(1310-07-14) When Roses Bleed
Summary: WARNING: THIS LOG CONTAINS SCENES OF VIOLENCE, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. Evangeline and Ophelia are joined by Arsene, upon which, after banter, a challenge is made between Evangeline and Arsène. After a battle that sees Evangeline hold her own, but ultimately is defeated, Ophelia must step in to put an end to the duel, and snap the nobleman out of his rage.
RL Date: Sat Jul 14, 1310
Related: None
arsene evangeline ophelia 

La Rose Sauvage

A huge hearth of black marble, with gargoyles of stone adorning the mantlepiece, governs the foyer of the Salon de la Rose Sauvage, which emanates a certain dark air, the interior design of the more heavy sort, that could easily be encountered in a gentleman's club, especially with the dark cherry wood wainscoting used on the walls. Dark leather upholstery is predominant in the furniture of chaise longues, couches and long-backed chairs that are arranged in a half-circle, leaving space in the center for courtesans (or patrons) to kneel for an inspection. Three tall windows with circular stained-glass insets are framed by dark red curtains of heavy brocade, a few golden threads worked into the fabric catching occasionally the light of flickering oil lamps at the walls. The lamps light a pair of portrait paintings, of the two founders of the salon, Edouard Shahrizai and his cousin Annabelle no Mandrake, resplendent in their dark Kusheline appeal; and a cabinet in a corner, holding a number of quality wines and a flagon of uisghe.%r%rThe foyer has a high ceiling, and a gallery beyond a balustrade of dark teak wood, carved in the shapes of gargoyles. Sometimes a few veiled creatures can be spotted up there, stealing glances at what is going on below; from the gallery, which can be reached by ascending some winding stairs at the back of the foyer. Beside the stairs leading up is a hallway on ground level, leading further into the building to where the offices of the leader of the salon and his two Seconds can be found, along with the two wings of private quarters for roses of Mandrake and Valerian canon.

There is nothing quite like a hot, humid and stormy Summer evening. Evangeline makes her presence known in the main Salon, yet she speaks to no one for now. She leans near one of the large three windows, pushing back the thick curtains with the backs of her fingers, casually drinking a glass of wine. Her black silk gown, complete with a fully exposed back, clutches her tall, slender form like a possessive lover. Her attention is mostly on the mottled overcast sky where the brightest colors are closet to the horizon where the sun has just set. The Rose Sauvage is always well received and tonight is no different. She bothers with no one else though she's quietly observant.

It is liable to be a quiet night on the little Mont, as the summer ball is in full swing in the ducal palace and most courtesans were not asked along as escorts. Not even Ophelia, though there was some tiny kerfluffle earlier about an invitation she both received and declined. Odd, maybe, given her usual boredom with the house: any excuse to get out might have seemed like one she would take. And yet. The pale thorn emerges from the back hall about now, heels clicking in that slow, prowling pace she keeps. She wears grey, not black, a stormy shade enlivened by some deep mauve color buried under sheer layers, revealed in clever darting here and there. Still modest, almost, but for the fit of the bodice and her bare arms, her unfinished marque not fit for display.

And then there's Arsène. He's still dressed for court, silk outfit of dark blue of the finest quality, yet also practical for the duelist. It does not overly differ from his usual outfits, in fact, and true to form, his longsword can be seen tied to his belt. He arrives apparently just in time for… not much. "What, I would have expected a grandiose event to be occuring right now in the Rose Sauvage." he remarks, black eyes noticing first Evangeline, and then Ophelia. "Both of you missed the Ball. Tsk. You might have made it all the more entertaining."

The sound of heels draws Eva's attention ever so lightly over her shoulder to spy on the youngest Thorn. The remainder of her drink is tossed back, burning down the back of her throat and warming the pit of her belly as she sets the glass aside. A poised pivot turns the fully marqued courtesan onto a path that intersects Ophelia's. "Just the person I was thinking about. What do you know about suspension?" Her words cut short by Arsene's arrival. A brow lofts at his comment and she looks to Ophelia first then back to the nobleman. "Why, dearest Vicomte, I would have gladly provided you with an escort for the evening and as you do have two arms, I imagine entering with not one but two Mandrakes would have had tongue waggling. Sadly, I had someone tied up."

Surely this is not the first time Ophelia has been accosted thus by one of the elder Thorns. Nor the tenth. Nor the hundredth. Possibly the actual total number of similar events totals in the thousands; they clearly do not spare one another their barbs. Yet there are none to be seen, at least for the moment. The moonpale one draws to a halt as Eva commands her attention and poses this question, though there simply is no room to answer it, is there? No. No, there is Arsène, and it would seem that what might have been a modicum of interest is snuffed out. She sighs, as only a teenager can sigh. "Whereas the amount of ducats you would have to procure to get me to attend such an event would rival what was spent to purchase my debut and I cannot imagine that even you are that desperate for entertainment, Lord Trevalion." Where were they? Oh yes. "I do not practice it often; I've not the build for proper leverage. I prefer chairs."

"I'm sure you had. Which is a shame, I'd have loved to see their faces when the sheep realize the wolves have been allowed in their enclosure." Arsène replies to Evangeline. "Next time. I don't care if it takes two contracts' worth, at least it might bring some much needed life to a party." Ophelia, he considers, thoughtful. "Perhaps. You I would keep for when I wish for bonfires and complaints about painful burns." he tells the younger Mandrake. And then his attention shifts back to the older one as he asks Evangline. "Suspension seems to be the theme of this conversation. Why, are you about to suspend that one?" he asks, motioning to Ophelia. "Why am I thinking of that curious custom about a decorated container filled with candy one must break open to be rewarded?" he wonders out loud.

The older Thorn smirks at Ophelia's reply to both herself and Arsene. Fingers steeple as she considers a few things. "There are always methods and a metal trellis that hangs from the ceiling helps. The type of binding also allows for the weight to be distributed more evenly." Violet-blue eyes glance to Arsene once more and they scan him from top to toe. Then ever so slowly does a wily grin burn across her full lips. "You know, this one would be 'on the house' and you would be aiding in the education of this lovely Thorn." Eva gestures to Ophelia." Mention of a pinata amuses the courtesan. "Tch. And if we broke you apart, would you be as sweet as candy, Lord Trevalion?"

"I do love a pretty fire, now and again," muses Ophelia. She catches Eva's gaze though and follows it back to their guest, and she too looks him up and down with sharp interest, as if she might cut through all of that fine blue silk, and the skin, and the flesh underneath and pare him right down to elemental parts. "I suspect what we would find inside would be all bitterness and salt," she tells her housemate.

"While I found your desire to tie me up adorable, dear Mandrake, I'm afraid this must remain in the realm of your fantasies. My altruism goes only so far, even as the subject of a bet. For after all, you'd have to offer something of similar worth." And, his black eyes say, he doubts she can. "But it was a nice try." he smirks. As to breaking him… He laughs. "I suspect whatever you may find would be confused with whatever I might have dug out of either of you in the process. Such… exploration would not be without cost, one I'd be all too happy to collect." he smiles pleasantly.

"All the better. While it's true we could use anyone else here for our needs, it is only polite to extend the offer to Lord Arsene first." Eva says to Ophelia, regarding what would be something of an instructional session. "Ropework is an art but it must also be done with a certain amount of care. If we are not careful, we could involuntarily injure our patrons. They come to us for the pain we deliver, but there is a difference between the painful pleasure they seek and potentially maiming them." Not that Ophelia needs to be schooled on such things. "A bet then. Let's put to test something that would ultimately please you. Let us draw our steel. Should I be the victor, you will be my victim. If you win, then obviously you are off the hook." No pun intended.

Ophelia continues her examination of their guest for one more very long, long moment, as this playful banter continues. The broken glass glitter of her eyes is only barely veiled under her lashes, that afforded by the slight, catlike tip of her head. "Mmmm," she answers back to him, regarding that exploration. "Close." But then the lesson is underway, if that is what it is, and then Eva lays down this particular gauntlet and the whole flavor of her interest shifts. That lassitude and boredom fold up and snap shut like a closed fan. "I suppose I ought to tell you two to go outside. Or into the dark chamber. At least blood is easier to get off of that floor."

It must be said. Arsène did not expect such offer from Evangeline. Instantly, his attention is sharpened on her, and his entire manner shift. "Is that so? You would face me with steel?" His eyes, so black, now seem alight with life as something awakens at the prospect of battle, stretching its wings with unmistakeable battlelust. "Should you be the victor, I shall be your victim." he agrees. "But should I win? You will be mine to amuse myself with for one night of my choosing. Not now, perhaps not ever. But it amuses me to imagine you with that particular sword over your head." At the mention of the dark chamber, he shrugs. "Possibly, first, however, let us see if this particular Mandrake will yield in the face of the stakes." he grins.

Evangeline lingers a moment longer on Arsene before she gives the flicker of attention to a house novice and instructs the young one to fetch her a blade that matches Lord Trevalion's in length and girth. She extends her hand to Arsene now to shake and seal the promise. "Agreed." She levels a glance to Ophelia with a nod. "Yes, we should do this outside or in the Dark Chambers. I will give our guest the courtesy of choosing the location. I may not be as trained as a master duelist, however the risk is worth the reward."

"Naamah. One of these days…" The adept murmurs this, but it is a dry whisper and not actually all that quiet. Ophelia's walk was interrupted earlier, and as they begin to square off now she continues on her way, heels clicking on polished wood as she stalks off to the liquor cabinet. Was that actually where she was going before? Perhaps not, but it is where she ends up at, more invested now in the bottles on the rack than in who ends up carving who. Or perhaps she simply wants a beverage for the show?

"Very well. Then it shall be the Dark Chambers, I've no interest in the meddling of others to be a factor in this. No, it shall be enjoyed to its fullest." Arsène grins, and without further ado, heads towards the Dark Chambers in the company of the Mandrakes. Has he ever been in its depths? No. Does he look apprehensive? Absolutely not. That which awakened is only growing in strength, and the way he moves and holds himself… Something's changed. Subtle, but definitely there. It shows when they arrived and Arsène turns to face Evangeline. It shows how he draws his sword in one smooth move. And it shows with how he salutes Evangeline with the longsword. "May the best man win." he offers, and when Evangeline looks like she's ready… He attacks.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Eva=blades Vs Arsene=blades
< Eva: Good Success (8 2 4 4 6 5 8) Arsene: Good Success (6 6 3 6 2 4 6 5 2 4 7 8 2 1)
< Net Result: DRAW

The tall, lithe blonde unwinds a rope bracelet from her wrist and twines long locks back into a slick bun that rest at the nape of her neck. She salutes Arsene with her own sword and mocks. "I look forward to you eating your words, My Lord." She gives one look to Ophelia but gives nothing away. Somewhere in her mind she does hope not to look like an ass in front of the adept. Arsene attacks and Eva brings the sword up, holding form for defense before attacking on the return. The clash of steel echoes in the dark, dank chambers.

At the tail end of this? Ophelia. One bottle, one glass, the latter kind of dripping out of her hand, as yet empty. She will wait until she is down in the room of darkness and despair - and now duels, evidently - in order to pour, and even then not until she has found herself an appropriate seat from which to observe. And if it just so happens to be a leather-wrapped horse? Surely somebody cleaned the room since the last time a patron was in it, right? It is appropriate, though. There are torches to flicker off skin and steel, and one of Kushiel's own to bear witness to their little wager.

That Eva can actually hold her own is not, ironically, a source of consternation for the man. Even if a loss would leave him in the tender mercies of the Mandrake, he smiles when she deflects his first attack, the clashing of swords beloved music to his ears. "Good." A single word, yet there is such joy, such relish, in that word. He's grinning when she attacks in turn, their sword meeting again, bringing them close. He doesn't speak, letting his body express the rage of emotions in ways words could never hope to match, sword flashing in the torchlight, cutting through air for the next clash.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Eva=blades Vs Arsene=blades+1
< Eva: Success (4 8 1 6 4 6 6) Arsene: Good Success (6 4 3 6 1 8 7 3 8 3 1 3 5 5 2)
< Net Result: Arsene wins - Solid Victory

There is something to be said for that first strike. The man knows what he is doing. He clearly relishes in partaking in combat and his sword is an extension of his arm. For Eva, this is not exactly the same. Her focus is on his next move and her weapon is not her part of her body, not yet. But it is impressive that she moves as fluidly as she does in a gown and parries his attack as well as she does. Arsene finds the weak point and Eva feels the sting of his blade, her flesh cut into and blood seeping through the superficial wound. She takes a step or two back in surprise and places her hand just at her ribs where the blade struck. The silk there is torn and blood stains the palm of her hand. As she witnesses the crimson marring her skin, the rush of adrenaline hits her. pupils dilate and her hunger becomes ravenous. Eva licks her palm, while watching Arsene carefully. "I was afraid you were all talk. Not too bad, duelist."

<FS3> Ophelia rolls Subterfuge: Good Success. (8 2 8 4 7 1 3 1 5 5)

Perhaps this is interesting after all. Perhaps not so much. It is often difficult to tell with Ophelia, who may indeed have missed her calling as an Alyssum… except she doesn't manage to play the innocent for more than a few seconds at a time. She remains sitting where she was, a lazy line of moonsilver and shadow, slowly turning the bottle around on one hand as if she's trying to decide whether to open it now, or if she wants to fill the goblet with blood. Because there is some, now; her gaze slides to Eva as the other Mandrake is cut. It is here that she sets the glass down. Here that her empty hand drops onto the horse. Out of sight, out of mind?

"Why, dearest Mandrake, I'm glad you think so. But don't start to falter now, I'd hate for that first round of ours to have been just luck." And though he keeps grinning, though he watches her, moving smoothly in a slow circle around her, there's something else in his gaze. The cruelty unleashed for those that disappoint him, those that turn his desire for combat into a mundane and boring affair. It is not yet the case, Evangeline is proving to be a more worthy adversary than he's met in this city. But it is there to see, lurking, for the discerning individuals. "Enjoying the taste? Let's see if we can't give you a bit more." And with Ophelia apparently forgotten, he attacks again, sword, an edge now crimson, flashing again.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Eva=blades Vs Arsene=blades+1
< Eva: Good Success (2 3 6 6 8 4 7) Arsene: Amazing Success (7 6 6 1 5 5 1 7 7 3 8 8 1 1 8)
< Net Result: Arsene wins - Crushing Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Ophelia=blades+1 Vs Arsene=dodge
< Ophelia: Good Success (6 1 4 2 7 4 3 8 7) Arsene: Good Success (2 5 1 8 6 6 2 8 5 6 6)
< Net Result: Ophelia wins - Marginal Victory

Courtesans do aim to please and he did ask for more crimson, did he not? The problem isn't that Eva can't defend herself, it is that Arsene is quick and he spare her no mercy. None. Her gown takes the initial attack, cut to shreds along the left side of her body. But it is the sharp clank of her sword hitting he ground and her arm quickly steaming with thick rivulets of blood that have Eva stumbling backwards. She hits a wall, panting hard and fast and cursing herself for putting a hand up. To yield. They can see her pain. Not from the wound, but having to take proper measures and putting this to an end before he takes her arm off. She can't say the words but both Arsene and Ophelia see the anger behind her eyes.

Perhaps this is why Ophelia came along after all. Because she is a Mandrake, yes, and it might've been informative. Because she is a sociopathic little creature, and blood was promised. Because she is a Shahrizai, and they tend toward the lawful sort of evil that savors misery like the finest wine. Because she is a scion of Kushiel, and behind that reptilian blue stare are bronze wings, smoking censures. Because she is all of these things….. and cat quick. The bottle is dropped, shattering into a thousand wine-soaked shards, but she is off the horse before it hits the stone, wrist flicking out like a striking serpent. She might be over -there- but the lash of her whip is now over -here-, wrapping itself around Arsene's wrist and the guard of his blade, constricting, and then yanking. "That. Is Quite. Enough. Of that."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Ophelia=intimidation+3 Vs Arsene=composure
< Ophelia: Great Success (1 7 7 3 1 3 7 7 2 4 5 1) Arsene: Failure (1 1 6 6)
< Net Result: Ophelia wins - Crushing Victory

And Arsène? He is no Mandrake. Masters and Mistresses of pain, yet disciplined, trained, to prevent damage to their patrons, they know when to stop. They know when it is too much. Arsène? Not so much. Even after Eva is pushed against the wall. Even when she is panting and ragged. Even as she lifts her hand… It doesn't break him out of it. "What are you doing?! KEEP FIGHTING!" Fury overtakes him, and in his wrath, he lifts his sword… And is stopped. By the whip that suddenly constrains his blade, and Ophelia's voice, cutting through the red. Remembering. And his anger fades, the strain against the whip lessening, till he steps back from Eva. "Very well." His breathing slows, evening out. "Yield all." He considers Evangeline's gaze, the anger. "Perhaps one thing is enough tonight." The whip's untangled from his blade and, after one swipe of his sword against a piece of cloth, sheathes it. "Thank you, Mandrakes, for the entertainment. Enjoy the night." And with that, he turns to leave, heading towards the door. "Don't worry, I've not forgotten the night, Evangeline." he calls back. The first time he's used her name. The first time he addresses the woman rather than the Mandrake.

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