(1310-11-11) Supper Scrounging After Party
Summary: Symon introduces Étienne to a local vintage.
RL Date: 11/16-11/18 2018
Related: The Society for the Scrounging of Supper.
etienne symon 

Wine Cellar

Stairs lead down to the heavy oak door, above which the sign of the place, the likeness of a Hellene amphora spilling over with wine painted upon wood, swings lazily in the occasional breeze. Beyond that door the entrance hall comes into view, where various kegs and casks of differing sizes are arranged in oenological allure before the roughly hewn walls of ancient stone. There is a chill down here on hot summer days, that will be efficiently battled in the colder months through the heating of a giant hearth to the back. The place has a decidedly cavernous character, alcoves to the left and right offering seating at small tables for two or three. Lamps are dangling by chains from the ceiling, shades of milky glass work from La Serenissima offering sufficient lighting. There are no visible windows, which means lamps will be in use even during the day.

Further to the back there is a small hallway branching off from the main area, leading to a medium sized chamber where the bigger barrels are stored. Here, a larger group of up to eight people can sit about a round table of heavy oak, while they are being served the rarer vintages or even the heavier spirits that are stored in a wooden cabinet to the back. Staff is mostly male, clad in black breeches and white shirts with dark red vests, knowledgeable sommeliers of superior training that will be glad to wait on guests in person and offer insight into the variety of wines, red and white, from Terre d'Ange and a variety of specialties from abroad, that are available here.

"Everyone comes here," Symon is saying along the way. It seems that he enjoys having someone even newer than himself to give the tour of the city to. Or at least the tour of a respectable wine den. "Sailors, giants. All inexplicably noble. And the w…wine is really not b-bad, though Lady Oriane's is b…better. W-which m…makes it w-worth going to her house for supper even if she tries to m…marry you off." He eyes Etienne. "Or are you m…married already?"

Étienne gives him a wicked grin, "Oh I'm not married, despite an army of relatives trying to arrange it. I take it you aren't? It is really kind of you to show me around. I've barely got my land legs back".

"No, b-but m…my days are numbered," Symon presages with a hand gesture, leading Étienne to a table in a dimmer corner. When a steward passes near, he orders a bottle of his favorite vintage and two cups. "Since my b…brother died. I'm all that's left. Even though I w…was the oldest in the first p-place. You like w…wine, of course?"

Étienne sighs, "Mine too. I'm also an heir and they'll be wanting me to start the next generation, since my brother is likely to be the last, my mother getting on a bit." He studies Symon, expression serious, "I am truly sorry about your brother. I know I'd be… not well if anything happened to my brother or sisters." He may be a rustic with indifferent manners, but in this, he is tactful and sympathetic.. Gently, he touches Symon's hand, eyes expressing what words often fail to convey in times of grief for several long moments. then the hand is withdrawn, "I do like wine, yes, and I've tried so few of the local offerings. Please order for us. I trust your taste." A glint of those good strong teeth.

Symon blinks once at Étienne, then looks away briefly. "Oh," he says. "W-well. Thank you." He looks back to Étienne, seeming somewhat surprised by such an expression from someone he's only just met. He smiles, then. "W…we had our difficulties, you know." The wine is delivered just about then, poured for each of them from Symon's selected bottle. "Try it," he encourages. "I think the w…wine in this region is agreeable."

Étienne nods, "Every family does, of one sort or another…. I have heard the grapes here are particularly blessed." He takes a sip, closing his eyes the better to really focus on tasting that first sip. He tastes his time with it. After some thought, he swallows and opens them again, "It really is quite nice, rich and…rounded. Not too sweet." He gives Symon a warm smile, "I will not press you, but I will listen if you want to talk about it. I am a stranger, but sometimes strangers are best for such things."

Symon sips from his glass, then smiles once again at that offer. "No, thank you," he replies. "B…but you m…mean it, don't you? I think that's v…v…very nice. Are you nice to everybody?"

Étienne nods yes, with that open, honest face that hides so little, "Not to everybody, no, but I find it makes sense to treat people decently as long as they haven't demonstrated a need for the opposite." He shrugs, "I know what our reputation is, but fighting for no reason when one can drink and make friends makes no sense to me."

Symon shakes his head. "Oh, no, you m…must understand, I never have any idea who anybody is or w…what I'm supposed to think of w…where they're from. Unless I've heard it in some gossip. I skipped m-most of my lessons, you know." He leans back in his seat. "B-but I do think you're right. I like to b…be nice. I love to hear p-people's stories."

Étienne is all mischief, "I was not much a one for books either. Are you a disappointment too? That's why I'm here. Not warlike enough for my father; not bookish enough for Mother and Grandmère." He grins, leaning forward, "I like to hear people's stories too."

"Yes," Symon says cheerfully. "It sounds as if w-we are cut from just the same cloth. And I like such p-people around me! I m…must introduce you to the p-p-pirate hunter. He's full of stories. And he p-plays cards. Do you?"

Étienne says, "I'd very much like to meet him, and play cards, though I'm not very good."

Symon nods decisively as he swallows a mouthful of wine. "It's settled," he says. "You shall b-become one of m…my friends and I shall introduce you to all the m…most interesting p-people. I'm still new to town b-but. I've m…met some gems already. You m-must know them."

Étienne gives him one of his open, utterly guileless grins, "I'd like that, Symon." he lifts his glass, "To new friends! Let us drink deep and well together and have adventures!"

Symon lifts his glass with a merry laugh. "Glad to have that established," he says, and has a glug of the wine. "Do you frequent the courtesans m…much?" he asks. "I'm known for being a b-bit p…peculiar in not liking the Night Court enough, b-but I've b…been a couple of times."

Étienne drinks deep himself, "I've never been. Berk's too small to have a house." He cocks his head, fascinated, "What was it like? The Night Court?"

Symon purses his lips while he considers his response. "The first time…rather b-boring, to tell the truth," he answers at last, pausing to refresh himself before going on. "I actually m…met someone else there and left. B-but the second time I went to the Glycine… I suppose that doesn't really count. Does it? W-well. M…maybe it does. B-but there were courtesans there, and I liked at least one of them. Not necessarily for sleeping with. P-particularly. Although she was lovely. In that she w-wasn't too lovely, that is. I don't know. Anyway, the gambling was great fun.

Etienne pours them more wine as he listens. "The Glycine? Is that one of the houses? Remember, I'm a stranger. Oh! I'd heard there are games at some of them." He sips, thinking, "I am not sure I'd have wanted to either. Sex is pleasant and a blessing but… I'm not sure it's a thing I'd want to pay for it, even though courtesan is a noble profession."

"They have games of chance, there," Symon says. "Oh," he says, "It's all right to p-pay for it once in a w-while. They know w…what they're doing, absolutely. B-but it's not m…much of a challenge. And they tend to p-pick the p…prettiest, b-but I don't think that's always the m…most interesting."

Étienne, not being the prettiest himself, though good looking in a young man sort of way can only nod his agreement. "I like… knowing people. First, I mean." He runs a long calloused fingertip along the edge of his glass, his eyes going vague and unfocused if he looks for the right words, "They are there to be… whatever the customer wants. I'd rather know the person and have them be… themselves, if that makes sense. Even if that's messier."

Symon looks as though he is considering whether or not that is reasonable, but at last he nods. "I think I know what you m…mean. I don't know if I'm really the same. B-but I like w…when p-people like me." He follows that up with a smile. "W…with a courtesan, even though they don't have to go w-with you, you never really know w-what they think."

Étienne looks relieved, "Exactly! That's a big part of it, I think. Sex is nice, but mutual liking is better. Or makes sex better. Or something." He waves his hand vaguely.

Symon finishes off his glass. "Yes," he says. "And it's so m…much more exciting, trying to w-win someone over or…not knowing w…what they'll do or say. I like excitement." He waves a hand. "Really, though, you m-mustn't w…worry about being a p…provincial— Oh, that reminds me, w-will you go to the capital for the Longest Night?"

"And I am here for the excitement, whatever my relatives might think. I want to drink every drop of adventure there is to be had. I would love it if you showed me around."

"Yes," Symon says decisively, pointing one finger at Etienne without releasing the stem of the glass. "Of course. You m…must come. I'm going along w-with a dear friend, b-but either she'll let you come along or you can m…meet us there and I'll show you around. I love the capital. It has everything."

Étienne's grin widens, "Oh that would be perfect, Symon! I've been dying to really see somewhere interesting and you seem like the right sort of man to know where the adventure is."

"I p-promise," Symon says before sharing a sly smile at their plan. "W-we shall do everything that interests us and see all the sights. I'm having new clothes m…made for the event, too. I can't w-wait, really."

Étienne cocks his head, "Do you think I ought to get new clothes too? I've noticed the cuts here seem different. What sort of event is it?" He leans closer in his excitement, "We really are well met!" He studies the other man, debating if he should ask. After a sip of his wine he asks casually, "So you are great friends with the Lady Oriane?"

Symon looks approvingly at Etienne's garb. "Your clothing is all right," he says. "Only there's a great deal of m…merriment, you know. B-but there's scarcely time to get anything new m-made anyway. So you m…might just come as you are this year." He refills his glass and sits back, contemplating it. "Rather," he decides. She's from Siovale like I am. So I've b-been going to her p-parties for ages. And she helped m-me find a servant here."

Étienne blushes very slightly, "This is my very best outfit. I was hoping to make a better impression on her than I did, I fear." He studies the other man, "I've… always admired what I have heard of her, but she is… a bit alarming in person and I fear I made rather a mess of it."

Symon waves a hand to dismiss this care. "Oh, I shouldn't w…worry about it, really. Old p-people are always stern, aren't they? They think of us as children, anyway."

Étienne sighs sadly, "But she is a famous beauty, and a great lady, and a… character out of song and story. I… had hoped for less sternness. Or something."

"Song and story?" Symon repeats, and shrugs vaguely. "B-but really she's quite all right w-when you know her. I've known her so long perhaps I've forgotten w…what it w-was like to m-meet her."

Etienne nods earnestly, "I'd never met anyone famous before. So are you… courting her?"

Symon's eyes go round and it seems that he is struggling not to spit out his wine. He swallows at length and then gives a laugh dried out from the difficulty of not choking. "You don't m…mean that? She's lovely, but she's ancient!"

Étienne watches this reaction with a not unkind amusement, "She is also quite the most elegant person I've ever met and still lovely. She is also known for attracting the gallant attention of a younger man. It was a great romance, still sung of." He leans forward, dropping his voice, "I admit, when I saw you lounging about so familiarly, I thought history might be repeating itself and I've been itching to find out for hours if it was true."

Symon beholds Étienne very suspiciously. "B-but she can't have children, so w-what's the p…point? Of courting, I m-mean. Anything else…" He looks dubious about the thought. "I've never b-been with someone so old. Have you?"

Étienne's mischievous grin widens further, "For the pleasure of it, Symon, and for the… the romance of it." He shakes his head, "I've tumbled some people back home, but all my age. I'd be honored to be desired by someone like that though, whatever the age. It would be a kind of immortality, wouldn't it? Even if one were only a footnote."

Symon does not seem at all convinced, but he does seem amused. He smirks and his one raised eyebrow does not lower as he shakes his head. "P-perhaps I haven't heard the legends in detail," he says. "And there's the m…matter that m-my family tends not to get on w-with hers."

Étienne's eyes go wide, "Oh! I hadn't realized. I'm not very up on Siovalese politics, being not much for my studies." After some thought he adds speculatively, "Of course, that would make an even better song: star-crossed lovers and all that!"

Symon chuckles and shakes his head, drinking deep from his cup. "You really are too m…much," he says. "Lord Étienne, w-wasn't it?" he seeks to confirm. "Forgive me, I'm just terrible w…with names. W-which a noble really shouldn't b-be. And yet."

Étienne laughs warmly, nothing mocking in it, and drinks deep of his own cup before pouring them each more, "Just Étienne, please. If we are to be friends, lets not fuss about with titles." He touches the back of the other man's hand lightly, "I will stop if it is making you uncomfortable. I just… always imagined her surrounded with handsome young suitors when I was listening to tales of her growing up." The compliment is there in his tone and his eyes. Then his hand is withdrawn and he is drinking more wine, carefree as a sea bird and as innocent of malice.

"Excellent," Symon proclaims. "Étienne, then. Your health," he says, toasting with a half-empty glass. And he makes a dismissive gesture. "It's no harm to m…me, only it's rather funny. B-but I like amusing friends."

Étienne drinks, all easy going smiles, "And to yours!" He drinks again. Then he cocks his head, "Funny how? And I will do my best to be amusing to justify your kindness."

Symon chuckles at that, too. "Just b…be yourself," he invites warmly, not mockingly. "It comes naturally to you. So how do you enjoy yourself w…where you come from?"

Étienne smiles back, all dimples and unconscious charm, "Oh, the usual: Riding, swimming, sailing. And what are your usual pursuits?"

Symon tilts his head to one side. "Mmmmm…I don't m-mind a hunt from time to time, b-but I like to hear m…music, and p-people reading p…poetry, I like to p-play a bit, I like to gamble, I like to dance m…most of all."

Étienne grins, "Oh! I like those best of all! Except the playing. I've not an ounce of musical talent in my body. But dancing? My very favorite!"

"I never said I w-was talented," Symon points out playfully. "Do you really like dancing? I find a lot of noblemen complain about it. B-but really it's great fun."

Étienne aims those intensely blue eyes at Symon, "Oh! you will have to play for me so I might judge for myself, and yes I love dancing. It is like sword play only with a goal of mutual delight instead of the drawing of blood, and thus more to my taste."

Symon tilts his head. "M…maybe," he allows. "If we have some others around to join in. I only p-play the recorder, you know." He sits back and sips his wine. "My you p-put that p…prettily," he praises.

Étienne nods, "Alone or with others, I would like to hear you sometime." He sits back and sips, an unconscious mirroring, cheeks colouring either with wine or the compliment, "I'm not so good with words but, it's something I have thought on quite a bit."

Étienne cocks his head, "I honestly forgot, talking to you, and I find your accent charming." He shrugs, "It feels good the way dancing feels good when I do the forms or have a spar with the right partner. I do not love the sword the way I would have to to be really good, nor am I so in love with death as to flirt with her, but it is the same thing underneath really, dancing and sword play if you forget the end of the latter."

"M…most p-people get used to me," Symon replies cheerfully. "B-but you are a quick study indeed." He listens to what Étienne has to say, but looks as though he is not certain he agrees. "M…maybe my sword teacher should've said that."

Étienne gives that warm chuckle of his, "I could show you if you like. We needn't even have sticks. If you know somewhere there is music, I could show you how the one is akin to the other."

"Sometime," Symon agrees. "Not tonight, though. We m…must save something, after all. You've somewhere to stay I hope?" He mentions his own address. "You m…may come and see me or send a m-message anytime. I can tell we shall b…be great friends."

Étienne nods, "Tonight we are warm with wine. Such things are best done with a clear head. Or clearish at least." A quick smile, "I have hopes of that as well."

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