(1310-09-01) Unseasonal Trouserings
Summary: OR, the Linen vs the Leather.
RL Date: September 3rd, 2018
Related: None
oriane tourmaline 

A tea shop in the marketplace

It's a little place, unassuming, tucked in a half of a shopfront along the miles long terraced promenade that holds the heart of Marsilikos' shopping district. It could use a new coat of paint, but it's been in the family for two generations, and out past the cozy little seating nooks in the dimly lit venue there opens up one of Marsilikos' very gems, a veranda railed in curling ironwork, with a patio floor of alternating blue glass and terra cotta tiles and little round tables. From up on the terraced hill there's a line of sight straight down to the beach, and you have to get up pretty early in the morning to get a table out here and watch the sea brighten over breakfast. But that's the very thing Tourmaline has done, sitting there quite casually in his linen knickers and sleeveless cotton tunic, draped to respectability in a silken robe of a kimono style. His ankles are crossed over one another down near the base of the railing, and as the morning rush fades with people who have better things to do than sit here and stare at the sea all day, that leaves Tourmaline, who— really doesn't. Isn't retirement fine? Yes, he will have a top-off, thank you.

The only respect, perhaps, in which Oriane's present life in Marsilikos fails to differ from her past life as the left-hand duchesse de Toluard, is her habit of rising early to go riding.

By the middle of the morning she has had already hours of healthful and distracting exercise along the beach and the cliffs beyond it. Tourmaline in his idleness will glimpse her in the distance, first: a slight black-clad figure beneath a white-plumed black felt hat, astride an excellent black stallion whose tack glints silver in the sunlight, escorted by two guards or grooms likewise darkly dressed. They're too far off to see properly — but that glitter does arrest the eye.

In due course their party disappears from view.

Not much later the same hat, unmistakably so, bold in its lines and feathered with a trio of white ostrich plumes, appears on the patio behind the tea shop. Close to, its wearer's figure resolves into something feminine, in a man's black leather riding breeches beneath a frock-coat the generous tails of which mimic an ankle-length skirt when she's standing still. It nips in at the waist and flares just slightly at the bosom, the lines of it suggesting a sensible bodice beneath. Her linen, showing at throat and cuffs, is brilliantly white. She has sand on her boots, and on her tails besides.

Rather than lunging toward one of the fortuitously empty tables she meanders toward the railing at the back of the patio and stands there with her gloved hands on it, in a pensive attitude. Perhaps she's looking back to see where she's been. Under the brim of her hat is only darkness: a black satin mask, fitted precisely to her face, concealing her identity as a happy byproduct of protecting her skin from the southern sun as it rises toward meridian.

Tourmaline is hardly pre-disposed to keeping tabs of those who meander up and down the beachways in the far distance. But even for he under whose slothern supervision countless others have enjoyed the sand between their toes, the vision of a black figure with a striking daub of white was something that stood out, this morning, if for no other reason than to make him consider how hot it must be to ride in this lingering summer heat in such a habit. And then to have some half-played jest about bad habits roll around in the back of his brain, a witticism with no place to go and nothing to wear that fades with the honeyed aftertaste of a sip of quite lovely tea. It's not until a dark shadow falls upon the patio, a jarring contrast to the bright and vivid sunshine gleaming off of the wavecaps and the swirls in the blue glass underfoot, that he even thinks of it again, that white feather— well, as remarkable up close as from afar. He doesn't hide from the sun; another layer of freckles will just add further mottling to his already quite sunplayed complexion. The breeze plays with the airy malleability of his kimono-style robe, open in the front as it it, and he can't help but wonder how much she's sweating under all of that black leather. Still, the conditions in a woman's trousers are best left for a time somewhere beyond their first halloo, so the butter-haired gentleman simply unhooks his ankles and stretches a leg underneath the table to push out a vacant chair opposite him. "Looking for a seat?" he asks, a rich jest playing in the low-rumbling baritones of his voice. After all, literally every other table is open.

The lady in the unseasonal trouserings turns at Tourmaline's voice, one hand still resting lightly on the railing; if she's amused, or if she raises her eyebrows at his presumption, her mask reveals nothing. Her own voice when it comes is a pleasant alto, bereft of Eisande's regional accent or any other, telling only of long residence in the City of Elua's most rarefied circles.

"How kind of you to save it for me, and on such a busy morning." And, ah, yes, she does sound amused. Movement catches her eye and she turns further, to see a black-clad groom approaching with a tray. Ladies don't fetch their own refreshments. There's a palpable hesitation in the air as the tray looms nearer and nearer, bringing with it the moment of decision — then: "Put it there," she orders, gesturing to the place offered her at Tourmaline's table. She follows it. When, having unloaded his burden (a pot, a cup and saucer, no little pot of honey), her man steps back, she sits down with a practiced flick of her long, breeze-stirred black tails. The hair under her hat seems to be white rather than blonde; and she brings with her a fragrance of white flowers, horseflesh, and, yes, fresh perspiration.

"Do you find the tea agreeable? I ordered the house's own blend…" she mentions conversationally, lifting the lid of the pot to inspect the colour of the brew within and judge thus its progress toward drinkability.

Tourmaline is well enough contented that this night-veiled spectre has stooped to join him in the joke. It's always a bit of a tickle in the gut, that moment between tossing a joke and seeing where it will land, but Tourmaline has had decades to conquer those butterflies and maintains an aura of careless confidence that no doubt helps the jokes along as those around him try to navigate their humor. He draws his foot back closer to the bottom of his chair, leaning back and hefting the other leg up over the first, ankle resting on his knee in a manner that might not be the height of manners, but complements his clothing in lending him a mien of serenity to temper that jovial smile. "I find it agreeable, yes, but it may just be that I'm agreeable to it," he turns the question around in a sort of a riddle, which he then proceeds to explain, since his meaning may have been a bit too opaque for first thing in the morning. "I'm not too fussy. I come here for the view first, tea second. Put a dab of honey in the house blend and you'll have a well enough morning if you're not too keen a connoisseur." Which serves as both endorsement and warning. That Eluan neutrality of accent. They take that shit seriously in the capital.

Oriane listens, and lowers the lid again with a gentle clink. "I come only to waste a few minutes of time," she explains, "and for that, it will certainly suffice." She picks up the teapot and tilts it to pour, with a fingertip of her other hand holding the lid in place — a smooth fragrant stream of tea arcs into the cup, filling it precisely two-thirds of the way to the rim. A quick motion dislodges the last drop from the spout of the pot and it splashes harmlessly after the rest. No spillage. Because Tourmaline is quite right: they do take teatime seriously in the capital.

Yeah, they do. Tourmaline is just an Eisandean barbarian who has the staff come by with a ready pot to serve him. Still, the delicacy of the precision put into the act of serving from this Eluan shadow is almost a show of its own, drawing a lazy, leonine gaze away from the sun and the sea and the sky to this other procession of elements. "It's as good a place as any to do that— and better than most," he rumbles agreeably to her proposition of wasting a minute here. "Though minutes here have a strange way of turning to hours. I'll think to leave when the luncheon crowd begins to arrive," he chuckles. "How's the weather down on the beach? The water looks calm from here, and I'd hate to go down there later and find it still and hot."

With a rueful sound behind her mask Oriane allows, "It is hot, despite the sea breeze. I suppose you were looking out that way when I passed by earlier? … My horse threw a shoe," she explains after a hesitation, "some miles to the south; I find myself waiting on the smith." From which it might be inferred that she didn't intend to be strolling about Marsilikos in black leather breeches so late into a warm morning. The price of a pot of tea is the price of somewhere to sit, more congenial than a smithy; she hasn't touched it, and the ripples in her cup have almost grown still.

"Happens, even on the beach," Tourmaline responds to the hesitation by waving away its import, if Oriane at all thought less of herself as an equestrian for the mishap. "Wise choice coming up the terraces. I'll bet the smith is even warmer than you are, by now," he murmurs, his voice's low timbre resuming a little bit of a rumble, something almost more palpable than quite heard, a resonance from the big guy. He'll drink his tea even if she's not having hers. "Tourmaline," huh? "By the way," oh, an introduction, not a random mention of a gemstone, "Nice to meet you." Not that he quite has, yet.

Oriane laughs softly at the thought of the labouring smith; "I'm sure he must be," she murmurs with a degree of commiseration in her tone. Her head, her hat, and her plumes all tilt together at the mention of the gem, then she displays her understanding with a nod. "How do you do?" she inquires, a pro forma courtesy, intended to remain unanswered. "I—"

Whomever she might have announced herself to be, that woman is interrupted by a cough at her back. She shifts in her chair to look up at one of her men in black, who is indicating by some species of upper-servant telepathy that her conveyance has been duly re-shod.

She shifts again, looking to Tourmaline. Just enough light infiltrates the underneath of her hat during this manoeuvre that her eyes are revealed to be blue, probably, behind her mask. "I'm afraid I must ask you to forgive me," she apologises, rising. Her mind is already away; her gloved hand gestures. "Please drink the tea, if it pleases you."

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