(1310-12-18) Nothing Ventured
Summary: Symon and Étienne have a sunset picnic and ask Faisan about the Courtesan Fete.
RL Date: 12/28/18
Related: Beginner's Luck http://marsilikos.wikidot.com/log:1310-12-17-beginner-s-luck
symon etienne faisan 

A Hill with a View in the vicinity of the city of Elua

Etienne is much refreshed from his nap and greets Symon with a sleepy smile when he comes to collect him. He is soon washed up and dressed and ready for their walk.

Symon is at least not after sunset, though he is not excessively early, either. Outside the room waiting for them is a wicker box on loan from the house that presumably contains what they might need for the planned picnic. "Well, then," Symon says, carrying the basket as they make their way out toward the street, "Are you feeling a b-bit steadier? Your color looks b…better."

Etienne grins happily, "Much better. Thank you so much for looking after me. I fear I got carried away in the game and… had rather more than I intended. I think a walk and a nice supper is just the thing." he blushes a little and looks down, "I didn't… say or do anything I shouldn't, I hope? If I did you have my sincerest apologies."

"Oh, that usually happens," Symon says breezily. "You didn't say anything b…bad that I remember," he replies. "I think you had some w…worries, b-but we often do w…when we're drunk. I was quite drunk, too. So you m…mustn't think I'm in some high p-position judging you. Not at all."

Etienne gives a warm chuckle, "Oh, I didn't expect you would. I just… would hate to have made a certain kind of fool f myself." He looks wildly relieved. Maybe Symon really doesn't remember his familial confession. He hopes.

Symon smiles and shrugs. "Anyway, all that's p-past and w…we /should/ b-be thinking about all the good to come. Did you know that the courtesans of M…Mont Nuit have a special b-ball that only a few select guests b…besides themselves m-may attend?"

Etienne eyes him, "Do you think we could get an invitation? I wonder what that involves?"

Symon shakes his head uncertainly. "I really don't know. I've never b…been invited b-before. I've heard that you can get a token from a courtesan if they w…wish to invite you. B-but I don't know the etiquette at all. W…what do you suppose they /do/ at such a p-party?"

Etienne thinks that over for bit as they walk, "Would they want to celebrate without… having to work, do you think? I wonder if the… He seemed to like me? at least a little."

"The B-Bryony from kottabos?" Symon says, perking up with interest that Etienne, who has previously seemed disinterested in courtesans, should bring this up. "Rather charming, no? Had a lot to say about your good shoulders…" He grins.

Etienne rolls his eyes, "I did try to encourage him your way. You are the one with the heavy purse and the more… avid interest. I've no idea why he'd be so interested in my shoulders when your cheekbones were right there. Still, one might revisit in hopes of a token."

Symon chuckles, somewhere between flattered, embarrassed, and amused. "Oh, I don't m…mind," he says. "And I only really p-pay them m…much attention in Elua. It's m…much b-better w…when you don't run into them all the time, don't you think? Everything always seems new." They have by this time passed into a less dense area of the city, where residences line an upward slope. He points. "There, should w…we climb to the top of that hill there and see if there's a space w…we could sit down to eat in? I'll b-bet we can see sunset from there."

Etienne Seems to enjoy the play of emotions on Symon's face, "Well, you are the better looking of the two of us." He considers this observation, "I suppose there is more mystery to them if one hasn't seen them eating a pasty by a market food stall, but I really wouldn't know, Symon. I haven't anything near your experience of them…. Oh! And the houses are worth looking at on the way!"

"That depends w-what you m…mean," Symon returns. "Some faces p-people say are p…pretty, I just find so b…bland. A m…month after you saw them first you'd never remember them." He shakes his head a little. "Honestly, I don't go nearly as often as some. Sometimes I go to a house for amusement b-but I rarely go so far as to m…make a contract. Such a lot of trouble, anyway…" He looks curiously at one of the houses. "Who do you suppose lives in that sort of house?"

Etienne says, "Likely some fine noble or diplomat, off on some festival amusement." he studies Symon, "So you… do manage to… with a courtesan? It's not strange at all?" He blushes to his ears. "I admire what they do in service of Naamah, but I can't quite imagine… How do they manage, night after night with strangers? The men, especially, as they can't… pretend in a pinch.""

"Oh, yes," Symon answers blandly, though Etienne's curious look eventually embarrasses him and he looks aside at another house. "I m…mean, I w-wouldn't b-bother with a contract if I didn't feel I…could, you know. B-but I like to know about them first, usually. Talk a b-bit or p…play a game? And you don't /have/ to, you know. You can just spend the time in p…private if you w…want. Of course that's a steep p-price for that. B-but some m…might entertain you for less in that case…" He breaks off his imagination about that and looks back to Etienne. "B-but yes, it p…probably is hard for them. And they have to listen even to the m…most b-boring guests and remember w…what they said and all that."

Etienne shudders, "And I suspect many of the folk as can afford them are rather boring indeed. I couldn't do it… any of it really. I respect those that can serve that way." He thinks over the rest for a bit, "Talking first might help it feel less strange. I've no idea what I'd say, though. They are so beautiful it's hard to… I don't know. I'd rather look, I think, like with the dancer right before we left."

"Looking is great," Symon says enthusiastically. "Sometimes w…when I w-want to talk to them I ask them to p-play a game of questions w…with me, w-where you can ask them and they can ask you and you each have to answer honestly b-but you can each refuse, say, one in five questions. That can b-be fun."

Etienne says, "Oh! That is clever, Symon! It would make it easier indeed to… to become interested."

"Then also if it feels wrong, you can always say you had too m-much w…wine and feel sleepy." He shrugs and cranes his neck now that they are closer to the top of the hill. "There," he says, pointing to a space with some grass that looks a bit withered by the encroaching cold, but decent for a spot. "W…we can sit there. If w…we're annoying anyone they'll come and tell us, I'm sure."

Etienne smiles crookedly and a tad self mockingly, "Well, it's unlikely to come to that given the thinness of my purse, but it's good advise, Symon." The two men are cloaked and walking up hill in search of a good place to watch the sunset. Étienne has a blanket rolled up carried under his arm. His friend has what looks an awful lot like a hamper of food. "Well spotted, Symon."

Symon shrugs a shoulder. "There's always credit. M…mine I think is good if yours is not." What happens when the credit is called in? A problem for another day. Symon walks over to the clear space which is undoubtedly someone's land, but which he seems to consider it fair game for two visiting noblemen to use. "Anyway, did you dream of your costume at all? You could carry off about anything." He sets the hamper down.

Etienne smiles, "I fear I must try to live within my means and your offer is kind, but I'm more apt to want to see the performances than participate in more private sport. "I think I have definitely settled on the green Man if I can find the riht mask and perhaps some cloth vines. The only other idea I had… was not a good idea, I think." He blushes, and turns the question back on the asker, "Have you decided on your stag or are you still thinking?" He follows his friend happily enough, trusting the other's status to protect them. He shakes out the blanket, stolen from the bed at the place they are staying, and whips it out by the corners to lay it mostly flat. He collects for smoothish palm sized stones and sets them at the corners against wind.

"Shopping w…will be extremely diverting," Symon replies, helping to spread out the blanket and setting the wicker box down along one long edge before he flops down to sit. "M…my clothes are in no w-way right for stag, except m…maybe the cloak," he says. "B-but I'm not sure I care at all. W…we shall see w-what inspiration w…we find in hunting m…masks." He unfastens the loops holding the hamper shut and lifts off the top. "I like the idea of b-being something agile."

Etienne says, "I was thinking of the cloak when I suggested it. What colour tunics have you in your baggage?" He cranes his neck to peer at the supper, his appetite having been restored by the walk. "It's good the weather is fair and our cloaks are warm.""

To speak of hunting, far down the hill and from the reaches to the west a long shade is cast— some sort of insect down the vale, perhaps, or, at this distance— a horse. A great grey creature with warm, thick fetlocks and no less than three passengers. In the front, a young noblewoman with her skirts tied in a knot with a pin and fashionable knickers beneath as she rests side-saddle with her calves in her high boots bared to the world. In the middle, Faisan in a rich velvet hunting habit in a dark green with tanned leather darts. He holds the reins, and also braces his elbow against her back, holding her as much with that as she holds herself with one leg hooked over his as he speeds them across the plain. In the back, a goose, laid low and draped over the top of the horse's tail, lashed to the back of the saddle for safe transport. Still downhill from the picnickers, the great grey steed is drawn to a walk and several other hands come leading a smaller brown steed down a distant path. In the last moments before the rendezvous, the man and woman on horseback share a long, languorous midwinter kiss, and the former helps adjust his Lady's posture, sliding his hands under her arms and helping her to dismount and betake herself to her own entourage. A servant from her retinue comes to collect the goose and his lady's hunting gear from the mount's pack, and Faisan remains in place until the Lady has taken her leave.

"B…blue and gold, do you think those good colors for me? I usually don't w…wear m-much blue, b-but it w…was suggested…" He shrugs and reaches in to start setting out a few of the foods. Many were begged from their host's pantry, a few bought around town. There is a half loaf of bread with a crisp crust, there is a clay jar of pickled vegetables, there is a wedge of cheese, there is a bottle of wine, some sugared preserved fruits wrapped up in cloth, a bit of salt pork, and other things. He sets out a couple of cloths and a couple of wooden plates. He points at the passing horse. "Look there," he says. "Heavens."

Etienne quints at the riders Symon is pointing out, "Isn't one of those the man from last night we were just talking about on the way here? Well, not the bird, obviously…. Maybe he' tell us what the fetes are like?" He contemplates symon, even as he slices the cheese with his eating knife, "The colours certainly suit you. You'd do well in Lapis… A jay? Or perhaps the blue bird of happiness…"

Symon laughs at Etienne's bird comment. "I w…wonder if it is p-polite to ask," he says. Then he sits back with his arms behind him as props. "I can b-be as noisy as a jay, I grant," he jokes.

Faisan stays still upon his mount until the Lady and her company are out of sight. He takes a moment, thereafter, to draw up a water skin from his pack and to drink, and then a half-loaf of bread. With a supple twist he wraps the reins both around one wrist, and begins a slow and easy walk with a gentle pressure of his knees, angling his course uphill to let Sky browse the dim winter grasses while he has his meager trail-supper. The sight of a picnic up the hill isn't lost on him for long, especially the closer he comes, but he doesn't call out a greeting, just yet. Better to wait to draw close so he doesn't have to yell.

Etienne smiles warmly, "And jays are swift and like shiny things. Drink enough joie and you might end up naked as one too." As he sees the rider approaching, he gives him a friendly wave.

Symon tips his head back and laughs, apparently totally accepting of this judgment of his character. "You are too funny, Etienne!" he exclaims. "I shall give it serious consideration. I suppose I /could/ p-plan for a stag next year. If I can p…possibly remember something for a whole /year/." He looks curiously at Faisan. "Oh, he's eating. Shall w…we invite him over or no?"

Etienne looks at him kindly, "I could remind you, if we are still friends and I've not been called home. We might as well, and you can be charmingly nosy and we can offer him some of our cheese and jam and pickled vegetables for his bread."

Faisan's mount will pass close enough for an invitation to be issued, but far enough for it to be not at all awkward if one is not. That's what you call a gentlemanly equestrianism. He returns the hail with his bread-hand, his rein-hand at work for the nonce, and, coming in range to speak without yodeling, he does so: "My Lords," is a simple enough greeting, jolly for the season and serene for the incipient eventide.

"Charmingly nosy is a specialty of m…mine," Symon replies cheerfully. "Ho, there!" he calls out, lifting a hand in a lazy wave. "W…would you like to join us? W…we've got a few things to offer to go along w…with your b-bread."

Etienne calls, "Well met! I fear the wine got the better of me last night and I did not take my leave as politely as I meant."

Faisan lifts his rein hand in consideration, drawing his mount to an easy halt, then, "Why not?" he agrees, after a comradely fashion, tucking the reins and wrapping them loose around the pommel as a sort of hobble for the creature who obviously knows, from the way he turns an eye to watch the energetic dismount, that he's to stay put while Faisan treads the hillside with an effortless saunter toward where the Lords are dining. "Oh, heavens, it was no slight at all, my Lord," he assures Etienne in turn, lowering himself to a knee, then to a hip, knee pointed toward the sky and hand propping him up on the blanket. It gets quite busy on the floor, and when the wine is flowing, people tend to drift into and out of one another's spheres rather naturally and without regard. One gets quite used to it. I do hope you'll come by for a re-match, one evening, if your schedules allow," he grins devilishly into a crust of bread.

"W-we," Symon says, glancing at the horse and then looking back to Faisan, "W…were reflecting on the good time w-we had and w…wondering about the rumored Mont Nuit b-ball." He lifts an eyebrow, then leans over to grab some bread, breaking it with his hands. "W…wondering how courtesans choose to celebrate such a night. It's v…v…v…very m…mysterious." The end of the sentence doesn't come out too easily, which slightly disrupts his languid manner, but he soon sinks back into it again, chewing a bite of bread.

Etienne gives him a friendly smile as he piles cheese and pickled vegetables on a hunk of bread he has torn off their loaf, "I'm glad no offense was taken." He smiles his encouragement to Symon, then adds, "But if t is a secret we will not take offense."

"Well, I'd hardly call it a secret, per se, but it would perhaps devalue the effort so many put in to gain admission to such an event and see with their own eyes," Faisan considers, "And I really don't like to tilt the book before it closes, as it were," he adds with a half-coy lidding of his eyes before taking a further bite and chewing it slowly until it fails to impede his speaking once more. "Have either of you considered making a play for a token? Then you might see for yourself."

Symon smiles and shrugs. "I can understand that," he says. "I'm fond of m…mystery, in fact." He chews on a bit of pickled radish. "W…what /exactly/ does one have to do?" he wonders.

Etienne watches the adept with some curiosity, then raises his eyebrows at Symon. his friends question earns a rather mischievous grin, "I admit to rather wondering that myself."

"Well, that all depends on who it is you're soliciting," Faisan answers. "Everyone has his preferred manner of contest to which they will put their favorites in an effort to make his choice. If you go to the house of Orchis, for example, you may have to go to some strange lengths to win a token. I believe that the Eglantines are holding a talent competition."

Etienne studies the courtesan, then lowers his eyelashes, "What sort of contest might you put us to?"

Faisan raises a brow, and, polishing off his bread without having availed himself of any of the offered condiments for it, he unfastens the top two buttons of his riding habit, letting the corner of the collar peel down toward his chest in a fetching enough manner. "Would you ask me to put you to a test?" he wonders, possibly to put more time into considering a proper gambit for dealing with the both of them.

Etienne looks to Symon again, but he seems to have momentarily wandered off to the bushes. He eyes Faisan, "The both of us, yes, though I suppose it would depend on the test." He blushes a bit and looks away.

Symon strides back from the bushes, dusting off his hands. "W…what's this about a test?" he says. "I hope it's not on handwriting or geography; I shall fail those outright."

"Your companion is asking about prospects to compete over a token for the Longest Night Fete upon the Mont," Faisan brings Symon up to speed on his return, then, returning his attention to Etienne, "You recognize that I have but one token to give. I would have to set you both against one another, and— there's still no guarantee that either of you will come away with the token. But if you want to play a game of such high stakes, I think I can devise one for you." Indeed, it's not hard to see the wheels starting to turn.

Etienne flashes them both one of those sunny smiles, all dimples and good healthy teeth. "I do not mind if Symon doesn't?"

Symon looks curiously at Etienne first, but smiles at his upbeat reply and looks at Faisan. "I think it sounds great fun. B-but p…perhaps we should give you a b…bit of time to set terms and all that."

Faisan is already bubbling with a few ideas, a low simmer down under his heart that heats his eyes as he watches the two visitors from out of town. "Yes, a bit of time to prepare. Within two days, I'll have everything ready. That will give you enough time, should you fail, to seek tokens elsewhere, if that's your pleasure." A thoughtful enough fellow, after all, and in good spirits, now, with the game afoot. "You both know where I live, after all. I'll have your names on my list of personal guests, so you'll be seen straight to a private gaming room when you arrive."

Etienne looks genuinely delighted, "This sounds like real fun! Thank you for giving us a chance!"

Symon chews a piece of candied fruit with gusto. "W…what fun, to have fresh games afoot!" he exclaims. "This m…might be the m-most interesting v…v…visit to Elua yet!"

"It's always pleasant to find new players. Fresh blood, as it were." There's the devil in his smile, once more, and Faisan casts the casually appraising glance of a hunter watching a pair of grazing stags across a field. "I should be back home and wash from my assignation." Yes, fucking in the woods is a specialty of his. "But I will see the both of you soon. Thank you for your kind invitation to rest with you a while."

"Good evening, then," Symon bids cheerfully, as indeed the sun is starting to dip lower beyond the horizon. He shoots Etienne a look that asks if he can believe their fortune.

Etienne's enthusiastic grin widens, "I'm really looking forward to it!" He returns Symon's look and adds a wink, clearly unable to believe their good fortune either. "Thank you Faisan!"

Faisan rolls easily to a stance and takes himself back alongside his mount, reaching up to unwrap the reins and looking back to the visitors with a kindly gaze. "Of course, my Lords. Good eve," he grins, and mounts up with an effortless hop— and away.

Symon sits back with his hands as props again. "That w…was more fruitful than I expected," he says, looking to Etienne. "And w…we haven't even opened the w-wine."

Etienne beams at him, having not entirely understood the terms, "We win either way! At least one of us is assured of going! Oh Symon, it's perfect! Shall we celebrate?"

"I w…wonder how it all w…works?" Symon says, relishing his own curiosity. "B-but of course." He dips into the hamper to bring out the bottle of wine. "Of course w…we'll be careful to give ourselves a b-bit of respite after last night. But." One cup certainly can't hurt, can it? He brings up two cups and pours.

Etienne says, "I've no idea, but I'm excited to find out." He is thinking of something else as well. "One cup definitely won't hurt. He lowers his eyelids, "We will eat our food and drink our wine and watch this sunset. In a bit perhaps, we might go home and rest for tomorrow's pleasures. with one cup only taken, I'm sure my feet will find their way.""

Symon smiles slowly, looking off toward the sunset. "W…what a tremendous w…way to spend a holiday," he says. "Who knew there w…were so many fresh excitements w…waiting here?"

Etienne shifts so he might sit beside Symon the better to view the salmon belly sky, "Thank you so much for bringing me, Symon. I've never had so much fun, and odds are, I'd never have seen Elua, let alone in festival Season."

"W…well, that would be too much a shame. You are too b-brilliant in the setting!" He too moves, crossing his legs and sipping at the wine. "I'm glad you could b-be here."

Etienne flashes him a quick grin, "You're the gem; I'm the setting." More seriously, "Thank you, Symon. I meant it."

Symon laughs and shakes his head. "Not so," he says, but grins at the thanks. "You're w…welcome," he says. "And I m…mean /that/. I'm delighted w…we have become such good friends!"

Etienne clasps his friends shoulder and gives it a gentle squeeze, "Am am too, Symon. Everything is far more fun with someone to share it with."

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