(1311-03-09) Good Meats
Summary: Raphael shows Aurore an interesting place to meat.
RL Date: 3/09/19
Related: http://marsilikos.wikidot.com/log:1311-03-09-a-garden-of-roses
raphael aurore 

An Extraordinary Butchery


Aurore gives the women an absent little wave as she turns her amused gaze towards her luncheon companion, who's arm she takes companionably, "You have excellent taste. Show me the most interesting place to meet in Marsilikos."

"Now, my lady," Raphael replies. "You say the most interesting place to /meet/, but this is a city teeming with interesting places to meet. The first, naturally, is the Salon de la Rose Sauvage." He pauses, then acknowledges, "A few hours /after/ now. The second, if one wishes to show off one's marque, is perhaps the Temple Baths. If one desires to keep one's clothes /on/, there is the Opera, although there is no show today. And finally, there was the mention of food, of which there is not much available at the Baths, the Opera, or the Gardens of Eisheth. So," he says, leading the way toward the marketplace, "Instead of taking you to the most interesting place to /meet/, I shall take you to the most interesting place to /eat/." He flicks a glance at her. "My understanding is that you are involved in the shipping business. Does that mean you ever go to the docks yourself to negotiate, or are things brought to you on paper for signing?"

Aurore walks along briskly, her hand on his arm, exactly as if he were a gentleman of her class and status, her guard trailing after discreetly, "I go down to the docks myself. How can one trust things are done properly if one doesn't put in an appearance and look things over properly." She does not object to his unorthodox luncheon suggestion. She watches his face as much as she does the passersby.

"Then you are not afraid of your path crossing with common people," Raphael concludes, taking that as a given. "Good." He leads her into the marketplace, but then instead of /along/ the open market street, he leads the way down an alleyway. As they move away from the vendors, there is a certain smell of blood in the air, and a new layer of animal excrement to what is generally present from what horses leave on the main streets—a different animal or animals, perhaps. But the path Raphael picks is not particularly foul in appearance, though it is somewhat narrow. They pass one or two pens just big enough for two or three pigs at a time, though most have one or none. He leads Aurore down a turning. "I hope your guards will not imagine I am kidnapping you," he says with a note of humor.

Aurore gives an entirely unladylike snort. "I am afraid of very little, Raphael." Her eyebrows go up at the special "fragrance" of this alley, but she does not balk or even hesitate. She does make a subtle gesture with her free hand to her increasingly nervous guards. The do not relax, but they stop trying to divide their attention between the Thorn and the possibility of less predictable risks.

"That is my impression of you," the Thorn replies. Around the corner, there is a significantly larger house which, despite its inconvenient location, is in excellent repair with freshly-painted shutters and double wooden doors which currently stand open. It does not appear to be a private residence, though there may be dwelling space on the second floor. No, instead, as one gets closer, it seems to be a butchery. But also not an ordinary butchery, though some meats, fowl, and small game are on display before the front windows. The smell is not as strong around this corner. There is a large and strong-looking red-faced woman feeding split wood into a stove. Raphael leads Aurore directly into this building, and says to this woman, "I have with me the Vicomtesse Regent de Chalasse, who is considering a new source of meat for her maison. She'd like a taste of the best the city has to offer at the source. Have you a table upstairs?" The woman blinks small eyes a few times, waving smoke out of her face and dips a hurried curtsey to Aurore before she tips her head over her shoulder and bellows: "FRANCK!" At this summons, a bald man similarly middle-aged, wearing an apron that is only a little stained with blood, appears in a doorway from the back of the house. The woman points a stubby finger upwards and this Franck leads them up the flight of stairs. Raphael gestures for Aurore to precede him.

Aurore's eyebrows arch up when she sees where he's taking her. She is definately intrigued. She stands at her most regal as she is introduced, but her lips curve up, very pleased indeed. She manages her skirts deftly on the stairs, so that they both stay clean, but hang very elegantly. "You definately do not disapoint, Raphael."

"I live to be of service," Raphael returns, not altogether solemnly. Upstairs is a clean and tidy if not opulent room. There are only two tables, wooden chairs, but nothing so rough as to snag Aurore's fine clothing. It does not look like a room designed to be frequented by nobles, but on the other hand the impression is that she is not the first titled person to be seated up here. Raphael sees Aurore seated before he sits, but he is ordering before he takes his seat: "I smelled roast pork on the way in. Is it by chance the tenderloin? If so, and if it was killed today, bring that. Then rabbit if you think it is good. Otherwise fowl, your choice of what is fresh and at its best. And send a boy for a decent red wine as quick as we can get it. Thank you." The man does not waste time exchanging pleasantries, only pauses for a moment to contemplate the quality of Aurore's gown before he hustles off to do as instructed. Raphael lifts his eyebrows a fraction at Aurore.

Aurore seems happy enough to let him order, because he clearly knows this place and what he is doing. She sits, automatically arranging her skirts to best effect without thinking about it with well trained hands. She grins at him, very pleased indeed, "I do enjoy a man who knows what he is doing, though I must ask, What in the world are they teaching youngsters these days?"

This question elicits from Raphael a quiet sound halfway between groan and sigh. "Everything they ought, I hope," he says. A moment more gives time to contemplate Aurore's own time in the Night Court, "If not, it is my hope to be able to correct that." He sits back against the support of his chair. "This is," he explains, "The guild house of the bestor what I at least remember as the bestgroup of butchers in the city. They send some ready-cooked to private maisons, a small amount to market, but this also serves as a place to show the skill of guild members when a noble is considering changing a supplier for their home or selecting a source of meats for a festival, and so on. Most nobles do not come directly, but you are not the first. I imagine they still take it in turns to man the place so I cannot say for certain whether the woman downstairs is as good as I hope, but I should hope she is if she is entrusted with the prize meats of the city."

Aurore's lips purse in amusement, "They never did manage to amend me. I suppose I turned out all right in my way, nevertheless. I suppose there is still hope for them." She cocks her head, "Do they sell cured meats? I am always looking for markets."

"If they do not have them downstairs, there will be someone steps away who does. Shall we ask them to bring some for you to taste?" Raphael suggests. "Granted, as the best in the city, they are also the most expensive in the city, but not by very much. Everyone who sells outside of market days keeps prices within a close range and quality to an acceptable level." Raphael glances out the window, but there is nothing much to see except a drab wooden building. "The young one, the Second… Well, I think there is an outside chance that she is more than usually gifted at giving off the impression of…shall we say 'naivete.' The Red Rose I have only seen today for the first time in many years. I do not have the full measure of her, yet."

Aurore waves her hand dismissively at the thought of adding more to the order, "You haven't tasted our saussicon, yet, but for that you'd have to dine with me at my home and I was in a mood to go out. Some time I should like your opinion." She nods, a tad dubious about their prospects, but says only, "I never had the gift of 'naivete' even when I was a naif. I am not the best of judge. My private preference was always for experience."

"I should like to give it," Raphael says, by way of accepting in advance this hinted invitation. It is at this point that Franck comes up the stairs, which creak a little, with a wooden platter, followed by a runner boy who is carrying plates and cutlery in one hand, and the wine in the other. They are informed that the rabbit will be a while longer. Franck sees to it that food is put onto plates and that each person gets cutlery and a napkin as well as a cup, but that is the extent of the service. Everything is clean and not excessively rustic, but not the finery to be found at a nobleman's table. The meat, a slow-roasted pork tenderloin, hardly needs a knife. It is stacked, a bit messily, with toppings of apple and turnip slices as well as pickled cabbage. Raphael smiles to see it. "I hope it suits," he says to Aurore. Since nothing more is requested, Franck and the boy go back downstairs and Raphael looks back to Aurore. "Of course it is one of the great arts of our salon. But I am not entirely sure if this Marielle is a genius at the /craft/ of naivete or if, on the other hand…she is, in her way…a natural."

Aurore she seems pleased by his acceptance. She is not at all put off by the lack of fancy service. She could have stayed home if she wanted elegant instead of interesting. "It is exactly what I asked for, thank you, Raphael." She barks with laughter at his comment about 'naturals,' with a man's freedom from having to look delicate, "That I can believe. Some time in the future, I think I should like to see youngsters you have trained up, once you've had time for such training. Somehow, I suspect you of skill in imparting the more subtle of the arts of courtesanship. The ore obvious endowments are of far less interest."

Raphael smiles. He does look pleased to have chosen something that aligned with Aurore's hopes. "I agree with you," he says, and pauses to eat some of this pork loin, leaving the question of whether he agrees that subtlety is key, or whether he should be entrusted with the training of the next generation. "I have been trying to give guidance where I may. Of course…I am not Second of Thorns. I have been away. So I must be respectful of my place within the house. But. My greatest concern is that our house give proper glory to Naamah according to its canons, and all the subtleties of the sharp ways to the patrons of Marsilikos."

Aurore eats with real enjoyment and appetite, having done quite a bit of walking before she turned up looking for luncheon entertainment. "They do know their pork here, f that there is no doubt and the pairings show it off to good affect." She smiles a little crookedly, "I admit, I lacked the requisite level of piety, but I was a rather pert young thing. Looking at you, I wonder if I might have done better in a different House, though I never did respond well to discipline from my elders so probably not."

Raphael nods once, looking thoughtfully at Aurore as if to guess her ideal house. "Discipline if of course at the heart of my canon, in more ways than many realize," he says. "But piety is difficult to grasp in youth. We cannot fully understand what we owe in devotion until we recognize the Grace we have received, perhaps," he suggests, but then takes a break from theology to tuck into the meal, which he does gladly. "Ah, good," he says after tasting it. "I was afraid there might have been a change in quality."

Aurore studies his face, expression thoughtful, "Would you be willing to tell me about it? What your faith means to you and how that plays out with your particular cannon? Or is that too personal?"

"I'll tell you this much," Raphael says. "That the grace of Naamah has given me everything in my life that I ever had. I was born one street over from here," he says, gesturing vaguely with his fork in the direction of the place. "Although I left service for a long time, I realized that fact when it was time to return."

Aurore thinks that over as she chews her pork. "When I was girl I had goals for myself, I don't think I ever really thought about what would happen if I ever were to achieve them. I have more than it even occurred to me to want when I was twelve. So far my new goals are to see to my son's education and to build up his holdings so I can hand it to him in a better state than when it came into my hands. I supose I should have though more on matters spiritual." Her eyes are still on his face, "I won't ask you, though I will listen and keep the answers to myself if you ever do want to talk about it. I know stepped a little clumsily on our first meeting. I hope to do better in future." She sips her wine. "If I do ever step too far, I won't be offended by refusal. I have a very thick skin."

Raphael smiles at Aurore's answer and inclines his head at that kindness. "Not at all. You hardly asked outrageous questions," he says, and eats another mouthful. "The fact is that I met my wife in Naamah's service. Do you think an Eglantine would ever have glanced at the boy who chops chickens in a back alleyway?" From his tone, he does not judge it likely. "A commoner is born a commoner, a nobleman is born a nobleman. But courtesans are discovered and crafted through their potential. And in my canon, it is often our work to discover the potential in others, as well." Having said that much, his eyes lift from his plate to fix on Aurore and measure her reaction to this explanation.

Aurore eats, still watching him, "I understand rise through merit better than most and also the way our society… limits certain potentials unless a person is terribly lucky and makes the right friends. I am terribly glad you made the right friends young and that you found a vocation that suited you like glove to hand, though I suspect you'd have been a brilliant and precise butcher or anything else you really put your mind to." Another sip of her wine, "I admit, Eglantine and Orchis are the houses who's cannon most appeals to me as a patron. I've always preferred real skill and talent to…" She waves her hand, "Simple physical charms. I think your cannon is like Eglantine in the discipline and skill it must take to pursue your particular arts. I can see how there could be a great deal in common despite the surface differences." Her tone softens, "I am sorry for your loss."

Raphael nods as though confirming some thought he had already had. "I agree that there is more in common than most people would typically acknowledge," he says. Though he has been discussing all of this with a certain distance and composure, her gentle condolence warms through the flat surface of his gaze. "Thank you," he replies.

Aurore doesn't touch him physically, but there is real kindness there, "I think she was a lucky woman to have such husband as you, just as I think the salon is lucky to have you now." And vica versa, but she doesn't say that.

Raphael nods faintly at that, unable to trust a larger response. "I hope that is so," he says softly, without any sense of performance in what he says. At this moment, Franck appears again with a smaller platter of cooked rabbit and boiled potatoes, lightly herbed and spiced. There is some jam on the side, probably made of local wild berries. The wine sent for also appears, a simple table blend which Frank pours for them both and then discreetly departs.

Aurore her sharp attention turns to the next course. She murmurs happily enough over the scent of the food, "Is this farmed or caught, do you think?"

"I would think trapped wild," Raphael says. "I didn't know many people here to keep rabbit hutches, though I don't know what may have changed since I have been away. Shall we try to discern by the taste?"

Aurore says, "I doubt I have your level of discernment, but it's certainly worth the attempt." She slices off a bite's worth and eats it slowly, "It's definately cooked exactly right and the herbs are well chosen to show the meat to best effect. Do they sell much wild meat here?""

"There will be shops that specialize in game," Raphael says. "Some is available here, surely. Chickens and pigs are usually brought in live and kept that way until slaughter the morning they can be sold. And there are huntsmen who pass through and sell." He shrugs. "That at least is my recollection of how things were. Now let us see whether the rabbit may be fat or lean."

Aurore tries with a bit of the jam for the second slice to see, "I admit I've a preference for lean, but not stringy."

Raphael samples the rabbit and nods faintly. "I think probably wild," he says. "But not tough, thankfully. What do you think? I didn't see lamb downstairs tonight, but I imagine that have that on some days." He watches Aurore. "So you are searching for new goals," he presumes. "Unless you are devoted entirely to growing your estate."

Aurore thinks it over, "From the size, not quite full grown, I guess." She eats for a bit, giving his question the thought it deserves, "Perhaps a new goal; perhaps simply some form of diversion engaging enough to make up for the lack of a higher purpose."

Raphael nods once. "You enjoy good conversation," he says with an acknowledgement of the conceit in that implied in his tone. "What other diversions are to your taste?"

Raphael nods once. "You enjoy good conversation," he says with an acknowledgement of the conceit in that implied in his tone. "What other diversions are to your taste?"

Aurore is amused by his accurate assessment of his charm. "I fear my taste is not particularly elevated. I like to laugh. I like skilled performance of almost any kind. I like good music and well spiced food and dancing. What diversions to you enjoy besides the obvious ones?"

Aurore is amused by his accurate assessment of his charm. "I fear my taste is not particularly elevated. I like to laugh. I like skilled performance of almost any kind. I like good music and well spiced food and dancing. I definitely enjoy a good game, especially if there's something at hazard. What diversions to you enjoy besides the obvious ones?"

"You," Raphael accuses lightly in addition, making a small gesture with his fork, "Like setting tests for people. I suppose that is a kind of gambling, as well." He shakes his head mildly. "I have not been in much pursuit of diversions lately," he says. "I like to make things from time to time. I enjoy music. I like children because they are so honest that it is difficult to prepare for them."

Aurore barks laughter, "I do. And you are very good at the more subtle aspects of your calling." She sips her wine, "When you come to dinner, might you like to meet my son?"

"Yes, provided he is still at the honest age, or otherwise old enough to be interesting. Not that everyone who is /old/ enough to be interesting necessarily is," he adds. He cannot be entirely serious about these remarks. He sets his utensils down and drinks from the glass of wine that has been provided. The wine is nothing particularly special, but it is not revolting.

Aurore cocks her head, "Is there such a thing as an honest age? He just turned eight. I thought he could benefit from my having a wider selection of tutors for him than I could find in our mountains now he's old enough for more challenging studies." She blinks, "Is that a veiled insult or just n observation?" She doesn't seem offended, just curious.

Raphael laughs softly, a low sound. "If it were an insult, I would veil it better," he assures her. "There are simply some people who will never develop any particular interest. You know," he says, setting his glass down, "Not many people are eager to introduce Thorns to their children."

Aurore laughs with him, "I do appreciate that." She nods, "I have met many such I fear and have little patience for them now I need not depend on their good will." She raises her eyebrows, "But who is safer than a Thorn? you know exactly what you are capable of, and have disciplined your impulses with precision few people could master. You hurt exactly as much and in exactly the way you intend. This makes you safer with children then most in the population at large. It's the impulsive who do the real harm to the young in my experience. You are the opposite of that."

Raphael must acknowledge the truth in that, leaning his backbone against the back of the chair. "I think you may be right," he says. "Though only certain people understand it. "What sort of a child is he? That is the age where it seems you can start to tell what sort of man may emerge. I was that age when I was selected, as many are."

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