(1311-03-15) On Books, Matches and Riding
Summary: Delphine encounters Philomene at the bookshop.
RL Date: Fri Mar 15, 2019
Related: This previous encounter
philomene delphine 

Raziel's Sanctum — Grand Plaza

Pedestrian traffic flows past the tall, multistorey temple to knowledge without ever daring to glimpse within. Their loss proves the academic community of Marsilikos' gain. Watery light passing through greenish tinted windows throws a distinctly sylvan enchantment over the narrow ground floor. Awash in jade shadows, the built-in bookcases heave with the treasures of the deep and wide world. Volumes mass-produced by printing press in d'Angeline dominate the front shelves, a wild assortment of topics contained within some obscure system of sorting known only to the regulars. Herbalism and gardening stand abreast of architectural sketches from the City of Elua and Kusheline manuals on horse breeds.

A journey up the twisting stairs past the bric-a-brac acquired by years of travelers trading in their goods leads into the true heartland of wisdom. Candles set before stained glass throw rapturous kaleidoscopes of painted colour over a long hall. The open central aisle hosts low couches set back to back on woven Bhodistani rugs. The most treasured volumes — and hence, the most costly — occupy the floor-to-ceiling shelves overseen by the grumpiest of caretakers, an ill-tempered marmalade cat with his own stuffed chair that no one sits in.

The third floor holds a repository of maps and scrolls, aged texts too fragile to hold, and a bookbinding and mending service at a cost.


The chill of early spring could easily be the reason for Delphine entering the book shop on this cold and fair morning. At least, there is that sigh of relief that escapes the tall dark-haired lady when the door falls shut behind her and her guard attendant. Luckily for them, they are greeted with a warm wave of air, heated from the fire in the hearth, which, with its many precautions of iron wrought grate and rather deep opening at the front, has been built to pose as small risk as possible to the many dusty treasures that can be found within this place.

There is another sigh, as Delphine lets the cloak slip from her shoulders, expecting her attentive attendant to catch it before it hits the floor. The dress revealed shines in shades of darker red and is of definitely court-appropriate design and elegance, skirts sent to a little spin as she turns to regard the shelves, and the cat holding vigil.

It can't be more than three or four minutes later that the door opens again, setting to tinkle a tiny brass bell to notify the occupants that another person has arrived. The gust of cool air ruffles the papers of the one or two books left open for display which are being so carefully guarded by the cat, and the firelight flickers before the door is quietly, almost apologetically closed, and the tall, slender figure of Philomene de Chalasse hobbles in.

She's not attended by any servant or guard, and even travels without the comfort of a warm cloak against the cold, but there's colour in her cheeks from either exertion or the chill breeze and she offers a polite, "Good morning," as she limps over towards the fire, rubbing her weathered hands together as she waits.

Oh, that ghastly rush of cold air! It alerts Delphine to the new arrival, and she turns around, features of the more ripe beauty that is common for a woman of about forty who has Naamah's blood flowing through her veins softening instantly from almost-irritation to curious delight. "Ah. Good morning, my lady. Lady Philomène, if I recall correctly? I believe, we met in the Baths of Naamah…" Said as she moves over, easy and graceful, to join the Vicomtesse de Gueret at the seats by the fire. "What brings you here? The search for a particular book?" Delphine chooses a vacant seat, shooting the cat in another a playful glare, before turning her attention back to Philomene.

The change in expression is enough to prompt a small laugh and an easy smile in response, that smile held frozen in place for the few seconds it takes to slowly lower herself into the seat by the fire to wait. "My lady Orange," Philomène replies, still flexing her hands towards the fire to warm the chilled fingers. "Nothing too exciting, I'm afraid, just the Spring Almanac. I'd heard rumours it was published and available already. Should I assume that you're here with something less mathematical in mind?"

"The Spring Almanac…", Delphine repeats with the faintest roll of her eyes. "Indeed, my reason for seeking out this place is more aimed at personal diversion than higher purposes of enlightening the mind." The admission comes with an easy chuckle. "Given that I am soon to abdicate and leave duties to my son, I am turning my interests towards the more pleasant things in life." It sounds almost apologetic, but not quite. "I have heard they have a rare edition of 'Les Trois Milles Joies' here, a translation into Caerdicci, and now I wished to have a look at the tome myself, as I hear the illustrations in this edition are so laughably tame… Yes, I admit, easy entertainment for an easily diverted soul, but, Namaah, I long to get my hands on it, and be it just for the sake of having a good laugh or two."

Philomène arches one narrow brow, faintly amused. "I don't think I've ever read the d'Angeline version, although that admission in itself is probably a scandal here. The Caerdiccian one has illustrations with artfully placed branches and unlikely falling leaves and flowers, I assume? For a nation who think themselves so enlightened, they do tend to the prudish. One wonders if there is a specific person employed for the publishing of translations there, armed with paste, a sharp knife, and hundreds of tiny floral illustrations to gum to the pages and hide anything that might cause offence to their delicate sensibilities." She stretches out one leg towards the fire, letting her hands rest on the thigh to begin rubbing it in long, firm strokes and chase out any lingering stiffness from the cold or the strain.

"You don't say…?" Delphine's eyes widen and she looks astonished indeed. Incredulous, as she shakes her head which proves a challenge to the pile of dark brown hair arranged on her head. "You haven't read it?" A good thing, the following remark of Philomene distracts, eliciting another chuckle from the Baphinol lady. "Covering everything, yes, I suppose so," said in regards to leaves being used to make the pictures a bit tamer. "Although… I admit to be particularly curious about the double tongued position, perhaps both protagonists will be subjected to a veritable shower of large leaves, we'd be lucky to spot tiniest hints of what they are doing… Oh my." Shifting a little in her seat, Delphine lets her gaze roam over the book-stuffed interior. "So you are obviously not into the genre of sensual entertainments when choosing your books for diversion?" Not that it would be anything of her concern, nor that the mere question could be taken as impertinence. But it is offered in the warm Namarrese lilt of her home province, and Delphine looks so endearing in her baffled curiosity, one could hardly assume any bad intent on her part.

Philomène quirks a wry smile. "I rarely read for pleasure," she confesses, reaching one hand out to the shop's cat as it pads a little closer in curiosity. "Given the opportunity I spend as little time indoors as I can, and the weather tends to make a mess of books if you take them outside. Besides, surely if I want sensual entertainment, there's an entire night court vying for my money and my time. Every time I turn a corner in Marsilikos there's another courtesan showing off their beauty and talent to anyone who'll take it. Me, I'd rather take Hirondelle out for a solid gallop out of the city, away from people." She pauses, fingers wiggling a little as the cat cautiously approaches then accepts the offered ear scritching. "No, that's unfair. It's not that I dislike people. I just dislike gatherings of people. The more individuals you get in one place, so the overall intellect falls by a disproportional amount. Get a thousand people together in a single place and I'd lay good money they'd drool and need help remembering to blink or breathe."

"Hmmm. There is riding, and there's riding," Delphine counters, unable to evade the double entendre, as it brings about such a bright glitter in her hazel brown eyes. "I ride a little myself," is added, in a more sober tone. "And I believe, my Ariadne would be glad, if I would ride out more often. Well. Spring is almost upon us. There should be penty opportunity, and the scenery here around Marsilikos is beautiful and has so many picturesque spots to visit. Does your leg hamper you, when on horseback?", she addresses the question quite openly, observing the interplay between Philomène and the cat. "I don't blame you for seeking solitude. I do as well. I mean… not exactly solutide, but the tranquility that can be found outside of fêtes and social gatherings, much as I do adore them."

Philomène's jaw sets for a split second at the question, fingers pausing. This in turn naturally causes the cat to nudge at her fingers until she continues. "I'd rather have the horses than the gentlemen," she admits drily. "Horses can be controlled more easily. Even," she allows, "with a game leg. I have my boots and tack which mean I barely notice it when I ride. On a horse I'm the equal of any man or woman alive." She lapses into silence for a moment or two, stroking the cat. "You're very welcome to join me of an afternoon, if you're short of company and the explicit books are doing nothing for you. I tend to ride out to the falls and back and give Hirondelle her head over a few jumps, but I could equally enjoy a quiet trot and conversation."

"I do enjoy the fresh air," Delphine admits with a smile, that is easy and natural as it blossoms on her features. "And I would never limit myself to gentlemen alone…" A bit of mischief dances in her eyes as she adds this. "But jests aside, there is a time for paying homage to Naamah, and there is a time for conversation. I have yet to decide what to do with my time in a few days from now, when I will have to travel to Orange to pass on the title to Boniface. I will insist to return, however. I have two daughters to marry off, while Boniface's fate will be sealed by our dear Comte, in choosing an eligible wife for him. Do you have any sons, perchance?", the Vicomtesse d'Orange asks Philomene. "Who is to inherit Gueret?" Again, there is that bluntness, barely tempered by Delphine's charming attitude. "I should like to improve my riding. I am only a passable rider, I'm afraid. But perhaps, with the Days of The Companions approaching in April, you could show off your skill, on the Day of Anael."

Philomène takes a moment to look the other woman over, which gives the cat the perfect opportunity to hop down into her lap, turn, pad, claw a little, then finally present its rear end to the sharply defined features of Philomène's face and leap down to the floor, tail high, to stalk off haughtily. This all prompts a faintly resigned half smile from the Gueret. "Ah no, I am blessed with three daughters only, I'm afraid. My eldest is married and will inherit the lands and title, and pass them on to her son, but I'm still in negotiations for my younger two. If you've a mind to ride with me, though, be at the stables just after noon any day. I have a perverse habit of seeing to my own horse, so if your groom can lead yours there, we can set off together?"

"Certainly, this sounds like a good idea," Delphine agrees, blinking away the faint disappointment at the gender of Philomène's offspring. "I will make sure to… catch you at the stables then. One of these days. In regards to my horse, I have been scandalously neglecting. I should definitely change that, as I can see more than one party benefiting from this." The cat hops off Philomene's lap, and Delphine follows it with her gaze, face lightening up when the book store keeper finally arrives. "Ah! Would you excuse me, Lady Philomène…? And would you mind, if I go first, as I need to check about this book. It should only be a matter of minutes…" And there she moves to stand and walk over to Monsieur Raziel.

A few minutes become a couple of those, hushed conversation between Delphine and the shop keeper now and then interrupted by delighted giggles of the former. Before the vicomtesse needs to accept that the book she is seeking may not be available, and that the rumor of it probably was an exaggerated lie to bait her attention. "Ah. Well. In case you happen to have a copy coming in… do not hesitate to send me a note, Monsieur…!", Delphine asks of Monsieur Raziel, stepping aside to give Philomène opportunity to address her own query.

"Is it already that late…?", the Baphinol vicomtesse addresses to the room, before she departs, offering a curtsey to Philomene, while not really expecting one in turn.

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