(1311-04-11) Prettifying the Port
Summary: With the quarantine lifted from the True North, the docks once again become a prime location for people-watching — and tea-drinking too.
RL Date: 20/04/2019 (backdated a bit due to timeline issues)
Related: Well Met Over Cahors, Needful Adjustments.
aurore philomene drake 

Port — Marsilikos

Fortune laid the foundation for the grand port of Marsilikos; look how the arms of the land spread wide to embrace the setting of the sun, welcoming a bay of still waters rendered all the more peaceful by the presence of a small island to the south, on the flanks of which the waves cut themselves into powerless ripples as they move in from the sea. But what Fortune gave the D'Angelines their cunning and craft has improved to a hum of efficiency and culture. The natural bay has had its curved shores sharpened into straight edges bolstered with ridges of heavy stones on which the tides have left long mark when the waters are low, algae and barnacles hung onto the rugged stones. Then stone foundations have been piled out into the harbor to hold up wide wooden pillars and the great treated slats of the piers and boardwalks which extend into the bay, now at wider intervals for massive trading vessels, now at shorter intervals for private fishing and pleasure yachts.

The southern arm of the bay is reserved for the great sourthern fleet of the Terre D'Angan Navy, which is headquartered here in Marsilikos, and is ever a hub of activity, the giant slips outfitted to haul the massive warships up into the air for repairs, while further inland on the southern peninsula a forest of masts rises into the air where new ships are being built and old ones repaired in full drydock. Between the naval slips and the drydock rises the stately edifice of the Southern Naval Headquarters, glistening with huge latticed windows on the upper floors. Beyond the headquarters rises the massive fortified promontory of the Citadel, with bleached-white parapets and fluttering banners.

Markets and vendors throng the plaza at the innermost fold of the harbor where civilian and military seamen alike might find a bite to eat, supplies for their next mission, a good drink or a little bit of companionship. Far in the bay, that little isle sports a lofty lighthouse to guide the ships in by night.

It's a relatively pleasant evening, made cool by the wind coming in off the sea which brings with it the aroma of salt, seaweed, and given that this is an active dockside, human faeces and rotten fish. This doesn't seem to stop the area being a place to gather for various sorts of people. There are the obvious sailors with their rolling gait, tanned skin, and excess of coins they're in a hurry to spend on drink, sex or trinkets before they're next shipped off to who knows where. There are local fisherman with their clothing never quite clear of fish scales so they tend to glint in the early evening glow of reddish sunlight. There are locals and children, passing by or playing. And there, seated on the top of a bollard with one breech-clad leg drawn comfortably up beneath herself and a worn leather satchel over one shoulder, is the tall, blonde figure of the Camaeline Chalasse, watching keenly out over the water.

Aurore is wearing her scarf, but it is her first trip this way since the quarantine and the night is a touch chilly. She has her guard walking several respectful paces back. She herself seems comfortable in this environment, surrounded by sailors and smells. Her mannish ground-covering stride and glare are as likely to earn her space as the strong, well-armed man at her back. On seeing the other woman, the forbidding gaze lightens, "Ah! Just the woman I wanted to see!"

Glancing back over towards Aurore, Philomène's concerned expression turns to one of genuine pleasure and she turns a little on her makeshift seat. "My dear cousin, I find that highly improbable but I appreciate the gesture nonetheless." She gestures grandly to the next bollard along, raising a brow. "I'm pleased to see you've not been taken unwell."

Aurore settles next to her, "I have not, but I thought it sensible to stay away until it was certain the infection was clear. I've a son to think of. I actually was thinking of visiting you though. I've news of no news."

"By which you mean…?" Philomène prompts, absently straightening her cuffs. "No news regarding what in particular?"

Aurore drops her voice, "None of my people spotted anything between here and the mountains. Has anything gone missing since we spoke last?"

Philomène's expression shifts subtly to one of understanding and she gives a little shake of her head. "Nothing. Not a sausage." She pauses. "I think at this point we have to assume that they've either been scared off, found a new target, or are lying low. If it was desperation that prompted it as Hélène is so keen to insist, and that they're not bad people who deserve a good shoeing, then maybe they're just not desperate enough any more. If they've found a new mark, well… that sounds like the city guards' problem, doesn't it?" At this she gives an amiable shrug, both hands going to her lapels to tug them straight.

Aurore cocks her head, "Hélène insisted this on their behalf, or she guessed?" She growls, "I do not like the idea of the harm done to your coffers and our good name being… forgotten without explanation."

"What do you think?" Philomène responds drily. "Apparently we're too cynical." She snorts a quiet laugh. "But then I'd say she's too idealistic, so there we go. I don't think we'll ever fully agree on the matter. My point, though, is that if there's no more leads, all we can really do is posture and threaten and make sure it's crystal clear that any such crap in the future and I will hunt them down and flay the skin from their bodies."

Aurore snorts, "I am pragmatic. What they did once, they can do again at will unless we figure out the how of it. It means extra guards on every shipment and so extra expense." She gives a frustrated little growl, "I'm not particularly vindictive despite my reputation, but I don't like being at someone else's mercy.”

The pair are sat on matching bollards by the dockside, chilling in the evening sun. "What's the alternative, though?" Philomène queries, resting her elbow on her knee and her chin on her hand. "Hang somebody as an example, just in case? I won't do it. Not without some kind of proof it was actually them."

A boat drifts into the harbour, having a burly sailor-cum-captain on board as well as three young noblemen. It's the infernal trio, young Drake Rousse and his Caerdicci wedding guests. There is a lot of loud palaver when the boat docks and a large barrel containing freshly caught fish is hauled onto land. The merry mood seems to hint at a successful fishing trip. Soon enough the Caerdicci and the barrel are deposited into a cart, which rolls away, leaving Drake alone - heaving a sigh of relief.

Aurore nods, "I'd not want an innocent person hung. It just infuriates me I can't figure out the how of it." Her accent is of l'Agnace, very elevated in status, but there is something slightly careful about the pronunciation. She squints at the arriving boat, "They seem to be having fun. Do you know them?"

"I'd bet good money on the how. Redirect via the sawmill, switch sacks on the cart, and then haul the good grain away," Philomène ventures, lifting her free hand to shade her eyes against the setting sun. "Oh… oh yes, sad to say I'm well acquainted with at least one of that particular set of idiots. Evening, Lord Drake!" she calls over, raising her hand in a short wave before adding more quietly. "He'll have been off doing something ill advised, Aurore. Here, you might like him. He's young and stupid and well-meaning. One wonders if he was a Chalasse in a former life."

Drake looks around when he hears that familiar siren-call. Spotting the lady with an unfamiliar -other- lady, his interest is piqued and he saunters over with a smile. "Lady Philomène, what has managed to draw you forth from your cave? And who's your charming companion?", he asks, looking at Aurore.

Aurore gives a mannish bark of laughter through her scarf. She is tall and straight backed and very fashionably dressed. What is visible of her face is striking, rather than pretty. "Well, if he's amusing, I would not sorry to be amused." She raises her eyebrows as he approaches and holds hand out waiting to be introduced.

"Well, you can see how amusing he is," Philomène points out, shifting her leg out from beneath her to sit somewhat more formally, even if it's still just on a rusty bollard. "He thinks you're charming. Lady Vicomtesse Aurore de Chalasse, this is Lord Drake Rousse, the new Vicomte de Draguignan after his sister decided to run off to Bhodistan rather than have to put up with him a second longer."

Drake hears the other woman's bark and asses her size, then hears the introduction and smirks. "Why am I not surprised that you are related. Still, even so, a pleasure to meet you, Lady Aurore.", he smiles at the stranger, "Has l’Agnace burnt down or what brings you here to Marsilikos?"

Aurore eyes the young lord with rather too much intelligence openly displayed for polite company. "Are you really so terrible as that, Lord Drake?" Her figure is slender and neat, judging of what might be seen of it under the layers. "Alas, only by marriage and not by birth." She shakes her head, sending the beading of her head-dress swaying slightly, "Oh no, my lands do well. I've come to see about a broader education for my young son, to speak to some people about cured meat, and to see what amusements might be had of an evening."

"In his defence, when it comes to amusements, Lord Drake is a veritable expert," Philomène adds helpfully, a smile just beginning to tug at the corner of her lips. "For a good night out on the town, you couldn't ask for a better companion. He'll even rescue you from a nap in the snow, which is a damn sight more than most people I know. You should send your boy out with him, Aurore. As a horrible warning at least, if not a good example."

"Oh, I'm always available for corrupting the young.", Drake agrees cheerfully, "How old is your son and to what run his interests?" The rusty bollards don't look inviting and the young lord is rather tired after a day out, so he crosses his arms and looks longingly towards the taverns. "Are you determined to remain here to prettify the port or could I persuade you to sit down somewhere with a cup of wine like civilized people?"

Aurore eyes her kinswoman with some amusement, "Are you prone to taking snow naps?" She shakes her head, "He's just turned eight. Wooden soldiers are more his idea of fun. I do not think your sort of adventure would suit him for several more years at least….I defer to my kinswoman as to the matter of wine."

"In my defence, I only take snow naps if it's snowing, so it only happens in the winter," Philomène admits with a smile. "And no, no. I'm not here just for the sake of my health, Drake. I may have some odd tastes in life, but the stink of fish guts isn't one of them. I'm waiting for the harbour pilot to come back in and I really don't want to miss him. If you wanted to go and get us all a nice cup of tea, though..?"

"Oh, well, yes, I'm not a babysitter.", Drake agrees with Aurore, interest in the son dead within seconds. Instead he eyes Philomène with a frown. "Tea? TEA, Lady Philomène? Where are we? A nunnery? Oh no, wait, even nuns know to appreciate a good drop. They even make it themselves. But if you want to sit here pining for your dashing sailor, I may be persuaded to fetch a bottle of wine. If you find me something to sit on."

Aurore nods agreement as if snow naps in winter made sense, the crinkling at the corners of her eyes giving away the smile the scarf is hiding. She looks Drake over and then asks, "Mulled or unmulled?"

Philomène fixes Drake with a steady gaze, eyes narrowing a little. "Tea," she confirms, the humour falling away from her tone. "I'm under instruction from a new chirurgeon to avoid wine, schnapps, beer, poppy, the whole damn lot, for a week." She gives an offhanded shrug and a small nod towards the leg propped straight out in front of her. "So I'm not putting undue strain on that. Allegedly. Fucking woman's a nightmare."

"It's too warm for mulled wine now.", Drake replies and quirks a brow. "Unless you're one of these women who are always freezing." He then gives Philomène another look. "Oh dear. How will you live? And most importantly why the instructions?" Nope, not moving. Now he's curious.

Aurore raises her eyebrows, "I hope it's only for a week. Longer would… take a great deal of pleasure out of things." She nods decisively, "Tea then." She is already thinking of tasty herbal blends she might mix and send around as a consolation.

"If it's more than a week, I suspect I'll end up murdering someone," Philomène admits quite candidly, absently touching a hand to her jaw and cracking her neck noisily. "But she thinks if we can get to the root of where the worst of it lies, we might be able to adjust a few bones here and there so I can sleep. We'll see. In the meantime I'm drinking a fuck ton of tea and glowering at the world in general."

"Well since you're always glowering, I find it hard to tell the difference.", Drake admits, "And what has adjusting the bones to do with drinking wine? Honestly, if you ask me, them chirurgeons are all quacks. And don't tell me otherwise, I've seen the medicine students in Tiberium. Wouldn't even let them near my bones. Tea, then. Fine." He rolls his eyes. "I'll be laughed out of the tavern." But he gamely ventures there anyway.

Aurore nods, and lowers her scarf, "I think you'd be justified in stabbing someone. I will see if I can find you some interesting blends to drink while you are doing your glowering." She looks at Drake as if he's just said something really foolish. "Likely she wants to know how the bones and joints and connectors lie and she can't very well see through the flesh, though it's hard to go a week without anything to numb. I fear I don't know enough of physik to provide useful advice though."

Philomène shrugs a shoulder. "Eh, likely she's twenty years too late to do anything anyway, but I'll let her have her try. Besides, I quite like a cup of tea. It's just that I'd prefer a schnapps is all. I've had to cut my morning walks in half, too, which means taking one in the afternoon when there are people everywhere." She tilts her head a little. "I mean, I know it was my choice to come to the city and see what we can do here, but… ugh… people, you know?"

"I still don't know what -alcohol- has to with anything.", Drake points out to Aurore, but decides to let the subject drop. For now. He disappears for a while, but then returns with what looks like a very strange contraption. But on approaching this is revealed to be a wooden backless chair on which a tray has been placed. The tray holds a tea pot, a tea cup, two wine cups and a bottle of wine. Well, a man has only two arms and needs to help himself. He sets the chair down carefully and begins to distribute things, then sits himself on the chair. Genius. "You know, I'm really surprised you suddenly listen to someone.", he tells Philomène, having given the matter some thought. "Who is this wonderquack?"

Aurore nods, "Oh I get it. Too many and not ones you like. Everywhere." She eyes Drake, "Alcohol numbs." She does look impressed at Drake's resourcefulness when it comes to provisions.

"You'll laugh when I tell you," Philomène admits, claiming the teacup and pot for herself, balancing the cup on her lap and pouring. "Emmanuelle Shahrizai. She crept up on me one morning when I was taking my walk and did… fuck knows what, and it hurt like buggery, but it eased everything for a couple of days. But then, who knows more about pain than a Mandrake? She's got this week to see if she can work miracles, though. I'm not spending my life jumping when she says so. It's not my style."

"I see. I don't know her.", Drake admits and shrugs. "Well, I suppose it can't hurt to try. He hands Aurore the second wine cup. "I wasn't sure what you wanted now, so fill it with whatever.", he suggests and pours wine for himself into the second cup, before holding the bottle up for the woman to decide.

Aurore eyes Philomène, "I've not met her, but I've heard of her." She shrugs, "It is not my idea of fun either. I just go for the conversation every now and then. It's nice to talk to someone who can give as good as they get." Which is likely why Philomène is so to her taste. "What's she like, Emmanuelle Shahrizai?" She eyes the wine considering, but chooses the tea, "Thank you, that was considerate."

"She plays the game better than I do," Philomène admits, brows drawing together as she offers the teapot over. "But then you'd expect that. She's made a living from it. I've only managed to get under her skin maybe once or twice, and she's rattled me a great deal more. But she's honest, and you know that goes a bloody long way with me, and she's got some talent when it comes to chirurgy. I've seen some of her suturing, and it's flawless. And," she adds with a half smile, "she'll tell you straight up if you're being a fucking idiot, and she'll take the same abuse in return. Not exactly my first choice for conversation, but she's a cut above most of the idiots lounging around the city with their tongues hanging out and their brains somewhere in their groin."

"Telling people they're idiots is NOT your first choice for conversation? Now that's new to me.", Drake grins. "But let's wait with singing her praise until you're up dancing jigs at my wedding, right?" Now that he has a seat and a cup of wine, the young Lord looks decidedly more pleased and relaxed.

Aurore pours the tea and sets the pot in easy reach. She smiles, "She does sound like exactly the right physician for you." She eyes Drake, "It wasn't when I first met her." Her lips quirk up, but she sips her tea instead of making the obvious observation, "So you are getting married then, Lord Drake?"

"Yes, we're going to be very happy together," Philomène deadpans, leaning in towards Drake and giving him her best dreamy look, eyelash fluttering and all. Frankly it's disturbing.

Drake eyes Philo for a moment, then laughs. "Luckily I have a much lovelier bride. She's from Bodhistan.", he explains to Aurore and given the choice, will spend a good while extol the beauty and loveliness of his future wife.

Aurore is patient with the young lover's nonsense, and encourages him to continues with the right question or head bob or encouraging sound. When the tea is done, she rises, "Do you play at cards or dice? If so, we may meet again."

"Oh, gladly.", Drake replies, "Feel free to visit me at Rousse House any time, Mylady.", he invites. And as the waited-for harbour master seems to be arriving, he lets the ladies go, carrying all the stuff back to the tavern.

Aurore gives him a little wave, "I will certainly keep that in mind. Best of luck on your nuptials."

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