It wasn't the snow season and Regent looked wistfully at the slopes wishing he had a chance to ski.
After a wander around town, and a delightful meal at Osteria Barabba Regent knew he needed to locate Claire and find out what had happened. While eating at the Ristorante Regent had overhead other diners mention The Grand Hotel several times. Regent decided that was the best place to start his search.
Approaching the hotel Regent saw police bikes and cars outside with several officers milling around, as Regent made to go inside one officer stopped him and began speaking in Italian. Italian was something Regent wasn't fluent in, although he knew a few words. After the officer appeared to ask him a question Regent replied, "Sorry old chap, I'm not fluent yet, I've only just arrived from Budapest, do you speak English?"
"Uno momento Signor," the officer replied before shouting, "Marcello!" Eventually a young officer approached and conversed with clearly the senior officer.
"OK Signor, what business do you have with the hotel," Marcello asked.
"Ah, I'm sorry, I'm James Thomas from the British embassy," Regent said while holding out his hand.
Marcello shook it and spoke to his senior again. "Signor Thomas, we have already been visited by the British Embassy."
"Ah yes, well I was just up the road in Oulx is it? Well anyway, I got a call from the embassy asking me to come here, to see a Claire Jackson I believe. You know just to see how she was shaping up, if we could do any more for her."
More conversation between the officers and eventually Marcello waved him through, "Sorry Signor, we have to be careful in the circumstances."
"Oh of course, I understand completely, grazie," as Regent nodded and made his way into the hotel.
Regent discovered the whereabouts of Jackson but suffered a complication. At this point I rolled on my new "Tasks chart" to find there would be two additional tasks. I decided the first task would be to talk my way through the police cordon using Bluff (a similar skill) with the appropriate complication penalty. Eventualy I managed it leading to my second task:
Reception directed Regent to the Jackson's suite on the top floor, after knocking on the door Regent was greeted by an English woman.
"Miss Claire Jackson?" Regent enquired.
"No, I'm her fathers secretary, Claire doesn't want any visitors, please go away."
As the Secretary tried to close the door Regent put his foot in to stop it. "Excuse me, but she really needs to see me."
The secretary hestiated before deciding he must have passed the police cordon and opened the door, "Come in, who are you and what do you want."
"I can't really say who I am, but I can help find Mr Jackson. Will you let me speak to Miss Jackson?"
"OK, but I'll be listening."
Here Regent tried to Influence the secretary succeeding with one success. I decided the next was another conversation as anything else at that point didn't really fit.
The secretary led Regent to a lounge suite, there looking out of the window was a statuesque woman with long blonde hair.
"Excuse me Claire, this, er, gentleman says he can help find your father."
At the secretary's voice the woman turned. Regent was surprised by the young age of the woman, no older than 22 he estimated. She put her whisky glass on a nearby table and sat down.
"I would prefer this to be private, " Regent said.
"It's OK Susan, I'm sure this gentleman means me no harm, you can leave," Claire's voice had a slow sad quality and Regent noticed she found it hard to look directly at him, it appeared she was already suffering from the effects of grief. Regent decided that truth was the best option.
"Miss Jackson, I'm from the British Government, I've been sent to find your father and put a stop to these kidnappers."
"I'm grateful, Mr ..."
"Regent, John Regent."
"I'm grateful Mr Regent, but I am not sure how I can be of assistance."
"I'm looking for details of any contacts your father may have, especially recent ones. He's not the first to be kidnapped, although he is the most high profile."
"Do these others not warrant rescue Mr Regent," snapped Claire.
"Of course Miss, but others are dealing with those. I've been specifically tasked with finding your father, and I believe you may have information that would help in that search."
"Well I can tell you that I don't, are you accusing me of being in with these kidnappers?"
Regent realised that she must have been drinking heavily, and put her belligerent mood down to the effects of alcohol.
"No, of course not, but you may know of some contact of your father's that may have any information."
Claire shook her head. Regent was getting frustrated now and stood up, as he did so he noticed a letter on the table next to the whiskey glass.
"Do you mind if I read that letter Miss Jackson?" he asked, recovering his composure.
"No, you cannot."
Here Regent lost his battle of Influence by one failure with the accomplished actress, following in her father's footsteps. Now at a disadvantage Regent needed a new tack.
"Miss Jackson, anything you have may help to save your father," after a few moments had passed, "I need to see that letter whether you let me or not. Am I making myself clear?"
"Do you need to threaten me Mr Regent?" Claire answered back, a note of steel in her voice. For once she was looking directly at him. Well at least I have her attention now, thought Regent.
"Miss Jackson I need to see that letter to save your father."
Claire stood up and turned away, allowing Regent to pass her and read the letter.
I have been contacted by a group who have not revealed their name. They say they are holding your father and will only release him if certain political figures are released. Please tell me this is not true, your father has been a great bastion of our work here and to lose him would be a great blow to our children's future.
Please contact me.
Behind the letter was an apparent list written in what looked like Arabic.
"Have you shown this letter to anyone else?" Regent asked.
"No Mr Regent I haven't."
"This Ahmed, where is he?"
"He works in a children's centre, saving lives, my father helps them to raise money."
Regent realised she still wasn't thinking clearly, "I'm sorry, I asked where he was?"
The silence lingered in the room a few seconds.
"He's in Pakistan, but you'll never find him. I'll have to take you to him."
Using a bit of coercion it's success at last for Regent, and a potential love interest (in the best Bond and LTL tradition!). I've twisted the format here somewhat, getting information from a person implies they hold that information, but thinking about it I guess that was just my interpretation, which I've subverted already! Now onward to Pakistan!
Until next time