(1311-03-02) Well Met Over Cahors
Summary: Philomène and Aurore discover common interests and make common cause.
RL Date: 02/03/19
Related: Of Dureza and Cahors.
philomene aurore 

Wine Cellar — Noble District

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

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

The shadows of early evening stretch long across the snow outside, but down here the fire is cheerful, the candles lit, and the thick stone keeps out the cold. The Vicomtesse Regent of the Ferrand branch of house Chalasse sits contemplating a goblet of dark wine. An empty cup across from her. A handsome young guard in house livery sits unobtrusively nearby watching for potential threats.

The Lady Aurore nó Bonnel de Chalasse is tall and slender. Her chestnut hair is usually up in elaborate braids, under a fashionable, but respectable headdress. Her face and nose are long, with strong cheekbones and full lips. Her features are more handsome than pretty, with the kind of looks that suit a woman grown far better than they likely did when she was a girl.

She is currently wearing a forest green velvet overdress, with a lighter coloured green and silver brocaded under dress and a black cloak. This is a day dress, sturdy and warm, but cut to the latest fashion. She is wearing sturdy forest green boots dyed to match the overdress.

With a gust of cool air that flickers the candles and the firelight and sets shadows of tableware dancing against the furniture, a woman of similar build eases her way down the steps to the stone floor. Made distinctive by the way she favours her left leg as she walks but otherwise holds her head high and her back straight, this older woman is dressed for riding in shades of chocolate brown and beige. Her well-worn riding jacket is perhaps ten or fifteen years out of fashion, but the cloth is well tailored and sets off her slender figure to good advantage. Only on closer inspection might the delicate veins of embroidered leaves and branches which decorate cuffs and seams be noted for what they really are - elegant repair jobs, disguised with fine needlework.

The guard gets Philomene's attention first, a fine brow arching over angular cheekbones as she spies the familiar red bull, which in turn leads her attention to Aurore. She takes a few moments to consider the woman, eyeing her with the sort of scrutiny one might more usually expect of a sergeant drilling soldiers on a parade ground and taking in every aspect of her appearance, her posture, the empty goblet across from her and the still full one in front. It'll do. She limps over to the table, gives a silent nod of greeting as though simply expecting Aurore to know who she is, and pulls out a chair to carefully lower herself into. It might be noted that for the second or two it takes her to sit, her expression does not move an iota, fixed firmly in place in an altogether neutral expression. Resting bitch face has nothing on Philomène Aiglemort de Chalasse.

The movement draws the eyes of the woman in green almost as quickly as her guard's. She straightens and studies the older women with eyes assessing and intelligent. The corner of her lips turn up as the other woman approaches. There is nothing of dejection about her and now that she's not lost in thought, a sharp attention is there and a curiosity.

The guard rises quickly, ready to intervene. He moves in a way that suggests he was chosen for competence as well as looks. One gesture from his mistress freezes him and he returns to his seat.

The Vicomtesse smiles invitingly at her new table companion. Her accent is of the highest of L'Agnace nobility, though the pronunciation is just a hair too careful. She addresses her new companion as if they were equals and acquainted. "I am trying to decide whether to buy a case of the Dureza or the Cahors. Perhaps you might help me make up my mind?" She signals and soon the waiter is offering this new guest two goblets, one red and the other so dark in hue as to be almost black, except where the light touches it.

Philomène gives the waiter a small nod as the goblets are presented, accepting the darker of the two with a tiny indication of one weathered finger. "Which are you drinking already?" she queries amiably, her own accent clearly from further east by the clipped vowel sounds and precise consonants. "I would imagine that your taste runs to the richer of the two, but I have been wrong before," she hazards, pausing to taste a little from the goblet in her hand. The liquid is allowed to swirl around her mouth for a second or two before it's swallowed. That vessel is then set down and she gestures for the other to try.

Aurore says, "I have had a goblet of the Dureza, which was rich and complex and very pleasing. I have only had a little of the Cahors. It has a stronger surface, but all sorts of things hidden in it's depths." She sips, the rings on her fingers clearly both expensive but with tasteful settings. She has noticed the clever patching now, but it changes nothing in her manner.

The Cahors is dense, full-bodied, velvety in texture, leathery and spicy in scent and flavor. "I am still getting to know the southern vintages. Our cellar could use building up.""

"I for one shall have a bottle of this," Philomène decides as she taps the rim of the goblet with a neatly trimmed fingernail, never one to beat around the bush once she's made a decision. She keeps hold of the goblet in her hand - waste not want not - and takes another sip as though to settle the matter. "Which of these will age better, would you suggest?" she asks the waiter directly, brow raising again before she adds aside to Aurore. "If you intend to build up the cellar, it's no use picking up a wine that won't improve with age, and I'm led to believe many of the southern wines are expected to be drunk young. Or possibly I've misheard and many of the southern young are expected to be drunk."

Aurore throws her head back and laughs, as frank and bold as a man. "That seems to be true from what I'm seen." The waiter allows as they both should age well, but the cahors rather better. She orders half a case of the Dureza to be sent round to her rooms in the Chalasse Manse and a case of the Cahors to be shipped to her Chateau in Ferrand. "And a bottle of cahors to my friend here for her advise, of course."

Philomène leans back in her seat at that laughter, content to allow a small smile drift across her face. "My thanks," she offers, lifting the goblet in tribute to the other woman. And with the quiet orders placed via the waiter, to which she's listening with a keen ear, all of a sudden this Chalasse can be placed. Ferrand, of course. "I had heard that you were to visit Marsilikos," she notes amiably, shifting very slightly in her seat which causes her expression once again to freeze for that split second. "I trust you've found a good market for your livestock?"

Aurore pretends not to notice what she suspects is pain related to that limp. "I'm making progress, I think. I'm hoping to find a larger market for our peppered saucisson as well. Plus, I thought a wider education for my son is in order, and have been interviewing tutors. I don't suppose you are the famous Aiglemort bride, are you?"

"Guilty," Philomène admits, switching her goblet from right to left hand so she can offer her hand to the other woman. "Although I'm not certain that 'famous' is exactly the word that tends to be used. Perhaps in polite company. Philomène," she offers simply, the Chalasse going without saying, adding by way of distinction, "De Gueret. I married Louis-Claude. And you," this is not entirely a question, "are the courtesan who came from nowhere and snared old Jean, rest his soul." None of this is offered with any sort of rancor. It's a statement of facts, tinged if anything with a hint of amused dryness.

Aurore takes the hand boldly, "Aurore. Don't believe everything you've heard whispered or sung about me." He smile and gaze are frank. Clearly she knows well what is said, "Jean was a good man, kind and shrewd by turns, and he got a healthy son long past when he had given up hope of one. I was fond of him in my way, and I do intend to give my son the very best." Her tone is business like, rather than sentimental. "Have you had any luck with your trading? We might look into sharing some transport and warehouse space if you were interested. A larger convoy with more guards might be less attractive to bandit and river pirates."

As the waiter returns with a full bottle of the Cahors, Philomene claims it from him and dismisses him with a simple gesture. It's not the usual procedure and the waiter looks briefly put out, but dirty looks have never stopped the older Chalasse from doing what the hell she wants and she's not about to let some wine waiter in an overpriced cellar start now. She tops up her own goblet first, letting the dark liquid splash like blood into the vessel, before offering the neck of the bottle over to her companion, a brow lifted in question. "We have a few agreements for our wheat," she agrees noncommittally, "although there have been some supply issues recently, as you might be aware? Some little arsehole appears to be intercepting the flour at some point between the mill and the bakery and replacing it with counterfeit rubbish. Somebody somewhere has several dozen sacks of grade one Gueret flour stashed away, and when I find them I shall ensure that nobody has such a foolish idea again."

Aurore offers her goblet wordlessly. The waiter's mood will likely be soothed with coin later. Her eyebrows go up at this news about the grain, "That sort of thing harms all of us. A bad name for your produce harms all who bear that name. How might I be of assistance?"

Philomène focuses on the goblet as she pours. "I've repaired the damage as best I can," she explains frankly, her thumb absently running around the rim of her own goblet still in her left hand. "Offered additional supplies on the next delivery, that sort of thing, and lent hard on our longstanding tradition for quality and reliability. Provided no more sacks of chalk and sawdust make their way to the city with a laughable attempt at our stamp on them, our reputation should be able to take the minor setback." The bottle is set down with a quiet, decisive clink on the hard surface of the table before them. "In the meantime, I'm putting a watch on the sawmills between the mill and the city. If the switch is being made for sawdust, then the sawdust must have come from somewhere, and it's the likeliest spot. You're not going to cart sacks any further than you need, are you?" she reasons. "When I have some sort of concrete proof, I might call for your assistance then in dealing with the issue?"

Aurore sips from her renewed goblet and she listens to the other woman with a serious expression. "Certainly you may, and if you'd like me to hire extra men for the watching, I will happily do that as well. This sort of thing is completely unacceptable." He is already mentally penning orders for extra guards on the Saucisson both to prevent adulteration while it's being made and in case of substitution with mystery meat counterfeits later. She hasn't Philomène's fire, but cold fury can burn the skin as well as hot and she is not pleased with threats to her son's future financial well being.

"Make them discreet," Philomène replies after a moment, giving a slow nod and lifting her goblet to weather-chapped lips. She lets her gaze settle squarely on Aurore as she drinks, opposite elbow resting casually on her knee. "Whoever responsible should be aware that we will have them, and they will be fearful of every shadow. They should be fearful. Stealing is one thing, but to shit on my reputation?"

Aurore nods, "Oh, I'm better at discreet than I look, and I very much agree with making them rue." Her calm, hard voice is it's own sort of threat. She lifts her goblet in salute, "We will show them once we find them."

Philomène smiles brightly and returns the gesture. "I shouldn't imagine it will prove to be an issue in future, in that case. Correct this sort of thinking once, and correct it hard. But you were telling me of your charcuterie?" she prompts, leaning forward to listen.

Aurore leans forward herself, "It's much easier to transport saucisson than pigs, and I do have a fondness for our local product, especially with a bit of spice added to heat it up a little. My hope is to expand our markets. I think they'd do well here, something with good flavour that keeps well could appeal to people apt to be aboard ships for some time for example, in situations where fresh meat is hard to come by. Have you anything similar in mind?"

"We mostly raise Old Spot, so it's bacon, lard and fresh sausage," Philomène explains, switching her goblet to the other hand so her left can rest on her thigh. "It doesn't travel so well, but something dried could certainly find a market among seafarers. I'll introduce you to a fellow I know, Royal Navy. If we can get that contract for the Chalasse, that would be a coup."

Aurore grins at Philomène, "If we can get that contract for Chalasse, I will definitely owe you and I do pay my debts." What is a threat for grain thieves is a promise of future fair dealing for the first of the extended Chalasse family she actually rather likes. "I would like a chance to try your sausage and bacon, and I'd love to share some of our saucisson variations with you, if you were interested."

"There's a stall in the market," Philomène supplies amiably, reaching to top up her wine. "I've just finished a deal with them to sell our sausages, roasted, in buns with onions. I'd be very happy to show you, but I'm sure if you visit in the morning you'll smell them. A little more?" she offers, waggling the bottle of wine so the liquid sloshes inside. "And I'd be intrigued to taste your goods."

Aurore shakes her head, "I fear this is enough wine for me on an empty stomach. "If you would like to dine with me soon, I could easily arrange a chance for you to sample a selection. I will definitely try your sausage in a bun." She gives her a small, genuine smile, nothing like her professional smile at all, "I really am glad to have made your acquaintance this evening, Philomène. This town is crawling with drunken children. It's always good to meat another adult."

Philomène laughs at that. "Truer words never have been spoken. One wonders what they do with men and women over the age of thirty here sometimes. Perhaps they're in a large pit somewhere out beyond the city. I'd be honored to dine with you, however. Send word via the Maison aux Herbes on the Rue de Port?"

Aurore offers her hand again to shake before rising. "That I will do. This really has been a pleasure."

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