(1310-11-20) Insults and Instruments
Summary: Étienne and Symon discuss Kusheline manners and then Étienne shows Symon the relationship between dance and sword play to the music of Symon's recorder.
RL Date: Wed Nov 21, 1310; Mon Nov 26 1310
Related: Supper Scrounging After Party Another Fine Sip
symon etienne 

Noble District

The Avenue Mereliot connects the Noble District with the Place des Mains through another archway, and those looking upwards when passing through beneath it will be able to admire a variety of Eisandine family crests painted there: The seahorse of House Rousse, the winged dragon of Delaunay, the green ship of House Eresse, the star on red of House Baphinol and the crest of Valais. Initially, this district was meant for townhouses of Eisandines alone, but over time, occasionally visiting nobility from other provinces needed housing as well. While Eisandine townhouses tend to be the property of the families that hold them, there are various houses available for rent. And yet even these rented houses will show the most exquisite interior, in part left there by previous inhabitants over time, and in part enhanced by the tastes of their current residents. Several avenues adjoin to the central plaza, each offering housing to visiting families of one province.%r%rTo the west is where the impressive Opera de Marsilikos can be found, a local theatre that had once belonged to a renowned theatre company hired by a former Lady of Marsilikos. There has been a change of ownership a few years ago, and now the place flourishes, with varying plays and opera pieces in their repertoire. Not far from the theatre is the ancient wine cellar, a place where connoisseurs can taste a variety of Eisandine wines, and stronger spirits.

Étienne stalks along, lips pressed tight and pale with suppressed fury, his fingers holding the book parcel string balled up around it like a fist.

Symon chances a look in Étienne's direction. "You seem angry," he says. "I didn't catch everything you w…were saying to the others."

Étienne growls, "That fusty nut with no kernel! That Sheep-biting, Earth vexing Ban-Dog! I wanted to pin his hand to the table with my eating knife for how he spoke to you!"

Symon looks taken aback by this sudden fury, pulling back a little and blinking at Étienne. "Oh," he says, then laughs faintly. "W-well. He's a p…pompous ass, of course, b-but I've had w…worse. It's all right."

Étienne stops and turns to look at him, "It's not right, him mocking how you talk and calling you simple for it. You deserve better!"

Symon seems not to know whether to be touched or amused. "Oh," he says. "W-well. I was p…partly p-playing for sympathy, to tell the truth. Since he w…was being so insulting. I did m…make a mistake. I've no idea who he is and I didn't listen that carefully to his introduction. His w…wife seemed m-more interesting. And the other fellow! One of your countrymen, eh?"

Étienne calms somewhat, "He was very insulting. It is easy to get confused when meeting lots of new people at once, and it would have cost him nothing to correct the error without… being a bat fowling Swaggering Elf-skin." He takes a deep breath and starts walking again, "The Lady and the handsome man are from very important family back home, and seems amiable enough. I just… do not like seeing a friend abused."

Symon laughs faintly. "I like how you curse," he says, and adds, "Anyway, I agree. And b-being humble didn't work at all, did it?" It's unclear whether he was entirely unaffected by the insults or whether it's only that Étienne's anger on his behalf has improved his mood dramatically. It's also possible that he is still smarting and only putting on a brave face. "I m-mean. W…what was I supposed to say to him, anyway?"

Étienne flashes him one of those boyish smiles, all dimples ad sunshine. "If one is going to do a thing, it ought to be done all the way, I think." He ponders the question, "I'm not sure. I suspect that Kusheline wouldn't have been so incredibly rude if he weren't a very good swordsman indeed, and I'm not particularly up on the politics, but I'm pretty sure his house is dramatically more important than mine. I still seriously thought of challenging him on principal, but I suspect I'd have ended up skewered and disgraced to no good purpose." He studies him out of the corner of his eyes, "I suspect I am a better swordsman than you, and I think he was the sort to react badly to…anything he might have thought of as an insult to his dignity. I do not think you could have found a good response to an armed bully intent on making trouble. Stand up to him and he might inflict violence; do not and he behaves like a boorish knave." He says seriously, "I have not known you long, but I would have defended you if it had come to violence, Symon."

Symon raises a hand at the talk of challenges. "Oh," he says. "P-please don't do that. If you go around challenging p-people who are rude to me, you'll have to kill m…my whole family." His eyes sparkle humorously. "I am certain you are a b…better swordsman than me, b-but I've never m…met that fellow b-before so I'm sure I can avoid him in the future." He reaches out to clasp Étienne's shoulder. "How kind you are," he says. "B-but it's rare for anyone to really strike out at me. I've m…met few fights."

Étienne responds to the look in Simon's eyes as much as his words, "I suspect my arm would be very tired, it is true." He claps Symon's shoulder in response, turning to face him, "I am glad of that, though I would rather people met your kindness with kindness."

Symon smirks at Étienne. "I'm not always kind," he warns with amusement. "But I quite like you, anyway. And I think that's v…v…/very/ nice. The next time someone is b-being difficult to me I shall imagine you laying w…waste with your sword."

Étienne gives on of his warm chuckles, "Or roundly abusing them as they deserve." He cocks his head, "So which direction is this appointment of yours, or were you just looking to escape the swaggering prat?"

"Oh, I lied," Symon confirms cheerfully. "B-but had /you/ somewhere to go? Or should w-we go somewhere entertaining together?" He gestures at the city to indicate its possibilities.

Étienne's grin widens, "Oh, I was taking my self out of the way of temptation to violence… We HAD spoken of going somewhere there was music so I could show you how dancing and swordplay are cousins."

"Yes," Symon cries enthusiastically, clapping his hands together. "Let's do that. I w…wonder w-where is b-best for m…music where we w…won't be b-bothered by courtesans."

Étienne says, "I love that we are of one mind in not wanting to be bothered in that way.""

"Well certainly not w…while we're trying to concentrate on something," Symon says. "Otherwise they keep interrupting and m…make you feel guilty if you don't go off w-with them. /Hardly/ an environment for m…music or dancing."

Étienne says, "And it's a shame, because I have heard the music there is quite good… Or wait! Did you not say you were a musician? You could play and I could show you the steps. That way we might get less odd looks."

Symon laughs. "I did not so m-much say I was a m…/musician/. I said I p-play the recorder a little." He flashes a smile. "If that's w…what you /want/ I don't m-mind, /but/."

Étienne laughs along with him, "But it would mean you can not dance too, yes?"

"True," Symon agrees. "And I'd have to go and p-pick up a recorder at m…my house or somewhere. Do you think there's somewhere w…we could hire one?"

It is hard to tell from that innocently friendly expression if he means what he is saying or if this is innuendo, "Or we could simply go to your house and you could play there."

"Yes, all right," Symon says without seeming to spend any energy on trying to penetrate the meaning of that expression. "M…my one regret is not asking if m…my servant is m-musical. I still haven't asked, in fact. Shall we go and ask him together?"

Not at all far from where the Lady Oriane lives, Symon has his apartments. It seems a number of young noblemen reside here, at least part of the year, but not so many families. The appointments of these places are neither lavish nor humble. They are enough no keep one's standing. Symon leads the way up a flight of stone steps and pushes open the door. "Oh, Robert," he calls. "W…we have a guest, bring some w…wine if you please." It is evident that Symon has not been here long, since there is very little established decor, although there are plush rugs on the floor and there is comfortably stuffed furniture along with a few artfully scattered pillows in what appears to be a carefully calculated show of casual disorganization.

Étienne goes along with Symon companionably. When they arrive he looks about, "Oh! These are good! I wonder if there are vacancies." He had in fact been wondering if there might be wine, "Ah! Perfect! A little something for when our throats get dry."

"I think there m-may be," Symon says. "Lady Oriane helped m…me find it. And the servant." He seems entirely grateful and unsuspicious about this. "I'm sure she w…would help you, too." He seems amused that Etienne is grateful to have wine. "Oh, yes, I w…would never have a guest w…without wine."

Étienne doesn't seem to think anything odd about it, despite his original thought about Symon's intentions towards the Lady Oriane, now dispelled, "I think I'd like that. I will try to remember to ask. So where is your recorder?" There is still no sign in his expression as to whether this might be double entendre or not.

"Hm. Now. W…where did I leave it…" Symon asks himself, turning one way and the next. His servant, Robert, who is a middle-aged man of reserved demeanor and only half his hair remaining, enters bearing a tray with two glasses of wine, which he sets on a table.

"Shall I fetch it for you, my lord?" the servant asks, and Symon replies in the affirmative.

Étienne looks amused, "A man ought toknow what his recorder is doing." So apparently his aware of his suggestion for the evening's entertainment sounding dodgy. He doffs his cloak, folding it neatly and setting it aside, begins a series of businesslike stretches, presumably normal for sword practice.

"Oh, no, I never know w…where anything is," Symon replies, picking up a glass of wine and going to settle on a chaise lounge. "I can't imagine w…what it's like to live without a servant." He sees Etienne set the cloak aside and says, "Oh dear. I should've had Robert take that b-before he w…went." he looks down. I'm still w…wearing mine, too," he observes, and unbuckles the clasp. He was indeed drinking a bit rapidly at the Wine Cellar.

The stretches rather show off Étienne's calves, but that seems more a happy accident than intent. "I'm without just now, as mine was delayed in coming. While I'm at the Inn 'tis no matter, though it will likely prove inconvenient once I settle into rooms…. you have had a difficult evening, Symon. Let us hope it gets better now that you are home and comfortable." He has noticed the difference in Symon's speech between the heavy stutter in the Wine Cellar and his more fluent speech now, but it too wise to comment on it.

"Surely Robert can recommend someone. Robert!" Symon calls, and the servant appears with a turned-wood recorder in one hand.

"Yes, I am coming, my lord," the servant says, with a faint sigh in the tone. Which is perhaps forgivable as he thinks his employer is hustling him. When Symon asks for the recommendation, Robert more politely says that he can draw up a list of names of trustworthy men in need of a position. Meanwhile, Symon takes the recorder.

"Oh, w…would you take the cloaks, too?" he says, holding his own out. Robert comes to collect that, then the one Etienne removed.

Étienne says, "Oh! I've hopes of him turning up still, if the ship didn't go astray, but it might be an idea to hire someone short term." To Roberts he says, "Certainly there is no rush." He finishes stretching his arms and shoulders and shakes them a bit as athletes and dancers are apt to do between stretching and performing."

"You've got to have /someone/," Symon says. "You can't go on staying at the inn forever." He makes a gesture. "B-but of course you're w…welcome to stay here if you w…wish. I don't know how comfortable it is. B-but surely w…we could do something." He noodles a few notes on the recorder, eyeing this stretching. It has never occurred to him to stretch before doing anything.

Étienne now he is studying Symon trying to figure out whether or not this is a friendly invitation or something else, "I'd not want to put you out, Simon. I do like the idea of rooms in the building though." He dismisses the thought in favor of a quick sip of his wine, "Perhaps on of the slower dances, the better to let you see the movements."

<FS3> Symon rolls Recorder: Good Success. (5 7 8 7 4)

Symon is not giving any indication of any serious intention in the invitation. He pauses his playing to say, "If you change your m…mind, then." He starts in on a dance tune he remembers, something not too quick but popular. And he actually gets the notes right.

<FS3> Etienne rolls Dancing: Great Success. (6 8 4 7 6 4 7 8 8 1)

<FS3> Etienne rolls Blades: Amazing Success. (2 7 5 8 8 8 1 2 7 8)

Étienne stands relaxed for a few measures getting a feel for the tune. Then he starts to dance and dance beautifully. The grace with which he does most physical things becomes something truly special when he moves with purpose like this. There is something of delight in it even if he is only dancing by himself to recorder music in a friend's flat. "Watch the pattern of my feet, Symon." Gradually the pattern of the dance shifts so that he moves back and forth and circles, but the steps retain the perfect balance and poise of the original simple dance. "Now watch my chest and arms." His posture has always been excellent just walking around, and watching him dance it is obvious that it springs from hours of practice with sword and with dancing. Gradually his arms move from the stylized attitudes this sort of dancing requires to the more forward attitude of attack and parry, but there is a similarity to be seen in both forms and an underlying discipline. In one fluid movement, he draws his blade, and duels invisible opponents, only in the profound beauty of it, it is hard to tell which steps came originally from the dance and which from the practice yard. There is something between joy and serenity in his face and that particular expression is transformative. In this moment, perhaps, he displays a smidgen of the divine ancestry that still lives in his blood. Étienne d'Arguil was made to move and move this way.

These patterns of movement draw Symon's attention more effectively that anything yet to pass before his eyes in Étienne's presence. The greatest problem of playing a wind instrument, however, is that one cannot talk while doing so. In his reluctance to break the occasion for the movement, he puts off commenting, though from observing one region at a time he now follows the flow of each line of movement with his gaze.

As Symon plays on, Étienne slides back and forth between dancing and fighting, making the most of the simple music. He sometimes blends the foot work of the one and the arms of the other, until sometimes it becomes hard to tell which is which. Martial grace or warlike dance or oddly seductive fighting forms. Eventually, he whorls into a lunge, ending the performance with a huge grin for Symon. Once he catches his breath and has another sip of wine, he asks, "What do you think now?" He is loose limbed from the exercise, the colour is bright in his cheeks, and the scent of his sweat and cologne are stronger as he settles next to Symon on the sofa with his drink.

Symon stops playing on the jumped-up pennywhistle and sets it aside. "Ah," he says, leaning forward in excitement. "I think it is b…b…beautiful." He scoops up his wine glass and has a swallow followed by a sigh. "If fighting really w…were like that, I should have studied to b-be a man of w…war," he says, looking on Étienne in a new light of admiration. "You m…must be tired. I w…want to try to do it m…myself at some point. P-pity we haven't a whole b-band of m…musicians. B-but they'd be a b-bother anyway."

Étienne chuckles, "I fear I am not musical, or I would play so you could try it." He sips watching Symon over the rim, I could show you some steps without the music if you liked?"

Symon half-suppresses a smile, looking giddy at the thought. "I'm dying for it," he says, setting his glass aside. "B-but you m…must take as long as you need to catch your b-breath. If you feel hungry, or w…want a towel or anything, I w-will call Robert. There is always something in the p-pantry."

Étienne gives him a vulpine grin, "I'll just get sweaty again in a minute, so no point in toweling off until we're done. Why don't you stretch a little first and I'll be ready then."

"And shall I call you Dancing M…Master or Swordmaster?" Symon wonders as he pops up to his feet, smiling as he reaches both hands over his head and then lets them drop, bending forward at the waist. Then he stretches through the hips and hamstrings, sticking out one leg, then the other. It seems he is comfortable in movement, though he may not have the divine grace of his companion.

Étienne laughs again, "Oh Etienne or Tien's fine. Think of it as dancing together, rather than study. If you approach it as playing instead of working, it is more fun." His tone is light, but he is studying Symon's movements, trying to figure out where Symon was in his studies when he left off and how in shape he is. That Symon stretches well and seems to know what he is doing is a good sign. He set his drink aside and does a few more stretches himself, in case the break has tightened him up, leisurely so as ot to rush Symon.

Symon is perhaps in some shape to dance, but in no particular shape to fight. He lacks the thickly-layered muscle of one who regularly swings a sword with serious intent. "Oh, good," Symon says. "P-play is m…my one true skill. If it is a game, then I have hope." He makes a playful turn on the spot, one embroidered shoe on a medallion of the rug the pivot point for his movement. "One of m…my favorite friends, she used to b-be an Eglantine dancer, you know."

Étienne says, "I fear I can not compete with your Eglantine." Looking over Symon's arms and torso, he keeps his sword where it is, the goal being not to tire Symon out, but to make this first time fun. "You and I are men of… less lofty build. We can not rely on reach or brute strength. For us it will always be a matter of speed and movement. Dancing is good, for it makes one light of foot and builds endurance. When we are up against large men, we keep moving. We wear them down and as they tire, they leave openings. A big strong man is stone. you and I are water, flowing around and wearing a gully in even the largest mountain." He shakes out and turns to face Symon, "Let's start with a Branle, just as you'd do at a ball, only, obviously, we have not ladies, to form the figure. Just pretend I am your partner and there is another couple in the two other compass points." He straightens into the correct dancing position and holds his hand up above his head for Symon to meet with his own like the other half of an arch."

<FS3> Symon rolls Dancing: Success. (6 3 4 3 5 5 2 4 7)

Symon lets out a faint laugh. "You m…must not talk of m-me as though I have any hope as a swordsman," he says. "It is too late for that. My b-brother did w…well enough. B-but my sword tutor w…was only ever in a fury w-with me." Despite that, he does seem to be listening. Water. He nods. As skeptical as he is of swords, court dancing he understands perfectly well. A simple opening figure. He raises his hand the way one is supposed to, to form the arch, doing nothing particularly creative with the movement. But it is correct, and his posture good. Erect, but not uptight.

Étienne rolls his eyes, "Which can't have helped. Having someone endlessly yelling isn't apt to make one relax and being relaxed helps. At the beginning, the point is to do the movement so often correctly you can do it without thinking later when you are excited or frightened or under threat. It is like practicing dance steps over and over so often that you don't need to think about where your feet are. Yelling will not lend anyone grace, better to gently correct the angle of the foot, the bend of the elbow, and go slow until it is right." Hand on hip, he hums a popular tune in the right meter, well enough to be recognized and goes through the steps of the pattern, the little hops and turns and the back and forth. He smiles at symon, all encouragement with a hint of the playful.

"He never mentioned grace," Symon replies. The familiar movements of the dance give him no trouble and he looks encouraged and joyful. But he is one who lives comfortably in play and joy. No other thoughts intrude upon the movement.

Étienne says, "A sword master ought to suit the lessons to the learner… All right, now I'm going to show you a variation of the steps. Watch my feet." He still moves in the stylized circle, but where the spins and hops should be there are a set of steps that one could imagine being used to step out of the way of a blade, or to jog in closer. "See if you can mirror me as I go half speed.""

<FS3> Symon rolls Dancing: Failure. (2 6 2 3 6 2 3 6 2)

"W-well they don't, I can tell you with certainty," Symon says, with amusement rather than bitterness. He watches the foot figure closely and attempts to follow, but without grace. The rhythm is all wrong, a foot goes in front when it should go behind, and that leads to a trip, so that Symon grasps Etienne's arm to stay upright. "P-perhaps it w…was unwise to have so much w-wine before starting," he says with a laugh in his voice.

Étienne catches Symon and steadies him, still all warm friendly smiles, "Perhaps. How much had you had before I came? Slower then, a step at a time. You can get it." He suits action to word, going one step at a time and gently, correcting where needed. he is perfectly cheerful and patient, encouraging instead of angry or mocking.

"I never keep track," Symon replies breezily, shifting his focus to follow where Étienne leads, one step at a time. Eventually it does come more easily and correctly "Ahhh," he says. "It goes b-behind. And then…" He puts together the next steps. "Faster, then."

Étienne gradually increases the speed each time they move through the figure, "Ah, that very well could be the problem then, Symon, still I think this style suits you. If you'd had a sensible teacher…."

Symon chuckles at the idea. "I don't know about that," he says. "B-but…I like the lesson." He looks to Etienne's shape. "Show m…me again, how you did it b-before. I feel like a clumsy calf. I w…want to see it again p-properly."

Étienne touches him lightly on the arm and says seriously, cornflower eyes fixed on his, "You aren't clumsy. I've just had a lot more practice than you at these particular steps." He seems to be searching for something in Symon's expression, though for what is not clear. Then he steps back and does the figure at full speed, humming along to aid the effect.

Symon just smiles openly back at Étienne. "How w…wonderful," he pronounces the full figure he is shown. "Yes," he determines, "W…we shall b-be excellent friends. And you m…must show it to me again w-when I have more than the dregs of my w…wits, eh? I w…want to m-move like I saw you do," he says, imitating one of the motions of chest and arms Etienne showed earlier. "Intoxicating, absolutely."

Etienne flashes him one of his warmest smiles, "We can practice whenever you like."

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