(1310-11-04) The First Contract
Summary: Lady Inesse de Baphinol has celebrated her sixteenth birthday and the day afterwards she visits Laurentin nó Coquelicot as he was contracted to introduce a young woman into the arts of Namaah. Though, the night does not go by the most typical plan… It's absolutely innocent!
RL Date: 2018-11-09
Related: None
laurentin inesse 

Laurentin's Room - Le Coquelicot

Terracotta colored walls are reminiscent of Tiberium and Caerdicci style, surrounding the room in a warm reddish hue. It is split into to parts by a row of hip high dark wooden stands that hold thick slabs of shale on top with small oil lamps flickering up at the stones to warm them. Placed atop them are three vaguely rectangle shaped vessels of clay, with the middle one having large panes of glass set on opposite sides, allowing to peer inside. It is filled with water, and a small selection of under-water plants, as well as a few select species of fish that hide among them and swim around in it.

Before this partition, the room's walls are lined with odd contraptions. Dark wooden racks that are padded with leather-covered cushions that seem to be meant for someone to kneel on with their head pressed on a cushion higher up. The sides have hand-holds to be gripped, and even leather manacles to hold the hands there, apparently.

Besides it looms a similar leather-cushion covered contraption that seems like a bed half-leaned against the wall, but the winches, pulleys and screws underneath that apparently allow it to be slowly lowered into the horizontal position and any in between. All in all they might seem more at home in a Mandrake dungeon than a Gentian bedroom!

Looking through the tank's panes on the other side of the partition is a generous sized bed, canopied in dark blue cloth and drapes, dotted with stars stitched in silver thread.

The Evening After. Of course it is the evening, for Salon knows how those natality parties can go: One moment they are nice tame affairs, the next moment someone thinks it is funny to get the birthday kid utterly drunk.

So it is late afternoon, early evening that it is agreed upon. Downstairs, things seem much like they were when Inesse and her mother visited: Novices, adepts and courtesans going about their daily routines of tending to patrons, or to exercise and practice their crafts, be it massage, yoga, singing or playing instruments.

The only difference is that once she arrives there is an adept who is waiting for her, smiling when she steps up to her. "Happy belated birthday.", she wishes, before offering to take any coat she may wear and pass them to one of the novices. A glass of wine or brandy is offered, before she is ushered to one of the bathing rooms, where she can take a hot relaxing bath, tended to by two novices, one to help her undress and wash her hair, the other to offer some musical distraction.

Afterwards she is offered a comfy silken bathrobe to wear, before being escorted up to the second floor to Laurentin's room. Most of his equipment has been pushed to the side, especially the more torture-rack-looking ones, though there is a hip high bench left to stand in the center of the free space before the partition, covered with white linen sheets and a pillow, a table set beside it with towels and a small metal tripod over an lamp, heating a clay jar with oil in it.

In fact there are plenty of those little lamps strewn about the room, deliberately left to burn low to keep the room somewhat dusky lit, while setting accents around the room. Around the bench. Around a small table with two chairs in one corner that is set for two. Behind the fish-tank to give the fish illumination from behind and at the same time block the view of the space behind it.

Laurentin himself is wearing deep black cotton pants, and that silken shirt with the pattern of holes on his back that show off his marque and give a stylized impression of wings on his back.

Lady Inesse de Baphinol did not get drunk but it is still an evening after the fete. As if whoever arranged such a date, they wanted for a young heart to suffer and maybe even stop beating out of anxiety. Or maybe that someone expected to see an explosion of a little heart which has been overfilled with doubts the whole day. And so a new sixteen years old no-longer-kid of Marsilikos has spent that whole time trying to make her hair, and pick a proper gown. She has had a help of some maids, but even them were not able to calm Inesse down or assist in making a final decision on her attire. So, Inesse is a tad late and that is why her cheeks are flaming upon arrival to the Le Coquelicot.

Baphinol lady comes in wearing a long-sleeved light rosy dress. Lace and flowy crepe chiffon create a simple yet refined sheath silhouette, but the real showpiece is the lace long sleeves! Beautifully gathered at the waist, the layers of chiffon create a gorgeously full effect without the weight. Floating lace has been placed on the sleeves and back for a light and airy feeling, while the full constructed bodice features lace that elongates the frame. Inesse gives her brown coat to the adepts who meet her and offers seven apologies for being late. Then she completely gives up to their bidding. She, of course, refuses wine and whiskey but that is all. Then she goes through that bathing and even does not oppose when a comfy silken bathrobe is offered and she is escorted to Laurentin's room. There is a slight disappointment in her sigh, though. Her hair no longer look perfect after that bath. They are a bit more tangled, still a bit wet and not quite curly! And she spent quite a lot of time choosing the gown! For what? To end up in a bathrobe?

But then the door to the man's room opens and she steps in with a surprise and admiration in her widely opened eyes. "Oooooh…" She lets out looking around and catching that fish tank, and all those trembling lights, and the smell of the oil. Her eyes briefly land on Laurentin himself, but then she looks down shyly. Her fingers clench on the fabric of a robe. A glance is given to the door as if she would consider running away, but then she remains standing, swaying a bit and chewing on her bottom lip. Her gaze studies that charming shade of the floor. Oh, and is there a small scratch or something there? How interesting!

Well, who is to say Laurentin has not spied her in her lovely dress from the balcony on the second floor? Ahem. Of course, that is something Inesse might never find out. Instead she is there, in the fetching silken bathrobe, forced to endure another hot bath. Poor Baphinol.

Laurentin turns when the door is opened to let her inside, pausing in the task of winding a bit of chain around a cog of some sort, before he attaches a little weight, to let it slowly pull it down, unwinding, and the little faucet on the fish tank springs to life, pumping water out of one of the clayen side tanks into the main tank with a quiet whirr and putter as the stream of water hits the surface.

"Lady Inesse. Good evening, and happy birthday.", he wishes, simple enough, before he finishes the task, and then turns to walk towards her. That she peeks down at the ground? It does not seem to bother him too much, he just steps up to her, to try to take her hands into his. "I am glad you are here.". Well, perhaps he thought she changed her mind, with how late she was? Or perhaps it is just a phrase to start the conversation. "The bath was not too hot?". A glance to the adpet who had escorted her to the room is given, who stayed in the doorway, then back at Inesse. "I took the liberty to have a table set for us. I thought you might enjoy a bit of conversation during your meal. Anette here would take your order, in that case. Perhaps a some crepes with honey or apple-slices?". Something light and sweet, just to stettle the stomach.

That sound of the water in the fish tank performance draws Inesse's attention for a brief moment and she chuckles. Her shoulders relax for the time being but when Laurentin comes closer, a young woman tenses again and focuses her eyes on the man's feet. "How could I not come? It's all arranged!" She speaks to the ground. Her hand raises to rub an elbow of another arm. Baphinol lady shakes her head at the question of the bath. "It was great. I must admit that a bit unexpected, though." A chuckle escapes her lips.

When Annette is mentioned, the birthday-girl is more than happy to turn away from Laurentin and look at the woman who has helped her. "What he said," Inesse answers and smiles to the adept at the doorway. "I really like apples. But no wine or whiskey. I don't want any of that." Then she stands there slightly awkwardly with her back turned to Laurentin. Realizing that this is impolite, Inesse quite out-of-nowhere turns around and stabs her wide eyes to the courtesan. "Your room is very pretty! Very very! I hope you were okay? Like… your days were fun? Like… you do well. I mean, how are you?" She rambles.

Annette nods her head, and Luarentin smiles at the adept. "For me the same, then. Thank you, dear.", he offers to the adept, apparently letting her know he will take it from here alone. Surely depending on the client, she would offer a massage and there might even be novices being called in to provide singing or music during the eating and the massage that he is apparently planning.

When the door closes, Laurentin tilts his head. "No wine, nor brandy? Not even a little thimble to toast to your health and birthday?". Does he dare to look a bit crestfallen there? For shame, the courtesan trying to get the young Lady to drink!

When she starts rambling, however, he smiles, and might shock her, for he just leans in to try to kiss her. Just a brush of his lips to her cheeks, first her left, then her right in a kiss of greeting, his hand to fall to just below her shoulders on her arms. "Come in, Inesse.". Yep, just her given name, not even her proper title. "Be welcome. Go explore the room if you wish.", he invites her, then grins. "And thank you for asking. I am doing quite well. Still getting used to the city. I do not know many here, yet, but the number of friends is slowly growing.", he lets her know, stepping back then, so she can do just that: Explore the room if she wishes. "How was your festivities?".

Inesse immediately shuts up when those pecks to her burning cheeks are offered. Good that the man encourages for Baphinol lady to move, because she would just stay there standing and dreaming, and being in the moment. For hours. But that gentle push makes her trembling feet move and she does start to explore the room. The fact that Laurentin is a bit further away then and not in her sight, Inesse can relax a bit. she fingers brush over the lamps, and decorations, and even the fishtank as her eyes take every detail into account. "My festivities were quite peaceful. I have spent my time only with closest family members. Nothing too big, nothing too fancy. I am much like you. very new in this town and I do not have friends." She flinches at this and peeks briefly at the courtesan. "I would like if you would become my friend."

Laurentin does watch her as she walks away in that robe of hers, as she begins to explore. The room is surely rather kept orderly and despite the large pieces of furniture and the large fish tank and the mechanics that is required to keep it liveable for the fish within, she might find it is rather bare of the usual little knick-knacks one otherwise accumulates. There are barely any books to be found, very few mementos or other things that are not part of his craft.

As she speaks of the festivities, he nods his head, moving to sit at the edge of the bench in the middle of the room. "I would like to think we can become like friends.", he says simply enough. "But I am sure you will find others among your peers who you will call friends soon enough. I know it can be hard when one knows nobody.", he does grant her that. A pause, as he regards her, before he nods to the fish tank. "That's Simon, the one that is trying to nip at your finger through the glass. He is not the brightest fish in the world.", he comments, smirking. "There is Jaques somewhere in the plants, snoozing or hiding. Bernadine is up there at the surface.", he names some of the fish that swim in the tank. "Do you wish to feed them?".

"Many of the people among my peers are interesting but they are so… intelligent and very hard to understand!" She then suddenly bursts in laugh. Her twinkling eyes peek at Laurentin apologetically. "Not that I am saying that you are less wise, less intelligent and easy or something. You… you know how to adjust. You do not try to look superior and you do not desire to show-off, you know. I would like to have you as my friend." She smiles broadly and peeks at that Simon who is chewing on the glass pointlessly. Another chuckle escapes her lips. She leans forward, "Hi, Simon. You know, I am much like you. Everybody knows that I am not the brightest fish in this world and yet we are still happy, aren't we?" Then her gaze finds Jaques and Bernadine. "It's very nice that you give them names. I wish I could have a cat or a puppy. I would like to have a cat. Though, this fish tank is also quite impressive! I would love to feed them. Can I?" She looks at Laurentin seeing for confirmation.

As for her moment of self-reflection? Well, he told her and her mother before, did he not? He is like a mirror, helping his patrons to see themselves. Walking over to her, when she speaks to the fishes, Laurentin shrugs his shoulders a little. "Intelligent does not mean wise. Intelligent people know _why_ things are broken. Wise people know how to mend them, instead.", he seems to quote someone. "You are easily distracted, Insesse. Overwhelmed sometimes. That does not make you less intelligent. And it surely does not mean you are less wise. You just need to understand yourself and make decisions based on what you know of yourself, rather than what others might expect of you or urge you to.".

Stopping next to her, Laurentin then offers a little smile at her. "No. I only asked if you wished to feed them to tease you. Of course you may not.", he claims. Of course he only keeps it up a moment, before offering her a small box with little crumbs of bread. "Only a little at a time. And you can hold it out for them over the water. They come up take it from your fingers…", he suggests, and once she has taken the box, does turn to fetch one of the chairs for her to stand on, so she can climb it to easier reach the open top of the tank.

Inesse turns to stare at Laurentin when he speaks those words of wisdom or intelligence. It seems that even if quite a vivid explanation is offered, she still does not perceive the difference. She simply blinks. Blinks. Blink blinks. Blinks. She admires the words said, and her jaw slightly drops down in awe. She nods agreeing to the quote offered and then smiles straightening up a bit as she is called not stupid. Her lips slowly repeat that quote as she plans to use it against her younger sister who always teases Inesse of being dull.

Though, conversation goes back to the fish tank and Baphinol lady pouts as the man only teased about feeding Simon. That's her favorite fish from now on! However, thanks to the angels it was only a joke and Inesse finds herself climbing up on a chair and then leaning over the fish tank. Her fingers take a few tiny crumbs of bread and she moistens them in the water waiting patiently. "Simon… Simon, come here." She whispers beaming broadly. "Others, also come. You can all share!"

Well, if the quote is weaponized, Laurentin will have accomplished something. Not what he had hoped to accomplish, but something! That she pouts when he claims he only was playing with her, has him chuckling, only to produce the chair for her to climb on. Wait, isn't he still playing with her, when he was playing about playing with her? Tsk. Bad courtesan. Once she has climbed up, Laurentin does stay close, soon place a hand on the far side of her legs to steady her with one hand, the other to settle on the side of her, holding her to the side of his chest like that. Wouldn't do if she falls, right? So what if that is a sneaky way of getting her used to his touch, even if it is through the silk of her bath robe?

<FS3> Inesse rolls Reaction: Success. (7 2 4 3)

Laurentin himself said that Inesse can be very easily distracted and so she seems not even feel how the man touches her to keep her safe on that chair. Not every day one gets to play with fishes and feed them! But, of course, she is a stranger to them and so a young woman has to demonstrate an iron patience which she suddenly seems to have! She waits while Simon, Jaques and Bernadine circle around. They get closer and closer to the bread crumbs held by the soft fingers. It might be a trap but lady has far from dangerous features and so those fishes allow hunger to win against cautiousness and they get closer. Closer. Inesse's patience seems to tremble as she raises her eyes briefly to one of the oil lamps and on that moment one of the fishes springs up and sucks into Inesse's finger to steal a bread crumb from her grasp. And then in splashes back into the water. It does come as a surprise. Inesse squeaks and flinches, jumps even a bit and the chair dangerously staggers. "WHO WAS IT? WHICH ONE? I did not see it!"

Laurentin is a patient man, indeed, watching her wait for the fishes, and when finally one of them pounces, makes her jump, his grip tightens on the young lady to make sure she does not topple over. The yelling, however, surely causes the remaining fishes to dart away, to hide among the plants. And Laurentin? well, he has to laugh, looking up at her, before he shakes his head. "I am no traitor. I will not tattletale.", he claims, smirking. Yes, he continues to tease her, or so it seems. There are simple lessons to be learnt there about the man. Surely, if he will not betray the trust of a fish, he will not do so with one of his patrons, right? "But I am afraid you have scared them away for now. Better sprinkle some of the bread in the water and let them be for now.", he suggests.

Once she does? He will turn to place his hands on her waist, and lift her off the chair to set back down on the ground, chuckling.

"Oooh…" Inesse sighs in a disappointment when all her new friends are gone. She gives a nod and obeys to Laurentin's suggestion. She sprinkles some of the bread and then allows to be taken off of the chair. She gently sets her own hands on the man's arms when he is placing her back on the floor. Her eyes raise up to look at him and the cheeks bloom in roses one more time. "You are very nice. I feel very good with you. Though, I must admit I was very worried to come here. I am not even sure what I am suppose to do here exactly." Inesse chews on her lips but this time manages to keep her attention on Laurentin longer than before. "I am no longer hungry, you know. I just… Can we just talk about things? I really love the way you put words together and make stories. Could you tell me more about dreams?"

Laurentin sets her down, and when she finally manages to keep the gaze longer on him, he tilts his head, listening to her. "Thank you for your kind words…", he offers easily enough back at her. Well, she complimented him, that requires a thank you, right? "You can do or not do what you wish, Inesse. There are very few rules you have to obey here, tonight. And I doubt you want to riot or the like.", he teases her once more, leaning down to kiss her forehead, if she lets him. As for the food? Laurentin shrugs a little. "Well, I am sure it is almost done. You can take a bite or two and leave the rest, but I think it is better for you to eat a little bit. Or at least have it here in case you get hungry later.". They won't be as good cold as they are hot, but surely eatable. As for the stories and dreams? He nods. "Sure. Let's take a seat somewhere?". There are not that many seating places there currently. The bench is sturdy enough for both of them. Or the table with the two chairs. Well, one, the other would have to be brought along from the fishtank now. "What do you wish to know about dreams?".

Of course, as if on cue, there is a knock at the door, and when Laurentin bids them to come in, Annette brings in two plates with a trio of rolled up crepes into the room to set down at the table, smelling of roasted apples and fresh dough. "Thank you, dear.", he offers to her, which she accepts with a smile. "Bon appetite.", and then she is quick to hurry back out, closing the door behind her.

Inesse smiles broadly at the peck on her forehead and she gestures toward the bench, "Can we settle down there?" If the man agrees, a young lady will move to sit down on the bench. She will wait for Laurentin to join her and then, if he will allow, she will slide to cuddle to his side and wrap her both arms around his arm, and lean her head on his shoulder. Of course, that would be done after the meal is brought and a proper thank you is offered to Annette. And, of course, if Laurentin will not rush off to grab the meal. Inesse's eyes will study the steam raising from the warm refreshments but that is all. Instead, she would ask. "Sometimes I feel as if my dreams are real. Do you think our dreams can be real? Where the dreams come from? Why do we dream?"

Nope, Laurentin will not rush off to get the food, even when Annette is out of sight. Setting himself down beside her, he does not mind her cuddling with him. Her questions? It leaves him quiet for a moment, as if he is considering her questions, tilting his head a little. "You keep asking that.", he finally observes. "Sometimes, yes. I think that sometimes, very very rarely, our dreams are prophetic. That they show us the future. Or one possible future. Perhaps it is one of the gods who grant us them, then. But more often then not? No. They are not _real_ in the sense that they truely exist.". A glance at the young woman. "They are things that we think about, in a way?", he tries to explain. "Things that you have half forgotten. Or try to forget, that then come back to remind you that you have not resolved them yet. There is /meaning/ to them, but it is not like what you see is real. If you see a bear chasing you, does not mean you will meet a bear that will eat you. But it might mean you are afraid of something that will catch up to you, and if it does, that it will maul you, figuratively.", he smiles. "Meaning that you will hurt if it happens, though perhaps not even physically, but your heart might.".

Inesse seems to be more than happy to simply cuddle with a man whose wisdom leaves a stronger and stronger impression on her with every word of his. She squirms a bit trying to settle in more comfortably. Her eyes closes down and she nuzzles her head into the man's shoulder. A quite 'mhm' leaves her throat to inform Laurentin that her attention is still on his voice. Once his explanation comes to an end, Inesse has more questions ready. One, to be more exact. "Would you mind telling to me about your own most interesting dream? I know that you do not dream much but still. Do you have more scary or more beautiful dreams?" After a short pause she throws a few more questions. "Why did you come to Marsilikos? Are you plan on staying?"

With her cuddling, Laurentin finally moves slightly on the bench, and if she lets him, will scoot back a little so he can guide her to lay down on the bench with her head resting against his thigh, soon to use his fingertips to gently brush over her brow, the side of her cheekbones and occasionally to use his fingers to comb through her hair, further seeking to relax her. The question about his own dreams? It is sidestepped when she distracts herself with asking the other questions. "I have been traveling for several years, studying in Ch'in.", he tells her, softly. "I have kept in contact with letters and one of my dearest friends had moved to Marsilikos just before I decided to return home. She invited me to stay with her and her family, and so I took her up to the offer and when she told me of the Salon she works with…", he gestures around a little, "…I decided to do so as well. So yes, I do plan to stay here for the foreseeable future. At least as long as I am still fit to serve Naamah. We shall see afterwards.", he lets her know. A slight tilt of his head at the young Baphinol then. "What about you? You are a young woman now, what are your plans for yourself?".

She does lay down her head on the man's thigh and seems to enjoy his play on her skin and in her hair. Her breathing becomes slow and deep, very relaxed. However, after a few moments allowing the man to brush her hair, Inesse reaches for his hand and entwines her fingers with his own, and she brings that arm of his as some sort of a blanket, to go over her shoulder, wrap her up, lay on her side, and then she tightly hugs the man's arm as one would hug the corner of the blanket before sleep. "I am glad to hear that you will be staying. I would like to spend more time with you. More often. If you will be available, that is." She explains. "I do not have any plans for myself, though. I am here with my mother and I will do what my mother will ask of me. I simply want her to be happy and proud of me. Maybe… this is the reason why I spend my time at home, and now here. But I am not going out much. I am a bit afraid to meet others and then… what if they will lead me out of the way, you know? But this is not about me! You did not tell me about your most vivid dream…"

Grabbed is he, the young girl to turn to her side, and Laurentin is left to stop his light touches for now. Well, at least with one hand. Once she settles, he just brings his other hand over, though there is little he can do but to lightly slide fingers through her hair, gently. Oh, he is aware that she might be in the danger of just dozing off, but that seems to be something he is willing to risk, for it seems what the young Lady wishes the most right now. Naamah's service is not always passion, often it is simply compassion. Is it what her mother was planning for the night? No, but then she is not here, is she?

"You cannot hide from others just because there is risk in meeting them.", he lets her know. "They are those who will want to lead you astray, I doubt that not, but you cannot hide. Ships are save in the harbor, Inesse, but that is not what ships are made for. They are made to sail out to sea, and you are not made to hide at home, behind the skirts of your mother.". It might sound like a harsh thing to say, if not for the calm, steady tone of his voice. As she points out that he did not tell her his dreams, Laurentin smiles at that. "Dreams are secrets. They are glimpses of what is hidden from everyone, sometimes even ourselves. I could tell you a lie, but that is not who I am.", he tells her. "I am sorry, Lady Inesse, but my dreams are my own.".

"Awww…" Inesse squirms and cuddles to the man's arm even more. "Why… I… understand…" Her words grow slow and very calm. "Though, will you see my dreams?" She smiles at the question. "I don't mind. I have nothing to hide. Though, the fact that you are so protective of your dreams tells me that you even more interesting than I thought. You have something out there, what you treasure so much! I hope that one day you will want to share it with me." She tells and then inhales a decent bite of air. She holds it up and then exhales together with a request. "Could I sleep beside you tonight? I apologize, but I feel so tired. Those days were so terrifying and tense, and full of people, and a noise. I do enjoy only hearing your voice and the beat of your heart. It's like a music. Do you mind?" She turns to lay on her back and be able to look into the eyes of Laurent. Though, her own obsidian gaze is quite tired, the eyelids seem to be quite heavy. But the smile on her features is light and honest.

Her speculation about why he wishes to not share those dreams with her? It draws the eyes of Laurentin, and he shakes his head a little. "If you wish me to see your dreams, I most likely will.", he tells her, even as she turns to face him, lied back on her back, for once to let eyes meet her. As for her request? He has to smile at that. "Of course you may, though you may sleep too deeply for any dreams to come forth. Sometimes it takes more than one night for it being a success.", he admits. He starts to shift then, to slide out from under her head, to stand beside the bench, and he will try to slide an arm under her knees, and one under her back to lift her off the bench, if she allows, to carry her around the fish tank partition, and to the bed, canopied in that dark blue drapes. "There is no need to be terrified here. Just lay down, get comfortable, snuggle under the covers and I will turn out the lamps and join you…".

With that he will do just that, turn out most of the lamps save the one under the fish tank and one single one on the nightstand next to the bed, slip off the silken shirt of his, before seeking to slip under the covers with her, to pull her close to let her sleep, rest as she will.

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