(1311-05-01) Something Foul This Way Comes
Summary: Philomène and Raphael take a stroll down toward the docks, only to suffer an interruption by a mutual acquaintance.
RL Date: 01/05/2019 - 02/05/2019
Related: Odd Hobbies, Cultivation, and Wild Rose Considerations.
philomene raphael emmanuelle 

Maison aux Herbes — Rue du Port

If one intends to catch the Vicomtesse de Gueret at home one has two sensible and valid options. Either early in the morning, before the sun rises and before she's had time to begin trudging out into the dim grey light of morning to force herself into her daily exercise regime, or late in the afternoon, after she's been for her customary ride and bath but before she's retreated for the evening to allow her Orchis houseguests their head for whatever depravity the evening has planned for them. Today it's the latter when there's a rap on the door and the vision of sturdy, starched-aproned, pig-under-each-arm Camaeline mountainous beauty that is Brigitte opens it and allows in today's guest.

For her part, Philomène is sitting rather comfortably curled in her single chair by the unlit fireplace, one leg beneath her and one sticking out in front, in nothing but breeches and white linen shirtsleeves. To one side is what must be presumed to be a pot of tea under an unlikely floral patterned knitted tea cosy, and in her lap she's adding short, precise stitches to the embroidery on the shoulder of her iconic worn brown riding jacket.

Raphael nods his acknowledgement of Brigitte as he enters the room. "Good afternoon," he says to Philomène. "I see I catch you at your embroidery. Will a conversation be distracting?" he wonders, a hand on the back of a seat he might soon occupy.

"You know me, I'm a fiend for the delicate and ladylike arts," Philomène answers him, lips quirking into an easy half smile. "Can I interest you in a cup of tea and half a pie? A friend of mine delivered some a few days back, and they're really quite delicious. Shame about the friend, but his pies rate highly." She jabs her needle into the fabric, leaning back in her seat and gesturing to the sofa. "Grab a seat, Raphael. What can I do for you today?"

"You can," Raphael agrees easily, taking the seat since the Vicomtesse is so kind as to offer. "I raised the matter of your plants with one of the Seconds and she is taking it to our Dowayne today. It seems more or less certain that he will gratefully accept your gift. He may send you a message with some questions, so I wanted to let you know. He is called Jacques."

Philomène watches him for a moment longer. Perhaps she's expecting something more, or perhaps she's just in a little world of her own. Finally she sheepishly attracts the attention of the broad shouldered maid, gives her what has to be one of the widest smiles Raphael can possibly have seen from the tight lipped Chalasse, and requests both another cup and the final remaining pie. "Questions?" she resumes, the task of directing the domestic completed but her attention on the woman until she disappears from view towards the kitchen but the word at least directed towards Raphael. Dragging her eyes back over to him, she arches a brow. "The specifics, I presume. Well, if you can tell me where you want it planted, I'll tend it. I imagine that answers all the questions you'll need as I can't imagine for one moment you'll take my word on its use so you'll already have a Balm lined up to test it and prove me right, I'm sure."

"I believe so," Raphael agrees, though he can't help lifting an eyebrow at Philomène's grin at the maid. Surely all the Chalasse women cannot be poisoners. "I'm afraid I cannot speak for the Dowayne or what questions he may have but the ultimate decision will be his." At her last remark, he has to flick his eyes down and let out a faint laugh before looking back to Philomène as he nods. "That was indeed proposed. I expect it will be done. I hope it does not offend you."

"I think I'd be more offended if you didn't," Philomène admits amiably, stretching her leg out in front of her and wriggling her toes to ease the strain on her muscles. "I'd have to conclude that you're some sort of gullible fool if you took me at my word for such a thing. And I'd rather hoped that in an unlikely stroke of luck I might have found in you one of the mythical, almost impossibly rare gentlemen in this city who isn't a complete fucking tool."

"Yes, I hoped you'd take it that way," Raphael replies, smiling his appreciation for her turn of phrase. "We do so get along. Has someone been annoying you lately, or is that merely generalized disgust accrued over the years?"

"Why, were you hoping to fill the position? Should I conduct interviews?" Philomène counters, her attention once more drawn to the comforting presence of the Camaeline maid as Brigitte reappears with a cup for Raphael and even goes as far as to pour the tea for him. "But no, no, if I'm absolutely fair there isn't any one fellow in particular recently, save the little scrotebag who's been stealing our grain. But we haven't had any reports of more bad grain in a while so perhaps they've been scared off. We can hope, certainly. Of all the things to steal, though…"

"I find it very insulting that you should consider anyone else," Raphael says with mock coolness, then watches the maid's hands as she pours the tea. Not for poison, just for technique. Probably. "Aurore mentioned your missing grain to me as well. But I'm afraid I haven't heard any rumors on the subject yet. To be honest, ours is a salon where patrons are perhaps even less than usually interested in discussing crops. Perhaps that is why you don't care to become a patron: one can savor barley or the lash but perhaps not both."

Philomène half smiles, raising a brow and her cup of tea towards him. "Really? One would think there's some sort of inappropriate double entendre when one discusses ploughing, or a ripe, juicy harvest, or some such. But then perhaps word play isn't really your style. I don't imagine they come to you for your conversation."

Raphael lifts a finger to mark a point, "Only very particular types of conversation," he replies. "And there are metaphors I find easier to hand than grain. Perhaps if I were born on a farm instead of in a butcher shop." He picks up his tea. "Do you really call harvests juicy? Farmers may be the most depraved lot of all."

"Depends what you're harvesting," Philomène points out practically, folding her fingers around her cup and letting her thumb rub absently around the rim as she speaks. "The lands further to the west of ours are big on growing apples and pears and so forth. Where we turn our excess harvest into beer, theirs is cider and perry. You can't deny that you'd enjoy a nice… juicy… pear." She does her best to maintain a straight face through this, but the mirth is dancing in her eyes and there's a telltale twitch in the muscle at the corner of her lips. "Brigitte often has one."

Raphael cannot help but laugh at all this from Philomène. "Trust me, at the salon we handle plenty of fruits." He sips his tea. “As you may know, one of the tests for young Thorns is denuding oranges in the most artful and precise manner. Sometimes for a bit of a show I'll hand feed fruit to the White Roses. After all, sausage would be going much too far."

"This from a butcher's son?" Philomène needles, the smile surfacing properly at his laugh. "I'm certain you can be very proud of your sausage stuffing efforts. Your young Thorns, then, they all do their tests in the winter? I had no idea these things were seasonal."

"Naturally I can, I just don't expose my pride in front of the White Roses. They are very delicate," Raphael says with tongue obviously in cheek. "And yes, it makes sense to administer certain tests in their season, but we have plenty of other trials for the rest of the year, never fear."

"Peeling a variety of soft fruit certainly seems to me to be the ultimate test of sincerity, religious fervour, and proof of the ability to read one's patron," Philomène agrees solemnly. "Provided, of course, that you only take on patrons of the citrus variety. I can see why it's a vital and necessary part of your dogma."

"It is not meant to be," Raphael points out patiently, giving Philomène a look over the rim of his cup that says he knows that she knows better. "It is meant to ensure that when we employ the knife we shall not end up knee-deep in noble blood," he explains.

"Perhaps this is why we butt heads so often," the vicomtesse suggests over her tea, absently swirling it in her cup as the sediment begins to settle. "When I draw a knife, if I don't end the day knee-deep in blood I've done it wrong."

"That is exactly the difference," Raphael agrees, smiling before he sips the tea. "But really. If we killed all our patrons you'd be surprised at how the city emptied."

"Clearly I don't give you enough credit for the number of patrons you entice through your doors, then," Philomène decides, uncurling her leg from under her so she can sit up more fully. "But then I do sometimes wonder if I'm the only woman in the country who doesn't like to spend all her disposable income on paying a courtesan for a glimpse of pleasure for a brief moment. Surely I can't be so unusual that my tastes run to things not offered by the Night Court? Am I really the only woman in the country who'd rather indulge in a sparring match than a whipping?"

"Not the only one, surely," Raphael answers, in a tone that implies that there are only a few others. "But of course it is a matter of social bonding, as well. Many nobles come in groups, and only separate for the main event. Or sometimes not at all."

"Many nobles like to be seen out and about indulging in Naamah's pleasure," Philomène points out. "I don't feel the need to prove myself on that count, at least."

Raphael shrugs his shoulders. "Then so much the better for you and your purse," he says. "The Night Court somehow manages to get by." He sips his tea.

Philomène drains her cup, setting it down beside her. "Then I needn't feel guilty about taking up your time without having to also take your cock, then? Well, thank heavens for small mercies. As long as you're financially stable, herbs settle the debt well enough?" She takes a breath, eyeing her still unfinished embroidery for a moment on her jacket. A decision is made. "I'm going to go out for a walk along the docks," she tells him simply, already rising to her feet but instead of sliding on her brown riding jacket, she limps over towards the door where a significantly more elaborate and costly green velvet jacket hangs. "Will you join me? We can call it social bonding. Brigitte, may we have the pie in napkins to take with us?"

"Oh, there are people who arrange assignations with me whom I never touch," Raphael assures Philomène. "That is not a fee I charge for conversation." He has a last sip of tea. "If you like. As long as you have me home by dusk. They do so worry." He sets down his cup and gets to his feet. "Ah, the fine jacket again," he observes.

Philomène raises an amused brow as she looks back over her shoulder, donning the jacket and straightening the lapels with both hands. "For your benefit, naturally. This is your time of day now, not mine. I wouldn't want to abuse your friendship by dragging down your reputation. Can't have your potential patrons seeing you out walking with some kind of tramp." There's a pause as she limps back over to her chair, leaning on it now so she can ease on her tall riding boots with the gleaming brass spurs. "Besides, I'm not going to tie off where I'm at with that one," a nod to her more customary jacket and the needle still poking out of the shoulder where a new vine remains unfinished.

"Ah, how very considerate," Raphael calls this gesture. "And practical," he adds, since she refuses to maintain the illusion. He goes to pull open the front door for them both. "At any rate, it is a handsome garment."

"Weddings," Philomène explains succinctly, shrugging one shoulder as she accepts a canvas bag from the redoubtable Brigitte and limps out of the door into the late afternoon sunlight.

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.

Raphael is escorting Philomène in her fine green jacket. For his part, he does not wear a jacket though the weather is somewhat cool. And his dark clothes, while of fine material, are quite austere in contrast with the lady's beautifully embroidered garment. They walk side-by-side, Raphael matching his pace to the ladies. "Are you much of a sailor?" he asks as they get near enough to clearly see the ships in harbor.

Philomène smirks as she limps along, sure of her route and her steps, no matter how odd her gait. And her gait, for those with an eye for these things, is perhaps a little smoother than it has been, a little more fluid. Admittedly a little slower and more precise, but that forced quality has gone. "A sailor? Me?" she laughs, shaking her head. "I feel queasy the moment I set foot on a boat. I'm a woman of the mountains, perhaps now of the fields, too, but of the sea never. If it weren't for fish, which I adore, I could very happily do without the sea entirely."

Raphael nods, as though confirming a suspicion he already held. "I suppose it should be clear you have more affinity with earth than with sea. Then," he says, casting a glance toward the noblewoman, "Why the harbor? You have fish to buy for tomorrow's breakfast?"

Philomène gestures vaguely out beyond the harbour mouth, out past the breakwater that shelters the shipping here and casts up a fine spray in the middle distance as waves crash down on the pilings and rubble, and to the darker waters beyond, the colour of her eyes when she's truly enraged. "We've a cargo due in. Only a small investment, but it's overdue. I intend to take a list from the harbourmaster and quiz anyone who's been to the south if there's been any glimpse of her yet." She sets her hand on her hip as she slows to a halt, stretching up to her fullest height as though that extra half inch is going to give her the ability to see much further out into the ocean. "The problem," she explains, "is that by the time the harbourmaster has his list for me, the sailors are all falling down drunk. So by the time I get to talk to them in the morning, anything I get out of them is already a day old. If you're lucky, though, you can get one or two at this time of day. If," she adds, whipping up one slender figure to waggle in his face, "the paperwork is finished on time."

The colours of House Mereliot are a common sight along the docks of Terre d'Ange's principal port. Persons in fish tabards guard shipments, escort dignitaries, collect tariffs, and of course avail themselves of the many and varied (albeit rudimentary) entertainments of the harbour district. It's not unusual at all to see them clearing a path through the throng of sailors and shoppers and strollers: an office which, this afternoon, a pair of them are performing for a slight woman in black breeches and an exquisitely tailored coat of smoke-blue silk.

Emmanuelle Shahrizai appears to be out for a stroll herself, preceded by guards and followed by her faithful hound. She is bareheaded and red-gloved, one hand hanging loose at her side and the other thumb hooked casually in a pocket. Her gaze is wandering in quite another direction as she comes nearer to Raphael and Philomène; at length, she sees them together and her painted lips form the words, "Well, well," unheard beneath the hawkers' cries and the general noise of the place, but easily deciphered. One other thing is for certain: she's not here to buy fish.

"Ah, of course," Raphael says, looking out to see as he folds his hands behind his back. "With all the trouble sailors have been having in this port lately, I shouldn't be surprised if some ships stopped at their previous ports a little longer," he comments.

"Well the longer they bloody wait," Philomène insists with a not unexpected flash of irritability as her view is blocked by a number of passing sailors for a second or two. "The more money that's basically pissing away into the water." But then there's a gap in the stream of passers by, a welcome gap, until the reason strolls into view behind said gap and Philomène's scowl appears as though from nowhere.

Thus Philomène sees it coming, though Raphael with his calculating eye upon the waters of the harbour may not, when Emmanuelle prowls closer — the crisp music of her bootheels lost amid the sound of hammering nearby and even the resinous fragrance of her cologne eclipsed by salt and tar and hemp, until she's well within reach of them both — and without stopping at a civilised distance drapes a companionable arm about each of their shoulders. "What are we looking at?" she drawls, looking from her left to her right with a dark eyebrow uplifted.

Raphael turns his head at this touch, but Emmanuelle's voice reaches his ears at the same time, so he looks on her with a smile. "The sea," he replies. "You must have noticed it on your way here." He carries the dry jest one step forward by indicating it with a gesture of one hand.

Philomène's response is, as might be expected, more belligerent. The unbidden hand is grasped with both of her own, weathered fingers gripping hard and tight as she drops her velvet clad and ornamentally embroidered shoulder and twists. It's not enough to actually break anything, but it's a definite indication that with perhaps just a drop of her knee and a shift of her elbow she could quite definitely make this unwelcome hand quite clear about just how unwelcome it is. All of this, though, is nothing but instinctive, barely taking a split second to do - certainly not enough time for any sort of conscious thought to have fired her synapses into action. "I thought I smelled something foul," is her addition to this terribly polite conversation, a second later releasing the pressure on Emmanuelle's hand and wrist from dangerous to merely uncomfortable.

<FS3> Emmanuelle rolls Composure+Presence: Great Success. (4 8 5 6 1 5 6 7 2 1 7 6 6 7 4 5)

… By which moment Baltasar Shahrizai's larger and stronger hand is wrapped tight about Philomène's own wrist and there appears to be a knife in his other paw, the tip of its blade just grazing the expensive embroidery upon her best coat. He squeezes. The pressure will increase moment by moment until such a time as she releases Emmanuelle, who is regarding her with cold and impassive blue eyes, offering no resistance whatsoever to the assault upon her person. Her hand tenses for a moment by instinct and then relaxes by design: no more. "You saw me," she observes to the vicomtesse, even as she lets go of Raphael to ward off with her free hand the Mereliot men whose contributions would be surplus to her requirements. "What is it you imagined I was going to do to you, here, that stepping aside or raising your hand would not have sufficed to deflect?" She cocks her head at Philo, unperturbed, but indubitably curious.

Raphael is not terribly surprised by unexpected touches or unexpected violence. Although there is a line of concern between his brows when this knife emerges. "Baltasar, really," he says, as though the Shahrizai kinsman's behavior were rather rude. He doesn't chide Philomène. But for that matter he does not chide Emmanuelle, either. Perhaps he considers that a matter to be worked out between nobles. He looks back out to the sea.

Philomène gives another little twist out of spite before releasing the red-gloved hand with a casual shrug upwards. And if that shrug should happen to aim the woman's hand towards the glittering point of that knife threatening her finest embroidery, well, she'd just consider that an added bonus. "So at least your dog has teeth," she notes, "even if you don't, Lady Shahrizai. Tell me, were you just out to chance a hug? I had no idea you cared."

"Why," counters Emmanuelle, "keep a dog, but do the biting oneself—?"

The knife is somewhat lower than Philomène's shoulder; then, alas for her ambitions, it is swiftly put away whence it came. For his chiding Raphael earns only a dismissive flick of a glance from the Shahrizai lord, a look replete with all the ancient arrogance of his line, as he takes payment of his own by a last twist of the vicomtesse's wrist before he releases her in turn.

"… You must forgive my guards," Emmanuelle adds in a drawl. Her first wave to her Mereliot men kept them from drawing steel; her second, executed with her lately freed (and secretly aching) hand, to prove it still works as it ought, obliges them to fall back a few paces. The perimeter they enforce tends happily toward hearing oneself think. "So many of my close kin have in the past year died by violence or narrowly escaped it, that you make them nervous, vicomtesse. They don't understand how little choice you feel you have when faced with any casual gesture which might be taken for affection," she explains. Her gaze shifts to Raphael. "The sea," she agrees. "Yes, I did notice it. After as many years as you and I both spent in Elua it is pleasant to become reacquainted with such an old friend, no?"

Raphael smiles in return for this dismissive gaze from Baltasar. And they'd been getting on so well recently. To Emmanuelle, he allows, "I suppose so. It is better to look on in spring than it is in winter." The conversation may be bland, but it is at least something no one is going to be stabbed over.

“If I were looking for affection,” Philomène argues, “I’d buy a dog. It seems to work for you.” She adjusts her stance, rubbing her wrist surreptitiously as she looks out once more over the water.

“I at least have business here, even if you don’t, Lady Shahrizai. If you might excuse me, then?” She doesn’t wait for an answer, lifting her chin and setting her jaw in that way that Emmanuelle seems to prompt so very often, and begins a carefully measured limp over towards the harbourmaster’s office.

“My business was nearby,” murmurs Emmanuelle, at this point more for Raphael’s benefit than that of the Camaeline in retreat. With one eye still upon the tails of Philomène’s marvelously embroidered coat (though a few threads are already coming loose, courtesy of Baltasar) she rests her gloved hand upon Raphael’s more quiescent arm and suggests: “Tea?”

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