(1310-09-05) Unmasking
Summary: Oriane goes shopping for a masseur and meets Tourmaline again, this time without her mask. The whole thing devolves into gardening talk, elided for the sake of the reader's patience.
RL Date: 05/09/2018
Related: Unseasonal Trouserings
oriane tourmaline 

Gardens of Restoration — Le Coquelicot

There is a serene air to these restorative gardens that flourish during the spring, summer and autumn months. These herbal gardens contain a variety of medicinal plants from all areas of Terre D'Ange. To the far left a hot greenhouse contains different herbs sensitive to the weather in Marsilikos. To the right, a cold greenhouse that carries herbs from the cold, rocky, mountainous climate of Camlach. In between are herbal plants that are able to thrive in Eisande. They are sectioned off into their families so that budding apothecaries can easily identify the different strains with some training.

In the center of the gardens are pillars of white stone reminiscent of an old Hellene temple. Within the tiles of grey blue marble cover the floor, the walls are ten feet high with shelving built into the walls to showcase the glass containers of various herbs used for common medical ailments. Hanging from thin silver mesh are herbs in transition, drying out against the cool breeze that moves through the temple. A large stone table allows for several Coquelicot adepts and courtesans of Balm to work diligently on the herbs that are used in their healing efforts. Occasionally a priest of Eisheth and chirurgeons can be seen consulting with the Balm courtesans for the Gardens of Restoration provide teaching to any that wish to learn more about herbology. There are several stone benches in the temple that allow for lectures of novices and visitors.

Using shards of ceramic a colorful mural of Naamah invites patrons into the soothing embrace of the goddess with open arms surrounding the entrance of the patron room. Incense of sage to cleanse the patrons burn as they step past the white wooden doors that lead to a deeper chamber of healing.

It is a summer day. The weather is hot and fair.

On this balmy (ahem) afternoon the Salon de Coquelicot's hidden herb garden, with its greenery and its pleasantly pungent scents, makes for an appealing haunt; likewise the airy stone temple placed in its very heart, where shade might be found, and where cooling drinks scarcely need be sought, for they have a way of just appearing in the hands of patrons, brought by gentle adepts trained to anticipate every manner in which to offer comfort.

Sitting on a stone bench chosen for its vantage upon the paths and the Coquelicot denizens moving along them — seated, moreover, upon a very plump cushion provided for her use — is a lady of, shall we say, mature years, whose white hair is dressed simply with a string of black pearls and whose gown of pleated white silk leaves her strong and shapely arms almost bare. She looks crisp and fresh and as calm as her present setting ought, by now, to have rendered her. One wrist lifts idly from her lap; one hand gives Tourmaline a little wave. Yes, it's for him. Likewise that small, reserved smile which curves her unpainted but coral-hued lips.

Tourmaline is presently herding a cluster of novices out from around the back of the Asclepeion, looking for all the world like he belongs here, speaking to them in that low rumble of a baritone which, at Oriane's distance, she might sense more as a general bombus than any discrete words. He squats down over there and brushes a finger up against the underside of a leaf, tipping his head from one side to the other to look and see whether what he's telling them is registering, with a quick survey of their eyes for motes of confusion or clarity. He's in a pair of long soft cotton pants which bell a little bit around his ankles above bare, calloused feet. His shirt is of a similar fabric, a lighter cream hue that makes his skin seem more amply to carry the kiss of sunlight next to it— sleeveless, with a low neck, and a back just low enough to let the top of his marque peek over the top, a single poppy flower at the peak of the otherwise hidden artwork. The novices scatter to complete some exercise in herb-gathering he's set them, and he pushes his hands onto his thighs, grunting a little bit as he rises from his squat, turning toward Oriane and giving her a serene enough dip of his chin.

By now Oriane has seen the poppy; and she has placed her languid tea-sipping companion of the other day as a courtesan, or at any rate an erstwhile member of that fraternity. She'd been watching him a little while before she decided to catch his eye: the tender touch of the leaf, the feet bare as Elua's own. He's at home here, that's plain to see, in his heart and his nature if not in actual fact. That's what decides her to pursue an acquaintance she might, without dishonour, have dodged. Hence the wave, the smile, and now the interrogatory lift of her eyebrows which offers a silent invitation. Will he or won't he? She's too comfortable to get up, and too well-bred to call out.

Tourmaline turns his cheek with a brow aloft in answer to her own raised brows. He pats the paving-stones with the soles of his feet, sauntering straight-legged in a casual, natural stroll that masks a bit of soreness left over in his knees and hips from his perhaps ambitious bout of squatting amongst the low-lying herbs. "You flatter me, my Lady," he pipes up when close enough to speak within civil, even private decibel levels. "But I'm long since retired from the house," is rather a piece of jestfulness, as it should be obvious that no-one would come to an old man for assignation, even if he's semi-returned to duty in a teaching capacity in his retirement.

His jest is well-received; Oriane's smile deepens appreciatively. The same no-one would hardly be in a rush to choose an old woman for a patron, after all. "We've met before," she explains lightly, offering her well-kept fingertips to be clasped; her accent speaks not of Eisande, but of Elua. In case the first clue isn't enough she adds, "Perhaps you've forgotten since? On that morning I was dressed for riding, and I wore a black mask."

"Ah— right, the penumbral figure who preferred mediocre tea to the sweat inspired by the smithy," Tourmaline does recall, the voice helping him along rather significantly in his conclusions. He leans forward in a rather utilitarian bow, extending a big ol' paw to slide below her offered fingertips as he bows his head over them, offering up a smile in the stead of a kiss before he straightens and turns, easing down with a decent semblance of grace until the last few moments when he just sort of plonks down onto the bench a short ways away. "And now you've found your way to the gardens of the Poppy Flowers. Are you a patron? Would-be patron? Or just enjoying the restful ambiance?"

The smile does nicely. Then, her eyes straying over the garden and the occasional figure in the landscape, Oriane inclines her head nearer Tourmaline's the better to confide. "I would be a patron, yes," she agrees, "if I could make up my mind either way… I've not been long in Marsilikos and I'm looking for a masseur here. I thought perhaps I might ask your advice? Perhaps you might know," she turns her head to favour him with a glance and a quirked eyebrow, "which of them have the strongest hands."

"Mmh," Tourmaline lifts his chin in thoughtful consideration, or perhaps just the semblance of it— "Well, I'll own to being biased a mite, but I think that the one you want is a young man by the name of Arion," he advises, and, mirroring her conspiratorial lean, he glances away from her as though to see whether anyone else is listening. "That one got his grandfather's hands," he murmurs, a jovial spark in his eye.

Once again Oriane raises her eyebrows, this time as though Tourmaline has confessed some truly shocking tidbit of intelligence. "That sounds like quite the inheritance," she remarks. "His name was mentioned to me by the Dowayne, as a possibility; but I thought he might be a trifle… young," she pronounces delicately. White silk ripples as she gives a philosophical shrug. "After all one usually winds up making some sort of conversation, and I have enough of the talk of nineteen-year-olds from my grandchildren. The last moment at which I need any more of it is when I've pulled a muscle."

"Young?" Tourmaline is surprised, somewhat, by the complaint, but takes it into consideration. "Have you yet made the acquaintance of the Balm second? She might not have the same muscular physique, but her technique must be impeccable to have earned her the position she has," he reasons. "And she's put in her time and she's a charming conversationalist. I'm planning on contracting an assignation with her myself, in the near future. I can let you know how I find her, if you'd like. If only I knew where I could reach you. Or. You know. Who you were," he chuckles.

Oriane breathes out a soft, "Ah." She shifts upon her cushion, creating a delicate waft of her fresh white floral scent as she places herself at a more conversational angle in relation to Tourmaline. With mingled regret and resignation, buried deep beneath her serene exterior, she puts an end to this particular taste of the delicious anonymity with which she has been flirting since she came to Marsilikos. "My name is Oriane Somerville de Toluard," she informs him with studied neutrality, "and a message would find me at the Maison de la Porte Bleue in the Rue du Port. I should indeed like to know how you find her, or any other suggestion you might have for me."

Tourmaline sees all, especially the evident fact that Oriane would not have him see all. So the name is excerpted from midair and taken as the data point it was meant to be— a means to further communication, perhaps even to an ease of conversation, without the baggage of all that comes with it, no even slight glimmer of which is reflected in his sea-grey Eisandean eyes. "May I have the liberty of calling you Oriane?" he asks, a forward sort of question, in formal circles, but suited well enough to his casual, ever so mellow manner. "You can call me Tourmaline, if you'd like," he'd introduced himself last time, but it might have been obscured by her attention being taken up by her messenger. And, since she'd revealed her pedigree, he does her the same favor, "Tourmaline Chataigne Delaunay."

The former comte's nigh-impenetrable discretion gains a fuller measure than before of the erstwhile comtesse's attention; Oriane studies him with intelligent blue eyes that maintain a reserve of their own. "I don't see why not," she says slowly, "Tourmaline." Her accent makes something subtly different of those three syllables. "Tell me," she wonders, looking away to nod toward the plants he was showing off not long before, “how does your ——?" And she names the fragile southern herb in question, giving it the same slight transformation. "I found it a little difficult myself," she confesses; "the great thing, I think, is not to over-water."

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