(1310-09-02) Chocolates and Strawberries
Summary: Tourmaline visits Salon de Coquelicot to reminisce and catch up with Elspeth
RL Date: 02/09/2018
Related: None
elspeth tourmaline 

Salon de Coquelicot — Night Court

Tiles of fine beige colored marble cover the floor in an ever repetitive pattern that is only broken by the circle of inlay work in its center, where through the use of white marble and dark red obsidian a likeness of the poppy flower comes to life, informing the visitor which salon it is he has entered. Long white drapes embroidered with a line of similar earthy dark red to the obsidian used in the floor are arranged to frame the windows, through which the parlour will be generously lighted through the day. Scattered about the room are comfortable chairs, light rattan fletching topped off with comfortable, cream-colored cushions, beside small tables where long slender flagons of wine stand at the ready beside goblets made of clay, glazed in warm earthy tones.

The air is that of relaxation, on more levels than just the physical; this extends to the mind, the soul, and the heart as well. An effect that is enhanced by the soothing melodies played by a lutist in a corner, by the pleasant subtle scents emanating from clay bowls filled with aromatic oils sitting on the tables; the warm lighting of oil lamps through glass shades painted with soothing patterns of waves in orange and dark red. Enhanced further by the soft laughter rippling through these halls where the visitor for once is allowed to take a break from his everyday trials and tribulations, from fears and worries, from tenseness in muscles and sometimes just loneliness.

It's a summer night where the rain falls outside, easing some of the stickiness of oppressing heat. Windows have been left open, so the breeze may bring gentle respite from this time of year. A few novices move about, serving drinks to patrons that make their way in. The adepts quietly flirt with potential patrons, some sneaking out to the Gardens of Devotion or retire to the Hall of Incubation for assistance. Above all the activity, a striking serene woman watches over her people, Elspath no Coquelicot.

Tonight she is dressed in light blue silks that fall in layers offering only the barest of modesty. She wears the chain of her mantle, indicating that she is Second of Balm. Her long hair is restrained into a tight coif upon her head to allow for the breeze to fall against the back of her neck. There is little artifice on her face, just a hint of glaze over her lips.

Tourmaline doesn't really show his marque anymore, long earned ago, long left covered in early retirement. But these halls know him, and he them, and even just from the placid serenity of his gait one might think there was something Coquelicot about him, even if only a passing patron and not a member of the house who might well recognize one of their elders returned to walk among them again. The way his buttery locks are bound up at the back of his head in a casual, messy bun. The way a kimono-style gown hangs effortlessly over a soft cotton sleeveless top and a pair of breathable linen knickers and simple thong sandals protect the soles of his feet from the stones but not their tops from the rain. A little damp isn't going to wreck his chill, and he regards the atrium of Coquelicot's salon with an avuncular fondness. It may have been a moment since his last visit, but the chain of Balm's leadership draws his leonine gaze and long, languorous gait. "Keeping tabs," his voice is a low-rumbling baritone, a jovial thunder almost better felt than heard.

"Comte Tourmaline Chataigne de Delaunay," Elspeth greets the large man that approaches with a deep respect in her eyes for her elder, "I did not know you were going to be here tonight, otherwise, I would have tried to make some sweets for you." A renown chef, Elspeth has been known to make special gifts for members of the house when they come to visit, "I'm afraid that all I have to offer tonight is…" She has one of the novices bring a tray of strawberries that have been dipped in white chocolate and dusted in lavender, "a strawberry." She peers at the former Coquelicot to see if he's keen on trying one, "I should probably warn you that after I removed the stem of the strawberry, I injected some white chocolate as a little surprise." A bit messy perhaps but based on a few patrons that are enjoying the epicurean treat, it's being well received tonight.

Tourmaline lifts a big paw of a hand, showing his palm in a soothing gesture when Elspeth comes to him all eager to serve. "As you were," he rumbles, a jest drawn from military vernacular, "I hardly knew it, myself. But it seems as though I can't be long in this town without my sandals bringing me here as though of their own volition," he makes a tender-hearted explanation, his fondness for the old haunt evident in his mellow, grey eyes. He does pluck a strawberry from the tray when it's brought around, smiling beatifically to the little novice, maybe seeing a very young himself in the youth's face, then lifting it up to look at the artistry with which the treat has been presented. "So both a chocolate covered strawberry and a strawberry covered chocolate," he remarks. "How delightfully palindromic. And lavender," he remarks. One doesn't ever grow up in training under this roof and not be able to identify the scent of lavender until the very last day of his life. "Is that a floral terate, or has its essense been imbued into a sugar base to keep the outer chocolate from melting in this heat?" he wonders, then slides the narrow end of the chocolate-gilt treat between his lips, tasting of it while giving Elspeth a chance to answer.

Elspeth gives him a sweet smile when he motions for her not to rush to serve him, "Oh I imagine if I were in your sandals, I would find myself drawn to these walls." She gets a wistful look, "I've never known anything else, not like you m'lord where you've traveled to other places. So yes, I would find myself drawn for the Mont has and always be my home." She gives a musical laugh when Tourmaline figures out why she dusted the white chocolate in lavender, "Yes, it's a lavender essence imbued with a sugar base to keep the outer chocolate from melting in this heat." She makes a motions with her hand, "I can not get anyting past you." She gives him a fond look, "We should explore some culinary wonders some time. I can always use another hand in the kitchen. And I find when my mind is a whirl that the kitchen is one of my favorite places to create and release my own tension." She gives him a glance to see if he can taste the Mezcal liquor that was drizzled in the white chocolate center to enhance the surprise of the white chocolate middle.

<FS3> Tourmaline rolls Perception: Good Success. (3 1 5 8 2 7 8 6 5 3)

Tourmaline's nostrils flare a little, eyes half-close as he leans forward to suckle the liquer-laced chocolate that hides within the berry, then he finishes off the top of the berry to add a cool, brisk chaser to the rich wamrth of the chocolate. "That— was a little masterpiece. I'm not much in the kitchen but I've proven myself an amply capable taste-tester in my time," he rests a hand on a stomach which has grown round and jolly in his advanced years. "Consider my services at your disposal," he laughs warmly. "Your own retreat," he nods when she describes her kitchen therapy. "It's good that you have one. Balm, heal thyself, isn't it? Hard to help others without your own mind in a calm and restful state. Someone once taught me that," his eyes sparkle a little bit in reminiscence. "It can be hard to remember, when duty calls you outside of these walls."

Elspeth watches him consume the berry and there is a gentle pride that he enjoyed her treat. She gives another laugh and then agrees, "Well anytime you want to come by in the afternoon, you will most likely find me creating my epicureal fantasies for the evening events. I would be happy to experiment with you as my taste-tester. I would consider it an honor." She clearly likes nourishing not just the soul but also the body, "And yes, I learned early on that I needed time for myself, in the kitchen and out in my garden. Carrying a balance is so important." She motions to her novices and adepts in front of them, "We try to teach that balance. It allows one to serve Namaah longer." Without being said, Elspeth silently notes that burnout is always possible if one only gives, "And yes, there are plenty of times we have to pull a courtesan aside to tell them to heal thy self and then offer them respite from their duties while they rebalance."

"Hell, I could probably still be serving, under your wise leadership," Mal jokes. As though anyone would come to a chubby old courtesan. "It's the Comte that really takes it out of you. But that's all—" he waves a hand about, "My poor daughter's worry, now," he finishes up with a chuckle, taking pity upon the current Comtesse Delaunay. "And my turn to re-balance myself as I deem needful," he sums up his next mission in life. "And I should think taking up an apprenticeship in the kitchen would be the very thing. As long as I'm not unduly treading upon your own alone time, Mademoiselle Elspeth. I woudn't for the world upset that balance you maintain," he shows deference to her and her position in the house, the taxes upon her time and her own need for self-care, tending to her even as she tends to him. Balms balming balms. A cycle of service.

"And we would be honored to have you come to our classes, share your wise knowledge with our upcoming novices," Elspeth offers to Tourmaline, making it clear that if he wants to serve Namaah once more, Salon de Coquelicot would be honored to have him. She reaches out to gently touch his arm, "It seems Comte duties have put you in need of rest and respite. If you are in need of services, I would consider it a great honor to tend to you." Elspeth makes it plain if he wishes a contract, she willing to take care of this Balm elder, "And your daughter is welcome to come to Salon de Coquelicot anytime. One of our poppies would attend her with the same care that I would offer you." At his worries of encroaching on her private time, "And I promise, if it goes past the realm of privacy, then I shall let you know. But please know, I do really enjoy cooking with others present. It gives me time to laugh and play among one of my favorite settings."

"Courtesan Emeritus, is it?" Tourmaline smiles at the thought of going back to tending the young novices and training them for their duties— especially with the insights he could offer as to the true strains of those powerful d'Angelines they serve. "That's an idea. But I'll start out as a kitchen maid, all the same," he renders up in that tone of mellow mirth he cultivates. "I jest, but in earnest, I think I would like to learn how to better work in a kitchen with my hands. It looks so grounding. Cut the top from the strawberry, hollow out the center, repeat times two hundred. Rote things to clear the mind and refresh the soul. And if I develop the least degree of your skill in menu-making and flavor manipulatio in the meanwhile… what a bonus that would be." He considers at a short but noticable length the thought of coming for assignation, then, with an incline of his shoulders, "It's likely I will take you up on that, but," he fans out the fingers of his right hand, "We can leave the details for another time. I doubt that you will see my daughter here at any length, but my granddaughter is just married and living in Marsilikos. She'll have to take up her mother's place one day, and I'd love to take up the cost of a long term assignment for her to come and go as she pleases here. If you could teach her some of what it will take to keep herself centered when she takes on that mantle, it will be a benefit for her, for me, for her mother, and for the whole county."

Elspeth laughs at his question and then nods, making it clear that she will take any piece of Tourmaline that he's willing to give, "Well, consider it an open invitation to come and teach. I will be happy to take you on as a kitchen maid and show you all that goes into creating these little strawberries as well as other refreshing treats to nourish the body while waiting for assignations." She does admit to her friend, "I also play with some pastries in the kitchen that I can not serve here. Like a puff candied pastry with a peppered crystal middle that stings the tongue once you taste the sweet of it. The longer you suck on the crystal, the longer the heat takes over." She gives a little wink, "So if you join me in the kitchen, you will see creations that are not just for restoration but the other aspects of Namaah. And I switch out the featured treat every few days to keep our patrons coming back for more."

At the matter of his daughter, there is a serene joy at the thought of their salon serving the future of his house, "Of course…I would be happy to make arrangements for your granddaughter." She makes a motion to him, "She is your family…so I consider her my family. Please bring her any time."

"That sounds… like something I'll need to try to fully remark upon," Tourmaline laughs. "But I'll try anything once," he reveals an open and experimental temperament. "I was going to take a turn of the grounds, see any recent renovations I might have missed. You wouldn't care to take me around and point out some highlights, would you?" he asks, offering her his elbow in the case she should indeed care to accompany him. "I'll bother her about it, soon, and when I come to contract with you, I'll have you draw me up something on her behalf, as well," he affirms, in a casual enough manner.

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