(1310-10-17) A Quiet Favor
Summary: Before a trip overseas to an annual textiles festival in Kriti, Isabelle de Valais pays her friend and patron, Jehan-Pascal de Baphinol, a visit to ask for a favor.
RL Date: October 17, 2018
Related: Everything in this page.
isabelle jehan-pascal 

Jehan-Pascal's Suite - Les Tanieres

A sunny little suite of rooms on the western wing of the building, with a glamorous balcony overlooking the beach, accessible by a series of three double doors paned in glass in the main sitting room, outfitted by its current occupant with a long, sturdy oaken table of a golden wood hue, able to sit sixteen or eighteen at a pinch, but only with ten matching seats in the golden oak, big arm-chairs with deep blue cushions of velveteen inset into the seat and back but not on the armrests. It is bathed in natural light and as often as not covered in a collection of books and papers, serving as an organizational space than as a true meeting place. The books seem to have been taken from the winter parlor, outfitted with a collection of cozy sea-green couches surrounding a hearth for the cooler months, which has been set up as a sort of study, with a desk and bookshelves crowding the smaller space— but Jehan-Pascal's work has forgotten to contain itself there. On the other side of the sitting room is the bedroom with a tall wardrobe flanking the bed on either side, creating a dim and cozy nook in which the bed is saved from the light from the copious amount of the wall taken up by windows.

To Isabelle's credit, despite the slight urgency of the matter that takes her to her friend and patron's place today, she is not without her courtesies. She has sent him a quick message first during the busy hours of her morning to ask him whether he would have a moment to speak to her today about a matter she would not say on paper, and once his answer arrives, she makes a note of the hour.

She is prompt when she finally arrives.

There's a smile, but it looks exhausted, and once she's been brought to the presence of the future Comte d'Avignon, she takes several strides towards him, hands coming up to take his own, if allowed, and kisses him lightly, warmly, on both cheeks. She is dressed impeccably as ever, in the business attire she favors - embroidered waistcoat, fitted, tailored jacket with exaggeratedly long tails that reach to the ankles of her over-the-knee boots, and a silk shirt underneath. There's an additional embellishment upon her today in the form of a black lady's top hat, tipped with the curling plumage of a black swan.

"Darling," she says during these kisses. "You are, as always, a sight for sore eyes."

And lower, close to his ear. "May we speak in private?"

The murmur is low, and while always an elegant creature prone to light conversation, there is something different about her air today.

Jehan-Pascal has even been out of his seaside flat in the last weeks. He had first resumed his habit of dining out, then taking his luncheon at the Golden Harbor— then he had taken up again his travels and the travails assigned thereto, made the rounds home to Avignon and back to Marsilikos again in time to attend the Opera with Marielle upon his arm the previous evening, the pair of them having as fine a time as any. He seems to have reached a point of genial equlibrium— for the time being. Isabelle is by now familiar with his Marsilikos den, but now it seems somehow less oppressive— maybe just to him, in fact, but he's tidied up his work and let the maids in to give the place a thorough autumn clean, and with the windows over the large conference table in the dining room having been left ajar, there's plenty of fresh, bracing sea air suffusing the place and playing lethargically with the curtains. Jehan-Pascal is setting out tea when Isabelle arrives. It's perhaps a strange thing to see a future Comte engaged in what should be a menial task, but Isabelle knows him to be a man of practicality and self-reliance, and he can brew a cup of tea as well as the next man over. And so he has. And set out a few nice biscuits, as well. He's dressed in his now well-favored crimson coat with the hunting tails, but left loose and uncinched to flow about his willowy form above a poet's blouse in creme and a fine hide trouser. Affable, comfortable, gorgeous. "Isabelle, how fine to see you." Kisses— there are kisses, warmly taken and reciprocated, between the most cordial of friends. "Come and take some tea with me, and tell me what is the matter," he bids her, his hand coming to her cheek in a manner almost maternal, soothing. "Of course, it's just you and I, but I will bar the door in case any of the maids thinks to come in and collect the service." And he parts from her in order to do just that.

Her head turns to the touch upon her cheek, her fingers brushing over his knuckles - the drift and release of her reciprocating touch, however, follows the wake of her quiet observance of him as he moves to bar the door, taking a seat by the couches where the tea is steeping. Dark-and-gold eyes sweep over the room, the change in its atmosphere, remember the few nights she had spent on the adjoining suite out of worry for him. But the word that he has resumed venturing out of these rooms and back into the light is one that brings her a tremenduous amount of relief - the guilt would be less, for when it is time to depart these shores for a few weeks. Given his close relationship with Marielle no Rose Sauvage, hopefully these bright spots in his life would continue despite the lack of her watchful eye.

She waits until he's seated, patient enough to force the tension out of the line of her shoulders. She has never been anything less than composed in public, armed with that airy dismissiveness towards those she doesn't care for that it is almost glib. And while she remains outwardly calm, the air around her is a restless thing, thrumming with something elusive and alive, not unlike what he had sensed around her when the two of them competed against one another in the Archery Competition.

Isabelle is able to wait until the tea is poured, before reaching out with careful fingers in an attempt to take his own. Her gaze lifts to meet his own.

"May I count on your discretion? It's about a friend…and a cousin of your mother's."

Jehan-Pascal sets the bar to and comes breezing across to the windows, sliding beneath the billowing curtains and closing up the windows again. Certainly no one can hear their words from the beach below the balcony, but the evening is cooling off more quickly than he expected, and he'll warm up a little over tea and a dearth of sea breeze. "Isabelle, you're making me worried," he remarks, more a statement of condolence than any rebuke. "What in heaven's name is wrong?" he speaks, tonality coaxing and soothing in turns while he pours the tea and then pours himself into the chair opposite her. The chairs at table have arms. All the better to drape himself over. Even if they're only having tea at one small corner of an otherwise massive and imposing piece of furniture. "A friend and a cousin of my mother's, all one person, or a friend, one, and a cousin of my mother's, two?" he goes on to ask.

"All one person." Tea served, she eases her hand away to pick up her cup, blowing delicately at the steam before taking a quiet sip.

There's a hint of an apology in the line of her mouth as she regards her friend. "Lord Esekiel de Charlot," Isabelle tells him. "I can't say I know him too well, but he and I have overlapping sets of acquaintances that I've gotten to know him a little better than most. A few weeks ago, I was seeing my mother off at my uncle's estate in northern Eisande when I thought I saw him. I approached him to ascertain his identity, and it was him, but he was acting…strangely." She frowns down at her cup. "He recognized me, but quickly pulled me to the side and instructed me to be quiet and discreet. He said something about being followed. He would not tell me more and just said he was on his way back to Kusheth."

She looks over at her friend, her lips pressed in a thin line. "I agreed," she says. "If not just because he looked so serious, but I made him absolutely promise me that he will write me once he returned to his home safely. To this day, I have received no such word."

A few heartbeats of silence fall between them, before: "I hate to be an inconvenience, darling, but I wouldn't be asking if I wasn't genuinely worried. What's worse, I have an appointment abroad that I can't miss - the annual textiles festival in Kriti, which most of my overseas suppliers are attending and I'd be able to meet with them face to face at once without having to make separate trips. But I know myself, I would be even more sleepless if I didn't try, somehow, to put this worry to bed. I was wondering if you would be able to extend a line to the Kusheline side of your family and see if you could confirm that Lord Esekiel is safe in Kusheth and where?"

Jehan-Pascal lifts his own teacup to his lips, but then promptly and utterly forgets to drink. The story is so innocuously strange, it sounds to him as if someone were narrating a dream— not the sort of dream one brings to the laps of the Gentian brood, but surely that pointless sort of maze through which all have at one points somnolently wandered. "How bizarre," he finally issues a verdict. "Of course there's no inconvenience— I'll put out a missive in the morning— unless you would rather I ask her in person the next time I return to Avignon? I'll be setting out from the stables here before dawn on Saturday, and hope to make Avignon before dark. I could speak to my Lady Mother on the morning of the next day, if the road is favorable." He's put down his teacup by now, keeping his hands around it but leaving it to rest on the table.

How bizarre.

"Isn't it?" Isabelle wonders, though the frown remains on her lips. "Far be it for me to pry, especially when the man looked absolutely fit to be tied as it was, but…he does have a certain reputation, with his penchant for getting into trouble. Not that I'm one to judge, I've certainly had episodes, especially when I was younger. Still…I would rest easier, if I knew for certain that he is right where he should be and safe." Brows furrow, glancing over at her friend. "I wondered, even, if I was overreacting, to feel this way. It just seemed so…odd. Do you think I may be reading too much into it? For all I know, he's simply running from gambling debts, or a wronged husband."

A missive? She smiles faintly. "I'll leave it to you, my dear," she says. "Though if your mother's cousin is in a spot of trouble, she might want to hear it from you directly….but I've never met your lady mother, and can't accurately speak to how she would react."

Jehan-Pascal takes the opportunity presented by his delay in drinking his tea in order to apply a drizzle of honey to its surface, head slightly bowed in observation of the process while attending concertedly to Isabelle's concerns. "A letter would reach her before I would— if time is of the essence it would be better for me to ask by letter. You're quite right, of course, that it may be nothing at all," he swirls his tea with a little silver spoon from his tea setting, sitting up a little straighter. "And if so, she could relieve your concerns by letter before I even leave. But if not, it would give her more time to make inquiries before I see her this weekend," he goes on to reason. "Although I may be at something of a loss as to what to tell her. Maybe I'll leave it only at that a friend was asking after his health?"

"I hope it is nothing," Isabelle murmurs softly, taking another sip from her cup. "And that your lady mother knows precisely where he is. If you do send a letter and receive one in turn, I'm afraid I'll have departed by then. But my man, Guillermo, would know the most direct way to reach me. Would you be so kind to send word to him? As for what to tell her…"

Her usual self seems to be returning, never one to be in a low mood before long. Her smile lifts in the corners. "You could tell her the truth," she sniffs, nose tilting upwards, though the devil's mischief gleams from her eyes. "In that he was being a terrible man who reneged his promise to a lady."

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