(1310-05-28) Favourite Cousin
Summary: Ortolette visits Desarae in her chambers, and talk of curses occurs.
RL Date: May 28th, 2018
Related: Bloodshed at B├ęziers logs
desarae ortolette 

Marquise de Chavaise Suite - Ducal Palace

The large chambers are noticeably Mereliot, with the house colours sprinkled throughout. The walls are covered with dark oak panels, as are the floors. There is a large stone hearth where fires warm the rooms in the colder months, above which hangs a landscape painting of the port of Marsilikos. Bookshelves are inlaid on either side of the fireplace, filled with books on military theory, histories, and even some literature. Knick-knacks from around the world fill the spaces in between, from Ch'in and Carthage, Menekhet and Bhodistan that have been passed down the generations. Three chairs surround the fire, a long cream coloured chaise with a sea green throw and two wingbacks, all upholstered in the same cream colour.

Through from the sitting room is the bed chamber, where a large four-posted bed constructed from solid oak is the dominating feature. It rises up to a canopy, with sea green brocade drapes that can be drawn for privacy and darkness. A large oak table stand against the far wall, behind which is a full shelf of books and documents, serving as a study area for the Marquise. An archway leads off to an alcove with two doorways in it. One holding clothing and the other a small storage room for a tub and other personal accoutrements.

There is a balcony just off the bedroom, overlooking the ducal gardens, a tree close enough to the railing to provide an alternate entry for the brave or foolish. It is lit by two braziers, one on either end, with a table for private dining between.


It's been a couple of days since the private funerals that had been held for the Marquise de Chavaise and four of her children. Desarae had stood a silent and pale figure alongside her father as her mother and siblings had been committed to The True Terre d'Ange that lies beyond, and hasn't been seen in public since. Concern had begun mounting as rumors of a curse being laid upon her started to come to light, and the services of several healers had been engaged as a fever settled upon her. The healers had come, and they'd gone. And more had been sent for, though none seem to have an answer for what ails the girl, and none seem able to ease her symptoms. Beset by a fever, her skin clammy yet flushed, she sits in a room that's heated to furnace like proportions by a fire that's stoked high. Her long dark hair hangs limply where alternately soaked by sweat or compresses, and she fingers listlessly through the leafs of the journal she's been keeping. Other than the healers, her visits have been restricted to family only, though her father has notably stayed away, closeting himself in Kushiel's temple. It might be atonement, or it might be the wording of the curse that stops him from visiting.

*

It's a strange turn of the fates that see the healthful and vivacious Desarae confined to her bed while Ortolette, who has been bed-bound for the better portion of the last year, now thrives with a bloom of health not often seen in her cheek. With her hair drawn back into three tiers with bands of differently tinged pale fabrics, one a baby blue, the next a seafoam green, the last a pale pink, and dressed in a workable linen gown of grey with a subtle lacing detail in rows that band across her chest, she has her sleeves rolled up and a fragrant ointment gleaming under her nose to keep the heat and moisture of the illness from infitrating her lungs. And she is present with a mustard poultice and more of her ointment. She's been tended to so often while sick it's hardly difficult for her to know what needs done, for comfort if not for healing, and the mustard brings its own dry heat when applied to the forehead and the back of the neck, accompanied by soothing whispers.

*

"Orto…" There's a cracked dryness to Desarae's voice as her cousin's given admittance to her bedchambers. There's two guards on the doors that oversee anyone entering, and a further two inside the suite of rooms, for curse or not, the Mereliot's life has been threatened. "You shouldn't, though I am glad that you did." She looks lost in the vastness of the bed that she occupies, the tall four-poster a grand if imposing thing with it's gilded carvings and sea-foam velvet draperies that are anchored back to allow air to circulate freely. A hacking cough as Desarae hitches herself higher on the pillows, and she takes a moment and a couple of deep breaths before she can muster another few words. "If this illness doesn't take me, then boredom may as well." A pat of one hand to the mattress. "They say I am cursed. Have you heard?"

*

"Desa," Orto whispers back, "Shh, shh," she shakes her head, easing one knee onto the bedding and applying her poultices gingerly, then twisting her back about to bring a wooden chalice of room temperature water to her cousin's lips, not tipping it to pouring, but just letting the little waves of water from within dampen Desarae's lips, giving her a little bit of relief, and allowing her to sip if she feels she can stomach it. "Do you believe that you are cursed?" she keeps her voice at a cool sibilance, easily piercing the quiet of the sick room. She keeps her eyes on Desarae's eyes, taking the cup away when it's evident she wants no more of it, then taking up her cool stone mortar filled with unguent and setting it atop her lap where she sits primly perched on the bed's edge.

*

Desarae shivers as the water touches lips that are cracked and dry from the fever. "I don't know," she replies, her voice dropping in volume to a whisper. Purple bruises smudge beneath her eyes, and the spirit that's normally to be found within them is lacking when her gaze meets her cousin's. It's as if her spark, her joie de vivre, has been simply sucked from her soul. "I studied a lot in Rose Sauvage, but the occult and curses wasn't one of them." If that's her attempt at a joke, then it sounds a little hollow, her head sinking back to her pillow as she refocuses her eyes on the canopy above. "Did I tell you Anais was in love? She wrote me that. It's in my journal." A wheeze of a breath. "Do you think it's a curse, Orto?"

*

Ortolette's own eyes are clear and bright, without their customary ring of darkness below them. She holds herself with all the vim and vigor which Desarae used to possess— a remarkable transformation. "You did not tell me," is all the answer she has for the news about the maiden untimely lost. "Perhaps so," she answers, about the curse, and, smearing her tumb in among the congealed unguent as it softens between the heat of the room and the heat of her thumb, becoming redolent of menthe, thyme, and less identifiable ingredients. She leans forward, brushing open the fore of her cousin's bed-gown, "But if you be cursed, someone has cursed you without the authority to do so," she puts on her very bossiest tone of voice, "I am your favorite cousin and only I have say," she speaks with a child-like logic as she places her unguent-cooled thumb between Desarae's collarbones and smudges it down along the topmost of her breastbone. "I hereby declare any such curse invalid and nullified. You are going to be well," she finishes, rather imperiously, with surpreme confidence even if she may know nothing about it. Maybe it's only meant for a show, for Desarae's benefit— yet there she sits, with the full austere authority of someone having removen a curse. The unguent, meanwhile, grows further redolent on Desarae's chest, a simple enough aromatherapy to aid in soothing the fever pains.

*

The balm melts further in the heat of Desarae's skin, the passage of Ortolette's fingers showing in the glistening trail that she paints on her cousin. "There's never enough time to tell the things that should be told." Desarae responds, the effort of her words showing in the strained rise and fall of her chest. Her lips remain slightly parted, the water that had wetted them already vanquished in the rattle of her breath, and she squirms a hand from beneath the covers so that she can tug Ortolette's hand into her own. "Look at you, Orto. So strong. What curse could stand in the face of such? Is it true that the witch is in the dungeons? Have you seen her?" Her breath catches with so many questions asked, and sweat breaks fresh upon her brow, soaking into her hairline to further darken her hair. "Ngh. Hurts so much, but I want to live. If only to see justice done." Hot fingers tighten on Ortolette's hand, though her grip is weak.

*

"None can, while I have strength," Ortolette affirms her complete and utter power over all things corporeal and metaphysical. Which is maybe a stretch, but this is a role she can play for her cousin when her cousin needs her. "I have not seen her. I was not thinking of seeing her. She is irrelevent and has no power over you," she declares, holding Desarae's hand softly but with dedication of purpose. "Tell me where your fever hurts you. Is it in your temples? In your neck? In the joints of your limbs?" she asks, giving options so that Desarae can merely confirm if she has no power further to speak.

*

"My head, mostly. It feels like it will burst," Desarae says, not as yet lost for words. "And everywhere else." Despite the heat of the room, and the several layers of blankets that swaddle her bed, she shivers again, and her hand remains wrapped in her cousin's. It's surprising how much just two days of illness, magical or not, can deprive a person of so much, and it shows particularly keenly in Desarae now. Her weight has dropped enough that she looks fragile where she lies, and her skin looks grey, rather than golden. Another cough wracks her frame and she turns her head to the side, her spittle flecked with blood. "Water…" she croaks.

*

Ortolette re-annoints her thumb and then brings it gingerly to Desarae's temples, one at a time, then to the points of her eyebrows, pushing softly at the pressure points and leaving them with that cleansing wamrth of the unguent over them. Once at the delicate philtrum above her upper lip, to let the aromatherapy live close to Desarae's nose, and then again behind each ear, each daub deposited with precision and care. "Water," she answers, and brings the cup back around, drawing her legs up into bed with her cousin and holding the cup strady for Desarae to taste at her own pace, while she daubs the spittle with a clean rag.

*

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