(1311-03-03) Hellebore
Summary: Whilst doggedly taking her daily exercise, Philomène deepens her thus far cursory acquaintance with flowers and Thorns.
RL Date: 03/03/2019
Related: None.
raphael philomene 

Jardins d’Eisheth — Marsilikos

Tranquility and beauty of nature is what those coming to the gardens of Eisheth usually seek. There is a playfulness in the arrangement of paths through the greenery, and the way four of them wind to the center, where there is a pond surrounded by a few elm trees, beside an area with wooden benches and tables beneath an arbor, where ivy winds about wooden posts, and a roof of colorfully glazed tiles offers shelter from the sun but also moderate rain.

Bushes are trimmed, and the green is kept short, so that people coming here can enjoy the dramatic view over the coast all the way to the sea, with the harbor and the citadel slightly to the north. Slightly towards the south and close by is the infirmary with the herb garden beside, where a variety of plants used for healing and treating certain illness are grown under the immaculate care of the healers. Towards the east, a path leads towards the temple district, where the dominant structure of the Temple of Eisheth looms, the white marble shimmering almost otherwordly on late afternoons, when it catches the warm, orange light of the setting sun.

Many people would not think to come to the gardens at this time of year, and it is true that most of what will be the spring and summer's proudest spectacle is currently barren. On the other hand, the restriction of the foliage improves the view that much more. And now as the days creep closer to spring, a few of the earliest plants are starting to show their colors: perce-neige, narcissus, and crocus are among those that have started to put forth bulbs. Raphael is here, in a charcoal-colored wool cloak, looking out toward the sea.

And yet the perennial Chalasse is blooming here once again today, chocolate brown jacket beneath a drab grey-green oiled cloak, with starkly defined features and altogether practical short-cropped blonde hair. Rather than growing here, however, she's a migratory species, entering the gardens for a few hours at the same time every day to pace her requisite forty eight laps of the gardens before retreating off to other business. Philomene stands out among the other shrubs here not only because she's ambulatory and somewhat taller than most bushes, but also by that very distinctive walk, left leg favoured considerably for a unique, limping gait. It's only after she's completed one full lap and is on her way to almost a quarter of the way around her second that she actually spots the man, standing there quite still, and offers a short, crisp nod and a polite, "Good morning," in greeting as she next passes.

Raphael turns his head to take in Philomene. And also a blush-tinged white flowering plant blooming a certain distance behind her. "Good morning," he replies, no less politely. "There haven't been many others braving the weather for the gardens this morning. But look, the hellebore is blooming."

"I admit that if it's not a crop we grow for food, I'm at a loss when it comes to plants," Philomene confesses shortly, continuing to stomp her slow, painful way along the path where the frost has already been trodden away for the most part, but she leaves a fresh set of distinctive tracks every time. "But I can appreciate a plucky little flower risking it all to poke its head up and show that it's not afraid of the weather."

Raphael walks toward the plant, drawing a sharp but ordinary short-bladed knife from a sheath at his belt. He clips one of the large flat blossoms with the cheery yellow center from its stalk. There are a good number more still nodding in the cold breeze. "Everyone who doesn't brave the weather just the same will miss it," he says, holding the bloom in his upturned palm. "In honesty, I don't know all that much about plants, either. But these have been here a long time. Someone told me the name once."

Philomène quirks a wry smile, noting, "And there we see the folly of being beautiful. Somebody will come for your head with a sharp knife. Lessons learned from the local flora." She doesn't pause in her steady tramp around the gardens, but continues the conversation nonetheless simply by raising her voice and expecting him to either follow or listen harder. "As for those people huddled in their homes to stay warm, they miss out on life as a whole, I find. Too scared to push themselves or to experience any sort of discomfort, and so they don't get to see the earliest spring flowers, or smell the thunderstorms, or feel the bite of an icy northerly to remind you that you're alive and we, as a species, have tamed all of this to our will."

"It is always the way," Raphael agrees, appreciative of the note of humor. He slips the knife back into its sheath. "A good life is rarely comfortable," he agrees. "But perhaps there are times when each of us fails to do as much as he can." He looks to Philomène. "But your interests are agricultural. As you say, a great deal of will and force required. Fair or frost, the pigs must be fed, and the seeds must be planted before it is too late. Is that why you understand the value of the thunderstorms and the north wind, or is it the other way around?"

"I'd argue it's a healthy respect for the weather," Philomene decides after a moment, glancing back over towards him with a note of curiosity in her blue-grey gaze. "Perhaps at least partly due to our holdings, but perhaps because I have little patience for the soft southerners who run and hide at a hint of rain, in case it ruins their expensive hairdo or a spot of mud should mar their beautiful gown. You haven't explained why you're out in the cold, today, monsieur, instead of huddled away drinking wine and running to fat like most of the pampered populace here."

"A bit of cold is good for the spirit," Raphael says. "And I had my wine excursion earlier in the week." A small smile at that concession. "As for running to fat, my lady, it is bad for business." He gestures out toward the sea. "The view is especially good in the winter, don't you think?"

"Isn't that the truth of it," comes Philomene's dry response to the mention of size being bad for business. She's almost round for another lap by now, every time she trudges along the path taking the same line, the same curve, so she's practically step-dragging into her own peculiar footprints. She does, however, take a moment or two to look out over the sea, pursing chapped lips together thoughtfully. "There's something quite unusual about the sea, isn't there? It drags some people to it, like a magnetic force. Something about the mystique, I suppose."

"There are those people," Raphael agrees. "And of course it brings us all our most precious trade, the sea, faster than the land routes can do." That acknowledged, he adds, "But everyone is drawn to /something/, wouldn't you say? Often quite mysteriously."

Philomène trudges along her route, brow furrowing to a natural frown. She's not by any means fast, but she is relentless. "Drawn, or pushed," she argues. "Sometimes it's not motion towards but motion away. And you, monsieur? Are you drawn here today or pushed here today?"

Raphael doesn't seem to have anticipated the question. He watches Philomène move. "I can't say," he admits. "Possibly both. But not towards the sea, necessarily. I've always traveled over land. Sailors must have their reasons for being so superstitious."

"I took my first voyage by sea this winter," Philomene admits, flicking the faintest hint of a self-deprecating smile over towards him. "It was the most horrendous few weeks of my life. The floor never stays still, and it makes one quite queasy. I'm not sure I remember eating a whole meal and holding it down the entire time. The sailors are welcome to their sea, their boats, and their superstitions. I am most firmly a woman of the land."

Raphael nods at assumptions confirmed. "So you are not drawn toward it, either," he sums up. "Then you come here regularly? For a walk?" She is, after all, walking very determinedly and has confessed her ignorance of plants.

"One mile, every day," Philomene confirms, tugging her cloak up a little further around her neck to keep out the icy chill. "It keeps a body healthy, and the mind focused. And your excuse is merely the view? Walk with me, monsieur, if you'll excuse the pace of it. If nothing else, it's such a glorious relief when one stops."

Raphael laughs quietly. "The route is short, is it not? If I walk with you, let it be a longer path." Such is his bid. "The truth is, I had been away from the city for some time and had not come back to this garden since then. It is hard to tell in winter, but it does not seem terribly changed."

"This path is twenty eight paces in total," Philomene explains solemnly. "Multiply that out by forty eight, and it's a round mile. I'll take your longer path, but I'll need to recalculate, so you'll excuse me if I'm silent as we count?" She offers up that smile again, noting drily, "I have no objection in theory to walking a different route, I just find this convenient enough that I can think about other things and only need to count the laps."

Raphael lifts his eyebrows lightly and smiles slightly, the way some people do when they realize they are speaking to a madwoman, but not one that seems especially violent. "Your distance is that precise?" he asks. "But you must walk /to/ this place and walk away from it. So provided we walk at /least/ your mile, wouldn't that be all right?"

Philomène laughs softly, the sound echoing off the empty arbour as they pass it. "It would," she agrees amiably, casting him a sidelong look. "But I tend to find that by the time I reach about lap forty, I'm more than willing to stop, so I find it important to set myself these specific, precise goals. Particularly in the cold weather. My leg disagrees quite fervently with the cold weather, but it, like the rest of nature, can and should be tamed."

Raphael nods at this philosophy. "You seem a woman of iron will," he observes. "But let us take a longer walk. You will know the length by the quality of your pain, and when we reach that pain, we will go a little further. Eight laps' worth. And your quota will still be met." Such is his proposal, and he makes a gesture to a path they might take.

"Stubbornness, touching on stupidity, I believe is the more usual phrase," Philomene corrects him drily, adjusting her cloak once more as she gives a nod to the affirmative and, instead of turning aside, breaks the pattern of dragging footprints in the icy muck and begins breaking new ones on this second path. "But by your choice of words, you must be either a chirurgeon or a rose." She pauses to consider. "No, or a gentleman who has suffered an injury. One of the three. Who else would distinguish pain by type? Which is it?"

Raphael joins the lady on this new path. "You see very clearly," he replies. "I am a Thorn of the Salon de la Rose Sauvage, as you have guessed," he says. "And so I assumed that, if you have lived with pain for a long time, you understand it very well and it can tell you many things. Time, weather, distance, for example."

“It tells me I'm getting old, too, you missed that one," comes the retort from the Chalasse. "So should I expect you, too, to be leering from the shadows every time I come to the gardens of a morning? A free exhibition for you. Or, no, are you going to tell me I ought to arrange a contract with you to explore the pain. Insist that I should take some pleasure in it?" She doesn't seem overly perturbed by this, merely tired and resigned. "Because I can pre-empt you now. Thank you for the kind offer, but no."

"Have I been leering?" Raphael wonders, tone calm with little indication of offense or desire. "I think you may be mistaken. If I am looking for free exhibitions in pain, I can have them regularly just outside my chamber door." He shakes his head faintly, walking along. "In fact, it is my impression that your spirit is much closer to mine than to any of our Red Roses. You use your will to shape the world around you regardless of difficulty. But be at ease, I rarely press the case of my salon. We have sufficient custom from those who are certain that it is what they want."

Philomène sets her jaw for a moment or two as she plods on between the skeleton frames of plants and trees, still bare from the winter. "You're right, that was uncalled for and I apologise," she decides, looking aside to meet his gaze squarely. "I have as little business judging your work as you do mine, and you've been nothing but respectful."

Raphael shrugs lightly, mouth quirking with a hint of humor. "I know little of your business," he says. "But to answer your question, I don't come here regularly. So you won't find me haunting your walks. And I am not particularly offended. /Many/ people have their various opinions of our salon and our work. I've heard much worse than that."

Philomène offers her hand across to the man. "And I know little of your business, but I'm not here to plant crops and you're not here to take pleasure in the discomfort of others. Philomene de Chalasse," she finally gives her name, along with a short, polite nod. "How do you do."

"Raphael nó Rose Sauvage," is the returned introduction. He clasps her hand, neither roughly nor delicately. "A pleasure," he replies. "I'm glad you came along. I think a brisk walk is just the thing, today."

"A brisk walk and a lesson in botany," Philomene corrects with a faint smile as she turns back to keep her eye on the path in front of her. Clomp drag. Clomp drag. "You have an interest in the flowers, or is the hellebore the only one that takes your fancy today?"

"I don't, especially," Raphael answers. "But I remembered that particular flower that's been pointed out to me. There are very few to distinguish it from in this season." He gives a smile that's a bid at sharing humor: "And it is white, red, and has 'hell' in the name. Perfectly suited to attract a Thorn's attention."

Philomène allows herself a small laugh and an amiable nod. "I can imagine that it might be more to your taste than, say, a daffodil. Yellow is not generally a colour associated with your house for some reason." She glances briefly upwards, taking a long breath of the chilly air, then exhales. "We'll have more snow soon," she warns, taking into account clouds, wind, and some kind of sixth sense about the falling air pressure. "You're welcome to continue to walk with me, but I can't imagine it'll stay dry for more than half an hour more."

Raphael looks up at the sky. "You might be kidding me because of what I said before," he says. "But I'm inclined to believe you. I should probably return home before long in that case." Presumably there is some demimonde logic to that remark. "I hope you'll return safely. But I'm sure that little would stop you from doing so."

"Only another seven and a half laps will stop me," Philomene points out with a smile. "Have a pleasant and prosperous day, monsieur, and perhaps I shall see you next time you choose to admire the sea and the gardens here."

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