(1310-06-09) Reality Check
Summary: Desarae comes upon Juste sketching in the Gardens d'Eisheth. She stops to talk with him, but Augustin's arrival and his presentation of a gift to her, causes the night to take an unexpected turn.
RL Date: June 9th, 2018
Related: Up on the Roof
augustin desarae juste 

Gardens d'Eisheth - Marsilikos

Tranquility and beauty of nature is what those coming to the gardens of Eisheth usually seek. There is a playfulness in the arrangement of paths through the greenery, and the way four of them wind to the center, where there is a pond surrounded by a few elm trees, beside an area with wooden benches and tables beneath an arbor, where ivy winds about wooden posts, and a roof of colorfully glazed tiles offers shelter from the sun but also moderate rain.

Bushes are trimmed, and the green is kept short, so that people coming here can enjoy the dramatic view over the coast all the way to the sea, with the harbor and the citadel slightly to the north. Slightly towards the south and close by is the infirmary with the herb garden beside, where a variety of plants used for healing and treating certain illness are grown under the immaculate care of the healers. Towards the east, a path leads towards the temple district, where the dominant structure of the Temple of Eisheth looms, the white marble shimmering almost otherwordly on late afternoons, when it catches the warm, orange light of the setting sun.


The gardens gave off a unique color at night, Juste found. When the moon hit the gardens just right the flowers seemed to appear to glow. It just so happened that amongst the gardens there was Juste. He sat with a candle in a small candle-holder at his side as he was sketching the gardens at night, complete with showing off hues and glows. He hummed a quiet tune as he gently shifted his ankle to the makeshift hum he let out as he worked. There were few others in the gardens tonight and those that were didn't have any reason to bother the drawing priest. So, Juste had a bench to himself in the paths of the gardens to draw.

*

Moonlight and darkness. Both are things that perfectly suit the girl who has also come to enjoy the gardens at night. Dressed in a gown of black, and with a cloak of the same colour wrapping her form, she presents a sombre picture as she picks her way along the path that leads to where Juste now sits. With her, and walking just a step or two behind, is a Cassiline guard in grey. Where the quality of moonlight leaches colour from the landscape, so too does it drain the girl, leaving her her skin pale and slightly silvered. She hesitates on seeing Juste, perhaps not imagining that she'd encounter anyone else this late. She makes her way over. "A lovely night, tonight. You are an artist?" And there it is. Her opening gambit. As simple and as easy as that.

*

Juste looked up a touch startled at the question. Not due to the woman who gave it, but it was simply that the quiet being unexpectedly broken shook him from his drawing reverie. "I'm sorry?" He took a moment to catch up what she asked, looking down at his sketch pad and the shade of the night and the color of the candle made the color of his cheeks not emerge. "Non. I just like drawing." He said with a smile. "I find it's soothing to me and it's a hobby I've done since I was a boy. Though that is all it is, a hobby meaning I am neither talented nor skilled in it." He looked back to her and set the slim stick of coal aside. "It is a marvelous night. Not too warm, not too cold. Perfect for a night out. I take it that is what brings you here?"

*

Desarae chews on her lip. "Forgive me. I didn't mean to startle you. My tutors attempted a finessse of my own skill in artistic pursuits, but sadly they failed." A breath is drawn and her eyes flick to the night sky. "Indeed yes. I feel I can breathe better at night. The air is cooler and it my thoughts come easier. May I share your bench with you for a moment or two?" Perhaps it's the quality of the night, perhaps it's the girl herself, but there's an air of melancholy about her as she lifts her hood from her head and settles it about her shoulders. Her Cassiline remains close, watching Juste closely, though remains perfectly quiet. It's Desarae that speaks once more. "You are a priest of Shemhazai, I think?"

*

Juste smiled and gave a light chuckle. "Oh it is fine. I just didn't anticipate someone talking to me is all." Her request to sit next to him suddenly put him in motion. "Oh! Of course. Please." Said motion was collecting the few pencils and coal at his side to make enough room for her to sit comfortably. "Your thoughts would be on point. I am indeed a Priest, as it happens of Shemhazai." He didn't offer a hand. Instead he simply bowed his head reverently, anticipating her being of noble birth both from her appearance as the candle struck her face and the close-to-invisible casseline in the periphery. One does not touch them unless they desire it. "Juste Berthier. At your service, Lady." He tucked the coals and pencil into a small pouch on his belt. "So the night brings you here to think?"

*

"Yes. The night brings me here to think," Desarae responds to that question. She waits for Juste to tidy his pencils away, then takes a seat beside him, something akin to a sigh being exhaled as she settles herself down. "Desarae Mereliot." Her own introduction is just those two words, and having given them she lapses to momentary silence. The peace of the gardens wraps itself about the pair, and her breathing is steady and slow, the candle barely flickering with the absence where it burns beside Juste. "Have you travelled much?" she eventually goes on to ask, her head just turning enough that her gaze can fall on him.

*

Juste nods. "Well, you will find I am quite a companion to have when people need to think." Juste was not a talkative soul. More head in the clouds than a jabbermouth. So as she settled in he returned to his sketching. He pulled out a pencil and began to sketch once more, a few lines and outlines when Desarae once more broke the silence. He looked over to her, acknowledging her and then returned to sketching happily doing both. "I have, as it happens. The farthest I have travelled is the southern city-states of Caerdicci Unitas. I had planned on travelling to Menekhet for research, but unfortunately I was unable to go. I have been to Euskerria, Aragonia, Alba and Eire, The CU and a brief research trip to the Flatlands." In general, the periphery of Terre d'Ange. "Lovely places all of them. Would go again if I had reasons to." He finished several stars before looking back to Desarae. "What about you?"

*

Desarae shakes her head. "I have never travelled beyond the borders of Terre d'Ange. Until recently I was a novice of the Night Court, and had fostered at Rose Sauvage from the age of six." Her eyes fall away, and her hands knot in her lap. "You're drawing the sky. I was talking about the stars only yesterday with a cousin of mine. He was explaining how sailors navigate their way by using them. Well, one more than the others." Her chin lifts, and her eyes search the heavens. "That one there. The bright one. It is called L'├ętoile Polaire. Being a priest of Shemhazai, I expect that you know that already, though."

*

Augustin arrives from the Temple of Eisheth.

*

Augustin has arrived.

*

Juste and Desarae sat speaking quietly as if both were respecting the reverence of the garden at night to each other. A candle in a small candle holder was at Juste's side on the bench and, if one looked close enough, in the shadows near the bench stood the silent vigil of Desarae's Casseline companion. The man would eye Juste for several moments, then look elsewhere. "I would certainly suggest it, even if for a few days." He suggested. "It is something beautiful to see something new and foreign for the first time. Be it a cathedral in Aragon or the Cairns of Alba or the Old Senatus in Tiberium." He smiled to her, then looked at where she pointed. He leaned close to see which star she was referring to and listened. L'etoile Polaire. He'd have to remember that. "To be honest? No." He shook his head. "While Shemhazai adores knowledge, it is the Azza Order who know them best of all. I however have never studied them, either from our own tomes or in research with the Priesthood of Azza. The stars however have always held a soft place for me though. The unknown." He reminisced. "I remember seeing the celestial arm for the first time when I lived in Siovale. I was…I dunno. Six? Maybe seven. I had wandered too far from the village, surrounded by blackest night until the whole world lit up as if Elua forgot to turn the light on." He snapped his fingers and looked up. "And there it was. Used to a few hundred? Sure. But the whole sky was dwarfed with them. And there, in the middle of it all was the arm." He clucked his tongue and shook his head as if in half-disbelief. "There are only a few things in one's life that steals their thoughts and breath. That, was one of them for me."

*

Augustin steps in to the gardens lost in thought, his hands folded togeter behind his back as he walks along. He seems surprised to hear other voices, shaking himself out of whateer reverie had taken him as he spots the candle. When his eyes mark Desarae and her companion, he turns his steps to approach toward them. As he is fully armed while out and about he keeps his hands casually but decidedly clear of any weapons as he approaches the Cassiline, and offers a bow to all three of them. "My lady cousin, Sir Cassiline, Brother. I pray I'm not intruding?" He asks curiously. "I heard you discussing foreign sights, and when I saw who it was I wanted to come over." He looks to Desarae. "I have something for you."

*

"The celestial arm?" Desarae's brow furrows. "I haven't heard of that before, though what you describe sounds magical." If there's anything further forthcoming on the matter of the stars, it's curtailed by the arrival of Augustin, and her eyes cut quickly his way. Florent tenses, but recognition of the cousin is quick to follow, and hands that had shifted almost imperceptibly towards his dagger, fall once more away. "My lord cousin. How strange a coincidence. We were just discussing the stars and navigation. Then again, with the stars above us, I suppose that it is only natural that such things might be spoken of. This is Brother Juste Berthier. Brother Berthier, my cousin, the Viscomte de Rouen." She looks much as she did the previous night, her cloak of black wrapping her warmly, and her hood left down so the night air can touch to her face. A tilt of her head. "Something for me? I am all curiousity now."

*

Juste nodded several times. "Well. With your permission and of course that of your companion, we could always arrange to see it." He too cut things short when Augustine arrived as it appeared the Lady had Noble Business to attend. At her introduction of him he bowed his head. "Vicomte. At your service." He welcomed then fell deafly silent, taking the opportunity to continue his sketch the night sky to give the room for business the air it deserved.

*

Augustin offers a wry smile to the Priest. "A pleasure to meet you, Brother Juste, and my apologies for interrupting. This will only take a moment and we can return to more pleasant discussions. Sir Florent, if you would be so kind as to not leap on me when I pull something out of my coat, I would consider it a kindness," he explains to the guard, as he reaches in to his coat and pulls something out—a dagger in a black leather sheath, with a lacquered handle of such a dark blue that it is almost black. He offers it hilt first to Desarae. "Careful; it is sharp enough to shave a peach with."

*

<FS3> Desarae rolls Composure: Failure. (1 5 6 1 6 4 2 6 1)

*

Desarae's face is already pale, silvered as it is by the spill of the moon. Nevertheless, what colour is left in her flesh drains completely upon sight of the dagger. Eyes widen when they fall on it, and there's a reflexively sharp intake of her breath. Despite Augustin's reassurances before he'd removed it from his jacket, it's been a mere handful of days since the slitting of throatsin B├ęziers. Her composure cracks. "I…" But she can't get the rest of her words out, eyes welling with tears as she looks up at her cousin. Blood thunders in her ears and her breathing comes hard. Time grinds to a halt, and there's just her and the dagger before her as her world at its edges. As consciousness starts to slip, Florent steps forward.
*

Well! That business took a unique turn.

Juste, being the unfortunate chap sitting next to her, had a few things going for him. The first was that he could feel Desarae's composure slump to jelly beside him as he looked from the offered knife to her and saw her pupils, shadowed as they were, begin to swallow the colors of her eyes. A frown, and then he rested a hand on her shoulder both to give her balance and also so he could turn a touch and not accidentally knock her off the bench. It was the disciples of Eiseth who knew the arts of healing and ailments more than Juste ever did. However there were cues, whether one knew it or not, that -something- was amiss. Slacking body with lost eyes? Definately one of those cues. "Lady?" His voice was measured. Like a teachers'. "Lady? Listen to me." He didn't shake her or manhandle her. He had a gut feeling that wouldn't work.

*

"Shit," Augustin curses as Desarae starts to go. He reaches out to take her hand, both for the human touch to hopefully anchor her and to keep her from dropping the stupidly sharp knife and disemboweling herself or something. "Desarae we're right here. I'm here, and Florent is here, and the Priest is here. It's okay, you're safe," he reassures in a calm, confident voice. He may be treating it more like a panic attack, but…you know, it could still help.

*

<FS3> Desarae rolls Composure: Good Success. (7 4 5 5 7 6 6 5 1)

*

"I…" Desarae repeats once more. She's fragile at the very least, but it's the familiarity of Augustin's voice that cuts through the blackness as he takes her hand. Her fingers tighten about the hilt of the dagger. Her breathing remains elevated however, and Juste will feel the laboured rise and fall of her shoulders beneath his hand as she tries to re-focus and center herself in the present. "It's best she returns to the Palace." Florent states, his charge his primary concern . Desarae's eyes lock with her cousin's, gleaming with tears. "I'm sorry." Her words are quiet as Florent removes the dagger from her hands, and after tucking it alongside his own in his belt, he lifts her to her feet.

*

"I would agree. And the sooner she is off her feet the better." Juste agreed, standing with her with his hand still on her shoulder until Florent had enough of a grip on her then let her shoulder go. He collected his things and picked up his candle, his face riddled with concern. "I hope she feels better soon."

*

"Yes, let's see her returned to the palace. I'm sorry, Desarae, Sir Florent," he offers sincerely. "I thought it might bring comfort, and be a sign I took my offer seriously; I did not think it would cause harm." He helps Florent pull her up, looking like he intends to go with them. "Nothing to be sorry about on your end, dear one, it was my foolishness."

*

It's upon Augustin's arm that Desarae will lean once upright. She looks hollowed out, her eyes bleak when they turn upon Juste. There are no word to him, just a dipped nod of her head before she's led away. Her sorrow is tangible in that moment, and it catches about the edges of her very being, causing her to cut a lonely figure despite the presence of her cousin and cassiline. It's not too far to the gates of the gardens however, and she's soon to be swallowed by the comfort of the carriage in which they'd arrived.

*

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