(1310-09-20) Womanly Intuition
Summary: A rooftop summit on Irene d'Eresse.
RL Date: 20/09/2018 - 26/09/2018
Related: Before: An Angel of Mercy, A Huntress at Bay. After: Losing Control.
emmanuelle cyriel 

Rooftop Garden — Ducal Palace

Roomdesc of sorts: The rooftop garden provides a most welcome refuge from the bustle at the palace. Accessible as it is from the solar, it impresses with an arrangement of potted plants that create tiny paths amongst the greenery, with even a few flower beds giving the impression of a garden indeed. There is an elaborately carved bench that appears all the more welcoming from the cushions that have been placed on them, and a table to the side, to be used to deposit refreshments.


The season is already moving towards autumn, which means anyone venturing outside would need at least a light cape as protection from the beginning chill of the season. Those of frail and delicate disposition, that is. As for a certain Kusheline Vicomte, he is merely clad in his courtly finery, doublet of red and black giving his appearance some dark momentum, against which the pallor of complexion upon hawkish features becomes all the more pronounced. His hair is of shoulder length, or would be, if let loose, which it is not, most often. Captured and tied with a strap of leather at the nape of his neck, it gives him an orderly and composed appearance. Pale blue eyes glance over the gardens below, from where he stands at the balustrade — as if his current surroundings were but a mere substitute for the thrill of the vast expanse of greenery down there. If one would think it likely a Kusheline could be fond of gardens, that is.

Apparently, this Kusheline seems to be in thoughts. He is on his own. Perhaps waiting for company, or enjoying a moment of leisure.

There’s a kinship of taste and understanding between those of Kusheline heritage, however fiercely they may in some cases deny it; and so the woman who appears on the roof of the palace when Lord Cyriel Charlot has not long been about his meditations, appears very much to inhabit the same picture, the same milieu. She is dressed for the approach of autumn in a double-breasted frock coat of dark violet velvet, trimmed at collar and cuffs with black fur; the two rows of buttons down the front of it are set wide apart and linked not with braiding but with gilded chains. This, over a man’s black buckskin breeches — though can they really be called a man’s, when they’re fitted so neatly as to be hers alone? Her soft leather boots slightly overtop her knees, their heels sharp and high, their golden spurs jingling in the stillness with each lazy, prowling step she takes.

She herself is perhaps a decade his senior in years and bears herself with that much confidence and more. Her blue-black hair is shot here and there with white, and pulled back into a perfectly sleek chignon. Her blue eyes and her austerely elegant profile are pure Shahrizai, to one who knows the look of that house; likewise the pin nestling in the folds of her black silk cravat. Three golden keys, twined together in a delicate triumph of some Elua jeweler’s art.

She’s put out to find someone already here. She doesn’t show it, exactly; but there’s a curtness to the nod she gives the man presently in occupation, as they survey one another.

Her approach is noted. The footfall that differs from other courtiers that are usually to be encountered here. The lack of greeting, the absence of some hastily mumbled apology, that his presence usually inspires. Cyriel’s features may have twisted into a smile, because as he turns that faint curving of lips is already in place. His posture, outwardly relaxed, cannot deny a faint hint of tension, even if he elects to lean casually against the balustrade whilst assessing the lady with her obvious signs of origin and heritage.

“Now, who might you be?”, the Charlot asks. His words show the somewhat dark accent of his home province, and what could be an impertinent manner of inquiry, will be tempered by the addition. “A lady of House Shahrizai, no doubt,” at which he offers her a bow, a hint of one, “whom I haven’t had yet the pleasure of meeting.” Pale eyes brighten, flashing with a sentiment akin to amusement or even slight mockery, while his tone remains courteous even if somewhat detached. “Cyriel Charlot. Vicomte de Chavagne,” follows his own curt introduction. And yet, he remains where he is, eyes narrowing just so as he cocks his head just a little to the side — a motion that is not unlike that of a bird; a bird of prey that considers another of similar disposition and yet differing breed, trying to gauge whether any danger is likely to come from this object of consideration.

At first Emmanuelle answers his minimal bow with a lift of one corner of her wide red mouth, betraying a barbed amusement of her own at the spectacle of two predators such as they circling one another according to the courtly customs of their prey. Still, they know the steps of the dance. They perform them better than most… if they’ve a mind.

She comes nearer. The autumnal breeze brings him a hint of her sharply spicy cologne, as though a warning; and then she sweeps him a lower and more dashing bow, with a sarcastic inflection to the line of her outstretched wrist that no rakish young blade could better. She rises smoothly and greets him in a low-pitched purr straight from the highest echelons of the City of Elua. “The victorious Lord Cyriel Charlot!” she marvels. “The pleasure is surely all mine. And so unexpectedly, too. Tell me, how do you find the rooftop—?” she wonders, taking another step and then another, standing at the last slightly nearer to him than propriety would suggest. Even in those heels, she measures barely 5’9” — but every inch a Scion of Kushiel. The warm and resinous scent of her, the subdued force of her, that Shahrizai gaze piercing as a spear, give her a presence beyond the merely physical.

She lifts her dark eyebrows at him. “And have the maidens of Marsilikos chased you to the high ground,” she inquires cordially, for now she’s enjoying this and doesn’t see why she should hide it, “or have you come up here in secret, to evade them—?”

Her greeting manages the rare feat of eliciting a vague smile that shows in the faint crinkling at the outer corners of his pale blue eyes, before it spreads further and makes that corner of his mouth lift in a wry hint of a grin. “So you have heard,” a statement that leaves him in a low sigh. “Or were you there to witness, perhaps? I doubt I would have missed such an inspection from afar, but then again…?” He exhales, air flaring his nostrils.

“As for this rooftop?” Cyriel lets his gaze flick towards their surroundings. “It pretends to be something which it is not. In that, it offers some vague diversion. What about you, my lady? While I cannot boast to have been chased anywhere by,” he grins, “maidens of any sort, you perhaps are entertaining the notion to be just that? Someone who likes to chase?” It is a light jest, colored by the truth of their heritage, of course. And as swiftly as his features had warmed with amusement, that same expression fades, until it has become that cast of consideration, his eyes lingering on the Shahrizai woman. “You haven’t been there,” he suddenly realizes. “Or I would find less amusement in your referring to the duel contest. After all, I beat some of your kin in the final match. The Vicomte de…” His brows furrow briefly as if having difficulty in recalling the title. “Tours! Yes. Tours. That was it. And his name, Lord Foulque Shahrizai.”

Emmanuelle affects for a moment to be considering his tease in all earnestness, looking slightly up and into his eyes with one hand upon the corresponding hip and the other lifting between them, slow and deliberate, to draw a fingertip down his cheek. Her gloves are of the thinnest black kidskin, each fastened at the wrist not with a button but with a golden key. “I see I might cut myself on those cheekbones,” she drawls speculatively.

Then their mood shifts into the other kind of flirtation for which Kushelines are known.

“… Now you must be asking yourself,” she murmurs, “has she some private quarrel with her cousin Foulque? Does she desire the appearance of such in order to weave a cloak for their complicity? Am I to be invited into an alliance with one branch of House Shahrizai, against another? Or am I her bait? All because I chose, this afternoon, to walk upon the rooftop instead of in the garden?” A pregnant pause; and then her laughter rings out, low and husky, the ideal counterpart of that cologne presently surrounding the Charlot lord with its aura. “You may take your ease, my lord vicomte,” she assures him with an indulgent smile. “I have no such schemes in hand today. Only my own amusement.”

“Would that please you?”, Cyriel counters, his eyes narrowing in the moment the Shahrizai invades his personal space, his gaze sharpening indeed when that gloved fingertip elects to run along the edges of his distinctive features. He lets her pursue this for a moment, before his hand lifts and curls fingers about her wrist, all gently of course, but not without determination, to end that impertinent touch by pushing that hand away. “And yet, I hardly know you. I don’t see why I should grant you that pleasure.” A measured rejection, but one that would be expected, of someone that is vassal to the ruling House Morhban rather than to the rival of House Shahrizai. “It is not my design to assume anything about your motives, but that there is quarrel within House Shahrizai would at least grant you my curiosity. I merely assumed,” he points out with detached calm, “that to hear I bested one of your kin might earn your displeasure. If it adds to your amusement, I shall hardly complain.”

Emmanuelle doesn't resist the hand at her wrist, though when with its purpose accomplished it would release her, she twines her gloved fingers through those of the vicomte and holds his hand as well as his gaze. “It would conduce to my pleasure, certainly; but to yours?” A little shake of her head. “I suspect not,” she confides in a friendly way, dropping his hand and bringing her own to rest upon her hip. “Unless it pleases you to learn, as from time to time it pleases me to teach.” Some Shahrizai arrogance, perhaps; but she seems altogether nonchalant about the value of her amorous skill.

“An interesting offer, and one I suspect would be readily accepted by others,” Cyriel Charlot replies to Emmanuelle, as his hand is first caught and then released. “But as I said, I fear we are not enough acquainted to engage into such instructive teachings. And I do lack the inclination, as you have already observed.” He gives her a glance, bright and inquiring. “After all, you still owe me your name, as I gave you mine.” At which he turns his attention away from her to glance down at the gardens. “Your name, and your purpose of lingering at the Ducal Palace.” The words, while uttered in a casual, detached tone, have a certain authority to them, even if merely through his manner, his blood, his heritage and pride.

The Shahrizai woman laughs again, joining him at the balustrade in a casual one-hipped lean. She surveys the late summer greenery, the leaves just beginning to change, with her head inclined toward his as if she proposes to murmur confidences and half her hooded blue gaze gauging his reactions. “I owe you nothing here,” she informs him with a mild and detached coolness, “and I require no purpose, though once it was to throw pebbles from this very point of vantage — you've a keen eye, it is the best — down upon those of my mother's courtiers for whom I felt a particular distaste. I'm pleased to say my aim was not all bad and I achieved some notable contusions. I am Emmanuelle Shahrizai nó Mandrake.”

She pronounces her name not boastfully or in arrogance, but with the certainty that he's heard of her; that everyone who matters in Terre d'Ange has heard likewise; that there can be no confusion; that there can only, ever, be one such creature as she has made herself.

<FS3> Cyriel rolls Politics: Good Success. (3 5 2 6 3 7 8)

“I owe you nothing here.”

That particular remark has the brows of the Charlot lord lift marginally. That, and the manner of her speech, the air of confidence, as if she were more at home in this place than he. Well, truth be told, the Vicomte de Chavagne is and always has been nothing more than a visitor. Instead of voicing a rebuke or a gentle reminder of courtesy, Cyriel stays silent, his pale gaze following that of the Shahrizai woman when she speaks of pebbles she tossed, and slowly realization begins to sink in, of where to place her, an assumption that is only confirmed when she finally gives him her name.

“Ah… I see. You are the half-sister to Her Grace, the child of her mother with that Shahrizai…” Nevermind, the Charlot seems to have some difficulty in recalling her father’s name. “And. If I recall correctly, I have heard your name mentioned in reference to Mont Nuit. The former Dowayne of House Mandrake? You see me impressed.” Gaze flicking down, he offers a courteous bow to her, not exactly deferential, but polite. “Not that I am among those who would seek out that particular canon. Yes. You guessed correctly. I prefer those of Valerian flavor.” The admission is given with casual matter-of-factness.

—-

This time Cyriel bows alone; Emmanuelle, eschewing the garden vantage she knows so well for the rooftop itself, leaning back with both her elbows now upon the railing, only smiles at him with distant benevolence. The predator at rest. “Oh, so do I, my dear vicomte,” she drawls, “so do I. And I think we both also enjoy a jest, do we not? Though,” and she matches his matter-of-factness, “I've seen more lords of Kusheth kneel before me than you might imagine or I might reveal.” Again she doesn't boast; it's only that she lacks the modesty with which many a female courtier in particular is trained to downplay or laugh away a fact too flattering to herself. But she is already moving on to other thoughts.

“You may like to add to the list you've just inscribed in that little commonplace-book behind your eyes,” she suggests, “that I am also a chirurgeon. From that profession one rarely retires; others rarely leave one the leisure. Even now, by my lady sister’s wish, I am attending a woman of hers who was not long ago hastening to Death’s door… the lady Irene d’Eresse.” She lifts her bold dark eyebrows at Cyriel as though to inquire whether he might not be acquainted with the ailing lady she mentions — but she knows. Oh, she knows. Why else her curious, her unprecedented greeting?

<FS3> Cyriel rolls Composure: Success. (2 4 1 4 7 3)

“Some have the inclination to kneel. Others have not,” Cyriel Charlot states with a very faint smirk. “Two sides of the same coin, if you will. I prefer to be the one in command of the situation.” His gaze brushes her frame, considering her as she leans upon the railing, and those pale blue eyes flash brightly as he dares to meet her gaze. But then his expression shifts, surprise showing at Emmanuelle’s statement of also being versed in medical matters. “This I did not know.”, Cyriel admits, turning more fully now to face the Duchesse’s half-sister. The next he did not know as well, if one could tell from the slight widening of his eyes, the only lapse in composure that will no doubt be perceptible to someone of keen eyes and a sense for subtle reactions. The pause may be telling as well, the moment needed to gather thoughts and consider implications of her words, before the Charlot finally clears his throat and repeats the name, “Lady Irene d’Eresse?” in obvious question. “I didn’t know she was that ill. But she was feeling unwell, when she came to congratulate me on my win at the duels. The carelessness of youth. She should have stayed in her chambers and rested.” After another brief sweep of his gaze over the view of the gardens, Cyriel looks towards Emmanuelle Shahrizai nó Mandrake again. “On the brink of death; she has been truly? But you say she is recovering?”

… Yes, if only there were someone here possessed of keen eyes and a sense of subtle reactions, to note that infinitesimal slipping of the Charlot lord’s mask. If only.

Emmanuelle’s own hooded eyelids lower a fraction, after Cyriel’s lift; she waits unhurriedly for him to come in pursuit of her conversational lure. “Her own carelessness,” she agrees, treating of these matters with a chirurgeon’s calm detachment, “compounded by the carelessness of those around her, who took her too much at her word that she was suffering a simple summer chill. A headstrong child is not, after all, a reliable expert upon the world and its maladies… Some do indeed die of her complaint — she is fortunate to be not a peasant in Camlach,” she says frankly, “but a noble lady in Eisande.” A beat. “I feel strangely certain, my lord de Charlot, that in the tedium of her sickroom Lady Irene would welcome a visit from you. I do permit visitors — if you remain at a decorous distance from her bedside you’re unlikely to catch anything.” On which note she indulges in a slightly feral smile.

“What makes you think she would like to see me?”, the Charlot asks, his features a neutral, somewhat detached cast, same as his tone. It seems whatever rift there was in his composure, it appears to be back in place now. Perhaps inspired by Emmanuelle’s smile. A smile that provokes a vague echo in his own features. “I might,” Cyriel allows then, turning his gaze towards the door that leads to the solar. “Albeit not today.” His pale eyes flick back to give the Shahrizai woman a sideways glance. “I suppose, Lady Irene will be for a few days longer in your care?”

“A feeling, no more,” is Emmanuelle’s easy riposte. “We might say — womanly intuition?” she drawls in her lowest and most ironical tone, as she straightens from her lounging posture against the railing. She counsels him: “You must not take what I say to mean that some confidence has been reposed in me by my patient — had it been so, naturally I would never betray it, not even to the extent of acknowledging that it had been spoken.”

… All of which, when put to him by a lady of Shahrizai blood and Mandrake rearing, must tend toward convincing Cyriel Charlot that some confidence was spoken, the truth of which he’ll never have from this woman and must seek in the conversation of the other.

“A few days, to be sure,” agrees Emmanuelle mildly. “You’ll be sure of finding her in her chamber downstairs; I don’t yet permit her to leave it… I bid you good day, vicomte.”

And with an inclination of her head toward the Charlot lord, and a slight swagger in her step (no doubt imparted by those magnificent boots), she cedes the rooftop and leaves him once more to the companionship of his thoughts, the old and the new.

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