(1311-02-11) Being Helpful
Summary: Or… not very? A late breakfast in the great hall of the ducal palace, during which the young vicomte de Toulon doesn’t quite ingratiate himself with an elder relative.
RL Date: 13/02/2019
Related: None
emmanuelle marco 

Great Hall — Ducal Palace

High and light colored are the walls of the Great Hall, woods of golden tones used in the wainscoting that reaches till mid-level, with elaborate ornaments of fish chasing each other carved into them. A great hearth governs one end of the hall, with a large shield looming above, showing the coat of arms of House Mereliot. With six tall windows on one side framed by long dark blue curtains of heavy brocade, the wall opposite has a line of a couple of shields of Eisandine Houses, placed at regular intervals, and the pair of impressive double doors, through which courtiers usually will enter. The floor is of polished cream colored marble, enhanced with white inlay work depicting the ever repeating pattern of Mereliot fish. Lighting is provided through the lamps at the walls and three large chandeliers suspended from the arched ceiling, polished glass beads glittering where they catch and magnify the light of candles.


Falling snow has given the Dome of the Lady the appearance of a particularly refined Hellenic cake decoration. It has moreover discouraged those native Eisandine nobles for whom snow is a rare and calamitous occurrence, as well as those visitors who came here expressly to escape the rigours of a northern winter, from infesting the palace precincts in any great numbers.

In late afternoon the great hall is almost empty; though, sitting at her favourite table, comfortably close to a roaring blaze stoked in the hearth by ever-vigilant servants, is a lady clad in a square-shouldered coat of black leather over some other dark garment, with a black silk neckcloth fastened at her throat by a pin in the shape of three golden keys twined together in a delicate triumph of some Elua jeweler's art. To one side of her on the table is a black three-cornered hat and a pair of gloves so fine and fitted that they hold, even now, the shape of her hands, as though they've been sculpted in red leather. Straight in front of her, served by a pretty maid with her heart in her throat and perspiration upon her brow, is a plate containing several rashers of streaky bacon and a modest portion of scrambled eggs done with cheese. Silver cutlery; a glass of fresh milk, with condensation beading upon it to match the poor girl's face; a linen napkin embroidered with the Mereliot fishes, unfolded in the lady's lap by trembling, workworn hands. Standing two paces behind where these cautious operations are taking place, is a man clad in black silk and black velvet, with his hair a mass of long blue-black braids: a lord whose Shahrizai lineage is as unmistakable as the lady's, as she takes up her knife and her fork and commences to address her untimely repast. She is by no means young, though beautiful if one happens to admire severely painted visages, predatory hawklike noses, and blue diamond eyes straight from Kusheth though they first opened in Marsilikos.

Marco picks his way into the great hall. The young Mereliot has a book tucked under his arm as he meanders his way in searching curiously. He pauses in some surprise seeing a figure there. He draws closer to the figure by the fire smiling with curiosity as he draws near. "Oh? I didn't think other people came here to stay comfortable." He meanders over and near considering the remainders of the meal and the person having it. His head tilted considering her clearly gauging her for recognition. The young man seems utterly comfortable in the palace not arrogant but simply familiar with the environs and it's resident and curious at the woman who so contently eats there with the distinct features of another house.

That lady whose Shahrizai physiognomy is neatly accentuated by well-applied paint and well-kept leather, seems not at first to register Marco's words: she slices neatly through another rasher of bacon, combines the piece thus cut off with a precise portion of scrambled eggs, and lifts them together to her mouth without her chilly blue gaze rising higher than whatever point in the middle distance she has chosen to regard in preference to the hall's other denizens.

But when the young man with the book strays nearer the long table where she sits with her back to the fire — there's a measure of audacity in it, in claiming a place occupied on great occasions only by Mereliots high up in the house's main line — and when he crosses, indeed, her line of sight, she looks up at his face and raises one boldly-drawn dark eyebrow at him. She continues chewing. She swallows. She takes a sip of milk from her glass. In none of these gestures is she even remotely hurried. "May I help you, my lord?" she inquires, in a tone cool but not unkind, her accent Eisandine by way of Elua and a bottle of uisghe.

Marco watches curiously not necessarily demanding a response but watching with open curiosity at her response. He watches those chill blue eyes lifting towards him and considers her with curiosity. There's a faint smile as he studies her slowly shifting reaction, "I suppose therein lies the question. But there is probably a more pressing question to ask." He gestures to a seat nearest her, "Do you mind some company? If so I'd be delighted to indulge in the experimental thought of how you might help me. But I wouldn't wish to intrude." He says as he shifts his book from one arm to the other it's flash displays it some tome describing Akkadian language and culture.

"It's more apt, certainly," agrees Emmanuelle; "I am not renowned as a helpful person." This she concedes in a distant drawl, though whilst setting down her knife and essaying with one casual hand a gesture which suggests that the young man is welcome to make himself free of a table which is only by courtesy her own to dispense. She offers him however no further encouragement, but reclaims her knife and addresses another bite of her— late breakfast? Her nails are lacquered a pristine and shining black, curved almost to point; the movements of her hands are absolutely precise, without one scintilla of effort going to waste.

Marco considers her response with clear bemusement. He eases himself into a seat dropping in and watches her for a time, "Oh? You aren't? And why would you say you are not renowned for that. At the worst perhaps this is the day you start." He says as he considers her for several long moments and he smiles, "I don't believe we've had the pleasure to meet before. Marco Mereliot." He offers contently as he watches her and the movement of the knife and bite looking considering at her careful and precise movements.

"I say that because I owe my renown to other qualities; and because when I say 'May I help you?' most people have the sense just to fuck off," explains Emmanuelle pleasantly, almost jovially, as she gets on with her modest but fragrant repast. It must be that fine applewood-smoked bacon from the Mereliot farms that's putting her in so fair a mood. She shows no particular reaction to the young man's name; she finishes her mouthful, sips her milk again, and concedes, "You are a cousin of mine and, as I recall, the vicomte de Toulon." She lists those strictly, yes, in their order of relevance to her.

Slicing another rasher of bacon in twain, she flicks an unreadable blue glance up at him and explains, "My name is Emmanuelle nó Mandrake de Shahrizai."

Marco tilts his head at her response. His eyes twinkle in delight, "Oh? Are you so terrifying?" He asks with interest and chuckles leaning in to inhale, "But at breakfast few creatures are so very irritable. But yes, I have that honor. Ah Emmanuelle no Mandrake de Shahrizai. Well I can see how you might have earned such a… reputation." His eyes twinkle, "What brings you to the Palace? You have your own estates do you not?"

01:39:01 <FS3> Emmanuelle rolls Intimidation+Presence+4: Good Success. (2 4 4 6 6 2 7 3 4 3 6 4 5 7 1 7 6 2 2 4)
01:39:43 Emmanuelle spends 1 luck points on REROLL.
01:39:53 <FS3> Emmanuelle rolls Intimidation+Presence+4: Amazing Success. (1 1 1 4 7 8 4 3 4 8 3 8 8 7 2 2 6 2 6 6)
01:46:34 <FS3> Marco rolls Mind+Composure: Good Success. (3 3 6 7 2 5 8 4 3)

Silence from across the table, as the erstwhile Dowayne of Mandrake House swallows another morsel of her bacon and her judiciously cheesy eggs.

It is succeeded by a slow clink and then another, as her knife and her fork come to rest on the table, propped against the edges of her plate. Behind her the Shahrizai lord in attendance upon her shifts one foot, taking half a step instinctively backwards; the maid in Mereliot livery who was serving her breakfast closes her eyes and her lips move in a prayer to blessed Eisheth.

Emmanuelle's eyes lift to Marco's face, their gaze diamond-hard and more chilling even than the snows falling upon her mother's and her sister's city. Then, just as deliberately, she looks away from him. Her good temper has run out.

"What's this?" she inquires coldly, ignoring his recent sallies as she picks up his book off the table and turns it to subject its spine to a cursory glance. Again she looks up at him. "I see you are studying to appease your future wife," she drawls, and tosses the book down again lightly upon the table with a thunk as though it were of no moment to her. "You would do well to confine yourself to such needful and fitting pursuits, my lord vicomte," and upon her painted lips the courtesy has a quality of irony, "in the comfort of your own chambers, rather than embarking upon impertinent banter with women who are unobliged to you either by law or by coin," she pronounces precisely. "I speak to you, you understand, as a kinswoman with all our interests at heart: it does House Mereliot no credit among our peers when you overreach yourself." This last is more confidential; and then Emmanuelle rises, swinging a black-breeched, black-booted leg easily over the bench where she sits and standing up from her seat. "Baltasar," she drawls, not looking round but gazing distantly down at Marco, "my gloves."

The elegant Shahrizai lord comes forth and takes her red gloves from the table, and falls to one knee to slip the first glove upon the hand his mistress extends casually in his direction. Her eyes have not yet wavered from Marco's face: that piercing blue gaze seems to be inscribing something upon the inside of his skull, and whatever it is, is not complimentary. "Louison, you may take my plate," she drawls, once more without turning; "I fear my stomach has turned."

The maid opens her eyes; curtseys; murmurs something indistinct; and obeys, past experience lending a quiver to her hands as she loads her tray.

It's true that Emmanuelle is habitually somewhat crueler to other men who try her patience: but Marco is family, and so she is being helpful.

Marco tilts his head, his first sign that something is off is the movement by the maid. His eyes move to and then his brows raise as Emmanuelle's chill rolls off of her. His features frowning as she lifts his book his hand lifting towards it. His hand settles back down and hee lets his eyes follow her not daring to interrupt her. But when she finishes and as she places her gloves on he responds simply, "I'm sorry you feel that way Lady Emmanuelle." He extends his hand sliding the book back towards him from where she casually tossed it. He draws it near with two fingers and he slides it open. "Do have a good rest of your day. Perhaps the next person who decides to enjoy the comfort of the Great Hall, will have more tolerance for my 'impertinent banter'." He says pleasantly but clearly his own mood soured.

The kneeling Lord Baltasar Shahrizai slips the golden key through that buttonhole which barely accommodates it — of course Emmanuelle wears no ordinary buttons — and, still on his knees, crawls round behind his mistress to see to the engloving of her other hand whilst she herself remains exquisitely still.

Try saying something interesting," she advises Marco in a slow drawl, "or perhaps even, by degrees, ridding your voice of that tone which attempts to insinuate you're Elua's gift. You may find it makes all the difference."

Then her second glove is fastened; she seizes her tricorne hat and restores it to her head, and without another word to him she traverses the great hall towards its farthest entrance, her coat-tails moving about her, her spike-heeled boots and golden spurs sounding softly but resonantly with each step she takes.

Marco watches the behavior of the kneeling man with interest considering the activity. At Emmanuelle's drawling response Marco lifts his head to consider her again. He doesn't seem compelled to offer a defense of his activity. Though he does chuckle softly at her depiction of his tone. He inclines his head but otherwise seems content to thumb the pages of his book and set to reading it. On the whole though his mood seems to rebound fairly well after the inital drop but leaving her with the last word.

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