(1311-02-27) Connections at the Inn
Summary: Five people gather in the Inn. A newcomer is introduced and they discuss trade, fraud, and the importance of compatability.
RL Date: February 27, 2019
Related: Cutthroats, Crooks, and Conmen Plot
martel helene philomene drake rajiya 

The Leaping Fish Inn

The Main Room of the Leaping Fish is tidy and well-kept - and warmed by a fire in the hearth to one side on colder days and evenings. An old tapestry depicting a pair of two leaping fish is adorning the opposite wall - a reference to both the ruling House of Mereliot and the name of the inn. The common room has five tables of sturdy oak with chairs and benches, between which two serving maids move to take orders or bring food and beverages. The air is filled with tasty smells of freshly cooked meals, and murmurs of conversation - and occasionally even melodies rippling through the room, when a lute player is around to provide entertainment. The fare is of good quality that even would not disappoint noble tastes.

There are stairs leading upstairs towards a number of comfortable and well kept rooms the inn has to offer.

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

It is a quiet afternoon in the Leaping fish Inn, an Hélène has taken a place by the fireside, a book open on her lap and wine in her hand. There were plans for hr and Martel to meet, though the time was a bit nebulous, and she had meetings at the port through the lunch hour. she is tucked up comfortably now though, dressed with her usual simplicity, her hair pulled up off her face in a loose knot on her head.

Martel will arrive eventually. Or is that re-arrive? Either or, once he appears in the doorway and closes it behind him to shut out the cold air and spots the Verreuil, he does make his way towards her, undoing the cloak around his shoulders to allow the warmer air of the Inn to reach him.

"Good afternoon.", he offers in his usual perhaps too formal ways, and yet, there is a smile on his lips as he leans down to offer a kiss of greeting to her.

Hélène smiles as she sees him, and reaches up to cup his cheek as they kiss. "Good afternoon Martel, how was your morning?" she asks as she sets the book down. She is reading up on seafaring again, and naval history, still trying to learn more about the coming travels they have planned. She tucks a letter from her brother into it as a bookmark before closing it, adding, "Can I order you some wine?" She also adjusts herself on the couch to make room should he join her, untucking her legs from beneath herself and resting her feet on the floor once more.

"My morning was fine.", Martel lets her know, before he straigtens again, letting the coat drape over the back of the couch she is sitting on, and pulling the gloves off his fingers and hands. Thankfully the weather is dry, so there is no need for them to be hung close to the fire. As she starts to move however, he ohs lightly. "Don't get uncomfortable on my account.", he offers easily enough, even going as far to scoot to the faaaar end of the couch so she can resume her slouching pose. "…but wine would be lovely.". A glance is given to the book and he cannot help but to chuckle. "Anything interesting you have learnt yet?".

Hélène resumes her previous position, but extended slightly so her feet just touch his thigh, stockinged feet only as she leaves her boots on the floor. Hélène gives him a quick smile, perhaps a sheepish or nervous look just crossing her features before she looks to a staff member to request a second glass, and a bottle be brought for them. The task accomplished she answers, "A bit? I think I will know more when we go out together, and I actually see the techniques being used. right now it is a lot of words, and a reasonable mental image of how to scope and measure, but I have not quite put it all together yet."

She looks back at him, then around for a moment, "No cane today Martel? And here I was worried I would be inhibiting your recovery ,not helping it."

As she turns back to lounging, he does bring one hand down on her feet when they nudge his thigh. His hands might be a bit chilly still, but he does use a thumb to press against the ball of her feet in a light massage of sort, even as she orders the additional glass of wine. "Getting used to using an astrolabe can be challanging, but it is mostly a thing of practice and patience and precision.", he comments, apparently skipping right over the whole sounding business and dismissing it a beneath consideration and going straight to determining positions.

As she teases him about the cane, however, Martel chuckles. "I left it in the carriage, thinking I could probably manage the walk over to the Inn and the fireplace without it.", he comments, before giving her a look. "And if you were worried, dear Hélène, you surely did not let it stop you.", he teases right back.

Hélène blushes slightly and retorts, "I figured you are an adult Martel and would tell me if it was a problem." It is mid afternoon, and the fireside is warm and welcoming compared to chilly winter day outside. Hélène sits by the fireside, dressed in her usual workaday gown, her boots unlaced and left on the floor while she tucks her feet up beside her. On the other end of the couch Martel sits, his hand resting on one of her feet. A serving girl comes with a bottle of wine and a second glass, giving the fresh one to Martel, and refilling Hélène's while she's at it.

The Baroness sets her glass down beside the closed book in front of her and then asks Martel, "An astrolabe? Are you able to teach me more about how to use one on land, or only out at sea? Perhaps you could show me the rudiments in the garden, or out in the countryside?"

Entering on this cold morning, Rajiya is laughing at Drake, brushing a few flurries off her shoulders and at him. "That was unfair. I wasn't ready when you hit me.." Hit her? Surely that paints a horrible picture, even if the foreign princess is smiling and laughing about it. "I will get you back later, when you least expect it." A promising threat of retaliation, just the way to start your morning! "But first, a nice warm drink, please?" She does look a little chilled, that Bhodistan blood still trying to get used to the cold winter here.

With a gust of chilly air that swirls about the ankles and lets in a fine, sparkling dust of snowflakes from the most recent flurry, the door eases open and the rather distinctive form of a tall, blonde woman limps in not long after the pair. The shoulders of her chocolate brown riding coat are dusted with rapidly melting snow which glistens in the firelight and droplets casually begin their downward journey along delicately embroidered lighter brown and green leaves and flowers which act rather neatly to break up her shape against the countryside when out and about, but within the confines of the inn act as simple decoration. Her boots, if one were to pay attention, are rather unusual in that beneath the small, serviceable brass spurs which sit at the back of either heel the sole of the left foot has been built up a few inches, disguising the fact that Philomene's leg is a few inches shorter on that side. There is no disguising, however, that the angle at which it naturally rests is slightly unusual and these combined must account for her peculiar gait. Neither is there any disguising that on entering she makes straight for the fireside. Direct and to the point. They might as well be the family motto.

"Well, you just need to dodge faster when I'm trying to hit you.", Drake grins, clearly very casual about the violence that occurred earlier. "Of course you'll get a drink." He turns to the fire, which brings him into collision course with Philomene barrelling straight that way. "Oh hello.", he greets, pausing to let her pass. It is then he notices Hélène … having a foot massage? Clearly it's a very odd morning.

Martel just chuckles at the baroness. "If I could have gotten a word in edgewise, perhaps.", he continues to tease her faintly, but apparently her blushing is 'win' enough. The foot massage, if it can be called that, is abandoned then, however, in favor of taking hold of the wine glass, and a quiet thanks to the waitress.

"It can be used on land, of course. It is just seldom used, since it is easier to figure out where you are by looking at a signpost. Or asking someone.". Both of which are usually in short supply on the sea, of course. "As long as there is way to see the sun or a star you know, it can be used and yes, we can practice.", he offers.

The flurry, both of activity and snow, is noted with a faint interest by Martel. "Seems I barely got in without getting snowed on.", he comments and perhaps drawing attention to the trio of new arrivals.

When Hélène sees the trio arrive she quickly shifts postion, moving her feet back to the floor, and pushing her boots closer to the fire to warm up. Sitting up straighter she gives a bit of a wave, and then turns back to Martel. "I would like that, practicing i mean." She points to the three new arrivals and tells him, "The eldest is Philomene Chalasse, Viscomtesse de Geret, and then you have Drake Rousse, the Viscomte de Draguignan and his intended, Princess Rajiya of Bhodistan. I am afraid we are rather underwhelming company by comparison." She chuckles softly, turning the signet ring on her right hand absentmindedly once more.

"Lord Rousse," Philomene offers in response to Drake's casual hello, adding a, "Your highness," towards Rajiya as she passes the pair, not stopping now she has momentum until she reaches the fireplace, whereupon she rests a well-weathered hand on the back of a chair and remains there, straight backed, to warm up. She does, at least, acknowledge Hélène and her boy toy with a small, polite nod, and the faintest hint of a smile, strained as it might be.

“Dodge? How could I dodge when you hit me out of now where's while I was looking at the market?" Rajiya does ask of him as her cloak is taken from her to be hung up and warmed revealing her exotic outfit beneath though because of the weather, she wears D'Angeling boots instead of the normal slippers she might wear in warmer climes. As Philomene passes, she greets her as well, "A good morning to you, Lady Philomene." She follows her path towards the fireplace, to spy then Hélène and a gentleman seated there as well, "I wonder if that is the gentleman that Hélène has spoken of so many times.." That said as a quiet aside to Drake.

Drake, like the well-trained dragon he is, goes to hang up both Rajiya's cloak and his own and brings back a bottle of wine for them both as they join the others by the fire. "What gentleman did she speak of?", he asks Rajiya back while eyeing up Martel to see if his appearance might give any clues as what he seems to have missed.

The sudden activity on the couch next to him does draw Martel's gaze, an eyebrow to raise in faint surprise, but also amusement, for some particular reason. He remains sitting as he was, however, nodding his head to Philomene as she makes her appearance, straight-backed as it might be, but apparently letting Hélène do the introductions, if that is where this was meant to be heading. Instead, he lifts the glass of wine, to take a sip, before turning enough so he can set the glass down on one of the nearby tables.

Of course, when Drake ruins the oh-so-quiet comment from Rajiya, Martel does turn brown eyes to the approaching duo. "Did she now? Speak of me, that is?". Does he dare to give Hélène a brief look there? "I hope it was entertaining stories at least.", he offers. He is dressed in colors reminiscent of his house, and in an outfit that might well lean on the uniform of a naval officer of some sort.

Hélène certainly keeps her calm, settling into a more relaxed pose on the couch, albeit still upright. She gestures to Philomene and invites her, "Please, do join us. And yes, this is Lord Martel Guillard, my present house guest, and a member of the Royal Navy. He will be helping my shipping crews to learn new techniques and improve our safety and efficiency heading further east than Caerdicca. Lord Martel, may I present Viscomtesse Philomene de Chalasse, Viscomte Drake Rousse, and Princess Rajiya of Bhodistan." sure she gave the names to him before, but now it is for formal introductions and she will do as manners dictate.

As she finishes she reaches for her own wine to take a sip, and turns to Martel answering, "I am afraid mostly business Lord Martel. I did let Her Highness and Philomene both know about the new ventures and how it ought to help. Philomene is a client for our shipping trade as well."

Following Drake, Rajiya likely will blush when his question is asked loud enough, and near enough, to the people she was speaking to him about. Chin lifted slightly, the smile is polite to Hélène and Martel, "It is a pleasure to finally meet you, Lord Martel." Surely, there is a moment when her gaze sweeps over him, taking in his appearance before glancing to Hélène to peer at her, "Indeed, nothing too scandalous, I do promise."

Philomène eases a pace forward in order to offer her hand to Martel, palm downwards, and once again incline her head. "Lord Martel, how do you do," comes the rote reply, although keen stormy blue-grey eyes look him over with unveiled scrutiny, as though she were a sergeant identifying faults in a lowly soldier on a parade ground. "No doubt we owe you and your chaps a debt of gratitude for keeping our goods safe from all manner of brigands and pirates."

Ah, that port again. Drake manages a smile for the stranger. "A pleasure to meet you, Lord Martel. Tell me, have you ever been to Chi'in?" He waits until Rajiya is seated, then takes his seat beside her, pouring wine for both of them. Holding up the bottle in Philo's direction to see if she may be interested as well. Why is he even asking?

With the offered hand and the more formal introductions, Martel finally does push himself up to stand, though with a bit of a grimace and perhaps favoring his left leg a little, though it is not slowing him down too much. Taking the offered hand from Philo, he nods his head once more. "Viscomtess. A pleasure to meet you.". He does extend it with a sweep of his eyes to Drake and Rajiya. "A pleasure to meet you all.".

Only then does he move to lower himself again to sitting. "Oh, I was mostly stationed on ships that patrol the Strait and the northern and western shores.", he explains to Philo. "I understand the trade here does not leave the bath-tub of the middle seas much, so I was not personally responsible for any pirates that got dissuaded, but I will gladly accept the thanks on behalf of our southern fleet.", he offers simply enough.

Drake's question makes him shake his head however. "No, nowhere as far East as that, I am afraid. Alba. Eire. Even as far as Terra Nova, but never to Ch'in. Or your lovely homeland, your Highness.", he offers, nodding to Rajiya.

Indeed, and I'm hoping we will be able to proceed as far as Terra Nova eventually," Hélène answers, looking up at Martel hopefully, "With guidance of course. Perhaps not for another five or ten years, but it would be good to expand our trading empire further of course."

She looks to Philomene and then adds, "The barge transfer is up and running, so as soon as you confirm, I will have the river captains start visiting de Gueret to make pickups, so we can get it out there to the world."

"We shall wait until the security of our goods at this end is confirmed, I think," Philomene demurs, giving Drake a grateful nod at the offered wine bottle. Well, yes, of course she'll have a little something to keep out the cold. That done, she returns her attention to the couple on the couch. "There has been some sort of knavery happening at the end of the supply chain here which bears looking into before we ship in any more good wheat to be wasted or stolen."

Rajiya listens to the various conversations that come up from questions and answers, gaze to sweep the small group. A smile is given to Martel, "Not many have, it seems. It is a bit more than most would consider, even if one would reach it first on their way to Chi'in." Wine is accepted from she as she takes a seat on another sofa, her skirt tucked about her to allow Drake to sit as well.

Drake looks considerably bored until Philomene makes mention of knaveries. "Oh? What happened?", he asks, perking slightly. His gaze drifts to Hélène and Martel. "Though clearly there's little surprise in wheat getting stolen at the end of a long winter when everyone is going hungry."

Martel leans back in his seat as the conversation is kickstarted into business apparently, before he reaches back for his own wine glass. "Terra Nova is not fundamentally different to any other traderoutes. Sturdier ships. Perhaps more experienced masters to sail them, but the main difference is time to cross and thus investment. Of course the longer voyages incur a higher risk of various factors, but that too can be managed.", he seems rather optimistic about the prospects of expanding. Yet, when the comment about wheat being stolen come up, Martel seems to consider it as well. "Was it stolen in transit? Usually there is some…spoilage of all manner when it is sitting in storage. As is with most goods that are not worth being guarded day and night.".

As for Bhodistan? Martel offers a faint smile. "Well, I would suspect even fewer visit Ch'in. But I believe Bhodistan might have the bad fortune to be just close enough to be reachable by land in a reasonable time. So I suspect most trade is done by land, rather than by ship. But what is fine for goods that are to be traded along the way in the various stops is not too comfortable for travelers.".

The discussion of Terra Nova certainly holds Hélène's interest and she is happy to agree, "Yes, but that will take time and support. Before we can look at expanding our fleet I will need the family's factors to grow in trust with my leadership. I cannot commission the ships or look to crew until the investment is secured. I think though to expand west before looking the east for Verreuil."

She then turns back to Philomene, curious as well as concerned, "Yes, what do you mean?" She leans forward, hands taking the front of the couch on either side of her, and she appears to be holding some small piece back as well, trying to fit things together in her mind.

Philomène takes a moment to still her breathing, forcing her shoulders to relax and steeling her expression to one of carefully cultivated blankness as she slowly lowers herself into the seat she has claimed. Only once seated does her expression resume any sort of elasticity and she flicks a glance up to Drake. "Most definitely not just the regular and anticipated spoilage, no. It would appear that somebody is sending out substandard flour in counterfeit Chalasse sacks, and the original grain is nowhere to be seen. Now the theft is galling enough, but to besmirch the good name of my family by sending out sawdust and scrapings, and claiming that to be from our wheat? I will not rest until I reach the bottom of it, and see the perpetrators… re-educated." There's a rather chilling directness in her gaze. "Pour encourager les autres."

Rajiya swirls the glass of wine in hand, to take a sip then as she listens quietly to the conversation. With Drake's question to be answered, she does question, "Thare are those hungry enough to steal like this?" Concern on her face as she glances to her intended, though it is likely the tone of Philo's voice that has her attention shifting back to the other woman, "I would have to agree, that should not be allowed. I hope you discover who these people are, and soon, to correct such thinking that any would have of your family."

To Martel, she smiles, "Often, the caravans go over land, but then one must deal with the deserts, with camels, and even the bandits that might attempt to steal your cargo. You have pros and cons whether you make the trip over land, or by sea.."

Drake frowns when the situation is explained to him. "Well, what is being done to find them?", he asks them curiously. He gives Rajiya's hand a light squeeze to vibe that he'll explain about the great unwashed masses that might indeed go hungry in winter later.

Martel nods his head to Rajiya. "Of course. There are always pros and cons to everything. Not to mention the shifting of the political landscape. Lords not seeing eye to eye, making trade by land suddenly difficult due to tarifs of blocking of roads. Or blockades, on the waves.". He gives a little shrug. "It depends what is transported, too.", he relents.

With the comment of counterfeit bags, however, Martel turns his attention back to Philo as well. "Have you angered someone recently, Viscomtesse? It might be just to cover up the theft and the switch, but that does sound like someone might be willing to try to damage you in more than mere ducats.". A pause to consider that. "May I inquire where you are aiming to sell that wheat?".

Hélène leans back in her seat, shifting a little uncomfortably as she remarks, "I thought your lands had the highest reputation for it. This is… unsettling. My brother mentioned to me that they are having some difficulties with trade goods in Siovale as well, counterfeits and the like. I asked him to look into it there too."

Hélène turns to Martel and supplies, "Beyond Terre d'Ange. The contract included Caerdicca and Aragonia, though I suppose that may change if word gets out that it is not of the expected quality." Her brow furrows again as she considers the matter, her head shaking. "Have you learned anything else?"

"Lines of enquiry are being followed," Philomene deflects easily, then raises a brow at Hélène. "Which goods does your brother deal in, and through which hubs? I shouldn't imagine the two things are related, but on the other hand whether it be coincidence, conspiracy or just trend, it would imply that the policies and assets in place to protect trade along the south coast are failing in some manner and should be examined."

"Well, if I, our House Rousse as such, can help in any way, please let me know.", Drake says, "It does affect our ancestral lands after all." He gets distracted though, when two young men enter who are apparently friends. He plants a hasty kiss on Rajiya's cheek and gets to his feet. "I'll be right back.", he promises them all and wanders off, greeting his friends with big smiles and hellos.

Rajiya nods quietly to Martel. "It is an ever-changing landscape, for sure. Never easy, and while there are paths taken that can shorten the trip, I understand the longer one is truly an adventure." Maybe she shouldn't say the A-Word too much around Drake though. Surely the princess looks to the young dragon about the time he spies friends, and makes his excuses with a kiss to her cheek, to check in with them. Her gaze does follow him, to study the young men for a moment to see if she might recognize then before turning to the current topic that remains.

Hélène turns her ring around once more with her thumb as she considers her words before answering, "My brother runs our port. He just commented that there is a higher than usual amount of traffic in the black market lately. there is always a bit, and we see it, and clamp down where we can of course, but lately it's been more than usual. I don't know exactly what though. I hope for more information from him soon enough though. I don't know if it is just the usual getting around of customs and excise tax or something "

She watches Drake disappear into the throng of young men for a moment before returning to their own conversation, remarking wryly, "Well I suppose we could not expect him to stay forever and listen talk of trade." Apparently he has left before as well during these kinds of talks.

Martel seems to consider the things said about the trade deals. It is not his forte, but the man seems to go through scenarios in his mind. "It seems rather elaborate for a simple criminal ploy. Those were not just thugs sensing an opportunity to fund their next week of existence. Either it was attempting a long-time skimming of the profits, or it is aimed to damage the reputation of the producer…", he nods at Philo, "…or the new trade route.", he nods to Hélène. "Or both. Who gains? Or in this case. Who looses? With whom are you in direct competition over the markets in Argonia and Caerdecci?", he wonders.

As for the princess, Martel smiles lightly. "Adventure motivates more people than they like to admit. The sea voyage is likely to be extraordinary, given how much different lands and climates you can see. But there is something about living among the natives for a time to truly learn what the lands are about, too.", he points out.

He glances briefly to Hélène, then, for some reason, before lips curve into a faint smirk, and does he dare to wink the eye turned away from the other two, for some reason?

Hélène turns her ring around once more with her thumb as she considers her words before answering, "My brother runs our port. He just commented that there is a higher than usual amount of traffic in the black market lately. there is always a bit, and we see it, and clamp down where we can of course, but lately it's been more than usual. I don't know exactly what though. I hope for more information from him soon enough though. I don't know if it is just the usual getting around of customs and excise tax or something "

She watches Drake disappear into the throng of young men for a moment before returning to their own conversation, remarking wryly, "Well I suppose we could not expect him to stay forever and listen talk of trade." Apparently he has left before as well during these kinds of talks.

"Have you spent enough time to really learn another culture somewhere Martel?" she asks the man next to her with frank curiosity, and perhaps also a touch of surprise. The wink does lead to a very slight flushing of her skin, seen only at her neckline.

"If you have more information, I should be obliged," Philomene mentions quietly, settling back to listen as the conversation moves on to foreign climes and exotic adventure.

Rajiya doesn't comment on the escape of her betrothed from the current conversation. She has certainly gotten used to being suddenly left when something draws his attention and away he goes. It is something the princess finds endearing most of the time. Quiet she may be for the most part, but she does speak up at Martel's comment, "I would agree. This does sound like something with greater thought behind it than mere simple thievery. Someone is out to ruin, perhaps both famillies joined in this venture."

"I enjoyed my time spent in Chi'in and other places my father was sent to as Ambassador of his brother. The time spent in such places was a learning experience I wouldn't trade for anything." The princess might say before lifting her wine for a sip, watching carefully the interplay between he and Hélène with some sort of amusement on her part.

It is a matter that is serious, surely, the fate of grain and port, but Martel knows there is hardly something they can do about it from the inside of the Inn, and it is the first he hears about it, so it was clearly something the Baroness wanted to keep to herself for a while longer before letting him know at the very least.

As Drake disappears, Martel does not seem too fussed about it, though the reaction of Hélène to the simply gesture has him chuckle faintly, before turning to glance at Rajyia once more. "Ah. I suppose being the Amabssador's daughter would expose you to the foreign cultures even more than my brief stays, yes. And it explains the young Viscomte's interest in Ch'in, I suppose.", he points out, assuming apparently her being there is the reason for it.

The question about his own exposure to culture by Hélène? It draws his eyes back at her and he nods. "Well, a little while, at least when it comes to Alba and Eire. Our stay near Terra Nova was too brief to pick up much useful. We were that far West only a few short weeks before we turned back around for more familiar shores.", he admits. "But I picked up my share of customs and the language, yes. And did deepen my studies before my promotion to an officer at university, yes.".

"You will have to tell me more of Alba and eire then. I have never been north, only east myself. I spent six months after university travelling, well and month here in Marsilikos en route, but three each in Tiberium and Hellene," Hélène tells Martel with a soft smile, "And of course what you learned of Terra nova. It is terribly hard to find anyone who can tell me much."

She looks to Rajiya and then back adding, "I believe Lord Drake's interest in that country derives from a time before he met Her Highness, though no doubt, she has further inspired interest." She turns back to Rajiya and asks, "Where else did you go with your family for your father's work?"

"Indeed, he was interested in Chi'in before we met. It is how we became friends, actually." Rajiya would admit with ease, the smile to appear warm as she recalls them. "We met in the Market when he overheard me speaking with my guard, Chetana, in our native tongue. One thing led to another, he learned that I was fluent in Chi'in, and wondered if I could teach him, so he would better understand those he might end up meeting and forming business contacts with." And the rest, is one lovely bit of history that brought student and teacher to be betrothed.

When asked, she supplies the answer, "For the most part, my father has served several times in Chi'in, but we have traveled to Vralia, Khebbal-in-Akkad and Ephesium. "

Martel ohs softly. "Well, perhaps I am able to illuminat the Baroness about such things. Though to be fair, their people are not that different in day-to-day to ours.", he admits. "Of course everyone knows by now that their inheritance laws goes though the maternal line, since the marriage of their houses with the Courcel line, but that does not affect a Tavern keeper much.", he claims. Still, when Terra Nova is brought up, he smiles and those brown eyes light up. "As I said, only a few weeks and most of it was gazing at the shoreline from deck, but…much of it seems to be a green hell of sort. The air is damp and humid, the forests impenetrable even by spyglass. And all manner of odd animals, insects and other creatures abound. When you step a few paces into the forest, the foilage is so thick the ground is shrouded in large swathes in perpetual twilight.", he states, then chuckles. "I hope I will be able to return that way some day. Study all those things in more leisure, but…", he shrugs. "Not at the moment.".

Rajiya's comments however draw his attention again. "Vralia, too? Interesting. You do speak the language then?".

"I learned Ephesian as well, but at university," Hélène tells Rajiya, rather delighted at the potential there. she then reaches across to take Martel's hand in her own, gently squeezing it as she answers him, "I look forward to hearing your stories, and hopefully soon enough you will be healed enough to decide what happens next?" Her voice is soft as she speaks with him, assuring him it will change, though there is a tinge of something else there as well, after all Terra Nova is a long way away.

Hélène lets his hand go once more, and reaches for her wine instead, looking back to Rajiya again, "And which was your favourite?"

Rajiya listens as well as Martel speaks of Terra Nova, though there is a hint of something there - perhaps it is a land that she either doesn't know of, or hasn't heard about. Surely there are questions ready to bubble up, though they are controlled. "Where does this land lie exactly?" She does ask of him with that curiosity showing.

There comes a slow nod of the princess' head, "I do, yes. I speak six other languages besides my father's and mother's native tongues." Meaning Bhodistan and D'Angeline. "I learned them mostly either from the places we traveled to, or from the ambassador or their families, who visited Bhodistan. I.. " She smiles, "Chi'in, I do think, is one of my favorites."

When his hand is taken again, Martel turns to glance at Hélène. There is a hint of some impishness in those eyes, but it is not acted upon, merely the squeeze returned and her hand let go again when she seeks to retreat. "Oh, it is not injury that worries me too much.", he lets her know. "But so far we have not been too interested in expanding much that way. So the Navy is not exploring much either, and even less for longer amount of time. If I truly wished to study things, I suppose I would have to secure investors and funding on my own.", he points out. Yep, that indeed might take five to ten years to even accomplish.

Rajiya's question then makes him turn to her. "Oh, there are lands to the west across the ocean. Large amounts of and the people there speak none of the languages we are used to. Even with favorable winds it takes months to reach them, and often even longer to return.", he explains. As for her array of languages she speaks, Martel nods his head. "Interesting. All of those sound like useful things to know, as an Ambassador.", he gives her that, then tilts his head a little. "I…must admit I am not too knowledgeable about the usual way things are done. After your marriage, would you be still Bhodistan's Ambassador to Terre d'Ange? I…assume that is part of the arrangement?".

Hélène nods to Martel's comments regarding Terra nova, adding, "And there are goods available from the lands west of here unheard of here, plants, and fabrics, all kinds of things. There is slowly developing a market of goods from the West here as well." She seems to consider his words, and gives Martel a slight smile of approval.

She turns back to Rajiya once more, curious as to what the impacts of her marriage will be. She adds, "And how do you amnage the potential conflicts between the interests of your husband's family, and your own should those arise?"

"Interesting." Oh, the information to pass on to her own family back home, hmm? Lands beyond even Chi'in, perhaps? Rajiya finishes her wine, setting her glass aside on the table to be picked up by whomever.

When such inquiries are made, the princess considers, "As long as the King and Queen here do not see fault in letting me remain ambassador, then I shall continue though.." And here, she quickly flashes a smile as she glances to Hélène, "I have been told I should become a matchmaker, and oversee making matches between all the various unmarried nobles here in Terre d'Ange."

Well, the news of Terra Nova are spreading, and surely eventually all the major powers will attempt to get a foothold in the new territories. Or at least set up relations with the natives that do live there.

As for the potential conflict of interest, Martel seems to listen with curiosity, but does not seem to be overly concerned. Well, the sailor has seen plenty of positions traded for political favor and conflicts of interests being ignored, if not part of the political manoeuvrings to start with. The last, however, makes him chuckle. "Matchmaker? Oh my. I suppose that is still a profession very much alive and highly esteemed. Is there a tradition of such in Bhodistan?". Somehow that had to have started this conversation, right?

"Yes, you can help the Lady Philomene in her endeavours to see the entire nation marride off, but more kindly than she seems to intend," Hélène answers back, hre head shaking as she adds, "But as I said before, I am still not a candidate for your efforts. I'll keep an eye out though for the people who might be interested."

She looks to Martel and adds, "The Viscomtesse did not see the usefulness in ensuring potential matches are amenable to a particular match if it might benefit their families. I think the suggestion that Her Highness could do such was to give her an occupation here in Marsilikos for after her wedding, and she would likely be better at it than some of those who are trying."

"If anything, it would certainly prove to be interesting." Rajiya will say that, though there is a brow lifted upwards as Hélène speaks of being off-market, "And as I said, you should not deny yourself the chance either. You are far too young to give up, Lady Hélène." Dare she look between the two so cozily ensconced on the sofa opposite her? Especially after such comfines spied when she first entered?

There comes a shrug, the gesture accompanied by the soft chimes that come from her jewelry, "There are those that seek to match people, yes. Bring families together. But as Lady Hélène said, we both think that while it might have been done in the Viscomtesse's days, uncaring if they even liked one another.." And surely by this point said Viscomtesse has taken her leave of the conversation, "That surely today, the happiness of those married could be taken into account? Surely families benefit if those being aligned can at least be friends?"

Martel chuckles faintly at Hélène's adamant rebuttal as well, though when she starts to explain the Viscomtess stance on things he does blink at her a little. "There were too many matches in one sentence.", he complaints lightly, frowning a little. "Are you say…", he trails off then, when Rajiya repeats in less complicated terms, and he ahs, leaning back a little. "Well. I am certain there are men and women willing to overlook personal preference for a sense of duty to their families. Or even their liege lords…", he points out, nodding to the princess. After all, one could say she is marrying out for that reason, even if it is clearly more than just a political match between her and the Dragon. "But yes, I would suspect that some compatibility between would make many things easier, last, if not least, the ensuring of the line. And that is if one does not take into account the many blood feuds that bad matches have caused both in our and the history of the world. Half of the Helenic theatre is about them and the ruin they brought on both participating houses, after all.".

The faint indication of himself and Hélène? If Martel does notice it, he seems not willing to make much of a show of it, remaining neutral in expression and leaving the Baroness to speak for herself.

Hélène laughs and shakes her head at Rajiya, "no, I took enough of your advice Your Highness, I assure you, at least enough for my own needs. I am just not looking at being married off, and still think that in most cases, I have aged out of that particular game." And if she does give Martel an amused glance, it is a short one. They are after all now on opposite ends of the couch. She does reach down to take her boots back though, slipping her feet inside the fire warmed leather with a smile, adding, "They were cold as ice when I walked in."

She cants her head slightly and adds, "and yes, it is better the people are…not repulsive to one another? No need to close your eyes while in bed, and pretend it isn't happening." And she does finally let her hand reach over to Martel's, squeezing it slightly and letting go again, but this time not withdrawing it, leaving it nearby instead

Rajiya just offers a dainty little huff of a sound as Hélène argues so. Sure, they may be on opposite ends of the sofa, but just look at the way that Hélène has so often, reached out to touch or squeeze the man's hand! "I will disagree with you there, but leave it at that." Her accented voice does say then, lips still holding a smile that hints at something she's just not going to say. Yet.

But, she nods, "Agreed. That they not hate each other, is a bonus. While things are handled differently in other countries, including Bhodistan, there is a difference here. And that families would still force political alliances upon two who cannot even stand the sight of one another? " Well, that doesn't say much for Terre d'Ange and their precept of Love as Thou Wilt! "It was at least one understanding in the contract between my family and the royals - that while I would certainly bow to their suggestions, I would marry someone that I could at least get along with."

Advice? Oh, there Martel does perk up, looking between Hélène and Rajiya for a moment, brown eyes to study both, though he does not quite comment on that bit of conversation. And yet, when she reaches out to take his hand, Martel does turn to regard the interaction for a moment, before he just lifts his hand, not to draw out from under it, but gripping it to both tug the baroness a bit closer, and to lift it to place a kiss on top of it, briefly. Surely innocent enough of a gesture. The man is apparently used to formality.

So the next might be a bit surprising. "Mhm. Which reminds me, your highness. Would you know a good seamstress? I apparently should gift Lady Hélène here a blindfold…", he comments, utterly in dry tones. And yet there is humour in those brown eyes as he surely knows the implication of commenting like that.

As for the political matches? Martel nods. "Elua's precept is an ideal. We strive towards it, but not always can it be achieved, both as a society and as an individual. I agree we should try to go beyond such things, but people are flawed. There will always be some who break the law, or the teachings of Elua and his companions.".

Hélène blushes brightly and quickly at that comment from Martel, and pulls her hand back, even though she doesn't scootch away from where he has brought her nearer. she does stammer, "I told you… there were… I talked… I talked to a few people, before, well." She leaves it at that, one hand coming up to cover her red cheek, the other reaching for her wine. Right, drinking, that will help?

"It is an ideal, and I strive for it as well Your Highness. I only meant, before, that I am perhaps old for the games of political matches, but as you can see I took your advice about being open to possibilities to heart. It's… Well we will see if it is still working out after today," Hélène teases Martel, her eyes finally rising to meet his in a mock threat.

Rajiya but smiles a little more, especially with this banter between the pair. The blushes that warm the other lady's cheeks do make her smile a little more. Oh, yes, she likes those blushes. "A seamstress?" She does question, a brow lifted before she hmms, "I am certain that you could be happy with a lovely scarf bought at any merchant in the market. But if you wish a true blindfold, perhaps you might try.. oh, there is a shop within the market… " Never mind the hint of color on her own cheeks now, "Or seek out a Courtesan from the Rose Sauvage that might be able to direct you to a suitable seamstress for such?"

A slow bob of her head is given at Hélène's comments, however. "I think it's safe to say that no one is too old for political matches. There are both old and young out there. Some widowers who still have plenty of years yet.." If you aren't already married, then surely, you are fair game for a match!

Oh, that was a reaction that surpasses Martel's expectations. Blush. Stammering? Yep, there is a very subdued, pleased expression on his face and perhaps just a hint of impishness in those eyes, hidden as it usually is. The loss of her hand, and the mock threat? Well, it just makes Martel turn back to Hélène. "See, that is what the blindfold would be for. No need to close the eyes and pretend it is not happening…". Oh, he was being wicked with that line to start with.

Still, when Rajiya comments about the particular shop being a potential source for blindfolds and apparently more than that, his attention returns to the princess. "Oh? That sounds like an…interesting endorsement, your highness.".

As for the marriage market? Martel finally shrugs. "Perhaps we are slowly growing out of it. I mean, alliances seem more fluid now on one hand when it comes to the peers of the land.", he says, gesturing to Hélène. "Trade, formerly more the purview of well off commoners, but commoners nonetheless, becomes more and more a deciding factor for even landed nobles.", he observes. "And those things can be settled with contracts more than requiring the implied stability of family ties and lines of heirs.".

Hélène visibly rolls her eyes, but also settles contentedly against Martel's side, leaning in so she can tease right back, "I've never pretended it was not happening Martel, though of course, if it was not memorable I might simply have forgotten." She tries to cool her cheeks, taking another sip of wine, but cannot seem to quite get herself under control. She takes a breath, and adds, "I am certain there are plenty who would wish it Your Highness; i am still not one of them."

She nods to the comments on trade and contracts though, turning to Martel in agreement, "Absolutely. And I have done far more for my family through trade than I could have through a marriage. These things can shift and turn as fortunes rise, but they provide a means of raising a family's status through proper effort, rather than just by relying on the same few families marrying in over and over again. We are a smaller family, Verreuil, with fewer holdings, so trade provides opportunities that politics alone would not."

At Martel's explanation of what the blindfold would be for, Rajiya ever so calmly adds, "I'm sure they could embroidery eyes upon it so the husband wouldn't notice?" She's bad, the princess!

As for his tease upon her own suggestion, she shrugs again, "I have been doing a little research on the various Mont Nuit Houses and the Salons here in Marsilikos. " And before he might latch on to that, she states, "Mostly just conversation with a few Courtesans." Conversation only, and her tone suggests that she's telling the truth on that.

Quiet does she fall, simply watching the pair, but would say eventually, "Trade helps.." And then she tilts her head, "You say your family, perhaps you in particular, has been behind the rise of your family's wealth through trade agreements? You wouldn't have turned down someone's proposal for an alliance through marriage, hmm?"

The comment about the eyes on the blindfold? It actually draws Martel's eyes back to the princess. Bad indeed. Though the man seems less shocked, than amused. There is a certain subdued wit with the naval officer, it seems.

"Not memorable, or just overwhelming, so it could not settle in your memories.", Martel is quick to answer Hélène, his eyes turning back to the woman on the other side. "But I suppose there is something to be said about being average.", he comments, shrugging. No, he is not especially rising to the bait she is laying out.

"Ah, the courtesans often confuse foreigners.", he says, but does not need a heartbeat before he adds, "…of course I understand you are d'Angeline as well, so it is probably not as strange for you. Which courtesans have you been interviewing?". Perhaps a horribly direct and intimate question, but then the princess already had her nose stuck into his affairs, apparently, so turn about is fair game!

"I do not know, as it has never risen Your highness," Hélène answers softly. "But our rise in fortunes has been a joint effort, led first and foremost by my father, and which I now step more fully into. I hope that I can live up to his example. It is why Lord Martel came here to begin with, to assist in increasing efficiencies in our shipping fleet."

She turns to look between Rajiya and Martel for a moment before just shaking her head, letting the quips and teasing lie, and not rising to his bait either. "Yes, have you learned much about he various canons and perhaps how they differ between Elua and here?"

There seems to be some part of this conversation that Rajiya is missing out on, her gaze to slide between the two as they discuss something being memorable or not. She'll finally reach for her glass, and the bottle of wine that was left behind by Drake, and refills it, offering it to them as well should they wish a dirnk.

A sip is taken before the two turn questions back to her, "Mama is a Somerville, and did teach I and my siblings about her homeland." There might be a hint of pink hidden beneath the natural color of her skin, "Genetian, Balm, Eglantine, and Jasmine. " She considers carefully, "The main differences are those within the Mont Nuit seem to only be part of one House, little variance there beyond the overall cannon of their House for the most part. They are also rather.. well.. they would look down on anyone from the Salons here, as not being from the Mont Nuit." A sip is taken before she continues, "The Salons here have a little more freedom to some degree, to truly worship Naamah. To blend those ideas together that seem to go together well?"

Well, the quips and talks between all three are vague and alluding to things more than being explicit. And it seems Martel, at least, enjoys it that way. Still, the topic changes to the Houses of the Mont and Marsilikos has him nod his head quietly. "Well, to make one's mark, to have a profile that is easily distinguishable requires the raising of some features, and lowering others.", Martel muses. "Each of the houses have made their pick of which ones of Naamah's qualities they want to heighten. And that is fair enough, I suppose.", he concludes. For a moment he seems to consider. "That does not quite explain, however, how that particular seamstress at the market fits into all this.". Oh, he has not forgotten how they came upon this turn of the conversation.

As the refill is offered, Martel smiles, accepting it gladly, and offering to take Hélène's glass to pass it on, so it too can be topped off, before he settles back on the couch.

The Baroness shakes her head, intoning, "I think I am done, thank you." She considers the question of the Night Court though and answers back, "I do not think one set of Houses or Salons is either lesser or greater in their Service to Naamah. There might be more freedom in Marilikos in some ways, but not in others as they do not have the esteem of Mont Nuit. They each though serve as best they are able. As for the blindfold Martel, I rather think Her Highness is referring to a shop that sells such things, and other aides d'Amour, as might be wanted by Rose Sauvage. Not that I know if they will embroider eyes to make it appear someone is alert to what is happening."

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