(1311-04-09) Honey Cakes and Slugs
Summary: Symon encounters Fleur and her children in Anael's temple, and the dining habits of frogs is discussed over cakes and lemon water.
RL Date: Tue Apr 09, 2019
Related: Enter Francois
symon fleur 

Temple of Anael

Anael's temple in Marsilikos appears, at first, to be a humble affair. Columns of reddish-brown marble hold up pantile roof of terracotta clay, whilst the walls are left open to all sides to encourage the encroach of the weather, whatever the season. Vines scramble up the pillars and over the roof to soften the structure to offer fruits and berries in the autumnal months, and glorious scents the whole year through. The apple trees so beloved by Anael are much in evidence within the temple and its grounds, forming pockets of quiet within which to worship. Like the temple itself, the effigy of Anael which is set within its heart is a thing of natural beauty and construct. Carved from wood, it depicts Anael seated upon the stump of a tree. A gentle smile is ever-present on his face as he looks down and across the grounds of his temple, a bowl cradled in his arms that's filled with a collection of fruits and vegetables which worshippers have given as offerings. Of all the Companions, it is to Anael that the farmers of the lands surrounding Marsilikos come; to make offerings and give prayers in the hopes of a bountiful harvest. %r%rAn oasis of nature and peace within the city, the temple and grounds are tended to by the brown-robed priesthood of Anael, considered to be amongst the finest horticulturists in Terre d'Ange.

Spring had arrived in Marsilikos like a lion, but with the progress of the month has settled now down to the warm bleat of a lamb, and nowhere within the city can it be felt more plainly than here in the temple of Anael. A verdant paradise unfolds throughout its grounds, and within the temple proper — beneath the slated roof that's sprawled upon by lush vines that are redolent with buds bursting forth — wildflowers dot the grass. The boughs of the apple trees so favoured by Anael are softened with pink-painted blossoms, and it's beneath one such tree that a young woman sits. Or perhaps sits isn't the most accurate of descriptions, for upon a colourful woollen blanket she lies on her stomach whilst propped on her elbows, her hands diligently engaged in the creation of a delicate daisy chain crown. "Is it done now, maman?" the quiet but plaintive voice of a blonde-headed cherub enquires. She's hunkered at the edge of the blanket, her skirts overflowing where gathered before her with further daisies which patiently await their fate at her mother's hands. They're watched over by a pair of Guards in the livery of House Valais, and a nanny relieved of her charge, sits somewhere close by.

"Oh, heavens," Symon says to himself as he enters the temple grounds and spots this proliferation of buds and blossoms that he's never had the chance to see her before. Whatever his initial purpose for appearing here, he is initially distracted, pausing instead to blink at this or that bed of flowers or branch of blossoms. Finally, however, he remembers himself and approaches this mother and child with a pleasant smile. "P-pardon m…me, he says, "Have you spotted any p…priests about lately? I have a sort of question, and I w…was hoping…"

Fleur glances up at Symon when he addresses her, having been too engrossed with the intricacy of the task she's set for herself to have noticed him before now. "Oh. Hello there…" The delicate chain of daisies dangles from the curl of one finger as she pushes herself to a more suitable position for conversing. Wheat blonde hair that's been left free of pins and combs today, frames a face that's softened by the immediate melt of a smile. "I'm afraid you've caught me out, my lord. I've been so busy making spring crowns that I've not paid a great deal of attention to anyone else that's been here today. Perhaps…" and she glances across to Anael where he sits on a stump. But alas. No priests to be seen. "Or perhaps not." she concedes. Her nose crinkles with amusement. "The clergy are usually everywhere, don't you think? Except, that is, when you most particularly need one." She pauses to accept another pale white and yellow blossom from her daughter. "I'm Fleur, by the way." How fitting. "Fleur Valais de la Courcel".

"Oh, not a b-bit," he says. "I'm sure if I w…wait, one is b-bound to turn up." That is Symon's upbeat reply before she mentions her name. "De la…? Oh, I think I know your sister," he says with an amused expression. Only I haven't seen her since Longest Night. She m…might still b-be a bit m…miffed at me for how I b-botched our travel plans…"

"You are acquainted with my sister?" Fleur's eyes lift from the stems held so delicately within her fingers, and find a home in Symon's instead. "Do you mean Chimène, perhaps? Or Anèmone?" The Duc de Barthelme and his wife have been prodigious in their production of daughters that bear the name of Courcel it appears, though unlike her older sisters, Anèmone confines herself to the family home in Namarre, and trips to the glittering capital. A smile blossoms on Fleur's lips. "But whichever of the two that you feel you've offended, I'm positive that they will be over it by now. It's been a good three months and more since the Longest Night, and life's too short to bear ill-will over something so trivial as travel plans." A tug is given her sleeve by her daughter, and copious daisies spill from her skirts as she clambers to her feet and looks at Symon with the cornflower blue eyes of her mother. "I'm Giselle," she announces politely, lifting the layers of her skirts to offer a much-practiced curtsey. "and I'm nearly four. Who are you?"

"Chimène," Symon replies, making an abbreviated bow. "Forgive me for b-being so informal." His smile is warm considering both the topic of offense and the confusion he is causing. "Oh, b-but don't w…worry, I b-brought her a b…bottle of something p-pleasant and a nice floral arrangement." He turns a bright smile down on Giselle, giving her an elegant little bow. "I'm called Symon de P…Perigeux," he replies. "A p…pleasure to m-meet you. B-both," he adds.

<FS3> Fleur rolls Politics: Good Success. (3 5 7 5 6 8 7 2 4 2 3)

Sadness briefly shadows Fleur's expression when Symon offers his name. "Lord Perigeux, it's a pleasure to meet you. As for my sister, I do believe that Chimène may have mentioned your name in passing, but that was quite somw time before she departed for Elua and the celebrations of the Longest Night. It's not a slight that she's not seen you since then, and nor is it a showing of any displeasure towards you, it's simply that from Elua she travelled directly to Nice at the request of the Duchesse de Rousillion." Her smile warms towards Symon with that gentle reassurance, and her eyes relinquish his in favour of dropping back to the chain of flowers in her hands. A turn of her attention to her daughter. "Giselle," she instructs. "Why don't you go now with Adèle and find your brother. Tell him that we're about to have the lemon water and honey cakes that Sylvie packed for us. By the time you get back, I'm sure this will be finished." She dangles the crown then shoos her away, dispensing of her daughter, nursemaid and guard for good measure to goodness knows where, and once they've left she redirects her attention back Symon's way. "But you had a question for the priests? Perhaps I can help? At the very least, you could join us for lemon water and cakes whilst you wait."

<FS3> Symon rolls Empathy: Success. (6 1 4 8 6 5 1 2)

Symon blinks once at Fleur's expression, but then smiles again. "Yes, I remember her saying that w…we m-might have the chance to m…meet, b-but." They did't. He nods at this new inelligence, indeed seeming quite reassured. "Oh, I /see/," he replies. "I am such a terrible correspondent I hadn't realized." He waves to the departing child. "Oh, I did," he says, about the question, though the offer of lemon water and cakes interrupts his attention. "That is terribly kind of you." He doesn't say no. "B-but yes, m…my question. You see, I happened upon someone and…it's a long story, b-but I ended up w…with this foreign frog, only I don't /really/ know w…what frogs eat and I didn't know who to ask, b-but I thought p…perhaps the p-priests here would know about animals and feed and things." Only frogs aren't exactly in the typical livestock category. "I know it m…must b-be something around p-ponds, b-but it doesn't seem so interested in little fish…"

"A frog?" Again a smile tugs at the edges of Fleur's expression, and her fingers collect a spilled daisy from the blanket and weave it into the crown. "One of the gardeners at home told me once how frogs were nature's way for keeping slugs in check. It might be worth collecting a few and offering them to your frog, though they can be difficult to find." A pause. "Like priests…" Her voice tails off, and laughters not far as she glances to the empty expanse of the blanket where she sits. "You may join me in sitting, if you would like. Honey cakes and lemon water are much nicer when you're able to catch the crumbs in your lap."

Symon was evidently not prepared for the advice to collect slugs. He makes a face before he realizes what he's doing, then lets out a somewhat abashed laugh. "Oh," he says. "Heavens. I'll b-bet I can p…pay a local b-boy to catch some." A much more appealing solution. Besides which, can a man who doesn't know what frogs eat be expected to locate slugs? He sits down at Fleur's invitation. "Thank you," he says warmly. "So am I right in thinking you hadn't m…made it to Elua after all? One of m…my regrets at coming so late w…was that I m…might have offended you, too, b-by failing to turn up and travel together. If so I hope you know it w…wasn't on p-purpose at all."

Fleur lowers her voice to conspiratorial levels, and she inclines herself oh-so-slightly towards Symon when he sits. "If you mention to my son that you're paying for slugs, I'll bet that he'll be more than happy to hunt them for you." Slugs and hunting. It's a boy thing, perhaps. The softness of her laugh spills warm like sunlight in the wake of her words, and she lays the daisy crown carefully on the blanket to her side before brushing fragments of stems and leaves from the sky-blue silk of her skirts. "And no. You didn't offend me in the slightest with regards to Chimène and the travel plans to Elua. I did think I might go, but in the event, I decided I couldn't. It's far more likely that my sister was put out with me than with you, for she'd chivvied and chided me so about going."

Symon looks down at the daisy crown as though he found it very charming. "Oh dear," he says, but quite lightly. "She is so strong-willed, your sister!" This is not said entirely disapprovingly. "Always will have her own w…way. I'm sorry you couldn't have gone, though. It w…was a quite exciting year. Only wretchedly cold all the time, of course. I w…was hoping to w-win a B-Bryony's white fox cloak of him, though naturally I didn't. Sometimes I think they never lose unless they m…mean to." He makes this observation with no hint of irony. "I shall have to talk your son into joining m…my employ as a snail-hunter, then. W-what is his name?"

"Bastien," Fleur says, pride glowing in her expression with that singular word. Deftly she claims a linen-wrapped bundle from the basket on the grass beside her, unwrapping the folds of cloth to expose the still-warm honey cakes nestled within. "He is most definitely his father's son, and wields his wooden sword as if he wishes to die by it. Which I'm not sure he won't, given his predisposition to testing it on the shins of every guard, soldier or lord that he meets." Amused eyes flick back up to Symon's, a hint that he too might fall victim to such tyranny, and she lays the cakes upon the blanket between them. "But a Bryony's white fox cloak you say? I can imagine the temptation of gambling for that. Perhaps that was the point of it, however, and I wonder," she muses, "just how profitable it was for the Bryony that flaunted it throughout the celebrations."

Symon laughs softly. "I suppose I shall have to b-be on m…my guard against that," he says. "I am not even so fearsome as a guard or soldier." It's true: he is not. Now he is interested in the honey cakes, the scent of them waftig up as the cloth is unwrapped. Even though he probably should wait for Fleur to take one first, he reaches for one. "I can only /imagine/," he replies, though he is more awe-struck than rueful about it. "That's w…why I can't go to the Glycine v…v…very often. They're too clever. Although I did w…win a token off him in the end." A token which, of course, costs the salon nothing. "And /that/ w…was a terribly exciting event."

Oh that scent. It does so waft. Fleur retrieves an earthen bottle and a pair of glasses from the basket as Symon gives in to the lure of the cakes, and sets them down before removing the stopper that secures the safety of the lemon water within. "I'll confess, my lord, right here and now," she says as she spills the fragrant juice into first one glass and then the other, "that I'm truly the worst gambler of all. I find it near impossible to conceal my emotions, and whether my hand be good or bad in cards, I'm as easily read as a book." There's no rancour in her tone with her confession, and twisting the bottle so no drips are left to spill, she sets it down and offers a glass for Symon to take. "I'm not sure what Chimène may have told you of me, but like her I was raised on Mont Nuit. Whereas she was trained by House Eglantine however, my own home was found in Heliotrope."

Symon seems to find this confession delightful. He smiles immediately. "I like to think I have some skill, but then again I w…was fleeced only last w-week b-by the new deputy treasurer," he replies with good humor. He takes the proffered glass carefully from Fleur's hand. "I don't b-believe she m…mentioned," he says. That he doesn't deny that Chimène has told him /some/ things about Fleur tends to imply that she has. "B-but then, I do forget things. I can't imagine w…what it is like, to b-be raised there. I could never have the discipline for it, I imagine. Did you like it there?" he takes the opportunity of a question to have a bite of the honey cake, which seems to please him immensely. But he's polite enough to chew and swallow before he says, "That is excellent, you are so good to share."

"Oh, I see… Had I but known, I might well have warned you." Fleur chimes a soft laugh before a sip is allowed from her glass. "One of my closest friends whom continues on in her service to Naamah wrote recently from Elua to tell me of House Bryony's loss of a courtesan. She was given to understand that she left her House to take up exactly that position to our Duchesse here in Eisande." She catches herself. "Or perhaps I may not have warned…" Mischief glints in her eyes, and her teeth catch briefly at the very edge of her lower lip before Symon's further question is asked. The smallest uplift of her shoulders accompanies an exhale of her breath. "Did I like it? I did. Nothing compares to the sparkle of Elua and life on The Mont except, that is, the joy of being in love. I shan't return there, however. My life has moved on. As for the cakes and lemon water… well…" Her smile blossoms bright once again. "Sylvie indulges the children, and always packs our picnics with far too much food." A pause. "I'll admit, I've not seen you coming and going from the Perigeux town house. You have quarters elsewhere in the city?"

Symon chuckles at Fleur's playfulness, seeming absorbed in her graceful expressions and sense of humor. "Oh," he says, "I'm staying w…with a friend in Les Tanieres. I didn't /exactly/ have p-permission to come here in the first p-place — though m…mother's gotten over it b-by now — and anyway I find it /terribly/ dull to b-be alone." He blinks as a thought occurs to him much too late: "Did Chimene tell you of m…me?" he suddenly wonders. Then another thought: "Is that w…why you looked sad w-when you heard m…my name?" He looks just a little sorry to consider that this may be the case, though more curious to see what Fleur will say.

Fleur folds her legs to one side, angling her feet 'just so' to avoid the daisy crown where it regally awaits the return of its Princess. "She spoke of you as someone that she'd kept company with," she explains, though to what extent she doesn't elaborate. "But I knew of you anyway, my lord, beyond what my sister has mentioned. I know that you lost your brother, and if I looked sad, then it's because I know the pain such losses can bring." There it is again, that hint of sadness that lives in her eyes, and her breath catches in her throat as she takes a second or two to reorder her thoughts. "Chimène, she despairs of me so, and I truly thought she would throw a party the day I emerged from full mourning." She schools her expression. "But, Les Taniers…" she steers the conversation back to more comfortable territory. "I'm afraid I don't know it. Which part of the city is that? And is it frog-friendly?"

"Oh," Symon replies, nodding several times. He hesitates in finding what to say. "I… Your loss is different from m…mine. I imagine. I'm… Anyway, I'm sorry to remind you of it." He's agreeable to a change in subject. "Oh, it's over b-by… I'm terrible w…with directions. W-well, /that/ way, anyway," he says, pointing. "I like it. So far, no one has complained. Only…I haven't /quite/ told Etienne yet. B-but he won't m…mind, surely." Surely. "It is only a little thing. And really it isn't m…mine, I'm only w-watching it for someone."

"Near the port, then," Fleur smiles, her eyes following where Symon directs. "How lovely for you to be so near the sea. The children love exploring the rock pools when the tide is out, though the guards grumble and complain whenever we go. Something about sand and seawater and the polish on their boots." Her eyes crinkle with her smile, and finally — FINALLY — she helps herself to one of the honey cakes, her glass set aside so that she can cradle its warmth in the curl of both hands. "Well," she goes on to say as she picks at one corner, "perhaps along with slugs, the frog might also be tempted by spiders and flies, thus earning for itself the good regard of your friend, Etienne." A quick smile. "Watching for whom? Didn't they instruct you with what it would eat?"

Fleur's move for the honey cake reminds Symon that he is now perfectly justified in eating more of his. Which he does, and washes it down with some lemon water. "Oh, no," he says, "She hadn't the foggiest. You see, she had only just b-bought it off a sailor, and forgot to ask." His light and humorous tone suggests he thinks such a mistake could've happened to anyone. "I don't even know w…what land it's from, only it is so brightly colored, I thought it w…was p-painted. Part of it is /blue/," he emphasizes, never having seen that before. "Oh, heavens, w…will it really eat such things? I shall try that on him and see w…what he says to that. It is just coming up on the season where flies are so m…maddening. Do you and your children keep any animals?"

"Blue?" There's a touch of wonderment to be found in Fleur's voice. The portion of cake she'd been about to pop into her mouth, remains suspended twixt lap and mouth. "I've never seen a blue frog before, though I imagine that the diet of frogs is the same the world over…" Beat. "Raziel's might have reference to such things, and it's at least worth a visit to see. The upper floors, perhaps, if not the lower. Have you ever been there? It's like entering another world. So many books and curiousities to explore and indulge in." She makes no mention of the lack of information gleaned by the original purchaser of the frog, perhaps because it's simply not within her nature to think ill of anyone, and instead goes on to address the further question that's asked. "Bastien has a pony, and is getting to be the quite the bold rider that I have to cover my eyes at times. Giselle wants one too, of course, though I'm not convinced of her sincerity on the matter, for it's a pony one week, then a hound the next. A kitten, please Maman?" A giggle bubbles as she mimics her daughter, and a nibble is taken of her cake before she further adds, "But it's difficult whilst living in the town house to allow the children such things, Perhaps when we return to Digne. For now, it's not possible. And you. You have pets apart from the frog?"

Symon shakes his head. "I have not," he confirms, though he is not as distracted from eating as she, and does end up polishing off that honey cake. "I am not m…much of one for b-books, but curiosities are naturally of interest…" He grins at the talk of the children and the animals they have or want. "I w…was just like her, I'm sure," he says. "B-back in Siovale, one of m…my /dear/ friends gifted me w…with a b-bird from /some/ exotic p-place, b-but I have not b-brought it w…with me, of course. It stays in Siovale. W-which may be a b…blessing at this time of year. It tends to set up a racket early in the m…morning. I had the servants m…move it out of my chamber."

"They do tend towards that," Fleur says easily. "Singing at first light. One of the girls in my dormitory had a nightingale, and it was the dullest looking bird that ever I'd seen. But Companions, when it sang…" She breaks off, her breath hitching in her throat, and she blinks quickly. "It was exquisite and beautiful, and I wondered if it had been blessed with such a song because it was so very plain. I mean, take…" she considers, "the peacock. Those feathers. Those colours. But when it opens its beak…" Fingers that have divested themselves of the cake into her mouth, colour her thoughts with a wiggle in the air, and she might have been about to say more, but is distracted by a messenger that approaches where they sit and presses a letter to her hand.

Symon smiles along with Fleur's expression, evidently imagining the animal's song. "Ah, so you like m…music," he concludes. "M…maybe it is as you say. A p-peacock never has to learn a good song." He looks as though he's still thinking that thought through, but he glances at the messenger. "Good news I hope."

Fleur unfolds the note and is reading it as Symon speaks. "Yes and no," she replies, her expression softening as her eyes meet with Symon's. "My brother-in-law has called upon me, but I'm not there. I should go. The children will be pleased to see their uncle, and he's always happy to have surrender his shins to the smack of Bastien's sword." She unfolds from where she sits and rises to her feet, skirts rustling quietly as she dips a graceful curtsey to Symon. "I'll leave the picnic in your care, my lord. Perhaps, should you have the time, you'd see that the blanket and basket are sent back to the Valais town house?" A nod is given her guards, and no doubt the children will be swept up by the small entourage — wherever they might be — on their short walk back to the Valais' Marsilikos residence.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License