(1310-12-14) Discovering Opposites
Summary: It's unclear who is amusing whom when Philomène and Drake invade Orchis on a tour of Mont Nuit.
RL Date: 06/01/2019
Related: None
philomene drake genevieve 

House Orchis — Mont Nuit

Giggles and merry chatter can often be heard in the halls of Orchis House, and this impression is certainly enhanced by the interior of its salon. Colorful cushions with expressive patterns add to the comfort of seating, chairs and couches, the armrests of which have been carved with masks and laughing faces. High windows give the room a brightness during the day, while on evenings and nights there are lamps at the walls, each lampshade painted a different color, that add to a certain wild and festive atmosphere.

The floor sports parquetry of polished oak timber, but in fact, most of it is hidden beneath a variety of plush carpets that are scattered all through the salon. At the far sides of the hall, facing each other are two generously cushioned swings suspended from the ceiling, each offering space enough for three. It is not a rare thing for visitors to try them out, in the merry company of an Orchis or two.

There are several utensils lined up in shelves at the walls - some are even stowed away in bright colored chests - to provide diversion and amusement, such as animal masks, odd looking garments, small puppets and children's games. It all adds to a lightness and agility of mind, where harmless fun can easily shift into wry humor, and bawdy ambiguities can swiftly become part of intellectually challenging satire.

When looking out of the windows, you see: It is a winter day. The weather is cold and fair.


House Orchis is well attended this afternoon; cleverly disguised braziers have warmed the space merrily and there are pockets of lively activity where both adept and patron alike are at play with light-hearted innocence. Even the chill light filtering through the windows seems to have taken on a festive air in the presence of such gaiety.

"I honestly have no idea," a woman's voice continues what appears to be an extended argument between the two patrons stepping into the house. How very sweet, it looks like a likely young fellow has been kind enough to bring his mother out to see the sights! Philomène, the woman in question, has a serene smile fixed on her face as she sweeps in, one hand appearing to be casually resting on Drake's arm until one sees the grip of those fingers, and she moves with an odd lurching gait. "But I'm sure her highness might like to know. Hello," she adds as they're greeted at the door.

The young fellow in question does have the slightly exasperated look of a put-upon son, "So which of the Houses is this? Do they have dancing nude women, like up at the Red Windmill?" he aks, not the thing one usually inquires of his mother. "Hello indeed." he also greets when they have stepped into the building. "Would you like to sit down after the taxing walk?" he adds, which is a thing one might inquire of his mother after all.

To say Geneviève nó Orchis is lying in wait for the next person to make an entrance would be entirely unfair and also entirely accurate. She's a riot in anything, but today it's a very suiting green gown embroidered playfully with intertwining flowers that sits just off her shoulders, revealing the very filial of her marque.

She lets an apprentice fluttering around make initial hellos, but the boy in question seems nonplussed by Drake's comment — she sweeps the apprentice to her, making quite a show of considering him, lifting limbs, expressive face relaying dismay as she mimes the dimensions of an hourglass shade in relation to the not-yet-adept, though his particularly taut derrière is presented as a potential asset in her silent appraisal.

"I don't know about nude, but we could figure him passing fair," she finally declares, giving the boy a motherly swat to the rear of dismissal and Drake an impish smile that rounds her cheeks. "Now, hm," feigning gravity, she circles around the couple, placing her hands lightly on Drake's shoulders and stage-whispering to Philomène, "do you mind if I borrow this?"

"Oh, /please/," Philomène insists with a smug smile, giving Drake a Look. "Borrow away, he's no bloody use to me." She releases the young man's arm in favour of the back of a chair, slowly and carefully lowering herself into it. "This one is… ah… Orchis," she decides after a moment or two to identify the house. "You did say you wanted to show her the local culture, and she has to like a laugh - she likes you, doesn't she?" she adds towards Drake with a smirk.

Drake looks a little confused when the local girl assesses the boy and declares him passing fair. "He is not a woman though. I prefer to watch women take off their clothes on stage, not boring boys." Philomène's remark makes him quirk a brow. "My, are we in fine form again, Mylady. May I remind how much of a laugh your first lesson on the lute was this morning?" He doesn't seem to mind being borrowing. If it gets him away from Philomène's sharp tongue and closer to undressed ladies, he's all for it!

"And I Geneviève nó Orchis," the courtesan — far, far closer to the other woman's age than Drakes's — declares, sharing a conspiratorial smirk with Philomène. The previous apprentice is at hand, making a grave show of pillow selection for the lady's comfort . "A young, strapping lad like this," she taps Drake's shoulders, just in case there's and question of the lad in question, "no use?" Another appraising once-over, hand tracing from his shoulder to chest as she walks around, twinkle in her eye, "Well, they tend not to be." She laughs merrily at the exchange between the two. "Come to loot Elua, is it?"

Philomène gives the apprentice the evil eye as she's pampered with cushions, wafting him away with one hand and rejecting cushions and all. "My lesson on the lute this morning was superb, I'll have you know, if it weren't for the teacher," she insists, although there's a definite hint of humour there. "I believe I invented the chord of H flat major. Geneviève, this is Lord Drake Rousse. He's a simple creature, but then he's a man, what do you expect."

"He's also a renowned lute player, popular with the girls from Tiberium to Marsilikos." Drake claims rather sourly at the introduction, "A pleasure to meet you, Miss Geneviève. This is Lady Philomène of the Acid Tongue and the Foul Temper or some similar very long name I just can't seem to memorize. She might want to put that strapping lad to use perhaps, though I believe she prefers them well-oiled and slightly more Carthaginian." he adds, nodding pointedly towards the pillow-fluffing assistant.

The apprentice doesn't seem put out by Philomène's terse manner, instead setting about carrying away this plethora of pillows by tucking them into increasingly unlikely places. The older courtesan chuckles again, lending her a bright air. "It isn't too hard to be popular with girls," Geneviève pronounces airly, curling a lock of Drake's red hair around a finger. "And you don't do yourself any credit by proving the Lady right as to your merits, Lord Rousse," she drawls brightly, patting his cheek, "though it sounds like you know what to pick up as a token on your next trip out of port." While she'd gladly be complicit in this game of haranguing all day, she claps her hands together enthusiastically. "Have you been upon Mont Nuit before?" she questions with a conspiratorial faux-whisper, eyebrows raising dramatically.

"The well oiled Carthaginian was entirely a figment of /your/ overactive imagination, not mine," Philomène reminds him, settling back and absently flexing her toes and ankles in her boots. "I simply told you that you're not my type. This is certainly my first time here," she answers the courtesan brightly. "Lord Rousse had asked my advice where to take his lady friend to show her the culture so I thought we'd try a little tour to see where would suit."

"Well, it seems I'm someone else's type." Drake grins smugly as the courtesan snakes herself around him and gets into his hair. "But while the lady is often wrong, she is right in that we're new to Mont Nuit and are, uh, seeing the sights, as it were. So if we could trouble you for some sort of tour or… introduction or…" He falters, not sure obviously what to expect.

Geneviève glances skeptically at herself and then to Philomène, back and forth, before settling on the Rousse with pointed grin, suggesting innocently as she flits away, "You're very sure it's not you who has you the type?" Theatrically, she indicates the main room of the House. The most risqué thing that seems to be occurring at the moment is an increasingly baudy, jesting debate between two adepts about the merits of a pair of patrons. "At Orchis, we say it is for a lark that Naamah lay with the King of Persis; if it is a lark you seek for you and your lady friend, we'll see you happier for it. I'm personally an enthusiast for word games; since you seem both so fond of the riposte, perhaps it would suit?" she suggests.

Philomène laughs easily. "A riposte implies a sharper instrument than Lord Rousse's wit, I fear. He's more a bludgeon than a rapier, hm?"

"It is very effective though." Drake replies, "As eventually every blunt object will wear the rapier down and blunt it. Nonetheless, while the riposte is indeed fun, I get plenty of that without having to trek up Mont Nuit and listen to this woman's complaints. Is there perhaps something you can offer that will only require us to lean back and -" Here he cuts a sideglance at Philo, "Be quiet?"

"Already knocking him from the piste before even an 'allez'!" Geneviève exclaims in faux-shock. "Well, short of a corps-à-corps, I've a few ideas." The apprentice, having dispersed the pillows to their rightful locations, is waved over and given a swift series of instructions, setting off with what appears to be a complete lack of seriousness. From her pockets, the courtesan produces several oval-shaped, juniper-wood encased sticks of compressed graphite and small notebook, which she flips open and pulls four sheets of fairly fine paper. One of the sticks and pieces of paper, she hands to the Rousse, gesturing him to take a seat on the nearby couch with some of Philomène's rejected pillows; the second set, she distributes to the other woman; the third, she keeps to herself, settling to the right of Drake.

"I shall pose a question; you shall write down your answer. You'll pass your sheet to the player on your right, who will write down the opposite of whatever it is you have written. Now, it's up to them to decide what 'opposite' means. Word by word, phrase by phrase. Whatever blunt implementation you can hammer out, Lord Rousse; I trust yours will be more nuanced, my Lady." The apprentice returns with three cleverly designed lap writing desks of polished wood, distributing them in a manner that's somehow insouciant. "Yvette will join us, I think," she proscribes, gesturing for the boy to go fetch the named adept.

Philomène murmurs a thank you for the desk, the paper and the pencil, settling in as though about to write an examination. Not that she's competitive. Much. The paper is shielded with one hand, pencil poised and ready in the other. "Now how exactly does one win this game? We simply write the opposite of the answer given? Is there a scoring system?"

Drake looks rather disappointed when no nude women are forthcoming in the near future. He opens his mouth, then shuts it as Philomène asks the pertinent questions, before opening it again: "I suppose the smartest response wins?" He looks to Geneviève for confirmation, "And what DOES one win, when one wins?"

"If you want to play for stakes, I'm sure those of Bryony House would love to accommodate; this is more a game for the pleasure of it." The courtesan gives Drake a knowing look, mirth-filled eyes sliding to the approaching adept; she's a lightly freckled brunette with the appearance of being slightly younger than the Lord. "This is Yvette — you'll join us for a game of opposites, won't you, love?" Geneviève prompts, gesturing her over and handing off the writing utensils to the girl, "I'm afraid you'll have to share a writing desk with Lord Rousse here. Do take care he doesn't cheat," she advises in an undertone.

"I thought we weren't playing for stakes?" Yvette inquires, settling herself to the other side of Drake. I mean, she's not nude, but it has to be an improvement?

"If you want to grant a boon, that's your prerogative; I am but humble purveyor of words. Now then!" Geneviève claps her hands together, "I'll prompt, we'll write. Once you've already passed it once, fold down the top of the sheet so the interpretations before yours aren't seen. There should only be one phrase visible at a time."

After a moment of thought, tapping the pencil to her lips, she grins broadly, prompting: "What exactly is it you think we do here, in the Night Court?"

Philomène considers, before querying, "Now do you mean specifically here, in this house, here, in Mont Nuit in general, or throughout the country? There's an important distinction." She idly turns her pencil in her fingers as she arches a brow and waits for an answer. "And here, we're to answer correctly, yes?"

Drake sighs and rolls his eyes. "Lady Philomène, it's a GAME. Don't overthink it. Just… write something. Let your imagination fly. Surely somewhere deep within you some shreds of that are still existent?" he asks hopefully and scribbles something on his sheet of paper with great flourish.

"All are valid interpretations; let's say Mont Nuit in general," Geneviève concludes for Philomène's sake, "though this is a game with no right answers. Opposites are impossible to grasp, which is rather the point; if there were one correct way to determine the opposite of something, there would be no game at all, eh?"

Geneviève scribbles something down, waiting for Philomène to complete hers before handing it onward. The apprentice from earlier is at hand to take the page from her and pass it down the line so as not to require the Lady to rise.

Yvette makes no effort to conceal her page from Drake, since he's the next to receive it, anyway. She gives him a coquettish grin when it's complete, pushing the paper to the other side of the desk with a single finger.

"Just because my imagination stretches further than young ladies dancing nude in front of me," Philomène retorts with an easy smile, scratching something on the paper. "I just like to be absolutely clear on what I'm doing before I start."

Drake just shakes his head and passes his piece of paper on to Geneviève, getting ready to receive the one from Yvette, who's sitting close to him.

All the papers are appropriately shifted, the apprentice bringing Philomène's sheet to Yvette, who promptly cracks up, putting a concealing arm over whatever the sharp-tongued woman has written.

Philomène accepts the paper from Geneviève, eyes it, then eyes the courtesan, then snorts quietly and curls a hand around the paper, ready to add her response to this. "And now we've to write the opposite beneath this? Should it still be true?"

Truth is as elusive as pure opposites," Geneviève non-answers, indecorously wrinkling her nose and grinning at Drake's response, "Be as literal or absurd as you like, my Lady Philomène, for I'm sure whatever it is shall be quite sufficient." She neatly folds the paper, response flowing from her hand without any of the thought the other woman seems to be sinking into the exercise.

It's a short note this time from Philomène. A few words, then the paper is folded and held out to be passed on. "So, Yvette," she asks conversationally, "Have you been here long?"

Drake unfolds Yvette's note, smirks slightly and writes something underneath, before he passes the note on.

Yvette eyes Philomène curiously, taking her paper passed along by the apprentice. "I've been fostered at Orchis since I was ten, but I debuted two-and-change years ago," she provides with a brilliant smile, only made brighter by reading what the woman wrote. "And yourself, my Lady? Where do such sharp tongues grow in Terre D'Ange?"

"Camlach," Philomène responds simply, carefully writing on her next piece of paper. "I think you'll find everything's sharp in Camlach. Although I'd like to think I've softened with time, don't you think, Lord Rousse? Nothing but a cuddly, fluffy pussy cat these days, hm?" She holds the paper between two fingers to pass it over. "Here."

"If a stone can soften to a slightly mossy and thereby softer stone, then yes." Drake replies with a mild shrug, feigning casualness his eyes on the paper in front of him. He then writes something underneath and passes it on.

Philomène sniffs. "If I wasn't so very fond of you, Lord Rousse, I'd be very upset. A mossy stone, indeed! Green is hardly my colour."

"Well, my dearest lady, I wouldn't go as far as to call you moldy, even though a nice creamy beige-brown might suit you well." Drake replies with his most charming smile, "Perhaps you might soften yet further into something warm and furry one would like to settle down in?"

"Like a peach," Philomène counters, grin playing about her lips. "Warm, and fuzzy, and sweet… with a heart of stone."

"I don'T know about sweet." Drake grins back, "But I suppose we can settle for that… for the time being, "And a peachy orange might suit your complexion. You know…" He leans in to say something quietly.

The boy takes charge of Philomène paper, bringing it to the adept, who giggles heartily at its contents. "Ah, that does suit," Yvette admits mildly to Philomène's heritage.

Geneviève provides with a quirk of her expressive brows, "A sword with worn edge is still a sword. That is to say, tempered."

Both Orchis members pass their papers onwards, having committed their witticisms to them, the exercise coming full circle.

Philomène laughs, eyeing Drake. "Well, if I'm cramping your style, perhaps I ought to leave you to it, Lord Rousse. Oh, marvellous, more paper," she adds as she accepts the next one. "Is this where the hilarity begins?"

Drake sticks his tongue out at Philomène "You know EXACTLY what I mean, Mylady!" he chides… gently. And as the papers are passed around again, he perks a little. "We should be full circle now, right?"

"Presumably!" Geneviève retorts to Philomène. "Go ahead and unfold them," she instructs, "and we'll see if any of us are amusing at all." Her tone conveys this might not be the case. "My Lady Philomène, if you'll start us off?"

Philomène unfolds her paper, clearing her throat and leaning her head back a little to read. "Lord Rousse… I recognise your writing here. Big words, hm?" She smirks. "Ahem. Overcharge for the appearance of companionship, while insisting it's a religious experience. Deny reasonably free total devotion, not saying a word about athetistic expressions. Set fire to people using too many big words." She glances to Drake meaningfully. "Extinguish ice on animals without few letters." That read, she rolls the paper and glances between those gathered, raising a brow.

With only four players, it's easy to tell whose handwriting is whose, so Drake just chuckles at Philomène's words. "They -are- rather big, wouldn't you agree?" Then he unfolds his own paper to read the whole thing out:
"Clearly way less boinking and far more writing than I thought. I enact secret, small amounts of chastity without brainstorming. I carefully plan hundreds of huge orgies. Without a single care, you've thwarted thousands of tiny, completely appropriate and fully-clothed affairs." He arches a brow. "Now that sounds reasonable, doesn't it?"

Geneviève laughs joyously, "I'll have you know I take great pride in my ability to thwart fully-clothed affairs with sheer inappropriateness! Let's see, let's see." She unfolds her paper with grave ceremony, "Well, it's very clear that here at Orchis, we embrace joy in Naamah's service to share it with the world. Apparently, it's all a ruse, for we actually… be secretly miserable. We attempt to make others enjoy themselves in public, but… ruin it for everyone to scare them away because hell is other people."

The courtesan refolds the paper, holding it at chest level reverently. "Truer words, my friends."

"I'd say, Lord Rousse, you've been hanging around me too much," Philomène insists. "You're becoming a cynic. You're starting to come to the same conclusions as me regarding other people."

"That might be well be true." Drake replies with an amused smile, having chuckled at the contradictory messages that somehow have become one philosophical whole. "Well, let's hear it for the last bit?" he suggests, turning to the girl Yvette.

At the Rousse's prompting Yvette, having been skimmed over, unfolds her paper lightly, reading in a melodic soprano, "Upon Mont Nuit, we find laughter and pleasure where we might and create it where we don't. Let us find joy where it usually lives - at the bottom of a bottle or in the arms of beauty. No one is allowed to lose sorrow in the cemetery; don't look into upturned barrels or the legs of homeliness. Therefore, I declare it!"

Yvette sweeps to her feet, placing her hand on Drake's arm to VERY seriously convey, "Everyone must be grumpy in the graveyard!" Breaking eye contact, she adds further instruction to the rest of the party, "Examine casks and fit limbs."

"Casks and fit limbs are definitely more your style than pieces of paper," Philomène notes with a half smile. She shifts where she sits, bracing herself and setting her jaw as she levers herself upright to a standing position. "Mademoiselle Geneviève, Mademoiselle Yvette, it has been a pleasure. Lord Rousse, may I press on you for an escort home before it gets dark?"

Drake offers Yvette an apologetic look and nods. "I must do as the lady commands… but perhaps I shall be back." he promises her and gets to his feet. "Miss Geneviève, thank you for a very entertaining time. Mylady…." He offers an arm to Philomène gallantly.

Geneviève rises, beaming, "And thank you for entertaining us in turn. I hope our philosophical musings on the Night Court have helped elucidate our purpose. If you've ever need of being overcharged for companionship…"

"Or examining fit limbs!" Yvette interjects to the apologetic Drake with a ribald wink.

"Well, we've plenty of those," the older courtesan agrees, "and I've discovered I've carefully planned hundreds of huge orgies. I must be getting rather well at it by now, one hopes." She curtsies courteously. "Enjoy your time in Elua, my Lord, my Lady, and do be mindful not to let us old girls overtax you overmuch, Lord Rousse."

"Thank you so much," Philomène insists, taking the offered arm and beginning the pained limp out with Drake for support. "A little supper, my dear boy? They have some wonderfully exotic fruits, you know."

"I shall." Drake promises Geneviève and heads out with Philomène on his arm. "I believe I have seen a pineapple earlier. They are really rather peculiarly shaped and very delicious. Let's see if we can find the stall again…" And they're off to find pineapples!

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