(1310-08-09) The Elephant in the Room
Summary: Olivia requests an audience with Ortolette, and the elephant in the room is put to bed.
RL Date: Thu Aug 09, 1310
Related: None
olivia ortolette 

Rooftop Garden - Ducal Palace


Written on crisp white parchment in black ink, and sealed with wax imprinted with the seal of the Salon de la Rose Sauvage

My Lady Ortolette

I beg indulgence of a few moments of your time.

An introduction first. I am Olivia d'Albert nó Rose Sauvage, the Second of the White Roses at Salon de la Rose Sauvage.

I have been given to understand that your health has been a little more robust of late, and so I wonder whether I might find audience with you in order to discuss something which has been playing upon my mind.

Should my request find favour, I am able call upon you at the palace whenever your time might allow.

With deepest sincerity
Olivia d'Albert nó Rose Sauvage


From the desk of Ortolette Tyran de Mereliot|(Sealed in red wax impressed with a round sigil of a skull and a songbird.)

To my Lady d'Albert, Olivia of the White Roses no Rose Sauvage— greetings.

My receipt, this morning, of your kind message among my usual correspondence, has banished all other thought from my mind. Who in Marsilikos is unaware of the exceptional reputation of your house and its accomodations, or, in fact, of your good works, my Lady, and the shining example you set for the flowers of your canon?

The report you hear of my good health is perhaps an exaggeration. I am recently afflicted once more in the lung, and have only some days now been out of my sickbed. But as my cough dries and my head clears, I am exhilarated to imagine your interest, my Lady, and pray that you will see your way clear to taking tea with me tomorrow afternoon.

Yours in utmost regard and esteem,
Ortolette Tyran de Mereliot


Fate and circumstances have contrived to push back Ortolette's tea to a morning some days after the initial correspondence— all taken care of in a matter rather genteel, of course, through letters delicately penned and sealed with Ortolette's own seal. One might wonder what a little maiden like her might have by way of letters coming across her desk that she would have her own seal made. Perhaps it is mere boredom and fancy from long enclosure within her chambre. But this morning tea has been set amid the rooftop gardens, where the weather is just slightly cooler than it is down upon the earth, the sea breeze picking up speed as it's pushed up the side of the building, making the gardens whisper with a shimmering rustle of summer foliage. There have been the threat of showers, so a small pavilion in Mereliot colors has been erected, under the ribbon-bundled posts of which a proper table has been set with all the elements of a formal ducal tea. Ortolette is a vision in white and creme, a baby doll dress of her usual favored design, arms mostly bare, chest obscured by an embroidered band, legs entirely hidden in gauzy wisps of a long, full gown. Hair immaculately braided in a roundel about her head like a crown, studded with pearl-tipped hair bobbins which match the small pearl studs on her dress' childlike chestband. Even with the breeze, not a hair can be discovered willing to budge from place, and for her gauzy dress, a blanket over her lap helps hold it down and keep it from flying away. She's been taken from her wheelchair and set in a seat at table instead of simply rolled up to the table in her usual seat. She sits a little straighter, for that, hands folded primly on her lap, eyes downcast, as though to impress the White Rose Second with her own chastity and shyness.

Olivia is duly shown to the rooftop gardens by a number of different servants; one to receive her, one to walk her through from the doors to the upper landings of the palace and yet another to bring her through the solar and up to where Ortolette waits. Naturally she's chosen some of her finest silks for the occasion of tea with the Duchesse's daughter, the white silks beautifully and expertly cut so that just a suggestions of the mysteries of the woman that lie beneath are hinted at. Veils as ever drape her head and her face, their edges defined with some sea-blue thread embroidery that accentuates the richness of her eyes, all caught in place to her hair with a silver filigree headpiece. She follows the servant over to the small pavilion that's been erected, and executes a gracious curtsey to Ortolette. "How lovely it is up here, my lady. So much cooler than the gardens below where the hot air gets trapped." Her eyes lift briefly to the young Mereliot's with those first few words that are spoken, but they quickly fall away again, before she further adds, "I must thank you for allowing me to call upon you. I wasn't sure whether to write to you or not, but I am glad now that I did."

Ortolette does not stand to meet her visitor; but the wheelchair set off to one side behind her no doubt makes up for her lapse in courtesy. Instead she simply extends her hand, palm cupped toward the pavilion's silks above, bowing her head and gesturing for the White Rose to rise from her curtsey. "It is one of my favorite places. Desarae and I used to spend long hours up here in one another's company," she invokes the name of her unfortunate cousin, whose fate and tragedy Olivia knows better than most, as a Second of her house, if not Desarae's Second directly, and it is invoked with a pang of loneliness beneath her words, yearning for her dear cousin's company, her eyes tracing the edges of the garden as if waching the ghosts of her and her cousin's lost youth and innocence scamper around. An ancient stare from such a youthful maiden. Her eyes return to Olivia by and by, and her lips trend into a soft and girlish smile. "I, too, am glad that you somehow overcame your much admirable shyness in reaching out to me. I had it in mind to come and pay my respects at your last fete, and yet— sometimes only leaving the palace is more of an ordeal than I can manage to set myself against. Please, be seated. We have three courses of tea en route, a menu of my own choosing." And the teacups are proportioned accordingly, wee little things, offering tastes, not the fullness of a beverage. Tall, thin glass flutes of ice water are already full and garnished in lime and a bit of honey.

Olivia folds herself into the chair, her movements as graceful and as flowing as the silks that she wears. "Oh yes. Desarae." Her tone is muted by the regret that she feels when she speaks of the one-time Novice, and a flash of sympathy for Ortolette and her own loss shows in her eyes. "The Salon misses her terribly, for she was truly a person unto herself. I cannot begin to imagine how you must feel yourself. May Companions bless her and keep her close, until she is ready to return to the city." Having paid due diligence to the matter which seems dear to Ortolette's heart, she nods an acknowledgement to the mention of the fête that she'd recently missed. "But yes. The fête. I'll admit to having worried and fussed over the preparation for it for days before it occurred, since it was the first event that I'd held for the Salon since taking over as the Second for the White Roses. It went well, or I believe that it did, though naturally I was saddened that you were unable to come yourself, since I think the gentleness of it would have appealed to you on many levels." Such a lot of words are spoken, and perhaps a little more than Olivia is generally known to string together, for having said what she's said, her eyes cut away, downflitting to the exquisite table setting that sits between them. "How lovely this looks, as if it's set for a doll's tea party. I used to have those with my friends when I was little. Before I went to Elua."

Ortolette bows her head as if joining her prayers to those Olivia sends to the Companions on behalf of her cousin, then lifts her water glass to begin the tea with a little sip, the honeyed rim of the glass sweetening the narrow draught. Setting it down once more, she banishes such somber glances and returns to a rather enchanted countenance while listening to Olivia describe the party, though the allusion to its appeal makes her glance away faintly, gaze scurrying along almost in time with Olivia's doing the same, as though both all too aware of the topic they're skirting. "It does, doesn't it?" she realizes, looking over the spread, a smile tipping sideways to almost peretrate a laugh, but stopping short of same. "I suppose it's appropriate. There are many who still see me as a little porcelain doll," she half-whispers her confidence. "Suited yet only for the ambitions of childhood," she sets it out there, not exactly a complaint, but a statement of a fact with which she is obviously in conflict. She nods to the team of servers hand-selected for the tea, and the first course of the tea is upon them, a black tea from the mountains of north-eastern Eisande, a woody savour to its scent, and garnished with a slice of orange to lend it some zest to counter the deep tones of the tea. On the first tea-plate, the black mountain tea is paired with a small pastry, only a very wee bite or two, a confection of candied raspberry and sweet cheese.

Olivia waits until the tea has been poured and the servants have retreated a few paces, before she responds to what Ortolette's said. "My Lady." She pauses, her voice as gentle as her fingers where they curl around the delicate china that's set before. A breath, long and slow is drawn, and there's a hint of colour that darkens her cheeks before she continues on. "As you might well imagine, I am no stranger to the difficulties that society heaps upon the way in which we present ourselves. I am shy by nature, and being shy can, at times, be challenging, for to be seen as someone of intelligence or value, as someone whom has opinions that are worth listening to, you need to have a voice. To make yourself heard. I may be quiet, but I am not blind. I see not a child across the table from me now, but an intelligent woman on the cusp of so much. Before the events of Béziers, before Desarae was taken from us, she spoke with Virgine, the Second of the White Roses before I myself was elevated. She expressed her wish to Virgine that both you and she might visit the Salon, together, as patrons, once she had turned sixteen and debuted. It is with that thought that my invitation was sent to you for the fête, and when you were unable to attend it, the note then that followed." She pauses, allowing that to sit there between them as she drifts her veil with the touch of a hand, allowing her to slip her cup beneath for a sip of her tea.

Ortolette lets the tea breathe in the cup, for her part, beginning by taking up a long spoon and managing to make a very small pastry look large by dint of the miniscule sliver she scoops from the corner of it, bringing it to her lips to taste, then nodding her head in approval and lifting her tea to sip in its aftermath, letting the flavors of raspberry and creme mingle with the orange and the black tea for a well-crafted spiral of flavors which suits her just well, for a start. Once she sets down her tea again, either the heat from the beverage or Olivia's closer treading to the topic has caused her cheeks to glow a thin pink. But she meets the gaze of the White Rose Second with all the strength of spirit present in her eyes which Olivia imagines in her, a confirmation of cunning, ambition, pride and intelligence shared but unspoken, left for the rest of the world to dismiss as but the playtime of a frail little girl. It may be she promotes the spectre of her own fragility as Olivia takes to her veils. "She wished for that?" she asks, softly. "I shouldn't be surprised. She thinks of everything," a flutter of a smile. "It speaks the world of you to my heart that you would come here in her stead, and think of me." When she is so often forgotten. "And now we are quite alone. Even Girard is away at the garden door," her Cassiline. "The things which the modesty of your hand would not allow you to put to ink in your letter, if the modesty of your lips will allow them to be uttered at all, may be uttered safely here between we two."

Olivia's eyes gleam with humour when they meet again with Ortolette's, and there's a recognition of something kindred between them that reaches out towards the younger girl. Softly. Silently. "In many ways, we are not so dissimilar, my lady. But yes. The matter upon which I've now come. I have thought long and often over what Desarae had expressed, and wondered over the canon that you might best enjoy for your first assignation. I will admit, I did wonder whether a someone of Coquelicot, of the Gentian or Balm canon might be better suited, but…" and here she halts for a second, her eyes shielded by a sudden lidding of her eyes. Inky dark, her lashes conceal her eyes from Ortolette for the duration of a second or two. "… An adept has come to us from Elua, and the second I laid eyes upon him, I knew he would be perfect." She blushes even as she speaks of this to the porcelain doll-like creature across from her, and she dares to steal a look back up to her as she sections her tart with her spoon and lifts the mouthful beneath her veils.

Ortolette returns a shy smile for that momentary recognition from Olivia. She's not accustomed to showing herself from behind her porcelain mask, any more than Olivia is used to showing her skin to the public. She hides the smile behind a second sip of tea, and then lowers her eyelids to pay close attention as she crops another corner of her pastry, letting her spoon dally on her lips in quiet consideration of Olivia's thoughtful analysis of her needs. Her eyes widen again when Olivia goes so far as to indicate she has a candidate in mind. "In truth, Desarae is correct. I have since coming of age for my first assignation given some thought to my preference." Some long thought— it was over a year and a half, now. "I would not care to be visited by a thorn," she gets out of the way rather decisively. "But I had thought of perhaps a White Rose… or… a Red," she adds, blushing now, in earnest, rather than simply glowing. It's not very attractive, either. In most other respects (her health aside) she would make an ideal White Rose. But her blush emerges in sort of uneven, blotchy patches along her throat before it even rises to her cheeks. But her admission to the rather dominant bent to which her fancies have led her in her long nights abed— alone. "This would be the young man whose introduction was the cause of your recentmost fete?" she goes on to ask, setting her spoon across her little pastry plate to indicate that she has finished with it, despite having taken but two little corners off of the whole thing. When Olivia does the same, it will signal the tea crew to sweep in and change the course.

"Indeed, yes." Olivia says, an unseen smile curving her lips as she mirrors Ortolette in setting her spoon on her plate. "He was noticed by our Dowayne in House Alyssum on the Mont, and has only recently debuted. I am told that he has not even as yet begun the limning of his marque upon his back." Which is fortunate for Rose Sauvage as he might otherwise not have been traded. "I don't mind admitting, my lady, that I was looking forward to seeing what you might think of him, and also to seeing whether you might have enjoyed the privilege of being his very first patron here in Marsilikos." She dangles her bait carefully, scrutinizing Ortolette for her reaction to that honour, and even as the blotchiness in the Duchesse's daughters face grows, she astutely avoids noticing it, and focuses instead upon the tiny cups and plates between them. "His name," she adds quietly, baiting her hook further, "Is Aimeric. It is a beautiful name, for an exceptionally beautiful and lovely young man. I am commissioning his portrait, and wondered whether you might wish to see a likeness of him before deciding whether or not you wish an assignation."

<FS3> Ortolette rolls Composure: Success. (5 5 4 5 6 8 4 4)

Ortolette's general mien remains that of a delicate maiden, and she half-contrives to stow away her blushes, lifting her chin just so to catch the caress of a lowty breeze across the contour of her face, listening to the bait being laid out for her by the White Rose Second, but remaining silent while the team of servants comes and clears away not just the tea and he remnants of tart, but the whole place setting, a new pattern of porcelain and a new style of silverware replacing even items which had not been used, and all such a practiced hand that in mere moments the whole tabletop is transformed as if by magic. The tall flutes of ice water are replaced by a light, chilled white honey-wine, the ice in which leaves it pale and refreshing, served in small tumblers. The tea is a local rosehip with lemon, and the nosh is a small oval slice of lightly toasted bread topped with a sliver of cucumber and a piece of fresh mozzarella still dripping with milk, each one cut in half and speared with a small wooden skewer for ease of partaking. In the meanwhile, if Ortolette's expression betrays anything at all, it is perhaps a mote of suspicion. Once the place settings are changed and the tea is poured, and the servants are once again at a distance, she begins once more to speak as she takes knife and fork to one of the little cucumber bruschette, cutting a cross-section of one of the halves in order to get a little taste of all three components onto the tines of her fork. "It would have been a privilege, indeed," she answers, "Though certainly that privilege is no more available?" she goes on to ask. It's been closer to two weeks than one since his arrival, and surely he must have found patronage already. If not— Ortolette must wonder whether there is something the matter with him, to have been got rid of so soon after his debut from the Mont, and then to lie idle in the fields of the Wild Roses.

"The privilege is still available." Olivia's tone with that response is one of absolute certainty, and her eyes glance a smile of thanks to the server that sets her fresh plate before her. "I have allowed Aimeric time to settle into his new home, for a new city can be intimidating to anyone, least of all one of the Alyssum canon." She picks up one of the skewers and allows the milk to drizzle across the edge of the bruchette whilst continuing to speak. "Since the fête, a number of enquiries and requests for Aimeric's company have crossed my desk. He will be a valuable addition to the Salon, and will quickly make his marque, but those requests, those enquiries, I have decided to stall on for now." Another wash of colour paints her cheeks at that admission. "I won't lie to you, my lady, it was with the thought in mind of giving you the first pick of the cherry, so to speak. Not that Aimeric is a virgin, of course, but he's still fresh to the city, and so eagerly sought." She draws a breath, her veils moulding to her lips for a minute, before they billow free and she takes a bite of the morsel of food. No wonder Ortolette's so tiny.

The cant of suspicion shading Ortolette's expression is duly mollified by the explanations given by the young man's second. Olivia certainly knows how to whet the appetite of a maiden with a mercantile bent; where demand is high the goods are traded most preciously, and she settles into that rather heated glow once more, an enticed silence within which she measures the response and takes her fork full of bread, cucumber and cheese, sliding the tines out from between her lips, bare but for an invisible trace of her saliva. Setting which down, she takes up her tea and tastes it, then sets it back into place. "You're very kind, I'm sure, to give him time to acclimate. It's a risk, as well you know. The novel is always intriguing, especially when paired with the beautiful. What if that interest should wither in the ink as it waits on your desk?" She takes, next, a sip of her honeyed white wine, and then simply holds the small tumbler in both her hands. "Of course, with larger risk comes larger reward, if it should pay off. Should your new White Rose be known to take my first assignation… his popularity would no doubt abound by the deed." A pause, a little smile over the rim of her glass. "And your esteem in bringing such prestige to your canon, likewise." The maiden has a brain, indeed, and it's scouring out all the possible winners in this deal.

The ruse is up. Ortolette's insight into the offer which Olivia makes to her, has the Second instantly blushing again. "You are astute, Lady Ortolette. You have a keen mind and recognise that it will be a feather in the cap of Rose Sauvage, and the White Roses in particular, to count you amongst its patrons." A breath filters between her lips as she reaches for her own glass of honeyed, wine, but it's perhaps more that it's something to do with her fingers as she considers how best to next progress their conversation. She collects that glass into her hand and leans back in her chair, her shoulders pushing back and down as she eases some of the anxiety that's built up in the anticipation of this meeting. Her next words are carefully chosen. "As you have pointed out, it is a risky game that I am playing, but it's one that I feel is worth taking. I will, however, need to bend to the others quite soon, as there does come a point when the risk outweighs the rewards." Her voice drops away, and she slips her glass beneath her veil for a sip of it's contents, her eyes closing as the honeyed sweetness coats her tongue and gives her a moment's reprieve from talking.

"If you think I am indignant you would use my virgin assignation to raise your own esteem—" Ortolette begins, finally setting down the wine and taking back to the tea, lips easing into a conspiratorial little smile, "You are wrong, and you may put your blushes away. You and I really are of a type. Your ambition and your acumen impress me, Lady Olivia. And that you would show such regard for me in remembering my needs, in coming to me with this petition, in saving a darling budding rose for my own having… you offer me honors which the other houses have neglected, and I would hope to let them learn from your example," she sips her tea, then, growing faintly blotchy, once more, "As well as which, Lady Olivia, my maidenhood is truly becoming burdensome. I am ready to meet Naamah, and have been so for longer in mind than in body. Our tea comes well-timed. Even two nights ago, as we wrote to one another, my chest was too heavy for such conversation. I have no wish to wait out the completion of a portrait, but if you would bring him to me for me to meet him myself, I will have an answer for you before the end of our meeting, and in either event he will be subsequently freed for those who clamor for him."

Intelligent eyes remain locked upon Ortolette when the girl calls her out, and there's a quiet laugh that catches in Olivia's throat as she straightens in her seat and leans forwards once more. "Thank you, my lady." Her words are sincere, as is her tone, and she lifts her glass in a silent salute to Ortolette. "If it is convenient to your schedule, then I shall bring Aimeric to meet with you tomorrow. I too believe that you have waited overly long to meet with Naamah. The time is right to rectify that." With the matter now settled that had sat like an elephant in the room with them, and with a clearer understanding as to their natures, conversation will flow just a little easier between Ortolette and Olivia during the course of the rest of their tea.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License