(1310-09-01) A Ripe Canvas
Summary: Aimeric visits the the Marquist Shop to get started on his marque.
RL Date: 27/09-09/10/2018
Related: None?
claude aimeric 

Marquist Shop — Grand Plaza

The patinated bronze plaque over the front door of the marquist's shop in the Grand Plaza, has since the 1230s simply stated: LANTHENAY.

The narrow building which houses the shop dates back even further than the plaque, and was designed in keeping with the elegance of its surroundings. The first floor boasts a faceted bay window, set like a jewel into the white marble façade and curtained in ever-changing hues, in between tall pairs of windows protected by fanciful wrought-iron balustrades. The second floor is more modest, while the attic set back behind a low parapet gives from below the impression of a wall of glass gleaming ferociously in the southern sunshine.

Most visitors are concerned only with the shop proper. Shutters painted a deep teal-green are often folded back from its windows at odd hours; behind square panes of fine clear glass, paler teal-green silk curtains are embroidered with so many delicate flowers they might serve passersby as a guide to the flora of Eisande. A stout brass-studded front door to the right of the windows gives onto a square salon furnished in a style which wouldn't disgrace a prosperous merchant or a lady of the middling nobility, though such persons might not festoon their parlours so liberally with swagged velvet in jewel-box hues, or scatter patterned cushions across patterned upholstery with such an unerring confidence. At the back of the salon a small bright purple door opens into a passageway hung with a varying collection of the present marquist's own drawings and paintings (seascapes, flower studies, scenes of life in Marsilikos) and leading past several doors kept shut. Its terminus is a second, humbler foyer, home to a squat iron stove left cold most of the year; a cabinet containing an exhaustive collection of sea-shells and bits of coloured beach glass; a couple of stray chairs; and the entrances to a pair of small chambers which divide between them the width of the building. Most of the time these stand with their doors chocked open and heavy velvet drapes waiting to be let down to guard the privacy of clients disrobing therein: one emerald green curtain, one cerulean blue.

The door of the shop has been left on its latch; it opens beneath Aimeric's hand and there he is, in a colourful small salon that wouldn't disgrace the house of a lesser noble or a prosperous merchant… Which, surely, Claudia Lanthenay is, given how many generous patron-gifts linger in the hands of Marsilikos's adepts for no longer than it takes to rush round here and entrust them to her in exchange for commodities far more precious: freedom, independence, beauty.

The tiny brass bell attached to the inside of the door and jingling every time someone comes in or goes out, advertises the young Alyssum's presence to a woman within who calls out to him: "I'll be with you in a moment." Her light soprano has a city-bred sort of Eisandine accent, a common enough kind here: her voice echoes a little, coming towards him along a passageway, and then a door shuts and a small figure bustles into the salon, dressed in about fourteen distinct shades of green held together by the aid of startlingly orange ribbons.

She is in her forties but by no means aged. Her prettiest features are her eyes, wide and brown and doe-like, resting upon Aimeric in the presumption of kindness to be given and received — but other people's gazes are almost inevitably drawn instead to her forearms, left bare by rolled-up sleeves, adorned by a wealth of jeweled bracelets which, on second glance, prove to be no more than astonishingly skillful tattoos.

To her he looks like an adept. Well, what else could he be with a face like that? "You must be new," she guesses easily, smiling as she tries to catch those shy young eyes.

An adept, yes. The lad is young, as her clientele usually would be. And he is clad in a white shirt and white trousers. He inclines his head to Claude's assumption, a wry sort of smile playing upon his features. His own eyes are at first hard to make out, concealed almost as they are from those fringes of dark hair that fall across his forehead. "I am, Madame. New to the city. Comparatively." The latter added, after a moment, with an apologetic tinge to his tone. "Aimeric nó Rose Sauvage.", the adept introduces himself, lowering his gaze, now visibly so that he has tossed some of the hair from his view with a quick sideways tilt of his head. "One of the White Roses.", the adept is quick to add. "I wished to get started on my marque." At which he glances to the Rose Sauvage guard who accompanies him. The guard nods and produces a heavy purse he hands to the marquist. The contents must be quite the sum, perhaps enough to pay for a whole quarter to be inked.

At his name Claude's smile blossoms into recognition. She accepts the purse and, making no bones about it, glances inside to see what manner of coin is responsible for that luxurious weight. "Olivia did tell me I'd be seeing you soon," she remarks, "and now I know why. I've an hour or so free before my next appointment; why don't you come through? Réné — it is Réné, isn't it? — can have a cup of tea with my lad Felix while you and I see where we are." She lifts a hand to beckon the men along with her down the passageway, bronze beads glittering amongst the fringe of her sea-green shawl.

"Did she?", Aimeric wonders, looking a bit surprised at that. "I had planned to… I mean… hoped that I would not visit this place too soon." It is not really an objection, more a statement, as he follows along when Claude leads the way. "Yes. Réné." The guard nods, being a familiar sight in this shop. "Thanks, Mademoiselle Claude," he murmurs, as he walks to the rear foyer, obviously well acquainted with the hereabouts. "As for where we are…", Aimeric responds to Claude, "This is my first visit to a marquist." An admission that comes with a slightly nervous blink of his eyes. He lets his gaze drift as they walk further into the shop, eyes curious and attentive as he takes in his surroundings.

The passageway is none too well-lit at this afternoon hour, and unframed canvases stacked against its walls present certain Hazards to Navigation. Claude makes her way through with confident, light-footed grace, looking back over her shoulder to inquire of Aimeric's pale figure behind her: "Why not? I know adepts usually think it safer to carry their wealth on their backs than to risk loss or theft, or the temptation to spend it somewhere else…"

They emerge into the humbler foyer at the rear of the shop and Claude, doing the honours of her premises like any hostess, turns the rest of the way round in a swirl of green skirts to show Réné to a chair and Aimeric to his choice of… well, patron rooms.

She glimpses, thus, that look in his eyes and her chatty tone grows gentler. "Are you frightened of needles?" she wonders. "There's no call to be ashamed; many of you are, at first. You'll find there's little enough to worry or to hurt you.”

"No. Not frightened.", the adept is quick to respond. Almost too quick. "I honestly don't know. I can't tell as this would be my first time." The statement is given plainly, without any pretense or other manoeuvres the White Roses usually are known for. And while a few small mannerisms of shyness cling to some of Aimeric's bearing, like that momentary lowering of his gaze — patterns that have been deeply ingrained into him during many years of training — his voice shows confidence, and furthermore no scandalized tinge at the nature of his service. "It is just…" He bites his lower lip, pausing in voicing his thoughts as he lets his gaze drift over the interior of the room. "I have found that a White Rose is even more… remarkable and coveted, when that back is as untouched and unmarqued as mine is now. It has been mine wish, and that of the Dowayne, to have it stay that way for as long as possible. But now, after I was so blessed to be requested for a very… prestigious contract, this patron has expressed her wish, to see my back marqued. So that no one else may indulge in the view she has enjoyed."

"… I see," chuckles the marquist, raising her eyebrows at that — though after several decades in her profession she rarely hears anything new of the Night Court and its ways, only the odd amusing variation upon the old. Red Roses more often endure the possessiveness of patrons: but why not a White Rose, too? Speaking of colour: "Are you a blue or a green?" she asks him, nodding to her workrooms.

When he's made his choice she opens a cupboard beneath the long padded table therein, and takes out and unfurls across the table a fresh though somewhat venerable linen sheet dyed in a complementary hue. "I've been asked for red instead," she offers, just to keep their conversation bobbing along on an even keel, "but I think red stirs people's feelings a little too much. Sea colours are calmer, don't you think?" She twitches the sheet straight and then steps out and lets down the curtain to afford him privacy in which to undress.

"You make yourself comfortable," she suggests, as though that were a realistic possibility for a first time client, "and I'll be in with you shortly."

"A… what?" Aimeric appears to be little at a loss, when Claude poses her question. "Blue? Green?" His hazel-brown eyes glance towards the workrooms and then settle their gaze once again upon the Marquist. "I… don't know. It's a hard question, for someone who is used to White, such as me." The jest comes with a shy lowering of his gaze, enough to make the reply sound less impertinent. "But I suppose… Blue.", the young adept decides then with a soft sigh. "There is something calming about the color blue. A clarity." He smiles. Stepping into the room he watches Claude go on with her preparations for a moment. "Red? Truly? It would remind too much of pain, pulling focus towards it. Who suggested this? A Red Rose?", come the musings from the young lad, and some sort of amusement laces his tone. "It must have been.", added with a shrug of his shoulders as he remains there, standing; unsure when to undress until Claude grants him that moment of privacy. After which he will disrobe, unhurriedly, but with care to his garments. The white shirt, he puts over the back of a chair in the corner, his shoes placed neatly in front of it; white trousers are discarded next, to join the shirt, along with socks and undergarments.

To receive the ink upon the back, especially that beginning part of the marque, clothes would hamper overly much. And after all, to prepare for this moment it only feels right to do so completely bare. Aimeric settles himself onto the table, laying down on his stomach, which will put the as of yet blank canvas of his skin on full display. That back alone, defined by a youth's casual, as not pointedly trained, musculature, where it slopes down towards the rise of his rear.

Beyond the blue velvet curtain Claude’s quick footsteps recede; and the shop is silent, more or less, till she returns a couple of minutes later, confiding to Réné that Felix has got the kettle on if he wants to go through—? Réné does, tea and company being more alluring than an hour spent gazing at a closed curtain whilst his charge of the day has his naked backside measured.

The marquist is an old hand at slipping through her curtains without letting much of a draught in, or much of a view out. She admits herself to the little room where Aimeric waits, and a ledger bound in teal-green leather thumps down on the small table drawn up next to the big one. It’s the same colour as the shutters on her windows, he may note. A favourite. She has meanwhile divested herself of her trailing fringed and beaded shawl and tied a neat scarf about braided chestnut hair that was already neat enough in and of itself; the scarf is a darker hue of orange, to set off the brilliance of the ribbons woven through her bodice and the hem of her apron.

She’s the real last woman to be favoured with the sight of Aimeric as Nature made him, but right now she’s more concerned with fetching ink and a quill out of the top drawer of her table, opening her ledger to a blank page, trying out the quill and discarding it in favour of another. She hasn’t even glanced at him yet, she’s just vaguely aware that he’s present.

“Aimeric,” she pronounces as she inscribes it upon his very own page, “nó Rose Sauvage… A White Rose, you said? What is your age? As precisely as you can tell it, please.”

Aimeric appears to be at ease, even if the light chill of air caressing his bare back makes tiny goosebumps rise on his skin. It is his first visit to a marquist, and so he is curious, lifting his head just so he can rest his chin upon the back of a hand resting on his arm. Hazel-brown eyes glance to the desk where the marquist starts of with formalities. “A White Rose, yes.”, is confirmed with a slow blink of lashes, in a tone soft and unassuming. When asked about his age, the adept smiles faintly, as if the question were some sort of joke. “I am seventeen, Mademoiselle. The day of my natality is February 18th.” Looking up, he smirks almost, aware that with a back as unmarqued as his, he would be considered comparatively old.

At that Claude looks up from her ledger and meets Aimeric’s eyes with her own warm brown ones, and mirrors his slight smirk with a wondering little smile of her own. “And nearer eighteen than seventeen,” she states, that being a simple matter of mathematics. “You’ve been running your little deception quite a while, no? Well, never mind — it’s none of my business. You’ve probably finished growing,” she decides, laying down her quill after making a note of the date mentioned, “but I’ll still measure you at each visit, to be certain. Sometimes small adjustments become necessary as we go along in order to keep the proportions just so.”

She turns to him again with calipers in her hand, and there begins the tedious process of measuring every line and curve of Aimeric’s back from his shoulders down to the base of his spine, and noting in the ledger what she feels ought to be noted. She switches calipers and quill back and forth, again and again, with a fastidious attention to details only she understands. Her hands on him begin cool and grow warm, and they have the same impersonal quality a sensitive Alyssum adept such as he may have detected before now in the touch of healers. To her he isn’t a beautiful young man lying nude before her; he’s a problem that wants solving, and not, it transpires, even a particularly difficult one. “I marqued a young man two or three years ago who might have been your twin,” she remarks, “but he was a Lis d’Or.”

“I was late to debut,” the young adept replies, hazel eyes going distant for a moment, as if pondering that particular memory. “Upon my seventeenth birthday.” Lips curl as he blows a few dark curls from his view, and Aimeric would meet Claude’s gaze if she should seek it. A bit of mischief glinting there in his eyes. “Deception is part of the game, Mademoiselle. It is, at House Alyssum on Mont Nuit, and it is here, among the White Roses of Rose Sauvage. Our patrons seek the illusion, and…” he pauses, brows wrinkling just so, as the marquist begins to take the measurements of his back, “…the more convincing the deception, the more generous the patron gifts will be.” After all, he came with quite the heavy purse.

“I don’t think I’ll grow further,” the White Rose muses then, “I wouldn’t have thought it would affect a marque, but then…” Aimeric’s expression softens in a faint smirk, “It is obviously of advantage that I am getting started rather late on it.” While Claude’s treatment of him seems to be of the professional sort, the adept likewise seems content to leave his skill at manipulative seduction for his endeavours in the patron room of his salon. The touch of her hands is taken as what it is, necessary means that go along with her work. It is her remark though, that draws a chuckle from his lips. “Lis d’Or? Indeed? Well. My father was a courtesan of House Dahlia. Until he retired from service a few years ago, that is.”

“Dahlia,” observes Claude admiringly as she confirms again and again with her calipers the measurements taken already by her eyes. “A beautiful marque. Perfect symmetry, soft shades of yellow…” She smiles down at Aimeric’s back, imagining it inked there. “The slight change from sixteen to seventeen probably wouldn’t affect your marque enough for any patron to notice — but I’d know,” she says, in a tone which suggests she simply couldn’t have it.

Laid out there before her eyes, the unblemished perfection of a d’Angeline youth, devoid yet of that permanent evidence of his service to Naamah. The way that back moves from his calm breath — a fact that will later make that art come to light — is not so different from that of a noble or commoner. “My marque was intended to be that of House Alyssum,” the adept confides, head turned aside, gaze slightly veiled from his lashes. It seems Aimeric is getting comfortable on the table. “But I think the Dowayne was quite relieved, when I left, no longer her responsibility.” His voice sounds reflective and calm, sleepy almost. A mood that encourages thoughts to be voiced in the moment they cross his mind, in following a youth’s optimistic expectation, that any confessions made here upon the marquist’s table will be treated with the same discretion, as is expected in a salon’s patron room.

He’s not far wrong, bless him.

“Trouble, were you?” inquires Claude almost fondly as she turns to lay down the calipers. There’s none of that prurient curiosity about her that the Night Court inspires in others; she’s not even angling, for rather than leaving him a silence to fill she warns him straight away: “I’m going to draw on your back with a quill now. People usually find it tickles.”

Her counter elicits an amused smirk upon his features. “She thought I was,” Aimeric replies after a moment. “After all… She decided I wasn’t fit to debut on my sixteenth birthday.” His long eyelashes move in a slow blink, his expression shifting a little into a cast of almost playful flirtation, but only for a moment. Before the marquist reminds him with her warning of the professional nature of this appointment. Brows lift before the young man rearranges his head, chin now resting on the lower arm, gaze turned towards the opposite wall, his head no longer in that sideways rest that would facilitate eye contact. “This will be a novelty,” the White Rose adept states, and maybe, through old habit and training, there is a hint of nervousness in his voice, a faint tensing of muscles as he braces himself for the quill’s caress.

Whether it be true nervousness or false it’s alike to Claude, who is arranging her inks whilst Aimeric arranges her lovely canvas. And then she begins to draw, the tip of her quill darting lightly about the base of his spine where his marque will begin, touching him here in quick feathery strokes and there in a long slow line. She rests her hand now and again upon a perfectly-formed young buttock, just as though it were any other desk.

“… You have paid me today,” she murmurs absently, concentrating, “for almost a third of your marque. I’ll ask you to sign my ledger before you leave. It will require a number of sessions, but I think we have time enough to make a beginning today. A line or two for your lady patron’s sake. I wouldn’t like to get you in trouble with her as well,” and she chuckles at that prospect.

There may be a slight intake of breath from the young adept, occurring in the first moment the quill touches the skin of his back, but after that, he relaxes, giving himself up to the procedures needed for that first sketching out of the art that one day will cover the pale skin of his back. “A third?”, he echoes, in a soft purr of a voice somewhere between wonder and a hint of smug pride.

“I bet, my lady patron will be quite astonished.”

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