(1310-12-22) Fruits of Naamah's Labour
Summary: On the afternoon of the Shortest Day, Helene and Sarielle have a restful dip in the baths of the Temple of Naamaah. (Warning: Some mature content, references to the sharper pleasures of the Longest Night gone by, gratuitous Irish Gaelic.)
RL Date: 24-12-2018
Related: None
helene sarielle 

Temple Baths - Temple of Naamah

A large circular window of colorful stained-glass depicting Naamah is framed by two crescent shaped ones, sitting further up the wall as to allow for generous lighting during the day, with the shades of the glass used in the center painting the interior of the Temple Baths in colorful hues. The light beige tiles of the stone floor are arranged in a pattern, spaces between filled with darker shade mosaic stones. The changing area is divided into two spaces, hidden away behind semi-opaque drapes. Here, visitors can leave their clothing and move over towards the pools that are filled with the warm waters of a hot well, a faint layer of steam lingering occasionally in the air directly above the waterline. A larger pool of white marble is in the center, between two smaller pools that offer room enough for two or three people each. At the edge of the pools, trays are provided at regular intervals, some holding various flagons of bathing oils while others hold bars of flowery soap and other bath implements.

Acolytes of Naamah, clad in the red flowing robes of the temple stand at the ready, to provide towels or robes when needed and make sure a peaceful atmosphere is maintained within the baths.

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

It is mid afternoon on the Shortest Day, and the Temple Baths are still quiet, half the city still in bed following the revelry. Helene though sits in a warm pool, her eyes half closed, breathing deeply of the rising steam. She seems content and relaxed, and mostly is ignoring the tea that sits just behind her shoulder.

After the events of the previous evening, Sarielle has found herself worse for wear and seeking solace in the balnearium of Naamah's Temple. Having cast aside her clothing, there's a tinge of self-consciousness that's at odds with her typical self-possession. Arrange her limbs and loose hair as she might to conceal it, an astute eye is not needed to spot the tell-tale signs of terribly ungentle lovemaking upon her milky skin, angry red nail marks traveling in sympathy along her spine with her waist-high marque the least of it. Her forget-me-not blue gaze settles upon Helene, a small smile causing a dimple to surface on her right cheek, and she shuffles over to where the other woman is submerged in the steaming waters. "My pardon, lady Verreuil. Do you mind terribly if I join you?" she inquires, voice light and lilting in an attempt not to startle her overmuch.

Helene's green eyes slowly open to take in the young woman before her, her lips quirking up at the corners as she answers, "But of course…" She gestures to the pool before her, inviting Sarielle to take any seat she chooses. Helene takes in the marks on the courtesan, and a hand rises to her own neck and shoulder. She smirks slightly and adds, "I can uhm… empathize." Leaning forward slightly she turns to reveal a pale shoulder, and while much of her is somewhat obscured by the rippling waters, it is clear she had a similar experience, her skin dotted with small bruises and what are clearly finger nail marks from a broad hand.

"My thanks, lady," Sarielle gratefully accepts, sliding one graceful dancer's foot at a time into the pool, an abundance of pale hair flaring out around her as she sinks in past her waist. A startled look, not unlike that of a deer when spotting the riders of a hunt, and the adept flushes brightly enough to bring one of the Alyssum canon justice. When she's had a moment to collect herself, the girl manages to quip ruefully, "As Naamah grants, so too do we come seeking her touch to soothe the fruits of her labour." Unthinkingly, she rubs at her slender wrist beneath the waters, source of discomfort not yet in evidence. Clearing her throat, there's an effort to relax her shoulders, though the water levels necessitate her not melt overmuch lest she dunk herself due to her petite stature.

Helene just chuckles, entirely unabashed, and continues gently teasing the young courtesan, "Ah yes, or in my case, to offer thanks for a job well done." She gives Sarielle a wink and then rises up a bit in the water, turning to get her tea before sitting back down. "This would be your first Longest Night since your debut, wouldn't it? Did you enjoy the festivities?"

The combination of warm baths and the other woman so at ease with such transpirations does somewhat to settle Sarielle's frayed and sleep-deprived nerves; the teasing comment even manages to extract a genuine giggle. "Yes, my lady, it was my first," she replies, cheeks darkening again as she continues, "and I'd would say the evidence indicates so." A beat. "I was much glad to not have to hold another tray of joie. I look pretty enough with it, but after several years, it does get a bit—" rosebud lips, still stained from the application of cosmetics the night before, purse prettily enough to not get her scolded within the confines of the salon she serves, "—boring, when everything else has turned to debauchery around you."

Helene chuckles, "While I have drunk the joie, and did yesterday afternoon, I have never actually been to a large fête for the Longest Night. The closest would be something at the university twelve years ago. I can only imagine what you saw." She shrugs softly, and while the younger woman looks dishevelled still, for her part, Helene looks well rested. Her cheeks are rosy, and her face clean, and her voice warm rather than haggard. She flushes a bit more though, looking almost proud as well as abashed as she adds, "I prefer more… private parties."

"Begging my lady's pardon, but I did not know Siovalese institutions of learning were known for their fêtes." It's said as a jest, but the adept might not be too entirely far off from the mark there. All knowledge is worth having, one supposes, including how to throw a party. As for what's she's seen… "Few enough of Naamah's arts remain a mystery to me." A pale brow quirks at the mention of such private affair, but she's grace enough not to pry. "I cannot even fathom of scale of the fête upon Mont Nuit; our own Night Court pales in comparison," though she's quick to add, "in population, not quality, of course."

Helene chuckles and shakes her head, "I did not wish to go to Elua. It would be too much for me - both the palace and Mont Nuit." She pauses to lean back, letting her hair pool around herself in the water before rising up. "As for Siovale? We are all d'Angeline, and some things are the same throughout the country. We find pleasure in lovemaking, and the good company of friends. Besides, with that many young people in the same place, there is always bound to some revelry. As for quality…" Her voice trails off and eyebrows wriggle playfully for a moment before catching herself and looking rather abashed. She is clearly a woman who is very satisfied, and both enjoys and wishes to share her good fortune, but also seems embarrassed by the urge to share.

Sarielle considers for a moment, "When my mother and I first returned from Eire, we went to the City of Elua before traveling to Marsilikos. She thought I ought to see it, at least once; the City of the Lady is splendid in its own way, but approaching the white-washed walls of Elua…" her breath catches, wistfully, as gathers her hair in a sweeping motion, wringing it gently. "That's when I knew, I think, that Terre d'Ange was the land of my heart." The girl looses another gleeful giggle, this time at Helene's discomfiture, hand coquettishly covering her mouth, "Indeed, my lady, indeed!"

"I have never been to the capital, but I have travelled to Caerdicca Unitas. I was impressed with La Serenissima, and how it sits against the water. The views are spectacular, with the sunsets on the water," Helene answers warmly. She lets out a deep sigh, her shoulders falling as she admits, "I have not seen enough of my own land though. I have visited Namarre once, and Siovale obviously, and some time in southernmost L'Agnace, but I have yet to make it to Azzalle, or Camlach, or Kusheth. Perhaps one day."

The adept listens with courtly attentiveness, dainty features forming the appropriate expressions of delight. "I've heard the way the maze of canals threaded through the city catch the sun's last light is a sight to behold," Sarielle declares with all the serious worldliness a courtesan in their sixteenth year can muster. "We passed through Azzalle and Namarre, and L'Agnace, of course, on our way south. Somewhat of a pilgrimage, really, but it was quite beautiful." Turning, she acquires some bathing oil from a nearby tray, having to rise to her knees in order to reach, and takes it to skin with enthusiasm. When you're used to be cosseted, there's a certain joy in taking the act of bathing into your own hands. At length, she muses aloud, "It's odd to me that I've seen more of the land than some born on D'Angeline soil."

"You travelled from north to south. It happens. I daresay I saw more of Caerdicca Unitas than many who live there, but mostly because I travelled by land for some of it." Helene simply shrugs at that, "Besides, it is not uncommon for people to never see outside their own city or the estate where they work. We are fortunate, very fortunate, to have been able to see more than just that."

The adept mulls such over, vigorously massaging one forearm, then the other, with oil-slicked hands. Shedding some of the strictures of propriety, Sarielle inquires, "Did you study in Tiberium? I had assumed, when you said university, you were referring to somewhat in Siovale."

Helene laughs brightly, "No, no, you were quite right. I studied in Siovale. Afterwards, I traveled around for, oh, perhaps 8 months? I came here, went to Caerdicca Unitas, spent some weeks here and there, and eventually, caught a berth with one of our trading vessels back to Siovale. I miss it sometimes you know, I mean the university, not so much Caerdicca Unitas. It was interesting, do not get me wrong, and I would love to travel more, but there was a freedom to the university, and the learning there that I miss."

Sarielle moves on to her rubbing her thighs absentmindedly, delicate fingertips running along the lithe muscles with the expertise of an athlete accustomed to working out the pain of rigorous usage — and, for all the delicate bloom of Lis d'Or she is, the patterns of bruising blossoming on her legs indicate very rigorous usage, indeed. "If it please you, what would you say your favorite field of study was? Or, I suppose I should say, 'is', for I doubt distance has sufficiently dissuaded any scion of Shemhazai's line from the pursuit of knowledge."

Helene considers as she too takes the time to choose a soap, smelling three before deciding and beginning to work a lather in her hands. "I like to study other cultures. I like learning how societies function and how they differ from one another. We D'Angelines might be vain, and prideful on the whole, and while I do think we are better in many ways than some I have studied, I also think we often do not give enough credit to the intricacies of other people." There is a faint scene of gardenia in the soap, and she smooths it over her own arms, mostly ignoring her own bruises and just running hands over to cleanse herself. "Lately I have been spending a bit more time on languages. I have plans to learn Bhodistani, currently, at least the written form. I got the texts for a friend who needed a translator for a book, but I thought learning was more fun, so we shall endeavour to learn at the same time."

Sarielle's impartial hands flow over the rest of body, thoroughly dousing her skin, before deciding herself to be oiled enough to simply luxuriate in the waters, letting the layer of steam just above the surface fill her lungs as she closes her eyes. The lily has cause to know of the insularity of D'Angelines; while she may pass at a glance, given the majority share of her blood is touched by Elua and his Companions, she's nonetheless marked as Other. The timbre of her voice shifts, taking on the soft, lilting resonance of Eiran, "I dtír na ndall, is rí é fear na leathsúile." Then, she provides with an intelligence deeper than her girlish behavior would suggest, "‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.` I view it as somewhat of a corollary to Shemhazai’s wisdom regarding the pursuit of knowledge. Not only is all knowledge worth having, but one need not know an extensive amount for it to be of great usage." There's a lull in which she doesn't open her eyes. "If I may be so bold to inquire what said book is about?"

Helene listens, her head canting slightly as she takes in the Eiran words, before nodding, "I do not know. A corollary perhaps, but not the same. All knowledge is worth having, even if one has no use for it, knowledge itself is a gift. It is not about having more or less than someone else, at least not absolutely. To seek knowledge is… it is enough in and of itself." She continues to work over herself, noticing occasionally a nip she must not have noticed getting. "The book? He told me first about it here actually, this very pool. It is a Bhodistani study of the intimate arts. He likes to learn and explore the teachings of different nations on we pleasure one another. I believe it contains romance and wooing, along with seduction and sex. I rather look forward to learning to read it." From her tone it could go either way, exploring the ideas, or just well, accruing the knowledge. Helene chuckles abruptly and adds, "We joked about my being distracted with my notes. Eneas said he could imagine me stopping mid-evening to note the best angle of a leg for pleasure."

Contemplative, the adept holds her silence, shifting her breathing to come in circles in through her nose and out through her mouth. "Insightful, as I'd expect from a Siovalese lady. I thank you for your insight, Baroness. Theory of knowledge is a knowledge of itself." A particularly forceful exhale causes the steam to stir in eddies, chased away when Sarielle shifts her body into a more relaxed position. "I've heard of other countries having text such as the Trois Milles Joies, but this is the first I have heard of someone having an actual copy in their possession. I should be interested to know what it contains." Smile tugging at the corners of her lips in an otherwise placidly set face, she insinuates, "I'm sure you'll be learning some quite interesting Bhodistani phrases in your pursuit of knowledge."

Helene cannot help it. She grins. Done with her soap though, she dips again into the water, lowering her body then head, her smile only closing when she must. She rises up again, standing in the centre of the pool before making her way to an edge to climb out, answering somewhat cheekily, "I'm rather planning on it." She hoists herself up onto the edge and turns around, her legs still dancing in the water as she tells Sari, "Thank you for the company. I am afraid I have letters to send tonight, so must be off. Until next time Mademoiselle Sarielle." With that, she takes a bathing sheet to wrap herself up, and turns to depart.

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