize for keeping you out of the loop before... I'll not make that mistake again."


"Aye, well. As I said. If there was nothing else we should probably get back to our real business."


Natalie nods, "Aye... thanks for meeting me out here."


"Of course. It is good to get outside the walls every now and then." Crofte stands and gives a salute.


Natalie laughs, "True..." as she stands and returns in. "Until next time Ser."


They both head off towards Ul'dah on separate, though parallel paths.

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