The story so far:
Truth be told, Mr. de Margent was glad that the reverend had left. Maybe it came from talking to an old acquaintance, or from Byerns recognizing Lady Cumonte, but de Margent finally had an idea why the waiter troubled him so: he recognized the chap. Where from, he couldn't quite say - yet. But he had seen that face before, he knew it. The details would come, in time, as long as he didn’t push too hard.
Absently sipping his drink, de Margent debated finding the waiter, or the head steward. But it seemed futile. de Margent knew he wasn't wrong - he had seen the fellow before somewhere - but so what? The boy hadn't said or done anything out of the ordinary - unless he drugged my drink, de Margent thought with a smirk, and sipped again.
No, he told himself, it wouldn't do any good to chase this shadow. Just get through the rest of the evening, and whenever he remembered where he had seen that face before, make a few discreet inquiries at the ambassador's mansion. To what end? That would reveal itself in the due course of events.
de Margent grinned. The intrigue was reminding him of the good old days.
The party droned on as the first hour of the new year approached. Guests wined and dined, danced and pranced, made conversation, made acquaintances and made enemies. The ambassador drifted from one face to another, smiling a brilliantly empty smile and making suitably appropriate comments about the life of the party and how beautiful the women in each clique was. As the clock ticked and more drinks were served, the din in the mansion was such that the servants downstairs had to shout to make themselves heard.
The din started to get to Mr. de Margent, who started to move away from the crowd. Every laugh, every exclamation made his head throb. Just a place to clear his head, a little peace a quiet - there had to be a study or something - maybe even a quick exit. Nobody would notice.
Eventually, finally, he found the little study he had imagined, not before being accosted by someone who he was sure he didn't recognize (even though the other guest, more than a little intoxicated, begged to differ). But after quickly extricating himself from the moron (who then found someone else to accost, with similar gusto), de Margent found an empty room, slipped inside, and shut the door behind him. Sinking into a plush leather chair, he closed his eyes and massaged his temples.
It wasn't perfectly quiet in here - he could still hear the dull murmur from outside - but it was a welcome moment of relief and solitude. In fact, settling into the chair, he could almost feel himself start to drift. He had no idea he was so tired. Drift, like a cloud across the sky, or a leaf carried along on a stream. So nice and relaxing. Peaceful.
So when the door opened and the hubbub from outside rose, and died again as the door was closed, Mr. de Margent didn't notice. He didn't notice the figure that walked from the door to the chair, and stood before him.
Drifting, like a dream. He didn't notice the figure watching him, like a statue wearing a waiter's uniform.
de Margent came to with a bump. His first thought was that he had gone blind. Turning his head left and right, he saw nothing. He tried to wave his hands in front of his eyes, but found, more to his confusion than surprise, that he was bound. And it made sense that if his hands were tied, then he wasn't blind, but probably blindfolded. Sticking his tongue out, he tasted cloth. Gagged, too.
Questions, so many questions, raced through his mind. Who? When? Where? Why? How? Slow down, he told himself. One thing at a time. First things first. What's the first thing you remember?
Talking with Candice in morning.
Good. Now what's the last thing you remember?
…talking with Candice in morning.
No, not working. What happened after you spoke with Candice?
Brunch. Reading. Sleep.
Another bump. He was being moved somewhere. Rolling to his side a little, he felt a firm, solid boundary, like a wall. Rolling to the other side, the same boundary. So he was in a container of some kind. A small one, by the look of it. He tried to raise his head, but a searing lance of pain made him abandon the idea.
So. What happened after you slept?
Woke up. Shower. Dress for the mansion ball New Year's Eve crowded funny waiter girl Byerns haven't seen him for a while who was he Cumonte -
Slow down, slow down, SLOW DOWN.
Bump. Whoever was transporting him was navigating some rough territory, and not very well.
The New Year's Eve ball. Start from there.
Who was that waiter? Talking with Byerns. Different waiter, but I know him. Seen him somewhere. Liza Cumonte. Got so loud. Said Simons told him to give me my drink.
Simons said. Simons says, "Drug his drink".
He remembered scoffing at the idea that his drink was drugged.
Small study. Quiet, nice, peaceful -
- head was throbbing, badly. Thought I'd rest for a bit. Was nice. Was there someone there? Was I dreaming? Was it the drink? What did I have to drink? What was in the drink? What was in the drug that was in the drink? What was -
Alright, that was enough. de Margent bit down on his tongue, needing more effort to do so than he was comfortable exercising. Slowly, coherence bled into his mind. Better.
Another bump, this time a big one.
- so where are we now? Drugged, fell for the oldest trick in the book. Recriminations later. Thing to figure out now was who did it, why, and what would happen next.
After more bumps (de Margent stopped counting and had no idea how much time had elapsed), he felt his transportation come to a halt. He had been working on loosening his bonds, and while he was somewhat successful, the drug was still working its effects on him, and the lethargy and inability to focus made it hard work. But as he felt his container being abruptly moved, he put the idea of freeing his hands aside.
Now he was being carried by people, he was sure of it. The container swung from side to side, and his body, still recovering from the drug, wasn't handling it well - more than once, he had to bite down on his tongue to force the bile back down his throat. It was either night, or the container had a lid on it, because his eyes could still discern nothing. His ears, however, picked up grunts and an occasional "oof!" from outside his confinement - whoever was carrying him was having a hard time doing it.
de Margent allowed himself a smile.
His container was dropped without ceremony or audible apology from his abductors. The impact surprised de Margent, who let out a strangled exclamation. He heard nothing, and his vessel remained where it hit the ground, leading de Margent to believe that he had reached his destination.
Where exactly this destination was, was anyone's guess.