(1310-07-10) Of Hellas and the Hippodrome
Summary: In which Olivia tells Arsène of the delights of Marsilikos, the hippodrome and the Hellenic Isles.
RL Date: Tue Jul 10, 2018
Related: None
arsene olivia 

Explorers Club

Natural light graces the top floor of Raziel's Sanctum through several oriel windows inlaid by jade and celadon slivers. Brass casements lend an antique feel to the wood floors and grandiose height of the peaked ceiling. Thin wood pillars carved in classic Hellene style run the length of the hall, each pair flanking a doorway into an adjacent chamber. Creature comforts abound where upholstered fainting couches are arranged around low square tables, the better to share wine and conversation in stylish comfort. A brass fitted rail sweeps around the sunken living area, such as it is, separated by a flight of stairs from a crescent stage flanked in a lectern and mobile shelves laced by a changing assortment of books or gewgaws. The only serious fixture, a freestanding wunderkabinett, is a gorgeous teak piece covered by lapis lazuli and mother-of-pearl designs likely to be the Argonauts on one side, and a certain famous couple traveling to the far ends of the Earth while flying the Courcel flag on the other. The open doors display dozens of shelves, and the Companions in their bas relief glory. So too the angelic partners of Elua appear on the plaster plaques ringing the upper walls.%r%rThe place holds an intimacy despite the hall's long size, inspired considerably by a fireplace used to banish the cold and gorgeous acoustics reflecting whispers and song alike into a bold auditory richness. Off the main hall open six doorsways. Four private bedrooms offer little by way of amenities except a place for weary travelers to rest their heads or prepare for the next adventure, each outfitted in kind by a bed, drawers, and a bookshelf. Two smaller salons support groups no larger than ten, decorated in classic Eisandine style. These treasure boxes feature more seating and books than actual instruments. Maps hang on the wall, woven tapestries of old.


Mid-afternoon, and the warmth of a July day permeates the upper levels of Raziel's Sanctum. Today isn't a day when a meeting of the members of the Explorer's Club has been arranged for, though they are frequent enough. Nevertheless the rooms are open to those that would wish to wander that way. A person would perhaps be surprised to encounter one of the Innocent Roses skulking a way up here however, for most of them stick to the known safety of the confines of their salon when not being escorted about the city by guards or by chaperones. Not so this one. This one is currently curled in the corner of an ancient and faded chaise, a large and heavy tome of maps spread wide upon the low table before her. It'd be difficult to discern whom is beneath the white silks and veils that swathe her head and figure, her slender fingers tracing the carmine-inked outline of the Hellenic Isles whilst she pores over the cartographer's work. But there are clues. A wisp of wheat-blonde hair that's escaped on one temple and intelligent bright blue eyes. A flash of silver at her wrist. A parchment that's covered in writing sits to the side of the book, its ink still drying.

"You know, when I imagined coming into the Explorer's Club, seeing you there was not what I expected." says a voice, one heralded by approaching steps. A voice belonging to Arsène, clad in black as if to contrast with the white of Olivia's veils. "Are you a common fixture among the Club?" he asks, stepping further in. Does he recognize her? Doubtful. She is, after all, wearing her veils, and he is not looking at her so much as the room, glancing about at all items of interest. Eventually, however, his steps take him close to the Alyssum, black eyes glancing down to the object of her current focus. "Foreign lands. Interesting." Three words. Yet there is much in these three words. Interest, yes, but it is the manner with which it is awakened, the opportunity, the appeal of the exotic, of mystery, legend… It might be better suited in a starry-eyed youth raised on tales of chivalry and epic quests. Yet there is an echo of it in Arsène's tone.

Olivia's eyes flick up from the map, her finger remaining poised where it is. "Vicomte de Dreux." Her voice is soft, yet there's the faintest fluttering of her veils beneath her breath, as if a sigh were being exhaled. There's a moment of indecision before her hand pulls from the page and she rises to her feet. A curtsey is sketched, and her eyes slip away from Arsène's, falling to the book in question. "Foreign lands. Yes. My brother writes me from the Hellenic isles, and I am writing him back." A touch of wistfulness is to be found in her tone, and her focus briefly returns to his face. Questioning. "There aren't many amongst the new arrivals to the city that manage, or even care, to find their way up to these levels of the Emporium. It is one of my own favourite places to hide myself away when not needed in the Salon. How clever of you to have found it."

Does he notice the sigh? Perhaps, but he does not bring further attention upon it. "Idleness can lead one to many isolated and hidden places. Or at least, it is my hope when I find myself without occupation. Interestingly enough, it seems to have worked, this time." Arsène replies, amusement colouring his tone. "I'm afraid cleverness had little to do with it. And how does he find Hellas? I admit envy for your brother, to travel so far, and no doubt seen many wonders far removed from Terre d'Ange." He tilts his head to the side, curious. "Have you yourself travelled?"

Olivia's arms wrap her waist, and she studies Arsène for the brevity of a second before responding with a degree of temerity. "I confess, my lord, it makes me sad if you find yourself at odds in our city. It is a triumph of the Eisandine people's love of art and culture. It is the acknowledged gateway to the south, to adventure, and to so very much more. Perhaps my lord has not had the time to truly appreciate it as yet?" A blush finds her cheeks with the boldness of her words, and she turns to gesture to the chaise that she'd been seated upon when Arsène had entered. "Perhaps, if you are not hastening off, I could explain to you of some of its treasures. And no. I have not travelled. I was fostered on the Mont in Elua from the age of six, and was brought here when I was fifteen. Though some adepts are able to travel whilst making their marque, it is a rarity to do so. Obviously, for one of my canon, such extended contracts and long term patronage that would enable such travelling are rarer yet." A tilt of her head to match with his. "Surely though, you could have visited Hellene if you'd wished?"

"Oh I'm sure there are plenty of opportunities for entertainment to be found. And a higher purpose, somewhere, than simple thrill. That I have not found either does not mean that I do not seek, nor, for that matter, do I believe the city to be empty of such paths to adventure. I do not know the city well, just yet, but in time, perhaps. It's only been a matter of days, after all. But I am an impatient man, and despise inaction." Arsène's eyes brighten with unhidden curiosity and interest when she offers to share its treasures, and he nods. "Yes, I'd like that. Quite a lot." He smiles. And for once, it is a pleased, even warm smile. Not a hint of the typically darker amusement, the cruel mockery that colours his every gesture. Genuine happiness. Yet it is overcast when she asks of why he did not go. "Consider that my father never approved of my passion for the sword, and did everything in his power to keep me from it. Do you imagine he would have allowed me so far out of his reach?" He laughs, bitter, even with the man long dead. "And when he died, I received the title, and the obligations that come with it. Only now, after ensuring all is quiet at home, have I the freedom to move as I wish."

<FS3> Olivia rolls Empathy: Good Success. (2 8 6 1 6 8 6 6 1 5)

"I… am sorry." Olivia's voice is tentative and searching as her eyes find his. A deep breath is taken and if he should be similarly watching her in that moment, he'd see a genuine concern for him and the history he paints for her float briefly upon her expression. "It must be hard to shoulder the weight of something you neither wanted nor asked for, if your personal goals and desires lie elsewhere." Fingers lift to tuck errant strands of hair back beneath her veils, and with another drawing of her breath, it's as if she draws a metaphorical veil rather than a physical one between what she's said and what she continues on to say. Her voice is warm. "But I will paint my lord a picture of the sights to be seen both within the city and without. Places known and unknown. Where your impatience when it snaps at your heels might be kicked to one side. The best of places and the worst." She looks to the chaise, waiting for him to sit. And if he does, she'll take her cue from there.

It is, perhaps, not the best subject to discuss with the man. Especially not when one has his attention. Even dwelling on it provokes an immediate reaction, bitterness turning to anger, the rage of a lion kept in cage for far too long. Even the softest touch can trigger a bite. "What does it matter to you, Second? I am not your patron, just a man you met through pure chance. Your sympathy is wasted, if it is heartfelt at all. Who can say, with courtesans?" Arsène scowls, though his violent outburst has not reached physicality. The fire remains with its dark flames, even as she takes the more soothing path of another subject, anything but his past. "Good." Less happy, this time. The untainted happiness is long gone, spoiled, Tension remains as he joins her, sitting down. Tension in his shoulders, the way he holds his back. Distracted by a piece of meat, the lion remains a lion.

Olivia's eyes lid, and she looks away from Arsène and his ill-concealed anger. "Indeed. You are not my patron." She lowers herself to perch on the very edge of the chaise, tension showing in the line of her shoulders and in stiffness of her back. Something dies. There's much that silks and veils can do to conceal aspects of a person's physical appearance, but there's also much that they simply cannot. They cannot conceal that person's nature. The very essence of whom they are. And Olivia? Olivia is a construct of so many things. She's the result of years of training and ingrained etiquette. She doesn't look at Arsène as she begins to speak; her voice quiet, informative and monotone, a politeness only showing where before there was warmth. It's as if she's disassociated herself from the moment that he'd chastised her. "… And if you are still finding yourself at a loss after that, then there is the Hipporome to the east of the tournament grounds. The races there can be both furious, and dangerous. My lord has a horse?"

"Yes, though rarely ridden. In fact I would no doubt be quite bad at it." Arsène answers simply. It is not stated, yet for one able to read others so well, Olivia would no doubt be able to put together the why he might not possess such basic schooling. "I tend to prefer the use of my own two feet anyway." he adds. One must make do with the advantages and disadvantages that they possess, must they not? "Still, it'd be worth learning how to do so properly, for such races. Though one would have to also learn how to sail, I imagine, to even get there." He does not speak of the noticeably missing warmth. Or of anything save Hellas. Even then, his attention seems inward. Dwelling on his anger, or seeking to contain it, is difficult to tell.

"To get to the Hippodrome?" A shake of Olivia's head. "One only has to follow the road out of the city where it skirts round the tournament fields. In was built in honour of the ancient Hellenes, and also to acknowledge our own history of horse-breeding, and stands apart from the city in a reclaimed marsh. There's a lime-traced track that slices through the grassy mounds that grow there. There's many a time I've gone there myself, to cheer for a favoured rider. If it is excitement you seek, then I'd direct my lord there. It can be quite brutal. As to Hellene, then yes. Sailing would be needed, or the coin to pay for your passage." Her head twists, her veils catching against her face where trapped by her shoulder. There's a hint of her features beneath; the sweep of her jaw, her chin, her mouth, the lines softened by the gossamer threads of her silks. The hint of a smile now returning. "Would it surprise you to know that I too cannot ride? There's been no place for it in my life, though I would pay dearly to learn."

"Hellas, yes. Hippodrome, I should manage." Arsène answers, lips tugged into a smirk, though it fades soon after as he glances at Olivia, curious. "Is that so? No, not really. If I, a nobleman, did not learn, who am I to assume a courtesan would be given such schooling? Do they willingly keep some things from you, when they train, I wonder…" He shakes his head. "Either way, should I find a worthwhile teacher, perhaps we can learn together. It would be good to have at least some notion… Perhaps for the both of us. Another time, however." As suddenly as it came, the anger has faded, at least from sight. Tension faded as he stands and begins to walk away. "Duty, that horrible mistress, calls. Perhaps we can resume such conversation another time. Who knows, I might not start yelling." Was that an apology? Not a very good one, if one's unable to tell. But perhaps it's as close as Arsène can come to such. Either way, he has soon left, to darken the horizon of others.

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