(1311-03-29) In Good Part
Summary: Symon accidentally gambles with a Bryony. Oh, well.
RL Date: 31/03/2019
Related: None.
garance symon 

Leaping Fish Inn — Market Promenade

The Main Room of the Leaping Fish is tidy and well-kept - and warmed by a fire in the hearth to one side on colder days and evenings. An old tapestry depicting a pair of two leaping fish is adorning the opposite wall - a reference to both the ruling House of Mereliot and the name of the inn. The common room has five tables of sturdy oak with chairs and benches, between which two serving maids move to take orders or bring food and beverages. The air is filled with tasty smells of freshly cooked meals, and murmurs of conversation - and occasionally even melodies rippling through the room, when a lute player is around to provide entertainment. The fare is of good quality that even would not disappoint noble tastes.

There are stairs leading upstairs towards a number of comfortable and well kept rooms the inn has to offer.

Late afternoon and the Leaping Fish has yet to rise to the pitch of noise and geniality it will achieve in the hours to come, when work days are over and trade is concluded and Marsilikos stretches, looks about itself, and thinks it wouldn't mind if it did. Presently it's the haunt of a cadre of dedicated daytime drinkers so attached to their customary seats that they're in no danger of toppling off — and, at one end of a common table otherwise untenanted, a woman slowly and patiently laying out cards in the pattern of a game for one.

Her left hand holds the deck; her right turns over each card, holds it up for inspection, and places it with meticulous care amongst its fellows. And then the next card follows, treated just as judiciously. Waves of thick dark blonde hair half-shield a face which, from those angles at which it's properly visible, is really rather pretty: heart-shaped, with a retroussé nose. The unpainted pink rosebud of her mouth curves to the side as she considers the possibilities inherent in, say, the three of diamonds. There's a cup of wine at her elbow.

Symon has had luck at the Leaping Fish lately, at least as far as interesting society goes, and so he finds himself dropping in again, lucky to have no work to perform whatever. He lifts a hand at the young woman passing through with cups and mugs, who recognizes himhe is distinctive in his wayand his desire for wine, which will surely be brought out in due time. But soon he spots that woman all alone with a deck of cards, which he takes to be an invitation. Coming to stand alongside the table, he comments, "That's a lovely deck." It may or may not be, particularly.

Symon's comment isn't far from the truth, actually. The style of the portraiture in the face cards is a little old-fashioned, likewise the garments the figures are dressed in— but it was painted with care and a hint of whimsy, and the corners are less scuffed than one might expect considering its vintage.

The woman looks up, rosebud blossoming. "Thank you," she says, sounding if anything pleased to have her private thoughts broken into by a random unknown nobleman: for she didn't exactly come here to be alone, either. She's about thirty and speaks in an accent which marks her as a visitor from the capital; her blue dress is simple but rather more up-to-date than anything in her cards. "I've had it a long time," she confesses, laying down the cards remaining in her left hand and tidying the stack of them with her fingertips. "I'm Garance," she offers then.

Symon looks down at them with interest, squinting a little at the details, then looks up to the woman's face. "Ah," he says. "How good to m…meet you. I'm called Symon. Are you interested in p…playing a little? I like games." Said by other noblemen, the phrases might be loaded with overdetermined meaning, but out of Symon's mouth they sound more or less straightforward. The girl comes round with his cup of wine and sets it on the table, since Symon is standing there beside it. "Do tell me if you'd rather I didn't join," he says.

Garance draw in a breath and tilts her head, considering the offer. Then she lets out her breath in the shape of another confession: "I don't think this," she gestures to her half-complete solitaire pattern, "is going to come out. So perhaps you've come just in time to rescue me from my folly." And she lowers her hand to the tabletop and makes a muddle of the cards laid out upon it, preparatory to shuffling. "What games do you like?" she inquires ingenuously.

Symon helps himself to a seat at this positive response. "Ah, good," he says. "Oh, anything. The usual games. P-piquet? Ecarte and w…whist?" He smiles and shows his palms, then scoops up the wine cup he just received and has a sip of it. I'm not p…particular."

"Piquet, then," says Garance easily, taking her new acquaintance's first suggestion. She begins to pick through those cards still lying face up on the table, removing and setting aside the surplus numbers to reduce her deck to a mere two and thirty. "We'd need a four for whist, wouldn't we? I don't think they," she lowers her voice and flicks her gaze sideways to the drinkers who've just about put down roots in their corner, "would give us a very good game at this hour." She wrinkles her nose at Symon, and gives a little shake of her head.

"Oh, too right," Symon replies, chuckling as he glances to the regulars. Perhaps he took her question of what he liked too literally. "P-piquet it is. How good. I haven't had a card game in a w…while. Things have been so b-busy, somehow! Ever since b-before Longest Night."

Garance's neat dark blonde brows lift; she looks up from sorting the cards. "A long while to go without a game one likes," she says sympathetically. "Have you had a great deal of work to do? There, I think that's right," she pronounces. "Would you like to shuffle?" Because it is, after all, her deck. She sets the smaller part of it aside next to her wine and offers the rest across the table to Symon.

Hm, work. That's a puzzling word. Symon looks a little unsure of how to answer, but at her offer, he reaches out to take the cards and gently shuffle them. He's noticed that they aren't beaten up, so he takes care with them. "W-well. Not exactly w…work, b-but since the festivities I've gotten serious about trying to find a b-bride, you see, and that requires…quite a lot." A lot of what, he doesn't say.

"Oh!" And though Garance remains sympathetic, a flicker of amusement registers nonetheless upon her heart-shaped face. "Yes, it must…" Watching Symon shuffle she produces from her skirts a small leather purse. "Do you want to play for coin?" she inquires openly. "I have a little with me, if you like."

Symon sets the cards gently in front of his new companion. "Oh, certainly," he says cheerfully. "If you like. I think a b-bit of hazard is fun, don't you?" If he notices that she is amused by his search for a bride, he doesn't seem to be hurt by it.

"I must admit I do," chuckles Garance. Invited to be the first to draw, she does, dividing the deck seemingly at random and choosing her card as though it couldn't matter less. "What stakes do you like? Perhaps—" And she suggests a sum per deal which is surely high enough to get a fellow's blood flowing at the beginning of a night out; and an extra stake to be placed upon the partie itself.

"Oh," Symon says, giving a faint laugh into his glass as Garance introduces a sum higher than he expected. But he does not say no. "Then you're serious about m…making it exciting," he concludes with a smile, after that fortifying sip. "I accept." He does not seem to size her up as much as one perhaps should upon hearing such stakes suggested with such precision and cool. He draws to see what his card shall be…but it is not higher than Garance's, and so he yields the deck to her. "W…wonderful, really. I haven't gambled since I p-played for a token in Elua. B-biggest stake I'd ever laid all at once and doubled b-because I had to b-back my friend as w…well. I was terrified."

Garance smiles sunnily across the table as she displays the higher card; "I hope you don't think it's too much," she says, "but I really was bored until you came in. But if your last stake was so much higher than ours, perhaps it's your turn to be bored by the comparison—?" she laughs. She accepts the deck and the duty which comes with it, counting off twenty-four cards competently though without any conspicuous flourishes; and as they make their exchanges from the talon, she draws out the story of Symon and Étienne's visit to Elua and as much as her new companion is willing to admit of their long game with Faisan Cassique. Each time she peeks at a new card she's drawn the corner of her mouth lifts in the same way and her grey-blue eyes seem alight with curiosity. Oh, no, she's not bored now.

"Not at all," Symon returns brightly. "I'm not sure I'd survive that a second time. And that w…was not a b-bet on cards. I don't know that I'd be able to p…play such a stake on cards. I m-might drop them." He's smiling, as if joking. He plays without any show of suspicion whatever in her counting and dealing, and does not hesitate to keep up a merry chatter about the excitement in Elua, though he does not share /excessive/ detail for a first meeting in public in the daytime with a new acquaintance. He bears his losses cheerfully on the second and fourth hands, and at the loss of the final hand and the tallying of the points, he does exhibit disappointment, but no ire whatever. "Oh dear," he says, regarding the outlay of cards upon the table that is the battlefield upon which his money was lost. "I w…wasn't much of a m-match, was I?"

It certainly seems from Garance's conversation that she is familiar with the capital and its ways, and even with Mont Nuit, though she has a knack for turning back toward Symon any personal questions he may put to her— she gets more than she gives, in the way of gossip as well as points, in which her tally jumps startlingly with each of the last three hands. Gathering her pretty, old-fashioned deck back towards her at the last, and uniting the thirty-two cards they made use of with the others temporarily exiled, she hastens to reassure her opponent: "You mustn't feel bad about it, Symon. Very few people do beat me at cards. But I had a lovely time," and she gives him an impish smile coloured with genuine pleasure.

"Oh," Symon says. He takes a moment to blink at Garance and try to decide whether or not she is mocking him. He drinks from his cup. "No, you p-play beautifully," he says after a moment.

No, Garance isn't mocking or gloating. But she laughs softly as she says, "You're very kind, considering. A gentleman," she praises, and lifts her own cup to him and drinks it down quite near to the dregs. "Would you like to play again, if you've nothing else to do?" she wonders brightly. "Or settle now? If you haven't got it with you, you could easily send it round to me," she suggests, with easy faith in the honesty of this chance-met stranger whose name she has only half-heard.

Symon smiles and reaches for his purse. "I had b-better not," he says with a rueful smile. "The w…way you talk is as clever as the b-best at the Bryony house, so I know you w…will win again, and I can do you no insult, I hope, w…when I make good on my debt thus far. Let us see if I have it all w…with me." He sets the purse on the table to have a look through it and see if he can meet his debt on the spot.

Garance puts down her cup and picks up her cards, shuffling out of habit as Symon assesses his financial situation. "Insult? Of course not," she agrees warmly; "in fact," she lowers her voice and sits straighter in her chair to lean forward and confide, "I shall tell you in confidence that you've just bought me a very pretty new dress, and I thank you very much for it. It's a pleasure in any case to meet such a good sport on my first evening out in Marsilikos. I think it portends well for my happiness here, to find congenial play so easily."

Symon is perhaps still a bit shy that this may indeed be gloating, glancing up from his purse to Garance with an uncertain smile. "Well," he replies gamely, "I do appreciate p-pretty dresses. I hope I shall have the chance one day to see w…what the money goes for b-besides a diverting afternoon." He counts out coins to an amount that he probably should not have been carrying in the first place, but now his purse will be a far lighter burden.

See, he's better off really for divesting himself of his funds early on. Just think what damn silly things Symon de Perigeux might end up buying with wine in his belly and that much coin in his purse… Frogs'd be the least of it.

Though Garance's gaze seems a casual one she checks his count as he goes along, and then draws the coins toward her with a practiced swoop of her hand and commits them to her own purse — which, her gallant opponent might happen to notice, holds to begin with only a fraction of such a sum. She had no qualms about betting far above what she was carrying. "Oh, of course," she agrees. "If you're at the palace you ought to drop in and see me and tell me your gossip. I like to talk all day," she confesses; "it's my besetting sin." She fastens her purse and tucks it away, and rests one hand on her deck of cards and offers the other across the table to Symon in the proper introduction they didn't trouble to make before diving in. "I'm Her Grace's new deputy treasurer," she explains, and wrinkles her nose at him in apology for the second part, which is: "Garance nó Bryony."

Symon takes the proffered hand and bends his head a little, though the gesture is somewhat abbreviated in light of the fact that they have been chatting for some time now. "Ah," he says, smile growing. "Then your skill should come as no surprise to me." Some might be annoyed to learn that they had been had by a Bryony and a deputy treasurer to boot, but perhaps it makes Symon feel a little better. Or perhaps he is just not given to regret lost money for long. "How do you like the p…palace?"

"Mmm…" The new treasurer closes her eyes and breathes out; when she looks again, her gaze is alight and twinkling with amusement at some thought of her own. "The architecture is beautiful — the tax code, less so. But I hope I shall be able to mend that in time," and Garance smiles that crooked smile at him again, her dimples deepening. "I'm sure you understand why I didn't give you my whole name before. You wouldn't have liked to play with me," she points out simply, "and I did want a game. It's the best way of getting to know someone, don't you think?"

"I don't know," Symon replies, smiling as he shakes his head. "I think m…maybe only Bryony p-people learn so much over cards. I don't think I do. I just like to p…play. M-mostly I get to know p-people just by talking. But games are great fun. I suppose you think me a great p-pigeon for not trying harder to get your name. B-but I've been b-beaten by p…plenty who /did/ tell me their names at the Glycine." Is that meant to make him sound cleverer? It can't be, surely.

"That you like to play, is certainly something I learned." Garance smiles at him, and gestures to a passing tavern maid to bring liquid reinforcements — and put them down to her tab, in hospitality's name. "You're very sweet, Symon, and I'm sure your new bride will think so too when you find her," she adds, returning to that deeply personal subject she dodged earlier in favour of his Longest Night revels. "Marriage is the biggest gamble of them all, or so they tell me — a long game made up of a thousand opportunities to win by losing, or to lose by winning — and you seem like one who'll take it all in good part."

Symon blinks once or twice at Garance. "Did I say it too many times?" he wonders. He looks not altogether sure of what to make of what she says on marriage. There is something about her that seems to put him a bit of-balance. "Oh," he says when she concludes. "W-well, that is kind of you to say. I hope it is so." He drinks from his cup. "To be honest I think it is a daunting w…wager. B-but it is not for me to stand against the institution."

The cards have found their way back into Garance's grasp and are making their way idly from one hand to the other, after the manner of a Bryony at rest. Which is to say, if he'd seen her doing that before it might have occurred even to Symon to be cautious with his coin. "I don't think it's a wager I'd care to make," she admits, "but as you say, the institution is valuable…" A fresh cup of wine arrives for each of them, and their empty or near-empty predecessors are borne away. "To your good fortune therein," suggests Garance, raising hers to Symon.

Symon lifts his cup to Garance in thanks for her toast. "Terribly kind," he says, bobbing his head. "Unfortunately I have not m…much the choice of it. Oh, b-but I had m…my fortune told not long ago and it all turns out all right in the end," he thinks to inform her, lest she be unduly concerned for him.

"Oh, did you?" And Garance leans in, forearms resting against the edge of the table and cards quiet now in one hand. "With tea leaves, or with cards? I know a little about it," she confesses, "not much. The only fortune I've ever seen in a deck of cards was my own, and that's just the same one every Bryony can see."

"W…with cards," Symon says, also leaning in with interest. "A special deck p…painted by a friend, I think she said. They had things like p-priestesses and chariots on them." He sips his new cup of wine, "I thought fortunetelling w…was mostly for the Tsingani, b-but actually the one who told it to me w…was— W-well, she's called Haese and she stays right here. You ought to m…meet her and see her cards. She's the interesting sort." Whatever Symon thinks the interesting sort is.

"I hope I'll meet her, then," says Garance, sounding quite charmed by the prospect. "If not tonight, then I'll come again. My work takes me chiefly to the port at the moment so it's quite convenient to come in for a drink before I go back in to my office… I do adore to see different decks," she admits, as if this were a second besetting sin atop her admitted penchant for chatting.

"You m…must," he says. "I m-met her at the tourney grounds throwing axes. She w…was throwing, I mean. As I told her, I'd p-probably chop my own head off if I tried that." He smiles. "Oh, you w…will like hers, it is p-pretty and strange." He seems to think both those things praiseworthy.

Garance's eyes widen with interest at the mention of axes; and she gives a series of gradually deepening nods, as if she's just delighted by the thought of something being pretty and strange. "All that I hoped," she says lightly, "of life in a port city. To meet such interesting strangers at every turn." Her purse reappears, and she puts down a few coins for their wine: exact change. "But I ought to go," she sighs, drawing a battered leather satchel up from between her feet (just try nicking it from there) and into her lap. "Thank you again for the game, Symon."

"Oh, no, how kind of you to indulge me," Symon says back politely. "And to b-buy a cup as w…well. It was my p-pleasure." His tone and expression are both warm despite the spring cleaning his purse has received.

Garance in rising answers him with a like warmth. "And mine as well."

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