(1311-04-27) Down Amongst the Bottles
Summary: Jehan-Pascal celebrates his win with the aid of Symon and Étienne, and hears all about a certain special amphibian of their acquaintance.
RL Date: 26/04/2019
Related: Follows fast upon Day of Eisheth: Performance Contest.
jehan-pascal symon etienne 

Wine Cellar — Noble District

Stairs lead down to the heavy oak door, above which the sign of the place, the likeness of a Hellene amphora spilling over with wine painted upon wood, swings lazily in the occasional breeze. Beyond that door the entrance hall comes into view, where various kegs and casks of differing sizes are arranged in oenological allure before the roughly hewn walls of ancient stone. There is a chill down here on hot summer days, that will be efficiently battled in the colder months through the heating of a giant hearth to the back. The place has a decidedly cavernous character, alcoves to the left and right offering seating at small tables for two or three. Lamps are dangling by chains from the ceiling, shades of milky glass work from La Serenissima offering sufficient lighting. There are no visible windows, which means lamps will be in use even during the day.

Further to the back there is a small hallway branching off from the main area, leading to a medium sized chamber where the bigger barrels are stored. Here, a larger group of up to eight people can sit about a round table of heavy oak, while they are being served the rarer vintages or even the heavier spirits that are stored in a wooden cabinet to the back. Staff is mostly male, clad in black breeches and white shirts with dark red vests, knowledgable sommeliers of superior training that will be glad to wait on guests in person and offer insight into the variety of wines, red and white, from Terre d'Ange and a variety of specialties from abroad, that are available here.


It's a festive eventide down amongst the bottles in the Cellar! Jehan-Pascal of Baphinol is in residence, fresh off his win in today's artistic competition, and as many people are buying him drinks as he's buying drinks for them to give thanks for those drinks. In sum, the sun's not even quite down and everyone in attendance is getting pretty soaked. This one poor girl, Jehan-Pascal has taken to trying to teach her the precepts of dactylic hexameters, using emptied bottles and flagons as demonstrative objects lined up on tables and guiding her past them with both of their hands conjoined, reciting a line in tandem, syllable by syllable as they pass each bottle. "O FOR TU NA TOS ni mi UM su a SI bo na NOR INT," he chants, and she… tries to chant, but gives up partway and just falls drunkenly into the arms of her lover, both of them laughing— everyone laughing.

Symon looks surprised by the huge commotion in the cellar, but after a pause to blink, he comes down anyway. After inquiring of a few revelers, he says, "Oh, w…was that today?" and weaves through the crowd to give Jehan-Pascal a friendly clap on the shoulder. "Congratulations!" he says, loud enough to be heard over the festivities.

And JP is laughing, too, though he lifts his head with a "Hm?" of interest when called to, then beams all the more renidently to see Symon there, for whom a clap on the shoulder is hardly sufficient— he takes up the man into a big rollicking hug, if he's let, jostling him to and fro, "Thank you!" he bellows back, then lets him go, "A drink! Nobody is dry tonight, let me stand you a drink," he suggests, trying with one hand to catch Suzette's attention, while maintaining his eyes on Symon, "Come, what are you drinking?"

"I w…was going to stand you one," Symon replies, thumping Jehan-Pascal on the back in their hug, "B-but I think everyone is trying the same. I'm drinking w…what you are drinking." He grins. "First time w…winning, or had you w-won before?"

"Well, I'll stand you one, and you stand me one, and we'll leave here soused and without debt," Jehan-Pascal grins, eyes already sparkling as though suffused to the backs of them with wine, "Suzette, I think another bottle of the Montlimene, we'll take it at a booth with two fresh glasses," he tells her, slipping his arm about Symon's shoulder and beginning to saunter to a place to settle down while the party he'd started now runs on its own wine-soaked fire. "First time at the Days," he bounces a little, patting Symon's shoulder and then letting him go so that they can slide into the booth. "I can still hardly believe it. You should write me a letter to remind me of it in the morning because I sense I may be a bit blurry," he laughs.

Symon sits down in the booth, leaning forwars over the table. "I'm not m…much of a correspondent, b-but p…perhaps I can convince Étienne to write something," he says, obviously infected with the high spirits already. "B-but you m…must be so p-proud, to win your first time in the competition!"

"I am, I actually really am," Jehan-Pascal bubbles over with it, really, leaving no doubt of the sincerity of his words. "I worked on that poem for so long, and sent down so much of my soul into it… I hardly knew what anyone would make of it, especially here. But they liked it, Symon. They cheered it," his voice breaks a little, his eyes dampening with happy tears, relieved tears. "Oh, gosh, I'm coming over all weepy, I'm sorry. Oh, bless you, Suzette," he smiles at her, taking in the bottle and uncorking it himself to pour Symon's glass, then his own.

Symon claps his hands together. "Then you m…must deserve it," he says enthusiastically. "Evidently it w…was really something! I'm sorry I didn't hear it. B-but I p…probably wouldn't understand it, really. Just the m…music of it. If you w…worked so long it must have b-been dreadfully clever." He lifts his glass in a toast. "To your cleverness and hard work!"

"You might not— how is your Tiberian?" Jehan-Pascal asks in return, then flushes a fresh pink at the new influx of praise, followed by a fresh influx of alcohol when he lifts up his glass to meet Symon's. "I have a translation written, I'll make a copy of it for you— but it's just not as good in d'Angeline."

"Non-existent," Symon replies cheerfully," drinking from his glass. "So you see I w…will not appreciate it fully b-but I am still terribly impressed. W…what will you do next?"

"Oh! Next I'm going to Tiberium," Jehan-Pascal lets Symon know. "I mean… for other reasons, reasons of state, but… also… I hope to have the opportunity to present De Quiete — in its entirety — in front of the Academy," he confides, "It got so much better a reception here than I ever thought possible… hopefully the people themselves will like it as well," and he swallows down his glass as thought o seal in the prayer— he fills it back up a moment after, then reaches to top off Symon's, if he needs it.

"That's your p-poem," Symon concludes, nodding along. "That is so exciting! So you arranged all this b-before you even knew how m…much everyone w-would love it?" JP's quick drinking pace has Symon following along not far behind. "Oh, I hope it w…will be a w-wonderful v…v…voyage! Oh, did Étienne talk to you about the frog?"

Jehan-Pascal has a hollow leg where wine is concerned— or else he just lives off of it, since, everything else, he seems to eat like a bird. Two more glasses for the boys, but Jehan-Pascal's doesn't last much longer than Symon's questions, "Oh, well, like I said, I'm going for other reasons besides. I'll be going in a few… three or four weeks, at the latest, and this will be a great inspiration for the travel." He pours himself another, then, brows lifting, "The f— the frog?"

"It w…will surely be the wind in your sails!" Symon says enthusiastically. He has a swallow of wine. "Oh, b-but yes, the frog. We have a frog. It came off a ship from somewhere far off, terribly far off. And it turns out that the frog is p-poisonous. And so Étienne thinks w…we should not keep it and should instead find some clever p-people who know about these things to take it. You are smart. W…what would you suggest?"

"The frog is… poisonous?" Jehan-Pascal is both reasonably alarmed and very intrigued at the prospect. "How do you know it is poisonous? Did one of you try to eat it?" Which, you know, young bachelor lords get up to weirder sorts of shit when rooming together, so he can't rule it out.

Symon blinks once. "No, b-but Étienne touched it and his hand got swollen and he fell on the ground and seemed like he m…might die. And the deputy treasurer told m…me about it from a b-book about someone-or-other's explorations."

"But he's alright," Jehan-Pascal starts out, assuming that if Étienne were still on death's door the conversation wouldn't have started out with 'so we have this poisonous frog.' "It sounds like the best place for it would be with a naturalist or someone whose studies include toxins and tinctures. Perhaps go ask among the balm-minded of Coquelicot, someone there might have an idea."

"Oh, yes, yes, of course," Symon says, putting both hands on the table. "He rode in the Anael competition a few days ago. Thank goodness! B-but of course I do not know any naturalists…" He shrugs at this suggestion to visit Coquelicot. "It is a foreign frog…"

The festivities initiated by Jehan-Pascal in the afternoon have gone now past the setting of the sun— the whole place seems filled with people who have already been thoroughly soaked with a liberal flow of wine that followed the victorious poet's arrival. Jehan-Pascal himself has retired to a booth where he is sitting in conversation with Symon over a bottle, a quiet little nook in the midst of pleasant revelries. "Symon, do you mean to ask me to take this frog with me to Tiberium? I don't want to cause a commotion there if something should happen. Well, I'll ask the Lady Louna. She's medically minded, she may have some interest or know someone who does."

Symon blinks at Jehan-Pascal. "Do I?" he asks. "Is it a good idea? Yes, let us ask Lady Louna. I don't know her. B-but if she can help! I don't w…want the p-poor thing to get killed."

Étienne wanders in and spotting Symon and his cousin weaves his way there, "Oh, good! have you mentioned the frog yet? I was hoping you had academic contacts that might be interested."

Jehan-Pascal is in the middle of looking quite dubious, but the arrival of his cousin is enough to brighten him right up, "Tien! Come, sit with us! Suzette, another glass, s'il vous plait," he mentions when she swings through earshot, leaning slightly out of the booth in doing so. "I was just telling Symon I plan to visit the Academy when I take a trip to Tiberium next month. But I will be on other business, distinctly, and— well, it seems a dangerous sort of thing to travel with, after all. Are you very well again? I didn't even hear that you were ill, cous," he worries gently after him.

Symon waves Étienne over and pats the seat beside him. "I w…was just getting to it," he says. "It is p-probably dangerous," Symon allows. "Although. The original sailor m-managed it."

Étienne squishes in next to Symon, grinning. "Oh much better! I did one of those races where you jump horses over things and didn't fall off and my hand doesn't hurt anymore." He eyes Symon, "He can't take it to Tiberium, they'll think he's trying to poison them. What's wanted is someone local who might be interested in studying its properties while taking care of it. Someone interested in medicine or pharmacology or zoology or chemistry. Catherine's still building a better box for it when she finishes the table and none of us want the thing hurt, just not in our apartment. I don't want to come home and find you on the floor because of an accident during feeding." He barks a laugh, "The healer thought I was some sailor he picked up on the docks and poisoned for some reason and neither of us were in any condition to explain otherwise."

"And that, too," Jehan-Pascal uses Étienne's excuse as his third and final one not to be charged with the care of such a creature on a sea voyage. "I had suggested the Balm flowers of Coquelicot, who might have some interest in the properties of its… excretions?" he supposes, since the creature seems to harm by touch. "Or else, I'll ask the Lady Louna, and, meanwhile, the Lady Emmanuelle, both of whom are chirurgeons and one of whom… may also… have some passing interest in poisons," Jehan-Pascal's ears are under siege by a ferocious blush by now. "At any rate," now that a cup has come, he pours Étienne a glass, then refills his own and Symon's before he shakes the bottle a little around an axis. "Symon, it'll be your turn next to select a vintage. Then yours, 'Tien!" Oh, he's not done drinking, either.

Symon shrugs at Étienne. "Oh, b-but w…we don't w-want to give it to anyone as a p-poison," Symon says to Jehan-Pascal, looking a little concerned. "That w…wouldn't be right." He drinks from his cup, then flags down the poor attendant. "Suzette, w…was it? A b-bottle of m…my favorite, p-please." This will summon a red wine that has notes of dark fruit without being overly sweet.

Étienne says, "Who is Lady Louna? Oh! I hadn't thought of Balm!" He catches his cousin’s blush and gives him an understanding look, "I'm not in position to ask the Lady Emanuelle, but would consider it a favor if you asked her." He sips the wine appreciatively. "What type is this?" He thinks, "It might be useful in surgery. It would still hurt, but at least the patient would be still and so the cutting more precise."

"An interest in poisons only in an academic sense, not in the sense of a… practicum," Jehan-Pascal clears his throat and then his glass, but kindly abstains from refilling right away so that Étienne can catch up to them a little. Well, catch up to Symon. "I think it would have a fine home amongst the Balm, who are accustomed to handling noxious herbs in order to cook useful properties of them," he speaks further in favor of that path, "But I will talk to the Ladies Louna and Emmanuelle and see what they have to say on the matter. An immobilizing agent of sorts would indeed be a boon to chirurgery," he agrees with Étienne and then reaches to take and uncork the next bottle of wine when Suzette brings it. "Thank you," he tells her. Ut semper.

Symon squints like he doesn't know what 'practicum' means. He doesn't seem to notice for now what gets refilled and what does not. "B-but that sounds terrifying," Symon puts in. "Feeling b-but being unable to m…move."

Étienne gives Suzette the dimples, not noticing what effect if any it might have. "Thank you. This is nice." He takes a longer drink, "It was terrifying, though I think it would have helped for it to be less of a surprise, and I think if I were having a wound sewed up, I'd rather have it done while I was incapable of squirming than otherwise. Who is the Lady Louna?"

"It does sound… well, yes, I'm sure it's very unnerving, but to good ends it might be put to good use. Did it hurt, as well, 'Tien? I would think that adding the pain of envenomation to that of a chirurgery-requisite injury… that would only compound things," Jehan-Pascal considers, the wine rendering him rollickingly pensive. "You know the Lady Emmanuelle. The Lady Louna is one of my baronesses. She's going with me to Tiberium in order to scout some talent and lure it home again with us."

Symon rubs Étienne's arm in sympathy about the experience. To JP, he says, "W…what sort of talent are you luring?"

Étienne says, "My hand hurt rather a lot and the swelling was bad. I couldn't much use it the first day and it hurt to do things like write on the second. It was a little achy the third, but not enough to matter." He sighs, "You are lucky. I wish I could go to Tiberium. Or La Serenissima. Oh! The Lady Garance thinks there might be an antidote to the venom." He repeats the word for it in Tiberian. "I was going to ask around the apothecaries and the docks. Do you think you could buy us some on your trip?"

"That of the medical sort," Jehan-Pascal confides in Symon, "Oh! But don't tell anyone," he lowers his voice. "It's for sort of a… sort of a project we're working on together… I'm… very excited about it, but it will take some doing and I wouldn't want to spoil it before it's a sure thing." He blinks quite a few times, then smiles goofily, "Sort of like a child, I suppose. To tell of it too early on is to invite disappointment." Look at the fellow, how he glows. "Hm? Oh, ys, of course… only… send me a note with the name and any other particulars. I won't remember it when I get home, and I'll have to write it down in my itinerary."

Étienne beams at his cousin, "We can keep a secret. I hope your project goes swimmingly. I'll send it round tomorrow, all right? Thank you so much for your help, and don't worry, I wasn't going to try to foist a poison frog on you, coz."

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