(1310-12-15) Well Met at Dockside
Summary: Helene Verreuil and Aurore de Chalasse discuss trade and marriage.
RL Date: 12/15/18
Related: None
helene aurore 

**Port of Marsilikos **

Fortune laid the foundation for the grand port of Marsilikos; look how the arms of the land spread wide to embrace the setting of the sun, welcoming a bay of still waters rendered all the more peaceful by the presence of a small island to the south, on the flanks of which the waves cut themselves into powerless ripples as they move in from the sea. But what Fortune gave the D'Angelines their cunning and craft has improved to a hum of efficiency and culture. The natural bay has had its curved shores sharpened into straight edges bolstered with ridges of heavy stones on which the tides have left long mark when the waters are low, algae and barnacles hung onto the rugged stones. Then stone foundations have been piled out into the harbor to hold up wide wooden pillars and the great treated slats of the piers and boardwalks which extend into the bay, now at wider intervals for massive trading vessels, now at shorter intervals for private fishing and pleasure yachts.

The southern arm of the bay is reserved for the great sourthern fleet of the Terre D'Angan Navy, which is headquartered here in Marsilikos, and is ever a hub of activity, the giant slips outfitted to haul the massive warships up into the air for repairs, while further inland on the southern peninsula a forest of masts rises into the air where new ships are being built and old ones repaired in full drydock. Between the naval slips and the drydock rises the stately edifice of the Southern Naval Headquarters, glistening with huge latticed windows on the upper floors. Beyond the headquarters rises the massive fortified promontory of the Citadel, with bleached-white parapets and fluttering banners.

Markets and vendors throng the plaza at the innermost fold of the harbor where civilian and military seamen alike might find a bite to eat, supplies for their next mission, a good drink or a little bit of companionship. Far in the bay, that little isle sports a lofty lighthouse to guide the ships in by night.

It is mid afternoon when Helene Verreuil is seen leaving a large merchant ship sailing under Siovalese colours, though the men crewing it bear a mix of Verreuil and Chalasse colours. Tucked under her arm is a leather folio, wrapped and tied tightly against the gentle drizzling rain. For herself, her cloak is pulled close against the chill, the grey wool keeping out the weather well enough.

Aurore is in a forest green velvet overdress, with a lighter coloured green and silver brocaded under dress and a black cloak. This is a day dress, sturdy and warm, but cut to the latest fashion. She is wearing sturdy forest green boots dyed to match the overdress. She has arrived, a well built man-servant in tow, and is having a low pitched, but emphatic discussion with a customs inspector. She is a tall woman with handsome features, and haughty bearing.

The two women near one another as they alternate places, Aurore nearing the ships as Helene is leaving them, and Helene's green eyes rise to the custom's inspector before turning to Aurore, "Ah, are you the Lady Aurore de Chalasse?" She gives the other woman a warm smile, "Helene Verreuil, I was told you might be coming today." She reaches for the folio under her arm and pulls it out.

<FS3> Aurore rolls Politics: Good Success. (7 6 3 8 8 4 3 4)

Aurore's eyebrows rise is surprise, "You were expecting me?" Still she smiles back, "That's Siovale, isn't it?" Her pronunciation is elevated, and tinged with the accent of L'Agnace, but there is something careful about it, and a clever ear might pick out a tinge of Kusheth in it.

<FS3> Helene rolls Presence+composure: Good Success. (5 4 6 2 4 6 8 5 8 1 1)

Helene chuckles, answering warmly, "Of course, the Viscomtesse told me that you were here from Chalasse as well, and looking into trade relations. And yes, Siovale. The Viscomtesse has contracted shipping and trade brokerage from my family, and it was suggested to me that you might be interested in trade as well? My credentials are within, and the authority for our merchants to act as brokers for Gueret interests." Gueret, of course, being the seat of the Viscomtesse.

Aurore cocks her head, "Interesting. As it happens, I'm interested in finding more markets for our saucisson d'agnace and Rochefort cheese, though it'd mostly need to be river shipping or over land." Her sharp eyes look over the Lady Helene, attempting to weigh her character.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Aurore=Perception Vs Helene=Composure
< Aurore: Good Success (4 1 5 3 7 8 1 1 8 1 1) Helene: Success (1 6 3 6 2 7 6 5 2 5 4)
< Net Result: Aurore wins - Solid Victory

"Convenient then," Helene answers, tucking the folio back under her arm, "As our current primary project is a port in Siovale with facilities for moving between seafaring and barge traffic. I'm afraid we do not occupy ourselves in overland caravans save out of sheer necessity when the rivers are rendered unpassable. Perhaps you might like to discuss each of our interests over tea?"

Aurore has made her decision. She too is rather forthright nd decisive by nature. She nods, "Tea would be wonderful. do you know a good place? We've moved into our rooms, but I ffear I haven't had much time for exploring as yet."

"If you do not mind an inn, there is a delightful place called the Leaping Fish not far from here?" Helene suggests. She places her free hand upon her hip, revealing a small amount of her own dress, a simple work dress of fine, but hard wearing wool in a dark marine blue.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Helene=mind+perception Vs Aurore=presence+composure
< Helene: Good Success (2 5 3 2 3 7 8 7 3 2 6 2) Aurore: Success (3 2 3 4 5 2 4 3 8 6 1 3)
< Net Result: Helene wins - Solid Victory

Aurore gives her another smile, "Oh, an Inn will do nicely." She does seem keen on the acquaintance and the opportunities iit presents. Though she is trying to hide it, the money means rather more to her than it is polite for a noble to admit.

** Leaping Fish Inn **

The Main Room of the Leaping Fish is tidy and well-kept - and warmed by a fire in the hearth to one side on colder days and evenings. An old tapestry depicting a pair of two leaping fish is adorning the opposite wall - a reference to both the ruling House of Mereliot and the name of the inn. The common room has five tables of sturdy oak with chairs and benches, between which two serving maids move to take orders or bring food and beverages. The air is filled with tasty smells of freshly cooked meals, and murmurs of conversation - and occasionally even melodies rippling through the room, when a lute player is around to provide entertainment. The fare is of good quality that even would not disappoint noble tastes.

There are stairs leading upstairs towards a number of comfortable and well kept rooms the inn has to offer.

Helene gestures for the guard perhaps fifteen feet away who also makes a simple gesture, and not three minutes later a carriage is rolling up to join them. Helene gestures the Viscomtesse inside, though she waits until they enter the Inn to return to business, remarking as she wanders towards a fireside table, "I stayed here when I first arrived in the city before going to join the Alberts' household while the Verreuil residence was reopened. I enjoy it. Are you staying with the larger Chalasse family?"

Aurore nods to her guard, who remains discretely out of the way and falls in with the Verreuil House guard as they travel. "I am, though I've not met any of them yet." She studies the other women, "I suspect I'm not entirely in good order with my kin by marriage in general. I hope this won't be a problem. I am my son's sole guardian and hold all his affairs in my own hand, but I do not know how popular dealing with me will make you with House Chalasse in general."

Helene simply shrugs, "Thank you for telling me, but I do not yet anticipate that being an issue. My relations with your family by marriage are professional, or else centered around a Camaeline who also married in, who may also be a bit of an outsider." Helene gives her a warm smile, allowing the other woman to choose a seat first. "May I ask what the conflict is? If you are willing to speak of it of course, otherwise, it is of no mind," she adds gently.

Aurore smooths her skirt and settles where she might keep an eye on the door, "I was a courtesan before I was a Vicomtesse and I suspect there are those who'd have preferred Thierry's guardianship go to a Chalasse by blood." She shrugs, "You know how it is. Not everyone is entirely comfortable with a woman's hands on the reigns either, even in this day and age." She waves a hand, casually dismissing such men, "I tell you this, so you you won't feel deceived later. Some of my kin have spread rumors and there have been court cases surrounding the guardianship and my son's inheritance. The cases were resolved in my favour, but not everyone has been pleased with the result." she says firmly, "I love my son and I know what is best for him, whatever else might be insinuated by the envious."

Helene listens intently, her eyes softening at the tale, and a slight 'tsk' uttered under her breath as she hears of the court cases. She shakes her head, "Well it is no matter to me, at least, that is not. I am the heir to my father's Baronnie, and here as his agent, and fortunately, trusted to do so. I hope that, rather than speaking with one another injuring my reputation, it might potentially help yours, as you are not the only one in your family to trust our business." That settled, she pauses to order tea for both, and then continues, the same combination of gentleness and professionalism in her tone, "Where are you hoping to move your products, and have you arranged buyers yet?"

Aurore leans forward, truly pleased, "Oh how marvelous! I should like very much that we work together and I do hope that it will improve things for my son and I and for our people. I was actually hoping to arrange for new buyers here, Marsilikos being so cosmopolitan. Our cheese is quie fine, and really our saucisson is of the finest taste and quality. I have traveled much and this is quite my favorite cured meat, even if I do say so myself."

"Well I can make no guarantees that an arrangement will come to pass yet, but it does sound promising. We run routes from the inner provinces through to Siovale and then along the coast to Marsilikos. We can look into river routes here is Eisande aswell, once we have capacity to increase the barge fleet," Helene answers with a nod. "If you've only just taken rooms, I take it you have not been in Marsilikos long? Beyond buyers for cheese and saucisson, do you have other goals here in the city?"

Aurore sighs, "Mere days, though I very much like it here. So many fine spices and interesting music…. I am very much looking forwards to the festivities in the city, but really we are here as much for the sake of my son's education. I thought it would be good for him to get a wider range of lessons than he might have at home."

Helene nods once more, pouring tea for both of them before passing a cup to Aurore. "And to build your own reputation as a member of the household, rather than being seen as a woman who purchased her place by raising her skirt," Helene adds rather bluntly, though the judgment in her tone is clearly not aimed at Aurore. "May I ask how old your son is?"

Aurore snorts in amusement, not at all offended, but rather amused, "That as well. They'll find I've a better hand at accounts than my late husband or nephew if it comes to it." She nods her thanks and takes a sip, "Just the thing on a cool, drizzly afternoon." another cheerful smile, "Thierry will be eight soon. Have you any of your own? I fear I know very little of your House."

"When I was young, a drought struck our lands, and my father chose to refocus attention on rebuilding. The drought lasted for three years, and our fortunes fell, as one would expect with agriculture as our near only resource. Few people know a great deal about our family outside of our neighbouring lands because it is only recently that we have ventured beyond Siovalese borders. Between the port and our trade relations, we are hoping to diversify our economic interests so as better to survive another downturn. We are… we are doing very well now actually," Helene answers. "And no children. I have never married. There were no real opportunities back in the Barony, and I was not ready when I left for university at 16. My hope is that one of my younger siblings will provide an heir for teh Baronnie." In her late twenties, she is indeed a touch older than the usual marriageable age in Marsilikos.

Aurore nods, clearly approving of the sense of it, "It is much better not to rely on one thing. Talk of trade may not be considered entirely polite, but trade is essential to all of our long term survival.

Helene adds milk to her tea before taking a tentative sip, her lips upturning wih approval as the tastes the tea on her tongue. She answers at last, "It is essential, though of late, I have been making friends as well, and finding other diversions. I'm hoping one of my siblings will come join me soon as well."

Aurore is a bit older than Helene, though they are cloe in age. She leans towards the younger woman, "I think the joys of marriage are often over rated. Best to enjoy freedom if there are others to take up the work of it. It looks to me like you manage well without." Her smile is warm, "Friends are a good thing to have, and I have hopes we might become so."

"The joys of marriage? Were you not happy in your marriage? For myself, I am happy enough, but do not take unmarried to mean I am uninterested in a relationship. I…" Helene begins, ending with a stammer and a hint of a flush rising to her cheeks, "I have someone in my life I am very… fond of. I do not need to make a marriage though in order to find fulfillment in work, and in love."

Aurore shrugs, "He was kind and funny, but he was something like three times my age. I remember him with fondness, but he is long in his grave." He smile widens, "There. Nothing like a fine lover to brig out the beauty of one's complexion. Unmarried definitely does not have to mean loveless or joyless."

Helene seems surprised by Aurore's statement, asking at once, "Was it an arranged marriage then?" She stops herself and adds, "I realise it is not my business. I am sorry, but yes, a fine lover, and a sparring partner of the best sorts." There is a smile that touches Helene's face at that, her eyes wrinkling with warmth as she considers it what appear likely to be fairly recent events. "The Viscomtesse de Gueret has successfully played matchmaker once now, so perhaps she will attempt the same with you? I will of course, be writing to Siovale to find out where our barge docks are at so I can report back about the potential for shipping for you as well."

Aurore shakes her head, "I was truly fond of him and a woman must make her way in the world in whatever way she can." She doesn't seem at all offended, "I went traveling once I earned my marque. I am not ashamed of how I made my living. I am proud of who I am and what I've accomplished by my own skill. Kind and funny are not bad qualities in a husband, and I made him happy in what time he had left in this world, and he got to see his heir, growing healthy and strong before he went, so I think it was a fine bargain for him as well." She shakes her head, "I am happy with my place in the world. There is nothing marriage can give me at this point that a lover could not. Better to focus my talents on building up a fine legacy for my son and enjoying what Marsilikos has to offer. How many women have this much freedom and all earned with my own sense and skill." Her smile widens, "I think I should like to find markets in Siovale. It is good country."

"I am glad to hear it," Helene answers warmly, "And yes, kindness and humour are much to be lauded, and the former in particular much undervalued. I think you are very respectable Lady Chalasse, regardless of what others might say, and I hope to get to know you better, both in trade and without. I think you will find Marilikos a more liberating place for a woman such as yourself than the confines of an estate, or a family's closed interests."

Aurore grins, "I suspect much the same of you. I shall have my man of business send papers around for you to look at with estimates of what we might ship."

"Thank you very much," Helene answers, rising to her feet. "I have a dinner arrangement this evening so I must be off, but it has been a delight to meet you Lady Aurore." She curtseys politely before taking her leave.

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