(1310-09-14) Door to Door Inquiries
Summary: Oriane’s blue doors draw the attention of a young city guard who cuts a familiar sort of figure. Alas, he brings with him yet another sad memory of something lost.
RL Date: 14/09/2018
Related: Cheaper By the Pair
oriane gal 

Rue du Port

North of the bustling Marsilikos Port lies the Rue du Port, a wide avenue of a road that boasts the homes of some of the wealthier residents of the City, and those that find that the family townhouses in the Noble District are not to their liking. The road runs northwards following the coastline, running parallel to the bay and offering panoramic views to those houses which have been built on the seaward side of the road. High walls and iron gates offer privacy and security to those that choose to live here, and the occasional business might be found tucked between the family homes.

The summer sun lazes down behind the citadel, and in this precious little avenue there's not much more going on than the whirr of cicadas crooning the end of their season— the city is as near to empty as ever it is, especially with the big joust a half hour out of town— it's a good time to be a city guardsman. Gal can just sort of lean on his pike and flip his guardsman's cape back over his shoulder, displaying his pauldron as he rests there, generally sensible to the grat big nothing going on about him, eyes drawn to the shimmy of orange dancing on the caps of the bay. A yawn, suddenly siezing his musculature despite how his chin quivers in an effort to staunch it, compels him suddenly to put his tonsils on display— in the aftermath of which, thinking it maybe sensible for him to stroll 'round a little bit to shake off any further inclinations toward sleepiness, he rises from his lean, beginning to saunter down the avenue, looking now at this edifice, now at that one. Not that he hasn't seen them all before.

Whilst Gal is paying due homage to a pair of large and eponymous blue doors which not long ago had a glaringly bright new coat of paint, a lady appears whose plainly-dressed white hair frames a black silken mask. She is walking up the street from the direction of the harbour and its market plaza, with a small basket on her arm and a guardsman strolling along behind. The general picture is probably a familiar one, though the guardsman's face has understandably changed.

Her footsteps slow when she perceives the young man in the city guard's uniform admiring her paint job and her handsome new doorbell with the brass fish suspended from its chain. They slow, but they don't falter. "May I help you, young man?" she calls softly along the almost empty street, stone walls and cobblestones reflecting her voice toward him. She has rather a well-bred Eluan accent — she sounds curious — and she's approaching the house with the blue doors with the air of one who has the right to ask such a question.

Gal turns to spy the woman in the black masque on her arrival, and the intention of her gait makes him take a few steps back to clear a path for her into what must be her own domain without her having to ask him his pardon on her way past. But she stops. And speaks to him, of all things. Though maybe it was meant as a remonstration, he doesn't choose to take it as such, returning her question with a boyish smile, hazel eyes less mischievous than kind and curious. "I like your door-bell," he answers her. "It's kind of neat. Is there a masque to-night or something?" he goes on to wonder, sort of bobbing his guardsman's pike (more decorative than useful, and more demonstrative than either) in her direction, as though to indicate her facial habit.

"No — no, I am not hosting a party." Being a guest at one isn't a possibility which occurs to her nature. "When a lady goes out riding, or traveling, or when she expects to find herself in the sun for a time, sometimes she wears a mask to protect her skin from burning and freckling. And when hunting a mask protects also against the chance of a branch whipping one's face…" Oriane's explanation is a practiced one, especially after some weeks spent in a city in which she is little known; but here she breaks off, and takes half a step nearer. The pike seems to hold no fear. "I think I've seen you before, haven't I?" she inquires of Gal in a less amiable, less conversational tone. She's thinking.

Neither does Gal hold the pike with any intent to rouse fear, leaning on it rather like an oversized walking staff, almost leaning his head on it when he cants it to one side, considering the answer. "Oh," he answers, receptive to her wisdom. "That's a good idea. Branchface sucks," he speaks in a commoner's slang, with a commoner's cadence and a low-born accent. As to whether she's seen him before, "Probably. I'm in the city guard, in case the pike and the cape didn't give me away," he jokes, giving her a big beaming grin. "So I'm kinda around a lot. Have I seen you before?" he wonders, dipping his chin down and angling his eyes slyly as though to try to get a peek under her masque.

The boy's understanding of the perils of low-hanging branches earns, from Oriane, a grave nod. There's more at stake here than a highborn lady's vanity. "You probably have," she allows, "but then, I was probably wearing my mask, wasn't I? My face wouldn't tell you anything." All the while she's sorting through recollections from her walks, her strolls, her ambles: each with its own pretty feeble excuse for getting out of the house to stretch her legs. "Do you patrol the market by the harbour at all?" she wonders, stepping into the shade offered by her balcony as the evening shadows lengthen toward sunset.

"Uh-huh," Gal pipes up, "Usually with one of the guys in my squadron. Cole or Basseu," he offers up those names as though they might mean something to her. "I'm Gal," he adds, lifting his free thumb to his chest. "And, what, you always wear that out, then? I'd have remembered that, I think. Are you new around? New door-bell, new occupant?" he sort of reasons through it, gesturing first with his thumb to the dangling fish, then with his forefinger toward the woman, in time with his deduction.

"How do you do, Gal? My name is Oriane Somerville," that lady answers courteously, leaving off the part that's presently so contested. "You're quite right, I haven't lived here long and it was I who put up the doorbell… Did I not see you," she inquires with a sudden urgency, "in the market, speaking with a fishmonger across his stall? Five— six days past? I remember thinking your sleeves were too short for your arms, and wondering why your mother hadn't let them down for you." Possibly because it would take a team of dedicated seamstresses to keep up with the growth spurts of a lad at that age.

Gal's eyes go a little distant, as though trying to count the days backwards in his head. "Uhmmm," he considers, "I mean. It might have been! You mean Raf?" he at least known a fish monger in the port market. Not that there aren't scores of them. "He's kind of a friend. It's nice to meet you— Lady Oriane," he bends in a trace outline of a bow when he speaks her name. "Heh, my mom doesn't sew my tunic. It's guard issue, I guess I should probably go get a bigger one, huh? I didn't even notice the sleeves. I guess it's hot enough I don't mind them short," he continues to chatter on with her.

"I think it was," Oriane says honestly. "I recall the day so well because something precious was gone from my pocket when I came home, something I— I would not have been careless with," she explains, covering the sudden break in her voice as best she can by turning to her guard and accepting from him the house key he was given to carry today, on the theory that large armed men are less tempting targets for larceny than elderly ladies in silk.

She turns then to the lock set in one of her heavy blue doors, and lifts its brass flap to insert the key. "I can only think it was stolen," she adds without looking at Gal, in a quieter, quicker voice, her words propelled along by the emotion her mask almost manages to hide, "and I recall thinking, too: if only all those young guards in the ill-fitted tunics had been less interested in their own affairs and more in the good duchesse's peace." There's no rancour in her, only a regret growing by now exhausted. "But I suppose such thieves are clever people, and difficult to foil." The door opens smoothly before her, letting out into the street cooler air and a faint scent of late summer flowers.

Gal's heart sinks, just a little— then a lot. And it shows on his face, a sort of dog-eyed guilt that wracks him easily upon her words. Tail firmly between legs, as it were. "Gosh. I'm sorry that happened to you. It's… yeah, there's a lot of light fingers down there, and in the market… it's hard even to spot if it's your own pocket they're at— much less someone else's." Yeah, he's been pickpocketed before, himself. The thieves are bold. "What was it that you lost?" he wonders. It doesn't sound as if it could be something as base as coin or jewels.

Stepping up onto her threshold Oriane grows taller than her five feet and eight inches, though between the black gown and the black mask the subdued darkness of her entrance hall almost claims her. Her white hair stands out starkly, and her white throat and the touch of even whiter lace visible there.

"It was a— a small silver locket," with finger and thumb she demonstrates the size, "taken off its chain…" Her eyes hold Gal's for a moment — azure blue eyes, a trifle distracted — and then she looks away, as though across the street, at some other less door less colourful than her own. "And my purse, of course," she adds as an afterthought, "black leather stitched with silver moons. But there were only a few coins left in it, by then, and a purse is so easily replaced with a few minutes' sewing. I don't mind the purse. A friend suggested I post notices offering a reward — I did, and two or three people have called with odd bits of silver, but none of them mine." The masked lady shrugs elegantly. Opportunism is rife all round the harbour district. “You’ll forgive me if I…” A second shrug, a submission to fate. “I wish you good luck in finding a new tunic, Gal,” she says, courteous to the last. “If it happens you’ve no luck — bring it here on your day off, and one of my women will alter it for you. Good evening.”

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