(1311-01-31) In a Bit of a Stew
Summary: A bored Desarae invites Yves to join her for conversation Whilst it's stew that they eat, Yves finds himself getting into a stew of another kind when the topic of the Night Court and courtesans rears its head.
RL Date: Thu Jan 31, 1311
Related: None
yves desarae 

Wine Cellar

Stairs lead down to the heavy oak door, above which the sign of the place, the likeness of a Hellene amphora spilling over with wine painted upon wood, swings lazily in the occasional breeze. Beyond that door the entrance hall comes into view, where various kegs and casks of differing sizes are arranged in oenological allure before the roughly hewn walls of ancient stone. There is a chill down here on hot summer days, that will be efficiently battled in the colder months through the heating of a giant hearth to the back. The place has a decidedly cavernous character, alcoves to the left and right offering seating at small tables for two or three. Lamps are dangling by chains from the ceiling, shades of milky glass work from La Serenissima offering sufficient lighting. There are no visible windows, which means lamps will be in use even during the day.

Further to the back there is a small hallway branching off from the main area, leading to a medium sized chamber where the bigger barrels are stored. Here, a larger group of up to eight people can sit about a round table of heavy oak, while they are being served the rarer vintages or even the heavier spirits that are stored in a wooden cabinet to the back. Staff is mostly male, clad in black breeches and white shirts with dark red vests, knowledgable sommeliers of superior training that will be glad to wait on guests in person and offer insight into the variety of wines, red and white, from Terre d'Ange and a variety of specialties from abroad, that are available here.


It's midday, but that means little to the snow and cold. Being the tail end of January in Marsilikos the streets are perpetually covered in the constant flurries and gusting winds that pile the dense snowpack against the sides of houses and leave icicles every night. Most sane people are at home given the recent snowfall, but some are adventurous enough to weather the storm. Among them is the young Lord Yves Valliers with his cloak still bundled up around him and caked with snow, he has found a place as near to the fireplace as he can. In the process of unthawing, he has only peeled his gloves off so far, and those he cups tightly around a cup of warmed cider. His face kept in the steam above it as he allows feeling to return where it had fled.

"You'll probably need at least one more of those before you'll feel the benefit…" A disembodied voice drifts from the depths of an alcove, the owner presumably a young female since that's very much how the voice presents itself. Whomever it belong to must be somebody of note, for leaning against the edge of the alcove a Cassiline priest stands, the sober grey garb and the twin knives at his waist easily marking him as such. He's busy whittling and carving a small figure from wood, and there's a twitch of his lips as he restrains a smile at something further, but more quietly that's said by the person who's hidden within the alcove. He clears his throat, hawklike eyes settling upon Yves as if taking the measure of the young man before a smile curves his lips and quiet nod is give. "My lady wonders whether you might like to join her at her table. She's feeling a little bored today." Well, it's certainly an invitation of sorts, even if not the most gracious.

"Hmm? Oh, yes, I was thinking I might see if they have a stew, and if not, if they'd make one, even though there is hardly enough people to enjoy it," Yves replies and turns his head a bit, shaking off the snow as he rises to his feet and walks across the room at the invitation. He doesn't really seem to pay any attention to the graciousness, or to the fact that the Cassiline had spoken for the disembodied voice in the shadows. He just takes both in stride, and settling into that same shadow he lets his eyes grow accustomed and then looks to Desarae with a brief smile. "Yves Valliers," he introduces himself with a slight bow from the shoulders and finally peels off that frozen cloak, hanging it off the back of a nearby chair with a flick of the wrist. Not trying to look cool, but the quietness of the normally busy establishment makes one feel extra at home. Like the place is theirs.

"Desarae Mereliot." Now that Yves is squirreled away with her in the alcove, he'll be able to see the young woman to whom he's been talking. It might be relatively shadowed, but it does benefit from the light that cast from the oil lamp that's angled 'just so' that the light falls within the booth and no further. The woman's a fey looking thing, her eyes a brilliant and clear green that speak strongly of her angelic heritage. There's nothing frozen nor cold about her either, so she must already have been quite some time within the warmth of the establishment. An ivory gown makes much of her colouration; playing up the warm undertones of her skin whilst accenting the inky blackness of her hair. Hair which, contra to the fashions of courtly life, she wears loose so that it spills about her shoulders and halfway to the small of her back. "I was about to have something to eat myself, though I'd not thought of stew. It sounds a wonderful idea so I'll join you in some if they have some prepared. Bread too, to soak up the gravy."

Seeing as how they are mostly alone in the Cellar, Yves just has to lift a hand out of the shadows and into the more plainly visible part of the room to gather some attention. He speaks plainly and offers to pay them "a ransom" for some stew. The best they can make. It turns out however, that the ransom is unnecessary and after a short exchange, the server disappears to get them what they'd asked for. In the meantime, Yves looks to Desarae and bows again slightly at the introduction, "A pleasure to meet you, my lady," he says, speaking with a sort of rote behavior and cadence. He can handle these parts of a conversation without blushing or feeling awkward, because they are the easiest part. It's the rest that tends to throw him off.
His garments are as plain as hers are elegant. His hair short, but thick and dark, as if it'd been recently much shorter or is recently cut— and face is cleanly shaven.
"What brings you out into this weather, my lady?"

Like Yves, Desarae had a warm drink in her hands, though her own is a gently mulled Kusheline red, in which fruit drunkenly floats. "I've escaped." She says simply. Slim fingers fish a piece of apple from her glass, and she delicately sucks the alcohol from it before popping it into her mouth. "But shh. Don't tell anyone. I've had enough of my lessons for the day." Perhaps that's why she's hidden herself away in the shadows of that alcove, but if that were the case then her Cassiline's surely a giveaway. "Valliers is a Camlach family. You're a long way from home. Is there a particular reason why you've chosen to travel to Marsilikos?"

"My father sent me to give me culture, and so that I might impress the Duchess and eventually use that impression to find myself a wife, or something to that effect," Yves answers deadpan, he'd explained this before, and he doesn't really try to hide it. He's still a few years from marrying age, so it's not like anyone would be holding it against him anytime soon. "I don't think I really needed the culture, but I get the marrying thing, there aren't a lot of girls to marry at home," he says, still looking like he feels a bit awkward at the proposition.

Desarae cants her head to the left. "There aren't? Where could they possibly all have gone?" Her question appears to be perfectly serious in it's asking, and she swirls around the wine in her glass, the fruit tumbling over on itself before she lifts it to her mouth and takes another sip. A moment of quiet regard is given Yves over the rim of that glass, and there's the smallest ghost of a smile that touches her lips as she further adds, "But I can understand you're father sending you here to Marsilikos to develop your cultural appreciation, being as we are, the gateway to the world." A breath, and the smallest of leans towards him. "Have you travelled outside of our borders?"

Yves just doesn't answer the question about where girls had gone, because he doesn't know how to answer that without stating obvious things, and that'd just make him feel awkward, so he just sips at his cider for a moment. "I travelled into Skald lands a few times, but not in a sight-seeing capacity," he answers plainly, and glances up from his glass when the server brings them the bowls of stew and bread as requested. The loaf freshly baked, it must have been part of the reason the meal wasn't brought immediately. Dipping into it quickly, the young man eats with enthusiasm. "Oh, yes, that's what I needed," he decides.

Desarae's eyes narrow when Yves mentions Skalds. "We do see the occasional Skald down here, though I don't know why. Perhaps they think that this far removed from Camlach, we won't feel the same enmity for them. But we do." She casually speaks for the whole of Eisande's population, though seems unconcerned about doing so, only distracted from saying further by the arrival of the stew. Her nose whiffles slightly in appreciation for the rich smells that drift up from their bowls as they're set before them, and fingers reach for the bread to break off a corner. This is eating as it should be conducted. "So you fought, then," she quietly asks, dunking that bread in her gravy.

"Not a lot, despite the stories you hear, they don't send us off once we're off mother's teat to fight with spear and shield, but more than once or twice," Yves answers honestly, and speaks with as much force about that as he does about anything so far. It seems that talking about fighting gives him confidence in a social setting. It's the thing he knows. He appears to be enjoying the combination of stew and bread as well. "Have /you/ left our borders?" he asks.

Desarae taps her bread against the rim of her bowl, making quite certain that it's not going to drip gravy upon her bodice on its journey to her mouth. "I haven't. No." she answers him, once the mouthful is swallowed. Having assuaged her immediate need to dig into her food, she picks up the spoon that's been laid at the side, and pushes it into the stew, her eyes lifting from her bowl to be settled instead upon Yves. "I was given to the Naamah's service when I was six, and grew up in the Salon of Rose Sauvage, here in Marsilikos. My training didn't allow for trips to foreign lands, though I always hoped that I might do so one day."

"Where would you go, if you could go anywhere? And.. you aren't in service anymore?" Yves inquires, though there is the faintest hint of a glowing blush when he realizes that she isn't just some other young noble. Eating his stew, he is methodical and very neat. Wiping his mouth at even the faintest sensation of something out of place, his napkin neatly folded in his lap. Like a military man, an officer, not some grunt. "What, um, changed?" he asks of her, his eyes on hers.

<FS3> Desarae rolls Composure: Great Success. (1 7 7 7 4 8 8 6 2 1)

"Everything," Desarae replies to Yves' question, a flicker of disquiet showing in her eyes before they drop from Yves and back to her stew. "Everything changed." She spoons a bit of meat and potato into her mouth, her expression showing nothing of what thoughts there might be simmering just beneath the mask she now wears. Silence follows and then another mouthful of stew is ladled into her mouth, and it's a further minute yet before she lifts her head back up and reaches for another piece of the bread. "I've always been fascinated by stories of the Hellenic Isles, and I'd like to travel to Ch'in too. The former might be possible at a pinch, but I could never disappear for the length of time that a trip to Ch'in would necessitate."

The disquiet in her eyes is enough to warn even the awkward young man that the road he'd begun to push onto was one he was better off avoiding. He doesn't know her well enough and he doesn't really want to be a source of further memories surfacing. Changing subjects, then, with all the agility of a runaway carriage, he says, "I bet I could slip away, nobody would even notice, and those that did wouldn't think much of it," with the barest hint of a scandalous smile. He has probably thought of it before. "I'm not expected to marry for a few years, nobody here is really actively watching what I do, I have some money, I could save up for a bit.." he formulates a plan.

Desarae nods, and her expression relaxes a little with the shift in focus of their conversation, no matter how awkwardly done. "I met someone the other day who's been the last few years of his life a sellsword. I suppose that you could do that, though you're still terribly young…" She dips her bread into her stew again, coating it thickly before dipping her head to take it into her mouth. "I'm sure that you're wrong though. You have family here in the city, I'm sure. You'd be very quickly missed, no matter how much you think that you'd not. Besides, think of your mother and how much she would worry. Mothers always imagine the worst." A pause. "How old are you anyway? You said a few years from marrying yet, but on the other hand you've seen action in Skaldia."

"I'm not that terribly young," Yves says, looking a bit wounded but not really upset by it. No young person likes being called young, and no old person likes being called old. Hearing her words though, he shrugs a little and chews slowly on a piece of bread as he considers who would miss him and how quickly. He thinks she over-estimates his family's presence, but perhaps he under-estimates their awareness of his activities. "I'm sixteen, how old are you?" he asks.

"I'm sixteen too," Desarae replies. "And there's no need to look quite as wounded as you do. Sixteen is quite young, by anyone's measure." Retaining her spoon in her right hand, she lifts her glass with her left, taking a healthy mouthful of the sweetly spiced wine, allowing it to cleanse her pallate by retaining it in her mouth before swallowing it down. "As you said, you have years before you need to concern yourself with finding a wife and settling down, whereas I…" She lifts her shoulders in a small half-shrug. She leaves the rest unsaid. "You'll be staying at your family's townhouse, I imagine. I went to a party there a year or more ago. It was held in the gardens with candles in jars that were hung from the trees, and courtesans of Lis d'Or put on a quite magical play for the guests."

"I don't abide with the notion that age is some sort of great distiller of wisdom. Time is not a teacher. That's something old people say to justify their positions and to let them talk down to us, the young. There are wise old people, and I'll admit, more wise old people than wise young people, but .. nevermind," Yves stops himself and scratches at his head a little and goes back to leaning over his stew, trying to eat a bit more of it before it can start to catch the draft from outside. Listening to her, he nods his head and asks, "Whereas you..?" he mirrors her words when she leaves that thought unfinished. His eyes alert and attentive and watchful. "And.. that sounds wonderful, I'd have liked to have seen it."

"Of course time is a teacher." Desarae frowns, then goes back to her stew. She seems cross with it however, or cross with Yves perhaps, and she pokes at it with her spoon as if the piece of potato within it were something, or someone, that's fallen from favour. A heavy sigh filters through her lips. "Whereas I will more than likely be wed at eighteen." Her eyes lift back to his, though with the way she holds her head angled down, they're heavily veiled by the fall of her lashes. She's watching him however, and he'll be able to discern that much by the glimmer of green that's visible. "And no. I don't know who that will be just as yet, though I'm sure it'll be a terribly good political match."

Yves doesn't seem the sort to get philosophical, it's not in his nature, but this is one of those things he has thought about a touch more than other things. And he struggles with the words he wants to use, to convey some thought he'd had at some point, but he isn't a scholar and it takes him a long moment. "Experience is the teacher, not time. A turbulent life will teach a person life lessons far swifter than an easy one," he decides and nods his head at his own words. "Not yet? What sort of political match is favored for you, then? I have to admit, I don't really understand how someone decides what is politically advantageous and what isn't. I get the administration of a land, and the fighting, and the need to marry, but why one marriage is better than another, it seems terribly um.. contrived."

A stifled laugh comes from outside the alcove, and Desarae's head lifts, eyes rolling a little as she tucks her hair behind her ears. She scowls in the direction of her Cassiline, licking her spoon clean before placing it neatly back in her bowl. Her sigh is quite pained. "Of course it's contrived. It's marriage, not love." she explains with all the patience of a mother explaining something to a child. "My aunt and advisors will look for a match which is of the greatest benefit to House Mereliot. It might be that I will be given a choice, but then again I might not. I only trust that I will not be prey to this recent fashion for marrying foreign royalty. I wish to keep my blood, and the blood of my children, untainted by such things. We have a heritage to protect, after all."

Yves seems to notice the support from the Cassaline, but doesn't show it. He can keep a straight face when it isn't about sex and Desarae is very good at not bringing that up, which has made her one of his favorite conversations in Marsilikos: "Yes, but can't anything that isn't a terrible match be a good match, if you look at it from the right angle? I understand that marrying the fifth son of a house not doing so well would be a poor choice, but how do you choose between the second son of a rich house and a first son of another? How do you weigh the respective merits of a family that produces a strong lusty family with you know, like, muscles and keen minds, vs. a rich one that produces weak chinned fops? It's contrived. There is single metric and no one true way to evaluate marriage potential, right? Or is there?"

Desarae studies Yves, fingers breaking a further piece from the loaf. Still warm from the oven, she dips it into her stew and wipes it around to soak up the last of the gravy from the edges of the bowl. "To be pedantic about it, if we're talking about my own match, there won't be any first sons. First sons generally inherit titles, and that over-complicates things. This child to this family, the next to the other. Boys here, and girls there. No. My future husband is pretty much guaranteed to be unlanded, but with connections that will make him invaluable. It won't matter if he's a chinless 'fop' as you put it, or the best swordsman in Terre d'Ange." A face is pulled. "Whilst it'd be lovely to have someone that could take command of the armies of Chavaise, skills such as that can simply be bought."

"What sort of connections? As in, knowing people here, or as in having family back home that provide something useful?" Yves asks and watches her as she watches him. Studious and interested, this seems to be quite fascinating to him. The touch of Camael in him making him listen to everything as if it were some grand strategy he had to master. "For instance, my family isn't so rich, but we have strong arms, wool, joie, how does that reckon in the algebra of marriage necessity?" he asks, not necessarily weighing himself against her prospects, but a question of his future. He couldn't ask the former without blushing and feeling terribly awkward, so perhaps it's for the best that it hadn't occurred to him that it might be taken that way.

"I don't know." Desarae says honestly. "It could be anything. Resources that we don't otherwise have access to. Extra ships. Ports where we might install Eisandine fleets. Particularly fertile holdings. Closer ties to the throne. It could even be to heal a rift between families." A slow breath isblown away, and she transfers the last of her bread to her mouth. "I'm surprised that your family hasn't already started plotting and planning your own future, if it's doing as poorly as you say that it is. Which branch of Valliers is it, anyway? Perhaps I might know of someone and could make suggestions as to whom would be suitable."

"As I said, I'm here to put myself into the mind of the Duchess so when it comes time for some future girl to find a mate, she looks to me, remember? And I didn't say we were doing bad, I said we're not rich, at least I don't think so," Yves clarifies but seems to have been paying attention to her explanation as he doesn't ask for further explanation. Some hint of understanding on his face there. "Oh, and I'm the son of the Duc Valliers, my brother Phileas is the heir, my brother Roche is here in town, married to the Lady Jacqueline D'Aiglemort," he mentions a few of his oldest brothers and .. fuzzily may mention others if asked..

Desarae's mouth skews, and there's another snort of ill-concealed amusement from her Cassiline. Desarae sighs and pushes her bowl away. "I'm sure that as son of Duc Valliers, you'll have little trouble in finding a match. There are more than enough young heiresses here in Eisande, and all of them hungry for sons of Ducs." An almost-but-not-quite-completely-there-yet smile attempts to find her lips, cracking a little of that composure with which she tends to armour herself from the world in general. "I think I may have met your brother a while ago, but only in passing. His marrying the future Duchesse d'Aiglemort can only be of benefit to yourself, don't you think?" A pause, her eyes attentive as she watches for his reaction. "Connections, don't you see? Not only are you the son of Duc Valliers, but your sister-in-law will someday rule Camlach."

"You think so? Well, we'll see, I guess, I really don't know what to make of the whole thing, it's not something I'm really accustomed to talking about, but I do appreciate that you're explaining it to me," Yves mentions and smiles at her a bit awkwardly, like he has been eating something he shouldn't have and is only now getting caught with his hand in the jar. Taking a moment, he thinks for a second and then asks, "So, what sort of things do you do when it isn't snowing us in? Besides educating wayward young noblemen in cellars?"

Desarae likewise, looks a little awkward, but it'd be for different reasons than the ones that make Yves feel that way. "Mostly I have lessons to catch me up. Economics. Politics. History and so on." A bite of her lip as she reaches for her glass, but at some point during their conversation it's cooled, rendering it a sickly sweet jumble of cold wine and fruit. "And reading. I like reading too. Poetry, travel, adventures." Probably most anything that takes her thoughts from the here and now. She looks into her glass, and despondency shows on her face.

"Of course. So like me, you're out of place, learning to deal with a new life of sorts. How about riding? Do you ever go riding? How about dancing, when's the last time you danced for fun?" Yves asks, picking up on some of that despondency and leading her along gently. His hands lifting his cider, he sips at it a little, not even really noticing that it's colder. The stew bowls collected at some point in the conversation when it's apparent they're no longer being used.

"I ride a little," Desarae notes, "but it wasn't something felt to be necessary in the armoury of skills taught us novices. "I've been having lessons since leaving the salon, but by no means could I be considered proficient. I also have a merlin which our falconer's been teaching me to handle and fly, and I've enjoyed learning to hunt with him. But there isn't really that much to do when the weather's as bad as it's been. A walk to the docks to watch the ships come and go is always diverting, as well as the salons, of course." A tilt of her head. "Have you visited them yet? If you've not visited Rose Sauvage, I could make introductions for you, should you wish it. Séverine is the Second of the Red Roses there, and she's terribly lovely. I'm afraid I have no idea whether you enjoy their canon or not." She arches one brow.

"We should go riding when the weather is better," Yves suggests amiably and that grin on his face grows as he listens to her tell him of her various distractions. He enjoys distractions which are fruitful and interesting, and martial in bent. The docks even have a purpose in such designs. He's smiling right up until she asks about his visits to the Salons, and he blushes deeply at the question. "Well, yes, I've been there, but it isn't my sort of thing, no. I don't relish the idea of paying for companionship, no matter how many times someone tries to tell me that it's a tithe, or something like that," he explains.

Desarae crinkles her nose. "Then I suppose that you will simply have to rely upon seducing companions into your bed, my lord. I suppose there's fun to be had in that, but it's so much easier to take a contract." Teeth snick at her lower lip, and whereas he is full of blushes and embarrassment, she's remarkably lacking in the same. "But yes. I think that I'd like that. There's an agreeable ride which cuts out of the city and all the way to la Cascade. It's a day's trip all told, and something that is better undertaken in warmer days than those that we're currently enjoying. Come the spring, and if you remain in the South, we could do that."

"I will? Oh, yes, I s.. suppose I will," Yves says and continues to blush but it fades a bit as she changes the subject back to something he's more comfortable with. Riding again. "I don't mind riding in the winter, once the snows are past. Just have to have a plan, it helps to have encampments or a place to stay already notified. When we had to go out during winter, which was fairly rare, since armies tend not to get too extended, and it was mostly skirmishes— we'd aim for forts, usually," he explains and seems to be imagining the ride. "Or falconing. I enjoy talking with you, you don't, you know, make me feel awkward."

"That is, if you wish to honor Naamah. Not everyone does." Desarae clears her throat, her eyes cutting to her Cassiline's back where he waits vigilant by the side of the alcove. He clears his throat in reply. And there it is. A smile. It slowly flickers to life on her face, quite transforming the previous sobriety of her features. "I suppose that we could ride in the snow, so long as we don't go too far. Perhaps out to the tournament ground, or the forest just beyond the edge of it. And why should I wish to make you feel awkward or uncomfortable?" she asks amusement showing in her voice whilst that smile still lingers on her lips. "You've done nothing that would make me dislike you enough to do that, nor do I hope that you would."

"I do love as I will it, I just don't will it, you know, all the time," Yves replies, managing to say it without stuttering, but that faint redness in his ears can be picked out from a mile away. He notices the exchange of glances, and the acknowledgement. "I don't think most women here wish to make me uncomfortable, they act like they normally do, and the way women normally act in Marsilikos tends to make me— awkward," he explains with at definitive pause before he speaks again. "Though I think one or two of them, one in particular, said I," he pauses again to search for the words, "Had a touch of the Alyssum, and it amused her to make me um.. squirm."

"I think there are very few that will it all the time," Desarae remarks. "I mean, it'd leave very little time for everything else, wouldn't it? And then how would a person get anything done?" She studies Yves closely in the seconds that follow, and notes the fetching shades of red that progress through his ears. A puckering of her brow. "You'll probably find that you become less embarrassed and easy to tease the longer that you're here. Though we're all d'Angeline underneath, the cultures of the north and the south can seem terribly different when examined side by side. You'll either get over it, or you won't. One thing is certain, however. And that is, that even if you don't there are those that find it terribly endearing. The Alyssums would not exist were that not the case, and yet here they are, one of the most sought after of courtesans amongst the canons."

He'd just complimented her for not discussing these things, and there she goes, discussing them, Yves just grows more and more embarassed at how awkward it all makes him feel and stomachs it as best he can. He knows she's right, he feels better than he had a few months ago, and handles it better, but he knows they can see his reactions clearly. "So, um, a change of subject, maybe? Or, am I keeping you too long? I feel like I've been keeping you too long," he says and glances towards one of the Cellar's non-existent windows to see if he can't make out some sort of time in that gusty snow. Finding no windows there, he just slowly looks back to Desarae and smiles a little.

Desarae's smile fades, and seeing his discomfort and the manner in which he appears to look for an escape, she decides to take matters into her own hands. "Actually, you're probably right. I have spent too much time here, and even now people have probably been sent to fetch me back. Escaping is good, but all good things come to an end…" She rises to her feet and steps out of the alcove. It's surprising how quickly the Wine Cellar's staff materialise about her; one to drape her sable cloak about her shoulders, one with packages from an earlier shopping spree, and another simply because. "Could you send the bill for our meal to the palace please," she instructs yet another that appears, probably to simply dance attendance upon the Duchess' niece. She's possessed of a quiet air of command as she deals with the nitty gritty of taking her leave, and sobriety settles upon her as heavily as her cloak upon her shoulders. She turns to Yves, and ghosts him a smile. "Let me know when you wish to go riding. Yes?" And barring his tripping her up and keeping her captive, she'll turn then to leave in the shadow of her Cassiline.

Yves suggests amiably, "Or you could send for me, if you wish to get another cider before the storm has fully passed," and rises to his feet with her, offering her a passing bow as she starts to prepare to leave. He watches her work a bit like he'd seen his mother work in the past, and other women of command, and senses that she'll do just fine. "But yes, I'll send for you, of course, it was a pleasure meeting you, my lady," he says and starts to put on his own cloak and jacket again, bundling up as proof against the startling cold beyond the Cellar door.

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