(1310-09-04) A Connection To The Divine
Summary: After having his great-aunt seen home at the conclusion of her eye-opening visit, Matthieu fulfills his promise to Olivia to visit the Temple of Eisheth, and give thanks for his recovery and safe return.
RL Date: August 4, 2018
Related: The Ultimate Truth
matthieu olivia 

Temple of Eisheth

Architecture so very reminiscent of Hellene style is apparent in the tall columns of milky white marble rising all the way to the high ceiling that has been painted with floral patterns of finest artistry, giving the hallways surrounding the atrium-like space in its center an airy feel. More frescos cover the stone walls, some depicting Eisheth healing the sick and the wounded, others showing scenarios of lighter atmosphere with Her as the patron of arts, playing a lap harp, singing and telling tales.

There is a path if one follows the pattern on the floor inlaid with moasic stones of various green shades, a path that leads from the impressive double doors in a winding circle deeper into the center, an inner square with no roof where the sacred pool is located. Moss covers the rocks surrounding it, and they must be climbed if one wishes to anoint themselves in the holy waters of the pool. Fire and candles of beeswax can be found in a cabinet in one of the hallways. And there is hardly a day, when the effigy of Eisheth on the larger rock in the center of the pool has not one or two freshly lit candles at its feet.

Priests and acolytes attired in the sea-blue robes of Eisheth clergy roam the temple, ready to offer counsel, arrange for healing services in the nearby infirmary or perform rituals to worship the patron Companion of Eisande. Light filters in through circular windows of stained glass, painting the interior oocasionally in shades of blue, turquoise and green, especially on sunny days.

When looking out of the windows, you see: It is a summer night. The weather is cool and overcast.

It has been half an hour since they said goodbye to his great-aunt Oriane Somerville de Toluard, and once she has been sent off properly in the carriage he provided her as well as a full contingent of Rocaille guards, he boards his own with his guest, Olivia d'Albert no Rose Sauvage, with Gabriel de Montreve riding next to the driver. Their destination: The Temple of Eisheth, deep in the glittering heart of Marsilikos' temple district, to pay a very late, but hopefully appreciated homage to his safe return and speedy recovery.

But there are storms in his demeanor; clearly something about his relative's visit had not just upset him, but so egregiously that it actually bleeds through his calm and stoic facade, and to such a degree that even the soothing atmosphere of Eisheth's corporeal abode bears little effect on him.

It is late in the evening, the marble, Hellenic pillars framing the Companion's angelic visage in the various frescoes in the heart of the building silhouetted by firelight. There are hardly any visitors at this hour, especially with the city celebrating the end-of-summer tournament - most of the populace are engaged in various revels, and undoubtedly Marsilikos is booming economically because of it. But this does mean that places of worship such as this remain largely dead in the evening hours; after all, why worship when there is so much fun to be had?

Gabriel has left them for the time being to pay his respects to the angel who keeps this domain. For all of his irreverent manner, he proves himself a liar inside a temple - Cassilines are priests, at the end of the day, and out of the four Siovalese childhood friends, despite his tongue, he is easily the most devout among them. He can be spotted kneeling in front of one of the Companion's depictions, his hands clasped in front of him and his dark-haired head bowed, lips moving in silent prayer.

There's a strike of a match, shadows and flame outlining the hard, handsome lines of Matthieu's face, dipping the end on the votive candle before him. While his stride is much improved from the aggravated injury he sustained pulling her out of a lake, his walking stick is still clutched in his left hand, though he is not leaning against it as much as before. His tall, broad-shouldered form is dressed deceptively plain; he wears one of the high-collared shirts he favors, without the conventional necktie, and an impeccably tailored coat dyed a deep blue that does nothing but enhance the crystal clarity of his glacial irises and their fragments of silver, black breeches and boots that reach up to the knee. He does nothing with his hair, as usual, white-gold strands left to the mercy of the winds.

He tends to his frustrations in silence, unwilling to subject his gentle company to them, but he is present and solidly so. He towers nearly a foot above Olivia and he situates himself at her side in a companionable distance that is, somehow, more intimate than friends ought to be, but less than a paramour's liberty. Wordlessly, he offers her the box of long matches, so she could light her own candles.


The match flares in Olivia's fingers, and bathes her face briefly with the amber lights that it's flame throws. Though Matthieu is one of the few that has seen her without the armor of her masks, the light that dances in her fingers and plays upon the silks that veil her face once more, makes her again a creature of shadows and mystery. She selects a candle of her own from those on offer, then making certain to trap the the looseness of both veils and silks with the lift of her hand, she leans to place her votive amongst the others. Eyes lift to Matthieu's, a thousand quiet thoughts conveyed within a span of a moment, before she turns back to the candles and dips her head as her fingers lace lightly. Her words are quiet.

"A hundred times since Matthieu went missing have I come like this before you, my Lady, and a hundred times more have I begged his safe return. A thousand times shall I thank you."

From the folds of her silks she pulls an exquisitely made silver box, an intricate and small thing that shows the skill of the smith in its creation. The lid is delicately filigreed, with the design punched through to show the brilliance of the lapis over which it's been laid, and she rubs it lightly with the pad of her thumb. "This was a gift from my mother on my sixteenth natality." she says, her head twisting back to Matthieu as she begins to speak. "It was delivered to Rose Sauvage the night before my debut, with a note folded inside. Her writing so familiar. She had chosen it for me on seeing the colour of the lapis, because it reminded her so much of my eyes. It is amongst the most precious of things that I possess, but I can think of no other gift that would do justice to Eisheth for the miracle of having you safely returned. Will you lay it with me at her feet?"


A hundred times.

The clouds in his expression pass for just a moment when the quiet words reach his hearing, Matthieu turning his eyes towards the courtesan accompanying him; once again enshrouded in her veils, features hinted at just slightly by the light of thousands of candles. Dressed as she is, surrounded by sacred motifs, one could easily mistake her for one of the Companions or a bride. But the admission of her hopes for him manages to temper, for the time being, the volatile dragons of his nature, enabling him to set aside the troubles weighing down his mind since Oriane's visit. It is self-inflicted, of course, in the end. He could have chosen not to pry into the woman's affairs - but he did, because, as Gabriel suspected long ago, he isn't happy unless he has a complicated problem to solve, the curse of being of Shemhazai's bloodline.

She asks him what she does, meeting his eyes from above her veils, and seeing the self-described lapis-blue stare, he can't help but picture her here, on her knees and tears within those oceanlike depths, because of course she would cry. He knew enough of her character to know without a doubt that all the tears she couldn't shed in her Salon, she poured onto Eisheth's feet. The idea twists painfully at his stomach.

Tucking his walking stick at the crook of one elbow, he lifts both hands, one to rest on the delicate silver box while the other draws underneath, to sandwich both of her hands and the precious object caged within them. His jaw works soundlessly, trying to find the words. "If that is what you want," he says quietly, in the end, head bent towards hers. "But it doesn't seem equitable for you to keep paying the cost of whatever grace she has granted your petitions. You've shed enough tears for me, Liv."


There's tears in Olivia's eyes now, but they're tears of happiness through which a smile shines. "Of course it is what I want, Matthieu. My words might be spoken with feeling, but words only become prayers when a sacrifice is willingly made." She looks down to their hands, and the box trapped within. "How can three years of prayers even be measured? Is it in a box? A trinket? Are there riches enough in all of Marsilikos, or even in Terre d'Ange to measure the depth of the thanks that I give." There's an earnestness to the tone of her voice, the gilding that tips the lengths of her lashes, glittering in the light that's thrown by the candles. "This offering feels almost mean by comparison, and though it saddens me to lose it, it is gladly given." And who can tell what other offerings she might have made over the years, standing in this very spot before Eisheth's effigy. It's to the face of the Companion's statue that her eyes now cut, and a slow breath is exhaled that filters through the gauze of her veils. It's a quiet communion between her and the Goddess now, and he'll feel the flex of her fingers as they tighten about the box. "Come." Her focus returns to him with a nod of her head to the dishes at the statue's feet. "I think she is pleased."


Who is he to deny her? She is resolute in what she wants, even going so far as to give away such a precious object for the sake of him. Matthieu exhales a breath; standing here with her, he can't help but wonder how often she visits, how much comfort these effigies actually give her. He can't help but wonder if this is the first place she had gone to, the days after her return from Hellas, after she had lost Felipe.

I think she is pleased.

After a heartbeat or two of silence, he speaks. "I should feel more connected to the divine than I do, these days," he tells her, his voice low in deference to the atmosphere of this very holy place, and the devotion she clearly demonstrates to its patron Companion. "But I hear that such an experience is common for people who have experienced constant adversity."

He turns his head to regard the side of her fragile profile sidelong. "I wonder now that I've been read into some of the colors of your life in the last three years how you've managed to hold onto your faith. Does your service to Naamah keep you close to it?"

He sets his walking stick to the side, and stoops to remove his boots. If she will allow him, he will assist her out of her own shoes, gently removing them once she's situated in a seated position. And when that is done, he rolls his breeches up to keep them out of the water, flames illuminating the pale scar of a scimitar's unforgiving bite running from his calf and down to the ankle - what would have been a deadly injury, so close to the femoral artery. Slipping his feet into the pool, candle in one hand, he offers his other to Olivia to help her into the shallow waters.


"It is unsurprising that you are not," Olivia replies to Matthieu. "You have been three years from Terre d'Ange. Years in which you weren't to know what your fate might be, years in which you must have thought yourself abandoned by Elua and his Companions." Her hand is light in his when she takes it and steps into the pool, and with her other hand occupied in the careful cradling of the box and her own lit candle, it leaves none free for the lifting of her skirts. Her silks float briefly upon the surface of the water as she follows him into the pool, the fine fabric saturating and clinging to her legs as they wade knee-deep towards the rock upon which Eisheth herself is stood. Other candles have already been placed there today, and the shallow dishes into which offerings are made contain coins, trinkets and other small gifts.

"My service to Naamah? I suppose that in some ways it does. It is more complex than simply that though." She stands still where she is, and makes no attempt as yet to climb the rocks to place her candle amongst the others. "My faith is deep inside me. I was stripped of the closeness of my family when given to service, and so it was to the temples I came when in need of comfort. I had no mother to run to, so ran to Naamah instead. Or here, to Eisheth. My father was Elua, my brother Anael, though if I was hurt or afraid, then it was to Camael that I'd come. In the absence of Raoul, he became my protector." Her hand slips from his, and she tugs at the weight of her silks, freeing up the twist of them about her legs.


Wordlessly, ever the gentleman, Matthieu places his candle on one of the waiting plates, and takes her burden from her - the box and her candle, so she could situate her silks in the proper way. Once she is finished doing so, he will hand the items back to her, and proceed to help her up the rocks. He waits for her permission, as he usually does, before placing his hands on her person that is anywhere other than her fingers and palm, or occasionally her face. Once given, strong digits will bracket securely into the upper flare of her hips, before drawing her up on the rocks from behind, water dripping from the bottom half of her skirts and pouring back into the pool.

He doesn't say anything in reply, just yet, waiting for her to finish her vigil and whatever quiet prayers she offers up to Eisheth. He bows his head, arms folded behind him, feet planted astride in the pool. It gives him both the frame and stature of a knight on guard, his shadow dwarfing her own, but whatever petitions he offers up to Eisheth, if any, are not given voice. As typical of his largely reticent behavior, whatever his hopes or beliefs, whatever he asks for from the Companion now, he keeps it to himself. There is nary a whispered word.

"I suppose," he says in the end, his voice absent. "That I should be able to comprehend, better than anyone, that a person can still feel alone despite the constant presence of other people." He once told her that she was astonishing, that she could keep her gentleness and consideration and grace despite all that she has endured. He does not repeat the sentiment, but the words he does express carry the weight of its memory.

Once she is finished, he lifts up both his hands, to assist her off the rocks.


Silks are not the best of things to wear when one is planning to wade through water, and most especially not ones of white. They turn near translucent from where the water has seeped to level of mid-thigh, revealing her legs to be as slender as one might imagine from the delicacy of her wrists and her hands. "Thank you." Her words are spoken to the help that she's given to ascend the pedestal of rocks; in that moment when his hands are on her hips and before they fall away. He'll feel her shiver beneath his fingers where they span her waist, and the weight of her torso as it briefly touches to his before she moves away to place her offerings. She tilts her candle as she lifts saturated silks and kneels, and a trickle of wax is splashed upon the rock before she presses the base of the candle securely into it.

And then the box. She cradles it in her hands and lifts the lid to take something from within. It's the bud of a rose in the deepest of pinks, tightly wrapped with a ribbon around its stem where cut. She looks over to Matthieu, lifting it between finger and thumb to show him its perfection. There's a smile that hovers somewhere beneath those veils, it shows in her eyes, and the press of the silk between the crease of her lips. "Where my words have now all been said, the rose will say more." And she places it carefully back in her mother's box, closes the lid and places it amongst the other treasures within the dish. The silence of her prayers won't be heard as her head then dips and her hands come together. Five minutes? Ten? Eventually she rises to her feet and takes the hand that she's offered. "I'm ready to go."


With her silks rendered translucent, Matthieu does the responsible thing and doesn't avail himself to the glimpses of her form that her patrons are familiar with, always buttressed as much as he can maintain that iron discipline. But it does make him inwardly frown at the prospect of escorting her out of the temple in a half-see through dress. Her shiver is felt, noticed by a man who rarely misses anything, and he somehow manages to prevent his thoughts from straying too far into the sort of dangerous territory that they've accidentally waded into the night of her accident, though some manage to haunt him like traitorous whispers: Was she really so responsive to every touch? Was her body that sensitive everywhere?

She helps, however inadvertently, by showing him that single, perfect rose. Eyes dip to find the vibrant color amidst flame and shadow. He doesn't know what it means, nor does he ask - these small secrets, in the end, are part and parcel of her, and despite what his overall demeanor implies, he is amenable to surprises.

I'm ready to go.

He escorts her back to the edge of the pool, helps her out of it once he is, and as the waiting acolytes pass them towels with which to dry their feet, he manages to secure his boots and patiently waits for her to don her own shoes. There's a glance towards Gabriel's bent form, all too aware of the way silk clings to her, and as eyes track towards the path leading into les Jardins d'Eisheth, he offers his hand again. "We'll let Gabe commune with the Companion a little longer," he decides, and should she take his hand, he'll tuck it securely at the crook of his inner elbow, before striding purposefully towards the garden path with his walking stick.

It'll also give them the time to let her dress dry before he walks her out in public again.

He naturally says nothing of his intentions and upon stepping outside, he takes a breath of fresh greenery and the distant scent of night-blooming flowers.

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