(1311-03-15) About Thorns and Red Roses
Summary: An instructive visit to the Rose Sauvage brings some enlightenment, when first Raphael and then Denise are happy to answer some questions of Farah, about courtesans in general and certain canons of the salon.
RL Date: Sat Mar 16, 2019
Related: None
marco raphael farah denise marielle 

La Rose Sauvage — Night Court

A huge hearth of black marble, with gargoyles of stone adorning the mantlepiece, governs the foyer of the Salon de la Rose Sauvage, which emanates a certain dark air, the interior design of the more heavy sort, that could easily be encountered in a gentleman's club, especially with the dark cherry wood wainscoting used on the walls. Dark leather upholstery is predominant in the furniture of chaise longues, couches and long-backed chairs that are arranged in a half-circle, leaving space in the center for courtesans (or patrons) to kneel for an inspection. Three tall windows with circular stained-glass insets are framed by dark red curtains of heavy brocade, a few golden threads worked into the fabric catching occasionally the light of flickering oil lamps at the walls. The lamps light a pair of portrait paintings, of the two founders of the salon, Edouard Shahrizai and his cousin Annabelle no Mandrake, resplendent in their dark Kusheline appeal; and a cabinet in a corner, holding a number of quality wines and a flagon of uisghe.

The foyer has a high ceiling, and a gallery beyond a balustrade of dark teak wood, carved in the shapes of gargoyles. Sometimes a few veiled creatures can be spotted up there, stealing glances at what is going on below; from the gallery, which can be reached by ascending some winding stairs at the back of the foyer. Beside the stairs leading up is a hallway on ground level, leading further into the building to where the offices of the leader of the salon and his two Seconds can be found, along with the two wings of private quarters for roses of Mandrake and Valerian canon.

Marco makes his way into the familiar environs of the Rose sauvage. He has a vague smile on his features as he wanders his way into it dropping himself into a delightful and comfortable seat as he does. His eyes wandering the area in content delight as he stretches his way out.

Of an evening, the Salon de la Rose Sauvage is lively with patrons and courtesans of many stripes flirting, building trust, and testing boundaries before determining whether contracts will be made. Novices circulate with refreshments intended to comfort guests and encourage them to remain longer so that the charms of the Roses and Thorns may have time to work their magic. The parlor holds more Red Roses and Thorns tonight than White Roses, as many patrons of the latter prefer to seek a quieter environment. Into this lively setting steps Raphael, coming in from the Garden, admitting a puff of cold air into the back of the parlor as he does so, though the fire in the hearth burns merrily to counteract the chill. He has new clothing, since he was last seen: black leather breeches and boots and a shirt of fine white linen currently worn quite open at the neck and chest. There is surely a doublet or jacket to the ensemble, but it appears that Raphael has been involved in some physical activity outside. A novice hurries in at his heels and hands him a cloth with which he blots his forehead to dry any remaining sweat worked up despite the cold outside. When done, the cloth gets passed back to the novice who hurries off with it. Raphael is carrying a riding crop in his other fist.

Some time after Marco has entered and settled himself, Farah arrives. Where he seems somewhat at ease in these surroundings, this young lady of foreign but also d'Angeline traits cannot help but pause as she takes in the dark splendour of the foyer. Her cloak she had handed - a bit reluctantly perhaps - to a novice, and now she stands there, attired in a gown of d'Angeline fashion, a peach-colored dress that pronounces her waist and has long sleeves and long skirts. Dark hair has been arranged in a fashionable way, worn up with hair needles keeping it in place. Her skin is not quite dark, ant yet dusky enough to give away her Akkadian origin.

Spotting Marco in his seat, she hesitates, eyes widening just so as Farah probably didn't expect to see him there. But her attention shifts to the older man with that interesting aura and riding crop in hand, and to him she looks, as she offers a polite "Good eve, Monsieur." Her voice sounds oddly hollow in these surroundings, and her speech has an obvious Akkadian accent.

Marco blinks in surprise at a familiar tone. His eyes turn towards that accent. He watches for several long moments but his lips curling into a slow smile. He turns towards Raphael, "Raph… are you enjoying yourself tonight?" He asks watching Raphael and that crop drift. He observes watching the movement as he smiles slowly to himself his toes curling as he wanders his look in deliberate pleasure as they all settle in.

"Good evening," Raphael returns to Farah in a rich voice like an iron bar wrapped in plush velvet. "Welcome." His gaze sizes her up, as he has not seen her in the salon before, but for now he does not press any advance on her and instead looks toward Marco, whom he seems to know. "Naturally, I always enjoy myself at my calling," he replies, "But the more important question is whether you, as our guest, are enjoying /yourself/."

It had been Farah who addressed Raphael first, but then again, Marco interjected his own greeting of the Thorn in that familiar manner of address - while not greeting her, as she somehow had elected not to greet him. Expecting some sort of reaction from the man with the riding crop, Farah's dark eyes linger inquiringly on Raphael, her chin lifted in slightly haughty attitude. "I am Farah. Princess Farah Shamabarsin, niece to the khalif of Khebbel-im-Akkad." That glance he gave her seemed to demand an introduction. But Raphael elects to reply to Marco, and so Farah's attention shifts to the Mereliot, and she raises a brow. "Perhaps he is hoping for the company of Lady Denise Shahrizai nó Rose Sauvage…", she wonders, sweetly but only on the surface.

Marco tilts his head watching Farah and Raphael. There's a momentary jealousy which he clamps down. He smiles at Farah's response. His eyes wandering. "Oh? There are so very many to hope for." He says his tone lazy eyes lidded watching Farah delightedly. He holds a hand out towards her. His gaze shifting to Raphael as he murmurs, "I trust you're enjoying….. yourself?" He asks watching thoughtfully.

"Are there?", Farah counters towards Marco, studying the hand he holds out to her for a moment, as if pondering whether to accept the gesture or not. She hesitates. But then she accepts, touching her fingers to Marco's hand to sit down beside him.

Raphael returns to Farah a slow smile which turns the sharper as it spreads. "And /I/," he replies, "Am Thorn Courtesan Raphael nó Rose Sauvage, of the first Thorns to be raised in his house." There is a certain impertinence implied in a courtesan returning his introduction as though on the same level as the princess, but few expect a Thorn to be excessively humble in his own house. "You must come in and sit, Your Highness," he says, gesturing toward a seat near Marco, since the two seem to know one another, "And tell us how we may serve your pleasures." He has afforded her a proper title at last in recognition of her place. To Marco, he nods. "Very much," he says. "There is always something…new on the horizon." Does he mean Farah? Something else? He comes to stand beside the couch where the noble and foreign royal have parked themselves, standing nearer to Marco but more directly facing Farah. "Has Her Highness visited us before? I think not, but as we know here, appearances are sometimes deceiving."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Farah=Subterfuge Vs Raphael=Perception
< Farah: Good Success (1 8 6 1 5 8 2) Raphael: Good Success (3 6 2 1 8 8 8 1 4)
< Net Result: Raphael wins - Marginal Victory

"Thorn." Farah repeats the title, and a line appears between her brows. "You have to enlighten me, Monsieur Raphael, as I have no idea what it means." She has settled in beside Marco, withdrawing her hand now from his to place it with the other in her lap. Her attention she seems to have pulled away from the Mereliot as well, dark eyes are turned toward Raphael when he speaks. "In fact… I had hoped for Lady Denise to be present. Lord Marco here had thought it a good idea, that I should try and inquire about Valerian ways.", the young woman informs the Thorn, her back straightened. "But as she is not here, obviously, perhaps you could explain some of this to me as well." The way she carries herself, Farah appears indeed as someone with the confidence of a princess. But Raphael's perceptive eyes, trained to note details, may pick up a subtle widening of those eyes when he addresses her as 'your highness', as if she were not as used to this address as she tries to make him believe.

"She is perhaps tending to the needs of a patron," Raphael replies, nodding. "But I am happy to explain. It is my understanding that foreigners do not always understand the D'Angeline ways, particularly as concerns the way in which we honor Naamah. So if I skip over anything that is unknown to you, do ask." While he speaks, and without breaking the contact between his icy eyes and Farah's dark ones, Raphael's right hand, still grasping the crop, moves slightly, deftly, to touch a passing novice with a tray of wine goblets. The crop is used without any violence, just a light touch to guide this young Red Rosebud to bring her tray to the guests Raphael is addressing. The tray is offered with a lowered head. Raphael, meanwhile, continues. "In Marsilikos, things are different from Elua. They separate each canon into its own house whereas here we have several canons serving in one salon. Here, in the Salon de la Rose Sauvage, we have three canons. One is White Rose, like Elua's Alyssum, the canon concerned with modesty. The second is Red Rose, called Valerian in Elua, whose motto is 'I yield.' The third is Thorn, called Mandrake in Elua. In contrast to Red Rose or Valerian, we say, 'Yield all.'" He pronounces that motto with a certain hard glint in his eye. "Is that clear so far, Your Highness?"

"I have been brought up…", Farah begins before his icy stare somehow distracts her enough as not to finish the sentence. When Raphael does not break the gaze, neither does she. At least until she has to look to the minimal touch of the riding crop to the Red Rose novice's arm. "Thank you," Farah says, but whether her gratitude was to be expressed towards the novice is hard to tell, when the foreign woman finds her gaze drawn to Raphael's face. "I understand," she says, making sure that there is still that certain firm note in her voice. "So… in a way, the Red Roses and the Thorns form part of a whole, complementing the other? And the Red Rose canon is what is known elsewhere as Valerian. I see." Making sure Marco is not without his own glass of wine, Farah lowers her eyes for a moment. She lifts her goblet and has a first sip of the wine. "How does this 'yielding' work? I understand, that Service of Naamah includes some…", she coughs, and then bites her lip. "Intimacies that are to be exchanged. But how does a Valerian… a Red Rose find pleasure in yielding? How does her service compare to others? And… how are these Red Roses chosen, Monsieur? Do they have a choice?"

Raphael nods once, precisely, at Farah's first question. "Just so," he says. "Though each canon also is complete and beautiful in its own right." Once the novice has served the noble and royal, the crop returns to Raphael's side and the novice takes this as permission to move elsewhere. "Intimacies," Raphael says, "To the desire of the patron, and not beyond, of course. The courtesan's own desire is also considered important, here. Therefore before contact of that sort, a contract is drawn up to determine the limits and content of the adventure. And in our salon, a signale is always used — a word agreed upon that will stop proceedings should they threaten to exceed a patron's wish." At the final questions, he smiles. "It is difficult to explain just exactly how each person finds his or her pleasures. How well could you explain your own? Each person is made to a different mold and excited by different things. Some are thrilled by anticipation and uncertainty. Some are secretly delighted by humiliation. Some delight in games of transgression and correction. Some find the sensations of pain and pleasure closely bound together. Some wish to forget heavy responsibilities and escape from the need for choice, abandoning their will for a time to a firm hand in which they can trust absolutely." He opens his left hand in a blooming gesture. "There are more ways of enjoying such an experience than petals on a rose. We are all of us identified for our potentials in our childhood. Those who do not suit the house or whom the house does not suit are sent to other houses, or dismissed. Full courtesans, who have completed their marques, are completely at liberty. I myself was allowed to leave for a time and was also allowed to return at the time of my choosing. And no one is ever forced to serve a patron they do not wish to serve. D'Angelines believe people should love as they will, and this precept is respected here."

<FS3> Farah rolls Composure: Good Success. (2 4 4 8 7 5 7)

Much information is shared, and Farah takes it all in, blinking when Raphael poses his (rhetorical) question to her about how well she could explain her own pleasure. There is a brief inhale causing her nostrils to tremble slightly. But overall, she manages to keep up the facade of foreign nobility of high standing — even if perhaps not quite royalty. "I see," Farah says, lowering her gaze again, to regard the goblet of wine in her hand. "D'Angeline views seem to be very… free and lax, in that regard. And there is much for me to learn, here.", she states at a lower volume. "You have left service, and returned?" This she asks, raising her eyes again to consider Raphael. "So that is possible? For someone who takes a break from being a courtesan, to become one such again?"

"From your perspective, it may be lax," Raphael allows, folding both arms behind his upright spine, left hand grasping right wrist. "From my perspective, my world is defined by the utmost discipline." At the question, he nods. "It is indeed possible. I have done it. Although of course those in charge of the house ensure that any returning courtesans match the highest standards of their art. That is particularly important in this salon. Thorns above all must have perfect control of their art to ensure the safety and pleasure of every patron." Someone in a far corner moans audibly, though if one looks after the fact, it is impossible to tell why. Refreshments circulate everywhere, some patrons transfer their attention from one adept to another.

Denise emerges from the gardens, her cheeks just a little flushed from whatever flirtation or encounter she is returning from. She is dressed in a gown of midnight blue, the corsetry worn beneath clearly bound tight to accentuate her figure. She surveys the room with quiet contemplation, studying the various patrons. As her eye catches on Farah and Raphael, her eyebrows lift faintly in surprise. She pauses nearby for a moment, but does not yet approach, perhaps out of discretion.

<FS3> Farah rolls Perception: Failure. (2 1 3 3 6 3 6 5)

"It is the perspective as I have learned through my upbringing," Farah replies, holding his gaze now even as her peripheral vision takes in his body language. "It is not that I mean to infer that d'Angelines are not capable of discipline. It is just that… there seems to be more freedom; in companionship as well as in pursuit of pleasure, in general. It is not looked down on, nor is it…" She pauses, as she ponders how to put it best. "Something that is kept behind closed doors. I find these customs something I will need to get used to." So deep is her focus on the current exchange, that Farah seems to be perfectly oblivious to Denise entering the salon. Or was that sudden moan in the room enough to distract the foreign looking visitor? It did indeed elicit a brief, slightly startled glance in the direction of said corner.

<FS3> Raphael rolls Perception: Good Success. (6 7 8 4 3 2 1 2 6)

Raphael smiles at Farah. "Of course it is easy enough to avoid the Night Court if it is not to your taste," he says. "But I hope that you shall find the pleasure in it. Perhaps you could taste of a certain kind of freedom, yourself." That suggestion sharpens his smile and brings forth a glitter in the eyes. But Raphael must maintain a certain awareness of comings and goings, for he /does/ notice the appearance of someone who has been talked about. He turns his head and gestures with the riding crop. "Ah," he says, voice pitched loudly enough to carry to Denise. "Is this not the Red Rose you hoped to meet tonight? Perhaps you would like me to leave you in her care?" Despite the cold outside, he wears no doublet or jacket over his linen shirt which is open at the throat and chest still. But the hearth keeps the room warm enough that he does not seem to mind.

From the hall where the offices are located comes the Second of the White Roses. Her hands clasped behind her and the veils properly in place. Her every movement is soft and demure and has the innocent appeal that one expects from the White Roses. Towards the stairs she move, likely towards her room. Marielle doesn't have an assignation at the moment. She doesn't take on many anymore.. not that she ever took on huge amounts. She gives a pause at voices and dips a curtsy in the general direction of them. Everyone sounds like they are properly sorted so she does not seem inclined to meddle.

Denise tilts her head as she hears Raphael's words. Taking the cue, she steps forward, eyes lingering just a moment on Raphael's partly-bared chest before focusing on Farah. She drops into a graceful curtsey, lips curling into an inviting smile as she murmurs "Milady, Messire. A pleasant evening to you both."

Farah's brows twitch upwards at Raphael's counter. "Perhaps," she allows with her features softening a little from faintly haughty to more human looking smile, even if that sharpening of his expression doesn't go unnoticed. But anything else she might have had to say on the matter remains unspoken, when the Thorn draws her attention to Denise. "I believe so," Farah agrees, and in keeping the goblet in her hand moves to stand, leaving the currently distracted Marco to his other company. "And yes," this said to Raphael. "Thank you for your time and advice, Monsieur." She wears a dress of peach color and d'Angeline fashion, with long sleeves and long skirts, waist pronounced, but maybe not as pronounced as that of Denise. Dark eyes look towards the Red Rose Adept, until they get distracted by the arrival of a veiled creature in white. To whom Farah gives a polite nod of greeting and a long curious look. "Mademoiselle Denise?", Farah intones then, towards the Red Rose. "Or is the proper address, Lady Denise? I am a little confused…"

Raphael makes Farah an abbreviated and straight-backed bow in return for the thanks and a barely perceptible nod to Denise in the hand-off, then moves to circulate elsewhere in the salon. By now, there are several faces present that he recognizes, and a few visible reactions of various types as he approaches them or passes them by: longing, distaste, dismissal, desire, shame, jealousy, competition, excitement…all looks that pass in many directions under the roof of this salon.

Denise draws closer to Farah then, giving a wry little smile "Lady Denise would be technically correct. But feel free to just call me Denise." Her eyes seek out the other woman's, studying her intently for a few seconds before giving a gentle, almost disarming smile as she murmurs "How might I be of service of you, Milady?"

Hearing the breaking up of the group MArielle gives a pause to assure it is not a patron of the salon that is being separated out because the assignation wanted is not to their taste. Towards Denise the White Rose Second looks then Farah before sliding her eyes away to Raphael.

"Denise…" Farah pronounces the name carefully, returning the smile with a small curving of lips. Her gaze is not unkind, curious perhaps, and those dark eyes hold some uncertainty as they study the Red Rose. "Please… could we go where it is less crowded? Over there perhaps?", Farah suggests softly, tilting her head towards a vacant seat in a corner. "There are some questions I have… Some of them, Monsieur Raphael was already kind enough to answer. But then again, I take it he is of the Thorn canon. I would like to hear your view on some things…" Words fade into low murmur, as Farah ventures over to the vacant seat in the corner, away from curious ears that might wish to overhear them.

Denise inclines her head as she replies "Certainly." She follows close at Farah's side, taking a seat next to her and lightly brushing out the fabric of her skirt. "I shall do my best. Perhaps I should also just note that there is nothing wrong about being… uncertainty about much of our canon. Even among the Night Court, the teachings of this House are something of a… specialty. But ask away."

Raphael is just moving around a group seated in one of the gatherings of furniture set up to encourage intimacy, placing the tongue of the crop on a woman's thigh as he passes. He must be known to the patron, since this touch meets with both blush and an expression of desire, though Raphael does not stay with that group, already being entertained by a couple of courtesans. In passing them, though, his path moves nearer to Marielle, to whom he nods respectfully.

"Raphael." comes the soft greeting before Marielle moves to start towards the stairs once more to return to her room.

Farah makes sure that her voice is kept to a lower volume. "Lord Marco suggested that I should speak to you. I am trying to get a better understanding of Naamah's Service. And especially… the Valerian canon. Because… I was told that my mother was a d'Angeline courtesan of that same canon." There is a pause, and Farah's fingers tighten a little about the goblet of wine she holds in her hand. "You see. That is why I wish to know more about her. To understand."

Denise nods softly "I am sure you have been given the basic explanations by now. In truth… there is nothing that demands understanding of you, beyond acceptance. I shall try to explain what I can. But I'll also say that when it comes to the deeper reasons and feelings involved in our service, every Servant of Naamah has their own answer and explanation."

"I see. So, as I have heard, someone of Valerian canon will serve someone of dominant disposition. How does this work? Is it that you act like you were that someone's servant? That he can order you, and you will obey?", Farah asks. "How can this be pleasing for the patron?" An apologetic smile flashes on her features, "And forgive me, if these questions sound dumb, but I am trying to understand."

Denise smiles a little further "There are many aspects to it, but that is a first summary. How can it be pleasurable? Surely there some obvious answers. To have a lover entirely at one's disposal, willing to perform with skill and dedication, entirely how one wishes it? But of course that's the most superficial level. Many find a very special thrill in feeling such immediate power over another. They appreciate that very special gift, of someone willingly surrendering their will to them, if only for a night…"

Farah exhales and lowers her gaze. "You mentioned pain as well. That could be another facet of the same canon, to endure pain and punishment, to please the patron?" It seems less of a question and more of a statement. "The disposition of being Valerian is a gift you are born with? Were you destined for this path when you joined the Night Court?"

Denise pauses a moment before answering "That is a slightly more tricky question. Certain predispositions do seem run in bloodlines. The Kusheline noble Houses are very often linked to the sharper pleasures… but most notably for wielding them. A Shahrizai Valerian as myself is considered something of an oddity. And yet it probably comes from the same fire, given a slightly different channel. I certainly do not feel the tutors who chose the Valerian path for me were in error." She turns her head, smiling faintly "Are you perhaps wondering whether you yourself are tied to these things through your heritage?"

"Perhaps." Farah smiles faintly. "I am wondering. I don't know. I have been brought up away from any diversions and… pleasures of that kind. It is just one of so many questions though. Another is about my mother. Monsieur Raphael tells me, that courtesans can return to service. And I am wondering, where my mother went, after she left Khebbel-im-Akkad. I could imagine she returned to Terre d'Ange. Perhaps to her previous service? Such would have been possible, wouldn't it?"

Denise nods softly "Yes. There have been many courtesans who left the Night Court for one reason or another, and returned to the Service when they felt a new path in life was needed. And seasoned by the world and its wisdom, they are more often than not quite successful in their return. Did you mother come from the City of Elua?"

"Yes." Farah replies. "Her name was Fleur nó Valerian. She would have returned about… 13 or 14 years ago. She left when I was still quite young, therefore… I am not that acquainted with d'Angeline ways, Denise. I have wondered whether she is still alive, and whether… I would be able to see her again, now that I am here."

Denise nods softly, her head tilted thoughtfully to the side. "Then you should inquire with Valerian House. Send a letter, if nothing else. If you mother did ever return, then they should be able to tell you what became of her."

"I will. Thank you for your advice.", Farah tells Denise with a smile. "I believe, I should do so, immediately." She lifts the goblet to her lips, with a thoughtful smile, taking a last sip, before setting the goblet down on a side table. "Please, if you would excuse me…?" Said as she moves to stand. "Thank you for your time, Lady Denise. I should be on my way."

Denise smiles "Of course. I was glad to help, my lady." Rising to her feet, she gently lays a hand on Farah's arm "And for the oher matter… if you truly wish to better learn how you feel yourself about these things… my recommendation would be to arrange a Showing some day. But for now, a good evening."

"A… Showing?" Farah's features are touched by a faint blush as she excuses herself from Denise's company. "Perhaps." But her departure might seem a little hurried, maybe inspired by the nature of the suggestion.

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