(1311-03-12) Triathlon
Summary: One leg of which is conversation — as anyone who has competed against Philomène in such events could well attest.
RL Date: 12/03/2019
Related: Hellebore.
raphael philomene 

Temple Baths — Temple of Naamah

A large circular window of colorful stained-glass depicting Naamah is framed by two crescent shaped ones, sitting further up the wall as to allow for generous lighting during the day, with the shades of the glass used in the center painting the interior of the Temple Baths in colorful hues. The light beige tiles of the stone floor are arranged in a pattern, spaces between filled with darker shade mosaic stones. The changing area is divided into two spaces, hidden away behind semi-opaque drapes. Here, visitors can leave their clothing and move over towards the pools that are filled with the warm waters of a hot well, a faint layer of steam lingering occasionally in the air directly above the waterline. A larger pool of white marble is in the center, between two smaller pools that offer room enough for two or three people each. At the edge of the pools, trays are provided at regular intervals, some holding various flagons of bathing oils while others hold bars of flowery soap and other bath implements.

Acolytes of Naamah, clad in the red flowing robes of the temple stand at the ready, to provide towels or robes when needed and make sure a peaceful atmosphere is maintained within the baths.

The high times to catch Courtesans at the Temple Baths are early in the morning after busy nights wind up, and around midday, when many are rising for new days of Service. And indeed midday finds at least one Courtesan of the Rose Sauvage canon soaking in the warmest of the pools, a neatly-folded towel left near the edge. His wet hair is pushed straight back from his face, and it is still quite damp, so he can't have been here for terribly long. Or else he's submerged himself. Arms spread out along the edge of the pool, he looks set to stay in place for a while. He lets his eyes stay shut for long periods, breathing in steam, but does occasionally open them, maintaining a picture of who is present.

It's partly due to the baths starting to fill up and partly because she's naturally an early riser and so tends to be about ready for a bath by ten in the morning that Philomène can usually be found here earlier. Today, however, her walk was delayed by the need to speak with the city guard, to catch up with the hired men she's put in place to keep a close eye on her grain, and a greater than usual mess in her house from the night before, the cleaning of which she decided for some reason needed to be personally overseen.

There are people. In the baths. It's all very unnecessary. So it is that she sets her jaw stubbornly and eschews the offers of help from the attendants here as she limps in, still limping to her usual spot to disrobe. Once there, her clothing is set in neat piles, everything in a very specific order and set down in such a way that it could, in theory, be snatched up in an instant to reclothe if an emergency were to occur.

This done, she hobbles over to the pools to carefully lower herself into the water, the steam and heat of the bath thankfully engulfing the livid and twisted scars of her mangled left leg before too many people are forced to gawp. The attendants by now are mostly used to it, but for newcomers, accustomed to the endless beauty of Terre d'Ange, it's rather like seeing a tentacled fire-breathing hellbeast in a pen full of golden retriever puppies.

Raphael can certainly hear someone new entering the pool, so he opens his eyes to see part of Philomène's entry process. But he is not one to rudely stare, either. He takes note of anyone else who has arrived while he has been resting his eyes and finds his gaze coming back to Philomène by the time she is more thoroughly submerged. "You've finished your walk, I suppose," is his way of greeting.

"Either that or I'm taking up triathlon and this is the next stage," Philomène is unable to prevent herself from responding, the dry words tumbling out before her brain can stop them. "If I swim a mile in here I'll be sure to let you know. You're up early for a courtesan, aren't you? Quiet night?"

"Ah, good," Raphael says. "That way I can move to a different pool." He turns just slightly in Philomène's direction, one elbow leaving the edge of the pool while the other bends. "Not so early," he says. "Frankly, it is rarely quiet in our salon at night. Perhaps upstairs where the White Roses repose."

Philomène settles back in the bath, arms stretching out languidly along the edge of the pool and her head tilting to look upwards until the short hair at the back of her neck begins to darken in the water. "You'll have to remind me. The white roses are the ones who like to take a beating, or the ones who pretend not to? Like I've said, botany is not my strong point. All these floral backs are the same to me."

Raphael smiles at the woman's question. "The White Roses follow a canon centered on modesty: when to preserve it, and when to lay it aside," Raphael answers. For surely he cannot answer Philomène in her own terms. "They sleep farthest from our Dark Room, untroubled by anything particularly vigorous that may occur within." He reaches a hand back to rub at the line of his right shoulder back to the trapezius.

"One would presume that the time to set it aside is when the price is high enough or they're bored with pretending," Philomène notes with a marked lack of respect. "There's a reason I've always had a soft spot for the Orchis over any other house. They might be ten kinds of crazy, but they're honest about what they want. Honesty goes an awful long way with me."

"If courtesans made our decisions based on boredom, the Night Court would scarcely exist," Raphael replies. "But I would not think of White Roses as the canon for you, no. Each canon has its detractors and aficionados." He lets his ear drop toward his left shoulder.

Philomène half smiles, casting a casual glance over at him. "Oh? And your party trick is identifying the canon for all women you've barely met, or am I special?"

"Not at all," Raphael replies. "But every courtesan thinks of these things when they meet someone. First whether their own canon might suit, next — at least in Marsilikos — whether another canon in the same house…" he shrugs. "Many people have hidden or surprising tastes. But there again sometimes someone's personality suggests what they might particularly like or particularly dislike."

Philomène laughs as she settles a little lower in the pool, one arm casually swirling the water into tiny, circling eddies as she lets it drift back and forth. "Humour me, then," she decides. "Had I not already made my preference clear, I'm intrigued by your thought process."

Raphael tilts his head to the other side to rub the other shoulder. "You are so practical and straightforward, in fact, I wondered if you would find pleasure in courtesans at all," he says. "I might have thought Bryony, though I don't know whether you would suffer losing money happily." Perhaps he's cheating, since both are Glycine.

"Who exactly does like losing money happily?" Philomène queries, absently lifting her hand from the water to dribble a trickle back into the pool. "Gambling has a price, the same as any other commodity or pastime, I'd say. If you think the thrill of the game is worth the price, then you'll pay it, I suppose? I would venture that I just don't think the thrill of the night court is a sound investment."

"I have heard it said that there are those particular patrons who prefer losing to winning," Raphael replies in a mild tone, propping both elbows on the pool ledge again. He nods at Philomène's assessment. "I do not find that shocking," he says. "There are many who agree with you."

"But many more who don't," Philomène allows, lips curving into a smile of acknowledgement, "else you'd never make a living. Did you pull something, or just sleep funny?" she queries with a slight nod towards him. "Perhaps a mile swim isn't such a bad idea for you, too, to stop the muscles seizing."

"Enough," Raphael concedes, smiling faintly. "No, nothing injured," he replies. "But it is a lot of physical work, as you may imagine." Or as she may not care to. "I feel it more than I once did."

"Age," Philomène opines simply, "is a cunt."

Raphael tips his head back and lets out a genuine laugh from deep in his throat, which rings faintly off the many tiled surfaces. "You have a way with words," he praises.

Philomène runs a damp hand through her hair, responding to that laughter with a small but genuine smile. "Ah, but it's true, isn't it? I've often thought that we're born the wrong way round. When we're young, we have all the drive, the flexibility, and a body that'll bounce back from almost anything we throw at it, but not an ounce of sense to temper it. Wouldn't it make more sense to be born old and tired, and have a body that improves at the same rate as the mind, instead of deteriorating?"

"Extremely," Raphael agrees. He turns his head to grin at Philomène. "But the truth is, were we given the power of peak bodily strength and wisdom all at once, we might never give the tired young the chance to live at all."

"Have you met the young?" Philomène asks drily, letting her hand pillow behind her head and keep her focus on him. "I can't see a down side."

Raphael laughs again, though not as loudly. "You see, you are far too clever to be given indefatigability," he replies.

"You say clever, but you mean bitter and jaded, I think," the Chalasse points out amiably. "No, you call me clever because you know it'll appeal to my own conceit. Flattery is a wonderful way to have somebody lower their guard. Which begs the question, what is it you want of me? Or is it merely a verbal sparring partner to save you from that rare moment of boredom?"

"You have a very suspicious nature," Raphael replies, smiles back at Philomène. "When we last met, you also accused me of trying to extract some value from you in a different way." He shrugs his shoulders. "I think you say interesting things, which I enjoy well enough." Well enough to put up with the accusations, apparently. His tone is not unpleasant.

"I have a practical nature," Philomène corrects, flicking a quick grin in response. "Everyone wants something. There's a driving force behind every action we undertake. I'm just prepared to ask frankly and bluntly up front instead of spending weeks dancing around the question. We might all die tomorrow, why waste time wondering when you might as well just ask. What drives you?"

"Different things at different times," Raphael says, "Like anyone. Just now, I am seeking to relax my muscles. I am talking to you because you are worth talking to. Do you want the question turned back to you?" He looks at Philomène straight-on.

Philomène's grin widens at the answer, lifting one shoulder from the water in a smooth shrug. "Oh, you could ask, but you haven't yet earned the right to demand an answer. If I want to tell you that's on me, not you. But it seems unlikely." She shifts in the water, glancing sidelong to the steps out. "I'm talking to you because you've as yet demanded nothing but conversation, and you haven't needed to ask personal questions. That in itself is rare enough, but you've a handsome enough face to go with it and I find that I have to admit to enjoying your company. Not," she adds with a smirk, "to the extent that I'd like to draw up a contract, I hasten to add. But if you find yourself at a loose end come supper time, send word and I'd gladly split a bottle of wine with you."

"Don't worry," Raphael says dryly, "No one has ever accidentally entered into a contract with me by saying they enjoy my company." He nods at the invitation. "Now, supper and a bottle of wine is as appealing as the conversation."

"I can't imagine for a moment that you'd ever let anything happen by accident if you could help it," Philomène points out, slowly easing her way from the edge of the bath over towards the steps out. Grace in the water is quickly replaced by that twisted limp when she transitions to dry land, the twisted mass of scarring and livid red marks only serving to emphasise the way one leg is both shorter than the other and twisted to an unlikely angle. "If you'll excuse me, then, I have a third leg of my triathlon to finish."

Raphael neither particularly looks at nor looks away from the scars (or nudity for that matter) simply nodding, presumably in response to the leave-taking more than the questions of his precise nature. "I shall lay a bet on you to win," he replies.

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