(1310-10-18) A Navigable Hazard
Summary: Drake solicits Chimène’s advice upon a romantic scheme.
RL Date: 18/10/2018
Related: None.
chimene drake 

Salon — Ducal Suite — Rousse Residence

This expansive salon is paneled in soft grey boiseries with dainty and understated details picked out in fresh white, and many mirrors embedded in simple gilded surrounds. Crosshatched parquet underfoot is executed in rare amber and golden hardwoods, and polished to a glorious beeswaxed sheen; overhead, there hangs a large crystal and gilt chandelier surrounded by four smaller satellites, capable of providing a ferocious blaze of light on evenings when the mirrored and gilded candle-stands placed here and there are considered insufficient.

Opposite one another, set in the walls to the left and the right as one enters from the landing, are two sizable fireplaces in blue-veined marble, and above each a painting by a master of two centuries ago: views of Namarre as it was then, of old Courcel castles long since abandoned and gone to seed. Chairs and chaises the clean lines of which are gilded and upholstered in smoke-blue silk form strictly symmetrical arrangements in association with occasional tables. In cool weather these are centered upon the fireplaces. When it's warmer they migrate toward the four pairs of tall casement windows framed by smoke-blue silken drapes which open upon a broad white marble terrace leading down into the gardens.

Doors likewise to the left and the right of the salon open into two sets of palatial private chambers, for the use of each half of a married couple.

"Oh," sighs Chimène, "what do you want?"

Caught on the threshold of her inexpressibly elegant pale-grey salon, such a tonic by comparison with the dank and dark Rousse hallways surrounding it, and their seascapes and fishing-trophies, she turns upon her heel and blinks her hazel eyes twice at Drake Laurentin Rousse. A hazard, but a navigable one.

"What's our nearest vineyards and who runs them?", Drake asks from the door and with as little foreplay as she, "I'd ask my sister but she's out." He rarely visits the lady. In fact he rarely sees her. But sometimes needs must.

"Oh," repeats Chimène, this time with great and terrible emphasis; "do I look as though I'm a map of Eisande—?" Though as she speaks she's pushing open her salon doors and pressing forward, shedding her magnificent sable cloak and hat and muff into the hands of her attendant maid. Tall women require so many more pelts than short ones. Chimène decimates entire species each winter. "Anyway," she insists, turning upon Drake, "your sister's are the nearest worth mentioning. If you're going to invest in anything nearer to the city, don't," she orders, with the imperious air of a former Dahlia who will one day rule House Rousse.

Drake rolls his eyes at the suggestion of him investing. Investing what? He's perma-skint. "I just need to know which are within a day's ride and back. And message whoever runs it to prepare for visitors. Can't be further away." Since the lady seems to be heading inside, he decides to follow her. He has nothing better to do yet anyway. The night is young.

The fire has been kindled ahead of Chimène's coming — likewise the cushions straightened, the letters arranged, and the wine mulled.

Completing her turn she collapses in a sigh of silk in the armchair nearest the fire, reaching for her already-filled silver goblet before she looks up at Drake. "Oh, if it's a girl—" she drawls, rolling her eyes heavenwards as though scarcely believing that Drake, himself, is of an age to have girls and to take them about. But, as he must have been hoping, she follows that immediately with the details of a vineyard she considers barely adequate, its location, the name of a groundsman who understands about these things, and the correct sum with which to tip him. Chimène Rousse de la Courcel is a veteran of these occasions.

Drake nods along, making mental note of the name, the location and the dude in charge. "She's never been out of town, so I offered to take her around. Show her something. She's a foreigner. So…", he babbles, sharing information only reluctantly while feeling the need to talk to someone about the potential pitfalls of dealing with foreigners.

Chimène makes a moue. "Oh," she says in a tone mingling surprise and dubiety, but in measured and civilised increments. "A foreigner," she repeats. "Well, in that case I shouldn't worry about the wine," she says kindly; "anything d'Angeline is likely to impress her in the way you'd hope. You needn't go to Draguignan."

"Yea, I'm not taking her all the way.", Drake replies, unaware of how dubious that statement might sound, "I'm not even sure she drinks. When I asked her if she could ride a horse, she said, they ride elephants back home. Elephants! What kind of a place is that?" He tuts and shakes his head, but is quick to smile dreamily again. "She's gorgeous though."

"Elephants…" breathes Chimène. She tilts her head, considering the variety of drawings she has seen in manuscripts, no two of which agree. "I imagine a young lady who can manage an elephant, would find a horse simple enough." She drinks a little more wine and, feeling consequently a little more at ease, ventures: "My dear, who is she? And… how gorgeous, do you suppose?"

"Very gorgeous.", Drake confirms readily, which is of course the thing that matters, "She wears these weird clothes that show -alot- more shape than the stuff people here put on -" He looks at Chimene's outfit as if to confirm his point, "And she's from… uh, damn what was it called? Bollistan? Far east anyway. She's a princess." He smirks as if knowing that he's punching above his weight here.

Chimène's gown is in fact something very off-the-shoulder in mazarine-blue silk. "… Is it possible," she hazards slowly, "you mean Bhodistan—?" Recollections of geography lessons swarm through her increasingly (swallow) mulled mind. "I do seem to recall," this lady goes on, in the elevated accents of one Courcel-born and Night Court-bred, "that there are a great many principalities in Bhodistan. You might want to make sure of which, my dear."

"Yes! Bhodistan!", Drake confirms, geography not exactly his strongest suit either. "And I don't know where from exactly, but does it matter? She's ambassador from all of Bhodistan. It's strange though, she's a bonafide princess and yet it seems nobody here has deemed it polite to show her around, spend time with her and what not. Well, all the better for me.", he grins cheerfully, but quickly turns serious again. "What do you know of the place? Anything I should know?"

"… It's very hot," is Chimène's first thought, "if you're thinking of going there." A beat. "If she's the ambassador, why isn't she in Elua? Why Marsilikos instead? Has she only stopped off on her way, do you suppose? If her credentials haven't been accepted yet by His Majesty then she can only be incognito, and people naturally won't make a fuss. She ought to wear a black sash, in that case, and introduce herself by a lesser title rather than—" She waves her empty hand vaguely, a gleam of jewels in the firelight. "Trading on royalty."

Drake arches a brow at all of that and looks put out for a bit, then shrugs. "Eh, who cares.", he decides, "Maybe she just likes the weather here more. Especially if it's very hot at home. Which explains the clothes. She would freeze to death in them in Elua. Probably. I've never been." Drake realizes that he's rambling again and sighs. "Well, thanks. I better get preparing then.""

Having been some help, which is better than none, Chimène endorses this proposal: "Go on, then," she agrees, "and mind you do tip. Or you'll never be able to go back with anyone else without a deal of embarrassment; and I shouldn't think your Bhodistani princess will be here in the city forever."

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