(1310-08-18) A Time and Place for Forthrightness
Summary: Newly arrived in Marsilikos, and with news having reached her on the road, Iolanthe d'Albert pays the recently returned Matthieu de Rocaille a visit.
RL Date: August 18, 2018
Related: Resurrection and the Light
matthieu iolanthe 

Rocaille Townhouse

Lavish and refined in its design this townhouse seems to spare no expense while still maintaining a cozy atmosphere. The floors are polished ebony marble, gleaming under the light of many high windows and wrought iron candle filled fixtures. The walls are painted a deep forest green and adorned with various works of art depicting the companion Shemhazai and the lands of Siovale. The main rooms of the townhouse are for entertaining guests, the sitting room and dinning room respectively. Other rooms branch off these and a staircase and well lit hallway leads upwards and deeper into the house where the private rooms are. The building seems to have been constructed around a large garden in which various herbs and flowers are planted. The garden also boasts a small well kept pond with exotic fish at its center. Both the dinning room and the sitting room have large windows and doors that look out onto this garden.


Another unfamiliar face graces the halls of the Rocaille household today, at least for the staff based in Marsilikos who, for the most part, have tended to just Elliot's needs in the last several months until his half-brother's return from hell just a week or so ago. There is more activity in these premises, now, though its most recent callers have largely been the members of House Albert, who have always enjoyed a good relationship with the sovereign ducal heir. Lucienne's overtures were as much political as they were personal ones, and they weren't completely unexpected, so it stands to reason that most of Matthieu's personnel have expected the grande dame to visit more often than she has.

And certainly not her young granddaughter.

The valet thus has to ask for Iolanthe's introduction before the stoic man in the black, green and gold livery of the Rocaille family leads her up the staircase towards the cavernous study in which the man spends most of his time. And by the time she is announced and ushered in, the first set of eyes upon her would be the ones that belong to Gabriel de Montreve, a tall, sharp-featured man with dark hair, leaning against the frame that leads out into the balcony. His role would be apparent if not just because of the vambraces on his arms, marking him a member of the Cassiline Brotherhood and who often enjoys a reputation for being a lackadaisical and smart-talking personage in a sea of soft and serious faces. He also happens to be Matthieu's closest friend in all of existence, practically attached to the hip since they were children.

A tumbled mass of platinum-blond hair is bent over his work, strong, deft fingers working a stylus and leaving his characteristic sharp flourishes over parchment. For a man found half-dead just a week ago, Matthieu seems to have reclaimed much of his dauntless spirit, at the very least on the outside, and his cutting, silver-sapphire gaze lances across the distance between himself at his desk and Iolanthe by the door once the whisper of silks reaches his ears. There's an incline of his head, wordless for a few heartbeats, a look mirrored by his Cassiline friend as they both land their stares upon her. But ever the gentleman, the broad-shouldered man rises from his seat to greet his guest.

"May I present Lady Iolanthe d'Albert, my lord," the valet says.

Realization sparks in the man's quiet, studious scrutiny. He is too far from her to offer his hand, and so elects to give a shallow bow from the waist instead. "Lady Iolanthe," he says. "You're an awfully long way from Marmande. The Vicomtesse de Seyches has not informed me that you are in the city as well."

—-

Content to let the valet attend to his required duties of presentation, the younger d'Albert manages to refrain from causing him any undue duress as she follows him graciously up the stairs and into the study. With a small basket tucked in the crook of her arm, she manages to carry herself well enough with an air of dignity and grace.

Behind her strides a rather large encumbered man that is clearly pushing close to his fiftieth year - his face weathered with more than a few scars and marks of distinction. Clearly lacking the distinction of any Cassiline order, the man appears to be one that earned his stripes long ago on the fields of battle. He lingers near the door, allowing his current charge a degree of space before granting the present gentlemen a dip of the head in respectful recognition.

With introduction made in accordance with proper customs, the young woman's lips quirk slightly before pulling into a faint hint of a smile, "Some journeys, My Lord, are well worth the venture. But please, do not fault grandmère too much. I am certain she would have informed you had she realized I would be here so soon. If there is any fault, it lays with me, I assure you."

She dips generously with a curtsey before taking another step towards the Rocaille lord, gaze sliding briefly to acknowledge Gabriel as well, "I have brought some remedies for the soul. It is not much, truly, only a few lemon cakes and few books from my own personal collection. I can assure you they are quite good - though I fear I cannot take credit for the baking." Even as she explains her arm gently unfolds as she slides the basket out in offering, "And need not worry, I will not be overly offended should you wish to test to ensure they are not tainted. I have read a great deal of such… things… and would not fault either of you in the least."

—-

"At the rate this entire state of affairs is going, maybe three years in hell is worth it when so many pretty faces have been coming around lately," Gabriel observes from where he leans, an easy smile delivered onto Iolanthe and a casual salute towards the guard that's accompanied her, recognition on his face. "Good afternoon, my lady…and Thierry, too! I thought you looked familiar, but it's been a very long time." He glances over at Matthieu. "How old was she again when you met her?"

"She was five and I was fourteen," Matthieu says, the requisite bits of information presented to him enough to trigger a parting of the smokescreens of memory to find the images he needs. "About the time I left to return to Rocaille. Still, I would very much hope so, Lady Iolanthe, if not just so Lucienne would have the company. Her niece, Olivia, does what she can, but given her elevated position with the Night Court, she can't be with her as often as she likes. Have a seat."

He will remain standing until she does, fingers curled securely over the heavy silver head of his walking stick - the only outward sign of the rough map of his extensive injuries other than the shackles of ugly bruising that circle his wrists, left visible by the way he has rolled up his sleeves until just under the elbow. He is not dressed for visitors, but he is not unpresentable - a high collared shirt dyed a charcoal grey dons him today, tailored over black breeches tucked under riding boots that reach up to the knee. The only finery upon him other than the fabrics his tailor has chosen to clothe him in is the signet on his dominant hand, bearing the insignia of House Rocaille.

Matthieu accepts the basket with a firm heft of his hand, if not just to relieve the woman of her burden as expediently as possible. Her comments about tasting the confections for poison earns from him a blink, and a touch of sardonic bemusement, more sensed than visible upon his manner. If nothing else, the observation already tells him more about Lucienne's granddaughter than her choice of gifts.

"Word has it that you've been taught at the Vicomtesse's feet," he replies. "And so I see no harm in trusting your good intentions." There's a glance at the valet, who swiftly moves so he could take the basket from his hands, and make a quick arrangement of the lemon cakes.

"Oh, Elua, lemon cakes," Gabriel says with a laugh, already gravitating towards the scent of food. "At this rate I'm going to have to get lost for three years again just to keep in shape."

Whenever Iolanthe sits, the liveried man turns back to her during his preparations. "My lady," the valet asks. "Is there a leaf you prefer for tea?"

—-

"I learned long ago that denying Grandmère anything is a pointless task. She bid I come and stay for a spell and I could hardly deny her such a request," the young woman offers rather openly as her voice softens a bit, "But in truth, I have been negligent over the past few years and my presence is long overdue."

Thierry cracks a faint smile at the recognition from the younger Cassiline but maintains his silence, never one to offer too much in the way of words. As the visitation begins to unfold around him, his stand relaxes a degree before taking a slight step backwards to offer the trio slightly more space.

Passing the basket off to Matthieu, her dark eyes drift down to take note of the visible bruises which inspires a visible marring of her brow before turning her attentions back upon him, "There are tinctures, My Lord, that might aleviate the discomfort to a degree. Though I would imagine what lingers now is perhaps only a fraction of what you have endured." She pauses for a moment, biting her lower lip in consideration, before she eventually adds, "For that, I am truly sorry."

Not wishing to make her host expell any more energy, she does lower herself into one of the nearby chairs with a dip of her head, "I really hope I am not intruding at all. I know I should send word before visiting and that it is quite improper to just 'drop in' but I truly did wish to see you." The question of the valet is met with a slight turn of her head and warm smile, "I cannot say that I do. Perhaps surprise me? Whatever is convenient is perfectly fine."

The easy laugh is met with a simple reply granted in the most serious of tones from the young woman, "If you would rather, I could always attempt to bake you tarts next time, though Thierry tells me they are good only for pelting the unsavory sorts in the head. Something about them tasting like stones or being hard as stones? I do always get that part mixed up."

—-

"No time like the present," Matthieu replies, of the young woman's softer ventures towards a self-imposed duty to look after her grandmother. "If I know Lucienne, she is content so long as you continued your training and education in Siovale. Marsilikos is an economic and cutural gateway to the rest of the known world, I'm certain that she would also wish for you to avail yourself of the opportunities that may be found here."

Her words about his wrists have eyes like glaciers falling on the black-and-purple bands around them, remembering the unforgiving metal cuffs that bit and chafed them in the last three years. For a moment, he says nothing, hard, handsome features falling back upon the inscrutability in which he has relied in an effort to keep what remained of his pride and dignity intact in those trying years. Her apology has him shaking his head slowly, finally taking his own seat once she settles on her own. "Eisandine healing has done wonders for my recuperation since I've arrived, the fact that our escape brought us directly here was twice the blessing than it would have been had it taken us elsewhere." While his words hold no emotion, they are objectively some manner of assurance from a man who is not often gentle in bearing.

The valet turns back to the cart, the delicate scent of red leaf filling the air as tea steeps, to go along with the tea and as he does, her statements regarding her surprise visit has him lifting his fingers in an effort to stay them. "Your grandmother welcomed me in her home in a time when I was most vulnerable and in need of friendship. I would be remiss if I didn't extend the same courtesy to her granddaughter." An inquiring look is angled her way. "I trust your journey was uneventful? Siovale isn't far from Eisande, but the road is still a long one."

Gabriel flashes Iolanthe a grin regarding her tarts, and implied lack of baking prowess. "For all I know, my lady, he meant both, but they'll certainly do the job to keep me in lean, trim fighting form." His attention returns to the Rocaille. "What do you think, Matt? Can I convince you to do a new dietary regimen with me?"

"No, thank you," his friend returns dryly from where he's seated. "I'm fairly certain I've suffered enough."

—-

"I suppose the answer to your question could have two distinctly different answers. For me, it was quite uneventful and an easy ride. Though, I believe Thierry would disagree immensely since I insisted upon riding saddle the entire way rather than being tucked away in some carriage," she turns slightly within her seat to regard her weary guard with a faint tilt of her head, "You only lost me twice, really, and that was remarkably good. I did circle back to find you though, in my defense."

The older guard snorts a little as he grumbles, "It was an unnecessary risk, My Lady, whether fortunate or not. Next time, you will ride coach." That is all Thierry says on the matter as he clams up once more and lets the trio converse away.

There just might be a faint rolling of eyes via the young woman before the measure of composure washes over her again and she redirects her attentions back to the other two gentlemen, "Eisandine healing is remarkable. They have some very impressive journals regarding their practices. The body's capacity to heal is beyond amazing when granted the proper treatments."

Iolanthe pauses for several long moments of consideration, something clearly weighing upon her mind. Her chest rises and falls a few times, almost as if bracing herself until the words just fall from her lips completely candid, "At the risk of being bold, My Lord, I fear I must know why it is no one dare bothered to scour the lands in search of you when news of your disappearance became known." Dark eyes slide to Gabriel as she adds with a gentle tone, "And I do not mean any disrespect to you as I am sure you did what you could. Only it seems incomprehensible as to how family would just abandon family. I know I would search to the ends of the earth if one of my siblings ever became lost. Granted, I might die in the process, but there are no bounds to the lengths I would go to in search of those who belonged to me."

—-

The valet serves the tea once it has reached the proper temperature, a glance directed towards Matthieu, who gestures that he should serve the lady first before he takes up his own. Modest slices of lemon cake follow, the delicate plate handed to Iolanthe by the man, followed by the heir, and a few slices stacked up towards Gabriel, whose expression brightens - indicative that even the butlers and maids of the household know how the Cassiline's appetite could be, no matter how lean he is. A vambraced arm takes up his fuller plate, and he digs in with a fork, happy as a well-fed hamster. Those who do not know him tend to wonder whether he is simply too casual and inattentive to tolerate, but the warrior's facade is a deceptively dangerous one.

Fernand's long-lost heir takes up his cup, fingers curling on the handle. He comments not on the lady's penchant for riding and the guard's long-suffering attempts to keep up with her, but he most definitely takes stock of it - his are eyes and ears that hardly miss anything. Riding, yes, but also the incoming question, as inevitable as the high tide. She exhibits all the signs of it, with her elevated breath and the air of hesitation before bulling forward with it anyway. And by the look of him when she finally asks, she would know instantly that not only did he expect it, but knows precisely how to answer her inquiries.

"Well, if this doesn't prove she's one of the Vicomtesse's…" Gabriel remarks from around a bite of his cake. The grande dame didn't just ask the same questions, she also delivered them in almost the same way, albeit with no apology towards the Cassiline.

Matthieu takes a taste of his tea, the cup lowered before he delivers his reply. "Because the lands where I was brought are extremely hostile to D'angelines," he tells her. "And it is a blessing and curse of our people to wear our angelic heritage on our faces, features and our very air. Too big a group, and those who control the territory will hear, and more of our blood would have been spilled, or taken hostage like myself. My father exercised as much prudence as he could afford in a difficult situation and he kept a close eye on the developments of my disappearance. He also knew that Gabe wouldn't have relented in his search for me. We were paired as children for some very good reasons and as eccentric as the Duc de Siovale could be, his foresight is one that I hope I've inherited. You say that you would search to the ends of the earth for your siblings if one of them were lost. Rest assured, Lady Iolanthe, that Gabriel de Montreve actually has and was successful in retrieving me."

He leans forward, fingers linking together and his chin resting upon the foundation they make. His eyes settle directly on Iolanthe's face in the way that is unique to him, as if shutting the world out from behind impenetrable walls and leaving the woman as the only thing of life and color that remains. Pure, direct and unbridled focus, and as clear and sharp as a diamond. "I will not horrify you with the details," he continues. "But there were exigent circumstances that complicated the search, and more close calls than I could count."

—-

Iolanthe dips her head faintly in regard of his words, her amusement with regards to the finesse by which he answers her question more than evident, "Perhaps so, My Lord, and one must exercise restraint and carefully weigh the pros and cons of every action taken as His Grace has assuredly done." The pause is brief following her words before she continues onward, "No, I do not suppose you would be one for sharing the details. In truth, I have no desire to make you relive such atrocities either. However, I do believe firmly that some burdens weigh too heavily to be carried alone. I would never insist upon invading upon your thoughts, My Lord, but I would recommend chronicling your time within a journal."

Her fingers move to curl around the handle of her offered cup with a casual grace, "If for no other reason that to put those thoughts to rest when they trouble you most. I realize such a recommendation might appear foolish, but I assure you it will make the time easier."

From his place near the entry, Thierry pointedly clears his throat, clearly a signal intended for his gravely emboldened charge.

The signal seems to have the desired effect upon the Vicomtesse's granddaughter as the young woman withdraws slightly and concedes with a dip of her head, "But I fear I have a tendency to be a bit too forthright with regards to certain things… and you, My Lord, have been so very kind in sharing your hospitality while I prattle away about things that truly are none of my concern. I blame it on the books - for they are horrible at telling one to mind their tongue." The last of which is offered with a slow smile.

—-

"…yep," Gabriel mutters from his place by the window at the woman's bold words. "Definitely one of the Vicomtesse's."

"Indeed," Matthieu replies, traces of a faint smirk upon him. "You wouldn't be the first to suggest similar methods and I'm not in the habit to call those who are concerned about my mental state foolish in any way." There's a sidelong glance at his Cassiline friend there, but it is brief, and whatever thoughts on the matter that he harbors in that direction, he doesn't voice. The last three years, especially, has made him all the more guarded over the inner contents of him. "I know very well that I am not well. Not by a mile. But as it is with anything worth the investment, Lady Iolanthe, one thing at time. Siovale and the body first, and the rest will follow."

And that isn't surprising, from a man who has been fashioned upon the block of duty and responsibility since the moment he first drew breath. The time away has not dulled his considerable political acumen, when the first thing he has done, the moment he was able to see anyone, was to have someone who knew him vouch for his identity towards his father - the woman who fostered him, the Vicomtesse de Seyches, herself, and the moment he was able to once again wield a stylus, flood his duchy with letters about his intent to convalesce in the hands of the most capable healers in Terre D'Ange and manage the business of the province while he did. All the acts of a dutiful son…and an unmistakable message that he is not so easily usurped by those who gamble for their ambitions.

"After all, it wouldn't be prudent at all not to assure the Duc and Duchesse de Siovale that I have returned."

He eases back away from the desk, picking up his cup once more. "Forthrightness is a virtue but only when exercised with the precision of a chirurgeon's scalpel," he tells Iolanthe. "Much like anything else in this world, it can be a double-edged blade when wielded incorrectly. I see much of the Vicomtesse de Seyches in you, and it may very well be that the only difference between the two of you are the years. She is a respected veteran in the D'angeline halls of power, while you have yet to truly set foot upon them." His thumb absently caresses the metal band of his signet, his expression growing thoughtful. "I would say this is precisely the time when you should be at your most cautious, but that wouldn't be entirely accurate. You should always be cautious, and even more cautious still the higher you climb."

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