(1311-02-10) Lunch Introduction
Summary: Drake introduces Rajiya to Helene. Business is discussed. Philomene arrives late, and ends up leaving soon afterwards not too happy with views on marriage expressed by Rajiya and Helene.
RL Date: 02-10-2019
Related: None
drake helene philomene rajiya 

Dining Room - Rousse Townhouse

The dining-room is paneled in softly gleaming walnut, set with medallions showing the arms of House Rousse and other delicate examples of a master carpenter's art. The parquet floor underfoot is almost completely eclipsed by a large, complex, many-coloured Akkadian carpet. A quartet of panoramic and gloriously mendacious oil paintings of famous historical sea battles are placed two apiece upon the longer walls, above marble-topped tables and commodes of marquetry and gilded bronze. At one end of the room tall, many-paned windows facing the courtyard are (according to the hour of the day) framed or shielded by drapes of heavy crimson brocade. At the other end their positions are balanced by mirrors framing an enormous fireplace of porphyry and gilt. After sunset light comes courtesy of candles in gilded sconces with looped crystal beading, and a chandelier above.

The table itself seats twenty-four on an ordinary day, or thirty-two with the extra leaves put in and the extra chairs (armless, gilded, upholstered in the same crimson brocade as the curtains) gathered from where they stand against the walls. Its monumental mottled golden-and-white marble surface is inlaid at each place with the image of a fanciful, stylised, absurdly intricate bouquet of roses and lilies, in coloured stone: however, this inlay is never seen, being perpetually shrouded in a series of linen tablecloths edged with the finest Valenciennes lace.

Those surfaces not required for the relaying of foodstuffs from kitchens to table (and, in addition, recessed shelving between each pair of paintings) are employed in the display of some previous, notable Rousse's collection of porcelain from Ch'in. Far from being treated as museum pieces these precious, fragile, blue and white or lavishly coloured bowls and vases and urns are constantly filled with unscented flowers, to brighten every meal.

The entrance in the corner, hidden in the paneling in the corner farthest from the doors to the great hall, is solely for the use of servants.

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

Drake has started to invite friends and acquaintances to the Rousse Residence in order to introduce his betrothed to people (and them to her). One of those who received an invitation to a light luncheon was the Lady Helene. Both she and Rajiya would be guided to the smaller familiar dining room where the table has been set and servants are standing to attention.

Arriving slightly early, Rajiya stands with Drake, likely finding out exactly who is on the guest list for the afternoon's lunch appointed. Dressed in a simple outfit of Bhodistan origins, the dark burgandy highlights her exoticness. As always, even here, there is one guard in black standing nearby. Faithful Chetana.

Hélène has taken unusual care in preparing for this luncheon. Gone are her usual worday dresses, replaced instead with one of those lovely silk concoctions that her mother kept insisting she own. It is a deep burgundy, shading into purple, worn with peach coloured pearls. When she arrives, there is a hint of nervousness in her expression, but also her characteristic warmth, the biggest giveaway to her nerves the way she spins her signet ring around using her thumb. When she is led in, she curtseys immediately, green eyes lowering to the floor before looking up to both of them.

Drake smiles when the visitor is being shown in. "Lady Helene, how kind of you to come!" He takes her hand to bring it up for the briefest of kisses, before before looking to Rajiya: "This is Lady Helene Verreuil, the Baronesse de Poumarous, a good friend of our mutual friend Lady Philomene. Lady Helene, this is the woman I've spoken of - my betrothed, the Princess Rajiya of Bhodistan."

As the new arrival is shown in, Rajiya's gaze studies her as Drake greets her. A smile is worn upon her lips, and with the introduction, she dips her head to Helene, "It is a pleasure to finally put a face to the name I have heard a few times spoken." Her voice is quite enchanting, it's tones sweet and soft, her D'Angeline spoken with barely an accent.

"And I the same Your Highnes, both your beloved, and the Viscomtesse have spoken very highly of you," Helene answers as she rises at last. She lets her hands still, clasped in front of her and adds warmly, "And allow me to offer my deepest congratulations on your engagement. I can see how devoted the Lord Drake is to you, and hope you both very happy together."

Drake smiles a little, glad to see them exchange pleasantries. "Shall we sit?", he suggests, gesturing to the table. The servants are already on hand to move chairs and pour wine.

Rajiya cannot help but smile all the more as her gaze moves to Drake, "I thank you. May I say that I am as devoted to him." Happy cannot begin to describe the look upon her face. Stepping back, she nods, moving towards a seat at the table, though she is quick to offer, "I understand as well that condolences should be offered to you, Lady Helene, upon the passing of your father?" There's a spike in the aroma about her, the scent of apples to come to play in the perfume, "Truly, I am sorry to hear of your loss."

There is a sharpening to Helene's expression, a pulling at her cheeks and eyes as she answers, "Thank you Your Highness. It is still… very recent. I am ure in time it will…" But what it will she does not finish. She takes a deep, steadying breath instead and moves to the offered seat to take it. Wine is accepted gratefully, and hile for a moment it looks as though she will begin to speak once more, she pauses instead to watch them a moment before remarking, "But happier things are afoot. May I ask when your wedding will be?"

Drake knows better than to comment on Helene's father and put his foot in again. Well, Rajiya is the diplomat of the pair. "We are planning a large reception in the next weeks to formally announce the wedding. We haven't got a date yet, but it will be in early summer, giving people the chance to travel.", he explains instead.

"I can only imagine." The soft words are offered, her tone comforting. Rajiya actually does reach over, to offer a quick squeeze of her hand to Helene's if allowed before taking her seat and following the change of topic. "A party first, here. I had hoped that my cousin and Jelene would stay long enough, but they decided to head on to Bhodistan. My parents won't make it here in time either."

The hand is squeezed in return, and Helene looks to the younger woman gratefully as she nods her head, "Thank you. I hope at least your parents will make it in time for the wedding itself? And I had heard of the betrothal fete I hope to make it unless trade pulls me away again. It does, rather often in fact. I know I told Drake I tend not to favour large fetes, but I assuredhim I would make an exception for this one." She gives Drake a broader smile and adds, "Perhaps with the Viscomtesse, after all, she can hardly bring her new handmaid."

"And it is very much appreciated.", Drake smiles at Helene, when she mentions coming, before he looks at Rajiya again. "You know, we can always determine the wedding date once your parents know when they can arrive here…"

"Handmaid?" Rajiya does question, glancing from Helene to Drake, brow arched upwards. "As for the date, we cannot wait for papa or mama to attend. There is no telling when they would be able to arrive, between things that might be going on there, and the trip here. We can have another party to introduce them, hmm?"

"Of course you can, I just imagine it would be special to have your parents there for the celebrations, but needs must as they say," Helene answers before taking her wine and raising it to them, "But, whether they are here or not, here is to a happy union, and a memorable wedding. Please, tell me if there is anything I can do to help." She raises the glass higher then takes a small sip.

"The Viscomtesse is rather enamored with a handmaiden her friend brought from Elua. I saw her trying to buy the young woman a knife as a show of affection." She chuckles again, smile growing impish.

"Of course, whatever you wish, my dear.", Drake smiles at Rajiya. The brief look of disappointment disappears when Helene toasts them. "To a happy union." He blows Rajiya a kiss across the table, before they focus on the latest gossip. "A knife as a show of affection… why am I absolutely not surprised?"

Rajiya blushes a little, but composes herself soon enough, her own glass taken and raised as the toast is given, "To a most happy union." The blown kiss only makes the princess smile further, nevermind the color that rises a little darker upon her cheeks. As they discuss this handmaid, she seems surprised in some ways, but laughs softly at Drake's words, "Not totally surprised, no."

"Well it is lovely to see her so besotted. I think she spends too much time seeking matche for her aughters, and not enough seekng happiness for herself," Helene tells them as she sets her glass down. "Now, Drake was telling me the other day of how you met on the road to Elua, but I am most intrigued to hear you tell of your meeting, and your voyage together Princess Rajiya."

"Oh, I've been TELLING her that!", Drake exclaims on the issue of the lady's own happiness, "She is so stubborn though, she makes a mule look cuddly by comparison." HE falls silent again though, so that Rajiya can get her tale in.

"It is not always easy for some to see to their own happiness. There are times I think for whatever reason, she believes she does not deserve it." Rajiya says quietly before tilting her head, the glass paused, "We met in the square first where we discussed Chi'in, and the fact I could speak it.." The memory makes her smile, "It was after many lessons and talk of the festivities in the City of Elua, that Drake asked if I would like to travel with he and his sister, instead of making the trip alone."

"That must be advantageous, given the Lord Drake and Lady Philomene have interests in Ch'in, even they will now be delayed a bit," Helene answers, "Indeed when first we met we spoke of them, as the Viscomtesse and I have trade agreements in place. My fammily is in shipping, and we have a port in Siovale." The explanation is given matter-of-factly, just to add context to the remarks. "Though, I believe Bhodistan a more liekly trade partner than Ch'in now? I have been learning the language myself, though, I cannot speak it, only read… somewhat. I'm only a couple of months in."

"Yes, of course Bhodistan is now the more attractive option.", Drake agrees and smiles, "I would want to keep learning Chi'inese as well as Bhodistani, if only to converse with my future family. And ideally to visit some time." He's not surprised Helene brings up the port. She loves talking about her port. Luckily the servants reappear just then, bringing the first course - some light seafood arranged on lettuce.

"I would see why one would have to give up thoughts on trade with Chi'in, even if there are certainly some to be done with Bhodistan." Rajiya is quick to say to both, "My father has served as Chi'in ambassador many years, as I have said to Drake. With his help, trade would be easy." With the servants arriving with the first course, she studies it, no doubt, asking something is after trying and liking it. Still learning D'Angeline cuiseine.

Helene grew up next to the water, so the first course is met with delight and enthusiasm, Helene only witing for one of them to take the first bite before beginning herself. There is a moment where her eyes close contentedly as she savours the first few bites before resuming conversation, "That would be very helpful indeed. And yes, I do like speaking about the port. It has been such a large project, and now that it is fully operational, and ready for the busy spring and summer shipping seasons, I am really quite proud of what we have accomplished." Another sip of wine and then she tells Rajiya, "The port is designed to move goods between sea routes and inland river routes as efficiently as possible. I actually first came to Marsilikos in order to secure more business for it, and promote the new system."

"Bhodistan is pretty much en route to Chi'in, perhaps a little further than half-way?", Drake suggests, showing that he knows a thing or two of geography. "While I have no doubt that Bhodistan can offer us a great deal of interesting trade, I still believe that Chi'inese silks and teas are ultimately what brings us riches…" He looks to Helene thoughtfully. "We've only used the port of Marsilikos so far… what advantages has yours to offer?"

It's afternoon, and the trio are seated in the dining room where the first seafood course has been placed before them. The talk is about Chi'in and Bhodistan trade along with the new port in Siovale. Rajiya listens to the pair, nodding to Drake, "You are correct in your assumption. Trade with both could easily be done. And while Chi'in has silks and tea, there are other things you could trade for from Bhodistan."

"Well for starters it is several days closer to the sea's entrance, removing days from the journey. The ssytem to move goods from the sea ships to the river barges is also a benefit, as it reduces both the cost of labour in moving the goods, and the cost of warehousing, if you are able to transfer fully in a single day or two, rather than the usual week or more depending on the weight of the goods. As a newer port, the moorage fees are also very competetive, and we are arranging facilities for brokerage to move goods one futher, and assist with trade in Aragonia, Hellas, Caerdicca, and the interrior provinces of course," Helene explains happily.

"Elephants and stripey horses!", Drake grins at Rajiya, perhaps not entirely seriously on what kind of trade he plans with Bhodistan. "Where exactly is your port then?", he turns to Helene, curiously, "Considering Siovale is to the west of us, surely ships plying the sea would reach Marsilikos first? And Draguignan is even further east and up in the mountains, so I'm not sure how we can profit from river transport."

"Zebras." Rajiya says, laughing softly. Intrigued is she as they discuss the new port, gaze thoughtful as she continues to nibble on her food as they talk.

"Well it depends where you are going, the west is the gateway to the far east. There is no direct interior passage from the sea here to Bhodistan, or Ch'in, and if you are trasporting to Aragonia, we are closer. We are also closer to the Northern routes. As for Draguignan, the longer you keep your goods on the water, the faster it ships. So, uif you only need a short period of land tranport to get down the mountains before transferring to water, the better it is," Helene explains.

There's a brief couple of knocks on the door, almost apologetic in nature, then the somewhat drawn face of Philomene eases round it. She clears her throat softly, murmuring, "I'm so sorry I'm late, might you forgive me?"

"Yes, we have a small port by the sea we use, by the river Argens. We have to transport our wine by donkey downhill and then downriver to the port and whatever is imported, is brought up the same way. But Draguignan is small, I was planning to run my imports from Chi'in through Marsilikos here and onwards through the whole country." They are interrupted and he smiles when Philomene appears. "Ah, look, who it is. I trust you prefer we talk WITH you instead of ABOUT You?", he teases the woman and gestures for her to take a seat at the table. No introductions are necessary. A fourth plate with the first course appears as quickly as wine.

"Ah Philomene! I am glad to see you, as always," Helene says with a grin, rising to greet her, afterall, she is the lowest ranking at the table. "We were discussing trade routes, and the various benefits of ports here versus my family's in Siovale." She waits for the elder to take her seat before Helene takes her own once more.

"I dream of the day that my life is interesting enough that people speak about me," Philomene insists drily as she limps her way over to the empty space at the table, giving those gathered a polite smile before she freezes the expression in place and lowers herself into the seat. "As for trade routes, I should suspect that if the trade comes from a land route and thence by ship from Ephesium, you'd want to dock here, but if the passage is round the south of Carthage, as it surely must be for larger bulk quantities, then Siovale is the obvious choice. Unless a port can be made available in Aragonia?"

"Wait… Siovale has two coasts. Which coast are we talking about anyway?", Drake asks suddenly. A kingdom for a globe. Instead he finishes the seafood and washes the last shrimp down with some wine. "Anyway, many things from Chi'in and Bhodistan are transported overland, like the Lady Philomene says and the ships can dock in our port on the coast near Draguignan."

Rajiya smiles, welcoming Philomene as well, though she seems quiet for the most part as Drake and Helene discuss this trade route. Interested, yes, though merely listening as she eats. "I am guessing that the port is on this side of Siovale? And while Marsilikos is likely the bigger port, having one that could take advantage of a straight way across Siovale to the other side, could be a good thing to have?"

"Exactly, Your Highness. The southern one, and I am not saying it is the best decision for you and your lands with where they are situated, only that it is a viable, and economical alternative to Marsilikos for many. Moorage here is at a premiuim being the largest and most reknowned port, so a second large operation for the spillover, or those who wish more use of the rivers is an exciting development," Helene explains with a chuckle, not tryng to convince him to sign on, only of the merit, at least for now. "And most lands do not keep their own ports, or if they do, they are too small for the larger ships to moor at, and tendering is a painful process. They have to transfer goods for ocean going ships from smaller ships before they continue on. Adn Terra Nova is west of ehre too."

"What are the tariffs like?" Philomene asks, picking at the plate in front of her. Well, she's never got a huge appetite, does she? "If you can reduce those considerably for luxury goods, then you've not only got an excellent marketing tool, but a chance to reduce the amount of smuggling that goes on along the south coast."

"The south coast is impossible to control and your average D'Angeline likes nothing more than to get one over the authorities.", Drake grins and shrugs. "Anyway, I'm sure the main Rousse will appreciate your port. If you want more business from them, I could have a word with Lady Chimene.", he even offers. The eastern part of Siovale being the Rousse's homeland, Roussillon. Because geography is all wonky.

Rajiya nods, listening to them each speak up in time, making those small mental notes as to what is said. Still picking up on the particulars here in Terre d'Ange is she. "I can see how you might make some enemies.." A pause there, a consideration, "Perhaps not enemies, but there will likely be those not too terriblly pleased with this port opening up. They'll see it as taking money away from their own pockets."

"The customs tariffs are set by those above my station, but Matthieu the Ducal Heir, assured me they were competetive wth Marsilikos, even advantageous. What it will do for smuggling? I do not know. My brother mentioned there ha been a bit more black amrket activity along the coast when I was there, but nothing actionable yet. As for competition? If we were not doing this, someone else would. There will be some cross juridictional issues, no doubt, but I do not expect widespread retaliation," Helene explains to Philomene.

She turns to Drake and answers, "Perhaps, but the port is under the direct jurisdiction of the provincial Duc currently. The Rocaille family hs invested deeply in it. I would appreciate the contact nonetheless."

Philomène holds up a finger, setting down her knife and fork with the fish course barely even touched. "Reduce the smuggling. There's never a chance it'll stop. But if it's less of a burden to bring goods in legally, it weighs the pros and cons of smuggling differently.

"I'll see what I can do.", Drake promises Helene about sending Rousse trade her way. He is clearly bored by the trade talk already and cheers up when the servants bring in the next course - bowls of diced colourful vegetables, whole baked fish in a delightful herby crust, tiny chicken pieces swimming in a creamy sauce. "I hope that some time I can invite you to try Bhodistani specialities.", he offers, "I've been trying to find a cook."

Rajiya hmms, nodding, "I wish you much success with the port, and that any headaches that pop up are easily handled." Overall, she seems to believe it will benefit the area, and the people. As the plates are taken away, and the second course is brought in, she picks up her fork, scooping up a bit of fish and vegetables, "I will see about asking mama if she knows someone that might be willing to travel here.." An exchange of servants, perfectly easy, right?

"I have never tried Bhodistani cuisine," Helene tells them as the converstion shifts. "What is it like?" She is happy enough ti seesm with what has been placed in front of her, and eats with the same slow relish as she did the first course.

Once again, Philomene barely picks at her meal, mostly moving food around the plate rather than actually eating it. "Oh, but what about your renowned Chi'inese cuisine, Lord Drake? It was truly unforgettable, I assure you all," she nods solemnly to the rest of the assorted guests. "I was frankly amazed."

"A proper Bhodistani cook would be terrific.", Drake smiles at Rajiya, "I suppose you would love to eat more dishes from home? I haven't had much exposure either, but it's far more spicy than ours.", he explains to Helene, before giving Philo a look. "I TRIED MY BEST", he says firmly.

Rajiya nods, though she is quick to say, "For some, depending on how they look at their religion, they refuse to eat meat of any kind. Some will only eat seafood. Growing up with mama being from Terre D'Ange, our household say a blending of recipes that she would get from here at home. Our cook learned how to make many.. odd… dishes." Amusement is shown before she glances to Drake, "Chi'in? How did you cook it?"

"Oh I believe Philomene was teasing you about this when we first met Lord Drake?" Helene answers, smirking slightly at him, anxious to hear tell.

"I have no doubt I was teasing him about something, so it may well have been his cooking," Philomene agrees amiably, spearing a final vegetable (she's eaten no more than four mouthfuls). "It is meant, of course, with great fondness."

"Badly.", admits dryly to Rajiya's question, then chuckles. "I found some Chi'inese recipes and was able to aquire a few specialities in the market… and just tried my best preparing them." Well, they were edible. But the food in front of him is clearly better and tucks in with great gusto.

"I did not know eh could cook at all, et alone something foreign he has never made," Helene remarks. "I wonder when and how that skill was picked up," she adds as she finishes her own plate and reaches for her wine.

Rajiya seems impressed to hear of Drake's ability to cook something more than just a sandwich. "Hmm." She might have something more to say, but decides against it, instead, turning back to the other ladies, "Who knows.."

Philomène holds up a hand. "Let's not be too full of praise. It was… basically pretty awful," she informs them solemnly. "We did have to head out to the tavern and get something else instead. I wouldn't give up your regular cooks for him, ladies."

Helene chuckles gently, her head shaking, "Well no. My cook is my guard Jean-Marc's wife, and they have both worked for my family for long enough that they really are our family. I think I would face terrible consequences were I to try and replace Marie with Lord Drake."

Rajiya laughs softly, "I am not about to give up any cook for him, even if I do love him." That said, she wrinkles her nose slightly, "I can only imagine how horrible it was. It is not easy to cook, and I lived there many years while my father was ambassador. But I think it's safe to say that a different cuiseine is not easy to make. At least he was trying?"

"Just don't let him try again," Philomene insists solemnly, then flashes an easy smile. "Did I mention the new cook we have? An absolute marvel, you should all come round to supper some evening."

"Did you buy her a knife in the end?" Helene asks, giving Rajiya and Drake a meaningful look, apparently the woman has come up in conversation already.

Rajiya lifts a hand, as if making that vow as Drake mutters and is drawn away from the meal by something or another. Chuckling quietly, she glances to Helene, then to Philomene at the question put forth.

"Bought it, handed it over, turns out she not only has one, she forged it herself with her father when she was young, how about that, hm?" Philomene responds, one third impressed, one third exasperated, and the last third resignedly amused. "The perfect Camaeline woman."

"Have oy considered giving her a new sheaf for her knife instead?" Helene suggests gently, expression turning sympathetic. "Oh, and any luck matching off your daughters yet?" That is always an excellent turn of conversation with Philomene, and Helne looks curiously at her.

There are aspects of relationships that seems Rajiya is not quite up on. "A sheath for her knife would certainly make for a good gift, I would imagine? Even if she has one, giving her something different.. it is like having a different pair of shoes for the same dress, no?" When match-making comes up, she ohs, listening, while servants come in to clear and prepare them for dessert.

Philomène waves off the advice with good humour, shaking her head. "You win some, you lose some, but she's really quite loyal to Leda." She turns to Rajiya to explain, "The new maid actually belongs to my houseguest, but I had hoped to steal her away" She shrugs a shoulder, taking up her wine for a sip, thumb absently running around the rim. "Laurene, though… we shall see. I've made tenative overtures with a northern gentleman, but he's made noises about wanting somebody a little older with more experience. I'm hoping her maturity will sway him, however, as I believe it could be a good fit, and she'd be happy in the north."

Helene listens and nods, "Well I hope things work out well for you and for her, and no doubt the gentleman too. Of course, some people do prefer a more mature partner, but hopefully, if it would make a good match, Laurene can sway him. Is she going to be coming to Marsilikos soon?"

"Ah, I see." Rajiya says once things are explained to her, the dessert gaining her attention if but briefly before she turns back to the conversation. "Perhaps they might spend a little time with one another somehow? Let him have the chance to get to know her, see her maturity?" It's certainly an idea, yes?

"Laurene… takes after her father," Philomene pronounces delicately. "She's very definitely a healthy, Agnacite woman. Wonderful personality, excellent knowledge of farming… I'm not sure how well she'd fit in here, and I do want her to be happy. I'd hoped to make the arrangements without her needing to travel."

"And how do you intend to convince him of her suitability if they do not meet?" Helene asks curiously, her brow furrowing slightly.

"Indeed…" Rajiya would say, nodding to Helene's question, "What of extending an invitation then for him to visit her at home?" If the girl can't come to the guy, send the guy to the girl!

"I never met my husband before I married him," Philomene argues, thumb still running around the rim of her glass. "She's an excellent match for a gentleman in his prime. Going to visit is a long way for little gain, surely? Surely?" What, none of them are going to back her up here?

"Or the only way to convince someone of a match. I cannot imagine ever marrying someone my family recommended without ever meeting them first, and I would not do that to any of my siblings either," Helene answers a bit repproachfully. "They both have the right to refuse the match, but how will they know they are in fact very ill suited if they never meet?"

Rajiya is quiet, but soon speaks up after Helene's own words, her head already nodding a few times, "I was sent here to marry, if a suitable match could be found. And while I did leave it somewhat to the royals to help me make that decision, I still had a say in it after meeting Drake. Is not an alliance between families better when at least the pair are well matched? Nothing good can come from those that are ill-suited to one another."

"I agree with her Highness," Helene says firmly, thoug her lips do quirk into a half smile, "And she has traelled much further than your daughter would need to. Now, where is this gentleman from, and what makes you think they will be well suited?"

"Well, perhaps I ought to give the gentleman the chance, then," Philomene allows, if a little doubtfully. "We shall see. He's just one option, anyway. I'm sure there will be others, before I bore you with details that never come to pass."

"Or perhaps your daughter should give him the chance?" Rajiya murmurs, slightly amused, "Not to say that love cannot happen for those that never meet beforehand. My mama met papa only once before their betrothal was finalized and she sailed off to Bhodistan to be married to him." At least it wasn't a meeting on the deck of the ship!

"But she still met him. And yes, perhaps they should give noe another a chance if you are convinced ti would make a suitable union," Helene answers. She smiles again at Rajiya, nodding to her story, "Well my own parents met on a ship, but they were both travelling back from Tiberium, and had a good long while to get to know one another before they petitioned their families. She was a younger daughter fo Rocaille, and my father the heir to the Baronnie at the time. It worked out well."

Philomène exhales, shaking her head. "It's not about love, damn it all. A marriage is about an alliance. What does it matter if you even like them? You do your duty, and the family name goes on." She sets down her glass, then with her hand flat on the table, pushes herself up to rise to her feet in a single movement, eyes flashing for a moment with the pain. "Lord Drake, thank you for your hospitality, but will you please excuse me?"

Rajiya's lips part, as if to say something to Helene before Philomene's own sharp tone is noted. "It is about an alliance, but as I said, is not one better if the parties at least like one another? Do you not wish something better for your daughters than what you might have had yourself?" Her own tone is soft, yet just as firm as Philomene's is in that moment, "One can have both, if those in charge allow it."

"And it need not even be love. A good alliance can be built on merely not being objectionable to one another," Helene suggests, "But it difficult to know if your personalities will grate unless you meet, or even exchange letters long enough. Or if you learn your intended is someone you find pphysically repulsive. I cannot imagine havnig to bed someone who disgusted me just to make an heir."

Philomène's hands settle at her sides, her expression really most incredibly neutral. It's as though emotion has simply been barred from her body for now. "Good evening, Lord Drake. Ladies," and with that she turns, back absolutely ramrod straight, and makes her slow, limping way for the exit.

Rajiya opens mouth, closes it, watching as Philomene heads out. "Well…" She isn't sure what to say exactly at that point, likely a tad uncertain.

"I… Well…" Helene stammers, her head shaking, "That was… unexpected. I wonder how unahppy her own marriage has been." It is clearly a rhetorical question though, and she reaches instead for her wine to take a deep swallow. "Of course, yours seems well on it's way to happiness."

Drake will likely walk Philomene out, leaving the dining room to the two ladies left. "I am not certain, but I am getting the impression that perhaps it wasn't too happy. I know once, she said something about her husband marrying her despite her injury.." Maybe it wasn't so happy after all. A smile shows then, "I like to think so, yes. But it happened more because his sister found her match, thus allowing her to abdicate her title to him. Otherwise.." It likely wouldn't have happened.
Philomene has disconnected.

"And your brother? They are well suited to one another as well?" Helene asks gently, her eyes lingering on the doorway after Philomene and Drake leave. Her expression is soft, but concerned, her affection for the elder woman showing.

"Jelene is marrying my cousin, though he is much like a brother." Rajiya answers, smiling, "I understand that they both met a few times over the years, at the university both in Tiberium and Angeloume. Thy met again while we were in the City of Elua." Reaching for her drink, she lifts her glass for a sip, still not eating any of the dessert put out yet.

Scene fades with Helene leaving soon afterwards.

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