(1310-05-24) To Ease Burdens
Summary: Arterre Valais visits the Palace to present himself to the Duchesse and offer his support.
RL Date: 24/05/2018
Related: Beziers Plot
armandine arterre 

Solar — Ducal palace — Marsilikos

Spacious enough to provide a meeting place of more familiar atmosphere to the residents of the Ducal Palace, the solar is of rectangular shape and generously lit during the day through a number of arched windows in the south wall. The opposite side is governed by a huge stone hearth, a fire crackling there during colder weather conditions. Above the hearth hangs a shield with the coat of arms of House Mereliot, flanked by a pair of exquisitely woven tapestries depicting naval scenes of ships on the sea, one in calm and tranquil weather conditions, the other one in a storm with heavy rain.

All furniture is made of oak, be it the long table in the middle of the room, or the number of high backed chairs arranged about it, flat cushions of blue brocade adding to the comfort of seating. The ceiling is a sophisticated rib vault, constructed of wood, the ribs painted in yellow. Depictions of a variety of sea animals have been added onto the light blue ceiling as well by an unknown artist. Several kinds of mediterranean fish adorn the spaces in between ribs, such as combers, groupers and flounders but also starfish and octopuses.

A door leads out onto a rooftop garden, and an archway opens into the upper hallway.

The weather today seems to reflect the mood of Eisande’s duchesse. She has withdrawn to the solar, not quite pulling herself completely from the possibility of meeting any courtiers. But today’s court for minor matters has been called off. The Lay of Marsilikos is not in the mood. Not at all. The woman wears a dress in dark blue, devoid of any flashy embroidery or other adornments. Medium blonde hair is worn in the usual courtly manner, and her grey-blue eyes look thoughtfully towards the windows. A letter, half-folded, rests in her lap, held between her fingers, and perhaps this moment of silence is required to digest news she has received.

Arterre has gone to unusual lengths to prepare himself for this visit, his usually unkempt hair carefully coiffed and gathered behind his head, hanging down thick and full to his middle back. His outfit is understatedly elegant, a blue counterpoint to his blonde hair and green eyes. Overall, he looks very much the picture of health and youthful beauty. Sensing the mood of his liege, however, he has none of his typical exuberance when he is shown to her solar, instead schooling himself to a subdued deference. He bows before her, formally, not announcing his presence in the room beyond that. Should she not acknowledge him, perhaps he will even withdraw.

<FS3> Armandine rolls Perception: Success. (2 3 2 5 5 2 7)

Deep in thoughts, as she had been, Armandine notices the arrival of someone from the corner of her eye. Lifting her chin, she turns her head, and upon seeing Arterre, lets her frame follow until she faces him fully, seated on one of those comfortable chairs. The guard at the door clears his throat, and she shoots that man a glance, brows lifting just so. The duchesse turns her attention towards the young man standing before her and expectantly folds her hands in her lap. “Good morning.”, she greets, and there is a hint of curiosity flashing in her gaze. “My lord.”

"My Lady," Arterre says, with utmost deference, as he straightens himself up to his full height. "I am Arterre Valais. We had not met since my…accession. I was told I might find you here." Self-conscious, perhaps, he runs his fingers back through his hair, not yet entering the room fully. "But perhaps you would prefer privacy? I had not realized I was intruding." He looks out the window, to the rain outside, lips momentarily flattening against one another.

“Arterre Valais?”, Armandine echoes, tilting her head just so as she considers him. “Ah… yes. You must be the new Vicomte de Barrême.” There is a certain warmth to her voice, a friendly softness, even if slightly dimmed by whatever must rest upon her mind currently. “I do mourn the…” she blinks, “loss of your father. He was a capable man. Please come in. You are not intruding.” With a gente gesture of her hand, Armandine Mereliot beckons him to enter. Like so many d’Angelines of comparatively pure blood, she radiates with angelic beauty, looks younger even than others of her age. Arterre’s own gesture draws attention to his hair, and she smiles. A momentary smile that will be bound to dim all to soon. “I’m not sure you heard, my young lord Arterre, but there have been dire news, and these recent ones,” she lifts the letter just so, “assure me that two nephews and two nieces of mine are dead. If you don’t mind me being in a somewhat somber mood, please, feel free to join me for a moment.”

"Perhaps I have inherited some small measure of his capability," Arterre suggests, a very dry bit of humor, as he steps further inside. "At the worst, I've retained the same steward, so I don't anticipate any major disruptions in tax." Arterre moves closer to Armandine, though he does not immediately take a seat. The smile from the duchesse is infectious, though, and he can't retain the seriousness any longer. His face lights up with an answering smile, fraught with its own angelic radiance. His cheeks dimple momentarily, and there is a faint whisper of something hard to define in the air, a sort of soothing presence — the barest hint of a Scion's power. At the duchesse's explanation, it dims along with his smile. He looks almost guilty for the moment's pleasure. "Oh," he says, quietly, forehead creasing with a furrowing of his brow. "That is…I am most sorry to hear that, my Lady. Is there anything I can do to help you? Please be assured that I am always at your service."

“One can hope,” counters the duchesse, and a brow of hers lifts upon seeing the handsome young lad approach and yet hesitate to take a seat right away. “You are quite young still for the duties now resting on your shoulders.” An observation that leaves her lips in all matter-of-factness. The smile returns, even if slightly dimmed. “It is not your fault, my lord of Valais. Or at least I would assume as much. And I fear there is nothing you can to do to help, save to make sure that my sister and the marquis will be recovered - unharmed - as they are still missing.” Lightness fades into an earnest depth lingering in her gaze. “It seems unfair of me to demand such of you, though, as you must be newly arrived, and I don’t wish to bring the new Vicomte de Barrême in what can become a most perilous situation.”

"I am afraid daring rescues may be somewhat outside my skillset," Arterre confesses freely, as he lowers himself into a seat, close to the Duchessewithin easy arm's reachbut not so close as to be presumptuous. He furrows his brow yet further, looking out the window, gravely serious and perhaps a little too earnest, as he considers the rainfall again. "And I am new to all of this, it is true. But I am not content to simply sit about and do nothing. If there is any resource I have that can put you better at ease, you need but name it. If not with this business…" He turns his head, to make eye contact. "Is there something else I can help you with, perhaps? Some less perilous business, to better ease your burdens?"

“You are too kind,” Armandine replies, her eyes narrowing just so as she focuses her attention on the young Valais lord. “Is that the reason you came here? To… ease my burdens?” The question sounds almost innocent, the way it leaves her lips, but her gaze looks a bit ominous and faintly amused. “May I ask how old you are, Arterre de Valais?” Meeting his gaze, she tilts her head to the side, and yes, even with Armandine the blood of angels flowing in her veins is obvious, her attentive eyes taking him in with an intensity suggestive that they could look further than what is in plain view. “I am glad to have you in Marsilikos, and I am certain you will find opportunity to enjoy yourself, while you are here.”

<FS3> Arterre rolls Persuasion: Success. (6 1 3 3 5 7 3 2 4)

Arterre lets out a lengthy breath. "I am eighteen," he says, a touch grim. "I hadn't expected to have this position so young, no. And it may sound faintly ridiculous to have an offer of help from someone of an age with your daughters. But is it not the proper duty of a vassal to tend to the business of his liege? You will find me no less diligent for my inexperience — if anything, I shall be more so, for I know I need learn quickly, if I am not be an asset, and not a burden." He does not shirk beneath her gaze. If nothing else, he is earnest — and the angel's blood that flows in his veins is uncommonly potent. One who can sense a man's motives — as perhaps Armandine can — would find nothing disingenuous about him. "As for enjoying myself — I've done plenty enough of that. I will consider that secondary to business, until I am confident all is in order."

“Your young age and lack of experience do not make your offer of support less appealing, Arterre,” says the Lady of Marsilikos, her smile deepening in that it reaches more to her eyes now. “You are right of course, and if it is your aim to learn, you won’t find a better and perhaps as forgiving a place as the Ducal court of Marsilikos. Some of the courtiers have left for Béziers and are there still, trying to help my poor cousin Léonard to find the whereabouts of my sister and Armand. Maybe… I am glad that we have a comparatively newly arrival to court in you, dear Arterre. There is the matter of my niece… the one surviving child who was not affected by the massacre at Béziers. She is lovely, and I daresay she could use the distraction of conversation and company. I made sure to have her brought here, after we received the news - which were sketchy back then. Desarae was intended to debut at the Night Court. But as things are now, and until I cannot be sure of the extent of the tragedy that befell her family - I am very much inclined to find a way to release her from the arrangements made with the salon de la Rose Sauvage.”

<FS3> Arterre rolls Seduction: Great Success. (5 3 8 7 6 3 4 8 8 7)

"Well, perhaps that is true," Arterre offers to Armandine, his grim countenance softening considerably at her words. "Surely there is no duchy that can claim a wiser or more beautiful guiding hand." It's a little flirtatious, perhaps, but seems to come from a place of serious admiration. No doubt the young fellow grew up on tales of just how wonderful she is—if she and his father got along.

He leans back in his chair. "And you would like me to look in on Desarae? Or you want me to help you see about how the debt might be forgiven?"

<FS3> Armandine rolls Composure: Good Success. (8 6 3 6 1 3 5 7 2 4 3 1)

“Maybe you are not as new to these things as you claim,” the duchesse remarks, with her eyes glittering faintly as she considers Arterre de Valais. “An easy flatterer, you are. And yet… this is what I strive to be. Wise and considerate, in regards to Eisande’s future.” The faint curve of her lips hints at a smile, and that slightly intrigued quality of her gaze remains, even as Arterre asks her about how he can help. “The former,” Armandine tells him. “Perhaps you could provide diversion merely by attending dinner. You should be able to bring a breath of fresh air to our currently so silent and somber evening meals. “The other matter… I believe through the connection between my mother and the founder of the salon, we shall come to an agreement that will be acceptable for both sides.”

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